BulletinGold #174
July 2016  
Vol 16 #4 

July 2016                                      BG# 174                                      Vol. 16                                       Issue 04
BULLETINGold
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
Morning Clouds and Early Dew
By Joe Slater
Whither Thou Goest…
By Barbara Cagle Ray
Are You Reclining, Whining, or Shining?
By Edd Sterchi
It Is Enough
By Steve Higginbotham
The Handprint
By Roy A. Crutcher
The Ballad of Fort McHenry By David Bragg
Responsibility
By Larry Pasley
Just a Bunch of Hypocrites
By Jeff Arnette
O God, Why? By Gerald Cowan
I Am Well Pleased By Charlie Gamble
My Lord By H. L. Gradowith
Be Safe—Not Sorry
By Ron Bartanen
Are We Willing to Listen? By Alan Smith
O Boundless Love By J. Randal Matheny
An Honorable Discharge
By Donna Richmond Wittlif
Others Who Have No Hope
By Jim Faughn

Morning Clouds and Early Dew
By Joe Slater

    Commitments are easy to keep – for awhile. Long-term faithfulness is another matter entirely. We see the difference in marriages. Few would even think of cheating on a spouse shortly after the wedding; but years later, infidelity damages or destroys a shocking percentage of marriages. In time, about one in five husbands will cheat, and about one in six wives will too.
    Aside from adultery, somewhere between ¼ and ½ of marriages end in divorce for whatever reason (depending on how you skew the statistics). “Until death parts us” holds less and less meaning among people who reason that “God wants me to be happy, and I’m not happy any more married to this person!” Long-term commitment gives way to live-for-the-moment pleasureseeking.
    Marriage is not the only area where we need to revive long-term faithfulness. What about our commitment to God? (That would include marriage, for it is God who joins spouses together; but it also encompasses other factors.) To ancient Israel God said, “Your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away” (Hosea 6:4). As soon as the sun rises, the thin morning clouds disappear and the dew dries up. Then they’re back the next morning. Israel’s faithfulness to God was that way – nice while it lasted, but generally it didn’t last very long.
    What about you and me? We commit ourselves to attend services regularly – all of them – even Bible classes. We’re going to read our Bibles every day. We’re going to pray frequently. And so we do – for a few days, or maybe a few weeks. Then the old habits creep back in. Something comes up. Before long, we’re back to the way we used to be. Then we re-commit ourselves, and the cycle continues.
    Brethren, let’s break the cycle! Let our commitment to God be permanent! We are to put the old man of sin to death, not just put him to sleep temporarily (see Romans 6:6). When we come forth from baptism as Jesus came forth from the tomb, we are to “walk in newness of life” (6:4).
    Long-term commitment is not easy, but it certainly is possible; and it is what the Lord requires of us.

 - Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Whither Thou Goest…
By Barbara Cagle Ray

The Spirit that breathed in Eden’s beauty
Still lingers silently with us today.
When God brought Eve into Adam’s life,
He gave the world’s first bride away.

Years later, so remote from Eden’s gate,
This special day has been set apart,
To join two people hand in hand,
As their love binds them heart to heart.

This is the first day of the rest of their lives;
May they make of each moment a sweet memory.
Forever after, with their hearts entwined,
Two lives are made one, by love’s decree.

The words spoken today shall be recalled
When the wedding vows are no longer new.
May the two words they remember most,
Be the simple, heartfelt words, “I do”.

From the Book of Ruth, I quote the words,
That have touched this world for centuries.
May they fall softly on receptive hearts,
And brighten their lives like autumn leaves:

“For whither thou goest, I will go;
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
Thy people shall be my people,
And thy God, my God.

 - via Magnolia Messenger, a publication of the South Huntington St. Church of Christ in Kosciusko, MS; Summer, 2014; p 23.

Are You Reclining, Whining, or Shining?
By Edd Sterchi

    It seems to me that there are three kinds of church members. Let’s briefly examine each and, as we do so, please honestly examine your part in the church and see which you are:

 * There are those who recline.  They just sit back and watch everything going on around them. They are never more involved than just “warming the pew” from time to time. God wants us involved with the church because, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Pro. 18:9).
 * There are those who whine. Sadly, other church members may be active, but they are involved with other members’ business. They seem to spend the majority of their time and resources complaining. God wants us to focus on harmony and make sure we “do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned” (Jas. 5:9).
 * There are those who shine. Gladly, there are church members who possess a great attitude and are working heartily for the Lord. They are busy doing the Lord’s will and singing along the way. They are shimmering example of faithfulness and fruitfulness. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

    Paul had instructions concerning all of these in Phil. 2:14-15, “Do all things (that’s the opposite of reclining) without complaining or disputing (that’s the opposite of whining), that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (that’s being a shining example).”
    So, Christian, are you reclining, whining, or shining?   
             
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

It Is Enough
By Steve Higginbotham

    It seems we are always wanting more. No matter the subject, and no matter how much we already have, we seem to always want more. But when is enough, enough? Can we be content with “enough?”
    Is it enough to have a car, or must we have the latest model? Is it enough to have a house, or must we have a “nice” house? Is it enough to clothe ourselves and our children, or must we have a certain brand of clothing? Is it enough to meet our financial obligations or must we have additional money to “play” with? Is it enough to be a servant of God, or must we be in the spotlight?
    It’s really this last point I want you to consider. Have you ever heard of Quartus? He’s probably unknown to you by name, but he’s mentioned in the Bible. What the Bible records about him is remarkable. He had no particular fame. He didn’t slay a giant or survive a fiery furnace. In fact I know of nothing that this man did that would cause him to be remembered. But here’s what the Bible says about him:
“Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city greets you, and Quartus, a brother” (Romans 16:23).
    Did you catch that? “Quartus, a brother.” Nothing more; just a brother. But that’s enough, isn’t it? Whatever else I may or may not be able to achieve in life, if I can just be remembered as “a brother in Christ,” it will be enough!

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.  Copyright © 2016 MercEmail

The Handprint
By Roy A. Crutcher

Text: Mark 10:13-16 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

    Recently a friend wrote the following statement relative to her five year old little boy: “Cleaning today getting ready for family to come for the holidays I saw a dirty little handprint next to the light switch. I almost wiped it away, but something stopped me quickly. I realized how precious that little handprint is, it shows that my little boy is alive and healthy in this home. I thought how badly I'd miss that little hand if it were suddenly taken from me. Guess what? For this season there's a little handprint stain on my wall. I love it there. My house may not be spic and span but that's because a family lives here and we may be too busy hugging, laughing or sometimes arguing, to always sweep or mop. But on my death bed, I bet I don't say, "man, I should've cleaned more”."
Wow, what a statement of love, and concern, for little children!
    We live in an age where we see a lot of unruly children. Sadly, many of them have grown into their teen years and are even more unruly. What’s more, many of them will grow into adulthood with an even more, unruly lifestyle. But, you know what? It doesn’t have to be that way if we give them the proper love and understanding they need when they are young. Proverbs 22:6 tells us that we should train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
    If we truly love and nurture our children; if we teach them the ways of the Lord; if we show patience and yet instill discipline, when they are still small, they will, likely, grow up to be individuals that we can be proud of and that will please God.
    Anyway, the manner with which my friend handled the “hand smudge” problem, prompted me to take pen in hand and write the following poem:

 The Handprint
 By Roy Allen Crutcher

 Today I found a hand print,
 That I started to wipe away,
 But something said “don’t do it”
 You’ll be happy you didn’t some day.

 That dirty little hand print,
 Looks so bad there on the wall,
 But what if there were no little child,
 To put it there, at all!

 Children are so precious,
 We love them all so much,
 So why get upset,
 When we see a smudgy touch?

 So innocently was it put there,
 As they went about their play,
 Able to run, and jump and yell,
 And all the other stuff they can do today.

 Tomorrow holds no promise,
 For what a child can do,
 Or even if he’ll be here,
 This is a fact that’s true.

 So cherish the child each day,
 Hold them close and hug,
 Tell them that you love them,
 And cherish that hand print smudge.

 Hymn: Jesus loves the little children
 Prayer:  It is my prayer, this day, that we will encourage parents to be godly parents who will set the proper example, before their children, and continually instruct them in the ways of our Lord.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

- Roy A. Crutcher, Mount Carmel, IL, may be contacted at RACRGC@aol.com.
The Ballad of Fort McHenry
By David Bragg

    On the evening of September 13, 1814 an American diplomat found himself stuck on a British vessel watching a fierce bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry. The state of affairs looked grim. As he spent the night detained by the enemy, Francis Scott Key looked out across the waters towards the American fort. But with the dawn of a new day the American cause found strength. The flag still waved above the fort. That morning, on the back of a letter he happened to find in his pocket, Key began to compose a poem that would be finalized within a week. He called it “The Defense of Fort McHenry.”
    Over the space of many years the beloved song would grow in popularity as it was sung in patriotic settings and, in 1862, at a major sporting event. The patriotic tune would also be sung to inaugurate the first World Series game in 1903 (www.pbs.org). Many attempts were made to have it adopted as America’s official national anthem, but that would not happen until March 3, 1931 when President Herbert Hoover made “The Star-Spangled Banner” America's song.
    For Christians of every generation the familiar words penned by Key have special meaning: "the land of the free and the home of the brave." We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom/nation (Phil. 3:20). As such, our freedom is purchased with the precious blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28). Our spiritual liberty demands courage, the willingness to stand up for, and suffer if necessary for, the cause of Christ. It requires courage to live faithfully in the kingdom of the saved.

- David Bragg works with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Responsibility
By Larry Pasley

    “Little Emily ran into the house, crying as though her heart would break.
    ‘What’s wrong, dear?’ asked her father.
    ‘My doll! Billy broke it!’ she sobbed.
    ‘How did he break it, Emily?’
    ‘I hit him over the head with it.”
    That’s about the way many people today try to get away from accepting responsibility for their actions. It doesn’t matter what happens to them, it’s always someone else’s fault.
     We may get away with those excuses and blame here on earth but when we stand before God in judgment, we will have to accept responsibility for our actions.
     God is all-seeing and all-knowing and we will not be able to fool Him in blaming someone else for our actions.
     Each of us will answer for our own sins when we stand before God in judgment.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
     As Christians the good we have done in the past will not protect us if we turn back to a life of sin.
Ezekiel 18:24 "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
     God promises that if we turn from our sins, He will forgive us.
Ezekiel 18:21-23  "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"
     If you have not repented of sin in your life, it is my prayer that you will do so, before it is too late.

- 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.
Just a Bunch of Hypocrites
By Jeff Arnette

    How many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you thought it yourself? I am going to share a huge secret with you, "Christians are not perfect"! I know that is not a shock to some of you but for others it is the most controversial thing you could say. How dare you contend that Christians are not perfect? I can say that because I am a Christian, because I know a lot of other Christians, and because the Bible says so (Rom. 3:23).
    You see Christians still sin and when they do, they hurt themselves, they hurt others, and just as importantly they hurt God. The church is definitely the place to go if you want to find people struggling with sins.
    The Christian having sin in their life does not make them a hypocrite. The word "hypocrite" comes from a Greek word meaning "a play actor" or "someone who is pretending to be something they are not." I am sure there are some Christians who want you to think they are sinless and I am sure there are some who strive to convince you of their holiness and purity. Truthfully, there is a reason why Jesus called some people "whitewashed tombs" full of all kinds of filth (Matthew 23:27-28). They were more concerned about what people thought of them than what God thought of them and that has not changed much. Yet, having sin in your life does not make you a hypocrite, it makes you human and in need of a Savior.
    I think there are primarily two reasons why unbelievers usually hurl that accusation at Christians. First, although they don't know much about God, Jesus, or the church; they know enough to expect that Christians will be different from them. They expect us to be somewhat Christ-like, somewhat loving, and somewhat understanding of others failures. What they usually get is anything but loving, caring, or understanding. Most scary is what they get is anything but Christ-like. Secondly, they have been in contact with some Christian/Christians in the past and they made them feel inferior. Like they were somehow less human because they were sinners when the Christian who made them feel like that was no better than them. They walked away from their encounter feeling worse about themselves and about the church.  
    Church, you cannot control how someone feels about Christians or the church but you can work hard to ensure that they don't feel that way about you. Jesus was a man who made people feel comfortable. People felt like they could talk to Him and He was a person they thought they could spend time with. He was a person that others could enjoy a meal with (Luke 5:29-30; 7:34, 36). So they invited Him and He went. He surrounded Himself with sinners and those in need and they felt well about it. He didn't cause people to run in the other direction when they saw Him walking toward them.
   Church, let's make sure that when unbelievers encounter us it is a beneficial and meaningful encounter. Let's make sure they see Christ living in us instead of our sins shining brightly. We cannot be perfect but we can make sure that they walk away with a good view of the church and Christianity.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
O God, Why?
By Gerald Cowan

‘O why was I born’
Is not a request
For knowledge and truth.
But more a protest
Against all the hurt,
Unfairness of life
That causes conflict,
Confusion and strife.
Why must I be here,
A part of it all?
And why doesn’t God
Reply when I call?

O where is my God
When I call on Him?
For when I need help
Hope fades and grows dim;
I cannot survive
If He doesn’t give.
The help I require.
How then can I live?
I am not able
To stand on my own,
I do not dare think
That I stand alone.

Why can I not see,
Why can I not hear,
Why can I not feel
The God who is near?
I must learn to see
And hear with my mind,
God is here with me;
In His word I find
The answers I need.
Upheld by His hand,
His love and His grace,
I know I can stand.
   
- 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
I Am Well Pleased
By Charlie Gamble

    When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt 3:16-17 (NKJV)
    Jesus began His public ministry at age 30. Up until that time we have little information about His life. This acknowledgement tells us how He lived. It was in a manner that pleased the Father. He lived righteously without sin. Even though tempted in all points as we, He remained holy.
    Some day we all hope to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant …. enter now into the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25:24 edited). In order for that to happen, we must live righteously, repent of our sins and follow the holy way of Jesus. We must be pleasing to the Father.

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

My Lord ©
By H. L. Gradowith

I've always thought of leaving here
           And of the Endless Day,
I've always known that You were near,
           To chase my fears away;
I've never doubted that You care
           For such a wretch like me;
With your help, Lord, I'll gladly bear
           My Cross till I'm set free.

My faith is firmly in Your Word:
           My strength, my lamp,, my light;
At Your feet humbly bow I, Lord,
           O banish now the night;
Give me the faith I need to live
           As You would have me do;
Help me to nurture and forgive
           And be a friend that's true!

There is no lord like You, my Lord,
          Nor hope like Heav'n Above;
There is no Roadmap like Your Word,
           Nor love, Lord, like Your Love!
I thank You for all You have done
           To set my spirit free,
I long now for that Heav'nly Home
           That You've prepared for me!

- H. L. Gradowith  For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.ws/gradowith/SpecialPoemLinks.html - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon Church of Christ in Webb, AL.
Be Safe—Not Sorry
By Ron Bartanen
 
    There are innumerable uncertainties in life, but there is one thing we cannot afford to be unsure of —our salvation. The apostle Peter admonished people of faith, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10a, ESV). He was writing these words, not to alien sinners, but to those who had once been “cleansed from (their) former sins” (v. 9). They were baptized believers, washed in the blood of Christ. Were some of those he addressed becoming assured that because they had once accepted Christ, they could now relax in their commitment to godliness and still be granted “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11)? Evidently so.  At least Peter saw the need to “remind” them of the spiritual qualities that are to characterize those called of the Lord to share “His glory and excellence” (vs. 12, 3b). These qualities are described as supplements to their initial faith: virtue, knowledge, self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love (vs. 5-8). He further describes any who ignore these qualities as being “so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (v. 9). He later compares those who continue in their former vices to the dog who “returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (2:22). In these verses, Peter is evidently saying that such are not making their “calling and election sure.” He would that they would be safe—not sorry in the day they would face the Lord in judgment.
    There is one way, and one way only, in which we can be assured of our standing with the Lord. It is through a personal knowledge of Christ as both Savior and Lord in our lives. Peter’s warning to believers was, in effect, saying that while they may had once taken seriously their need for Christ as Savior, they had not been as serious in making Him Lord. Jesus had said, “Not everyone that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). He went on to explain, in the parable of the building of two houses—one on solid rock, and another on sand—that simply hearing Jesus’ teachings, without submission to them, would result in the soul’s destruction. It’s not safe to build a life on the sands of this world—not even the sands of humanly devised religion. Some build on the sand of emotion and feeling, without regard for a “thus says the Lord.” Such are not given assurance from God.     Peter was not expecting, nor demanding, perfection. In no way can we live our lives so perfectly that we could, in any sense, merit salvation. But, while it is true that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:9), v. 10 is equally true: “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We can be safe—not sorry only when our works manifest the reality of our faith. With Jesus as the sure foundation for our lives, and guided by His word as revealed in Scripture (the Bible), we can be truly safe—not sorry.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

Are We Willing to Listen?
By Alan Smith

    Here's another message on the importance of listening, from a little different perspective:
    Tommy Bolt, winner of the 1958 US Open, tells the story of an incident he had during one of his golf tournaments. Bolt arrived at the golf course for the tournament and was approached by a youngster, “Mr. Bolt, do you need a caddy, sir?” Bolt went to the caddy master and asked about the youngster. The man said, “He’s a real good caddy, knows the course, the greens, and the rules of the game. But he talks a lot.”
    So Bolt went back to the youngster and said, “You can caddy for me on one condition: Don’t say a word.” The young man accepted and carried Bolt's bag. The first three rounds went well, and Bolt was in contention in the fourth round, when an errant tee shot landed in the rough. The ball was sitting down in a bad patch of turf, with a difficult shot to the green which was well guarded by water on the right.
    Bolt asked his caddy, “You think a five iron will do the trick?” The kid shook his head no, but never said a word.
    “What, you want me to hit a six iron?” Again, the kid shook his head no, but did not speak. Bolt grabbed a six iron and lashed the ball out of the rough and landed on the green, rolling to within three feet of the hole.
    As they walked to the green, Bolt said, “Aren’t you going to say something now, after seeing a shot like that?” His caddy then replied, “Mr. Bolt, that wasn’t your ball.”
    Many of us go through life like that.  We don't want to hear what anyone else has to say. In fact, we don't even want to hear what God has to say. And when we become intent on doing things our way without listening to the voices of wisdom around us, we are headed for disaster.
    Solomon advised us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
    He also encouraged us to: "Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you." (Proverbs 22:17-18)
    If you're inclined to tell others, "I don't want to hear anything that you have to say", you may want to reconsider. The time may come when you wish you had listened.
     Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Cruciform Church of Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com or through the congregation's website.
O Boundless Love
By J. Randal Matheny © 2016
 
O boundless Love, to those who hate
Show mercy, kindness to the cruel;
To them who rail, insult, berate,
Let humble goodness be our rule.
 
To vengeful foes who strike our face,
Make us disciples turn the cheek,
To calls for rights, let us show grace,
Toward haughty noses make us meek.
 
For we, above all else, desire,
In all affairs, in peace and strife,
To show your Self — to this aspire —
Like Christ who gave his perfect life.
 
- 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) 2016 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.
An Honorable Discharge
By Donna Richmond Wittlif

    In order to receive an honorable discharge, a service member must meet or exceed high standards, both in his duty requirements and in his conduct. He must also finish his tour of duty unless he is physically or mentally disabled because of his service.
    Christians might say that we seek an honorable discharge from this life. Our stay on earth is a time of testing. Will we stay true to our leader, Jesus Christ, or will we desert Him and go AWOL? Do we read God's commandments in the Bible and obey them? Does our conduct give glory to God and a good name to His church? If we fall, can we fix our eyes back on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and follow Him?
    A bad conduct discharge is the most severe type of military discharge. Usually a person who gets a bad conduct discharge serves time in prison. He is not eligible for any service benefits such as health insurance. God, too, has a bad conduct discharge. Those who do not obey Him get no benefits. They are unprofitable servants, and are cast out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30).
    Jesus has promised a rich reward to those who faithfully serve Him. May we, like Paul, be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them that have loved his appearing" (II Timothy 4: 7, 8). Only then will we have an honorable discharge.

- Donna Richmond Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. Her third book, World Eternal: Perils, should be out soon. For more information visit her website.

Others Who Have No Hope
By Jim Faughn

    Please read the following words found in the English Standard Version of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 very carefully: 
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope.
    I believe that most of us readily understand that the “sleep” being referred to here is the “sleep” of death. I believe it is also fairly obvious that the use of the word “brothers” means that these words are addressed to Christians.  
  • Does this verse teach us that Christians are not to grieve (mourn, sorrow, etc.) at all when a loved one passes from this life? 
  • Are Christians supposed to just act as though nothing had ever happened and go on with their lives? 
  • Does a Christian’s confidence in an eternal home make him or her immune to feelings of loss?
If you did, in fact, read that verse carefully, you should realize that the answer to those questions is, “NO.” The sorrow of a Christian is not to be “…as others who have no hope.” (In reality, it did not take a very careful reading to notice that, did it?)
    More often than I really care to remember, I’ve been in more homes, hospital rooms, nursing home rooms, etc. when death has taken a loved one from family members and friends. Sometimes death has occurred after a long and serious illness. Sometimes the death is sudden and unexpected. In all reality, no two deaths and no two families are ever exactly the same.
    However, I’ve noticed that many of the situations in which I’ve found myself can broadly fit into one of two categories. Both of these categories are linked to the fact that I’m a preacher (and an elder) and that I often get called on during trying times like this.
    I’ve been in situations when people just want a preacher around. Any “brand” will do. Often, these people are confused. In fact, “panic” might not be too strong a word. These people want somebody --- anybody --- that has some sort of religious credentials to calm them and assure them in some way. They may not even be aware of what way they have in mind. They just want a preacher around. His presence seems to have some sort of calming effect on them (sometimes).
    The other people I’ve been with are just as sad and feel their loss just as much as the first group. Depending on the circumstances, they may even be as confused as the people in the first group. Through tears they express words that convey their grief to the preacher and to one another.
    While, they also appreciate a preacher being with them, their actions and words convey a quiet confidence that the other group does not have. Their confidence is not dependent upon the presence of a preacher. Their confidence is in God and His promises.  
    It is my prayer that all of us could be a part of this second group of people. It is also my prayer that each of us will live our lives in such a way that those who are left behind can have that quiet confidence that is needed so much during very trying times.

- 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.

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