BulletinGold #156
December 2013   Vol 13 #

December 2013          BG# 156         Vol. 13         Issue 10
Subscribe     Website    Blog     Submissions     Editors: David Bragg and Edward Thomason
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- Patch Up The Holes, by Gerald Cowan
- “Mirror Moments,” by Lance Cordle
- Can Sins Be Remitted By Men? By R.W. McAlister
- Dance of Death, by Michael Hatcher
- Children, by Steve Higginbotham
- Just Suppose
- Praying For a Brother
- Something to Think About
- The New Year's Message, by Barbara Cagle Ray
- 'TIS THE SEASON, by J. Randal Matheny
- Giving and Receiving, by Kathryn Wiesenhoefer
- Little Things
& sayings

for bulletins
 and signs

New Postings At

Panning for Gold Feature Articles:
Patch Up The Holes
By Gerald Cowan
     A certain man had several sheep. He loved them dearly, and was very kind to them. He made sure they had food and water, and he built a strong fence around them for protection. Outside the fence there were wolves and other natural enemies of the sheep. The sheep knew this, and they were grateful for the love and protection the man gave them.
     One day a lamb, who hadn’t been a member of the flock very long, found a hole in the fence. The others knew it was there, but they stayed away from it. "Outside there were wolves!" But one day the curious lamb squeezed through the hole and began to investigate the outside. He was amazed! There seemed to be more food and water outside than there was inside. Better food too, or so it seemed to him. At least a greater variety. And there were certainly more things to see and do. So he began to "test his freedom." He did things he could never have done "inside." He felt a little guilty at first, but he reassured himself that all lambs were surely "entitled to have a good time" once in a while. And so he went his merry way, frisking and playing, as lambs love to do, and paying little attention to where he was going – another characteristic of lambs, and of some older sheep too.
     Suddenly a wolf appeared – obviously hungry, and just as obviously intent on eating the lamb. Well, you can be sure the lamb was terrified, and he tried desperately to find the hole in the fence so he could squeeze back in and escape the wolf. He ran and he ran, searching frantically for a way back to the "inside," knowing all the while that he wasn’t going to make it. Oh how he wished he had stayed inside! Just then he spotted the hole in the fence and ran joyfully toward it. But he had gotten so fat in his pursuit of pleasure he couldn’t get through the hole. The wolf caught him and ate him on the spot.
     Some time later the man who owned the sheep found the remains of the lamb by the hole in the fence. "Foolish lamb," he said. "You should have stayed inside. You knew there were wolves outside." The man was unhappy about the loss of the lamb, for he loved his sheep. He remembered other lambs who had slipped out that same hole, and most of them never made it back.
     What’s that you say? Why didn’t he patch up the hole? Why didn’t the other sheep do something? I don’t know. I guess you will have to ask them.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
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“Mirror Moments”
By Lance Cordle

     Recently I was asked why God repeated his question to Elijah during the incident recorded for us in 1 Kings 19. Before I give you my answer (opinion), let me briefly set the context for you.
     Elijah had just achieved great victories. He had confronted the prophets of Baal and challenged them to pray to their god and thus bring fire to a sacrifice (1 Kings 18:21). Elijah, of course, prayed to God and received fire from heaven (18:38). Rain also returned to the region in answer to his prayer (18:42; James 5:17, 18). However, shortly after the victories, Jezebel swore to kill Elijah. With amazement, we read the words, “Then he was afraid” (19:3). (Let me just say this is not a condemnation of Elijah or a criticism of his faith. It is rather, a testimony to the evil and resourcefulness of Jezebel, as well as the power of exhaustion and discouragement on a servant of God.)
     Because of Jezebel’s threat, Elijah headed south, as far away from Jezebel as he could get. After a long journey, and sustenance by God, Elijah came to Horeb (Sinai). At that time he came to a cave and stayed there. While there, God spoke to him: “What are you doing here Elijah?” Elijah answered by recounting the terrible circumstance of the previous years and concluded by saying he was the only faithful person/prophet left. God allowed Elijah to see several unusual events (wind damage, earthquake and fire). Then he heard a whisper. After that, God repeated his question: “What are your doing here, Elijah?” (19:4-13). The man who was once empowered by God was actually running away from his enemy.
     I believe God was asking the question, not for information, but so that Elijah could have a “mirror moment.” In other words, God wanted Elijah to look deeply within himself and decide who he was going to be and what he was going to do. He could have given up or he could decided to move forward and live for God. Thankfully, Elijah decided to move forward and live for God—and aren’t we glad he did?!
     I also believe we all have mirror moments—times in our lives when deep introspection is called for—when we must decide to move forward and allow God to work with and through us, in spite of our fears and misgivings. I think some of those times are: high school graduation, college graduation, wedding day, first day of new job, birth of first child and retirement. There are others, but I think you get the point: These are the crossroads of our lives, and the direction we choose can make or break us. Far too many people are “walking past the mirror,” taking little or no time to ask themselves, “What are you doing here?”
     Well, it may not be one of those times mentioned above, but . . . What are YOU doing here?

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
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Can Sins Be Remitted By Men?
By R.W. McAlister

    Shortly before His ascension, Jesus said to His apostles: “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23). The Catholic Church teaches that Christ was actually granting the apostles the authority to forgive sins (“remit” means “forgive” in this verse), and that the apostles passed on to their successors (supposedly the Roman priesthood) the same license to pardon sin, but this is false. The truth is, although Christians are supposed to manifest a forgiving spirit (Eph. 4:32; Mt. 18:21-22), only God can grant pardon (Dan. 9:9; Acts 8:22).
    The Greek tenses of John 20:23 make it clear that the apostles were authorized only to announce the terms of forgiveness. The apostles, on the day of Pentecost, did not personally forgive the sins of anyone; instead, they simply announced the conditions of pardon with which men and women must comply. They, and others since then, were only authorized to affirm forgiveness consistent with what the Lord had already determined.
    So… To sincere believers who asked: “. . . what shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38). In the verses following, we find: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (v. 41). Therefore, we can see from these words that they received the forgiveness of their sins when they responded in obedience, that is, when they received the words preached unto them. The apostles didn’t personally forgive anyone’s sins, because they couldn’t (Isa. 43:25), but by announcing God’s conditions of pardon, they – in that way – made it possible for man to obtain forgiveness of sin from God. Again, they didn’t have the power to actually remit sins, but only to announce the terms of pardon. Men today “remit” and “retain” sins by declaring the terms on which Christ will grant pardon.
    One final point: John 20:23 does not permit the Catholic clergy procedure of granting “absolution” from sin. No one on earth has that power, only the Lord can forgive sin (Ps. 130:4; Mark 2:10). Have you sought the Lord’s forgiveness?

 - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/

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Dance of Death
By Michael Hatcher

     In Carl Wilson’s book "Our Dance Has Turned to Death" he identified the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and Roman empires. Notice how it parallels what is happening in our nation today:
     In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical. In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men's sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed. The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy. In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce. Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy. In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies. Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government.
     Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

- 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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Nuggets & Quick Riches - misc. goodies
By Steve Higginbotham

     Maybe you’ve heard the story about the school teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his snow boots. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots just didn't want to go on. Finally, after much struggling, she got both boots on only to hear the little boy say, "They're on the wrong feet."
     She looked, and sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on but she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots on the right feet.
     He then announced, "These aren't my boots." She bit her tongue rather than scream, "Why didn't you say so?" Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet.
     No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, "They're my brother's boots. My Mom made me wear 'em." Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again.
     Helping him into his coat, she asked, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed 'em in the toes of my boots." - (Biblical Parenting)
     (Psalm 127:3,5) – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord…Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…”

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.karnschurch.org
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Just Suppose

     Just suppose the Lord should begin tomorrow to make people as sick as they say they are on Sunday?
     Just suppose the Lord should take away the children whom parents use as an excuse for staying away from church?
     Just suppose the Lord should make some people as poor as they say they are when asked to finance His program?
     Just suppose the Lord should have every covetous man stoned as He did Achan?
     Just suppose the Lord should strike dead all who lie about their giving, as He did Ananias and Sapphira?
     Just suppose the Lord should let some parents look into the future and see where their example and lack of control led their children?

- via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website at: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
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Praying For a Brother
   A small boy wanted a baby brother, so his dad suggested he pray every night for one.  The boy prayed earnestly, night after night, but his prayers seemingly weren’t answered.  After a few weeks, he didn’t bother to ask any more.
   Some months later, his dad said they were going to see Mom in the hospital, and he was going to get a big surprise.  When they got to the room, the little boy saw his mother holding two babies.
   “Well, what do you think about having twin brothers?” his dad asked.
   The little boy thought for a moment, and replied, “It’s a good thing I stopped praying when I did.”

- Cybersalt Digest; 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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Something to Think About

     He who is not grateful for what he does have will not be happy with the things that he desires to have.
     He who is ungrateful in little will also be ungrateful in much! If we are not thankful to God for the blessings He bestows, what reason is there to expect Him to bestow additional blessings. If the blessings for which we are unthankful were suddenly removed, then what would our lives really be like? “Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
     May your blessings be many, and may your burdens be few on this day.

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
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Hearts of Gold - poetry
The New Year's Message
By Barbara Cagle Ray

At the homeless shelter each New Year's eve,
Grace was asked to deliver a message of cheer.
"At ninety, I'm too old for this," she said.
"You'll have to! find someone else next year."

After dinner, she was escorted to the podium;
Her trembling voice was humble and calm.
"Tonight is the last year I'll speak," she said;
"I will leave you with the Twenty-third Psalm."

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want" -
Her eyes began to glow like a beacon of light.
Before she was finished, a hush filled the room;
You could have heard a pin drop in the night.

A gentleman in the corner was moved to tears;
Grace was escorted off the stage to the floor.
She moved toward his chair and asked of him -
"Have you not heard the Twenty-third Psalm before?"

"Oh, yes, I've heard it many times," he said;
His hands were shaking, and his voice was frail.
"But I've never heard it quoted by one before,
Who obviously knows the Shepherd so well."

- Magnolia Messenger, edited by Paul Franks, published by the South Huntington St Church of Christ, Kosciusko, MS, Oct. Dec. 2012, p. 22. Columnist Barbara Cagle Ray may be contacted at bcagleray@comcast.net  You can visit their website at http://magnoliamessenger.com/
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By J. Randal Matheny

'Tis the season to be writing
  On the deadly sin of gluttony,
Ere we're at the table biting
  Turkey, chicken, beef, or muttony.

- 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) 2012 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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Giving and Receiving
By Kathryn Wiesenhoefer

Take the "sun" out of sunshine,
Put it in a sunny smile.
It will cheer a lonely person
And make living more worthwhile.

Take a hand that needs a helping,
Lead it on a happier road.
It will ease those heavy burdens
By your sharing half the load.

Take your heart that's filled with love,
Gladly give it all away.
It will overflow to others
And keep rushing back each day.

Take the time to speak to neighbors,
A "hello" to show you care.
You may need a cup of sugar,
For you no cupboard will be bare.

- Submitted by Mark McWhorter.  Mark may be contacted at mtmcvb@concentric.net
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Little Things
He stopped to pat a small dog’s head—
A tiny thing to do;
And yet the dog, remembering,
Was glad the whole day through.
He gave a rose into the hand
Of one who loved it much;
‘Twas just a rose—but oh the joy
That lay in its soft touch!
He spoke a word so tenderly—
A word’s a wee, small thing;
And yet it stirred a weary heart
To hope again and sing!

- via The Lantern, Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the congregation and you may visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com
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Gold Mines ---- quotes, sayings & sign messages
Be careful what you see, what you say or sing, what you do, and what you allow others to do. God sees and hears and judges all.

The seed that is planted determines the plant that will be produced – in nature and in human nature. The finished product always reveals the seed.

"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, many of which never happened." (Mark Twain)

The Day of Reckoning Is Coming (2 Cor. 5:10). I think you would want to know the truth. You can blame the preacher, the teacher, your parents, peer pressure, your job, your church, and even the devil. But in the end God will hold you accountable for your own choices, no matter who caused or persuaded you to make them. (Chuck Marshall; Great Bend, Kansas)

It is a great deal better to do all the things you should than to spend the rest of your life wishing you had – and trying to explain why you didn’t.

Many people who would not lie often present the truth in such a way that nobody will recognize it.

Skeletons in the closet don’t have enough sense to stay there.

It doesn’t matter who wins and who loses until you lose.

- 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

What if you woke up today with only the things you “thanked” God for yesterday?

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
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