BulletinGold #176
September 2016  
Vol 176 #6 

September 2016                                      BG# 176                                      Vol. 16                                       Issue 06
BULLETINGold
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In this issue ...
I Need Thee Every Hour
By Ron Thomas
We Show Who We Are in Our Meetings
By J. Randal Matheny
Wings Of Eagles
By Donna Richmond Wittlif
Show No Partiality
By David R. Ferguson
Like a Persecuted Church
By Steve Higginbotham
Prove All Things
By Ron Bartanen
Light for the Journey
By Robert Guinn
Lean on Him!
By Kari Adams
The Incredible Ant
By David Bragg
They Really Needed That
By Larry Pasley
Judgmental
By Jeff Arnette
Being a Part of Jesus’ “Framily”
By Edd Sterchi
He Sees Things Differently By Charlie Gamble
Mission Statement
By Ron Adams
Look Again, God is There
By Gerald Cowan
Them That Have the Rule Over You
By R. W. McAlister

I Need Thee Every Hour
By Ron Thomas

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you….And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:9, 19 ESV)
    Peace and tranquility in life is very important to each of us. Sometimes, however, it seems to be missing. In Scripture there is a peace from God that is never missing. Paul reminds us of that in the two verses from Philippians 4. We are also reminded of this in the song we sing, “I need thee every hour.” Let us reflect on a few thoughts from the song.
    1) No tender voice like thine can peace afford. There is nothing like the soothing voice of a mother to help when the pain of life is so great it makes one immobile. Jesus’s voice is tender (Matthew 11:28-30), but let us not think it is so tender than He does not demand that we turn from our sins and live righteously (Ephesians 5:17, 17). It is unfortunate that many in this world look upon Jesus as only a tender voice that calls us from despair, and while He is that, I am glad He is certainly that and more.
    2) Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh. When you are tempted, and the temptation is overwhelmingly powerful, to whom do you turn in this time of crisis? Or, perhaps, a better question might be, do you turn away from the temptation? Temptation hits us all differently, but also with a good deal of sameness (if you will). In times of weakness, it is the time when the Lord’s name is not only on our lips, but in our heart. Though we are vulnerable, He is our strength. Sometimes the temptation is so great the ability to withstand seems impossible. Consequently, we just say to ourselves, “I will pay the price later.” The problem is, when later comes, the price is every bit as oppressive as the original temptation. The weight of guilt is oppressive, and those who give in are called to run from the continuing danger in soupy mud two feet thick.
    3) In joy or pain, come quickly and abide or life is vain. There is no person like a Christian who has life laid out in such a way the path is clear. Some who try to live without the Lord can turn to a loved one to help in time of need, but sometimes that loved-one has no answer, no solution to the deep and dark counsels of one’s heart. To who, then, does a non-Christian turn? The Christian turns, and continues to turn to the Lord, for only He can give an answer and solution to most emptiness of life, taking the “vainness” away and giving hope. Sometimes, however, the taking and giving experience can be painful. What will you gain for your pain?
    4) O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son. God’s love is so great that His Son came to this earth to not only give us relief from sin, but hope to tread our way through this life. More than that, however, He came to give us life, life in Him, in the Father’s Son. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27, KJV).
    Does peace flow like a river through your soul? It won’t if the love of God is not center-seat in your heart. It may be a challenge for each of us to find that desired peace, but the peace we should desire is the peace that comes from God, surpassing all understanding.

- 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.
We Show Who We Are in Our Meetings
By J. Randal Matheny

    We meet together today as God’s holy people, purified by His word of truth and cleansed by the blood of Christ in baptism.
    Our meetings reflect our character, which in turn determines our thoughts given to the mercies of Christ, our gratitude thrown upward to God, our praises louder for new life in the Spirit, our prayers fervent that others might come to this knowledge.
    In our meetings, we acknowledge our churchness, that we are a people, that no one walks alone, that purification leads to fellowship, that God’s word unites us.
    Our meetings, like all parts of our life, private and public, show who we are: faithful to the command of God, bound together as followers of Jesus, empowered to serve in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
    In them, ineffable joy breaks out, peace infuses each soul, love finds expression, compassion turns to generosity, and to need is granted fullness.
    Be present, and be a celebrant of the God who reigns and blesses.

- 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.

Wings Of Eagles
By Donna Richmond Wittlif

"But they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
    The first time I saw Isaiah 40:31, I was in the sixth grade. The verse was a handwriting practice assignment given to the class by our teacher, Lois Riggs. She was very religious, but I don't know which church she attended. We often had Bible verses for handwriting.
    I had never been to church, but I had been thinking about God, probably because of the other Bible verses we had for handwriting practice. This verse, though, hit a place in my heart, and it wouldn't let go of a poor country girl who was searching for something to cling to. I wanted more than anything to learn about God. It wasn't long after that my grandfather invited me and my sister to attend church with him.
    Miss Riggs planted the seeds that grew in me. It didn't happen in one day, and probably not in a week or a month. But that seed took root and grew, and within a year, I became a Christian. 
    So many times we try to convert someone, but we become discouraged when we don't see results quickly. We never know how the seed of God that we implant in their heart is growing.
    Many people are like I was. They are hungry for God, and they are yearning for someone to tell them how to find Him. They may not have the resources or the know-how to find God on their own. They must rely on someone to point the way. Let us be the ones to give them wings of eagles so they can learn how to run, and not be weary, and walk, and not faint.

- 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.

Show No Partiality
By David R. Ferguson

    It is an undeniable truth that life is not fair. Oftentimes we see firsthand how those less qualified receive a job promotion, while those much more deserving are passed over. But just because the world is not fair does not give Christians permission to treat others unfairly. On the contrary, we have many passages of Scripture that teach otherwise.
    James, the Lord’s brother, teaches of the sin of partiality by showing how wrong it is to favor someone new to our assembly simply based upon the clothing one wears. He then states, “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9 [NAS]). James and the Apostle Paul both point out that we should model our lives and treat others as God does, by judging their actions righteously, and to do so without partiality. Paul writes in Romans 2:9-11 [NAS], 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
    The Prophet Micah sums it up nicely when he writes, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 [NAS])

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page.
Like a Persecuted Church
By Steve Higginbotham
 
     Imagine it’s Sunday morning. You and your family put on jeans and t-shirts and get ready to go to the mountains. You carry with you a large picnic basket and your children carry with them a baseball and a couple gloves. You arrive at the mountains, pile out of the car and take about a two-mile trek on a trail that apparently leads to your picnic area. As you make your way along the trail, you keep a watchful eye to make sure that no one is following you. Finally, you arrive at a bend in the trail where you are greeted by two men who point to a hidden cave off the trail about a hundred yards away. The two men remain on the trail, keeping a vigilant watch. As you enter the cave, you are warmly greeted with embraces by several other families who have already arrived. The gloves and ball are put aside. The picnic basket is emptied, a false bottom removed, and four Bibles are distributed to your family. Lanterns are lit, and the group moves deeper into the cave. Meanwhile, the two men who were watching the path now make their way to the cave, cover the entrance with brush, and also join you in a deep recess in the cave. Everything is now ready. It’s now time for worship services to begin.
     While such a scenario seems so unlikely to ever become a reality for most of us reading this, it is what countless brothers and sisters in Christ have had to do in other times, and in other places in order to worship God without reprisal.
     Question: “If you were a member of a persecuted church, how would it change you?”
     Would worship become more meaningful to you, and less rote? Would the bonds of fellowship you have with those who share the same convictions about Jesus be strengthened and treasured more than they are treasured presently? Would your prayer life be stronger and more vital to your daily life? Would you be more willing to overlook personality differences and even conflicts with those who share your faith and who share the willingness to risk their lives? Would you be less likely to pick flaws with each other and more likely to search out ways to maintain peace? Would you be less critical about peripheral matters that really seem to bother you today?
    “Lord, help us behave more like a persecuted church!”

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. Copyright © 2016 MercEmail
Prove All Things
By Ron Bartanen
 
   The Christians in the city of Thessalonica had among them those who possessed the spiritual gift of prophecy, and Paul admonished the people, “Despise not prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:20). At the same time, he then cautioned, “Prove all things: hold fast that which is good.” Some could claim they had a message from God, but anyone could make the claim. Any message should be subjected to verification. In other words, there must be on our part a willingness to listen to what is claimed to be God’s word, but at the same time putting it to the test. For churches in the days of the apostles, that verification was through the gospel and “apostles’ doctrine”.  (See Acts 2:42; Galatians 1:8-9). For us today, while we no longer have the apostles with us bodily, we have a sufficiency of their teachings in our New Testament scriptures by which we can “prove all things.”
    When Paul would write the young evangelist Timothy, he would give such warnings as in 1 Tim. 4:1 (NKJV): “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” In light of this prophecy, as well as others, we can never take for granted that what we believe is truth without verification from Scripture. All congregations and religious groups should welcome investigation. In fact, God’s word makes all responsible for checking out what we may assume to be truth, testing it with God’s word. No church is infallible. No preacher or priest or pope is infallible. The apostles were to be led by the Spirit into “all truth” (John 16:13-14). What they have written and verified stands as a Constitution by which all teachings and practices should be examined and determined to be true or false. We should recall that the Bereans were declared to be noble in that not only did they listen with an open mind to Paul’s preaching, but verified it by searching the scriptures “to see whether these things were so” (Acts 18”11). This would be the Old Testament scriptures at that time, which prophesied of the coming Christ whom Paul preached. We would be noble to do the same.
    As Paul warned, numerous departures from New Testament standards have occurred. Many who claim to be Christian have called into question, and even denied, the deity of Christ and the blood atonement, Jesus’ bodily resurrection and the inspiration and authority of Scripture. There are multiple departures from what the apostles of Christ required of people that they might be saved. Departures have occurred in church government, worship, divisive names and doctrine. Many are choosing political correctness over Scripture to approve of such moral offenses as abortion and homosexuality, even approving of same-sex marriage. 
    We are encouraged when any group will compare its teachings and practices with those of the New Testament church, as they were led by the apostles. We who teach and preach should ourselves to open enough to test all things by God’s word, admit departures where found, and to teach and preach the faith even when it may conflict with tradition. We all need to ask ourselves, “What do I believe simply because that’s the way my parents or my preacher taught it?” and “What do I believe because I’ve taken the time and trouble to ‘prove all things and hold fast to that which is good”?

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

    I wish I could tell you that we are preparing for our journey. The reality is that we have already started. What we do today, what we did yesterday, and what we do tomorrow bring us further on our journeys. 
    The journey is life. It is amazing, because God gave us life. Life is an amazing journey because God not only gave it to us, but He also gives us the freedom of choice…the choice of how our journey ends. The Bible describes the journey as having two destinations: destruction and eternal life (Matt 7:13-14), with our destination based on how we live (Hebrews 9:27). So, we need to see where we are going. What helps us to properly see what is around us? Light. Psalm 119 contains an excellent section of Scripture describing God's word as our source of light.
    "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," (v.105). God’s word is a light that reveals our location. Have you ever stepped into a room, turned on the light, and all the bugs scatter back into the dark corners? You cannot see them until the light reveals their presence. By allowing God’s word to shine in our lives, it reveals the reality of our spiritual situation. We may not always like what we see. We remember on the Day of Pentecost, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter stood up and shined the light of God’s truth by preaching to the crowd. They reacted by saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” To which Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins,” (Acts 2). God’s word revealed their current situation, and it will also reveal our current location, showing us the right path to take. 
    “I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules,” (v.106-108). God’s word is a light that reveals our commitment. After turning on the light and seeing the bugs scatter what do you do? Do you turn the light off and run? Or do you notice where the bugs are going and get the bug spray? The themes of confession, obedience, persecution, dependence, sacrifice, praise, and continued dedication in these two verses convey a sense of loyalty. One will not do any of these without some level of commitment. Thus, our reaction to what the light reveals displays our loyalty to God. David sinned by committing adultery and arranging for the death of Uriah because he was physically attracted to Bathsheba. When confronted with God’s word by Nathan the prophet, David admitted his wrong and recommitted himself to the Lord despite the consequences (2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51). God’s word reveals our commitment as we either deal with the revealed problems or ignore them. 
    “I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end,” (v.109-112). God’s word is a light that reveals our power of choice. Ultimately, it is our choice whether or not we pick up the can of bug spray or call the exterminator to handle the issue we discovered when we turned the lights on and the bugs scattered. Likewise, we choose whether or not to properly follow what the light (God’s word) reveals is the best path for our own lives. Barnabas saw a financial need and sold some land and gave the money to the Lord. Ananias and Sapphira did the same thing but lied about the amount for which their land was sold (Acts 4-5). The end result was their death. God’s word reveals our power of choice by showing us the motivation behind our “faithfulness.” 
    Life is an amazing journey! A journey that we are writing as I speak. The question is, what do you want the ending of your journey to look like? Make sure you can see where you are going. Take the “Light” of God’s word for your journey.         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 - Robert Guinn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Lean on Him!
By Kari Adams

    I've heard it said that "God never gives you more than you can handle," but is it a biblical truth or a feel-good platitude? Yes, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that we won't be tempted beyond what we can stand, but that doesn't mean that life's circumstances won't be overwhelming.
    Paul had an affliction that was more than he could handle, and he asked God to take it away three times. Elijah was threatened with death by the most wicked of royal couples, believed himself to be the last faithful man on earth, and prayed that God would take his life. Job had much more than he could handle when he lost everything and his wife told him to curse God and die. I don't know about you, but I'd classify being stuck in the belly of a giant fish, thrown into a fiery furnace, sold into slavery by my siblings, and asked to sacrifice my child as situations that are more than any human could handle.
    God consistently allows His people to experience more than they can handle, and then He asks us to cast those cares on Him so He can handle it for us. He told Paul that His "grace was sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). He gave Elijah sustenance and strength from one meal for a 40-day journey, reassured him of the 7,000 faithful others, and displayed His glory not in the might of wind, earthquake, and fire, but a low whisper (I Kings 19). He reminded Job of His power and might and not only restored but doubled all that he had once he had proven himself faithful (Job 42:10).
    Having stress and trials that are more than we can handle are what help us learn to rely on God. That's why James tells us to "count it all joy" when we experience trials (James 1:2). There is no greater blessing than being so worn down with burdens too great for us that we have no choice but to finally force our stubborn hearts to let go and lean on God.

- Kari Adams teaches music and directs choirs at Knob Noster Middle School. She and her husband Jonathan live in Warrensburg, MO. They are members of the Smart Road Church of Christ in Lees Summit, MO.
The Incredible Ant
By David Bragg

    Forgive me for getting too personal, but I have a math problem for you. Take your weight and multiply it times fifty. Now imagine being able to lift that amount of weight ... with your mouth! According to some scholarly sources that is precisely what ants do every day (about.com). Especially industrious are the female worker ants. These workers labor diligently to provide food for their colony which can consist of millions of ants. Just let a single ant happen upon your carefully prepared picnic basket and that lucky ant will leave a scent trail for other ants in their colony to follow. Before you know it a whole army of ants will do their best to carry off the bounty prepared for your family's enjoyment.
    Worker ants can often be observed busily going about the thankless but necessary job of constant housekeeping, cleaning and expanding their colony, a business that usually involves them carrying burdens far heavier than themselves. This often requires feats of strength that would be equivalent to our being able to lift and walk off with an automobile.
    Besides their great lifting ability, ants are also extremely fast for their size. If we could move as fast, in proportion to the size and speed of the ant, we could be competitive with the fastest racehorse in the Kentucky Derby!
    Gifted with a divine helping of wisdom, King Solomon can be found carefully contemplating a colony of ants only to find in their industry an example worthy of our emulation (Prov. 6:6-11). He saw in these little creatures a drive to accomplish for the needs of today while wisely making preparations for tomorrow. Quite powerful lessons we can gain from such a tiny insect.

- 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.

[Editor's Note: My wife, Ann, and I are very proud that this issue includes the article previous to this one which was written by their daughter, Kari Adams]
They Really Needed That
By Larry Pasley

    An elderly woman, who lived just a block from the church, never missed a Sunday service for most of her life. Each week, as she greeted the preacher after church, she would always say, “Preacher, that was a wonderful sermon. THEY really needed that!”
    One cold winter day, after a heavy snowfall with most of the town buried in deep drifts, she was the only one who showed up for church. The preacher decided that he would take advantage of the situation by preaching a sermon on the evils of being self-righteous and hypocritical.
    As she left the church, the woman greeted the preacher as usual and exclaimed, “Preacher, that was one of the best sermons you ever preached. It was really great. It’s too bad THEY weren’t here. THEY really needed to hear that!”
    Are we guilty of applying Bible teachings to others but not to ourselves? It is easy sometimes to fall into the trap of not seeing our own sins but seeing those of others.
Matthew 7:1-5  "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
    The Bible directs commands specific to individuals on how they are to act. Husbands/wives; slaves/masters; parents/children; saints/sinners; elders/deacons; etc. the scriptures are intending for us to apply them to ourselves personally not to others.
    We only profit from the scriptures when we apply them personally.
Hebrews 4:1-2  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
    May we all strive to take the scriptures personally and apply them to ourselves as God intended.

- 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.
Judgmental
By Jeff Arnette

    “You are the most judgmental person I have ever met.”
    Have you had someone say that to you? I have and it hurts. The people who said it was upset because of a perceived judgment of someone else. In their anger they lashed out at the person who said it and accusing them of being mean and judgmental. Without the slightest thought that they have done exactly what they accused me of doing. No wonder Jesus called such people hypocrites (Matthew 7:5). They are blind to their own actions while extremely critical and unforgiving of everyone else.
    I have never intentionally been harsh or judgmental of anyone. I have tried, with great distress of heart and mind, to help others see God's standard as supreme and to help them make better choices. Yet, almost inevitably someone will make the accusation.
    "Jesus said we can't judge!"
    This statement has become the biggest misunderstanding about what Jesus taught. Any time someone says or does something that others say anything about. Watch out! Because here it comes. It has become the best argument most have for why they should be left alone and allowed to do whatever they want. There is only one problem with it, Jesus never said that. He never said anything about you cannot judge. What He said was be careful how you judge others because it will be the standard used to judge you.
    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2
    This is exactly the message we need to hear today. We must be careful that we are not the problem while we accuse others of being “the most judgmental people we have ever met.” In that extreme judgment of their heart and motives we condemn ourselves to being judged by God with the same extreme standard.
    You see, the problem most of us have when it comes to judgment is that we tend to hold others to a standard that we could not attain, nor would we want to live up to ourselves. That is why Jesus spoke about the speck in your brother’s eye while you have a log in your own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). He wants us to be as merciful and understanding of others mistakes and misunderstandings as we desire for ourselves. This is why Jesus gave us the “Golden Rule” (Matthew 7:12).
    Therefore, be careful of how you judge others. Be careful that you are not blind to your own problems while accusing those around you. Be careful that your actions don’t make you the very thing you are accusing “them” of being.
    Are they really “The most judgmental people you have ever met” or is it you?

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Being a Part of Jesus’ “Framily”
By Edd Sterchi

    I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials advertising a certain cell phone company’s “framily” plan. It boasts that you can add as many of your friends and family (thus the term “framily”) as you want to your plan. They make the claim: “the more people you add, the more you save.”
    Well, Jesus has an even better “framily” plan. He wants you to be a part of His “framily.” Because with Jesus, it’s not just being a friend or a family member – it is the benefits of both!
    Jesus wants us to be His friend. Friends are close, supportive, confidants whom we choose to be with. Jesus is willing to be our friend, no matter what’s in our past (Matthew 11:19; Proverbs 18:24).
    Jesus wants us to be in His family. Families are a group of people united by something shared. There is a special bond and love in families. Jesus invites all to be a part of His household with all of the blessings (Romans 8:16-17; Hebrews 2:11- 12).
    Being a part of Jesus’ “framily” plan has the greatest of benefits – for the more He adds the more He saves! Are you a part of Jesus’ “framily”? Notice what it takes for us to be a friend and family member with Jesus: "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50).

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

He Sees Things Differently
By Charlie Gamble

   It is clear that Jesus looks at things differently than men. As He entered Jerusalem His followers were cheering while He was weeping (Luke 19:41). They saw the beautiful city of Jerusalem while He saw the ugly sins of the people. They saw Him with a crown of jewels and a throne. He saw a crown of thorns and a cross. They saw the magnificent temple. He saw the sinful merchants and moneychangers.               
   I pray that God will open our eyes each day to see the things that are meaningful and not be blinded by the things that are not.

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

    Some time ago I heard a  speaker say “all organizations (business, non-profit, church or whatever) need to have a clear view of who they are and what they are trying to accomplish.” Quite often you will see a Mission Statement posted on a wall of a business establishment. (Even if it isn’t posted, there usually is one.)
    That fact made me stop and think. The church has a mission, a mission that must be clear in the minds of the members and the overseers. Without such a statement, the church can become busy with everything but the true mission of the church.
CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT
    Spread the good news (gospel) of salvation by any and all Scriptural means.
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20
    Provide spiritual education and training for members.
    And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16
    Protect, encourage, exhort, reprove and rebuke members.
    Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2
    Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:23-24
    Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17
    Members are to love one another. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12
    So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
    We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:16-18
    There it is. Simple. Sublime. Sufficient.

- 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
Look Again, God is There
By Gerald Cowan

    Israel had just recently come out of Egypt on their way to the promised land, Canaan. But they were headed for disappointment. All but two of the spies they had sent ahead came back with discouraging reports. “We cannot take this place,” they said. “The cities have strong high walls and strong armies. The people are like giants. By comparison to them we are like grass-hoppers! Yes, it is a wonderful land, and it would be wonderful to live there. But we can never hope to have it.” Because they doubted His promise God made Israel wait until he had destroyed that generation and raised up a whole new generation, to whom He could renew His promise (Number 13:25-14:35).
    Forty years passed. Israel was again preparing to enter the promised land. Again they sent spies. But the report was very different this time. There were the same strong armies, the same high-walled cities, and the same people there. So what was different? This time they learned that the news of God’s acts in behalf of Israel had spread through the land and the people were afraid of them. “We can take this place,” the spies declared, “because God has said so. The land is ours. Let us go in an take it, with God’s help” (Joshua 2:1-24).
    What made the difference? One generation failed miserably because it saw only the obstacles. People thought they had to take God with them into the land of Canaan. But of what use is a God who can only go where He is carried by His people? Who needs a God whose only power is the combined strength of His followers? Any people whose God is that small can expect life to be filled with failure, disappointment, and discouragement. The new generation of Israel took a second look, a closer look, and found that God was already there! He was not waiting for them to carry Him into the land. He was out in front, preparing the way and urging His people to follow Him.
    In every situation, difficult as it may seem, you will see God if you look for Him. If you haven’t seen Him, look again! 
    God is already there, working among people, working in world conditions, preparing the way and urging us to follow Him. He is ready to help bring about good things for all those who follow Him lovingly and faithfully, who are willing to carry out His stated purposes (Romans 8:28-29). Rather than be waiting for God, we should know that He is already there, ahead of us and waiting for us to come to Him, follow Him. 

- 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

Them That Have the Rule Over You
By R. W. McAlister

    If you were asked which occupation carried with it the greatest amount of responsibility, what would your answer be? Policeman? Judge? Governor? President of the United States? What about an elder in the Lord’s church? Perhaps we don’t g ive that office the consideration it’s due. Heb. 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Let’s look briefly at what this verse means.
    “Obey them that have the rule over you.” Christians have a responsibility to obey the rule of elders. A faithful Christian will always obey godly elders and submit to them in matters of judgment and expediency. Godly elders don’t make laws, but they do solidly uphold the law of Christ! They stand behind the Lord’s commands, and they also insist that His laws be believed and obeyed.
    “Submit to them” — Yield to them. Be ready to comply with their wishes and requests.
    “For they watch for your souls as they that must give account”  The Greek is forceful: “For it is they who watch on behalf of your souls as having to give account.” Elders bear responsibility for their oversight of the congregation.
    “That they may do it with joy” Be obedient and yielding to them, that they may watch for your souls with joy and not grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. Help to make their oversight of the congregation joyful by easing their burden. Live your life in such a way that your example will be uplifting to the elders, instructive to others, and pleasing to God.
    In short, live as a faithful Christian and give your elders no cause for grief. Elders should oversee a congregation that is working with them in the cause of Christ so that when they give account to the Lord (Rom. 14:12), they can do so with joy. If your elders can’t give a joyful account to the Lord of their oversight of you, what does that say about your Christianity? Disobedience and rebellion are displeasing to God and will be “unprofitable to you” in eternity.
    Elders have a tremendous responsibility. Let us appreciate them more, help to make their work easier, their burdens lighter, and let us live in such a way that their final accounting to the Lord may be joyful. Thanks be to God for godly elders.

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
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