BulletinGold #159
March 2014   Vol 14 #1

March 2014          BG# 159         Vol. 14         Issue 01
Subscribe     Website    Blog     Submissions     Editors: David Bragg and Edward Thomason
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- Bumper Sticker Christianity, by Alan Smith
- That Time…Again, by Andy McClish
- Be All That You Can Be, by Clifton Angel
- Do What You Can, by Edd Sterchi
- Isn’t that what love does? By Ron Thomas
- Who Do You Think You Are? By Steve Higginbotham
- Selling Out
- God’s Color Line
- A Prayer About God's Providence, by Gerald Cowan
- He’ll Be There, by H. L. Gradowith
- Embrace Mortality, by J. Randal Matheny
- Ode To A Hireling 
& sayings

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Panning for Gold Feature Articles:
Bumper Sticker Christianity
By Alan Smith

    A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard.  Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him.  He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.  The tailgating woman immediately hit her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him.
    As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.  The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.  He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.
    After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
    He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, waving your fist at the guy off in front of you, and swearing at him.  I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do" bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.  Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."
    Ouch!  We are often eager to communicate our faith by putting cute little bumper stickers on our cars or by wearing jewelry that contains Christian imagery.  And there's nothing wrong with that unless we think that the bumper sticker and jewelry can serve as a substitute for actually living a Christ-like life.  Few people will be converted by a bumper sticker.  But people WILL be impacted (and perhaps eventually changed) by a lifestyle that seeks to put God's Word into practice.  And, just as surely, people will be repulsed by a religion that allows the hypocrisy of talking about God without the desire to live for God.
    "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?.....But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." (James 2:14,18)
    May Christ shine through you in what you do and what you say today (whether you have a bumper sticker or not).
   Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com
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That Time…Again
By Andy McClish

    Undoubtedly, during this holiday season more people (in our culture, at least) will be thinking and talking about the birth of Jesus than at any other time of the year. We see the effect of this phenomenon in various marketing and advertising campaigns, music that is played on popular radio stations, greeting cards, and slogans such as, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
    The birth of Christ is certainly among the most important (supernatural) events in the overall history of the world. It was/is a cause for great joy—something which God saw fit to have recorded in His Word. It signaled the implementation and the culmination of His Scheme of Redemption, the gift of complete forgiveness, available to all mankind. However, as important as the birth of the Son of God is, it pales in comparison to His death and resurrection. Christ’s birth was simply the means God chose to bring His Son into this world. His birth was not (as is true with us) the beginning of His existence (John 1:1–2, 14). But His death and resurrection are the events without which we would all be condemned to eternal torment.
    The Scriptures authorize and obligate us, in very specific language, to have a special, religious observance to commemorate the death of Jesus (every first day of the week—Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26). The scriptures are completely silent, however, with regard to any special commemoration of His birth. We’re not even told when it occurred.
    Lest the point of this article be misunderstood, there is nothing wrong with Christians participating in the secular traditions surrounding “Christmas” that have evolved in this country. It is no different, in principle, from observing various traditions that we associate with Independence Day (e.g., fireworks and cookouts). It is good for families and friends to come together, exchange gifts, and share a special meal; and no Scriptural principles are violated by these practices.
    However, we need to be careful that we don’t give anyone the wrong impression about what we’re doing when we celebrate “Christmas.” False teaching is just as wrong on this subject as it is on any other. To put it another way, it’s a mistake to do anything that leaves the impression that we attach any religious significance to this time of year. We simply have no Scriptural authority to do so (just as we have no authority for attaching any religious significance to the holiday known as “Easter”). Christmas is not a celebration of the birth of Christ, and we are not authorized to think or speak of it in such a way. Jesus is not “the reason for the season.” He is the reason for our joy and hope every single day of the year.

- Andy McClish Marietta, GA; 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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Be All That You Can Be
By Clifton Angel

     “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery; I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s Army.” From 1980 to 2001, the popular recruiting slogan was used to imply that it is only in the United States Army that you can “Be All That You Can Be.” While the U.S. Army is pertinent to our nation and has a lot to offer to recruits, it is not the army where one truly can reach his fullest capacity. Rather, the Lord’s Army is the only place where you can “Be All That You Can Be.”
     You see, it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host is perfect. He’s been through the drills; He’s passed every test. He has experienced every temptation that His soldiers can experience, and yet remained without error through it all. He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 
     Furthermore, it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host has all power. No doubt, captains in the U.S. Army have great authority and ability, but they do not have complete authority and ability. In the Lord’s Army, the Captain has ALL power. He is on record as saying to some of his soldiers, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).
     Finally, it is pertinent that we understand that it is only in the Lord’s Army that the Captain of the Host offers ultimate protection. The U.S. Army is strong, but protection lacks in comparison to the Lord’s Army. Even with the great strength of the U.S. Army, the faithful soldier can lose and the entire nation can lose. Such is not so in the Lord’s Army. For, He is the Captain of our eternal salvation from sin (Hebrews 2:10), and He is has guaranteed victory for the faithful soldier: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
     Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for remission of sins grants you an entrance into the Lord’s Army. Are you in His Army? If yes, are you endeavoring to “Be All That You Can Be”? “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery; I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s Army.”

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/
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Do What You Can
By Edd Sterchi

     One of my favorite accounts in the gospels is in Mark 14 when Jesus is at Simon the leper's house (v.3-9).  While there, Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, took a flask of very costly oil and anointed Jesus' head with it (see also John 12:1-7).  Some there, apparently led by Judas, were very upset at the waste of the oil.  But Jesus defended her noble actions, saying that she had done a good work for Him in that she was anointing His body for burial.  He also said that wherever the gospel is preached, what she had done will be told as a memorial to her; obviously it has been time and time again over the ages.
     But the words that stick most in my mind concerning the actions of Mary are when our Savior said, “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8).  In those six short words, volumes are said about the attitude of Mary in serving and honoring the Christ.  In fact, it is interesting to note that what she didn't do says just as much as what she did do.  Notice, for example:
     She didn't wait to be asked to do something.  What a great example to us! She found a way to do what she could.  Too many brethren don't do anything for the Lord because they are never asked.  Follow Mary's example; find something to do and do it.
     She didn't make excuses about her limitations.  I'm sure there were a lot of things she did not have (ability, time, resources, etc.) to properly do for Jesus. But she didn't dwell on that; she sought out something that she could do.  You can do a lot with even a little.  Sadly, there are Christians today who make excuses for not doing for the Lord.
     She didn't worry about criticism.  And she was criticized, but she did it anyway.  Which is more important, the praise of the Lord or the approval of men?  We spend too much time worrying about what others will think or say. To gain the approval of the Lord, do what you can and don't worry about man. 
She didn't fret over the cost.  It was very costly, but that was unimportant as far as she was concerned – Jesus was worth it.  There are a lot of things that some people consider too valuable to give up for the Lord.  But for the true follower, nothing is too big of a sacrifice for the One who was sacrificed for them.  
     Look at it this way: Can you do it?  Then do what you can.
     "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men" (Col. 3:23).

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at eddsterchi@comcast.net
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Nuggets & Quick Riches - misc. goodies
Isn’t That What Love Does?
By Ron Thomas

Each time I read the historical story associated with Samson I can’t help but reflect on his stupidity! Whatever is to be said about Delilah, or any other person in Judges 13-16, it’s Samson who plays with fires and gets burned. As much as I marvel at Samson, I learn that what plagued a people then plagues us as well: a failure to understand what love is and does. Delilah sold her dignity and defined her actions as “love” toward Samson, but Samson didn’t have the wisdom to see that she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He didn’t see it because he evidently thought that “love” would not betray him. When example after example presented itself he dismissed it because God, he thought, loved him and would not leave him. A misunderstanding of love results in a misapplication of the same. Love does not manipulate, does not betray, and will not suffer fools. Love will, however, instruct, persuade, hold in confidence, and correct the foolish. God did. RT

- Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.highwaycofc.com
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Who Do You Think You Are?
By Steve Higginbotham

     "Who do you think you are telling me to..."
     Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm guilty.  There have been times when this thought danced in my mind while outwardly, I patiently smiled and listened while I was being corrected or critiqued.
     If we're not careful, it would be easy to dismiss whatever criticisms are given, whether valid or invalid by thinking, "Who does this person think he is?  After all, I'm the professional here.  What does this person know?"
     Whether you're a lawyer, homemaker, engineer, or a teacher, let me just warn against developing such an attitude.  Before you bristle at your next criticism, remember the attitude Peter possessed when he, an experienced fisherman, was told by a carpenter how to fish. Peter listened and was blessed (Luke 5:4-5).  Friends, you don't have to be a "professional" to be right.
     May we all work at being more "swift to hear" (James 1:19) and slower to defend ourselves.  Give it some thought!

- 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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Selling Out
    There was a song several years ago that had this line in it: “When you come close to selling out, consider.”  The Christian life is not always one of happiness.  We face many difficulties in our effort to be faithful to God.
    One can look at the life of Joseph to see that a godly life will at times put us in trying circumstances.  But through all of Joseph’s trials (family members against him, slavery, false charges by Potiphar’s wife, being imprisoned) he always seemed to stay focused on what was the most important thing in life—obedience to God.
    As Christians facing the evil and temptations of this world, we can be presumed to look for an easy way out.  It is during these times we need to reconsider and remember God’s help is always present; we are not alone (Revelation 2:10), and a reward awaits the faithful that nothing on this earth can match (Psalm 16:11).

- 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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God’s Color Line

     The Bible teaches that God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” - Acts 17:26. Through the years many distinctions have been made among men; racial distinctions of red, yellow, black, and white. Racial prejudice is a sin, pure and simple. The Bible tells us that “God is no respecter of persons...” However, God has a color line and that line is scarlet. Isaiah 1:18 says, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” God’s color l ine is the color of sin, not skin!
     All men can become one in Christ by obeying the gospel of Christ. Sinners are to believe and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. When they do this they, along with all others who have done likewise, can stand on the common ground of the salvation in Christ.

- 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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Hearts of Gold - poetry
A Prayer About God's Providence
By Gerald Cowan

        Dear Lord divine in heaven,
        we give our lives to You
        in trust that You will make our lives complete.
        Grant us courage, Father, as we face adversity.
        We are so often weak.
        Give us something of Your all-sufficient strength.
        We lose our hope too easily, and so
        we need Your help to persevere.
        Teach us patience, for we find it difficult to wait.
        Set our feet in safety upon Him who is our Rock,
        and may we never waver or be moved from Him.
        Let meekness dissipate and then disperse
        our self-important airs.
        In true submission may we find true liberty.
        Teach us charity and kind forbearance,
        for we are too often uncooperative and selfish.
        Undo our pride, and our self-seeking will
        that we may be more tolerant of others.
        Enable us to bear life’s burdens, for ourselves and others,
        but share the burdens with us, Lord,
        so that the weight of trial cannot overcome us.
        May we find knowledge in Your word,
        For we would not be ignorant of You,
        or of Your Christ, our Savior Lord,
        or of Your Spirit who within us dwells
        and makes our spirits glow and grow.
        Grant us wisdom, Lord,
        so that knowledge is not used improperly.
        Comfort us in sadness.
        Ease the ache in hearts now filled with sorrow.
        Grant that we may not be anxious slaves to stress,
        but set the peace of Christ within our hearts.
        Again we ask You to supply our need for courage
        so that we can stand against our enemies and Yours
        and never flinch nor cower down before those who
        can kill the body but cannot touch the soul.
        And most of all – above all else,
        sustain our souls in spiritual communion with Yourself,
        For we can never live by bread alone
        but only by what comes to us from You.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
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He’ll Be There
By H. L. Gradowith

In the morning when I wake up He is there,
And at night when I lie down I know He cares;
          There's no other like my Lord,
          As it’s written in His Word,
With me ev’ry step I take He is right there,
And I know, despite all else, for me He cares!

When I’m feeling low and sad He’s always there,
When my heart is broken I know that He cares;
          There’s no other like my Lord,
          As it’s written in His Word,
When I need a happy song He is right there,
And I know, despite all else, for me He cares!

When my faith grows weak within me, He is there,
When I'm doubting I know that for me He cares;
          There’s no other like my Lord,
          As it’s written in His Word,
All my doubts will flee because my Lord is there,
And I know, despite all else, for me He cares!

When I’m thinking about Heaven He is there,
And I'm basking in His Wondrous Love and Care!
          There’s no other like my Lord,
          As it’s written in His Word,
When I get there I can thank Him for His care,
For when I cross Jordan I know He’ll be There!

- 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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Embrace Mortality
By J. Randal Matheny

    Mysterious cycle this, from sleep to waking,
    Of our mortality there's no mistaking.

    When we embrace our mortality, our humanity, we discover that we are able to make the best use of our time and energies. We fit ourselves into the great scheme of things. We seek, or ought to seek, the divine to complete who we are.
    So while at first glance the couplet doesn't appear to offer an uplifting thought, on further reflection such a recognition of our reality allows us to stretch and grow to become more than we now are.
    We'll borrow the words of Eliphaz the Temanite who asked, "Is a mortal man righteous before God? Or a man pure before his Creator?" Job 4.17 NET.
    Though he applied it poorly, it's the question of the ages.
    Answering it rightly/1 will make anybody's day shine.

- 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) 2014 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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Ode To A Hireling

Preach a sermon, preacher;
But make it short and sweet;
Our stomachs strike at 12 o’clock,
And I intend to eat.
Preach a sermon, preacher;
I care not what you say;
As long as you leave me alone,
And fire the other way.
Preach a sermon, preacher;
Yes, make it good and plain;
But don’t you ever dare
Decide to call sin by its name.
Preach a sermon, preacher;
But don’t get too specific;
As long as you will generalize,
I think you are terrific.
Preach a sermon, preacher;
Make it what I love to hear;
I’ll pat you on your spineless back,
While you scratch my itching ear.

- Author unknown; 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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Gold Mines ---- quotes, sayings & sign messages
A LESSON FROM CRAYONS: We could learn a lot from crayons.  Some are sharp, some are pretty, and some are dull.  Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
–Trib-Bits, Decatur Tribune

The first year that income tax was collected, 1914, Americans paid an average per capita tax of 41 cents.  Only one percent of the population was obligated to pay taxes at all.
– TribBits, Decatur Tribune

“IN POLITICS there are no accidents.  If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” (F.D. Roosevelt)
“Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.”  (Henry Asquith)

- 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

MATURITY IS DEPENDABILITY. It is keeping your promises and coming through rather than breaking your promises and then confusing the issue with alibis.

Pride is the most peculiar disease known to humans. It makes nearly everybody sick except the one who has it.

Too many parents are not on spanking terms with their children.

Your temper may get you into trouble, but it is pride that keeps you there.

An Egotist is a person who seems to be ME_DEEP  in everything.

- 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

Quotable Quote: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s
character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

Quotable Quote: “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked” – Bernard Meltzer

Quotable Quote: “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”
– William A. Ward

Quotable Quote: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain

- 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/
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