BulletinGold #169
October 2015   Vol 15 #4

October 2015                                         BG# 169                                          Vol. 15                                          Issue 04
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
Sanctity of Marriage
By A. C. Quinn
God is Colorblind
By Clifton Angel
God Didn't Cooperate
By David Bragg
Sweeter Than Wafers With Honey
By Donna Richmond Wittlif
The Keys to Overcoming the World
By Edd Sterchi
When Your Life Is Gone
By Gerald Cowan
The Longest Way
By J. Randal Matheny
The Heart of Worship
By Jeff Arnette
God And You
By Joe Slater
Curiosity About the Bible
By Lance Cordle
Let Go Of The Past
By Larry Pasley
What Is The Soul?
By R. W. McAlister
Encouraging Prayer
By Robert E. Guinn
I Was Impressed
By Ron Adams
“In Jesus’ Name”
By Ronald Bartanen
Adversity or Opportunity?
By Steve Higginbotham

Sanctity of Marriage Mocked
By A. C. Quinn

    Christians have been in a state of shock since the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex unions, declaring that such unions constitute marriage, and making it, in effect, the law of the land. By this ruling the court attempted to redefine marriage. By doing so, they have mocked that sacred arrangement.
    The argument has been made and sustained over and over that the union of male/male and female/female can never be marriage according to God’s standard, the Bible! It is clear to any who will search the Scriptures that such is not, and can never be. God has forever defined marriage, and so it shall stand. From the beginning He clarifies that to all who want to know the truth: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28).  It is beyond reasonable question that God made the marriage relationship one between a male and female:  “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24-25).
    It is true that the same sex issue is a very troubling issue that Christians must face; however, there is another situation, a growing one among young people, that is as much a mockery of marriage. It is couples living together outside the scriptural marriage union. They offer flimsy excuses for such arrangements. One of those excuses is economics which is totally illogical if nothing else. The question would be “How can it possibly be more economical not to be married?” The real reason for this kind of arrangement is not economics—it is lack of commitment on the part of one or both individuals involved.
    Marriage requires commitment! It commands a gender identity: husband and wife! “Live in” or “significant other” will not suffice.
    One has to wonder of those who enter into such relationships are aware of the sin of fornication and adultery.
    Young people desperately need parental teaching and guidance lest the sanctity of marriage is continued to be mocked.

 - A. C. Quinn preaches for the West Main Church of Christ in Wolfe City, Texas. He may be contacted at acuen30@netzero.net
God is Colorblind
By Clifton Angel

    Quite often, when someone learns that I am colorblind, they begin to quiz my ability to see colors. “What color is this?” “And how about this one—what color is this?” Colorblindness is not the same for every person that experiences it. For example, I know a man that is so red-green colorblind that if he were to approach a traffic light that had been turned on its side, he would not know which side was red and which side was green. While I do have some red-green colorblindness, it is not that extreme. Here is my point—I still see color. I can observe its beauty and praise God for His handiwork. But when it comes to making a distinction between two colors, there are some with which I have trouble, so I choose not to make those distinctions if I can get away with it (e.g., determining someone’s eye color).
    When it comes to our relationships with our fellow man, we need to develop colorblindness. A friend recently said, “Human beings are strange. We look at all the different colored flowers and say, ‘how beautiful,’ but our attitude changes when we look at all the different colored people God made.”
    We need to be able to observe the beauty of the different colors without making distinctions. I see this trait in God. “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11). No gender, no color, no nationality, no cultural background, nor social status can prevent a person from obeying the Gospel and becoming a child of God. Paul, by inspiration of God, put it like this: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26–28).
    Part of me wants to marvel that the world around us is still caught up in racism (distinctions of skin colors), but I understand that division is of the devil, and as long as the world follows him, it will be present. What is astonishing is when those that are in Christ make such distinctions—such ought not to be so!
    God is colorblind. He delights in the beauty of colors, not the division of them. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    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/

God Didn't Cooperate 
 By David Bragg

    What do Ann Lee, David Koresh, and Jim Jones all have in common? They were delusional. They were power hungry. They were manipulative. Two answers are most certainly true: they all claimed to be Christ and they were all wrong.
    In 1772, Ann Lee, a leader of the Shakers (an off-shoot of the Quakers), preached a "gospel" of communal living, rejection of marriage, and celibacy. She carried her radical views with her from England to New York in 1774. Eventually she claimed to be "the second coming of Christ" in female form. Today the only remaining Shaker community consists of less than five members. Outside of those five, the whole world recognizes that Ann Lee's claims to deity were wrong.
    In 1955 Jim Jones founded a group known as the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana. His mother is said to have believed that she had given birth to the messiah, and Jones was happy to comply with her delusional beliefs. His plans came to an abrupt end with the November 18, 1978 mass suicide of 909 members of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Jones and all his claims were proven wrong.
    In 1985 David Koresh became a leader of the "Branch Davidians" (an off-shoot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church). This separation resulted from Koresh's 1983 claim to be "the Son of God, the Lamb." Following a well-publicized siege in 1993, the bodies of Koresh and 75 of his followers were discovered among the ashes. Today the Branch Davidians still exists, but they are quick to point out that David Koresh's messianic claims were wrong.
    The list can go on of those claiming to be the returned Messiah. Jesus warned that this would happen: "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets ... Behold, I have told you before" (Matthew 24:23-28). Jesus also promised that He would return from Heaven. The day of His return is unknowable to any human. That He will return is unalterable by any human. Unlike the long list of messianic pretenders with whom God did not cooperate, the day that Jesus returns it will be with God's full sanction and cooperation.

- David Bragg works with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted at bulletingold@gmail.com   

Sweeter Than Wafers With Honey
By Donna Richmond Wittlif

    "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Hebrews 1:17).
    What was it? At first, the Israelites didn't know. It was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. God sent it to them as a gift, and it cured their hunger.
    God's children ate manna for forty years. It must have tasted like a sweet cookie. But even sweet cookies can grow tiresome after a while. The Israelites told Moses, "Our soul loathes this light bread" (Numbers 21:5).
    How dare they disdain God's gift and His care for them? The Lord sent fiery serpents to bite them, and many died. When they repented, God told Moses to make a serpent and put it on a pole. All those who looked at the snake when they were bitten would live.
    Jesus is our manna, our bread of life. Like God gave the Israelites manna from heaven, He has given us Jesus out of heaven (John 6:31-35). Jesus came to give life to the world. He is the most excellent of God's good gifts. No one in the history of mankind has surpassed the sacrifice that He made for us. Peter said, "He has granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).
    Only through Jesus can we have these exceeding great promises. Without them, we could never become partakers of the divine nature and live with God in heaven. God's gift is sweeter than wafers made with honey. His Son is the bread that gives eternal life. We will live in heaven only if we look to Him. May we never tire of Him, but fill our hearts with His love and His teachings.

- 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. Her second book, World Eternal: Proselytes, should be out soon. For more information visit http://www.donnarwittlif.com/
The Keys to Overcoming the World
 By Edd Sterchi

    In Revelation, there is a lot of figurative language and many difficult symbols. Because of that we often avoid reading the book. But in it are some great Bible helps. One of them is found in chapter 12, where we learn how Christians are to overcome the world.
    To preface what is going on, in verses 7-10 we read about war breaking out in heaven, and Michael and his angels fighting with the dragon and his followers. We see that the dragon did not prevail and he was cast out of heaven. Because of this, Satan (the dragon) roamed the earth persecuting and tempting God’s people. Then, in verse 11, we read what the Christians possessed to overcome Satan and his worldly ways: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” In this passage are the three keys to overcoming the world. Let's examine them in a little more detail.
    The Blood of the Lamb. We need to always remember what Jesus did to make salvation possible. It is only because of His sacrifice upon the cross that we have the opportunity of salvation in the first place. Too many times we do not trust enough of our lives to Jesus. The first key to overcoming the world is giving Jesus all of our lives and trusting in Him and the power of His blood, come what may. This begins with our baptism into Him and continues through a life of faithfulness.
    The Word of Their Testimony. Not only did the early Christians trust Jesus, but they knew and lived His word. The word of our testimony is the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. We must love it, learn it, live it, and laud it. By doing so, we gain the knowledge and encouragement necessary to overcome the world and its sinful ways. We can only gain this through serious Bible study
    They Did Not Love Their Lives to the Death. The final key we must examine is that of separating oneself from the world. Christians may live in the world, but they are not to be of the world. Nothing on this earth is to be so precious to us that we are not willing to give it up for the cause of Christ (our lives included), and we show it in our attitudes and actions.
    Are you having trouble overcoming the world or the temptations of the world? Maybe it's because you have not put enough trust in Jesus. Maybe it's because you do not read and live His word enough. Maybe it's because you do not separate yourself enough from the lost world and worldly ways. That's how the first century Christians did it – and if we are to overcome, that is how we will do it also.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at eddsterchi@comcast.net
When Your Life Is Gone
By Gerald Cowan

                 When life has closed its door on you
                 And you have gone to your last sleep,
                 No longer present on the earth,
                 Will any miss you, any weep?
                 The self-absorbed may answer, “Yes,
                 I will be missed; there will be tears.”
                 But why? Will they be tears of joy
                 Or tears of sorrow, pain, and fears?

                 If you are missed it may imply  
                 That you touched other lives for good,    
                 Encouraged and supported them
                 And healed their hurts, as Jesus would.

                 If not missed what will that imply?
                 You went on your own selfish way,
                 Saw nothing but your own desires?
                 Perhaps did not for others pray?

                 On what you gathered for yourself
                 Your legacy does not depend,
                 But on the lives you marked for good,
                 To whom and how you were a friend.
                 When life is gone and you must meet
                 God’s Christ, the Lord who judges all,
                 Then what you did for others will
                 Determine if you stand or fall.
                 When life is gone you will not weep
                 Nor for missed treasures raise your voice.
                 If Jesus says, “You come with me
                 To heaven,” then you can rejoice.

- 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
The Longest Way
J. Randal Matheny

    longest-way - The shortcut you think may save you time and grief may never get you to your destination. It may seem the quickest way. It promises to reroute you, past the hard incline, around the boulders, and over bogs. But it may well end in the thick of the forest, where it throws you into a tangle of briers and limbs and crevices from which you cannot extricate yourself.
    The shortcut led Absalom to hang by his proud locks of hair from a low branch, dying with his kingly ambitions in shame.
    Instead of giving you the advantage, the shortcut may render you helpless.
    The longest way may actually be the best. The longer journey strengthens, matures, purifies. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5.10 NET
    The verse from 1 Peter reminds us to look at the larger picture, larger than today, tomorrow, and the next day. Many suffer an entire lifetime, but 70 or 80 years pales in comparison to an eternity. All of life is but "a little while." Whatever happens here is "momentary" 2 Co 4.17. To be called into "eternal glory" means to share the unspeakable joys with God, unmixed with pain, death, loss, and sorrow.
    God does not cause suffering, but he uses it for his purpose to bring us to the point of eternal freedom. He demonstrated this purpose fully in Christ.
    Eternity, then, reveals the secret to avoiding the shortcut. All the pep talk and motivational thoughts in the world cannot replace the eternal perspective which provides ground for endurance and persistence over the long haul. Eternity also furnishes true joy for the present time, so no one need manufacture a happiness hard to sustain.
    Throughout one's troubled walk through this life, the redeeming factor is the "God of all grace." His supplies are more than sufficient for the need. His purpose enlarges life far beyond our smallish concerns. His project of salvation draws us into a lasting work, greater than any human endeavor. His revelation illuminates the whole of existence and infuses meaning into every work, thought, and act.
    When the God of all grace occupies the forefront of our thoughts, the shortcut loses its appeal.
    The "you" in the verse above is plural. The longest way is not traveled alone. While the decision is individual, and faithfulness is exercised in each one's heart, the journey is made together with the community of the called. In the numbers of the family of God is strength. United effort brings the special presence of Christ. In the fellowship of the mission the Lord leads and equips for the task.
    The suffering for the faith, regardless of the worldly address, occurs "in Christ." Here the saints breathe a special air. More than a mental state, far beyond a physical condition, this spiritual reality surrounds the people of God and supplies them with the life-giving grace and stamina of Christ. He makes every step an adventure. He imbues each pain with meaning. His light draws out the rainbow of colors in the landscape along the way.
    A key word in the verse is "after." We think of the now. We want relief immediately. But life does not give immediate gratification. Such a pursuit quickly runs aground.
    Hang on to the after. For it is the after that makes the now worth it. Reject, therefore, the shortcut, and take the longest way. It leads where you really want to go.

- J. Randal Matheny, a long time missionary in Brazil, edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine, and a blog, Walking With God. He may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. 
  ** Why not make a friend by subscribing to these spiritual and motivational posts? Visit http://randalmatheny.com/ to Subscribe
The Heart of Worship
By Jeff Arnette

"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”" (ESV, John 4:24)
    For years I have heard this passage used as justification for why we worship the way we do. We cite this verse and then talk about worshiping "in truth" with a focus on what we can or cannot do in worship to God and Christ.
    Does God care about your worship? Does He care what you do? Of course He does, but that still misses a bigger point. We are so concerned about the form of worship and what is being done that we seem to miss the point of why we worship in the first place. To focus on the truth of worship (form and action) without the spirit of worship (motivation and heart) still fails as worship in God's eyes. Not only that but it fails as worship for us too. Too many times our worship services fail to impress upon us the greatness of what we are doing. It fails to impress upon our hearts the joy and excitement that should come as a result of being in the presence of God and worshiping Him. The end result of worship that is missing the heart, the spirit of worship, is everyone walks away not feeling like they have worshiped God.
    I want you to notice what David said about what God really wants from us. "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" Psalm 51:16-17. David reminds us that what God really wants is our hearts. If going through the motions of worship, if sacrifice and burnt offerings were all that God was concerned about, that would be easy. God wants a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. That is what God wants and He will not despise or reject that.
    This problem is spoken about often in the New Testament. The problem is that we are really good at following rules but not so good at giving our hearts to God. In Matthew 15:7-9, Jesus says that people are good at lip service but their hearts are still far from God. In other words we are good at going through the motions and still not connecting our hearts to our worship of God. When our hearts are far from God our worship is vain, pointless, and ultimately unsatisfying to everyone involved.
    So what should we do about this? How can we ensure that what we give God is our hearts and not just lip service? We must give Him our entire heart and let that be the motivating force of all that we do.
Deuteronomy 10:12–13 - "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?"

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
God And You
 By Joe Slater

    Your attitude and behavior in any and all circumstances ought to be governed by your relationship to God. Paul had been in a ferocious storm on the sea for nearly two weeks (Acts 27:27). His relationship to God, however, enabled him not only to endure the stress, but to comfort and encourage the others on board: “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God, that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:22-25).
    Notice three aspects of Paul’s relationship to God:
    Paul belonged to God (v. 23). He recognized the truthfulness of the words he had written earlier to Corinth: “. . . you are not your own . . . (f)or you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). One of Paul’s own descriptions of himself is “a (bond)servant of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1). A bondservant (slave) is owned by someone else. Paul’s owner was the Lord. Liberty-loving people that we are, we cringe at the thought of being owned by anyone! However, the sooner we acknowledge that God owns us, and that this is a good thing for us, the better off we will be.
    Paul served God (Acts 27:23). As a slave, Paul’s purpose was to do the will of his master, Jesus. Again, we flinch at the idea of subjecting our own will to anyone else’s! We would do well, however, to swallow our pride and follow the example of the Son of God, Who “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Contrary to popular belief, true religion is not about doing whatever makes me feel good. First and foremost, we are to serve God. If our hearts are right, such faithful service will result in abundant good feelings.
    Paul believed God (Acts 27:25). For many days the storm had pounded them. They had no idea where they were, the storm was not easing, lightening the ship had done little good, and “all hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (v. 20). Nevertheless, when God’s messenger told Paul that he and all others aboard the ship would survive, Paul believed it. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
    Let us trust our Lord, believing what He tells us. Human wisdom may not agree with the Bible, but the Bible is right!
    You belong to God. Serve Him! Believe Him! Doing so, you can endure even the worst of times.

- 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
Curiosity About the Bible
By Lance Cordle

    "It's not the things I don't understand in the Bible that bother me; it's the things I do understand!" —Mark Twain
    Curiosity is an exciting aspect of life. Parents love to see their children explore and discover their world. Likewise, teachers enjoy seeing students come to class with curiosity and a hunger for learning. Curiosity about the Bible is expected and natural as well. Who can help but be moved to seek answers to questions about a book that claims to be “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)?
     As is the case with curiosity in general, curiosity about the Bible has healthy and unhealthy aspects. Let’s think about those for just a few minutes.
     Healthy curiosity about the Bible . . .
        Can lead us to read the Bible—to seek to know the will and mind of God (Isaiah 55:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Philippians 2:5). A person who wants to follow God will first want to know what God is like, and then discover how that desire to fol- low him can be fulfilled.
        Can lead us to dig deeper, to search the scriptures (John 5:39; Acts 17:11). The misguided Jewish leaders had made a practice of studying the  scriptures, but failed to comprehend that the scriptures were properly pointing them to Jesus (John 5:39; Galatians 3:24). By contrast the Jewish people of Berea were stimulated by the preaching of Paul to compare  his message with the scriptures they knew and loved (Acts 17:11) and see him as the mediator of  a better and new covenant (Hebrews 8:6, 13).
     Unhealthy curiosity about the Bible . . .
        Can lead us to be distracted from the important things God wants us to know. God’s mind is so deep that we cannot know or comprehend him completely (Romans 11:33). He has not revealed everything to us, and we would not be able to handle it if he did. If we obsess over every question and curiosity about things he has not revealed, we may neglect the important things (Matthew 23:3).  We may also fail to fulfill the great commission if we are so consumed with questions.
        Can lead to the destruction of our souls. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), but that does not mean we cannot know some things and be assured of them. Some people have become so obsessed with   questions, that they have twisted the scriptures and have left God (2 Peter 3:16).
      “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).  

- 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
Let Go Of The Past
By Larry Pasley

    The passenger tapped the cab driver on the shoulder to ask him something. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the sidewalk, and stopped inches from a department store window.
    For a second everything went quiet in the cab, then the driver said, “Look mister, don’t ever do that again. You scared me half to death!”
    The passenger apologized and said he didn’t realize that a little tap could scare him so much.
    The driver replied, “You’re right. I’m sorry. Really, it’s not your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”
    The cabbie allowed his past experiences to cause him to take his eye off of the road and his goal of getting his passenger to his destination.
    Sometimes we allow our past to affect our present and future goals and destinations also. The apostle Paul told the Philippian brethren: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:12-14.
    When we find our past affecting our lives in a negative way, we need to learn how to forget those things.
     We especially need to forget those things which keep us from focusing on our goal of heaven.
    When we have people in our lives who are causing us to take our eyes off of our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.
    When our guilt from former sins, which have been forgiven, cause us to take our eyes off of our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.
    When temptations to sin lead us astray from our goal of heaven, we need to forget them.
    We need not to allow anything in our past to take our focus off of heaven.
    "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" Colossians 3:1-4.
    With love and concern,

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com
What Is The Soul?
By R. W. McAlister

    The Hebrew term for “soul” is nephesh, found over 780 times in the Old Testament. Because the context may vary, it’s not always translated as “soul.” Nephesh, therefore, signifies different things, depending upon the passage in which it is found.
    Likewise, in the New Testament, the original Greek word for “soul” is psuche, found 103 times. Our modern word “psychology” comes from this word. Let’s look at a few ways “soul” is used in the Scriptures.
    “Soul” can refer to an individual person. The prophet Ezekiel declared the “‘soul’ (i.e., the person) that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20), or, as Peter would write hundreds of years later: “in the days of Noah…eight souls were saved by water” (I Pet. 3:20). “Soul” can also refer to that aspect of man which is characterized by the intellectual and emotional parts of him (Gen. 27:25; Job 30:16).
    Most importantly, however, the body has been endowed by the God of Heaven with a “soul” (John 12:27). Specifically, mans’ soul is the spiritual component of man that is fashioned in the very image of God (Gen. 1:26), and that can exist apart from the physical body. Jesus made reference to the soul in Mt. 10:28, where He warns, “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” We see from this verse that a definite distinction is made between the soul and body. Who can kill the body? Mankind can do that. The daily news usually features at least one victim who has died at the hands of another human being. However, man cannot kill the soul, for the soul is not physical, but spiritual, able to exist without the body.
    Rachel’s soul did not die with her body; rather, it departed from her body when she died. Gen. 35:18, “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”
    In I Kings 17:21-22, the soul of a widow’s son returned when he was brought back to life; the obvious indication being that when the soul departs, the body dies, while the  soul’s existence continues. To bring life back to the child, Elijah “…stretched himself upon  the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let  this child’s soul come into him again. 22And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the  soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” Again, we must conclude the soul  leaves the body at death and continues.
    In Luke 12:20, the rich fool was told, “…this night thy soul shall be required of thee  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” The clear implication being  that when his soul was taken, his body would cease to exist. Hence the question, “…then  whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
    The important things to understand are these: 1) Your soul will live forever. 2) It  will either spend eternity in Heaven or Hell: there is no “purgatory” or “in-between” state  (Heb. 9:27; Luke 16:19-31). The Bible only speaks of two destinations: Heaven or Hell, so  we ask, “Where will your soul spend eternity?”

- 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/

Encouraging Prayer
By Robert E. Guinn
    Why bother with praying or studying it? It is a fair question to ask. For Christians, prayer is important because it turns a one-sided conversation into a two-sided conversation. The Bible tells us to cast our anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:6-10), and prayer is directly connected to a "peace that surpasses all understanding," (Philippians 4:4-9).  
    Without a doubt there is much confusion on the subject of prayer, even misunderstandings. Several misconceptions about prayer have developed and are almost accepted as truth. Some these myths include: prayer being natural, having to always know what to say, prayer being a "last resort" practice, prayer bothering God, prayer being always answered in the affirmative, and prayer not doing much good.
    Outside of these myths, why study prayer? Prayer is how we are able to communicate with our Heavenly Father. We discover that prayer was a regular part of Jesus' life. His apostles asked how to pray (Luke 11:1). The Bible teaches us that we can approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). We are encouraged to pray (Romans 12:12;  Colossians 4:2-4), and prayer is good for us (Philippians 4:7). This all sounds good, but what are some practical ways we can encourage prayer in our personal lives? 
    Make time to pray. The following quote is from an e-mail that my mother-in-law forwarded to me, "If you are too busy to pray to God or read His scripture, then you are busier than God intended you to be." If we do not make the time, we will not have the time. We cannot take out a loan for more time than what we have, we need to budget our time like our finances, putting God as priority.  
    Create a prayer journal/log. You can keep prayer lists, write down your prayers, and much more. This helps focus one’s thoughts, helps prevent “vain repetitions,” and encourages a deeper communication with the Almighty. 
    Utilize technology. Using our smartphones, social media, e-mails, and other resources we can create lists, reminders, and prayer circles through the avenue of modern technology. One person issued a challenge to pray through your phone contacts. You simply use the names in your phone as your prayer list. You can even text them to find out any prayer requests.  
    Like with many things, there is an art and a science to prayer. It is worth our time and effort to develop deeper, meaningful prayer lives.    

- 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
I Was Impressed
By Ron Adams

    A young man, who had moved to another state to complete his education, returned home one summer. He said he was working on his thesis for a Masters degree in his field of study. Before he moved away, he had on occasion given a talk or sermon, so he was asked to speak at the next Sunday evening service.
    That Sunday evening he presented a most impressive lesson. I was very much impressed. But not in the usual sense. It wasn’t the content of the lesson that impressed me, it was his vocabulary. He used words that I had never heard before.
    I spent most of my time trying to understand what those words might mean. I tried to write the words down so I could look up the definitions later, but I wasn’t sure how to spell the words.
    On that occasion, something made an indelible impression upon me. As a preacher I must speak in terms easily grasped and use words that are understood by the audience. I need to impress the listeners with the greatness of the message, not my vocabulary.
    A passage of scripture found in First Corinthians, chapter 2, came to mind: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

- 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
“In Jesus’ Name”
By Ronald Bartanen

    It is disturbing to so frequently hear of chaplains and others being cautioned against praying “in Jesus’ name,” supposedly so as not to offend those of religious persuasions that do not believe in Jesus. Living in a country that was founded upon the teachings and principles of Jesus Christ as recorded in our Bibles, it is difficult to understand how, in such a short time, we have become such a pluralistic, multicultural nation that the very mention of the name of Jesus becomes anathema. While there is more involved in praying or doing anything in Jesus’ name than simply repeating the words, “in Jesus name,” yet it is a public acknowledgement, as well as a reminder to ourselves of the importance of the name of Jesus as we would approach the throne of God. Some would excuse omitting reference to Jesus by saying something like, “I pray to God directly.” Some may, indeed, attempt to do whatever they want, but the question is, “According to the Bible, what works?”
    The Bible says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Jesus Himself said, “No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Some may find that to be narrow-minded and even offensive, but truth is often both. The fact is that true Christian faith regards Jesus as our one-and-only mediator between sinful man and sinless God. In writing to the young evangelist, Timothy, the apostle Paul made it plain that “There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). No priest, preacher nor pope stands between you and God. Not even angels or saints who have gone on to be with the Lord are worthy as our intercessors. Paul made it plain: there is one mediator between man and God through whom, as Christians, we must approach Him.
    It should be noted, however, that the employment of the name of Jesus was not to be seen simply as a phrase tacked on to the end of a prayer. Paul’s admonition was for the name of Jesus to be honored in both “word” and “deed” (Col. 3:17). The basic thought is that not only must we approach the heavenly Father’s presence through the virtue and authority of Christ alone, but that we also be cognizant of His virtue and authority in our personal lives and in the conduct of His spiritual body, the church. Increasingly, however, we see His authority set aside as man insists on the right for self-government, apart from God. As erring Israel of old, of whom it was said, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6), political correctness has surpassed scriptural correctness even in the pulpits of America. One example among many is the acceptance of same-sex marriage by many preachers and denominations. Conforming to the world’s standards, they would be hard-put to find authority for such in Jesus Christ.

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

Adversity or Opportunity?
By Steve Higginbotham

    Maybe you've heard the story of the farmer who began digging a well one afternoon. By the end of the day, the well was quite deep, and due to darkness, the farmer decide to "call it a day" and resume digging in the morning. However, that very evening, under the cover of darkness, an unsuspecting cow wandering near and fell into the freshly dug hole. The next morning, the farmer and his three sons tried every way imaginable to pull this unfortunate cow out of the hole, but with no success. Finally, the frustrated farmer instructed his sons to give up on trying to rescue the cow and to just take their shovels and cover him up. So the farmer's sons did as they were instructed. However, with every shovel of dirt thrown on the cow's back, the cow would shrug, and the dirt would fall around it. Pretty soon, they had thrown so much dirt into the hole that the cow was simply able to walk out of the hole without any help.
    The point is this: "What may be intended to 'bury' us may just become our 'salvation.'"
    Next time you face adversity, shrug it off. Who knows whether that experience may end up being a stepping-stone to your success and spiritual growth. Give it some thought.   

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