BulletinGold #175
August 2016  
Vol 16 #5 

August 2016                                      BG# 175                                      Vol. 16                                       Issue 05
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In this issue ...
Speak Up for Jesus
By R. W. McAlister
A Matter of the Heart
By Joe Slater
Good and Perfect Gifts
By David R. Ferguson
Those Who Belong to God Have Conquered
By J. Randal Matheny
What Good is the Bible?
By Edd Sterchi
The Power of New Opportunities
By Jeff Arnette
His Name Was Art
By Ron Adams
Be Not Afraid
By Clifton Angel
All These Things
By Donna Richmond Wittlif
Salvation Is in the Church
By Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
By Salty or Seasoned With Salt? By Jim Faughn
God Remembers What's-His-Name
By David Bragg
The Judgment Day
By Johnny Ramsey
The Challenge of Relevance
By Joe Chesser
Safe and Secure in the Lord's Way
By Gerald Cowan
The Even-Handed Justice of Man
By Ron Thomas

Speak Up for Jesus
By R. W. McAlister

     One of the most amazing things we find in the book of Acts is that from a beginning with only 120 disciples, the news about Jesus spreads throughout Judea, Samaria, Syria, Asia, and into Europe and Africa. In Jerusalem alone there were over ten thousand Christians in the first years.
     Without modern mass media, without social networking, without power or prestige, without much money, the gospel was spread more rapidly than it has ever been since - but how did this happen?
     The Book of Acts not only details the spread, it gives clear indication of the principal means by which it was accomplished. There was public proclamation. There were discussions in synagogues. But the primary means of the spread was “talk.” Acts 8:4 says those scattered by persecution “went about preaching the word,” but this proclamation was not primarily from pulpits. These ordinary Christians simply shared their faith wherever they went.
     We gain a little more insight from Acts 11:19-21 which says those scattered by the persecution came as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, “preaching the word. . . . And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” The word rendered “preaching” in the English is from the Greek word, “laleo,” and means, “to speak, to use the faculty of speech.” So their primary method of evangelism was speaking to others.
     When Paul and Silas were in jail in Philippi, they gave their testimony in song and prayer at midnight, “and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
     In Acts 17:17 Paul went to the marketplace in Athens where he spoke “every day with them that met him.” When Paul is taken from the temple courts by Roman soldiers, he shares his faith; when he’s on trial, he shares his faith; when he speaks to a king, he shares his faith; when he is on board a sinking ship, he shares his faith; when he is under house arrest in Rome, he shares his faith, even with his guards.
     One of the major factors in the early spread of the gospel, then, was simply the talking Christians did wherever they went. Wherever they were, whoever they met, whatever their circumstances, they found a way to turn the conversation to Christ and His church.
    If making conversation about their faith worked in those early years, it will work now. Let us resolve to say more about our Lord, His church, and the salvation found only in Him when we speak with others. It will make a difference!
 
  - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
A Matter of the Heart
By Joe Slater

    Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). 
    Have you heard about the broken clock hanging on a wall of a church building? A sign below it said, “Don’t blame my hands; the trouble lies on the inside.” 
    The same is true for you and me. Our feet take us places we shouldn’t go. Our hands do things we ought not do. Our mouths utter wicked words. Why? Is something wrong with our feet, hands, and mouths? No, the problem lies deeper. 
    Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Hear the Master again: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Are these actions sinful on their own merits? Indeed! Nobody even remotely familiar with the Bible would argue otherwise. Yet the outward act does not constitute the whole problem. 
    In the sermon on the mount, Jesus repeatedly showed that God is concerned not only with the outward behavior (good or bad), but with the condition of the heart which motivates it. That is true of murder (Matthew 5:21-26), adultery (5:27-32), honesty (5;33-37), and acts of worship and service such as charitable giving, prayer, and fasting (6:1-18). God disapproves of sinful acts, but He also disapproves of the corrupt hearts that produce them. He wants us to obey Him, but also to have pure motives. 
    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Such is the Lord’s estimation of the human heart. How, then, can we guard our hearts so that our actions are acceptable to God? The apostle Paul taught that we must be careful with our thinking. The world is awash in vulgar, trashy, ugly, ungodly material with which we might occupy our minds. We might meditate about things immoral, things that make us angry, wrongs we have suffered, and past failures. By contrast, Paul says, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). 
    There is an old computer saying: G-I-G-O – it stands for “garbage in, garbage out.” Whatever you feed into your mind and allow to stay there will come back out in words and deeds. Remember, it’s a matter of the heart. 

 - Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Good and Perfect Gifts
By David R. Ferguson

    For as long as I can remember I have always loved baseball, and one of my fondest memories as a very small child was begging my Mom to go outside and pitch to me. And more often than not, she would stop what she was doing and pitch that ball to me for hours on end, and I would hit it with a borrowed bat that belonged to my older brothers. So you can imagine what joy I felt when I turned seven years old way back in 1968, and I received my first brand new baseball bat, glove and ball to call my very own. Not only that, my older brother Lonnie gave me a birthday present of my very own transistor radio so I could listen to my favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, on KMOX. For a boy of seven, that birthday seemed to be just the best birthday ever. I thought that baseball, bat, glove and radio were just the best and most perfect gifts any boy could ever receive.
    James, the Lord’s brother, knew of good and perfect gifts, too, when he wrote in James 1:17 [NAS], “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Jesus Christ is the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind, and Jesus explains in John 3:16 [NAS] why God gave us such a wondrous gift: He did it because He loves us and He wishes to save us from our sins. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The gift of eternal life is there for our taking if we will simply give our lives to God and come to Him in obedient, saving faith.
    So what had seemed to be the most perfect gifts to a seven year old boy fail when it comes to those everlasting gifts that come from God. That ball, bat, glove and radio are long gone now, having perished with the passage of time through the ensuing decades. But in one sense they still are, and will forever remain, perfect gifts. They are perfect for they were given from a source of love, the love of a family given to a small child. God’s word tells us that He is the Source from which all love emanates for God Himself is love (1 John 4:7-8).

 - David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Those Who Belong to God Have Conquered
By J
. Randal Matheny

    The obvious ceases to be obvious when we listen to voices that are misinformed or spouting false teaching. It was the latter who were bellowing in the first century, leaving the true children of God confused, when John wrote his first letter.
You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4.4)
    Excuse me for repeating this so often, but God is in us when we obey the word of Christ, John 14.23. In a dissolute and perverse world (as it has always been), which gives itself, unrestrained, over to carnal passions and personal pleasures, the followers of Christ do God’s will and receive in their hearts the presence of the Lord.
    Through his living in us, his power works to give us the victory. If we do not have the victory (note: the verb conquered is in the past tense!), we need to ask ourselves why. It is entirely possible that we are still rebelling against complete obedience to the Lord. In what area do we still refuse to submit ourselves to his will?
    Or perhaps we do not recognize the nature of this victory. It is not freedom from trials and suffering, nor is it a comfortable financial situation or a healthy body. The victory does not consist of physical comfort. We have victory when our hearts are secure in God and spiritual peace possesses us, even when the storms of life through their worst upon our heads.
    We enter into victory because God is greater than the evil one and because he is within us, reigning in and over us.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here. When reprinting this
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What Good is the Bible?
By Edd Sterchi

    Many people think the Bible is a good book, full of interesting children’s stories, etc., but is no better than many good books on the shelf.  Friends, we need to realize that not only is the Bible a good book, it is THE Good Book.  The Bible makes some incredible claims about itself, that, if true, make it the most important volume man could ever read.  Let’s examine just a few of these from 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God...” - This tells us that the Bible is truthful.  God is all truth (Deuteronomy 32:4), thus the word that He gives us will be one of complete truthfulness (John 17:17).  The writers of the Bible were inspired by God to write everything accurately.  All of the facts brought out in the Scriptures are true, real, and accurate in every detail – historically, geographically, even scientifically.  The information brought forth in the Bible has never been proven wrong (and never will be).
    “... and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness...” - This tells us that the Bible is educational.  Understanding it will aid us greatly.  Every doctrinal matter concerning the church and man is covered in it (1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 11:29).  Nothing needs to be (or should be) added to it, and nothing had better be taken away from its teachings (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19).  There is not one bit of bad advice in the Bible.  It gives complete instruction on how to be holy, righteous, good, and godly in every area of life (2 Peter 1:3).
    “...that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” - This tells us that the Bible is beneficial.  Following its guidance will make us better people.  By living it, we can become more complete and able to serve many different ways in many areas (Ephesians 4:11-16).  By heeding its instructions, we not only benefit, but many others around us will, as well (1 Timothy 4:16).  Living the way the Bible directs would make this world a much more peaceful, much better place.
    The wonderful thing is that not only can the Bible make these claims, it can support them.  It’s the only book that can, because it’s the only one from God. Yes, indeed, the Bible is THE Good Book and it is very good for each of us.  What good is the Bible?  It’s good enough to get us to heaven (John 6:18; Ephesians 1:13)!
                                                                 
 - Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
The Power of New Opportunities
By Jeff Arnette

    I am grateful for this New Year! I say that because sometimes we take for granted the blessing that everything in life starts over at some point. Every day comes to an end and with it comes a new day. With every new day comes new demands, new hopes and dreams, and yes, new opportunities to get it right. It is my hope we will all make the most of New Year and New Opportunities that God has blessed us to with. Let me remind you of just a few of the New Opportunities that God has given you today.
    He has given you new opportunities to reach family and friends with the gospel.
    Every new day, especially every New Year, reminds me of the love of God and his desire to see the lost saved. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not just being slow to fulfill His promises to us but is actually giving us new opportunities to be saved from our sins. Our God loves you and the lost very much and He wants them to be saved from their sins. He has given you this new day and New Year so that you can reach out to them with the gospel. Make the best use of this blessing and plan to talk to them about Jesus Christ.
    He has given you new opportunities to repent of those stubborn sins in your life.
    Every one of us have sin in our life (1 John 1:5-9)! Not one of us could honestly say we don’t sin. I am convinced that for some of us there are stubborn sins, sins that just seem to hold on tightly to us. Every new day is a new opportunity to truly repent of those sins and remove them from our life. Romans 6:17-18 reminds me that no matter how bad, no matter how stubborn, and no matter how difficult it can be; sin can be overcome! God has blessed you with this new day and year to give you the chance to remove that stubborn sin from your life. Make the most of this new opportunity.
    He has given you new opportunities to bring glory and honor to Him.
    Jesus was the only person who ever lived who could say without exception that he always brought glory and honor to God. The rest of us have good days and not so good days. Every new day is a new opportunity to shine as lights in this world (Matt. 5:13-16). Our Lord blesses us each and every day with new and better ways to truly shine. Let’s make sure that we do the best we can with the new opportunities he has given us.
    The power of new opportunities are amazing. Our great and glorious God has given us a new day and a new year to accomplish all that He wants for us. Let’s make the best use of our time here. "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time" (Colossians 4:5; ESV).

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
His Name Was Art
By Ron Adams

    He grew up in a rough neighborhood and associated with gang members. His home life was far from ideal.
    He met a young girl whose family worshiped where I preached. He started coming to services with them. After some time he obeyed the Gospel.
    He was admonished to stay away from his old friends and he did so for a while. But on one occasion he was with an old friend and they committed a crime. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
    I visited him often and stressed that when he was released he needed to stay far away from such friends.
    After his release, he seemed to be doing better. That is, until I received a phone call telling me that he had been killed while robbing a gas station with an old friend. How tragic!
    Why am I writing this? To graphically impress on the minds of young people these truths:
    Bad friends will influence you.
    Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
    New ways of living must replace old ways, or you will revert to the old ways.
    “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

- 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. © 2016
Be Not Afraid
By Clifton Angel

    "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15, KJV). This passage is often quoted to encourage memorization of Scripture and the knowledge of God's Word. While these are very important, and the principle may be present in the passage, the context provides a very different meaning. 1 Peter 3:15 is not about memorizing Scripture. It's about making sure that Jesus is our true Lord and Master.
    You see, the Christian's hope is not in self-expression. The Christian's hope is not in equal opportunity. The Christian's hope is not in freedom of choice. The Christian's hope is not in governmental recognition. The Christian's hope is not in governmental protection from the mentally disturbed, confused, and perverted. The Christian's hope is not in a safe or nondiscriminatory bathroom environment. The Christian's hope is not even in physical life. For, our "hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness!" At least, that's what we sing.
    And so, we are to tell others where our hope lies, and we are to do it with meekness and reverence for God. Let us not be deceived by the media, and the world, into a response that is filled with wrath and fright.
    “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, wherein ye are spoken against, they may be put to shame who revile your good manner of life in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God should so will, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing. Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:15-18, ASV).
    "And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28, ASV).

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website.
All These Things
By Donna Richmond Wittlif

    "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
    Winters can be harsh in Colorado. Snow comes in abundance, temperatures fall far below zero, and the cold arctic winds bring the temperatures even lower. We had such a day last week. The snow sparkled in the sun, but the scene was deceiving. The thermometer read ten below zero. Not a bird nor a squirrel stirred in the trees, and no geese were on the frozen lake or eating grass in the park.
    Today the temperature was already in the 30's when we rose. Birds sang from tree branches and power lines, and squirrels chased each other up and down tree trunks and along wooden fences.  Where do they go during the days of bitter cold?  What do they eat?  How do they keep from freezing to death?  The only answer I have is what Jesus said, "Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matt. 6:26).  God takes care of them.
    We see God's love and care in action when we look at the animals, and we believe.  God has given us, His children, the same promise.  "Are not you of much more value than they?  Why be anxious?" Jesus asks. The simple answer is that we should not be anxious. We should not worry, but instead, spend our energies on seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness. Leave the rest to God, for He has promised that "all these things" will be given us.
    "All these things"--food, clothes, housing, salvation, spiritual guidance, comfort, a place in His kingdom, eternal life, and many more.  Just like God cares for the animals, so He cares for us.

- 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.
Salvation Is in the Church
By Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

    The idea that one is first saved by some mystical or mystified, unintelligible or intangible process, and afterwards “joins some church” is a common religious delusion. Yet, there is no truth more plainly emphasized in the Bible than the fact that the process of being saved is the process of entering the church (Acts 2:47).
 1. It is affirmed in Acts 4:12 that salvation is in Christ. Then, to have salvation, one must get into Christ. But Paul, by analogy, in Ephesians 5:30, teaches that as husband and wife are one, so Christ and the church are one. “I speak concerning Christ and the church,” he said. Christ and the church being one, how can one be in Christ and out of the church?
 2. Paul makes the fact that Christ is “the saviour of the body” (5:23) the ground of his exhortation to the Ephesians concerning the church as the bride of Christ (5:25). He washed it and sanctified it, cleansed and saved it, purchased it with His blood and redeemed it, reconciles us to God in it, and adds all the saved to it. Therefore, out of the church there is no cleansing, no blood, no redemption, no reconciliation to God, no salvation.
 3. The relation between Christ and the church is the same as that which exists between God and Christ. Christ is the “fullness” of God (Col. 1:19), and the church is the “fullness” of Christ (Eph. 1:22). Therefore, no man can come to Christ and ignore the church for the same reason that no man can come to God and ignore Christ.
    We exhort the unsaved to come to Christ, “gladly receive the word,” be “baptized into Christ,” and the Lord will add you to His church.

- Foy E. Wallace, Jr.; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere Church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website.

Salty or Seasoned With Salt?
By Jim Faughn

    Have you ever heard anybody’s speech/language described as “salty?”  You don’t hear that expression as much as has been the case in the past.  What it usually is referring to is what could also be described as “very colorful language.”  In other words, we are talking about something that is, at best, questionable and, at worst, vulgar.
    In those days when this expression was more common, “salty language” was offensive to most people.  To be sure, there were those who thought it was cute, funny, etc., but most people were turned off by both the language and the person using it.
    All of this came to mind when I recently thought of Paul’s admonition to Christians in Colossians 4:6 --- Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to   answer each person.
    I believe it is fairly obvious that Paul was not advocating rude, crude, vulgar, offensive, and/or suggestive language.  What, then, could he have meant?
    The answer may be found in our Lord’s dealing with a person we sometimes refer to as the “woman at the well” (cf. John 4:4ff).  As you read this account of His earthly ministry, you will notice that He was critical of both her lifestyle and her religion.  He made it very clear that He approved of neither.
    However, He was able to discuss these matters with her in a way that did not offend her.  Instead, He was able to communicate in a way that turned her into one of His “promoters.”  It could be said that His discussion of “living water” made her thirsty for something she did not have.  
   Speech that is gracious, seasoned with salt has a way of doing that.  Salty language does not!
   As I interact with people, I need to ask myself whether my speech and my lifestyle create in others a desire to know more about Jesus or if they alienate people.  Do I give people hope or do I make them feel hopeless?  Do I offer help or do I write people off? 
   How about you?  Is your speech salty or is it seasoned with salt?
   The eternal destiny of others --- and yourself --- may depend on your answer.

 - 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.
God Remembers What's-His-Name
By David Bragg

    In November 2011 security forces for a California university pepper sprayed a crowd of protesters holding a peaceful rally. Wanting to minimize adverse publicity the school paid around $175,000 to computer specialists to remove any hint of the unfortunate incident from search engines (Randy Cassingham, This is True, May 1, 2016).
    We serve a "forgetting" God. He has made the most amazing provisions so that those who come to Him in obedience to His Son, who died for the world's sins, could be forgiven (1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 8:12). Of that we can be confident, as the beloved apostle John has written, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
    But we also serve a "remembering" God. Not only does God promise us repeatedly that "their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12; 10:16-17), but he also promises to remember the good that we do in His name (Hebrews 6:10). Think of that! All remembrance of countless faithful Christians throughout the history of the New Testament church has been erased, their names, their lives of service, the good that they have done and the service they have rendered have long since been forgotten. By men, that is. But God has promised us that He has not forgotten. He tells us in the closing book of inspired scripture, "Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them" (Revelation 14:13).
    Although the whole world forgets, the One who in the end really counts will never forget.

 - 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.

The Judgment Day
By Johnny Ramsey

    When we stand before God, the judge of all (Heb. 12:23), what will our sentence be? When life’s journey shall have ended, will we regret our poor decisions that caused us to be lost (Gal. 6:7)? Or shall we rejoice to know that our sojourn was meaningful (I Jno. 4:17)? “Only one life, it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.” How very true those sentiments! When the clock of life no longer ticks because eternity has been ushered in what will our destiny hold? What kind of day will judgment disclose?
    IT WILL BE A DAY OF RECKONING. Will it be reward or remorse when we stand before our Maker? Will there be a handwriting on the wall of our record that proclaims our doom (Dan. 5)? Shall we reap the whirlwind of shameful activity (Hos. 8:7) or the joy of our salvation? When God’s “book of remembrance” is opened (Mal.3), what will be the contents? Can we say what Nehemiah did? “Remember me, O my God, for good.” (Neh. 13:31).
    IT WILL BE A DAY OF REST. Yes, rest from a wicked world and a sinful environment awaits the faithful child of God (Heb. 4:9). In Rev. 21:3-5 we see the fruition of godliness in a realm that knows no sickness, sadness or separation. Earthly corruption never enters and the toils of life are gone (2 Cor. 5:1). Fleshly lusts forsaken (I Pet. 2:11) and even death shall have been turned into victory! We will be glad we obeyed: “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16).
    IT WILL BE A DAY OF REUNION. Christ will take us to be with Him (Jno. 14:3). According to Matt. 8, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be there. David spoke of his dead son in 2 Sam. 12:23, “I shall go to him.” Loved ones will be together again! I believe Heb. 12:23 gives us a hint of the same. What joy it will be to see the redeemed of all the ages. There has never been a family reunion like that one will be!
    IT WILL BE A DAY OF REVELATION. The one who knows us as we really are, and not as we pretend to be, will reveal our eternal destiny (Rom. 2:16). The sins we were forgiven of by the Redeemer shall not be remembered (Heb. 8:12; Psa. 32:1; 1 Jno. 1:7), for which we should praise God. But hypocrisies and sincerities we tried to hide will be exposed, and those things we knew we should have done will haunt us: “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (Jas. 4:17).
    We are given this life to prepare for eternity, but many pervert this purpose and waste their moments upon earth. On that notable day, the infidel will confess the Lord (Phil. 2:9-11) and the disobedient will try to hide from the wrath of the Almighty (Rev. 6:12). May we be wise enough, now, to search our ways and return to the Lord (Lam. 3:40). Let us use our days wisely: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). And let us never “follow a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). Heaven is just too precious to miss.

- Johnny Ramsey; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
The Challenge of Relevance
By Joe Chesser
 
    One of the most fascinating truths about the Bible is its relevance.  Though written thousands of years ago in varying cultures and times, though written by thirty-five to forty different men with varying educational backgrounds, though written in several different literary styles, the Bible is as relevant to our culture and lives as today’s newspaper. And that is true whether we are native to Jackson, Jamaica or Japan.  The Bible speaks to us, works on us, transforms us today.  Paul told the Thessalonians that they had received the word of God “which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).  And it’s been at work in every generation since.
    But the relevance of the Bible should be no surprise since the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). The incarnation (God becoming flesh) took place in part so that we could know that God knows what it is like to live where we live.  Jesus met us on our turf.  He dealt with cheating government officials, blind and lame beggars, proud politicians, loose-living streetwalkers, radical extremists, grieving parents, course fishermen, victims of demonism, honest truth-seekers – and he was able to purposefully relate to them on their level, all the while without stooping to their level.  Perhaps we need to rethink how we present the gospel.  Read carefully George MacLeod’s challenging words:
 
I simply argue that the cross be raised again
At the center of the market place
As well as on the steeple of the church.
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles:
But on a cross between two thieves;
On a town garbage heap;
At a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan
That they had to write His title
In Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek ...
And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
And thieves curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died,
And that is what He died about.
And that is where Christ’s men ought to be,
And what church people ought to be about.

    One of the glaring needs of the world today is for Christians to not only declare the message of the gospel, but also to demonstrate daily the relevance of how that message is lived out in every situation of life. The word of God still must become flesh in us to be relevant.

 - Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Safe and Secure in the Lord's Way
By Gerald Cowan


If you build your house upon the shifting sand
You will dread each storm that rages.
To be quite sure,
Calm and secure,
Build upon the Rock of Ages.

Without ties and proper anchors for your soul
Your boat upon life’s sea is tossed.
The tide may shift
And you will drift,
Both life and soul may then be lost.

Strait and narrow is the way of righteousness.
God set the boundaries for all.
His voice is clear
And you must hear.
Obey the Master when he calls.

Walk within the way of light and truth and life
That is marked for us by Jesus,
 Or life will end in
 The dark and sin
 From which, in Christ, our God frees us.

- 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 Even-Handed Justice of Man
By Ron Thomas

“A just weight and balance are the LORD'S: all the weights of the bag are his work. (Proverbs 16:11, NKJV).
    In this exhortation of the Holy Spirit, the king over his people is not one who is to sustain his own pleasures with corrupting influences. Instead, he lives by the standard that is of God. When issues need to be properly judged, the king is to have a standard that is even-handed and right.
    The only standard known to man that is that way is the standard that belongs to the Lord. Too often man gets in the way of himself as he tries to administer justice; the subjectivity of evaluating motives makes justice not even-handed at all!
    A prime example of this is secular progressivism/liberalism. There is no chance for justice to be rendered even-handedly across the board because the standard of measurement is always floating, changing and fluid. My friends, reject the ways of man (Proverbs 14:12) and accept the ways of the Lord.

- Ron Thomas served as preacher and an elder for the Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL, for many years. Currently he is in transition to Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted at etsop95@gmail.com.
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