BulletinGold #167
June 2015   Vol 15 #2
 

June 2015                                         BG# 167                                          Vol. 15                                          Issue 02
BULLETINGold
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In this issue ...
Doers of the Word
By Alan Smith
A Fool Who Was a Poorly Dressed and Homeless Preacher
By Bill Brandstatter
Stop Signs By Ron Adams
The Integrity of Christianity By Bryan McAlister
Fathers Are Still Relevant! By R.W. McAlister
Don’t Follow the Dog
By Jim Faughn
The Graduation Present 
By David A. Sargent
Being too Hot or Too Cold?
By Ryan Thornsberry
Have You Earned Your Place In Heaven?
By Steve Higginbotham
Baptism: Death, Burial, and Resurrection By Joe Slater
Keep Swinging By Joe Chesser
Beating Worry
By David Bragg
To God Belong
By J. Randal Matheny
No God?  Know God! By Gerald Cowan
Paul’s Prescription for Peaceful Living By Clifton Angel
What is Eternal? By Ronald Bartanen

Doers of the Word
By Alan Smith

    Three men went deer hunting, and as they crossed the field going to the woods, a huge buck jumped up in their path.  All three fired at the same time.  The buck dropped, and as they came up on the buck, they realized they had a problem.  Which one of them shot the deer?
    As they discussed the problem, a game warden came along to check for hunting licenses.  He offered to sort out the problem, examined the deer, and said, "One of you guys is a preacher, right?"  And sure enough, one of them was.
    "Well, preacher, your shot is the one that got the buck."
    Amazed, the guys asked how he knew one of them was a preacher and that the preacher's shot was the one that scored.
    "Simple," the game warden said, "It went in one ear and out the other."
    As a preacher, it does feel that way sometimes.  But it's difficult to be too harsh on those who listen to my sermons because I know that sometimes, as a reader of God's Word, I tend to do the same thing.  I read what God says.  I even understand what God says (though I wish sometimes that I didn't!).  It's just that I don't allow what I'm reading to make any real difference in my life.  It goes in one ear and out the other.
    James wrote, "Do what God's word says.  Don't merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves.  If someone listens to God's word but doesn't do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.  However, the person who continues to study God's perfect teachings that make people free and who remains committed to them will be blessed.  People like that don't merely listen and forget; they actually do what God's teachings say." (James 1:22-25, GOD'S WORD)
    May God's Word go in one ear, stay there, and then demonstrate itself in how you live this day.
    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
A Fool Who Was a Poorly Dressed and Homeless Preacher
By Bill Brandstatter

    In an age where looks matter, the above title probably will catch some attention. In an age when academics and education are significant, the word “fool” engenders some feelings. In a time when homeless people may be looked on as “panhandlers,” we should notice for a moment this fool who was poorly dressed and homeless. Let me also add that this man was a preacher. His preaching wasn't for show. His message wasn't one of culture relativity. He didn't preach for profit. Show and entertainment weren't in his vocabulary. He preached Christ. This man was the apostle Paul. He uses the above description of himself in 1 Cor. 4:10-13. What is a fool? The Bible says a “fool” is one who denies the existence of God. (Ps. 14:1).
    The worldly person would consider the preaching of the cross as foolishness. (1 Cor. 1:18) The preaching of the cross means change has to come. The preaching of the cross requires accountability and responsibility. In this sense Paul was a “fool” in the eyes of those in his day. (1 Cor. 4:10). The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. Perhaps we ought to ask the question: “What kind of fool am I?
    Foolishness in our world is evident in our society today. Many people are circumstance-oriented. The thinking of a few is just change the circumstance or situation and all will be well. The wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of God. Paul makes that abundantly clear in 1 Cor. 1:18-25. Much of what the world classifies as “smart”, “wise,” “updated, or “in” may be classified as foolishness in the sight of God. Sometimes we are told to “get with the program.” The wisdom of the world says that truth is relative. Everybody is entitled to his or her own belief. There is no exclusive truth. If I give in to the philosophy of the world, I am a fool. The world can lure us through emotions and feelings. Some would say, “How can it be so wrong when it feels so right?” yet, God's way tells us to beware of philosophy of the world. (Col. 2:8)
    Foolishness of God is better than man's wisdom. Paul wrote: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men”. (1 Cor. 11:25) The world tries to reason away the ways of God. God has been taken out of our schools. In many homes, God has been eliminated. Our government tries to take God out of the picture with a false notion of “separation of church and state.” Paul states that God has made foolish the wisdom of the world. (1 Cor. 1:20) God's way is always right. Without God, man's way will lead to foolishness and problems. (Prov. 14:12)
    Do we go along with the world's way of thinking? Are we trying to be politically correct or Biblically correct? Are we seeking to please God or man? (Gal. 1:10) Let us be fools for Christ. (1 Cor. 4:10) The world may reject us, but God will accept us.

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
Stop Signs
By Ron Adams

    Two very true statements: (1) Stop signs don’t stop cars. (2) God’s laws don’t stop sin.
    Laws are not designed to stop lawlessness. They only specify what is forbidden. It’s the driver who either obeys or disobeys stop signs. And it’s the individual who obeys or disobeys God’s commandments.
    The driver must deal with the consequences of disobeying stop signs. And the individual must deal with the eternal consequences of disobeying God’s “stop signs.”
    Ignoring a stop sign may not always result in a serious consequence, but disobeying God’s commandments will certainly incur consequences. Sometimes in this life, but definitely in the judgment.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” John 12:48
     LESSON: Obey stop signs to avoid serious problems. Obey God’s commandments to avoid eternal consequences.

- F.Y.C. is a monthly publication by Ron Adams. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at http://ra10ar.com Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2015
The Integrity of Christianity
By Bryan McAlister

    Unfortunately, we are no longer merely able to say we are Christian, we must prove we are Christian. This stands to reason, if we are willing to make the claim, then we had better already be living in such a manner so as to prove the claim. The integrity of Christianity has been tainted by those who practice it only at their convenience, and dismiss it when it would compromise their plans. Even in Paul’s day, he knew the importance of character matching claim. “But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict” (I Thessalonians 2:2). Taking the saving message of the gospel of Christ to the world is not without difficulty, that is where our determination to, “let” our light shine before men really counts.
    “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (I Thessalonians 2:4). Our message must be distinct, showing others the power God’s word has when it is presented in its simplicity and purity. This is another trademark of N.T. Christianity in that we are not striving to reinvent the concept of church, but return to the authority of God’s revealed word to live under His banner of love and guidance.
    “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness – God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ” (I Thessalonians 2:5-6). Preaching and teaching the gospel is commanded of God to us. But, in order that it may have an impact in the lives of our families, friends, and folks we meet, it must be modeled in our lives. They need to see the gospel message lived and modeled and making a difference in us. The gospel is distinct and we must be deliberate in our walk.
    Ultimately Paul gives us the description of how we re to live out our faith. He used words like “gentle” and “affectionate” and their work among the people as a “labor” for the sake of souls (I Thessalonians 2:7-9). When you think of gentleness, perhaps thoughts are conjured of one who has time and patience in abundance for all who have need. There is no substitute for genuine gentleness. There are times when we have genuine concern for people’s souls or their welfare, but our concern reveals itself through criticism, condemnation, or outright harshness, believing souls will respond to the gospel through our harshness. Paul’s ultimate description of gentleness, affection, and labor, was that of the nature of a mother. While we’ve honored her on “her day” we carry with us the lesson of her devotion to the Lord.
    I hope you know, there is a rich blessing which comes to the lives of those we meet, when they see in us the nature of our Lord and can learn of His salvation and newness of life to enjoy here and hereafter.

- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Centerville Church of Christ, in Centerville, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centervillechurchofchrist.org
Fathers Are Still Relevant!
By R.W. McAlister

    It seems that as a result of the growing "feminist movement," some in our society downplay the role of the man in the family and some think that a father is really not needed, but that simply isn’t true.
    In many cases, the welfare check has replaced the father. Every family functions at its best when both the father and the mother are present and are both contributing to the family’s growth. According to God’s Word, the man is to be the head of the family. As Paul said, I Corinthians 11:2-3 “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
    When a dad follows His God given role, he will learn to be the spiritual leader in the family. He will be the head of the wife, understand that he must in turn be subject to Christ. In fact, this is where fatherhood begins. You see, if a husband is not conducting himself as a Christian mate, then his children will suffer because they won’t grow up knowing how a mother and father should treat each other in accordance with God’s will.
    Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:25-29 by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”.
    We learn from Paul that we are to love our wives just as Christ loved the church. Think about how great a love that really is. It should be all-encompassing, undying, so much so that the bond between husband and wife is impenetrable.
    Another important thing that will help us to be good fathers is to have an active prayer life.
    Being the spiritual leader of the home and leading by example can be very challenging – especially if we try to do it all by ourselves. We should never think that we don’t need help, because all of us do and the best source of help that we have is through the avenue of prayer (I Tim. 2:8).
    It might seem like we have our kids with us for a long time, but we really don’t. We only have a short time to make a positive impression on them and there is no doubt we’re going to make some mistakes along the way – I’ve made plenty and I hope my kids don’t suffer long-term because of my ignorance, but I have full confidence that if we pray to God to be better fathers and do the things we should, God will help us.
    Since prayer should be a part of our lives, fathers should make sure to take time out to pray with their families. There is a saying that goes, “A family that prays together stays together.” Let your children see you pray. Lead them in prayer and teach them how to pray.
    One other important point: consider Ephesians 6:4: “…fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
    Paul is teaching us that we should not provoke them in a mean-spirited way that will cause them to be angry or cause them to regret that you’re their father. Paul also tells us that we are to train them up, that is to fully teach them about God’s Word. This is one of the greatest responsibilities of a father.
    Again, he should be the spiritual leader of the household – that’s God’s design, and he should take an active part in teaching his children about the Lord. This is not a new concept. In fact, God has always wanted fathers to be involved in their children’s upbringing.
    For example, notice what the Bible says about Abraham in Genesis 18:19: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment...” Even as far back as Abraham, God had this plan for fathers. Teach the family. Be the loving, God-fearing head of the household. That’s God’s plan.
    We need to choose who we’re going to serve, as Joshua said in Joshua 24:15: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
    We cannot be lazy fathers because it’s our God-given responsibility to train up our children in the way of the Lord. Not only should we study our Bibles, we must also live by what we read. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
     We need to pay attention to what we say and what we do because our children are watching. If you use foul language or if you’re physically or verbally abusive to your wife or others, then you need to realize: your children will think this is right behavior and will do as you do. We should constantly be asking ourselves if what I’m doing is a good or a bad example. We’re not going to be perfect at this, but we must continue to work at it so that we can have the best possible influence on our children.
    Let us pray to God for more Biblically sound, faithful fathers!

 - 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/

Don’t Follow the Dog
By Jim Faughn

    He usually played in the back yard or in the field that adjoined it, but on this day, he found himself being lured into the front yard. His attention had been drawn to a cute little dog he hadn’t seen before.
    He was only allowed to cross the gravel road for one reason. If one of his parents gave him permission to retrieve the mail from the mailbox on the other side of the road, he could do so, but only after hearing the familiar, “Be sure you look both ways!”
    On this day he crossed the road without looking both ways and without permission. He couldn’t waste that much time. His new friend was already well ahead of him.
    Before he knew it, he was in the woods across the road from his house. Yes, those woods. The woods his parents had made sound so terrible. His new friend apparently hadn’t seen any danger though, so he had happily followed him into the “forbidden forest.”
    Before long, a new realization dawned on him. He had no idea where he was. He also had no idea where his new friend was. He was surrounded by briars. He was all alone. He was scared. He wanted to go home, but he did not know how to get there.
    He was very glad to hear his dad’s voice calling his name!
    He knew he might be in trouble for doing what his parents had told him repeatedly not to do, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He had no desire to ever be in those woods again. He didn’t care if he ever saw that dog again (which he didn’t).
    Later, he discovered why his parents had warned him so sternly about those woods. There was an old abandoned well in those woods. He learned that his dad’s heart sank when he saw the evidence that his only child had been dangerously close to that well. The well was so well hid with leaves, limbs, etc. that the father feared that there was a chance that his son’s body would never be found if, indeed, his son had fallen into the well.
    The little boy never knew he was in that much danger. He just knew that his “adventure” wasn’t as exciting or rewarding as he had thought it might be and that he was more than ready for the comfort and security of home.
    About sixty years later, that “little boy” has five grandchildren, all of whom are older than he was when his carelessness could have cost him his life. In those sixty or so years, he’s seen his story repeated countless numbers of times.
    He’s seen far too many people follow a person, a lifestyle, a philosophy, and any number of other things so far “into the woods” that they become totally disoriented and estranged from the people who really love them. More importantly, they have become so confused and entangled that they don’t think they can find their way back to God.
    For more than thirty of those sixty years He has attempted to warn people about the dangers of being lured in and/or lured away by improper influences. He’s also spent quite a bit of time trying to reclaim those who have become ensnared by Satan and his “devices” (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11).
    He has shed tears of joy when a precious soul has returned home. He has also shed tears of sadness when one has gone into eternity without ever returning home.
    You have a Father who loves you, a Savior who died for you, and brothers and sisters in the Lord who care deeply for you. You’ve got way too much to lose in an unguarded and reckless moment.
    Please take it from one who has been there --- Don’t follow the dog!

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
The Graduation Present
By David A. Sargent

    Skyler James recently graduated from high school and the next day at her graduation party, she met a very surprising special guest named Charlie Heflin.
    Heflin recalled the moment. "When her mother introduced her to me, I said, 'Hello, my name is Charlie. You and I have met once before.’ I said, ‘We met back on Nov. 4 1995… Do you remember that day?’ She said, 'No.' I said, 'I know, I don't expect you to remember your birthday. On your birthday, I found you underneath the pine tree in a cemetery.' That's when she realized who I was and she started crying and gave me a big hug."
    Heflin was 27-years-old at the time and working with a cable company. The temperature that day in November was 20 below zero with wind chill factored in. He was wearing several layers of coats but still took a few minutes to sit in his truck to get warm. Then Heflin heard dispatch say on his scanner than an anonymous female had called in saying she had left a newborn baby at a cemetery near a pine tree. Dispatch also said that the infant had not yet been found.
    Heflin thought about a nearby cemetery and decided to drive over to take a look. He pulled up in front of the cemetery and immediately spotted a large pine tree. "There was about a foot of snow on the ground. There were footprints all over the area so it looked like somebody had been there. I couldn't find anything. I walked around the pine tree a couple of times and I didn't see anything." Heflin walked back to his truck but decided to go back and look one more time. "As I approached the tree, I heard a baby whimper. I thought, 'Oh, she's here.'" He found Skyler wrapped in a plaid Raggedy Anne blanket.
    The day-old infant still had mucus on her and her umbilical cord that was tied off with a shoe string. He immediately wiped pine leaves off her and wrapped her in his winter overcoat and pressed her up against his volunteer fire fighter fleece to warm her up.
    "I called it in and handed her to the ambulance and that was the last time I saw her," Heflin said.
    Five days later, Bonnie and Greg James took in the foster child and eventually adopted the girl, naming her Skyler. Skyler said her parents had shared her history with her. She wondered if she would ever get to meet the man who saved her life that day.
    When Bonnie James was addressing her daughter’s graduation invitations, she looked through the white pages for listings for “Charles Heflin.” She contacted each one, and when she found the right one, she invited him to her daughter's graduation and her party.
    Heflin attended the commencement ceremony, but did not meet Skyler until the day of her graduation party. "I was very speechless. I didn't know what to say," James, 17, told ABC News about her meeting with Charlie Heflin on Sunday. "I could not say 'thank you' enough. I just hugged him and cried."
    Skyler James is set to attend Concordia University in Chicago where she plans to major in communications. She aspires to continue to share her story. "It's very important to me to remind myself that even though I had a rough start in life, I have an amazing life and I wouldn't change anything for the world. I'm just so blessed that God has given me this great life," she said.
    Because of our sins, we were lost – as helpless as an abandoned newborn baby on a frigid winter day...
    But God sent Jesus to our rescue. He gave His life for us to save us from our sins so that we might live forever (Ephesians 1:7).
    God will save and give the GIFT of eternal life to those who will place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). The blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
    Those who accept His offer of salvation and eternal will one day get to meet the Savior face to face when He comes to take the redeemed to an eternal home.
    What a GLORIOUS DAY that will be!
    Won’t YOU accept His offer?

- 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

* Information gleaned from “Teen’s Graduation Present is Hero Who Rescued Her as Infant” by Barbara Schmitt from ABC News Blogs
Being Too Hot or Too Cold?
By Ryan Thornsberry

    Revelations 3:13-16 reads, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, and unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
     In John’s letter, he records Christ’s message to the church of Laodicea. Here the contrast is obvious–those that are hot (eager to do God’s will) and those that are cold (indifferent to do God’s will)–but notice in the message, we have another category that many people find themselves in today...those that are lukewarm (doing what they want, how they want, when they want, and for the purpose they want).
     For those that were eager to do God’s will, it is important to work in the pathways of righteousness. We can have zeal for God, but without the proper knowledge of what we are doing it is still sin (Romans 10:2-3). Paul was a great example of this before he learned of Christ (Philippians 3:6).
     By zeal, we are meaning enthusiasm. We need and should be enthused to do God’s will as long as we are following His ways.
     For those that are indifferent to doing God’s will, God will allow them to serve their own self interests. Romans 1:25-26 tells us about God’s view on this matter. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.”
    Also notice Leviticus 18:22. In both cases, the sin is evident. For those that are lukewarm, notice their result–“vomited from the mouth” – I know that’s not a pleasing thought. But it is no more pleasing at lunchtime, afternoon, supper time, or late at evening. Remember this is Christ saying that If you are lukewarm to Him—doing His will on your terms not His–He will vomit you out of His mouth, and you will land in Hell. Have you taken your stand for Christ?

- Ryan Thornsberry lives in Cape Girardeau, MO and serves as an elder for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL. R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and he may be contacted through their website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/
Have You Earned Your Place In Heaven?
By Steve Higginbotham

    After making a whopping $50 million donation to a gun control initiative, and because of his work against obesity and smoking, former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg was quoted as saying: "I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in...I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close."
    How does that sound to you?  Presumptuous? Arrogant?  The very idea that Mr. Bloomberg could think he could "buy" his way into heaven must be offensive to God.  How less offensive is it when we believe and act like we can earn our way into heaven by...

    Going to church three times a week.
    Reading our Bibles daily.
    Giving generously each first day of the week.
    Helping the poor.
    Being a good father/mother/husband/wife/son/daughter.

    The above list could go on and on.  Do we, along with Mr. Bloomberg need to be reminded that after all we could possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10)?  Do we also need to be reminded that our righteousness, the best we can offer, is as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6)?
    You see, Heaven isn't a matter of attainment, it's a matter of atonement.  If we're in Heaven some day, it won't be because we earned it.  It won't be because we wowed God with our own morality and righteousness.  And it won't be because God's indebted to us.  On the contrary, it will be because we're indebted to him!

- 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
Baptism: Death, Burial, and Resurrection
By Joe Slater

    For whatever reasons, religious people disagree on just about everything having to do with baptism. Confusion reigns, indicating that Satan has done his homework well (while we, perhaps, have been preoccupied with more “sophisticated” matters). Just what does the Bible say on the subject? In his letters to Rome and Colosse, Paul taught that in baptism, we identify with, and receive the benefits of, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
    Sin makes us spiritually dead. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Before becoming Christians, the Colossians had been “dead in (their) trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). Though alive physically, they were separated from God by their sins.
    As they obeyed the gospel of Jesus, however, they were “buried with Him in baptism” (2:12). Just as Jesus, having died, was buried in Joseph of Arimithea’s tomb, so these who were dead in sin were buried as they were plunged under the water.
    Romans 6:4 gives an additional detail – they were “buried with Him through baptism into death.” Yes, they were baptized into death. But wait! Didn’t we just read that they were already dead in sin before baptism? Why, then, were they baptized into death? Because the death into which they were baptized was a death to sin (see Romans 6:2). That is, in baptism they terminated their relationship with sin. So remember: before baptism, they were dead in sin; while buried in baptism they died to sin.
    Thus far we have seen baptism’s identity with Jesus’ death and burial. What about the resurrection? Romans 6:4 says “that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Likewise, Colossians 2:12, after speaking of baptism as a burial, says that “you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.” Just as Jesus came forth from the tomb, triumphant over sin and death, so we come forth from baptism cleansed from sin by His blood, alive from the dead (spiritually), not by our own merit, but by faith in the working of God.
    Is baptism essential? It is only as essential as dying to sin; only as necessary as being raised with Jesus to live a new life; only as indispensable as identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
    Maybe I’m naive, but I really don’t understand what all the controversy is about.

- 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
Keep Swinging
By Joe Chesser
 
 
    Henry (Hank) Aaron is a baseball legend.  He has hit more home runs than anyone else in baseball, even more than Babe Ruth.  Aaron holds the record, and has for many years. Such an achievement requires many qualities, including talent, time, good health, persistence, focus, adaptability, and the ability to overcome obstacles.  Regarding this last quality Aaron once said, “My motto was always to keep swinging.  Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was to keep swinging.” That’s pretty good advice for baseball players.  It’s also pretty good advice for Christians. Keep swinging.  No matter what’s going on around you keep doing the things you do best, keep doing the things that are most important to you, keep focusing on the positive.
    Sometimes in your personal life there are a lot of distractions and difficulties to overcome.  You may not feel your best physically or emotionally.  Keep swinging.  You may have financial or employment problems.  Keep swinging.  You may be struggling with a particularly strong temptation.  Keep praying.  Keep reading the Bible.  Keep attending church.  Keep in touch with those who want to help.  You may feel like you have given everything you have to give and those around you are still asking for more.  Don’t give up. Christians keep swinging.
    Or it may be broader in scope.  It may be that your family is having difficulties. Good relationships with your spouse and children are always challenging.  Your spouse is selfish and doesn’t understand you, and your children aren’t listening. But don’t give up.  Keep swinging.  Or maybe it’s your in-laws who are troublesome.  I don’t recommend that you swing at them, but do try to work toward positive solutions.  Great Christian relationships require long-term commitment and effort.
    Sometimes there are even distractions and difficulties in the church.  The one place where things ought to be the best often is not.  Satan knows how to use our human weaknesses to achieve his purposes.  You can bet he never stops swinging.  He encourages in-house fighting; he promotes discouragement and discontentment. He wants us to tolerate sin.   To counter his attacks, we must keep swinging ourselves.  We must take on the Christian armor, study the scriptures, pray without ceasing, draw near to God, and maintain a pro-active, aggressive advance against Satan.  In the words of Hank Aaron, we must keep swinging!  In the words of Paul, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord ...” (1 Cor. 15:58).

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

    Time has a way of improving the conditions of daily lives. What posed as hardship for my grandparents are today’s luxuries. Surrounded with gadgets and gizmos to make life easy, why can’t they invent something, anything that will remove worry from our lives?
    Volumes have been written to abate the damage worry causes. Man may find more things to worry about, but Jesus alone holds the secret to beat worry. Jesus said that to neutralize stress one must keep clear, spiritual priorities (Mat. 6:33). The Christian is entitled to place his trust in God. Unlike the rest of creation, God gives the faithful disciple the benefits of His protection (v. 26). Let God have priority over any and every problem and one can live without being crushed by worry.
    Worry, and the stress it spawns, can be reduced by living one day at a time (Mat. 6:34). Jesus teaches that God is well aware of our needs. Dream big about tomorrow but don’t steal its heartaches. These are literally the times that try men’s souls. Jesus alone can bring contentment to the stressed out world.

- David Bragg is Associate Minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted at bulletingold@gmail.com
To God Belong
By J. Randal Matheny © 2015
 
To God belong the victor's song
And strength of arm and eye;
The work and will for vale and hill
Come from a Throne on high.
 
Salvation, then, is worked by men,
God gives the call to obey;
We can submit to holy Writ,
And walk the length of the way.
 
With no excuse from heaven to loose
The least of God's command,
We live the light by daily fight,
And on the truth we stand.
 
Not bulls and goats with slitted throats
Can cleanse a distant soul,
But Jesus' blood from Calvary's flood
Can make a sinner whole.
 
I-AM can save, and from the grave
Raise men both small and great;
In Christ we rest, and go well dressed
With robes of righteous weight.

- 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) 2015 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
attributions.
                 No God?  Know God
                       By Gerald Cowan

                If there is no God
                There is no life after this life,
                Death is the end for us.  
                The world will still exist, but we
                Will have returned to dust.
                But if there is a God
                Who made us to endure with Him
                Then death is not the end.
                We leave the body and go on
                As spirits in His heav’n,
                If there is no God, there is no heaven.
                Know God and you will know Him in His heav’n.

                If there is no God
                There is no love that can endure
                Beyond the body’s death.
                Affection and relationships
                Will end with our last breath.
                But if there is a God
                Whose nature and intent is love,
                Faith and hope surpassing,
                Then love will last as long as God.
                Love is everlasting.
                If there is no God, there is no true love
                Know God and you will know His perfect love.

                If there is no God
                There is no hope of justice or
                Restraining power on earth.
                The poor and weak will be denied
                If none admits their worth.
                But if there is a God
                Who made us and imposed His will
                The unjust are afraid
                To mistreat the Creator in
                Whose image we are made.
                If there is no God, there can be no hope.
                Know God. In heaven He fulfills your hope.
 
                If there is no God
                There is no peace, I’ve heard it said,
                If men design the rod
                By which they govern other men
                And do not yield to God.
                But if there is a God
                Whose ways are always right and fair,
                Whose love is shared by all,
                He works for good with all of those
                Who follow at His call.
                If there is no God, there can be no peace.
                Know God. In heaven you will find your peace.
        
- 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
Paul’s Prescription for Peaceful Living
By Clifton Angel

    Would I be correct in assuming that you would rather be happy than sad? Would you rather be rejoicing than in grief? Would you rather be at peace than in pain? Among the many wondrous God-inspired passages penned by the apostle Paul, Philippians 4:4–9 certainly stands out in its positive exhortation. Almost in step-by-step fashion, Paul directs the minds of Christians in Philippi toward a life of peace and contentment. What did Paul prescribe?
    1. Be in the Lord (4:4). The only way to get into the Lord is through baptism (Gal 3:27). And anyone who is outside of the Lord will not be saved when He returns (Eph 5:26).
    2. Rejoice in the Lord (4:4). Once one is in Christ, he has a reason to rejoice, and rejoice again.
    3. Show gentleness to everyone (4:5). How many does “all men” include? Does it include the person who made a snide remark to me? Does it include the person who mistreated my loved one? Does it include the person who lives selfishly and needs the love of Christ shown to them? Do we ever decide to show these types of people our meanness, boldness, and rudeness instead of realizing they, too, and especially they, need to see our gentleness?
    4. Sense the Lord’s presence (4:5). I’m not referring to an emotional feeling or excitement. I’m referring to an acknowledgment of the fact that for a person who is “in Christ,” the Lord is always near. He is not in some far away distance where we cannot reach Him—He is “at hand.”
    5. Abstain from anxiety (4:6). Instead, cast all of your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Pet 5:7).
    6. Pray (4:6). One who is “in the Lord” has a tremendous privilege in communicating with the Father through the Lord. Ask Him. Plead with Him. Make requests. But never forget to give thanks. Giving thanks will always make the latter three better. Giving thanks will always help in abstaining from anxiety, sensing the Lord’s presence, remembering to be gentle, and rejoicing in the Lord.
    7. Fill the mind with positive purity (4:8). Those true, honest, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, praise-worthy things—meditate on those.
    8. Do (4:9). Paul said, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do” (Philippians 4:9). A person who is busy doing good doesn’t have time for anything but peace and contentment.
    When our lives are filled with positive practices, we will be recipients of the peace that passes all understanding (4:7). The God of peace will be with us (4:9). We can be content in whatever condition we find ourselves (4:12). And we can endure all things (4:13). Have you taken your prescription today?

- 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/
What is Eternal?
By Ronald Bartanen
 
    Can you conceive of there ever having been simply nothing?  Does the present existence of something not indicate to you that something has always been? It would defy logic to think otherwise. Could anything be simpler than to conclude that from nothing, nothing comes? We live in a complex world and a complex universe.  There are only two possible explanations for the existence of matter: either it has always been and is eternal, or it was created.  We must conclude that either “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), or “in the beginning was matter.”  The Christian faith embraces God as the origin of all things, while atheists will accept the latter explanation for origins.  However, the atheist’s faith must be confronted with perplexing dilemmas.
     What is eternal? If matter is eternal, then the complex designs that we see in all things, from atoms to the universe, exist without a designer.  The inescapable conclusion would be, then, that the logical order of all things has come, of itself, out of illogical chaos.  Therefore, we would be forced to conclude that the conditions essential for life on planet earth just happened.  All the laws of nature, we would have to conclude, exist without a law-giver.  We live in a world that gives every evidence that it was designed for man.  It is as acknowledged by Dr. Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton , “It almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known we were coming.”
     If matter is eternal, we have effects without causes.  Christians look upon the laws of nature as God’s laws.  Atheism provides no rational explanation for natural law apart from the Law-giver.  Life exists, but the atheist’s faith is that life came from non-life, and that all evolved by chance.  Such a claim, of course, is an assumption that is without reason and without evidence.  In contrast, the Christian believes that all things were created by God.  Life itself comes, not from non-life, but from the supreme Life-giver, God.  Only He is eternal.  We should say, as did Jeremiah, “Ah, Lord God: behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

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