BulletinGold #178
November 2016  
Vol 178 #8 

November 2016                                      BG# 178                                      Vol. 16                                       Issue 08
BULLETINGold
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In this issue ...
God Bless America
By Ronald Bartanen
Not a Joking Matter
By Edd Sterchi
The Savior and His Cross and Me
By Gerald Cowan
You Can Serve God Here
By David Bragg
Is This Progress?
By Jim Faughn
Better Than Gold
By David A. Sargent
What to Say and Not to Say in Prayer
By J. Randall Matheny
Hating is Serious Business
By Lance Cordle
Crises Reveal Our Character
By Joe Chesser
Shh…Don’t Say Anything About Sin!
By R. W. McAlister
Impressed
By Ron Adams
When To Give Thanks
By Clifton Angel
Seeing Things For What They Really Are
By Jeff Arnette
The Lord’s Desire
By Ron Thomas
Thanksgiving
By Steve Higginbotham
Saved
By Joe Slater

God Bless America
By Ronald Bartanen
 
   “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12a).
   While the above words were spoken of Israel specifically, we make a mistake if we assume they should have no application to any nation that would choose to honor God, recognizing Him as sovereign and respecting His laws. Our nation, from its founding, and contrary to the assertions we hear so much today, has been one that has recognized God and sought His blessings.
    I believe God’s protective hand has been on this country through its long history. A South America president was quoted as saying, “South America was settled by men who were seeking gold, but North America was settled by men who were seeking God.”
    Through our history we have been blessed uniquely. We take for granted the freedoms we have, and the blessings other people can only dream of. But who can doubt that the Christian ideals we once honored are rapidly being eroded away? Someone once observed that we have not only gone off the gold standard, thus weakening our economy, but, more importantly, we have gone off the God-standard, jeopardizing our nation. The religion of secular humanism has become our state-religion. 
    In our rush to “separate church and state”, we have succeeded in separating state from God! Many countries, once considered to be largely “Christian”, are now under the threat of Islam, and our country may not be far behind. Should we be surprised if the blessings we have cherished are lost? Are we not already in the process? For God to bless America, it is vital that America begin again to bless God.

 - Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Not a Joking Matter
By Edd Sterchi

    There was once a farmer who was going broke farming, so he quit and started selling hammers. He would buy hammers for $3 apiece and sell them for $2 each. He was selling a lot of hammers and seemed happier than before. A friend soon reminded him that for every hammer he sold he was losing $1. To which the he smiled and replied, “Yeah, but it’s more profitable than farming.”
    That joke is similar to what people sometimes do with their lives. Activities like drunkenness, sexual immorality, extreme selfishness, obsession with material possessions, deceit, etc. can cause folks to view their lives as being morally and spiritually bankrupt. So they decide to go to church services, pray, or read the Bible every once in a while without actually correcting the behaviors that got them into such a big mess to begin with.
    Going to church services, praying, and reading the Bible are good things to do, but until one takes some corrective action and makes a full commitment to Jesus Christ and His teachings, they are still “going broke.” It’s like buying hammers for $3 and selling them for $2 – or like taking two steps forward and three steps backward.
    It’s past time for some people to get more serious about their Christianity and truly change their lives and totally live for Jesus. He needs to be at the center of every thought, every intent, and every action in life. The old ways are to be completely left behind and the things that make for righteousness are to be constantly pursued (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Phil. 3:13-14; Col. 3:1-17; Jas. 1:21-25).
    You see, living in Christ and with Christ does not work unless we truly and totally live for Christ! Don’t make a joke out of your life. Live the way He wants you to.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom. 6:12-13)

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

The Savior and His Cross and Me
By Gerald Cowan

With my mind’s eye I view the cross
On which my Savior Jesus died,
That bloody instrument of death
Where Christ the man was crucified
For sin. One time, forever.

In countless years of time before,
Man’s sin and guilt were multiplied.
Christ took the debt upon Himself,
To man’s sin-debt His gift applied
By grace. Redeemed forever.

I hear the anguish in His voice
When to the Father, God, He cried,
“It’s done.”  The price has now been paid.
His sacrifice is justified.
To be repeated? Never.

No body hangs upon that cross,
In death the Lord did not abide.
Both cross and grave are empty now,
As empty as is human pride.
Empty, now and forever.

Not merely to the world of men,
To me the sacrifice applied.
What others do or fail to do,
His gift to me is not denied.
Sacred to me, forever.

Jesus, in your cross I would hide,
On it with You be crucified
And in it set all else aside
That in Your love I may abide
With You, in heav’n forever.

 - 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

You Can Serve God Here
By David Bragg

    Thomas Read and Martha White were newlyweds. Their young marriage was quickly put to the test when, on July 11, 1861, Thomas enlisted in the Confederate Army. Their letters are filled with talk of war and family and faith. Martha, or Mattie as friends and family knew her, was obviously concerned about the dangers her husband faced each day. She was just as anxious that he not lose sight of their shared faith in God.
    One letter in particular stands out. Mattie, writing on a peaceful Sunday evening (August 31, 1862), describes the serenity of the farm and of her longing to be reunited. She is confident that, unless he is surrounded by the confusion of battle, his thoughts would be of her. She encouraged him to do whatever he can to find time amid the turmoil of camp life to focus his attention on God. "I do not think.” She writes Thomas, “that God ever placed a man in circumstances in which he could say with truth "I cannot serve God here." I believe that the Christian intent on the service of God can serve him any where" (http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/).
    Thomas Read survived being wounded on the very first day that Generals Grant and Lee faced each other on the battlefield (May 5, 1864). He survived being taken a prisoner at Winchester, VA that September. He survived life in the Union prison at Point Lookout, MD. The fact is, he and Mattie survived the Civil War. Through the travails of their life they teach us that the trials of life are only fleeting and that, if we really try, we can serve God in ANY circumstance.
    The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth. “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). No matter where life takes you, never forget that you can serve God here.

 - David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Is This Progress?
By Jim Faughn
 
    The New York Gazette contained some interesting information in its June 3, 1752 edition. The information was in an advertisement for an educational institution. Here is what this institution hoped would encourage students to enroll: The chief thing aimed at in this college is to teach and engage young people to know God in Jesus Christ, and to love and serve Him in all sobriety, godliness and righteous life, with a perfect heart, and a willing mind.
    The institution placing this ad was King’s College. It is now Columbia University.
    To say that Columbia University has travelled far from the stated aim of King’s college would be a huge understatement. It may be that God would be the last thing people of my generation and younger generations would think about in connection with this institution.  
    We might think of stories we’ve read or heard about concerning riots, drugs, protests, “sexual freedom,” and other things such as this. We would probably not think of Columbia as a good place for a young person to go to learn more about God, His Son, and how to love and serve Him.  
    When one traces the history of some of the oldest institutions of higher learning in our country, it will be discovered that a great many of them were founded to uphold, teach, and defend the Bible.  Sadly, most of them are now known for strong opposition to anything resembling Christian teaching and/or morality.
    Twenty-four years before some brave people declared their independence from England, educators were using whatever freedom they had for religion. Now, almost two-and-a-half centuries later, educators in most of those same institutions are telling us that we are to be free from religion. Is this progress?

 - 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.

Better Than Gold
By David A. Sargent

    The actions of these athletes have been hailed as expressing the true Olympic spirit.
    The events occurred during a qualifying heat of the women’s 5,000 meter race in the 2016 Rio Olympics. About 3,000 meters into the race, American Abbey D’Agostino accidentally clipped New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin causing both of them to fall to the track. Hamblin was lying on the track dazed when D’Agostino rose and placed her hand on Hamblin’s shoulder and said, “Get up. We have to finish this.” D’Agostino helped Hamblin onto her feet so both of them could complete the race.
    "I'm so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there," Hamblin said of D'Agostino. "I've never met her before. Like I never met this girl before. And isn't that just so amazing. Such an amazing woman."
    It was D’Agostino who suffered the greater injury. Tests would later find that she had torn ligaments in her knee. As she struggled to continue the race, Hamblin stayed behind to help her and offer encouragement.
    "She helped me first. I tried to help her. She was pretty bad," Hamblin said.
    Both Hamblin and D'Agostino set aside their own hopes of earning Olympic medals to look out for one another.
    And they both completed the race.
    And waiting at the finish line for the struggling D’Agostino was her competitor-turned-friend, Nikki Hamblin. Their magnanimous actions remind us that some things are better than gold! *
    “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
    We’ve all fallen. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Without help, we could never finish the race. Without help, we are lost.
    God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). His victory over sin and death made it possible for us to share in His victory. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
    God will save from sin and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
    When God saves us, He also places us within His family, the Church (see Acts 2:36-41, 47). In God’s family, we should demonstrate the same kind of care that was shown by Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin. When one falls, we should seek to help him/her up. Then together we can complete the race and share in the victory that Christ has made possible.
    After all, there are some things better than gold.
    Won’t YOU trust and obey Christ? Then, won’t YOU help others to run the race?

 - David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website.

* Source: “Rio 2016: Runners Abbey D'Agostino, Nikki Hamblin Show True Meaning of Olympic Spirit.” by The Associated Press (www.nbcnews.com).
What to Say and Not to Say in Prayer
By J. Randall Matheny
 
What is there not to say in prayer?
O Lord, do you who knows all things
Who reads the heart’s covert intent,
The fears to which man clings?
 
To ask forgiveness, plead for strength,
To intercede for another’s cause,
To seek the Kingdom’s first increase,
For such and many more we pause.
 
By prayer we see a larger world,
Than my pursuits, than me and mine;
We see as well Your power at work,
Your forceful love, and no mere sign.
 
Away with all that hinders prayer!
Remove from us those cares that kill.
Desire to ask, to thank, to praise—
Our help and life is your  way and will.

- 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.

Hating is Serious Business
By Lance Cordle

    Some of those reading this can recall a television show called “Our Gang.” It flourished in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, but enjoyed a comeback in the ‘70s. It featured a lovable group of kids who occasionally got into mischief. Viewers identified with  “Spanky,” “Alfalfa,” “Buckwheat” and others of the regular cast. One of the funnier aspects of the show was to watch the little boys establish and join the “He-man Women Haters Club.” Everyone watchng knew the little boys really did not mean to hate women, but they were expressing the normal feelings of little boys before they become adolescents, then men. Viewers knew it was a juvenile action and understood they really did not mean to hate women, and would “grow out of” that attitude.
    Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defined hate as an “intense hostility and aversion usu. deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury.” In his book, Flesh and Spirit, William Barclay described the Greek word translated “hate” as, “the attitude of mind and heart which puts up the barriers and draws the sword” (p.42). Hatred is no mere immature feeling, caught up in a moment of excitement. It is an attitude that has been built and harbored, usually with inaccurate information. The intensity of such an action implies a lingering of the feelings associated with the hostility toward the object.
    Contrast these definitions with the current labeling of opposition as “hate.” If someone within our culture disagrees with or opposes the ideas of another, it is very likely that they will be described as a “hater.” Even though the opposition may not be personal, the one who reacts by labeling can gain an upper hand in public opinion by describing their opponents in such a manner. Free thought and free speech are thus cast aside, and meaningful discussion, which might be conducive to a solution of the problem, is made impossible.
    Labeling people as “haters” by those whose actions are called into question actually brings about what some of the labelers oppose, namely,  prejudice. If certain actions bring severe consequences for the person committing those actions, are we hating a person for pointing out those consequences? If we oppose a course of action by a person or group on the basis of the merit of the ideas behind those actions, are we haters?
    Of course, such labeling comes about from a culture that uses extreme language for frivolous activities: e.g., “I love apple pie!”; “I hate that music!”
    God, Himself, has things He hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). He opposes actions that harm people, and the attitudes behind the actions. However, God has “so loved the world” (John 3:16). This in its basic message, means that He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. May we, by our words and actions prove that we love people, but are opposed to the degrading, disgusting and divisive attitudes that are running amok among people today.          

 - Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Crises Reveal Our Character
By Joe Chesser
 
    What would you do if you were fired from your job and put in prison because the owner’s wife told some horrible lies about you?
    What would you do if you had to flee the country because you helped defend a neighbor from an injustice?
    What would you do if you were offered something you greatly desired but knew was illegal and life-threatening to obtain?
    What would you do if suddenly you discovered that all that you had believed in the past was not true, and instead of serving God you were actually fighting him?
    What would you do if you were offered a considerable amount of money to betray a friend?
    What would you do if you found out that the woman to whom you were engaged became pregnant before the wedding, and it wasn’t your child?
    These questions are not about hypothetical situations. They really happened, and the answers to these questions reveal the type of character each person possessed at the time the crisis occurred. You can probably identify each of the people in the above scenarios: Joseph (Jacob’s son), Moses, Eve, Paul, Judas, and Joseph (and Mary). Some of them faced the crisis with faith and resolve, and withstood the challenge. Others failed. But what these examples teach us is that when crises occur, our character will be revealed.
    All of us have faced and will continue to face many challenges in our lives. They may be strong temptations, they may be difficult choices, they may be heart-breaking health issues. Many of our crises are not personally our own – they may involve our spouse, parents, children, family or friends. Yet they are heavy burdens.
    How we handle these crises reveals our character. It also reveals how we have prepared for the inevitable. We may not know exactly what kind of crisis may be coming, but they will come. How we prepare today for them will determine how these crises affect us. Roy Disney once said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Joseph was able to overcome the crisis with Potiphar’s wife because he had already established his values, even as a teenager. Moses overcame his poor choice by developing spiritually while in the wilderness. Judas failed to prepare for his crisis at any time. Which best describe you right now?                                               

 - Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
Shh…Don’t Say Anything About Sin!
By R. W. McAlister

    I’ve been a Christian for nearly 30 years and have preached in some capacity or other since June of 2002, and I’ve seen, heard, and observed some results of sin that have been most disturbing. Such experiences underscore the need to sound the alarm about the danger of sin.
    Indeed, many preachers are confronted with serious matters of sin while working with the local church. Suddenly they or the elders inform him, “Don’t say anything about the adultery, social drinking, the use of drugs and tobacco, apostate members, etc., and in time it’ll go away” (thankfully, my elders have never told me that).
    Those who hold to the idea of ignoring sin or burying one’s head in the sand must be ignorant of the teaching of the Bible. In II Tim 4:2, the Bible says, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" and I Tim. 5:20 teaches, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." The idea being that public sinners must be rebuked publicly because their sin has been committed before the eyes of others, or at least others have heard about it, so their reproof must also be public. Public rebuke is designed for the good of others, that they may fear and be advised not to behave as the one being rebuked, as well as for the good of the party who is rebuked, because we hope that person will see the error of his or her ways and that his or her Christian family cares about that person’s soul.
    This isn’t necessarily the job of only the minister, but multiple preachers who have tried to address sin publicly or privately have faced the dilemma of being silenced by elders or other brethren. To keep quiet about sin in all of its forms won’t make you become a stronger minister or church member. All too often, influential brethren try to quiet preachers and others from spotlighting sin (Psalm 119:105). When we hear something being taught, we need to always ask the question, “Is this the doctrine of God or Satan?” You don’t have to be Solomon to figure it out – all you need is sound Bible knowledge. God’s real servants must never close their mouths when Satan spouts error as Gospel (Gal. 1:8-9). May we be so bold.

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

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

 - F.Y.C. is a monthly publication by Ron Adams. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at http://ra10ar.com Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2014
When To Give Thanks
By Clifton Angel

    I am a member of the social network Facebook. It was there that I read the rather telling infographic: “November … the month where people who have complained on Facebook for the past 11 months become thankful for 30 days.” The practice that many have of expressing specific thanksgiving each day of the month of November is a good one. It even may incite thanksgiving in others roundabout. However, let’s be sure not to become the person that is described in the infographic. Complaints are mostly expressions of ingratitude. And November certainly is not the only time in the year that we should express thanksgiving. So, when should we give thanks?
    Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesus telling them that they should be “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Every day of our lives affords us a multitude of opportunities for which we should give thanks to God. For, it is He that gives us the day. And it is He that gives us every thing that is truly good. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). I am confident Paul has in mind “every good gift and every perfect gift” when he says to give thanks for “all things.”
    Furthermore, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). One dear friend of mine has said, “I am thankful that Paul said ‘In every thing give thanks,’ and not, ‘Give thanks for every thing.’” His point was that we can be thankful even in times of tragedy, but it is not necessary that we be thankful for the tragedy itself. Very recently, my dad died unexpectedly. This is a tragedy for which I am not thankful. However, in the same day of the loss of my dad, I found things for which to be very thankful. I was (and still am) extremely thankful for the confidence that I have in his conversion to Christ. I was (and still am) truly thankful to have been with him when he died and to not have had to make a 430-mile trip after a tragic call. I was (and still am) abundantly thankful to know that his physical death contained far less suffering than the cancer or other lasting ailment with which I thought he would eventually be diagnosed. I was (and still am) thankful that my dad was doing one of his favorite things when he died—spending time with his only son.
    When are we to give thanks? Always and in every thing. Not only in November. Every human being would do well to be more thankful and give thanks more often. When do you give thanks?

 - Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website.

Seeing Things For What They Really Are
By Jeff Arnette

    When it comes to setting goals, we live in a world that is constantly trying to force us to set goals that are similar or exactly like theirs. They hold up money, fame, friends, popularity, happiness, education, and acceptance by others as worthy goals for anyone to strive to achieve. Yet, seeking after these goals will only leave us empty and desperately seeking something more.
    Throughout the Bible, God has constantly warned His people that worldly possessions are temporary and fleeting. Even if you achieve such goals, they leave you needing more and more to stay happy until you become a slave to the very possessions you worked so hard to get. Now there is nothing wrong with having money, friends, and the things that we desire as long as they are not the driving force of our lives. As soon as money becomes the thing you desire and work hard to achieve it becomes your master controlling your actions and life.
    There has to be a better way church! I am thankful to God that He has revealed to us a better way to live.  
    The book of Ecclesiastes is a book that I think should be read by all young adults and teenagers. It is also a book that mature Christians and adults need to return to often. King Solomon wrote this book after spending a great deal of his time and money seeking happiness in the world apart from God. In the book he tells us that he sought happiness in wisdom (education), self-indulgence (pleasure, possessions, and happiness), and toiling (working hard) and ended up disappointed and disillusioned about life. At the end of each pursuit Solomon would conclude, as we all should, that chasing after such things was an empty pursuit. In fact, he called it “Vanity and striving after wind.” Have you ever tried to catch the wind in a bottle? Have you ever tried to outrun it as it sweeps across the valley?
    Do me a favor and as soon as you can I want you to read these Bible verses. Read Ecclesiastes 1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, and 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 5:16; 6:9. I want you to notice the context of what Solomon is saying and then note what he calls vanity and chasing after the wind. All the things that we normally hold as important and desire in life become insignificant when we see clearly.  
    Solomon concludes his pursuit in chapter 12 with the idea that we should get our relationship with God right while we are young and before our body becomes old and we die. Then he ends the book with some powerful words for all of us.

"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)

 - Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
The Lord’s Desire
By Ron Thomas

    The Lord’s prophet, Amos, was a man chosen for a task that was very much a burden to the people. It was to Amos that He spoke the words to Israel (the northern kingdom with its capital in Samaria), “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" (4:12). Though the Lord addressed His words to Israel in particular, it is worth notice that the Lord’s pending judgment was toward those outside of covenant relationship.
    The Lord identified seven nations that had judgment against them; not only did He identify these nations, but He also described the problem. Syria was merciless with its army of destruction, the Philistines were the same, Tyre failed to honor its treaty with others, Edom was plagued because of jealous rage, Ammon killed innocent children (a form of abortion), Moab exhibited desecrating destruction, Judah because of their failure to hear and obey the Lord, and to Israel because of slavery, greed, and perversion. The importance of noticing this is because the Lord responded to evil wherever it may have exhibited itself, not simply to those within covenant relationship.
    Our country is not in covenant relationship with the Lord; when people speak about this country being a “Christian nation,” what is in view, historically, is the moral foundation put in place that was to guide us. It is clear that the moral foundation put in place has disintegrated. How can we change the direction that our community is traveling? A hard thing to do to be sure, but there are some things that can be done. First, be devoted to the Lord and His way of righteousness. Second, be sure to be a positive influence on those who do not know the Lord’s way. Third, never let your personal politics trump the Lord’s way of righteousness. Fourth, continue to pray for our leaders and our country. These are things that can be done, but in all things the Lord’s desire will be done!

 - Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH.   He may be contacted at etsop95@gmail.com
Thanksgiving
By Steve Higginbotham

    Two months following the unexpected passing of my I was expected to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. In spite of the sorrow I've experienced, and the sadness we'll experience when Dad will not be sitting around the table with us, I still have so many reasons for which to give thanks.
    I'm thankful that I had my dad for 51 years. I know many who would give anything to have their father's as long as I had mine.
    I'm thankful for the kind of relationship I had with my dad throughout those 51 years. He was my friend, my mentor, and my confidant. He and my mother taught me about Jesus. It was his preaching that shaped my life. It was he who baptized me into Christ. And it was his integrity, attitude, priorities, and influence that caused me to want to preach as well.
    I'm thankful that I've never had reason to be ashamed of my dad. I've sometimes seen people fight to become their "own person," and fight the shadow of their father. However, I've always been content, not to be known as Steve Higginbotham, but as Frank Higginbotham's son.
    And I'm thankful that I can say my dad is my hero. I'm proud and thankful for a friend and fellow Christian where I preach for being a Silver Star recipient for his gallantry in service to our country. But I'm every bit as proud and thankful for my dad's service in a different army. Dad never received a medal, nor did he ever even pick up a rifle, but he sure could wield a sword effectively until the day he laid it down.
    Although Thanksgiving Day will be painful as I remember my loss, you can count on our family being among those who have reason to give thanks. What about you? If you're in Christ, you too have reason to give thanks, regardless of life's circumstances.

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

Saved
By Joe Slater

    Sometimes talking about being saved makes people uncomfortable, which, in turn, makes us hesitant to talk about it. Some folks think it is arrogant to say, “I am saved.” Let’s see if we can clear the air a bit.
    First, saying “I am saved” acknowledges my need to be saved. Suppose I was among those snatched from the sea by the crew of a rescue ship. By saying, “I am saved,” I would be admitting that I had been in the sea, in danger of drowning, freezing, or being eaten by sharks. So it is in spiritual matters. The name “Jesus” was given to the Savior because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In essence, then, when I say, “I am saved,” I am admitting that I was lost because of my own sinfulness. By what logic is that arrogance?
    Second, saying “I am saved” acknowledges that I couldn’t do it myself. If I, by myself, could have a right relationship with God, then I would not need to be saved. As Paul wrote, “If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). In the sense that we comply with the terms of pardon God has revealed in His word, we “save ourselves” (Acts 2:40 KJV; see also 1 Timothy 4:16). But in no sense do we earn or merit anything from God. It certainly is not arrogant to acknowledge that I was lost in sin and could not remedy the situation myself.
    That leads to the third and final point. Saying, “I am saved” does not imply that “I am better than you.” Being “saved” says nothing whatever about how good someone is. If I say I was saved from drowning, am I claiming to be a better swimmer than others in the sea? Hardly! I might be the poorest swimmer of all. Just imagine someone angrily shouting, “How dare you claim to be saved while you claim that other fellow is drowning! He’s ten times better at swimming than you are! If you are saved, then surely he is saved also!”
    I might try to explain that being a good swimmer won’t save you – being saved depends on whether you get into the rescue ship. No matter how good a swimmer you are, you’ll drown if you don’t get into the ship! Likewise, salvation from sin is not based on how “good” you are. Yes, God requires that we repent, obey, and live faithful lives. But in the final analysis, all of us are imperfect. Our salvation depends on being in the right relationship with Christ. Thus, it is not arrogant to say, “I am saved.”

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.
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