BulletinGold #187
August 2017  
Vol 17 #8 

August 2017                                      BG# 187                                      Vol. 17                                       Issue 08
BULLETINGold
Subscribe                     Website                     Submissions                      Editor: David Bragg
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In this issue ...
                                 
Who Am I? By Bill Brandstatter
                               

Who Are We?
By Kevin Rutherford

Willing To Share
By Donna Wittlif

Heat Exhaustion
By Clifton Angel

No Victory without God’s Armor!
By Jeff Arnette

Fenced In or Fenced Out?
By Ron Adams

By His Side
By David A. Sargent

The Safest Place to Be
By David R. Ferguson

What Do You WANT To Do To Be Saved?
By David Bragg

Beware the Band Wagon!
By Joe Slater

Far Away From Fools
By J. Randal Matheny

Integrity
By Steve Higginbotham

Attachment to “Stuff”
By Lance Cordle

Singing Is Worship
By Rob Albright

The Most Oft Repeated Command
By Joe Chesser

Living Expectantly
By Ron Bartanen

Who Am I?
By Bill Brandstatter

    In answering the above question many are confused. Some think that we are merely a product of evolution. Others might think that our purpose in life is primarily to enjoy ourselves. Yet the Bible teaches that the individual is a creation of God. God wants to be first in the lives of everyone. We are not here to just enjoy recreation, and the other creature comforts. We are here to glorify God. Consider the evidence.
    Paul states: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Col 1:16, 1:17 (NKJV) The apostle from Tarsus is referring to Christ. Notice he states: “all things were created through Him and for Him.” The reason we are here is for Christ. Does our life reflect that? Is Christ first in all that we do. Paul adds to this by commanding: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17) Before doing something do we look to Jesus to see what He would think of that activity, event, or function?
    God is in charge of the world. To those on Mars Hill, Paul stated: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings." (Acts 17:24-26) (NKJV)
    Unfortunately, there is a desire in our world to put ourselves or others in first place. Many are trying to make God in their own image. Some, in order to justify sin say, “But God is just and loving, He will understand.” Such may result from a misunderstanding of God. God is good, but also severe. (Rom. 11:22) God is jealous and wants to be first in our lives. (Ex. 20:5) I have observed people who knew what God wanted them to do, but refused to do it.  (Rom. 1:28)
    Who am I? I am a creation of God. I should glorify Him in all I do. Paul tells the church at Corinth this very idea: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20)  Paul also told them that His writings were the commands of God (1 Cor.14:37). Are we following these commandments as we should? Have we done anything lately to glorify God? Are we just enjoying life day by day without ever mentioning God to anyone else? Are we “doing our own thing” and expecting to go to heaven?
    These are some things to think about when we consider who we are. The world should not tell us. The influences of worldly people or ideas should not determine the answer to the question. We should follow God, glorify Him, and heaven will one day be our home.

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
Who Are We?
By Kevin Rutherford
 
    Did you ever wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and then wonder who that is staring back at you? Time moves so quickly and changes us just as rapidly. We change physically, spiritually, and emotionally as the years go by. Did you ever go to church one Sunday morning, observe what was going on, and then wonder who we are? What is this church? What has the church become? Who are we?
    National culture is like a swiftly flowing river. There are ever swirling and changing currents within the culture. Some of those currents become strong and dominant while others weaken and vanish. Our national culture has within it currents caused by the emptying of moral sewage into the flow. Some of those polluted currents have become dominant and are growing stronger. Unfortunately those immoral currents in culture often affect the church. This should not be the case. The church is to affect the culture (1 Peter 2:9-12). The culture is not to affect the church (1 John 2:15-17).
    While it is true that we should be willing to fit in with our culture in hopes of saving those who are a part of that culture, we must never do so at the expense of truth (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 11:1-16; Ephesians 5:11; Acts 5:29). If we compromise the truth for the sake of the latest trends, fads, and fashions, we will lose our influence and become good for nothing (Matthew 5:13).
    So, who are we? When you look at some congregations of the Lord’s church, you see that they have been greatly influenced by the religious and moral culture of our country. These congregations have begun justifying immorality in their doctrine, while turning to entertainment in their worship. Examining such congregations makes one realize that rapidly passing time and the ever swirling currents of culture have had disastrous effects upon the church. These currents of cultural change have eroded the integrity of the church much like a swollen river might erode the soil on the river bank. Those congregations have truly changed. In fact they have left behind the old paths and have compromised the word of God (Jeremiah 6:16). Perhaps God Himself no longer recognizes them (Revelation 2 & 3).
    Who should we be? We must be the Lord’s church. We can only be the true church of Christ if we follow the Law given to us by Christ (John 12:48). The form, stamp, or pattern which produces the church was preached in the first century (Romans 6:17). The same church was produced everywhere that same form was preached in the first century (1 Corinthians 4:17). That pattern is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul told Timothy to hold fast to (2 Timothy 1:13). It is the faith which Jude commanded Christians to earnestly contend for (Jude 3). It is the same seed of the kingdom that produced the church of Jesus Christ in the first century and will produce the same in the twenty-first century (Luke 8:11).  
    We must continually examine ourselves to make sure that we are following the Faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). To remain the true church of Christ, we must resist the cultural trends that are eroding the soil of truth, integrity, and morality.

- Kevin Rutherford preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/
Willing To Share
By Donna Wittlif

    "Charge them that are rich in this world...that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate" (I Timothy 6: 17, 18).
    My son recently sent us a video of our grandson who is two and a half years old. My son and his wife were trying to get Kai to share the little bag of candy they had given him. Kai, our grandson, said, "It's mine." He shook his head and pushed his mother's hand away when she asked for some.
    That's how many of us were at Kai's age. We did not like to share. Hopefully, selfishness is something we have outgrown. When Paul writes to Timothy that we should be "willing to communicate," he does not mean we should be willing to talk. Paul wants us to share.
    Christians have so much. Paul tells Timothy, "God gives us richly all things to enjoy." God gives us spiritual riches and blessings that we don't deserve. But Christians living in the United States have far more than spiritual blessings. We are blessed materially way beyond most Christians living in other countries.
    So do we thank God for His care and His goodness? If so, that is good. We ought to, need to. But do we just go happily on our way, thanking God, and forgetting the needs of others? Is that all God expects of us? No. Paul says we should do good and be rich in good works. That means being willing to share. Those who share are "laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed" (I Timothy 6:20).

- Donna Richmond Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit her website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/

Heat Exhaustion
By Clifton Angel

    Recently, a good friend went to the hospital because of heat exhaustion. He was dehydrated, extremely fatigued, cramping in the stomach, and vomiting. He described his bout with dehydration and heat exhaustion as one of the most miserable experiences of his life.
    Jesus had a lot to say about a place that we think of as hotter than anything we experience on earth, even in the summers of Mississippi. The place called hell. He said it is “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41; Notice: the devil is not ruling over this place, he is going to be punished there). But He also teaches us that anyone who is not righteous will go there (Matthew 25:41, 46). Perhaps in accommodating language (for our physical minds), it is described to us as “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41), “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:41), “hell fire” (Matthew 5:22), an inescapable condemnation (Matthew 23:33), “where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Matthew 9:44). In parables, Jesus also described hell using the concept of “outer darkness” and a place where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). For my friend, heat exhaustion was miserable, but it does not begin to compare with the miserableness of hell. Jesus uses the most miserable aspects of this life and attaches to it eternity. Dear friends, I don’t want to go there! I hope you feel the same.
    Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). His desire is to save us from an eternity of “heat exhaustion.” His tremendous sacrifice brought about a plan that is truly simple (not easy). Continuing faith (Mark 16:16), a penitent heart (Acts 2:38), confession with the mouth (Acts 8:37), and immersion in water (Romans 6:3–4) grants an assurance of a reservation in heaven and avoidance of the heat exhaustion of hell. Notice that the Bible teaches a continuing faith. After baptism, we must continue to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). It does not mean we will be sinlessly perfect (see 1 John 1:7–2:2).
    Thankfully, after a night in the hospital and a day to rest and re-hydrate, my friend was back to normal. However, after we pass from life on earth, there will be no chance to visit God’s hospital. Do not delay. The “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26) will prevent you from eternal heat exhaustion.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/
No Victory without God’s Armor!
By Jeff Arnette

    The intelligence of Satan for being able to defeat unwary Christians is frightening. In all honestly, it should cause us to pause and pray every time we think about it. His skills are many, they are varied, and they are always cleverly disguised. He doesn’t attack the strongest points of our life, instead, he attacks the weakest points of our life. Satan will prey on our weaknesses and go for the place that we are struggling. It’s kind of like trying to push down a mighty oak tree. To be successful (sometimes you really need to remove an enormous tree), we must chip away at it, piece by piece, slowly but surely. I guess you could just use a chainsaw but no matter the method, you must destroy its base before you can hope to bring it down. The same is true for Christians. Satan wants to chip away at your life; at your faith, at your family, and at your church. With every blow of the ax, he destroys your foundation a little more. Eventually, the tree will fall if left unaided.
    Satan loves to go unnoticed in our life. Sometimes he will even resort to using different disguises. He can even make himself look and sound just like an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). What I mean is that Satan can and will disguise himself as the Spirit speaking, as Spirit moving you toward something, and sometimes he will disguise himself like the very thing you want, like God is answering your prayers. The only way to be sure is to line it up against the standard of God’s word (1 John 4:1-3). That is the only way you can be sure that God is truly moving and working within your life.
    Not all moving is God, not all moments of inspiration and passion is from God. Satan is the smartest of all enemies; the most fearful, and the least known or understood. Because we don’t know or recognize him, he is also the least feared of any enemy.
    To be able to stand against him and have any hopes of winning, we must put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:14-18).
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:14–18, ESV)
It is not enough to put on a single piece of the armor of God. It is not enough to even put on half of the armor! We must put on the whole armor, every single piece. Every piece of it is required for victory against such a powerful enemy. For victory, the faithful Christian must learn how to use the only weapon they can use. We pick up the “Sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God. That is the weapon Jesus used when Satan attacked Him (Matt. 4:1-11). If Satan was not afraid to attack Jesus he will not be afraid of attacking you. Be ready for him and put on the armor of God.
    Satan doesn’t fight fair and neither should we! We must cheat, stack the deck; put into practice all the tools Jesus has given to fight. Don’t fight him alone! If you do, you will lose. Trust me, I have seen it happen far too often. Put on God’s armor, surround yourself with the army of God (the church), and put prayer and scripture to work in your life.
    If you do this, you can win this battle.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
Fenced In or Fenced Out?
By Ron Adams

    There was a playground for children surrounded by a secure fence with only one gate. The children loved to play there. One day someone said, “They are penned in–like animals, like prisoners. That’s not good. Let’s remove the fence and free them from such confines.”
    The fence was removed. No more confinement. No more prison-like barriers.
    Then a parent noticed that the children were only playing near the center of the playground. Why weren’t they using all of the space. In questioning the children, they found out that the children didn’t feel secure without the fence. It became apparent that the fence was protective and restrictive. It kept them inside where it was safe, and kept out what was harmful.

BURDENSOME OR WHOLESOME?

    A similar misconception is held by some when it comes to God’s children. They believe the restrictions and prohibitions of the Lord’s commandments keep them penned up, taking the joy out of living. Some say, “All the fun is taken away.”
    The truth is, His commands are not burdensome; they are wholesome. They protect His followers from harm from without, and keep them from harming themselves by wandering off.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments
are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of
His glory blameless with great joy.
Jude 1:24

TEMPORARY OR ETERNAL?
    One who is always occupied with the desire and ambition for what this life has to offer does not have his affections set on things eternal.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is
not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful
pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
1 John 2:15-16
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated
at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:1-2

- 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
By His Side
By David A. Sargent

     It was the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400 meter sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favorites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starter’s gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.
     Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring muscle tore and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his tear-streaked face was both physical and mental. It was a crushing blow.
     Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.
     The crowd was mesmerized. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.
     The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.
     “You don’t have to do this son,” Jim said.
     “Yes I do!” Derek replied.
     “Then we’ll finish this race together,” came the response from Derek’s father.
     Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.
     Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It became the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.
     Derek Redmond didn’t win an Olympic medal but he finished the race with his Dad by his side. *
     Derek Redmond’s injury in that 400-meter race pictures our condition due to our sin: because of our wrong choices, we’ve failed and fallen on the track, unable to finish – unless we have help.
     God saw our condition and came to our rescue. By the merits of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), God “picks us up off the track” by forgiving us of our sins and will carry us across the finish line to victory, if we’ll continue to cling to Him through our trusting obedience.
     We can share in Christ’s victory over sin and death if we will accept God’s offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms. 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). Then, as we seek to follow Him faithfully, the blood that Jesus shed for our redemption will continue to cleanse us from that disqualifying sin (1 John 1:7).
     And one day, we’ll cross the “finish line” ONLY because of what Jesus has done for us, and we will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
     Won’t YOU cling to the Savior through your trusting obedience?  He will carry you to the finish line, victoriously.

- 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

* Slightly adapted from “Derek Redmond Finishes at the Olympics” at
/www.storiesforpreaching.com
The Safest Place to Be
By David R. Ferguson

    The disciples could hardly believe their ears. Had Jesus forgotten how the Jews in Jerusalem recently tried to kill Him? Why in the world would He want to put His life in danger by going back to Judea? (See John 11:1-16) But Jesus had just announced His intention to go to Bethany in response to a message that His friend Lazarus was sick. This news alarmed the disciples since Bethany was a mere two miles from Jerusalem; they tried to change His mind. “Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone You to death,” they reminded Him. “Do you really want to go back there?
    Jesus answered their questions with a metaphor that contrasted walking in the light versus walking in darkness. He explained that people who walk during the “day” don’t have to worry about stumbling because they have the knowledge of God’s will to guide them, but those who walk in the darkness of their own understanding and self-reliance are likely to fall. Jesus understood what His well-intentioned disciples did not: as long as He submitted to God’s plan for His life, no harm could come to Him until the appointed time of His crucifixion. Jesus had no need to fear His enemies.
    God has given each one of us a purpose and specific work to accomplish for Him. As long as we’re doing our best to follow His plan for our life, we don’t need to worry about our safety. Nothing and no one on the Earth can successfully interfere with God’s purposes. But it’s dangerous to leave the light of God’s truth and walk down a path of disobedience. It’s foolish to let ourselves be guided by the world’s standards and advice or by our own understanding if those things contradict God’s word. That would be like traveling down a rocky road on a dark night with no source of light to guide us; we can expect to stumble and fall. Trust me, for I know of which I speak!
    Any time we stray from God’s will, we make ourselves vulnerable to temptations, Satan’s traps, and spiritual deceptions, leading us to make unwise choices that can bring serious consequences. The only truly safe place to be is in the center of God’s will for our life. As long as we follow where He leads, we’ll be protected – even in situations that appear threatening or dangerous to human eyes. Letting our decisions and movements be shaped by obedience to God will set us free from fear concerning our welfare and safety. We may have to walk through some dark valleys on our life journey, but even in the shadow of death we have the security of knowing that we are never walking alone. The Light of the world, Jesus Christ, is always right there with us.
    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” (Psalms 23:4 [NKJV])
    Ask yourself: Am I walking in the safety of God’s will for my life, or have I strayed from the path of His commands?

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com
What Do You WANT To Do To Be Saved?
By David Bragg

    Authorities in Glenville, NY are baffled. The small town has witnessed several single vehicle accidents involving large trucks. According to the Daily Gazette in nearby Schenectady, the Glenridge Road railroad bridge has been struck by trucks, peeling back trailer tops, "at least 20 times since a road-widening project was finished in 2013" (dailygazette.com). The problem? The clearly marked bridge has a clearance of only 10 feet 11 inches while the average height of an 18-wheeler is between 13 and 14 feet.
    Many site an increased reliance on GPS devices for the accidents while others blame drivers for ignoring clearly marked low clearance warning signs. In a similar, but far more serious vein, is the failure of many modern religious people to properly heed the biblical "warning signs" when it comes to God's plan of salvation.
    Whether they are blindly following their denominational teachings or refusing to take God’s Word seriously, the result is always disastrous. On more than one occasion in the Bible the question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 2:37 and 16:30, for example). Yet, in not a single instance is the response, "What do you WANT to do to be saved?"
    Salvation has never been left to the discretion of individual preference or majority rule. Why didn't Peter, in Acts 2, take a poll to decide the most popular form of responding to the Gospel? Why didn’t he tell the penitent Jews to simply utter a quick prayer for forgiveness? Because when it comes to saving souls, especially our own, only God has the final word. And He told Peter to say, "“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).

- 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/

Beware the Band Wagon!
By Joe Slater

    A band wagon was a large, decorated wagon upon which a musical band performed, often at the front of a parade. As spectators applauded the musicians, other people might jump onboard and ride along, hoping to share in the glory. When the music stopped and the applause died down, however, the extra passengers would jump right back off. Thus, the practice of joining any popular trend came to be known as “climbing onto the band wagon.” 
    In New Testament days, multitudes of people were converting to Christ. They faced the danger of the “band wagon” effect just as we do. Paul taught some of them: “as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). To work something out is to see it through to completion (think of “working out” a math problem – you cannot stop in the middle of your calculations, but must complete the process).
    Happily, our brethren in the Jerusalem church were not band wagon disciples. Luke mentions four items (Acts 2:42) in which they continued steadfastly:
    The apostles’ teaching. First, they continued to be taught by the apostles. Second, they constantly behaved in keeping with what the apostles taught them. Being a Christian involves life-long learning and growing. When you stop learning and growing, you start dying!
    Fellowship. The church is a spiritual family. Going it alone is next to impossible. The early church regularly spent much time together, sharing one another’s joys, sorrows, successes, and failures. When fellowship wanes, disciples weaken and may perish.
    The breaking of the bread. We need constant reminders of Jesus and what He did for us at Calvary. The Lord ordained Communion (the Lord’s Supper) upon the first day of each week (Acts 20:7) for this very purpose. “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
    Prayers. Paul wrote to the Colossians to “continue in prayer” (4:2). Jesus taught that we ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Did you pray yesterday? Pray again today! Did you pray this morning? Pray again tonight!
    Let us not treat the Lord and His church like a band wagon. When we obeyed the gospel, we committed ourselves to a lifetime of faithfulness. May we continue steadfastly as the early disciples did!

- 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
Far Away From Fools
By J. Randal Matheny

Mind your business, delve into your work,
Stay far away from fools who revile and waste;
Worldly ills and deeds will drive you berserk,
Devote yourself to action where you were placed.

Live a quiet life, walk in truth and love,
Learn silence, grace, compassion — see the greater
Plan of God, and fear the Lord above —
We soon will give account to our Creator.

- 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
attribution.
Integrity
By Steve Higginbotham

     In his recent autobiography, "Mean Joe Greene," told a story about the late Chuck Noll, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Noll was a great coach, winning four Super Bowls, and earning the respect of his players. Greene said that as they were preparing for a game against the Houston Oilers, someone presented Coach Noll with an Oilers' playbook.  Coach Noll quickly called a team meeting and said,
     "Gentlemen, this is the Houston Oilers’ playbook. We play them twice this year. We have all of their plays and their game plans. But we're not going to open it. That's not how we do things. We're going to prepare; we're going to line up against them on the field; and we're going to do what we do, and that will give us the best chance to win." 
     With that, Coach Noll threw the playbook in the trash can and walked away.
     Integrity!
     We just don't see enough of it, but when we see it, we admire it. It's no wonder Paul instructed us to hold the doctrine of Christ with integrity (Titus 2:7). Friends, you may know the truth, and you may proclaim it to others, but if those who hear your words don't see them coupled with integrity, those words, though true, will ring hollow.

"...in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility" (Titus 2:7).

- 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
Attachment to “Stuff”
By Lance Cordle

    I must make a confession—I enjoy watching American Pickers on the History Channel. The adventures of Mike Wolf and Frank Fritz, have captured my attention numerous times in the past three or four years. Even though I turn away from most “reality shows,” and even though I know some of the show’s elements are set-up, I am drawn in by the pursuit of historical things and the bargains Mike and Frank find.
    Week after week, they encounter people who are in possession of “stuff” they have collected for years. The meeting with the “pickers” may come by apparent chance, by solicitation, or by a call going out following the death of loved one. The latter circumstance being the result of a decision to mark the passing of a time of life, as well as the person who was part of the time of life.
    In a recent commercial for American Pickers, Mike Wolf expressed his own fascination with the people they meet and their attachment to “inanimate objects” (i.e., “stuff”). Indeed, as I watch some of the interchanges between the “pickers” and the collectors, I see the clear hesitation, and even refusal to part with some item because of the emotional attachment to that object on the part of the collector.
    As I think about the pickers and the collectors they meet, I am well aware of three things. First, I am very aware of the ease of becoming attached to things. If we pay a high price for something, or if someone we value highly owned that object, we may become very possessive of it. Value of money spent and value of relationships cause us to want to hold on to things. We must remember that things are capable of being destroyed in a moment and will eventually “wear out” or “rust out.”
    Secondly, I am aware the Bible warns me that I am not to love or trust in things. Jesus himself said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).
    Finally, we must remember we cannot take things with us when we die. No matter how good it makes us feel to place objects with bodies, in caskets, we must not deceive ourselves into thinking those things will be used by them again. Paul reminded his friend, Timothy (and thus us, as well), “for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Timothy 6:7).
    Let us be discerning in the things we buy and the things we receive. Let us take care to not become attached to “stuff.” Because, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

- 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
Singing Is Worship
By Rob Albright

    If we go to the Bible for our authority in matters of religion, we become a distinctive group of believers. Many in the religious world simply do things because others are doing it or because it “feels good.” For some people, it does not matter if God authorized it or not, they will always do what they want to do, instead of doing what God says to do.
    Jesus taught that it is hypocritical to honor Him with our lips yet continue to do things that are opposed to His teachings. It also makes our worship empty (Mark 7:6-9).
    In the matter of music in our worship assemblies God has authorized one kind of music. It’s vocal (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Singing is a specific kind of music and when God specifies vocal music that eliminates the other kind of music, which is instrumental. The words sung both edify each other and praise God. Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs can do both (edify one another and praise God), but an organ, guitar and drums cannot teach and admonish or praise God.
    Why would we want to do that which God has not authorized? Why disrupt unity by doing something that is opposite what God has authorized?
    Let’s continue to be a people who respect God’s way for worship and not be swayed by the traditions of men.

- Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/
The Most Oft Repeated Command
By Joe Chesser
 
     Of all the commands in the Bible, which one is repeated the greatest number of times? I think you may be surprised! Love is the greatest command, but it’s not the one most often repeated. Writers often speak of pride as being at the root of human failures, but warnings against pride or encouragement to be humble are not the most often repeated commands. Neither are the warnings against sexual impurity or the urging to believe or repent.
     The single command that occurs more often than any other is “Fear not.” There are other forms of this command: “Do not be afraid,” “Be strong and courageous,” etc., but according to Lloyd Ogilvie, there are 366 “Fear not” verses in the Bible – one for every day of the year, including one for leap year!
     Fear doesn’t seem to be the most serious vice in the world. It didn’t make the Seven Deadly Sins list. No one ever receives church disciple for being afraid. So why does God tell us to stop being afraid more often than He tells us to do anything else?
     John Ortberg suggested that the reason God tells us to “Fear not” so often is because “fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.” Fear causes us to lie to avoid pain or embarrassment. Fear of rejection causes us to listen to gossip. Fear of being poor causes us to neglect family, friends and God to work more hours. Fear causes us to flatter someone because we’re afraid they won’t like us if we don’t. Fear causes us to go along with the crowd instead of standing apart. Fear of being lonely causes us to justify unwholesome companions. Fear is the reason so many will not step out of their comfort zones and teach a class or lead a song or prayer. Fear is one reason so little evangelism is being done. Fear is the reason we deny the Lord in difficult situations. Fear is the reason the storms cause our faith to falter. Fear is the reason we betray our values and friends in times of need. Yes, I’d say fear is a major problem for us. We need to be told often to “Fear not.” At least I do.
     Yet, there is another kind of fear that would help us overcome these other fears if we would learn to use it. Solomon wrote centuries ago, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In other words, we need to have deep seated reverence and awe of God in everything we do every day of our lives – to live by faith in God alone – to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and nothing else. Ironically, if we choose to “Fear God” in the sense Solomon said we would be far less likely to need the 366 commands to “fear not.” Pity the person who is more afraid of the winds and the waves than he is of the God who created and controls them.

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

Living Expectantly
By Ron Bartanen
 
     In Fort Benton, Montana, beside the Great Northern Railroad depot, and looking out across the Missouri River is a memorial-statue of a very special collie dog named Shep. Shep was a herder-dog, owned by an elderly shepherd. He made his first appearance at the depot as a casket was being loaded on a train heading for some place East for burial. He even attempted to board the train, but was restrained, and then followed the train until it was out of sight. The station-attendants thought nothing of it until the dog dug a spot for himself under the depot, from which he was able to keep vigil, awaiting each train.  It was obvious that the deceased was the dog’s owner, and Shep anxiously looked for his return.  Station attendants took it upon themselves to feed and care for the dog. Through six cold, snowy winters and five springs he would, with anticipation, greet the arrival of each train, looking for his master’s return. Then in January of 1942 the old dog was hit and killed by a train. Railroaders who had befriended and cared for the dog arranged a funeral for him, which was attended by most of the residents of Fort Benton, and buried him on a nearby hillside, overlooking the town. A sculpture was made as a monument and was placed near the depot, where it remains to this day.
    Are we, as Christians, as faithful as was old Shep as we look for the return of our Master, Jesus Christ? Unlike Shep’s master, our Master will return. When God’s timetable is completed, “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37) Though many years may pass, devoted Christians will continue to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 3:13). Jesus’ admonition to His disciples prior to His departure into heaven was, “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
    The question is: Are you ready? Are you living expectantly?

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/
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