BulletinGold #182
March 2017  
Vol 17 #3 

March 2017                                      BG# 182                                      Vol. 17                                       Issue 03
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
Those In High Places
By Lance Cordle                                  

Message, Not Messenger
By Joe Chesser

By Ed Wittlif

Why "Daylight Saving Time"?
By David Bragg

Point the Way Toward Peace
By J. Randal Matheny

Changing Roles: Making Marriage Work
After the Golden Anniversary

By Norman & Ann Bales

Are You Wise?
By Ronald Bartanen

Inauguration Day
By Bill Brandstatter

What Can I Do For You?
By David A. Sargent

What Kind of a Place is Heaven?
By Edd Sterchi

Serving God in Your “Golden Years”
By Brian Mitchell

If Every Member Were Just Like Me
By R. W. McAlister

A Timely Comment on a Timeless Passage
By Jim Faughn

Controlling One's Anger
By Ron Thomas

Lessons Learned From a Jigsaw Puzzle
By Steve Higginbotham

Fellowship Is What I Crave
By Gerald Cowan

Those In High Places
By Lance Cordle

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high places, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (2 Timothy 2:1-2  ESV)
    I recently attended a meeting in which a local law enforcement official was the guest speaker. The few minutes of formal sharing of information, as well as in answering of questions were valuable and seemed to me to be time well-spent. I would like to share some observations gleaned from that time together.
    Most law enforcement officers seem to be sincere and hard-working men and women. They care about our community and want to do all they can to help us. They also care about moral principles and  desire to stick to them in this community. The request for prayer, uttered in our meeting, impressed me and encouraged me to think more and more about the verse printed at the beginning of this article.
    Beverage alcohol is a menace. Though many people were concerned about increase in DUI arrests when our county went “wet,” that particular thing has not increased as much as another problem. Domestic violence incidents and arrests have increased dramatically, according to our local official. Vital relationships are harmed, not enhanced by the presence of alcohol. Are revenues raised through alcohol sales worth the dissolution of relationships and infliction of physical harm? The poignant truth of Proverbs 20:1 still rings in our ears: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
    Law enforcement officers cannot “do it all.” In order for law enforcement to be effective, the vast majority of the citizen ship must be cooperative. Christians should be the best citizens of a county, city, state and country. When we obey the laws and support the punishment of law-breakers, we keep the law of God (Romans 13:1-4).
    In times of chaos throughout our country, the corruption of some law enforcement officers and higher officials, let us praise and support the good ones. Let us pray for all of them. Let us be the best citizens we can be.

- 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
Message, Not Messenger
By Joe Chesser
    From time to time we need to be reminded that the power of the word of God is in the message, not the messenger. A simple illustration was when Jesus was heading into Jerusalem for His final week on earth. He sent two of His disciples ahead of Him to go and get a colt that was tied up just inside the city. Why would someone let strangers untie their colt and lead it off? So, Jesus told the disciples that if they were questioned why they were taking the colt, their reply was to be, “The Lord needs it.” Sure enough, the owners of the colt questioned them, but when they heard that the Lord needed it, they let the disciples take it away (Luke 19.29-34). The power was in the message, not the messengers.
     Amazingly, even Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected as a messenger.  He gave up equality with God to become flesh and to bring the message of salvation face to face (Philippians 2.6-7; John 1.1). For a short time, people flocked from the villages to hear Him. But even His preaching and miracles were not enough for them to follow Him and accept His message. The greatest message ever was rejected because of the messenger (John 1.11).
     Human nature being what it is, we have an understandable tendency to be drawn to great messengers over great messages. We love to listen to gifted and polished speakers. We love stories and captivating illustrations, and that’s natural. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself. The danger is when we fall in love with charm, personality and wit to the neglect of truth and spiritual nourishment.  But the food is more important than the packaging.
     I thank God for gifted preachers who can communicate God’s powerful word with humility, persuasiveness and love.  May their number increase.  But I’m just as thankful for those men who, though less gifted, are proclaiming God’s message to the best of their abilities to people who love the Lord and are anxious to hear a word from God. I’m also thankful for these patient and faithful brethren who assemble every week to hear the word of God preached, regardless of the abilities of those who are standing before them.  Men should always do their best when it comes to proclaiming the gospel, but with a constant awareness that the power is in God and His word, not in their ability to preach it.
     If we are not reminded of this occasionally we will naturally drift toward elevating the messenger over the message.  It has always been this way, and always will. People have always had their favorite preachers. This problem quickly arose in the 1st century.  Paul heard about “preacheritus” in Corinth and needed to correct it ASAP (1 Corinthians 1.10-13).  Believe it or not, not everyone in the church at Corinth was a fan of Paul … or of Peter … or even of Apollos (a gifted and powerful speaker; cf Acts 18.24). Quarreling over preachers has been around a long, long time. That kind of division may be human nature, but it’s not God’s nature. God chose the “foolishness of preaching” the message of the cross so that our faith might not rest in the messenger, but in the message (1 Cor. 1.20-2.5).

 - Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

By Ed Wittlif

"Religion I hold to be essential to morals" (John Adams to Benjamin Rush, 18 April 1808).

    Where do morals come from? Atheists would have you believe that people got together and came up with a code of moral behavior over time. Bear with me. Suppose atheists are right and evolution is the answer to life. Evolution proclaims the survival of the fittest or strongest.
    God given morals benefit the weak and helpless. If evolution were the basis of life, morals would benefit the strong. The strong would never surrender their rights to the weak. We know for a long time in human history kings did not allow their subjects to challenge anything they did.
    Therefore, morality must come from outside human thought. Morals have to have been given from the beginning of humanity. When God confronted Cain, Cain knew that murder was wrong. Moral behavior is not evolved. It is God-given. The reason I can say that is because the morals that we have are seen in God's character. We were created in His image to have like character. We are to behave like our Creator.
    God cares for the weak and helpless. He deals fairly and expects us to deal fairly with others. God is dependable, trustworthy, and honest. As we read the Scriptures, we need to look at them in order to see our Father's character. Our morals need to be patterned after our Father's characteristics.
    Jesus summed up our morals, our behavior, when He said, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

- Ed Wittlif is from Denver, CO; via the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. Joe Slater serves as minister and he may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com

Why "Daylight Saving Time"?
By David Bragg

    There are, based on how daylight saving time (DST) is currently implemented in the United States, two types of time. "Standard" is determined by our established time zones that stretch across the country while "daylight" time is the adjusted time in those areas where DST is observed (Hawaii and most of Arizona are excluded). Standard time was first established by the railroads in 1883 to regulate their schedules rather than having inconsistent times from one station to another. It would be another 35 years before standard time would be set by an act of Congress.
    The idea of DST was first introduced in the U.S. in 1909 by Andrew Peters, but the bill had only a short, unproductive life. It would not be until the U.S. involvement in World War I that standard time would be set by Congress. Included in that 1918 ruling on standard time was the first introduction of DST in America. Strong resistance to the annual time adjustment would lead to that part of the law being repealed in 1919. Participation in DST was on a voluntary basis until it was again mandated during World War II, from 1942 to 1945. Twenty-one years would pass before the idea of DST was again employed, although not mandated, in 1966 (U.S. Naval Observatory).
    From the time Congress first seriously considered regulating and adjusting time, the idea has been met with controversy (often on an economic basis). But as Christians you and I ought to be much more concerned about how time is used, not adjusted (Eph. 5:16). Because our time is limited (Heb. 9:27), and because our opportunities are fleeting (Heb. 3:13), we need to make the best use of the time God had granted us. Regardless of time zone or season, let us always walk and live in His light (1 John 1:7).

- 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.
Point the Way Toward Peace
By J. Randal Matheny

Bless God's name! Emblazon His deeds
In word and soul, His work almighty!
Praise Him always, preach the gospel,
Tell how He changes the hearts of men.

The hungry world hunts for hope,
Despair here reigns, so speak with love,
And point the way toward peace in Christ,
For God will gladly give salvation.

- 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
Changing Roles: Making Marriage Work After the Golden Anniversary
By Norman & Ann Bales

    Shortly after we got married more than fifty years ago, all the trash containers began to fill up. One day Ann said, "Honey" (Both of us would agree that she said it kindly), "the trash needs to be carried out." Norman questioned the need to point out such an obvious fact. Ann said, "Well, it's the husband's job to take out the trash." Norman's response was immediate and definitive. "Where does the Bible say it's the husband's job to take out the trash?"
    Looking back on it, Norman said, "I thought that would surely put an end to the discussion. It didn't. It actually took a very long time to sort that one out. As far as I was concerned, the Bible was my trump card, and I played it with confidence if not arrogance. I had to come to grips with the fact that every issue of married life can't be settled by citing a Biblical text. In no way does that lessen the importance of 'thus saith the Lord.' I had overlooked the fact that the Bible doesn't specifically address certain issues that arise in a marriage."
    Within the last two or three years, we've both had to make some adjustments to the way we go about domestic living. When Norman had brain surgery in 2007, Ann had to take on several new responsibilities, at least temporarily. At the present time Ann is suffering from a degenerative disease, which severely restricts her mobility. Norman is taking up some of the slack. To make that work we have to do these things.
    1. Be flexible. We accept the fact that there are no hard and fast rules about what's the man's job and what's the woman's job. Asking for book, chapter, and verse on that one is not going to cut it.
    2. Stay in a learning mode. Old dogs can learn new tricks. If the husband has never cooked, he might need to learn how if the wife can no longer handle meal preparation.
    3. Expect less. Norman says, "I do a lot of cooking these days. My culinary skills don't begin to match up to Ann's, but she keeps telling me it's wonderful."
    4. Practice the Golden Rule. That principle is addressed in the Bible and we can be assured that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

    If we want marriage to be golden after the golden anniversary, then we're going to have to practice the "Golden Rule." It's that simple, and it's that complex. Sometimes the Golden Rule means giving more than you've ever given to the relationship.

- Norman and Ann Bales, All About Families, January 2017, http://phares.net/allabout/; Norman is Associate Minister for the Central Church of Christ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com 

Are You Wise?
By Ronald Bartanen
    Are you wise? Some may reply to this question by informing us of their high IQs, or their high grade-point average in a prestigious university. However, one’s scholastic achievements, while they may say something regarding your intelligence, may not actually reveal the measure of your wisdom. Wisdom is not synonymous with knowledge. One may fill his brain with knowledge of facts and figures that would enable the person to acquire a bundle of cash on the Jeopardy TV program, but still lack the wisdom in applying that knowledge. One who lacks wisdom is sometimes referred to as one lacking “horse-sense.” There have been, throughout history, a host of fools highly esteemed for their knowledge. While the accumulation of knowledge on a number of topics may be admirable in any person, let’s not be overly complimentary until we know how he or she commits that knowledge to commendable purposes.
    In the Bible, James speaks of a wisdom he describes as being “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15), because its fruit is  “envying and strife…confusion and every evil work” (v. 16). This wisdom is “not from above,” but is in contrast with “the wisdom that is from above,” which is defined as “pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (vs. 17-18). It is for this latter wisdom that James admonishes us to pray: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God….” (1:5a). It is the wisdom to use the knowledge and abilities that we have, whether few or many, to live a life that is in honor of God and His word. The utmost lack of wisdom is to disregard, and even to deny, the existence of God. The psalmist David declared, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no god” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). In contrast, Job, in reference to God, said, “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). 
    In the conclusion of Jesus’ “Sermon On the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), Jesus spoke the parable of the wise and foolish builders, saying that the wise man not only hears Christ’s teachings, but also obeys Him, while the foolish may hear His word, but will ignore it, being disobedient (Matthew 7:24-27). As the foolish builder’s house, built upon unstable sand, could not withstand the harsh weather, and would collapse, and the wise builder’s house, built upon the solid foundation of stone would endure all of nature’s tests, and continue to survive, even so, those who would build their lives on material things, ignoring Jesus’ teachings, are doomed for destruction, while those who build upon the solid foundation of Christ’s word will endure. The apostle Paul summarized the endurance of the Christ-honoring life when he wrote, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). It is folly, not wisdom, to seek any other.
    What is your attitude toward Christ and His word? Would God count you as among the wise?

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
Inauguration Day
By Bill Brandstatter

    I am writing this article the day before Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. It is known as “Inauguration Day.” It is the day of a new administration, a new President and new Vice President. It is also the day of new policies and programs. With the inauguration comes change. This will not be the greatest Inauguration Day however. That day happened over 2000 years ago.
    When Jesus died, a new age  began. Jesus stated, “This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”(Mt. 26:28). The Hebrews writer gives us some insight as the beginning of this new covenant. In Heb. 8:13 we read, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,”’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”(NKJV).
    When Jesus died, new policies came into place. The Old Testament was gone. Paul helps us to understand by adding: “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”(Col. 2:14). The Old Testament is therefore no longer binding today. The worship, sacrifices, and are all gone. Now the New Testament is in place.
    When Jesus died, worship changed. In contrasting Old and New Testament worship, the writer of Hebrews illustrates for us in Hebrews chapter 10. There he writes, “For the worshippers , once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin.”(Heb. 10:2-4). Worship matters to God.
    When Jesus died, social, ethnic, and racial barrier were removed. Paul describes it this way: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”(Gal. 3:28).

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
What Can I Do For You?
By David A. Sargent

    During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln frequently visited the hospitals and addressed cheering words to the wounded warriors. On one occasion he found a young soldier whose legs had been amputated, and who was evidently sinking rapidly.
    “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Lincoln.
    “You might write a letter to my mother,” was the faint reply.
    The President wrote at the youth's dictation: “My dearest mother: I have been shot bad, but am bearing up. I tried to do my duty. They tell me I cannot recover. God bless you and Father; kiss Mary and John for me.”
    At the end were these words as postscript: “Written by Abraham Lincoln.”
    When the boy perused the epistle and saw these added words, he looked with astonishment at the visitor and asked, “Are you our President?”
    “Yes,” was the quiet answer, “and now that you know that, is there anything else I can do for you?”
    Feebly the lad said, “I guess you might hold my hand, and see me through.”
    So, sitting down at the bedside, the tall, gaunt man with a kind heart held the soldier's hand through the livelong night till it grew cold and lifeless.
    Is it not a precious truth that Christ, the greatest of all kings, in our affliction is afflicted, and that He can be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”? *
    “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:17-18
    In the words of a familiar song by Johnson Oatman, Jr.:
          No friend like Him is so high and holy,
          No, not one! no, not one!
          And yet no friend is so meek and lowly,
          No, not one! No, not one!

          Jesus knows all about our struggles;
          He will guide ’til the day is done:
          There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus:
          No, not one! No, not one!

    Jesus knows all about our struggles, and He cares. He cares so much that He gave His life so that we might be released from our greatest malady: sin. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
    God will save 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 sins those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
    What can He do for you? He can identify with you and He can save your soul. And He will, if you will only trust and obey Him.
    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

* “Compassion” in http://www.moreillustrations.com
What Kind of a Place is Heaven?
By Edd Sterchi

    From Rev. 21:9-22:5, we have an incredible description of heaven. Even though symbolic in language, we can still get an idea of what heaven is like.
    * Heaven is a Beautiful Place (Rev. 21:9-27). When John tries to describe the most beautiful place which consists of nothing of the earth, he had to describe it in terms that we can relate to, thus he used precious gems, streets of gold, etc.  There is no greater preciousness and beauty than what will exist in heaven.
    * Heaven is a Bountiful Place (Rev. 22:1-2). John also describes heaven as a place where there is no want – everything is provided in the highest quantity and quality. In it is perfect life and health.
    * Heaven is a Blissful Place (Rev. 22:3-5). John also wanted to remind us that heaven is a place of personal and permanent association with God – a place of peace and joy and love – forever.

- 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/
Serving God in Your “Golden Years”
By Brian Mitchell

     If you are one of those "precious saints" called the "elderly", you can thank God, for you have arrived at the apex of life. You have arrived at the top of the mountain where you can breathe the rare atmosphere of a long life of experience, knowledge, honor, and have an excellent view that none of those below you have ever seen. Many moons have come and gone in your life. You have crossed many bridges, navigated many crossroads and have come out on top. You may have lost a step, and you may even be a bit stooped, but thank God you can still breathe and have a sturdy heart. The Bible speaks well of you when it says, "the splendor of old men is their gray head" (Prov. 20:29). But you are NOT Done!!!
    You have come through the hard knocks of experience and can teach others a few things about life. Life has given you a wealth of knowledge not learned in books. You have seen more changes in a lifetime than any generation has seen since the camel and tent days of Abraham. You saw the evolution of the automobile and witnessed the modern space ships flying to the moon. You lived in the days before the TV and into the days of wireless communication where you type a letter to a missionary in Russia and it will be there before you have a chance to get up from your seat. But you are NOT Done!!!
     It is not a sin to get old or to be old. Aging cannot be stopped and it will go on until death overtakes us or the Lord comes for His church. But the older generations have a tremendous responsibility to the younger generations coming up behind them. There is a responsibility that goes along with being in the elite elderly class. The tremendous amount of knowledge and experience that you have obtained through the years needs to be shared with the younger generation. You are NOT Done!!!
    Sadly, time has a way of robbing men of the feeling of usefulness. You may have developed a defeatist attitude that makes you think "I am so useless; What can I do?" Yet all of the knowledge and experience that God has given you can be used as illustrations to reveal His truth to others. There are many young people today that do not have or will never have what you have obtained in your lifetime. You have the advantage of perspective and God and others need you to make good use of it. You are NOT Done!!!
     You have a vantage point in these golden years that the younger ones do not have. It is like standing on a mountain of years and looking over the valley of time, so that you can see life lessons that those who live in the valley of youth do not see. You can help them. Your years are now valuable for the sake of counsel and advice. What a way to serve the Lord! You are needed now in perhaps ways you have never been needed before. How do you know whether God has called you "to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) You are NOT Done!!!
    There is no doubt that we will all grow old if we continue living upon this earth. However, “how” we grow old is far more important than how “old” we grow. Let us have the same attitude toward serving the Lord in our later years as Caleb, never quitting (or retiring), but always asking the Lord to continue giving him more challenges (“mountains”) to conquer and overcome with the Lord’s help. You are NOT Done!!!
    You are NOT Done Until God Says So!!! So never forget how valuable you are to God and others. You have much knowledge and wisdom to pass on to others and God is expecting you to do so. And those who are younger need you to.

- Brian Mitchell preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net

If Every Member Were Just Like Me
By R. W. McAlister

    I daresay that all of us want the best congregation of the Lord’s church possible - I sure do. So if that’s the case, we need to understand that the betterment of the congregation begins with each of us. Ask yourself these questions:
If every member of this congregation were like me, what would our attendance be? We know that Hebrews 10:25 commands that we ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is,’ so if every member were like me, how full would the pews be on Sunday or Wednesday or for a Gospel Meeting? Would I let any excuse – fatigue, mild headache, visiting family, civic meeting, rainy weather – even work - keep me from assembling with the saints? Or would I have the attitude of David, who said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD?” (Psalm 122:1).
    If every member of this church were just like me, what would our contribution be? Would our treasury be overflowing, or would we be barely getting by financially? In I Cor. 16:2, the Bible says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him...” All that God expects of any of us is that we give back to Him in accordance with how much He has given us. The least God ever accepted was 10% (Numbers 18:21-26), and the most was 100% (Luke 21:4). We can surely find a happy medium somewhere in between.
    If every member of the congregation were like me, what would its influence be? Would it be like leaven? In Matthew 13:33, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” The hidden yeast, although very small in measure, passes on its qualities to the flour until it’s all leavened.
    Would the church have the influence of salt? In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” Salt acts like a preservative and prevents spoilage. If the followers of Christ fail to preserve and spread the Gospel as the salt of the earth, then we’ll be of no use to the Lord and will be cast out and trampled underfoot!
    If every member were just like me, what would our home influence be? Would we be faithfully married to one partner for life, as God intended (Eph. 5:31; Heb. 13:4)? Would we love and live peacefully with our spouse (Eph.5:28)? Would we love our kids and teach them the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)?
    If every member of this congregation were just like me, what would our saving influence be? Proverbs 11:30 teaches, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Is each individual a soul-winning member of the body of Christ? If we duck our heads and run out of the room when a religious discussion breaks out, can we truly say we’re soul-winners for Jesus? Our Savior commands in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We can’t just sit back and say, “People know where we are, they’ll come and see us if they have questions.”
    If every member of this church were like me, what would our reputation be? Acts 2:46 tell us that the First Century Christians continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and broke bread from house to house, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” They studied daily and were welcome in peoples’ houses. Verse 47 says they had “favor with all the people.” Ask yourself, “If every member were like me, would that be this congregation’s reputation?”
    If every member were just like me, what would our spiritual strength be? We need to answer all of these questions honestly, but especially this one. Ephesians 6:10 says to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Can we honestly say that we’re strong in the Lord? Do we blame Him for our trials and troubles? In James 1:13, James writes by inspiration, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” In plain English, “Don’t blame God when you’re tempted! God can’t be tempted by evil and He doesn’t use evil to tempt others.” Our ailments and difficulties are not punishment from God and He doesn’t try to lead us away from righteousness! We’re foolish if we think He does!
    If every member were just like me, what would the growth of the church be like? Again we go to Acts 2:47, which tells us that the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved. This happened after Peter preached the first gospel sermon. If every member were just like me, would there be additions today because of some part I played in teaching someone?
    What sort of friendliness would there be, if every member were just like me? Would we bolt for the back door as soon as the last song was sung, or would we stay around to meet and visit with people? In Proverbs 18:24, the Bible says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Churches of Christ should be places that people enjoy worshiping and visiting because true Christians should be the friendliest people anyone ever meets.
    How many outsiders would be invited to church if every member were just like me? Would the visitors equal or outnumber the “regulars,” or would we hardly ever see a visitor? (Isa. 2:3).
    How many visitors would be invited into our homes, if every member were just like me? In Hebrews 13:1&2, the inspired writer says, “Let brotherly love continue. 2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Remember also that Jesus said if we show hospitality to the least among us, we show it to Him (Matt. 25:40). What if every member were just like me? What kind of church would this be? Give it some thought.

- 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/

A Timely Comment on a Timeless Passage
By Jim Faughn
    Brother James Burton Coffman was – among other things - a preacher for local congregations, an educator, a lecturer, and an author.  Many have in their libraries his commentaries on both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
    Recently, while doing some work on a sermon, I came across an interesting statement in brother Coffman’s commentary on Matthew.  In reality, it was not directly related to the particular lesson on which I was working.  At the same time, it is directly related to everything I need to be as a Christian.   
    The passage under consideration was this portion of what has come to be known as The Sermon on the Mount:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire (Matt. 5:21-22, ESV).  
    Brother Coffman penned the following words (and more) about that passage:
When it is considered that a derogatory or uncomplimentary remark about a Christian brother is subject to punishment in the ‘hell of fire,’ and when it is considered that much of the journalism so widely received by ‘churches of Christ’ is filled with uncomplimentary, and even false and vicious statements about brethren, the true followers of Christ must stand in awe of the penalties which divine justice shall certainly execute against evil doers.  O God, be merciful to thy people!
    It seems to me that the words spoken by our Lord about two thousand years ago and the comments written by brother Coffman in 1968 need to be considered today.  The words of Jesus and a proper understanding of those words are both timeless and timely.
    A person does not have to be mean in order to be sound.  He/she should not try to build up by tearing down.  Blowing your candle out does not make mine shine any brighter.   
    May those of us who attempt to preach and teach God’s Word, as well as all who call ourselves Christians keep the following two principles in our minds and do our best to exemplify them:
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I (Jesus) have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35, ESV).
…speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, ESV).

- Jim Faughn 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
Controlling One's Anger
By Ron Thomas

     He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:22, NKJV)
    Who has never been angry? Who have never been on the verge of losing control? It is likely that not only have you been on the verge of losing control, that you might actually have done so a number of times. If you are conscientious, then it is also likely you have regretted it a great deal. I know I have.
    Consider what we are being taught here by the Lord. If you slow your anger response down, to that degree you have controlled your emotion. Now, after having done so, each of us needs to progress a little further along in slowing our anger down. In time, with this effort, we will have complete control. It won’t be our control, but the Lord’s control of each of us who have heard and heeded His counsel. Note the comparison the Lord makes with the one who controls his anger – you are far more powerful, far more influential than one who takes a city in battle. The latter compels others to submit, but the former influences people to submit to the Lord.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH.   He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
Lessons Learned From a Jigsaw Puzzle
By Steve Higginbotham

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  (Ephesians 4:15–16).
1. When things aren’t going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return (compare Mark 6:31). 
2. Be sure to look at the big picture (John 4:35). Getting hung up on the little pieces only leads to frustration.
3. Don’t force a fit (Philippians 2:4). 
4. Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece (Exodus 23:29). 
5. When one spot stops working, move to another (Ecclesiastes 11:6). But be sure to come back later (see #4). 
6. The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook (2 Pet 1:3). 
7. Variety is the spice of life. It’s the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting (Acts 10:34-35). 
8. Working together with friends and family makes any task fun (Nehemiah 3:1-32). 
9. Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order (Proverbs 22:6). 
10. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations (Luke 5:4). Some matches are surprising. 
11. Take time often to celebrate your successes—even little ones (Philippians 4:4). 
12. Anything worth doing takes time and effort.
13. A great puzzle can’t be rushed (Gal. 6:9).

- 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

Fellowship Is What I Crave
By Gerald Cowan

Not for anything that I have done,
Not for struggles with him I have won,  
And not for anything that is called sin –
He hates me for the color of my skin
And that I live with him beneath the sun.

The fact that I exist stirs up his hate.
To shared humanity he can’t relate.
He does not see the signs of God in me
But he resents that, like him, I am free.
Is separation then to be our fate?

I want to join with him in hope and peace
And from our common sin to find release.
Fellowship with him is what I crave
As taught by Him who came all souls to save
That godliness on earth may thus increase.  

God gave His Son to be a sacrifice
That for our sin’s removal can suffice.  
Why build a wall that none of us can climb
When we can live in peace and love sublime
With Him who wants us all in paradise?  

Our God has promised that He will save all
Who at the feet Christ in faith will fall
And live obediently to His commands,
Fulfilling for each other love’s demands
And patiently on Him for mercy call.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
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