BulletinGold #191
December 2017  
Vol 17 #12 

December 2017                                      BG# 191                                      Vol. 17                                       Issue 12
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In this issue ...
                                 
The Art of Living                    By Ron Bartanen 
                               

Why Are You Here? By Steve Higginbotham

The Right Way By Joe Slater

Enjoying The Heavenly Places in Christ By Larry Miles

A Dirge is Better By J. Randal Matheny

A Very Important Two-letter Word By Ron Adams

Pressing Forward By R. W. McAlister

Stay Strong in the Lord By Travis Robertson

The Church Isn't By Jim Faughn

Jerusalem Covered in Snow By Lance Cordle

Who’s to Say What’s Right? By Joe Chesser

Restoring Our Memory By Alan Smith

The Power of One Voice By Gerald Cowan


Reaching Beyond Ourselves By Edd Sterchi

To This I Cling By David A. Sargent

Learning from the Master
By David Bragg

The Art of Living
By Ron Bartanen
 
     Are you an artist? Usually we think of art in terms of categories such as visual (painting, sculpturing, etc.) and musical. However, the word “art” is defined first as: “a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation (the art of making friends)” (Merriam Webster’s Deluxe Dictionary). All forms of art have an innate, God-given base, but must be developed. Life itself is a precious gift from God, but the fulfillment of life into the purpose for which God granted life is in our hands. To illustrate: it is sometimes said of a painter or musician, “He was born with that talent,” yet unless the talent is put to use in a meaningful way, it will be wasted. Likewise, we may think of life itself as an art. We have all received it, but how we use it will be a deciding factor in its outcome.
     The art of living must begin with recognition that life is a precious gift from God. The tragedy is that few recognize the value and purpose of their lives, and, as a consequence, find their lives inadequate and unfulfilled. God, who has created us, has provided in His word, the Bible, sufficient direction for attaining that fulfillment of life which all crave. The status of life is not to be found in comfortable living conditions, or in material wealth. The Bible offers a more satisfactory answer.
     It is impossible to single out one single scripture that would fully provide this instruction. However, the admonitions of Philippians 4:1, 4-9 would be a choice selection. Pick up your Bible and read the characteristics that will help make your life an adequate, fulfilled life. We might summarize it by saying that in Christ there is to be found adequate love, joy, gentleness, security, inspiration and peace.
     Many have mastered the art of existing, but few the art of truly living. The art of living may well be the most seldom learned of all the arts. It doesn’t come naturally. It begins when one is “born again (from above)…of water and the Spirit” (John 3:3, 5) in a commitment of life to God. That’s the beginning point. Continued adherence to Christ and His word will then make you a master of the art of living. Jesus indicated as much when He declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/
Why Are You Here?
By Steve Higginbotham

     Henry Ward Beecher was a renowned 19th century preacher. He actually achieved "celebrity status" in his day. People would flock to hear him preach when he came to their community. On one occasion in Brooklyn, NY, many curiosity seekers arrived at Plymouth Church to hear the famous Henry Ward Beecher speak. However, to their dismay, Thomas Beecher, Henry's brother, rose to deliver the message that day instead. When people came to the realization that the renowned Beecher would not be speaking, they arose from their seats and headed for the doors.
     Unmoved by what was happening, Thomas Beecher quickly brought things into perspective when he said, "Those of you who came here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher are excused at this time. However, those of you who came to worship God, please remain seated." Nothing more needed to be said.
     Sometimes I think we may need to be reminded that when we assemble on the Lord's day, it's not to be entertained, impressed, or "wowed" by the speaker, but to worship God. When our mindset views the preacher as a the participant, and ourselves as his audience, we've lost focus. Actually, we are all the participants, and God is the audience. Instead of judging the preacher's eloquence, critiquing the song leader's selection and tempo, and timing the length of the closing prayer, it might be more helpful to consider how God is judging our performance. Give it some thought.

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.karnschurch.org Copyright © 2017 MercEmail

The Right Way
By Joe Slater

     Start up the off-ramp to get into the freeway, and you will be confronted with glaring red signs: Wrong Way. The highway department put those signs there for our protection. I have never heard anyone complain that such signs show the state is being narrow-minded or intolerant!
     Samuel pledged to pray ceaselessly for his people and to teach them the right way; to do less would be sin (1 Samuel 12:23). Isaiah prophesied that the restored remnant of God’s people would once again hear faithful teachers saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (30:21). Peter wrote of false teachers who devastated the church as those who “have forsaken the right way” (2 Peter 2:15).
     Most people today consider it arrogant to affirm that there is a “right way,” especially in religion or morals. They resent being told that anything is right or wrong, particularly if the basis of that determination is the Bible. Modern notions of toleration and acceptance demand that every person decide individually what is right or wrong; and every person’s decision is to be afforded equal validity. Virtually everything is considered a matter of opinion and individual judgment. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes! Tragically, this Humanistic philosophy has made serious inroads into the church.
     We are far from the first people ever to have embraced these erroneous perceptions. Not long after Israel inherited the Promised Land of Canaan, the people forgot God and went their own ways. “Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It was one of the darkest periods of that nation’s history.
     Solomon correctly observed: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15a). Two chapters later he warned: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (14:12).
     God Himself put it this way: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9). God’s way is right, any and all human opinions to the contrary notwithstanding. May we say along with the psalmist of old, “Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
     "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" - Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

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

Enjoying The Heavenly Places in Christ
By Larry Miles

     In Ephesians 1:3 Paul wrote these words, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” The Christian is a heavenly person. He is not “of this world.” Philippians 3:20 tells us that we are “citizens of heaven.”
     What does this mean to the Christian? It means that we do not let the things of this world, which is anti-God, dictate how we live. We have been called out of a kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus (Col. 1:2-14.). The Word of God is our constitution, especially the New Testament. We find in its pages how to live and act as “citizens of heaven,” and enjoy all the blessings in Christ!
     Jesus said that He came to give us the abundant life. We should desire all that the Godhead has for us. Paul told the Colossians that we should “seek the things that are above.” We must, therefore, strive to conduct our lives with a heavenly emphasis. We need to renew our minds spiritually.
     We have received these spiritual blessings so that we can praise God! The Lord has promised to equip us for service so that we can reach the lost and strengthen the saved. These blessings that we have as “citizens of heaven” are to help us grow daily in “the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
     We cannot live the Christian life by ourselves. We need the help of the Lord at all times. Satan is out there ” as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Because of that, we need the assurance that “greater is He who in you than he who is in the world.”
     Christians should seek everything God has for us so that we can be equipped to live for Him, always learning from the Word of God, and being active in His service while we look forward to the time when the Lord returns for His Church to take us home to the full reality of the Heavenly kingdom.
     While we have been promised all the blessings today, one day we will enjoy them on a higher scale when we see Him face to face. If we avail ourselves of all that He has for us and use the blessings to bring glory to Him, we will “let our light shine for Him.”

- Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and publishes "Larry's Lines" several times a week. Copyright 2009. Visit his website: http://larryslines.com/
A Dirge is Better
By J. Randal Matheny

A dirge is better than a party tune,
The wake reminds us that our time comes soon;
From birth the reaper knocks upon our door,
Fast do the falling sands in the hourglass pour.

None can live a day until we face
The hour of death and our eternal place,
For only he who’s fully prepared to die
Can know the joy of hope in the sad goodbye.

- 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) 2017 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.
A Very Important Two-letter Word
By Ron Adams

     It’s found in each of the following Scriptures. What is it?
  • Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” John 8:31
  • Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
  • What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14
  • And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. Acts 8:36-38
  • “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15
     ANSWER: IF: on the condition that; in the event that.

- 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. © 2017
Pressing Forward
By R. W. McAlister

    Paul said in Phil. 3:13, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…”
     So, what are you planning on “forgetting” – leaving behind – as you enter the new year? Let me suggest that we should give our cares to God and leave them behind with Him. When we pray, we often take our needs to God and ask His help in dealing with them. Then what do we do? Instead of leaving them with Him, we take them back with us right after we finish praying.
     We need to learn to leave things where they belong. If 2017 really is completed for you, then don’t you think you should learn to leave some things behind completely?
     What are some of the things we need to leave behind? I think we can sum it up by saying anything in our lives that keeps us from fully focusing on the Lord should be left behind. Being a Christian means to always be going forward – “pressing toward the mark” as Paul said (Phil. 3:14).
     Imagine a trapeze artist swinging from one trapeze to another, high above the ground with no net under him. As he reaches out to the next trapeze, what must he do? He must let go of the one he’s on. If he refuses to let go of the trapeze he’s on, will he ever be able to go to the next one? Of course not, and in the same way, we must let go of the old year before we can go purposefully into the new year.
     You have a choice. You can go into the new year, taking everything with you, being dulled to the need of changing some things, or you can go into the new year trying your best to make sure the past is the past and the future is for God.
     As we enter 2018, let us leave behind such things as resentment, worries, and failures, and other things which do us no good.

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/
Stay Strong in the Lord
By Travis Robertson

    “If all your friends jumped off a cliff … would you jump too?”
    How many times did your mom ask you this question growing up? I know my mom asked me a LOT. I soon learned to come up with better reasons for what I wanted to do than, “All my friends are doing it!” But you have to admit, Mom’s logic is sound. Just because a lot of other people do something, it doesn’t make it a good idea. When we see others make mistakes, we should learn from them rather than saying, “I want to go, too!”
    In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul points out to the Corinthian church that the evil which befell Israel was given as an example so Christians could learn from Israel’s mistakes. Verse 6 of that chapter says, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” In this chapter we also read about how God delivered Israel from Egypt and how most of the Israelites rebelled and displeased God. We read about the sins they committed and the destruction they suffered as a result. After all of that, Paul says in verse 12, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
     Through the sacrifice of Christ, we have been delivered from sin, and now we are to live righteously (Romans 6:17-18). We must be careful not to get arrogant in our salvation and fall into sin like Israel did. The good news is that God won’t let us be tempted more than we can handle. God doesn’t make rules that are impossible to keep. He always provides a way for us to escape sin and do the right thing (1 Corinthians 10:13). One of the best ways I have found to escape sin is to do a good work for Christ in lieu of the evil with which I am tempted. You remember the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” We should take a few minutes each day to ask God to help us recognize temptation and find those avenues to escape sin. We won’t be able to overcome temptation if we don’t see it coming, and we won’t be able to take the escape route if we don’t know what it looks like or where to look for it. Jesus when teaching the disciples to pray and giving us an example prayed, “lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
    The ancient nation of Israel has provided us with an example of how even God’s people can slip into sin and fall away. The question is, will we learn from that example and avoid their mistakes, or will we blindly follow them and jump off a cliff to our destruction?

- Travis Robertson preachers for the Lake Norman Church of Christ in Huntersville, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://lakenormancoc.org/
The Church Isn't
By Jim Faughn

    It seems that many today have relegated the church to the pages of history. Somehow, in their way of thinking, the church either ceased to exist or ceased to be relevant a long time ago.
    I realize that most of the people who read this would not agree with that kind of thinking. We would assert that the church is, indeed, in existence today and that it is still relevant.
    That is what we say.  Is that what we demonstrate?
    Is it possible that, all too often, the attitude is demonstrated concerning the church that it is some sort of abstract thing? Isn’t this at least partly behind some of our “they” and “it” statements concerning the church?
     Have you ever begun a statement in any of the following ways? “The church isn’t…” “The church should…” “They don’t…” The next time you begin to say something like that, try beginning the statement with “I” or “we.” The next time there is an opportunity to band together with some brothers and sisters in the Lord for some evangelistic or benevolent work, try rolling up your sleeves and joining in. The next time there is an opportunity for fellowship, try participating.
    Why not see if doing these things will make a difference in how you view the church?  

- Jim Faughn, a retired preacher, serves as an elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org 
Jerusalem Covered in Snow
By Lance Cordle

    Those of you who know me know that I visited Israel for the first time in the summer of 2012. To say that I was elated and excited by my trip would be an understatement. Even now, in the winter, I remember the heat we endured and the miles we walked as we covered the “Land of the Bible” in a very short amount of time. Thus, it was a poignant moment as I looked at the picture sent to me in an email by our group’s leader. There, from the perspective of the Mount of Olives, lay Jerusalem covered in snow. As I reflect on seeing it again, some thoughts come to my mind.
    Jesus walked there! The brochure that advertised our proposed trip proclaimed that we would be “walking where Jesus walked.” Even though the land has changed and soil has been piled on top of soil, we still walked the same part of the earth as He did. This does not make the ground holy, but I am humbled to have followed His paths and to more deeply think on His life and work during those days.
    My life was affected by my journey. Approximately two weeks of my life were spent on the journey with a close friend as my roommate. Our conversations and shared experiences helped me. The bond formed and strengthened among the travel group during the trip made it memorable. Brothers and sisters in Christ from various parts of the country are now known to me because of that trip. Each viewing of pictures made on that journey calls up emotions and experiences from it.
    My work is enhanced by my experience. I can easily “see” the terrain of the
land and the layout of the buildings as I read about them in Scripture and study the passages involving those sites. Some of those people who listen to me preach and teach have told me that they can detect positive differences in my preaching—maybe a clearer description of sites; maybe a more vivid account of life in Bible times. Whatever those differences may be, I hope they will result in strong spiritual lives for the listeners as well as glory to God.
    Heaven will be far greater. Jerusalem has a rich history and there are many beautiful things about it. However, there are darker aspects of it as well—political and religious division, social unrest, poverty, violence. Above all, Jerusalem is earthly and temporary. It will one day be destroyed with the rest of the world. In contrast, heaven, the home of God and his people, will stand forever.

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Who’s to Say What’s Right?
By Joe Chesser

    We live in a land of freedom. We have the freedom of religion, the right of free speech and the right to bear arms. We have the right to a speedy trial and protection against cruel and unusual punishment. These, among other things, are specified in our nation’s Bill of Rights. We are an independent people. We have the right, within reason and law, to do whatever we want whenever we want to do it. As Americans, we can believe what we choose, vote the way we choose, and live the way we choose.
    Unfortunately, many have allowed these freedoms to permeate the way they view God and the Bible. Many have put themselves in the place of God to determine what is right and what is not. The freedom to choose how we live as citizens of the United States has, for many, become the same standard used in deciding how we are to live as citizens of God’s kingdom.
    For example, let’s consider sexual morality. In America, anything is OK as long as it is right for you and doesn’t harm kids or pets. If teenagers want to have sex, who’s to say that it’s wrong for them to do so? If people want to live together outside of marriage, who has the right to say that they shouldn’t? If people want to marry others of their own gender, who has the right to oppose it? If people want to get a divorce because they don’t like their spouse any more, who’s to say that’s wrong? In fact, those decisions may actually be very good ones, they may be the best choice under the circumstances – at least from a human perspective.
    But, is what we think is good and right necessarily what God thinks is good and right? Many have become so accustomed to making their own choices that they have come to believe that whatever they think must also be what God thinks. They have, in effect, imposed their views upon God. They have decided that if they think something is good (i.e. sex outside of marriage) then God must also think that it is good. How can God condemn something that is good?
    Cunningly, Satan has persuaded us to become our own god. We have begun to judge God by our own goodness rather than judging ourselves by God’s standard – His Son Jesus and the words of Jesus, the Bible. God is our standard. His word is our only way of determining right and wrong (John 12.48). Let’s not get sucked in to the way of thinking of those around us. Let’s not judge God by ourselves, but ourselves by God. Let’s take on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com
Restoring Our Memory
By Alan Smith

    A new doctor had arrived in town. He could cure anything and anybody. Everyone was amazed with what he could do - everyone except for Mr. Thompson, the town skeptic.
    Grumpy old Mr. Thompson went to visit this 'miracle doctor' to prove that he wasn't anybody special. When it was time for his appointment he told the doctor, "Hey, doc, I've lost my sense of taste. I can't taste nothin', so what are ya goin' to do?"
    The doctor scratched his head and mumbled to himself a little, then told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47."
    So the doctor brought the jar out, opened it, and told Mr. Thompson to taste it. He tasted it and immediately spit it out, "This is gross!" he yelled.
    "Looks like I just restored your sense of taste Mr. Thompson," said the doctor. So Mr. Thompson went home.... very mad.
    One month later, Mr. Thompson decides to go back to the doctor and try once again to expose him as a fake, by complaining of a new problem. "Doc," he started, "I can't remember anything!"  Thinking he had the doctor stumped now, he waited as the doctor scratched his head, mumbled to himself a little, and told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47, it's......"
    But before the doctor could finish his sentence, Mr. Thompson was cured and fled the room!
    As we begin a new year, we come to the "Great Physician" for healing -- healing not so much in the form of physical ailments (though many of us have those) but spiritual ailments.  We come with regret, with guilt, with disappointment over mistakes made in the past year.  We are tempted to want to put those negative things out of our mind altogether, but as we find healing and forgiveness at the hands of Jesus Christ, one of the things that needs to be restored is our memory.
    George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Wisdom teaches us to learn from our mistakes, so that we don't continue to make them. The challenge for us is to remember the past and to learn from our past without living in the past.
    Jesus said to the church of Ephesus, "Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first." (Revelation 2:5)
    At this, the beginning of 2018, may God help you to remember your failures of the past year, but don't dwell on them.  Find forgiveness and move forward with the wisdom gained from your mistakes to live more faithfully for God this year.
     Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, minister for the Cruciform Church of Christ in Spring Lake, North Carolina, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com or through the congregation's website: http://www.cruciformcoc.com/

The Power of One Voice
By Gerald Cowan

    There have been times, more of them than I would like to admit, when I have not spoken up about something, even though I knew my one voice might have made a significant difference and done some good. Sometimes I do not know just what to say or how I should be involved. But while I delay the opportunity passes, and I often think later, “I could have said... I should have said... I wish I had said.” Then I usually regret having said nothing, especially when derogatory comments have been made about the church or some member of it. As the wise man said, “There is a time to speak as well as a time to keep silent” (Eccl. 3:7). But it sometimes takes more wisdom than we possess, except in retrospect, to known whether to speak or be silent. I am sure we err more often by speaking inappropriately than not speaking at all. Right now I want to emphasize the importance of speaking up, saying something when it needs to be said and while it can still do some good.
    Sometimes the most important action in a crisis situation is the voice of one person speaking the truth. God chose Moses as the voice to speak to and against Pharaoh, the voice who would present His words to the nation of Israel (Exodus 3 and 4). He chose John the Baptist to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3). On a different but also significant level, it was the one voice of Barnabas that put Saul/Paul in good standing with the church in Jerusalem – the beginning a great ministry for Christ (Acts 9:26-29). Acquila and Priscilla cared enough about the truth and the preacher of truth to take Apollos aside and instruct him more perfectly. That, and a letter from one church to another – two voices that elicited a chorus of other voice – formed a helpful bridge for an important ministry (Acts 18:24-28). I can think of times, no doubt you can too, when, discouraged by some failure, inadequacy, or enemy I was minded to turn aside, give up, or quit. But I was persuaded by one or a few who gave me the encouragement needed, at the time it was needed, to keep on track and stay in the fight for what was right. I can remember times when I was on the wrong track and might have stayed there until complete failure and destruction but some observant and caring person took me to task about it, and put me on the path to correction and restoration (Gal. 6:1-2 comes to mind here). Looking back I can say, “I would still be astray and on the wrong path except for the grace of God shown to me by the concern of a Christian brother or sister.” And I do thank God that the person chose to speak and not to be silent. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.
    If there is someone in your area of influence who needs to hear your voice of encouragement, support, exhortation, admonition, advice, correction, or concern – please let your voice be heard. Even if it is only one voice, your voice, let it be heard.

- 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
Reaching Beyond Ourselves
By Edd Sterchi

    Reach: verb  1) stretch out an arm in order to touch or grasp something  2) be able to touch (something) with an outstretched arm or leg  3) arrive at or attain; extend to  4) make contact with  5) succeed in influencing or having an effect on (from the Oxford English Dictionary)
     In the Lord’s church, we are to be very concerned about reaching beyond ourselves. It is the Lord’s will that we do so. It is the work of the church. It should be a labor of love for us. Notice that we are to...
...“reach down” in benevolence to help the less fortunate. As Christians and as a church, we need to be compassionately doing good to all (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 13:16).
...“reach up” in worship of God. As Christians and as a church, we need to properly and sincerely glorify God in our praise of Him (John 4:24; Phil. 3:3).
...“reach in” in edification of one another. As Christians and as a church, we need to lovingly encourage each other in companionship and fellowship (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:11).
...“reach out” in evangelizing the lost. As Christians and as a church, we are to always proclaim the saving message of the gospel of Christ to one and all (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 4:2).
     Indeed, let us be reaching beyond ourselves by reaching down, reaching up, reaching in, and reaching out. And let us, like Paul, always be “...reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil. 3:13).

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/
To This I Cling
By David A. Sargent

     "And the rain descended, and the floods came.”
     Clara Gantt was on her way from her daughter’s home in Blythewood, South Carolina, to her own home in Irmo on Sunday morning, October 4. She had plans to attend church services at her home church there, when she was abruptly stopped by floodwaters. She was north of Columbia where Crane Creek meets Lake Elizabeth when the floodwaters lifted her car off of the pavement and swept it into a field.
     In desperation, she called 911, but her call didn’t go through. So, she called her son-in-law, who in turn called Gantt’s grandson, Travis Catchings, to go to her rescue. Catchings found his grandmother stranded in her car with torrents of water rushing over it. Her car was trapped in a ditch in front of a small church building. After a great struggle, Catchings was able to pry open the car door and get his grandmother out. A huge red cross that had been standing in front of the little church building had become uprooted and was lodging against the car. Grandmother and grandson clung to the cross in the hopes that someone would be able to rescue them.
     “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross," Gantt said.
     They clung to the cross for five hours until help arrived. They were saved from the rushing waters.
     Augustus Toplady identified the means of our salvation in the words of a song entitled, “Rock of Ages”:
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
When we were “drowning” in sin, God sent Jesus to rescue us. The only way Jesus could save us was to die for us, for He – the sinless Son of God – was the only One who could pay the price for our sins and satisfy the justice of God. So Jesus died on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). His death on the cross is the means of our salvation.
     God will save 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 into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). The blood that Jesus shed on the cross will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:7).
     When interviewed by WIS-TV about her ordeal and her rescue, Gantt proclaimed, "Jesus is my Savior... This story is not about me; this is about what He did to save me."
     For those who are saved and receive the gift of eternal life, the story will be the same: "Jesus is my Savior... This story is not about me; this is about what He did to save me."
     Cling to His cross through your trusting obedience, for it is the means of your salvation.
     Won’t YOU?

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

* Information gleaned from www.insider.foxnews.com and www.weather.com

Learning from the Master
By David Bragg

    One of the great thinkers of all time was Leonardo da Vinci, who distinguished himself as an inventor, artist and engineer (among other disciplines). The story is told of a time when he took under his wings a young aspiring artist who observed carefully his master's intense work on a large canvas in his studio. He watched as the great artist chose his subject, planned the perspective, sketched the outline, and finally began apply the colors with his own inimitable genius. Then da Vinci ceased his painting, still unfinished, and turned to his student he asked him to complete the work. The student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting which his master had begun. But da Vinci asked. "Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?"
    As Christians we have a similar obligation. We are sitting at the feet of the ultimate Master, Jesus Christ. From here we learn what it means to really love, obey and serve God as we watch the masterpiece of His life. But, like that young da Vinci disciple, we have the obligation of not only watching, but putting into action what we learn from Him. He wants us to not just learn but also to live as He wants us to live. He urges us on with the admonition, "Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?"
    The beauty of Christianity as it perpetuates itself from generation to generation is the joy of learning from those who go before us. As we watch how they serve Jesus they become examples for us. But with the passing of time we ourselves become the examples for the generation that follows. Am I setting a clear example of devotion to Christ? Will those who look to me as a model of obedience learn how to themselves serve the Master?
 
- 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: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/ or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/
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