BulletinGold #168
September 2015   Vol 15 #3
 


September 2015                                    BG# 168                                    Vol. 15                                          Issue 03
BULLETINGold
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In this issue ...
Examine Yourself
By Ron Adams
Blessings of Righteous Living By R. W. McAlister
Why So Hostile to Jesus? By Lance Cordle
Just Your Interpretation? By Joe Slater
We Need Some Adult Daniels, Too
By Jim Faughn
The Walk
By David R. Ferguson
Just One Piece of Chicken By Clifton Angel
How Deep Is Your Love?
By Donna Richmond Wittlif
How Important is "Going to Church"?
By Ron Bartanen
If I Be Lifted Up
By Gerald Cowan
Shakespeare Couldn’t Read? By Steve Higginbotham
What Holds Me Back? By J. Randal Matheny
Creation Shouts By Edd Sterchi
Brass Tacks By David A. Sargent
Colorblindness and Heaven
By Joe Chesser
Changing the Standard By Alan Smith

Examine Yourself
By
Ron Adams

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:27-28

     Self-examination is profitable, when done honestly and sincerely. This is especially true when we partake of the communion. Eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine signifies having fellowship with Him; a fellowship we share with Him in the death of our old self, so we might walk in newness of life in Him.
     Examination of self, that is. Not of others. What shall we look for in this examination?  First, we need to see whether we give honor to the source of our salvation (God). Second, do we appreciate the work of the heavenly host to bring about our salvation?  Third, we need to look closely at our attitude toward the blessings made available to us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
     Looking over our past actions we observe that, try as we might, we don’t always act properly. Such thoughts humble us and make us realize that His grace is something we dare not be without.
     Looking to the future, we see that with the Lord we “overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37).  Without the Lord, the future would be bleak, the consequences unbearable to think about.  Thus we look forward with great anticipation to His coming again.  This is His promise, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3
     Our self-examination kindles our appreciation for what has been done for us, what we now have, and what is promised in the hereafter. Such self-examination motivates us to live for the Lord, enduring any reproach, any suffering, any hardship.

- Ron Adams, author of 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. © 2014

Blessings of Righteous Living
By R. W. McAlister

    Most people, when they pay the cost for anything, expect something worthwhile in return. I’m sure we’ve all been involved in a transaction before and when it was concluded, thought to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Is this all I’m getting?” When we pay the cost of discipleship, the cost of being a Christian, the blessings are too many to number. In Psalm 68:19, the Bible says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” I hope we realize that - the Lord loads us daily with benefits. Three words stand out to me in that passage: Loadeth, Daily, and Benefits. To load something is to fill it as full as it can possibly be filled. The Lord does this for His children daily, meaning each and every day. A “benefit” is “a kindly, charitable act; a favor” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Whether we realize it or not, the Lord blesses His children daily.
     James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” All our blessings come from God and it’s a fact that man cannot attribute any accomplishment to himself without also including God. It’s not of our own accomplishment that we have what we have. Those who think otherwise (and the number is great) are foolish to leave God out of the equation.
     The blessings and rewards of a righteous life — a faithful life with the Lord — is rich indeed. As a righteous servant of the Lord, we don’t fear the “powers that be” in civil government. Since we “live unto the Lord” (Rom. 14:8), we abide by the laws of the land — that is, unless they conflict with God’s laws — then we obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We don’t have to run from the law because we’ve stolen someone’s property (Eph. 4:28). We don’t have to be afraid of the IRS because we’ve cheated on our taxes (Rom. 13:6-7). We don’t fear the hatred and malice of another human being because we’ve committed adultery with their wife or husband (I Cor. 6:18; Rom. 13:9).
     As a righteous servant of the Lord, we don’t fear getting AIDS because of acts of sodomy or “casual sex.” We’re not concerned about contracting hepatitis or having deformed children because we’ve shared the dirty needles of drug users. Getting drunk and killing someone on the highway never enters our mind even as a remote possibility because we have an addiction to alcohol. A life of righteousness is far removed from all these things and they pose no threat or danger to our lives.
     Sleeping with a clear conscience is a blessing. Can you imagine how many people go to bed at night in fear and anguish? They’re in continuous turmoil and misery. They’re constantly reminded that their ungodly life may catch up with them and they’ll be found out and have to pay the price. Worse yet are the atheists who reject the existence of God, and the ones who have a false sense of security in man-made religion and don’t even realize the serious jeopardy their souls are in! This is not the case with Christians. We sleep well at night. We’re at peace with ourselves and all men. We delight in the joy that is unspeakable.
     Being a righteous servant of the Lord brings the confidence and peace that can only come from the Lord. If you’re not a servant of God, become one today.

 - 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/

Why So Hostile to Jesus?
By
Lance Cordle

    “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”—Paul before Agrippa, as recorded in Acts 26:9
    Why did the Jewish leaders happily anticipate the Messiah, a clearly divine person, but refuse, reject and kill Jesus when He provided sufficient evidence of His deity?
    Why did the Romans accept and allow the worship of Jesus, as long as it was seen as “just another religion,” yet kill Christians when they refused to accept anyone but Jesus as Lord?
    Why did the established “church” preach a form of the gospel, proclaiming Jesus as Lord, but  then persecute many of those who chose to follow Scripture only and refused to worship saints or popes?
    Why do some authors feel such freedom to distort the life of Jesus by claiming all sorts of things about Him, including depicting Him in sinful relationships and circumstances, without a shred of credible evidence to sustain those claims?
    Why do some artists feel free to depict Jesus in vile and lewd situations in portraits and sculptures, claiming artistic freedom, but in far fewer circumstances produce such ”art” portraying the life of men such as Buddha, Mohammed and others like them?
    Why do some television producers create programs, aimed at the general public, which call into question, and in some cases, flatly deny the Bible and its clear assertions about Jesus? 
    Why do sinful people choose to flippantly “throw out” the name of Jesus in the midst of their swearing and cursing, yet apparently never use the names of other  people or things worshiped or revered?
    Why do so many people mark a spot on their calendar for “Christmas” and do good deeds on and around that day, yet live lives that are in opposition to Jesus the rest of the year?
    I believe the answer lies in the nature of Jesus. If He is God, there is no middle ground. Men may try to approach Him half-heartedly or hypocritically, but sooner or later, they must choose to serve Him or oppose Him. As Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34); “Whoever is not with me is against me, and who-ever does not gather with me, scatters” (Matthew 12:30).       

 - 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

Just Your Interpretation?
By Joe Slater

    I always smile (at least on the inside) when some-one asks me, “What does the church of Christ believe about such-and-such?” Usually my reply is something like this: “I don’t know what the church believes about it, but let’s see what the Bible says.”
    I understand what folks are asking – they’re used to the idea of a church having a creed or confession of faith that spells out its “official position” on various issues. But the question arises: If you need a creed to “interpret” the Bible, what makes you think you can understand the creed? Will you need another document to “interpret” the creed? And another to interpret the interpretation of the creed? Where does this end?
    The whole idea of “interpreting” the Bible is troublesome. If, by “interpret,” we mean to determine the teaching of a passage, then of course we must do so. Jesus severely criticized those who failed to use Scripture and sound reasoning to arrive at truthful conclusions (see Matthew 22:29-32).
    But many understand “interpret” to mean putting your own slant on a text to suit your personal agenda. A common assertion, “That’s just your interpretation,” betrays such thinking. It assumes that there are as many interpretations as there are people, and that any particular interpretation is as valid as any other. Therefore, we cannot know for certain what the truth is, nor can we say that any particular interpretation is right or wrong.
    Is there such a thing as the “right” interpretation? Paul affirmed that people who read what he wrote can understand (Ephesians 3:4). That isn’t to say there aren’t “some things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). However, by using the Scriptures with sound reasoning, we can reach reliable conclusions. Peter did not say that those difficult things admit of a dozen interpretations; in fact, he warned that “those who are untaught and unstable twist (those hard passages) to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
    Indeed, wrong interpretations are destructive to our spiritual well being! Let us stand boldly with the word of God, “handling aright the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

 - 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

We Need Some Adult Daniels, Too
By Jim Faughn 

    Our young people know about Daniel. In fact, they may get a little tired of Daniel. They keep hearing those of us who are older telling them that they need to be more like Daniel. None of us can probably count the number of times we've heard a presentation with this title (or at least the message) --- "Dare to Be a Daniel."
    To be sure, young Daniel, as well as his three friends, are worthy of commendation. The world, our society, families, and the church would benefit greatly if every young person would be as true to their commitments as were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I totally agree with a statement written by Michael Whitworth, in his book, The Derision of Heaven: A Guide to Daniel. On page twenty- three, he writes, "The word 'resolved' (Hebrew sim) is among the most important in the entire book. It marks Daniel as a man of great integrity and conviction, one absolutely committed to doing God's will and bringing God glory." At this point in his book, brother Whitworth is writing about a young person who had made the determination that "...he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank" (Dan. 1:8). Sadly, this is where we leave this account --- and where we beat our kids over the head with the need to follow the example of Daniel when they are young. However, the record we have of Daniel's life does not end here.
    We also are told of some of the experiences he had as a mature man. In fact, we learn about a man who rose to a position of great power and influence. It was this Daniel, a mature and influential man,  a man who by this time would be considered an elderly man, who was cast into a den of lions (cf. ch. 6).
    Why was this done? Why did this mature, influential man lose his freedom (at least temporarily) and run the very real risk of losing his life? The answer is not all that difficult to ascertain. A man, again a mature and influential man, was conducting himself according to some unwavering convictions. He, of course, had those convictions due to his complete devotion to God. As a result, Daniel openly and courageously did what he knew was dangerous for him to do. His decision to open his windows and pray to God was not designed as a publicity stunt or as what has been popularized in recent years as an act of civil disobedience. It was, rather, the actions of a man whose devotion to God would not be legislated or intimidated into obscurity. It seems to me that there might be more adolescent Daniels if there were more adult Daniels. There might be some real positive changes if our young people saw some (or all) of the following from some of us who are older and who are supposed to be setting the example:
  • Fathers who do not have the "business is business" attitude, and who refuse to violate biblical principles (and hopefully their own "convictions") in order to get a promotion, make a buck, and/or do any number of other things merely because it is expected and/or practiced by everybody else.
  • Mothers who take their God-mandated role to "...guide the house..." (1 Tim. 5:14) more seriously than career, fashion, or self-fulfillment.
  • Elders who are more concerned about what the Bible says than they are with what is expedient, popular, easy, or commonly accepted.
  • Preachers who  take  seriously  both  factors in the responsibility inherent  in the words    "...speaking the truth in love..." (Eph. 4:15).  
    Our young people (and people of all ages and classes) do not need to be pounded into submission by a man who is "standing for the truth." At the same time, they do not need to be coddled and spoon-fed by somebody who is more concerned about a pay-check and popularity than he is about standing before God in judgment.
    I guess I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Some of us who are insistent that our kids need to follow the example of Daniel might do well to look into the mirror. Our nation is looking more and more like the one in which Daniel and his friends lived. The people and the principles of God are under increasing pressure. Open attacks are now becoming more accepted in a nation that still puts "One Nation Under God" on some of its currency. Only God knows when, or if, it will become illegal for people to openly worship the same God whom Daniel openly worshiped. A call goes out for Daniels of every age. Will you answer that call? Will I?

 - 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 Walk
By David R. Ferguson
 
    I was just three years old when we began living in the tiny country town of Bruce, IL back in 1964. We lived there for almost three years and in many ways it was very much like the fictional town of Mayberry, NC. Mayberry had a party line phone system with Sarah, the eavesdropping operator, and Bruce had its party line phone system with an operator named Nellie. When anyone received a phone call in Bruce it rang in everyone else’s house, too, so you had to listen carefully to make sure you picked up on your “ring tone,” and not your neighbor’s. Our phone number was 9 on 5, and our “ring tone” was two long and one short rings. And just as there was a strong sense of community and caring for your neighbors in Mayberry, so, too, was there a very strong sense of community in Bruce. This was long before emails, instant messaging and texting, but people had relationships and interaction with one another with literal “face time.” To me as a very young child, it really was a magical place.
    Looking back I think I now know why Bruce seemed so magical. The Bible teaches “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15-16a [ESV]) as well as “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10 [ESV]). These passages were not just found within the pages of the Bible. They were lived by those who dwelt in Bruce. It was the neighborly love and caring and sense of community that brought out the ‘magic’ that was palpably felt, and when a family moved, there was a real sense of loss.
    We were never a wealthy family, but it was not until years later I found out how difficult things were at one time. My Dad was not working and he had no money to buy groceries for our family. Back then being on welfare was not an acceptable option, but things had gotten so bad that my Dad pushed aside his pride and walked that half mile to the general store to beg the proprietor, Mr. Young, to let him buy some food on credit. I know that had to be a very difficult walk for my Dad, but he did it anyway. When my Dad arrived, something magical occurred: He found a $10 bill lying on the floor of the store. I would be happy finding $10 today but at that time that was a windfall. Now my Dad could have pocketed the money for himself, but that was not in his nature. He picked it up, walked to the counter, and told Mr. Young he just found $10 on the floor of his store as he attempted to hand the money to Mr. Young. But Mr. Young looked my father in the eye and told him, “It looks like that money is yours since you found it.” And this is the true story of how my Dad was able to buy groceries for his family that week. Shortly afterwards, he also found full-time work as well.
    I would not be surprised to learn that someone in that community had put the word out that our family was in dire straits and in need of food. Maybe someone had seen my Dad making that walk to Young’s General Store and knew what he was planning, alerting Mr. Young that he was on the way. Maybe Mr. Young dropped that money on the floor. I do know there truly can be ‘magic’ in the world if we all just simply choose to lead our lives as God and His Son desire, and love one another (John 13:34-35).
 
 - 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

Just One Piece of Chicken
By Clifton Angel

    The story is told of an old governor of Massachusetts that was so busy “chasing votes” one day that he missed lunch. As he went along his way in the late afternoon, he happened upon a community barbecue. He entered the serving line and held out his plate to the woman serving the chicken. She placed a piece on his plate, and in urgent kindness he asked, “Excuse me, could I have another piece of chicken?” She replied, “Sorry. I was instructed to give one piece to each person.” He plead with a disgruntled face, “But I’m starving,” to which she responded, “I’m sorry—one piece per person.” As the story goes, he was a very modest man, but on this occasion, he thought he might try to sway the woman. “Do you know who I am?” he asked firmly. “I am the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman replied. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken.”
    Authority—it is so important for this subject to be understood and respected. In order to have true happiness, joy, and peace, one must recognize the authorities in his life and then obey them, with God as his ultimate authority. It needs to be respected in our homes, in our jobs, in our communities, in our state, in our nation, in the world. If we read our Bibles, we will understand that God has all authority. He has authority over everything that is physical and spiritual. Might I suggest that the very word “God” denotes that authority. I’ve mentioned before that “God” is not His name; it is His nature. He is above all else. So, if He is in authority, where do we find the guidelines for our lives? Generally, authorities must disclose in some fashion their guidelines for those under them. For example, an employer in authority over his employees must disclose guidelines for them to follow. This requires effort on the part of the employee if he is to do his job properly. Is it not logical that our loving God would disclose such guidelines for our lives? He has. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be complete, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). God’s Word must guide our steps (Jeremiah 10:23). It must be the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It is complete (Jude 3; 2 Peter 1:3) and it makes us complete (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Is the Bible the authority for your everyday decisions? For how you worship? For how you are saved? For how you direct your marriage? For how you rear your children? For how you treat those around you? Who or what is your authority? 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/

How Deep Is Your Love?
By
Donna Richmond Wittlif

     A once-popular song asked the question, "How deep is your love?" It is a question that sometimes haunts us. Maybe it is another way of asking ourselves what we are willing to do for someone else. How much of our time, how much of our money, how much of our energy, and how much of our emotions do we invest to show our love?
     Perhaps Peter struggled with these questions. He asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). Jesus knew that it takes a lot of love to forgive. His reply was, "I say not unto you, Until seven times; but, until seventy times seven." Jesus didn't mean four hundred and ninety times. He meant Peter was to have enough love for his brother to forgive him as many times as it takes.
     Of course love means more than forgiving. Peter goes on to say in I Peter 4, "Using hospitality one to another without complaining: according as each has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." If Peter were among us today, he might preach, "If you can teach a class, teach. If you can cook a meal for someone, cook. If you can smile, shake a hand, visit the lonely, give someone a ride, do it. Whatever you can do to show your love, whatever you can do to invest of yourself for someone else, you are glorifying God."
     Love covers over a multitude of sins, not only others' sins, but also our own. When we serve others because of our love for them and for God, we are serving God and glorifying Him. Service is our way of showing how deep our love is for God and man.

- Donna Richmond Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO.
Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novel, World Eternal: Promises, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit http://www.drwittlif.com/
How Important is "Going to Church"?
By Ron Bartanen
 
     Many reasonably good people seldom, if ever, “go to church.” Meeting with others to study the Bible, God’s word, and to publicly worship Him is something easily ignored in our busy world. To these, church is where you go for a wedding or a funeral, but little more.
    The early Christians didn’t just “go to church”—they were the church. They were the ekklesia, the “called-out-ones,” called out of the world by the gospel of Christ to be a light to the world. They were a community of believers, commonly referred to as “the body of Christ” and even “the bride of Christ.” In Christ, they were bound together in “one body. And one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism” and “one God.” (Ephesians 4:4-6). As such, to not meet with other Christians to encourage one another and jointly express their devotion to the Lord was not considered an option.
   Had not the Lord said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20)? Had He not instructed them in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, saying, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:17-22; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)? From the first, the church, consisting of penitent baptized believers, “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in the fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Acts 20:7 tells us that “Upon the first day of the week…the disciples came together to break bread.” Christians who were becoming neglectful were admonished, “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching”  (Hebrews 10:25).  
    Christians are not called to be “lone rangers” in a world hostile to God, but to be bound together with brothers and sisters in Christ in a common struggle. Sharing together in worship and in the word of God should be something much desired by those who love the Lord.

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

If I Be Lifted Up
By Gerald Cowan

And I, if I be lifted up
From earth, the Master said,
Then will I draw all men to me
And give them living bread.
Those who in life accept my word
Will rise, though they be dead.

If Christ is lifted up by those
Who dwell upon the earth,
Those who believe and trust in him,
In Spirit have new birth,
And no one but the other saved
Can estimate their worth.

As Moses lifted up a snake
So everyone could see,
So Jesus can be lifted up
By me and men like me.
Heed all his words, do all his will
And he will make you free.

To all men who agree to see
Him God set in the place
Above all names at His right hand,
In heav’n to see His face,
Our glorious Lord will come again
To bring eternal grace.

Each one who has been lifted up
By Christ who draws him there,
If he keeps faith with God and walks
Within His will, he’ll share
With Christ, that same exalted Lord,
As God’s eternal heir.
 
To be redeemed by Christ our Lord
We must be crucified
With him upon a bloodless cross.
To sin we must have died
Then, lifted to eternal life,
With him identified.

Be lifted up with Jesus Christ.
Only in him take pride.
You lift him up, he lifts you too,
Lets you be at his side.
Be lifted up with Jesus.  You
Will never be denied.                                            
    
 - 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
Shakespeare Couldn’t Read?
By Steve Higginbotham

    William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Although four hundred years have passed since his death, every school student today will study his life and works.However, there’s a startling fact about Shakespeare that few people know. When Shakespeare’s daughter Judith married, she signed her marriage license with a mark or the equivalence of an “X.” In other words, she was illiterate, being unable to read or write!
    Here’s my question, “How is is possible for the greatest writer in the English language to allow his own daughter to be illiterate? You would think that to a man like Shakespeare, reading and writing would have meant everything. Surely, he would have taken the time to teach his daughter to read and write, but the stark reality is that he didn’t. Let this soak in, “The greatest writer in the English language had children who could not read or write.”
    As unimaginable as this fact is, how much more unimaginable is it that Christian parents would not not pass on their knowledge of God to their children?  In the days of the judges, a generation of God’s children were allowed to grow up without knowing the Lord of the works he had done for them (Judges 2:10). I’m afraid many parents are allowing the same thing to happen today. What are we to think of parents who don’t teach the Bible to their children at home. Not only do they not teach their own children, it’s not enough of a priority to allow others to teach them in Bible class. It’s puzzling!
A better question than asking how William Shakespeare could allow his children to remain illiterate is how can we allow our children to grow up biblically illiterate!  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
What Holds Me Back?
By J. Randal Matheny © 2015
 
What holds me back? What walls remain?
What fears or loves or sins constrain?
Why can't the self give full consent
To Jesus' call to fully repent?
 
To go to Christ is all I want,
To plunge into his baptismal font,
To die and lay in the Lord's own grave,
To know the power of God to save.
 
With unknown tentacles Satan clings,
To me are tied consuming strings;
From such a world can I extract?
Where's courage so that I can act?
 
New birth and life are my desire,
A higher goal, eternal fire;
What worth this jewell! How high the price!
How bitter his cup of sacrifice!
 
Dare I on this way embark,
Where feet get tired, and days grow dark?
Where weary hearts and fearful minds
Lift heavy burdens in stormy winds?
 
Must holy travel be like this?
The weak denial, the betrayer's kiss?
Of faithful service can I be sure?
Can I resist temptation's lure?
 
Never will doubts be fully solved,
While I still waver, uninvolved;
Remains for me, without delay,
To trust the Lord and now obey.
 
I will! I will! To God I go
By grace and faith; enough I know
To launch upon his mercy and might,
To win with him this heavenly fight.
 
- 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.

Creation Shouts
By Edd Sterchi

Pay attention and you shall see
Evidence abounds for you and me
Just go outside and look around
With every smell and sight and sound
In the sky and in the sod
Creation shouts, “There is a God.”

See the trees with new-formed leaves
Observe the pollen-spreading bees
Marvel at the sleeping bear
Holed up all winter without a care
Take more than a passing glance
Creation says, “It wasn’t by chance.”

Muse at the birds with soaring wing
As they tweet cheerful notes and sing
View the fish breathing under water
Or the playful actions of the otter
Ask the ant, the plant, or the pine
They will tell, “It’s God’s design.”

For since the creation of the world
God’s attributes have been unfurled
He can be understood, in part
By the things we see with eyes and heart
In His Word God accuses
That deniers have no excuses.*

So go outside and look around
Soak in every sight and sound
In the caves and in the sea
On the plains and in forests free
In this place and all abroad
Creation shouts, “There is a God!”

 - Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at eddsterchi@comcast.net
Brass Tacks
By David A. Sargent

     Mike Schneider writes: There was once a man who owned a general store. In this store was a wooden counter over which all merchandise passed. Nailed to the top of that counter were two brass tacks, supposedly 36 inches apart, which were used for years to measure everything sold by the yard. The man was a good, honest, and respectable citizen. He operated his business as uprightly as he knew how.     When the man died, his son took over the business, carrying on the honest traditions of his father. One day a salesman came into the store and pitched a yardstick onto the counter. When the yardstick slid across the surface and bumped into both of the tacks, that young man suddenly faced the greatest decision of his life. Though he was by no means looking for fault in his father, the reality gripped him that his father’s standard of measure had been one inch short for over 30 years! The knowledge of this truth now laid a heavy responsibility on the son.
     If he corrected the error, moving one of the brass tacks to the proper distance, a mark would be left on the counter for all to see. By doing the honest thing, the young man stood in jeopardy of tarnishing his father’s honest reputation. But if he left the tacks as they were, he would be guilty of doing something his father never did – deliberately selling people short. You see, his father never knew he was in error, but the young man did! *
     What do you think? Should the son move the tacks?
     Many people find themselves in a similar circumstance when they consider obeying the Gospel. The Bible teaches that in order to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus and to receive the gift of eternal life, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
     Schneider points out that “By conceding that baptism is indeed a necessary step toward salvation, or by conceding some other doctrinal point, [some] feel that they may be condemning their parents who were in error on these issues. But, by trying to justify their departed parents, these people become guilty of a sin their parents would never have committed – intentionally refusing to obey the commands of the Lord! This is a case where two wrongs certainly do not make a right!”
     “It is not ours to pass judgment upon those who have finished their course. It does not change present circumstances to believe they served the Lord to the best of their ability, even as we hope to do. As Paul said, ‘Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls’ (Romans 14:4). The eternal abode of our departed friends is beyond our control – they are in the hands of a faithful judge. But our lives are yet to be lived and our decisions are yet to be made on the basis of our knowledge, not theirs.”
     Schneider concludes: “I hope the young man moved the tack – I think his father would be pleased!”
     The Heavenly Father will also be pleased if WE place our trust in Him and act upon His instructions as to how to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus and to live for Him.
     Won’t YOU?

  - 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

* “Brass Tacks” by Mike Schneider, minister of the Cheyenne Church of Christ, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Colorblindness and Heaven
By
Joe Chesser


     A few weeks ago my wife took our granddaughter, Katie, to the eye doctor for new contacts. In the process of the exam the doctor tested Katie for colorblindness, which opened up a discussion about people who are colorblind. The doctor said one of his patients sees no color at all, only shades of black and white and gray.
    How do you describe color to a person who sees no color, or to a person who doesn’t see at all? Actually, I don’t have any experience in trying to describe color to someone who can’t see color, but I’d think you couldn’t say something like, “Red, like an apple,” or “Blue, like the sky.” There might be a way, but it brings up the question of how can you describe things that are beyond a person’s ability or capacity to understand? Like heaven. How can God describe heaven to people restricted by human limitations?
               “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
               what God has prepared for those who love him” 
                                                                                                                  1 Corinthians 2:9
     As humans, we simply do not have the ability to even imagine what heaven is like. Sure, we’ve all read the scriptures (Rev. 21-22) and sang the songs about the mansions and the streets of gold. We’ve all found comfort in the fact that there will be no tears or sorrow or pain or death in heaven. And, we’ve all looked forward to being in the presence of God for ever and ever. Yet, all of these descriptions of heaven are limited by our human ability to understand. Certainly we’d all be happy to be in a place like that forever, a place we can conceive as better than anything we have on earth. But let’s not limit our concepts of heaven to things we can describe or understand. Mansions and streets of gold are only physical shadows of what a spiritual heaven is like. What God has prepared for us is beyond our craziest human imaginations. There’s so much more!
     However, we need to carefully read the rest of 1 Corinthians 2. God has given Christians access to insights through His Spirit that the rest of humanity does not have.
“but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit”  1 Cor. 2:10
     This may seem like science fiction or even mystical, but God has opened up to people in His Kingdom through His Spirit concepts that cannot be described with human words: “but the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14 NKJV). We can know love that that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19); we can be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8); we can experience peace that transcends all understanding (Phil. 4:7). God’s power and will working in us now defies our imagination and is a foretaste of things to come (Eph. 6:20-21). How awesome it will be when our eyes are finally opened to the fullness of God in heaven forever and ever!

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

Changing the Standard
By Alan Smith

    Conductor to orchestra at the beginning of a rehearsal: "Please get your pencils out . . . we have some marking to do on this score:
  The first two bars are in 3/4, not 4/4 as written.
  Next, in the 5th bar, change it to 7/8 and this remains to the end.
  Now, in bar 7 we lower the pitch 1/2 step.
  In bar 13, lower the pitch one whole step and this will remain to the end.
Thank you. Now, let us begin."
    Soprano soloist:  "Excuse me, Maestro.  What would you like for me to change?"
    Conductor:  "Nothing, madam. Just sing it exactly as you did yesterday."
    When we vary from the standard, there are two things we can do.  We can alter our lives to meet the standard, or (as in the story above) we can alter the standard and expect everyone else to meet this new flawed standard.
    The spiritual application should be readily apparent.  What should we do when someone is teaching that which is not according to the Word of God, our spiritual standard?  Do we hold to the standard and require them to comply, or do we attempt to change the standard?
    There can be no choice -- the standard cannot change.  Breaking the scale won't fix our weight problem, breaking the mirror won't change the way we look, and changing (or ignoring) God's Word won't make our sinful behavior acceptable.
    "Sanctify them by your truth.  Your word is truth." (John 17:17)
    "The word of the Lord endures forever." (I Peter 1:25)
    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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