BulletinGold #170
November 2015   Vol 15 #5

November 2015                                      BG# 170                                      Vol. 15                                       Issue 05
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
Not A Day To Waste 
By H.L. Gradowith
Hitting the Bull’s-Eye
By Joe Chesser
A Gift From Johnson Oatman By David Bragg
The Gift of Us By David A. Sargent
As The Year Ends By Ronald Bartanen
A New Beginning By R.W. McAlister
The Changing Seasons By Bill Brandstatter
The Party Line By Jim Faughn
The Seven S’s of the Savior By Edd Sterchi
If You're Not Sure of Your Part By Alan Smith
What is a Miracle? 
By Travis Quertermous
And It Came To Pass...  By Steve Higginbotham
The Kids Are Coming?  By Larry Pasley
Eulogy For Common Sense
Can You Help Me Understand? By A. C. Crider
Reference By Charlie Gamble

Not A Day To Waste
By H.L. Gradowith

 There is not a day to waste
 If you want to live with Him!
 Just think of those who've gone on
 Don't you want to live with them?
 There is nothing in this old world
 That comes close to what's in store
 For the ones who'll follow Him
 To that lovely, peaceful shore!

 Won't you Trust Him and obey...
 For there is no other way
 To the City that now waits
 In the Land of Endless Day!
 What's blocking now you're coming?
 What is stopping you, my friend?
 Give your all to Christ the Lord
 Lest you meet an awful end...

 He gave His all for us on
 The curs'd Cross of Calvary!
 He shed His very lifes blood
 Just to make us fully free!
 He is coming in the clouds
 At the end to take us Home!
 To that blessed Land from which
 We will never want to roam!

- H. L. Gradowith  For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon Church of Christ in Webb, AL.
Hitting the Bull’s-Eye
 By Joe Chesser

    Tony Evans related a story in the introduction of his book The Kingdom Agenda that I thought particularly appropriate as we are about to begin a new year (page xv-xvi).
     One day a man was on his way to spend the day with a good friend who lived on a farm. When the man reached the farm, he turned onto the long, winding road that led to the farmhouse. On the way, he had to pass by the barn. But as he drove by the barn, he stopped and got out because he saw something that both amazed and stupefied him.
    Drawn on the side of the barn were twenty targets. Each target had a hole right through the middle of its bull’s-eye. There were no other holes anywhere on the barn. Whoever had been using the barn for target practice was definitely a crack shot.
    The visitor couldn’t believe it. He got back in his car, drove up to his friend’s farmhouse, and said, “John, before we do anything else, I’ve just got to ask you. Who in the world did the shooting on the side of your barn?”
    John said, “Oh, it was me.”
    His friend replied, “I can’t believe anybody can shoot that well! We’re talking about twenty targets with twenty dead-center bull’s-eye shots. You mean to tell me you did that?”
    John said, “Made every shot.”
    “Where in the world did you learn to shoot like that?” John’s friend asked.
    “It was easy. I shot first, then I drew a target around the bullet hole.”
     Tony Evans’ point was: “We do everything we can to give the impression that our lives are on target when in reality all we have done is learn to paint bull’s-eyes.” In a humorous way, that little story illustrates a serious flaw in our society today. Many, many people have tried to camouflage their emptiness and failures by painting meaningless “targets” around themselves that give the appearance that their lives are successful, that their lives are on target with purpose and direction. They have learned to look, talk and act like people who know what they are doing.
    Workaholics want their families and friends to think that they are reaching their dreams, when they are often just trying to escape the realities of life.
    Parents want others to see how good a job they are doing by painting targets of involvement in activities outside the home.  They sometimes use sports, hobbies, scouting, etc. as proof of how good of parents they are.
    Even Christians sometimes paint targets of church attendance or mission trips or charitable contributions to give the appearance that they are spiritually healthy.
    Hitting the bull’s-eye is not the same thing as painting a bull’s-eye around something you have already done. As we begin 2016, let’s be sure we are aiming at the targets the Lord has set for us, forgetting about how we might happen to appear to others (Phil. 3:12-14).

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

A Gift From Johnson Oatman
By David Bragg

    Over a 100 years ago Johnson Oatman gave a wonderful gift to Christian worship. It sprang out of a gift he himself had received from his father.
    Born in 1856, at Medford, NJ, Johnson Oatman inherited his father's love for music. An excellent singer, the elder Johnson's voice filled the Oatman home and made an indelible impression in the mind of his young son. After college the younger Oatman was a partner in his father's general store and later in the insurance industry while also serving as a denominational preacher. But from the age of 36 much of his "spare time" was spent on his real passion, writing hymns of which he reportedly authored more than 5,000. Hymnologist Jacob Henry Hall wrote of Oatman, "no gospel song book is considered as being complete unless it contains some of his hymns" (hymnary.org). While we are familiar with Oatman's favorite hymns, Higher Ground and No Not One, it is Count Your Blessings (written in 1897) that is considered his finest work. It has been said of this song, “Men sing it, boys whistle it and women rock their babies to sleep to it” (St. Augustine Record, 11-20-14). The hymn’s popularity was evident from the moment it was first released but skyrocketed in America during the Great Depression, seven years after Johnson Oatman, Jr.'s death.
    As we approach the fourth Thursday of November the thoughts of most Americans will turn towards thanksgiving. It is truly a shame that it takes a national holiday to dredge such thoughts to the surface when every day countless blessings from God are taken for granted. How much better this world would be if everyone heeded Paul’s command, "in everything give thanks" (1 Thes. 5:18). Perhaps the familiar words and melody of Count Your Blessings will linger with us as a subtle reminder of the source of those daily blessings. That would be a great gift from Johnson Oatman.

- 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

The Gift of Us
By David A. Sargent

    Marjorie Tallcott was married and had one child during the Great Depression. The family managed to scrape their way through, but as Christmas approached one year Marjorie and her husband were disappointed that they would not be able to buy any presents. A week before Christmas they explained to their six year old son, Pete, that there would be no store-bought presents this Christmas. “But I’ll tell you what we can do,” said Pete’s father, “we can make pictures of the presents we’d like to give to each other.”
    That was a busy week. Marjorie and her husband set to work. Christmas Day arrived and the family rose to find their skimpy little tree made magnificent by the picture presents they had adorned it with. There was luxury beyond imagination in those pictures – a black limousine and red speedboat for Dad, a diamond bracelet and fur coat for Mom, a camping tent and a swimming pool for Pete.
    Then Pete pulled out his present: a crayon drawing of a man, a woman and a child with their arms around each other laughing. Under the picture was just one word: “US”.
    Years later Marjorie writes that it was the richest, most satisfying Christmas they ever had.
    It took a present-less Christmas to remind Marjorie and her family that the greatest gift we can ever offer is ourselves, our presence. *
    Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and place us on the path to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
    But God loves us so much that He offers to us “His Presence.” God put on human flesh in the Person of Jesus (John 1:14) to come and live among us and then to go to the cross as our perfect representative to die for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His atoning sacrifice, we may have salvation from our sins (Ephesians 1:7), the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), and the presence of His indwelling Spirit (Acts 2:38).
    In order to accept God’s offer of salvation and eternal life, we must place our  faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in  repentance (Acts 17:30-31),  confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be  baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, as we walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from sin (1 John 1:7).
    Jesus came to this world and died for us so that God and we can become “US” – reconciled to God and together in God’s family with the hope of living eternally with Him in heaven.
    Won’t  YOU accept God’s offer on His terms?

- 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

* Source: Reported in Illustrations Unlimited and quoted in StoriesforPreaching.com
As The Year Ends
By Ronald Bartanen

    As the year 2015 rapidly draws to a close, we should remind ourselves once again of this gift of God we call “time.” How quickly the year has passed! Time has been described as “a section cut from the great circle of eternity,” and “the uncertain boundaries of life on earth.” Ben Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” Someone else once said, “I have no yesterdays. Time took them all away. Tomorrow may not be, but I have today.” Time has great value. Although you may not be paid an hourly wage, you cannot limit the value of time.
    If you would burn a $100 bill, you would be destroying more than the paper and ink of which it consists. You would, in essence, be taking bread from your table, medicine from the sick, and books from the scholar. Likewise, the value of time is not in itself, but in what time offers us—the blessings, privileges, and opportunities of life. 
    Time is NOW. Not yesterday—all of the yesterdays have passed on, and its opportunities are no more. Tomorrow has not yet come—and it may never be. You are left with only today. This must have been in the apostle Paul’s mind when he admonished, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NKJV). Time well-spent is time spent in the will of God.

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

    Each day is a new day to God. He is willing to forget about the sins of your past, no matter how great they are. In the book of Lamentations, chapter 3 verses 22 & 23, the Bible says, "It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Prior to this writing, Jerusalem had fallen into sinfulness, including idolatry. God had pleaded for them to return to Him and abandon their wicked ways. We see in Jeremiah 3 verses 6 - 11, the sinfulness of Israel and Judah and how far they had backslid. In verse 12, the Bible says, "Go and proclaim these words to the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you:  for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever." Why would the Lord have been willing to do this? Because His mercies and compassions are new every morning! It doesn’t matter to God how much sin we may have committed in our lives, or if we’re 20 or 80 years old, what does matter is that we make our lives right with God before it’s everlastingly too late! God doesn’t look upon yesterday’s sins if we truly repent of them and bow to His will. In Psalms 30 verses 4 & 5, the Psalmist writes, "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For His anger endureth only for a moment; in His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
    What are your plans for the new year? Spend more time with family and friends? Eat healthier? In your planning for today, tomorrow, and for the remainder of the new year, have you included God? Can you think of a better way to start 2016 than by becoming a child of God’s and an heir to a home in heaven when this life is over? All you have to do is hear the gospel preached, believe it, repent of your sins, confess your faith in Christ before others, and be baptized, for it’s through baptism that we contact the blood that Jesus shed for the forgiveness of sins. If you haven’t done this, there is no better time than the present, for none of us may see the dawn of another day, let alone another year. James 4:14 tells us that life is a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes away. God’s compassions are new every morning! Take advantage of them while you have the chance. Happy New Year!  

- 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/
The Changing Seasons
By Bill Brandstatter

    One of the times of year I like the most is fall. The leaves begin to change colors. The weather becomes cooler. It reminds me of what the Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God;  And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Ps.19:1 KNJV).
    God indirectly speaks to us through nature. When we think of nature we should be able to see God’s beauty. We should be able to witness and feel God’s power. Nature shows us how changes can come rapidly. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood  by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so  that they are without excuse. “(Rom. 1:20). Let us think about God and all his attributes as we see the changing seasons, but let us always remember that God never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8).

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
The Party Line
By Jim Faughn

    It is not unusual to hear a preacher or some other member of the body of Christ speak disparagingly and/or jokingly about "the party line." What that usually means is there is perceived to be an unwritten, but very real, collection of doctrines or "positions" that must be adhered to and proclaimed in order for a preacher, teacher, member, and/or congregation to be considered as "sound."
    As already hinted at, this type of thinking is usually scoffed at and ridiculed. The scoffers inform us that we must do one or all of the following: 
● Make way for more intellectual freedom
● Throw off the traditions of the past
● Get in tune with the times 
In the minds of many, the "tried and true" has become "old and worn out." There seems to be an increasing interest in, and desire for, the "new and different."
    Here's the rub. None of those phrases in the preceding paragraph have anything to do with our salvation.  
    Yes, that even includes the "tried and true." I hope I can illustrate that.
    I have in my office the typewriter my father used. It was, and I guess still is, tried and true. I am thankful that there are better ways to do what he did.
    I also have in my possession a few things that my dad typed on that old typewriter. What if I were to sit down and retype what he had typed on a brand new laptop computer, desktop computer, iPad, etc?
    Would I be producing something totally new? No.
    Would I be "toeing the party line?" That could be.
    Would I be honoring my father and trying to save for myself and future generations something that was important to him? I would hope that this would be my motivation.
    When I preach and practice what is found in the document my Heavenly Father has provided for us, I am not motivated by a desire to "toe the party line." I am motivated by the desire to do what Paul told Timothy to do:  Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim 4:16, ESV).

- 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 Seven S’s of the Savior
By Edd Sterchi

 Jesus came to the earth to...
 ...Speak - “I have many things to say...He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him” (John 8:26).
 ...Seek - “for the Son of Man has come to seek...that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
 ...Serve - “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...” (Mark 10:45).
 ...Suffer - “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God...” (1 Pet. 3:18).
 ...Sacrifice - “...as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God...” (Eph. 5:2).
 ...Sanctify - “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb. 13:12).
 ...Save - “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...” (1 Tim. 1:15).

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at eddsterchi@comcast.net
If You're Not Sure of Your Part
By Alan Smith

    I heard about a junior high music teacher who had just organized a band in her school. The principal was so proud of the music teacher's efforts that without consulting her he decided that the band should give a concert for the entire school. The music teacher wasn't so sure her young musicians were ready to give a concert, so she tried to talk the principal out of holding the concert, to no avail.
    Just before the concert was ready to begin, as the music teacher stood on the podium, she leaned forward and whispered to her nervous musicians, "If you're not sure of your part, just pretend to play."
    And with that, she stepped back, lifted her baton and with a great flourish brought it down. Lo and behold, nothing happened! The band brought forth a resounding silence.
    I can't help but wonder if we have the same problem in the church at times. Christians may have the idea that since they're unsure of the part that they are to play, they'll just sit and pretend. The problem is, when everyone is unsure of what part they're supposed to play, the result is silence -- nothing gets done.
    What is the solution? The solution is helping each and every member of the body of Christ to learn their part. In I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Paul pictures the church as a body with all of the different parts of that body having different functions.
    "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them..." (Romans 12:6).
    I can't do everything, and I certainly can't do everything well. But that's OK. The saxophonist in an orchestra isn't expected to know how to play the drums. His talent is playing the saxophone. His job is simply to make use of his talent and do the very best that he can.
    Learn what your gift is, and then use it to the glory of God. Paul offers a list of possibilities. Maybe your gift is speaking, or serving, or encouraging, or giving, or leading, or showing mercy (Rom. 12:6-8). Perhaps your gift is in that list, perhaps it's something else altogether.
    But, if you're not sure of your part, please don't sit and pretend to play. Find out what your gift is and then make use of it to the glory of God!

- 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
What is a Miracle?
By Travis Quertermous

    On August 28, 2007, just before 11:00 a.m., surfer Todd Endris's worst nightmare came true - he was attacked by a great white shark, not once, but three times! Just as all hope seemed lost, Endris was saved by a pod of bottlenose dolphins that formed a protective ring around the surfer, kept the shark at bay, and allowed him to reach shore. There a friend applied emergency first aid and saved his life. "Truly a miracle," Endris later told a reporter.
    But was it a miracle? The word miracle is one of the most loosely used words in the Bible. Anything that is unusual, wonderful, or mysterious is labeled a miracle, but the Biblical definition is more precise than that. In Scripture, a miracle is a supernatual act of God done when He suspended natural law. Examples include the heaven, the virgin birth of Christ, raising the dead, walking on water, or giving sight to one born blind.
    As wonderful as Endris's rescue was, dolphins saving swimmers from sharks are a natural occurrence, not a supernatual one, and history provides many examples of such. This, it was not a miracle. The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 that miracles were a temporary part of God's plan and He is not performing miracles in the world today. Let us be sure we use Bible words in Bible ways.

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the Church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:   http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/
And It Came To Pass...
By Steve Higginbotham

    An older man once sat in on a class in a Bible College. That day the professor asked his students to share a verse that means a great deal to them. The students were eager to oblige. They offered many great verses, rich with theological implications. When the class finished, the professor asked the visiting man if he would like to share his favorite verse. He agreed and said, "My favorite verses in the Bible are the ones that begin with the phrase, 'and it came to pass.'" A few snickers could be heard among the prideful students so the elderly man added an additional comment. 
    He said, "Young men, allow me to explain why I answered as I did. You see, when I was 32, our firstborn son was killed by a drunk driver. My wife and I were devastated. We didn't know how we would go on, but we did. At the age of 45, our daughter came home on a break from college, sat her mother and me down, and proceeded to tell us why she no longer believed in God. She told us that God was merely an invention of man intended to be a crutch for the psychologically weak, and that she wanted no part of it. We found this to be more painful than the death of our son. At the age of 55, I lost my job. Due to my age at the time, I couldn't find a job.  Everyone wanted to hire someone younger than me. Consequently we lost our home, and for six months we were forced to live in our car. Then at the age of 63, we discovered that my wife had cancer. For three years we fought that cancer as hard as we could, but my wife eventually died three years later.  So you see young men, the events that have taken place in my life have caused to appreciate and love the verses that begin with the words, "and it came to pass," for they are a reminder to me that the horrible circumstances in which we sometimes find ourselves don't "come to stay," they "come to pass."
    After the man finished, you could have heard a pin drop.  The class was no longer snickering because they learned a valuable lesson. You'll have many things "came to pass," in you life, but thank God they won't "come to stay!"
- 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

The Kids Are Coming?
By Larry Pasley

    A man in Chicago calls his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.
    "Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams. We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Dallas and tell her."
    Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "No way are they getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this."
    She calls Chicago immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.
    The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way."
    Maybe not the best way to get your kids home for the holidays but it worked for this couple.
    It is sad that adult children would have to be tricked into visiting their aging parents.
    Jesus says we are to honor our father and mother. "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 11 But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother" (Mark 7:10-12).
    I know of no greater way to honor them than to express your love for them by gracing them with your presence as often as you have an opportunity.
    I remember what joy it seemed to bring my parents when we returned home for a visit. I now experience that same joy when our kids return “home” or just call to visit.
    May we as children always look forward to fulfilling that joy in our parents hearts by our visits and calls. One day, you won’t have them any more.

- 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
Eulogy For Common Sense

   Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense
   Mr. Sense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such value lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn’t always fair. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge.)
   His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well-intentioned and overbearing regulations were set in place: Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
   Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
   Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge settlement.
   Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. Two stepbrothers, My Rights and Ima Whiner survive him. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.  

- Author unknown; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
Can You Help Me Understand?
By A. C. Crider

    He says, “I can’t figure it out or understand it. Can you?”
    A man said he loved his wife, so he got up and went out in the cold to get a doctor for her when she was sick.  (I can understand that).
    The same man says he loved the Lord but he would not get up in time to get to Bible study on Sunday. (This puzzles me).
    He said he didn’t believe in giving gifts for birthdays, or other gift-giving times, so he gave none (that figures). But whenever somebody brought him one he took it and said, “O thank you, thank you.” (That figures too).
    He said he wants his son to be just like him, but he wants his son to be a Christian too. But he won’t even consider becoming a Christian himself. (It is awful when a son has to choose between being a Christian and being like his daddy).
    During the time when the scare was on that cranberries might cause cancer you couldn’t have pushed a cranberry into him. But he continues to smoke a pack a day, even though it has been proved conclusively so that nobody can doubt it, smoking definitely does cause cancer, and a lot of other bad things too, but not one good thing. (Maybe he just wants to be able to say, “This is not a cranberry cancer. No sir, this is a real man’s cancer, one I got from smoking.”)
    He stayed inside the house out of the rain all day on Sunday and missed all the services of the church. But he stayed out in the rain all day on Monday, rabbit hunting. (Try to figure that one out).
    No, I’m afraid I just can’t understand these things. Can you?

– A. C. Crider, REMINISCENCES; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola Church of Christ, Dongola, IL. 

By Charlie Gamble

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23 (NKJV)
    Have you noticed that this description is singular? Paul is not telling us to reflect one or two of these characteristics while ignoring the others. Indeed, the follower of Christ will be all of these things.
    There are times when I have been asked to be a reference. When I do this, I take these verses into consideration. It is not enough to be faithful in attendance if I don’t see the other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit living in you. More importantly, does God see you living this description?
    How will you be referenced by Jesus at the judgment: “Come, you blessed of My Father”, or “Depart from Me?” (Matt. 25:34,41)

- Charlie Gamble preaches for the Brunswick Church of Christ in Southport, NC. He may be contacted at cgamble64@gmail.com
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