BulletinGold #166
May 2015   Vol 15 #1
 

May 2015                                         BG# 166                                          Vol. 15                                         Issue 01
BULLETINGold
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In this issue ...
Leaning, But Still a Light! By Lance Cordle
The Christian Filter By Robert Guinn
For What Will this Church Be Known? By Edd Sterchi
No Greater Love By Gerald Cowan
Contentment By Alan Smith
Marriage is Honorable By Clifton Angel
Honor Thy Mother By R.W McAlister
Looking for a Short-Cut? By Joe Chesser
Hybrid Seed By Joe Slater
Fully Free By H.L. Gradowith
Resisting Temptation By Travis L. Quertermous
God Blessed America! By Steve Higginbotham
Stand With God's Word By Ronald Bartanen
Corruption By Ron Thomas
Be Afraid of the Dark By David R. Ferguson
All Is Gain By J. Randal Matheny

Leaning, But Still a Light!
By Lance Cordle

     Along the sidewalk at the back of our house are two rows of solar-powered lights, mounted on sharply pointed stakes that have been driven into the ground. During the day they soak up energy for the sun and store it. When darkness falls, the lights come on and shine through most of the night and then go off at daylight so they can repeat the cycle. Sometimes the lights are low or do not stay on very long because of less exposure to the sun, but most of the time, they do well, allowing those who walk the path to do so safely.
     The winter has softened the ground, however and the stakes holding the lights have begun to lean. Repeated rains as well as drifts of snow and ice have  contributed to the lights being pushed over. Walking down the path one morning, several minutes before sunrise, I noticed the light at the end of the sidewalk leaning, nearly touching the ground. 
     As I observed this interesting circumstance, I thought how life sometimes seems to shove us over and we are left “leaning,” but our “light” is still shining (Matthew 5:14). These scenarios have crossed my mind since that observation in the early morning hours:
• Some people are leaning because economic troubles and disasters have taken a toll on them. They just can’t seem to significantly increase their income. They move forward, believing that God will continue to take care of them and provide their necessities as they put him first (Matthew 6:33).
• Some people are leaning because of health issues. Whether by accident, disease, or just bad genes, they find themselves struggling physically. Medications and minimal activity seem to be their lot. However, physical illness in a Christian is  just an opportunity for God to show his strength in our life (2 Corinthians 12:10). They move forward, strengthened by God.
• Some people find themselves leaning because of old age. They don’t stand as tall, jump as high, or run as fast as they did when they were young. They may feel out of place or unneeded in their family and in the church. They move for- ward, relying on the Bible, which says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29, ESV).
• Some people are leaning because life has beaten them down. The enemy of God has used people and circumstances to wear them down, and to move them to wonder whether it is worth it to go on and remain true to the Lord. They move forward, bruised but determined. They may be struggling, but they are still on the Lord’s side. They trust in God’s word, which says, “they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV).              

- 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

The Christian Filter
By Robert Guinn

     “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Phil. 4:8).
     Is it True?  The mind of a Christian is to be rooted in truth.  If an action is deceptive in its presentation or design, it should be avoided and not dwelt upon.  Remember, sin promises pleasure, but it is a passing pleasure which deceives many (Heb. 3:13, 11:25).  How much time is spent worrying over things which are not true?  Much anxiety is brought on by suspicion and false conclusion.
     Is it Noble or Honorable?  When you turn on the television, read headlines in the newspaper, or read articles on the internet, do they tend to focus on the shallow, cheap, pointless, reckless, and malicious deeds of the world?  Yet, Christian minds are to be centered on respectable and dignified matters.  Our actions should literally command a sense of respect.
     Is it Just?  A Christian is one that desires to do the right thing.  The essence of their being is captured in the idea of not rejoicing in wrongdoing or unrighteousness but in what is true and just (1 Cor. 13:6).  If the action, thought, and/or moment promotes injustice, Christians are exhorted to shun such behavior and handle the situation in an appropriate manner.
     Is it Pure?  Christians should be concerned with what is morally right.  God’s people are to be holy, for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  Those that are pure see things purely, but, to those who are defiled, nothing is pure (Titus 1:15).  The Christian’s inward being is to be focused on the pure, bringing them closer to God (Matt. 5:8).
    Is it Lovely?  Our actions and thoughts are to be friendly and acceptable.  These actions and thoughts call out love from one person to the next.  This implies the idea of eliminating personal agendas bent on vengeance, bitterness, or harm to others.  Rather than causing resentment, the Christian desires to instill charity, gentleness, and patience within their fellow man.
     Is it Commendable or of Good Report?  A Christian’s actions and thoughts are those which can be spoken well of.  Not just in how they are viewed by others, but, rather, they consider if they could entertain such an action or thought in the presence of the Lord.  Would you feel comfortable doing this knowing the Lord is watching?  Be honest.  Things need to be considered praise- worthy and excellent.
    
Do our actions and thoughts pass the Christian filter test?

- Robert Guinn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
For What Will this Church Be Known?
By Edd Sterchi

* For its love of selves or its love of lost souls?  (1 Thess. 2:8)
* For its spreading gossip or its spreading the gospel?  (Mark 16:15)
* For its rudderless drifting or its strong leadership?  (1 Pet. 5:1-4)
* For its low ideals or its lofty goals?  (Phil. 3:14; Col. 3:2)
* For its knowledge of the world or its knowledge of the Bible?  (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15)
* For its financial limitations or its generous giving?  (2 Cor. 8:1-6)
* For its comatose Christians or its many active members?  (Eph. 4:16)
* For its selfish pursuits or its selfless serving?  (Gal. 5:13; Heb. 12:28)
* For its internal strife or its brotherly love?  (John 13:34-35)
* For its indifferent positions or its defense of the truth?  (1 Pet. 3:15)
* For its cold shoulders or its warm fellowship?  (1 Pet. 1:22)
* For its living below God’s expectations or its living above the world? (1 John 3:3-6)
* For its helping itself or its helping the needy?  (2 Cor. 9:12-13)
* For its passionless “praise” or its spiritual and truthful worship?  (John 4:24)
* For its accolade of men or its glorifying of God?  (Eph. 3:21)
* For its stagnation or its vibrancy?  (2 Pet. 3:18)

For what will this church be known?  For what will you be known?  If you are a member of this church, then this church will be known for these as you are known for these, good or bad.  Let’s all do our part to make sure this church is one that is known for following Christ in every way.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at eddsterchi@comcast.net
No Greater Love
By Gerald Cowan

No one has known a greater love
Than God’s great love for you.
No love has been more constant and
No love has been more true.
It’s always for your good, not His,    
And lasts a lifetime through.

God gave His only Son to bring
Salvation to your soul,
Repair the damage done by sin
And make your spirit whole.
Then how do we repay God’s gift?
By giving Him control.

He knows the way we ought to take
And clearly marks the road
That we must walk to be with Him
Who shares our heavy load
And makes a place in heav’n for us –
The spirit’s true abode.

Satan’s lies may sound so good he’s
Able to deceive us.
We speak God’s truth and pray that
Sinners will believe us.
God’s love and mercy, giv’n in Christ
Allows Him to receive us.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
Contentment
By Alan Smith

    There was a father who was known by his family to be a chronic growler. He complained about everything.  He was sitting one day with his family in the presence of a guest in the living room when the subject of food came up.
    One of the children, a little girl, was telling the guest what food each member of the family liked best.
    Finally,  it came to the father's turn to be described.  "And what do I like, Nancy?" he asked.
    "You," said the little girl slowly, "well, what you like most is anything we haven't got."
    There are some people like that, who simply are never content.  If they're served one food, they want something else.  If it's hot outside, they want it to be cold.  If it's cold, they want it to be hot.  And they'd rather be ANYWHERE else other than where they're living right now!
    To the young man Timothy, Paul wrote, "Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, we shall be content." (I Timothy 6:6-8).  Since most of us seem to need far more than that to be content, we are challenged by Paul's words!
    But, to Paul, they weren't just words to be spoken and discussed.  They were words to be lived out.  Despite the fact that Paul was writing from prison, he was able to say, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." (Philippians 4:11).  In the next verse, he said that he had learned to be content with a lot (which would be easy for most of us), but he was also content with little.  The reason he could be content because he had Jesus Christ, and that was all he needed to bring contentment.
    Do you have food?  Do you have clothing?  More importantly, do you have Jesus?
    Have a contented day!

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

Marriage is Honorable
By Clifton Angel

     “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4, KJV). Consider also the rendering of the ASV of the same passage: “Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Fornication includes premarital, extra-marital, homosexual (Jude 7) and any other immoral sexual activity. Of course, extra-marital would be considered adultery. And when any of these are committed, people bring God’s judgment upon themselves, dishonor marriage, defile the bed, and will be condemned in the end if said people do not come to repentance.
     God designed marriage (see Genesis 2:15–25). God has given mankind instructions on how to honor marriage and have the best marriages (see Ephesians 5:22–33; 1 Peter 3:7; Matthew 19:4–6; et. al.). And mankind has dishonored it. Contrary to what many in America may be thinking, America did not begin dishonoring marriage with legislation that legalizes homosexual marriages. America and the world around her began dishonoring marriage when she began promoting divorce for any reason and remarriage for any reason. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and while I would not encourage any spouse to remain in the same house as an physically abusive spouse, God grants only one reason that a person may divorce and remarry: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9). And so, America has been dishonoring marriage more than the current day. America dishonors marriage in her promotion of divorce and remarriage for any reason. America dishonors marriage in her promotion of feminism. America dishonors marriage in her legalization and promotion of abortion (let’s call it what it is—murder).
     America dishonors marriage in her legalization and promotion of pornography. America dishonors marriage in all of the television, movies, fashion styles, and advertisements that promote promiscuity, immodesty, and cohabitation. And yes, America dishonors marriage in her promotion of the homosexual lifestyle and behavior. God designed marriage. Let’s stick to His blueprints and honor His design. To God be the glory!

- 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/

Honor Thy Mother
By R.W. McAlister

     As I’m sure we know, today is “Mother’s Day.” I hope we honor our mothers, or their memory, on this special day – and not only today, but every day.
     Mothers have an incredible job w/ no pay. No position in the business world compares to the physical, emotional, and spiritual commitment she has in motherhood.
     Don’t ever make the mistake of asking a lady, “Do you work, or stay at home?” The only thing worse you can ask is when she’s due if you’re not 100% sure she’s expecting!
     Mothers listen as you pour out your heart, they have a sympathetic ear – always have had – and even as an adult, you’ve gone to her when you want someone who will really listen and understand. She’ll always be on your side.
     For her young children, she clears her schedule so she can run them around from place to place. She gives up opportunities so they can have more opportunities.
     For we adults w/living mothers, let me share this letter read by Dr. James Dobson on the “Focus on Family” radio program—a letter from an 80 year old woman to her children on her birthday:
To all my children:
    I suppose my upcoming birthday started my thoughts along these lines...This is a good time to tell you that what I truly want are things I can never get enough of, yet they are free. I want the intangibles.
    I need your patience when I don’t hear what you say the first time. I know how tiresome it is to always be repeating, but sometimes I must ask you to repeat. I need your patience when I think too much about the past, with my slowness and my set ways. I want you to be tolerant with what the years have done to me physically.
    Please be understanding about my personal care habits. I spill things. I lose things. I get unduly excited when I try to figure out my bank statements. I can’t remember what time to take my medication, or if I took it already. I take too many naps. Sometimes sleep helps to pass the day.
    Well, there you have it: time, patience, and understanding. Those are priceless gifts that I want.
    Finally, in his Philippian letter, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I know I can, too! It’s a wonderful feeling to know His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me. I guess being old isn’t so bad after all! Love, Mom
     We always liked to talk to mom – she would listen – but now she’s older, she has issues, and now it’s your turn to be her “rock” and take time to listen. “But, she’s always complaining, she talks about herself a lot, she asks same question over and over…”
     In their older days, our parents have many fears and anxieties – and perhaps a few increasingly annoying habits. May we treat them as we hope to be treated when the day comes that we find ourselves in their shoes! That is, attentively, patiently, and lovingly.
     Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” 
     “Honor” – “glorify, or reverence.” This is binding as long as your mother lives. Another command says “Children, obey your parents,” but this becomes less binding when the child leaves home and begins his own, but “honor” is different. It is an obligation that endures as long as one’s parents are alive. They must always be respected. If the husband is the head of the home (Eph. 5:23), then the mother is the heart. Don’t break her heart.
     “Ok, but my mother isn’t honorable.” The Bible says nothing about that. It doesn’t say, “Honor thy mother only if you think she’s deserving of it.” It says, “Honor thy father and thy mother…” Don’t shut her out, don’t turn your back on her, but show her a measure of respect. By the way, Ex. 20:12 is the only one of the 10 commandments which includes a built-in promise of blessing.
     Mom needs a sincere “Thank you,” and not just today, but from a genuinely thankful heart when least expected.
     There’s nothing too good for her, we could never repay her, but we ought to die trying before she does! If your mother was/is as good as mine – as good as my children’s mother is – she didn’t/won’t spend on herself unless all your needs were (or are) met. Thanks be to God for loving mothers!

 - 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/

Looking for a Short-Cut?
By Joe Chesser
 
    When James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College, a father brought his son to enroll him in higher education pursuits.  After reviewing what would be required, and wishing for a shorter course of study for the boy, the father said to Mr. Garfield, “The boy can never take all that in.  He wants to get through quicker. Can you arrange it for him?”  Garfield was quick to respond, “Oh yes.  He can take a short course. It all depends upon what you want to make of him. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but He only takes two months to make a squash.”
    Many often dream of and sometimes even expect to grow to spiritual maturity in a very short time.  However, there are no short-cuts when it comes to spiritual development and maturity.  Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness of Midian preparing to be the one to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Jesus spent 30 years preparing for his 3 year ministry. It takes 20 years to be considered an adult, and many more years to actually become a mature adult. Why then are we surprised that it takes a considerable amount of time to reach spiritual maturity?
    Yet even time itself does not ensure maturity.  The writer of Hebrews pointed out that there were some Christians who ought to be mature enough to be teaching others, but were, in fact, still needing to be bottle-fed themselves on milk (the “elementary principles of God’s word” – Heb. 5:12-14).  Some of these baby Christians had been Christians close to 30 years. Can you imagine?  30 years and still not mature enough to feed on “meat”; they still needed “milk.”  Sad, isn’t it?!
    Spiritual growth requires a steady diet of God’s word.  Peter, addressing this same subject, wrote, “like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Paul adds that by “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him …” (Eph. 4:15).
    Learning takes place in consistent, regular, small doses.  Many years ago, a friend of mine, Dan Lightfoot, said that he doesn’t remember what he learned on any given day during his school days, but he knows each day a little progress was made. That’s why regular Bible study is so important.  That’s also why God wants parents to teach their
children His ways as the go about their daily activities (Deut. 6:6-9).  Just 15 minutes of focused Bible study each day will pay rich rewards.
    There are no short-cuts.  Do you want to mature to be an oak … or a squash?

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.cofcfruitland.com/

Hybrid Seed
By Joe Slater

    When I was growing up on a dry-land farm in eastern Colorado, hybrid seed was one of the best things going. Drought tolerance, disease resistance, and other desirable traits were enhanced in hybrid varieties, generally resulting in higher yields and (we hoped) larger profits. Hybrids had their drawbacks, but the advantages out-weighed them. Today, researchers have gone a giant step further. With genetic engineering, desirable traits can be added, or undesirable ones removed, by manipulating the genetic code of the plant! Some object to genetic engineering for various reasons, but that’s another discussion for another time.
    Desirable as hybrids and genetic engineering might be in agriculture, they are unmitigated disasters in the spiritual realm. Jesus likened God’s word to seed (Luke 8:11). We are to desire the “sincere” (unmixed, pure) word of God (1 Peter 2:2). We are specifically forbidden to add to, take from, or alter God’s word in any way (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18, 19).
    The spiritual seed, as God has given it, is perfect. No mere human can ever improve upon its “genetic code.” Cross-breeding God’s truth with the traditions and dogmas of man results only in a corrupt harvest.
    Hybrids generally do not occur in nature. Man’s manipulation is required to produce them. Likewise, man’s manipulation is required in order for spiritual hybrids to occur. Unfortunately, people have not long hesitated to modify God’s will, mixing in their own opinions and philosophies.
    Hybrids and genetically engineered plants often produce larger yields than conventional varieties. Even so, a hybrid or altered “gospel” may produce impressive “results” (i.e. attract larger crowds, perhaps even generate many baptisms). Well-intentioned brethren may opine: “They are baptizing lots of people; they must be doing something right.” Perhaps so, but not necessarily. Jesus did everything right, but even His followers sometimes “went back, and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). Fickle, fleshly-minded folks may flock to have their ears tickled with fables and half-truths, but will find the plain truth much less tantalizing (see 2 Timothy 4:3, 4).
    Let us determine beforehand that we will not yield to the temptation to sacrifice the purity of God’s word for the sake of pleasing the multitudes. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). The gospel is God’s power unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, will do.

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com

Fully Free
By H.L. Gradowith

I'm so glad that I am His
I'm so glad that He is mine
I'm so thankful that he's watching ev'rywhere!
None could love me like He does,
Naught can save me but His blood:
I'm so glad that he helps me my burdens bear!

I'm not worthy of His love,
Nor the mercy that he has,
Nor the washing of my sins all clean away!
When I've done all I can do
I've no profit there to show
Still he'll save me come the Final Judgement Day!

As I wander thru the night
Knowing not what I might find
It is good to know that He's protecting me,
Then, as night turns into day,
And I see what once was hid...
I, at last, in Heaven am made fully free!

- 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.
Resisting Temptation
By Travis L. Quertermous

      Temptation is a daily fact of life. All of us are faced with making decisions between right and wrong every day. Even Jesus Christ was tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says of our Lord, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." So we learn that it is not a sin to be tempted, but it is sinful to give in to temptation.
      What is the source of temptation? In answering, we must emphasize that God never entices us to sin! James 1:13 says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, not does He Himself tempt anyone." James went on to explain that the source of our temptations are our own weaknesses (James 1:14-16). The devil is called "the tempter" in the Bible because he preys on those weaknesses and entices us accordingly to disobey God.
      Satan once tempted Jesus Christ in three different ways as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11. Every time, He countered Satan's Temptations by quoting Scripture. He answered the devil's lies with God's truth! In Ephesians 6:17, the word of God is called "the sword of the Spirit." It is the one weapon Satan has no answer for. God gave it to us to overcome the tempter and his schemes.
      James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Friends, how is your spiritual swordsmanship?

- 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/

God Blessed America!
By Steve Higginbotham

     This past week, I couldn't help but take notice that during the Major League All-Star Game, a stadium full of people sang, "God, Bless America."  While so many were singing, "God, Bless America," I was thinking to myself,  "God blessed America!"
     When's the last time we stopped to consider how many ways God has already blessed America? When's the last time we paused long enough to give him thanks? We frequently ask God to “Bless America,” but we infrequently give him thanks because he has “Blessed America.”
     As a matter of fact, when I think of the request, “God, Bless America,” I must wonder why he would want to do so?  I find it rather nervy of our nation to ask God to bless us when we have removed the Bible from public education; when we have removed prayer from public forums; when we are attempting to remove any references to the cross, the ten commandments, and Christianity from public and federal property; when we have ignored God’s command not to murder, and we have granted mothers the right to murder their own children; and when we have ignored God’s definition of marriage and created our own.  And the list can go on and on.
     In light of this, why would God bless America today? In my judgment, if we are going to muster the nerve to ask God to bless us, it’s time to give him thanks for all the ways in which he has blessed us in the past.  It’s time to allow God to freely move without restraint within this nation that he has made so great.  It’s time we recognize his place as God and obey his laws.   And it’s time for God’s people to make intercession on behalf of those within our nation who do not know him. That would be a much needed start if we truly want God to bless America as he has blessed America in the past.

- 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
Stand With God's Word
By Ronald Bartanen
 
     In a world of spiritual darkness, where should the “children of light” stand? The answer should be obvious: We must continue to stand in the light of God’s word.  When “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Tim. 3:13), our ears must be closed to the voice of Satan, and open to the voice of God’s truth, His word (John 17:17).
     It is becoming more and more evident that the voice of God is becoming increasingly unpopular in our own nation of liberty.  In fact, God’s word is being treated as extreme and contemptible.  As business owners are being sued for refusing to cater to lifestyles that the Bible condemns, courts are repeatedly coming down on the side of those who reject God’s standards.  Religious freedom has been muted to “freedom of worship.”  In other words, “Keep your moral views inside your church-walls.”
       In a recent case in Phoenix, Arizona, Michal Salman, a committed husband and a father of six, had his home raided by 12 police officers, and was jailed for 60 days, put on 3 years’ probation, and fined $12,000.  His crime? He had not gotten “permission” to have daily prayer meetings in his own home.  The long arm of political-correctness-police is now beginning to reach into the sanctuary of our homes.  You already probably know of the forbidding of chaplains to pray “in Jesus’ name.”  Other religious expression is being tabooed as well. Recently at the U.S. Air Force Academy, as reported by Todd Starnes, FoxNews, a cadet had written on his personal whiteboard, “I have been crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).  When seen by Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), he filed a complaint, and the offensive verse was erased under the eye of Lt. Col. Denise Cooper. The MRFF response to the message was that it “passively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA.”  To the credit of other cadets, a small rebellion ensued, as, overnight, more verses appeared on whiteboards.  In addition to Bible verses and thoughts, some, to give it balance, added verses from the Quran.  Although no official Air Force code was violated, the powers-that-be threatened punishment for the offenders.
       Anti-Christian bigotry reigns under the guise of “tolerance.”  By our use of our constitutional liberties, Christians are accused of creating a hostile environment, while it seems the hostility is more and more being directed against Christians who stand up for Biblical values.  We need more who, as these young cadets, will be willing, in the face of the powers-that-be, to stand firm with God’s word.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Corruption
By Ron Thomas
 
    It is a mantra of Hollywood and others in the entertainment community to declare that their particular form of occupation (or entertainment) in no way can be linked to bad behavior  Violent video games, secular and vulgar music, movies that portray godly values as a drag on a person or community, and suchlike cannot scientifically be shown to affect society adversely, they assert.
    Someone forgot to tell the Lord about scientific studies.  “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33, ESV).  The context of the remark in Corinthians pertains to those who deny the possibility of the resurrection: Paul deals with this denial as it relates to the Lord, just as he dealt with it when he spoke to those in Athens (Acts 17).  He makes the application that with such influence being present, one is merely deceived when it is thought the influence can be stopped.

- 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

Be Afraid of the Dark
By David R. Ferguson

     “Daddy, please don’t turn out the light! I’m afraid of the dark!” What father has not heard these words and has had his heart touched as he was tucking his little child in bed for the night? I know I have.
     I do not know about you, but I do not believe I have ever met a little child who was not afraid of the dark. It seems to me as if there is something instinctual in our very human DNA makeup that tells us to be wary of the dark. And if you think about it, it really does make sense, for darkness is the absence of light. When we are in the dark we cannot see the dangers that confront us. With light, those dangers are revealed, they are illumined, and we can see how to steer clear and avoid them.
     It is unfortunate that mankind has chosen to walk in the pathway of darkness, rather than to walk in the Light of God’s Word. David wrote thousands of years ago in Psalm 119:105, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my path.”
     When we walk in the darkness of sin we are no longer walking in the Light of God and that is something in which we all should hold great fear. Maybe this is yet another reason why Jesus tells us, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3 [NAS]). A little child is humble, and he or she has the humility to admit his or her fear of the dark. But as we grow older we learn to no longer fear the darkness. We embrace the darkness, that which we used to dread, and even to love it. Jesus warns, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19 [NAS]).
     That love of darkness and of evil is the driving force behind why there is so much danger and strife in the world today. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 [NAS]). Paul also explained that the mission given to him by Christ was to go to both Jews and Gentiles alike “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to Light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 2:18a [NAS]).
     Fearing the dark is really not such a bad idea after all. We all need to become as little children, and learn to fear and reject the darkness, wherein lies our defeat and death, and turn to the Light and victory of Jesus Christ, wherein lies our hope of salvation from our sins and eternal life in Him!

- 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
All Is Gain
By J. Randal Matheny

  “The blessing from the Lord makes a person rich,
  and he adds no sorrow to it” Proverbs 10.22.

No trouble, no sorrow, no sadness nor pain
Belong to the riches of Christ—all is gain;
The blessings of God carry no ill effect,
For they come from heaven, undiluted, direct.

- 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) 2013 J. Randal Matheny
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