BulletinGold #204
January 2019  
Vol 19 #1 

January 2019                         BG# 204                         Vol. 19 No. 01
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In this issue ...

 My Refuge in the Storm By J. Randal Matheny

 The Power of Baptism By Rob Albright

 Soul Protection
By Donna Wittlif

 Recognizing and Overcoming Temptation By Brian Mitchell

 Good Things By Kevin Rutherford

 4 Things I Want My Children to Know about the Church By Adam Faughn


 God's Providence? Perhaps.. By Steve Higginbotham

 Jesus Calms Storms By Johnny Hester

 Learning to Love the Brotherhood By David Bragg

 They Were “Only” Fishermen! By Jeff Arnette

 Only a Fool! By Ron Thomas

 Planting Seeds By Bill Brandstatter

My Refuge in the Storm
By J. Randal Matheny

O God, my refuge in the storm,
I come to you, and I will stay
Until the Christ of peace and calm
Walk with me on the troubled way.

O Lord, my light in hour of doubt,
I seek you for a certain mind;
When Satan circles round about,
May nary a fault or blemish find.

O Spirit, power beyond compare,
Live in my heart — I know not how!
Let saving truth reach inner core,
To work in me the eternal now.

- 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) 2019 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.

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The Power of Baptism
By Rob Albright

    The subject of baptism is often misunderstood. We know it is an important subject because Peter tells us baptism saves (1 Peter 3:21). It is not the water that saves, but it is our obedient faith in God’s power that brings the result of salvation (forgiveness of sins). Despite the false theology of today, the Bible teaches us that baptism is essential for one to be saved.
    Yes, we must recognize our sinful condition – die to it – and begin the new life in Christ. Paul explains how this new life comes about in Romans 6:3-5. Baptism is at the beginning of our commitment to Christ. What follows after baptism is spiritual growth and development, but salvation comes after one is baptized – not before.
    Baptism is the place God goes to work and remits sin. In baptism we are cleansed of our sin (Colossians 2:12-13; Acts 22:16) and brought into a spiritual union with Jesus (Rom. 3:5). Think about it: Salvation (2 Tim. 2:10); No condemnation (Rom. 8:1); All spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) - All found after one is baptized into Christ.
    Do we believe God has the power to do what He says? (Mark 16:16).

- 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/ Rob also serves on the board of directors of the Carolina Messenger. Please visit their website at: https://carolinamessenger.wordpress.com/
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Soul Protection
By Donna Wittlif

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9, ASV).
    The email from my credit card company was frightening. "We noticed unusual activity on your account. Please review the transactions below and confirm that these purchases were made by you or an authorized user." I recognized one transaction, but not the other three.
    I quickly called the telephone number and spoke with a representative. "You have our wallet protection service," she said. "You will not be charged for these purchases you did not make." I breathed a huge sigh of relief as she told me a replacement card and account number would be overnighted to my address.
    How quickly we panic when we perceive a threat to our worldly goods. However, we have a possession much more valuable than our money, our house, or our car. It is our soul, and it is so precious that Jesus gave His life to save it.
    Through Christ we have what I like to think of as soul protection. It is a way to retrieve our souls from hell fire when we sin. God's forgiveness, so free and abundant, is waiting for us when we confess our sins to God and repent. Unlike wallet protection, it is free to all who follow Christ.
    Like getting a new credit card and account number, it is a new start, an opportunity to not have to pay for our sins!
    What gratitude we should feel as we consider what could have happened. We could have been lost for eternity. Who delivered us out of the body of this death?
    Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord and His sacrifice for us and His protection for our soul.

- 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. Also her newest book, a Christian romance entitled Finding Her Heart. For more information visit her website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/
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Recognizing and Overcoming Temptation
By Brian Mitchell

    Is it possible to recognize temptation and overcome it before it overcomes us? The answer is yes, but there are some important principles we must understand. A man was on a diet and he was struggling. He had to go downtown and as he started out, he remembered that his route would take him by his favorite doughnut shop. As he got closer, he thought that a cup of coffee would hit the spot; what could that hurt right? Then he remembered his diet and that’s when he prayed; “Lord, if You want me to stop for a doughnut and coffee, let there be a parking place right in front of the shop.”
    “Sure enough, I found a parking place right in front—on my seventh time around the block!” He didn’t really want the Lord’s help in overcoming temptation, he wanted permission. As Robert Orben once said, “Most people want to be delivered from temptation, but many would still like it to keep in touch” (Reader’s Digest [8/86], p. 35). If one really wants to overcome the temptation to sin the first place to start is to make sure that you are not part of the problem. You must make sure that you are not the one that is placing the enticement in your path.
    As we consider the subject of temptation, especially as it relates to sin, we must second come to understand that temptation is inevitable. James says, “blessed is the man who endures temptation” and “let no one say when he is tempted” (Jm.1:12-13). James leaves no question that temptation’s assault will come for us all. Just as he does in dealing with trials in general, James here says, “When tempted…” not “If tempted.” Just like death and taxes, trials and temptations are inevitable in this life. We will never be without temptation in life even though the more we mature in our faith the less common they may be.
    And thus the second key to overcoming temptation is the acknowledgment that we are all susceptible to it. Remember Peter—“Lord, even if I must die, I will never deny you.” What did he do—he denied Jesus 3 times. The Apostle Paul warns the Corinthians to “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor.10:12). Peter thought he could stand up under any temptation to deny Jesus and thus because he did not think he could fall, he did. No one is above the powers of temptation and it is our acknowledgment of that fact that actually makes them easier to overcome.
    The third key to overcoming temptation is to realize and acknowledge their true source. According to James, “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (Jm.1:14). James teaches us that it is our own sinful desires that lay the groundwork for temptation. James does not here mention the role of the devil in man’s temptations. That is not to say that the enemy does not play a role in temptation but that James wants us to realize and acknowledge our role in them.
    Temptation requires two essential parts—desire + temptation. While someone or something may place an enticement to sin in our path, if there is no desire there is no temptation.  If you take someone who has never done drugs in their life and has no desire to do so and place a pound of cocaine in front of them there would be no temptation because there is no desire. And so the point is simple, the 3rd key to overcoming temptation is to rid ourselves of our sinful desires by bringing all of our desires into line with God’s will for our lives.
    Temptations to sin affect us all but that does not excuse our sins. Why? Because the Bible says that with God’s help we can both recognize and overcome any temptation that comes our way (1 Cor.10:13).

- 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
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Good Things
By Kevin Rutherford

    Some people love bad news. They like to hear about terrible things that have happened to other people, or they enjoy hearing of other people’s sins. If this were not true then there would be no rack at the grocery store for the tabloids. If you like to hear about bad things, then you won’t like this article. This article deals with those good things that were said about churches in the first century.
    Good things about the church at Rome:
1. They were beloved of God (Romans 1:7).
2. Their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1:8).
3. The church at Rome had many hard workers (Romans 16:1-16).
4. Some in the church there had even risked their lives for Paul (Romans 16:3, 4).
    Good things about the church at Ephesus:
1. They trusted in the Lord (Ephesians 1:13).
2. They had a strong faith (Ephesians 1:15).
3. They loved the saints (Ephesians 1:15).
    Good things about the church at Philippi:
1. They fellowshipped Paul in an encouraging way (Philippians 1:3-7).
2. God had begun a good work in them (Philippians 1:6).
3. One of their members had worked so hard for the cause of Christ he had nearly died (Philippians 2:25-30).
4. They supported Paul in his preaching (Philippians 4:10-20).
    Good things about the church at Colossae:
1. They had great faith (Colossians 1:3).
2. They had great love for the brethren (Colossians 1:3).
3. The gospel was bearing fruit among them (Colossians 1:5, 6).
    Good things about the church at Thessalonica:
1. They were commended for their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
2. They received the word with joy and were examples to others (1 Thessalonians 1:6, 7).
3. The word of the Lord went out from them into many places (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
    Let us do everything we can to see that these good things that were said of first century churches could also be said of the church today. 

- Kevin Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/
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4 Things I Want My Children to Know about the Church
By Adam Faughn

     We live in times where speaking about “the Church” is looked down upon. People want to talk about Jesus, but not about the Church. Or, at times, people have a concept of the Church as just being another social gathering, much like a community club or ball team.
     The Church, however, is far more. I need to know and appreciate that, and I also need to instill that in my children. So, while this is not an exhaustive list, here are four things I want to teach my children about the Church.
     1. The Church is Not Mine; It Belongs to Christ. Here is where it all starts. This is a divine institution. It is not man-made, and it was certainly not made by me. Jesus built it (Matthew 16:18) and purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). That being true, He has the say in how the Church is organized and what is practiced. We do not get that say, and we only truly honor Him when we faithfully follow Him, the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18).
     2. The Church is a Beautiful Family of People. Though a divine institution, the Church is comprised of people, and those people are from all over the world and are made up of every walk of life. The Church is described as a body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27) where each part plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the whole. Young and old, married, and single, people of every race and language; they all make up a beautiful family that must work together and work through problems together to the glory of God.
     3. The Church Should be the Center of Our Schedule. I want my children to see the priority of the Church right on our calendar. When there is an activity, priority is given to the Church, not the world. That does not mean we will be able to attend every single activity, but the priority is being with God’s people and working and worshiping with them.
     4. The Church Will be in Eternity Together. I want my children to learn to love being with God’s people here because it is God’s faithful people who will be together for all eternity! I want them to know that following Jesus really is the only way (John 14:6), so only those in the Church that belongs to Jesus will be in eternity.
     There are certainly many other things I want to teach my children about the Lord’s Church, but these four are invaluable to them gaining a lifelong love for this great body. I pray that, in teaching these things to my children, it also builds an even deeper love for the Church in my heart.
 
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
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God's Providence? Perhaps...
By Steve Higginbotham

     During the first century, a runaway slave fled from the city of Colossae all the way to Rome, more than 1300 miles away.  Apparently, he didn’t want to get caught! It was while he was in Rome that he happened to hear and be converted by the imprisoned, Apostle Paul.  In a letter that Paul wrote to Philemon, Onesimus’ former master, Paul entertained the idea that this entire event (i.e. Onemisus running away, running all the way to Rome, meeting Paul, and becoming a Christian) was all a part of God’s providence. Was he certain of it?  No, but he said, “perhaps” (Philemon 15). What an amazing set of circumstances, and possibly all orchestrated by God!
     But let me remind you of something.  God’s providence is as active in today’s world as it was in the days of the apostle Paul. God still works good on behalf of those who love and seek him.
     Enter Ron and Zona Hogan. Ron and Zona are good friends of mine who live the in the remote town of Kotzebue, Alaska (take the time to look it up on a map). For years, Ron and Zona have faithfully worshiped in their home, inviting others in their small community to join them. Recently, a couple named Precio and Joseline, moved to Kotzebue from the Dominican Republic. Ron and Zona struck up a friendship with them, despite the language barrier (Englsih/Spanish).  Joseline, who was already a Christian and her husband began worshiping with and studying with Ron and Zona. Last week, Precio told Ron that he wanted to be baptized into Christ. Ron contacted a Spanish speaking friend in Texas and had her translate the words he was going to say prior to baptizing Precio.  So, Ron was able to speak to him in his native language and hear Precio say, “Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios.” (Jesus Christ is the Son of God).
     Now, what are the odds that Ron Hogan, from Kentucky, would meet Precio, from the Dominican Republic, in Kotzebue, Alaska? Is this any less amazing than Paul’s unlikely meeting with Onesimus? Not at all.  Was this the providence of God at work today? I’ll answer that question as Paul did 2000 years ago, “Perhaps!”

- 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 © 2018 MercEmail
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Jesus Calms Storms
By Johnny Hester

     Read once again the familiar yet always thrilling account related in Mark 4:36-41 and allow the power Jesus manifested here to wash over and saturate your awareness:
Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great wind-storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’  And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?’  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’
     Life’s sea through which we venture is often stormy and terrifying. We are frequently reminded by the calamities that come upon us of our personal inability to stay above the treacherous waves and to keep our fragile life-ships from capsizing.
     It is a wonderful comfort to know that Jesus has the power to bring calm in the midst of chaos. And He has the compassion to exercise His sovereignty over our world in such a way as to affect our rescue.
     Once you come to comprehend these glorious truths, it is then necessary to notice a vital detail from the story. These men “took Him [Jesus] along in the boat” (v. 36 ) — they with Him and He with them! Life is fraught with many perils. When these frightening storms come into your life, don’t you want Jesus in your boat?  Please understand: He must be invited!
     How does one invite Jesus to be your constant companion, Savior and Lord? In faith, obey His will. Receive His salvation by accepting His terms. Be compelled by your love for Him to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
     If I may assist you in obeying the gospel, it would be my delight to baptize you into Christ “for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38). If I may offer prayer on your behalf or render spiritual assistance in your walk with the Lord, please let me know. Please be aware that members of the Lord’s family at the Matthews church of Christ would consider it an honor and a joy to help meet your spiritual needs.

- Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at johnnyhester@yahoo.com
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Learning to Love the Brotherhood
By David Bragg

     Born in New Garden (Guilford County), NC on May 20, 1768, Dolley Payne was raised in a large and wealthy Quaker family on a Virginia plantation. After being married for only three years to her first husband, John Todd, a severe outbreak of yellow fever claimed the lives of her husband and youngest son. In 1794 Aaron Burr introduced the 26-year-old widow to James Madison (43). They were married four months later. Dolley would become the most popular First Ladies, overshadowing all others for decades (whitehousehistory.org). When the capital city was burned by the British in 1814, Dolley Madison famously rescued a portrait of President George Washington. During her reign over Washington society Mrs. Madison gained a reputation as the quintessential hostess. Henry Clay said of her, "Everybody loves Mrs. Madison," to which Dolley was said to reply, "That's because Mrs. Madison loves everybody" (Cormac O'Brien, Secret Lives of the First Ladies).
    Is not that what Jesus wants us to do (Mat. 22:36-40)? He stated that the identifying mark of faithful Christians was their love for each other (John 13:35). Paul echoed that the “more excellent way" for believers to live is love (1 Cor. 13:13). John also called all Christians to prove their claim on eternal life by their love for fellow Christians (1 John 3:14). And Peter issued the simple command, "Love the brotherhood" (1 Pet. 2:17). Time and time again inspired writers reassert the need for the Lord's church to show true love (Eph. 1:15, Heb. 13:1, etc). By so doing the unbelieving world may realize that they too might share in a love and God above will recognize and reward us for becoming more like Him (1 John 4:8).

- 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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They Were “Only” Fishermen!
By Jeff Arnette

     Why does it seem like being a disciple of Jesus is so challenging? Why does it seem like such a difficult undertaking? I think there are several reasons behind this. Sometimes I think it could be a lack of commitment. Sometimes I think it is because we are an unwillingness to give ourselves completely to Jesus. Sometimes I think we don’t truly understand what it means to be disciples. Sometimes I think that we just don’t make time for Jesus and following him.
     Each of these could be legitimate or they could be a combination of each. Each person is a complicated array of experiences and mistakes; misunderstanding and rebellion, sinner and saint. To just assign a person to any one category is short-sighted at best.
     The problem that plagues us the most is not any of these (although they can be true and often plague us). I think the problem we face most often is that we don’t think we can be good disciples.
     We have allowed Satan to convince us that we are sinners, not saints. Or that we cannot be a disciple because we are simply not good enough. This causes us to look at the people of God, read the stories, examine their lives, and teachings only to conclude that we will never be like them.
     Satan says,
  • You’re a sinner because you sin daily!
  • Your identity is connected to what you’ve done (sin=condemned and rejected).
  • Your identity comes from what others think about you (just like everyone else).
  • Your behavior dictates what you should believe about yourself (discouraged and defeated).
     Christian, don’t ever accept these lies from Satan. Instead, chose to listen to what God says about you. He will not lie to you nor try to lead you astray. You are His beloved child. Believe it!
     God says,
  • You’re a saint (Eph. 1:1) declared righteous in Jesus (Rom. 4:1-5).
  • Your identity is connected to what God has done (John 3:15; Rom. 5:8).
  • Your identity comes from what God thinks about you (Eph. 2:4-10; Gal. 3:25-29).
  • Your belief about yourself determines your behavior (Rom. 8:1-2, 28, 31-39).
     Just like the first disciples of Jesus (Matt. 4:18-22), who were simple fishermen, Jesus can make you into something you never dreamed possible if you are willing to allow Him to have his way. Give yourself completely to Him and by faith, let Him lead.

    Matthew 4:19     “… Follow me, and I will make you…” (ESV)

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/
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Only a Fool!
By Ron Thomas

     We live in a land of abundance. As each year passes one can’t help but notice not only the abundance of wealth in our country, but also the deprivations that others experience because of varied reasons. In Luke 12:13-21, the Lord addresses the  vanity of one who possessed much, but failed to see things that were even of greater importance. The man who owned much in the way of material things only desired to expand his holdings (12:18), and he did this for his own retirement’s sake. The Lord looked upon his actions and his heart as that of a “Nabal” (cf. 1 Samuel 25:25), only as a foolish one.
     Some of us are more fortunate than others in this country. Since we are in the position we are as a result of the Lord, since we are educated (at whatever level), since we have an internal drive to accomplish much on the way of good, what have we done with what is ours? Rather than build a large place to live, why not be satisfied with a “cottage below” in this world? Do we really need something that is considered large even by our own standards?
     Not long ago I was speaking with a man who built a house in our area; it is a large house (to me), but I learned that it was much larger than I imagined. He and his wife have been fortunate in life. She is on staff at the University of Illinois and he has his own business. They were able to give themselves that which they wanted, and the square footage of their house was around 6, 500 feet. A husband and wife (with children gone) with a house that large struck me as something similar to that which is read in Luke 12:13-21.
     Let me be careful in these remarks. As far as I am aware, there is (and was) no sin involved in this couple’s home or even in that which they were able to mass. Nevertheless, there is a home in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Valparaiso, Indiana were the staff is making appeal after appeal for Christians to help in provisions as they (the Children’s Home) give children a structured life and love.
     We are fortunate because the Lord gave us life in the United States, a location wherein many opportunities abound. Are we building barns, or are we helping in the building of lives (Luke 12:34)?

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
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Planting Seeds
By Bill Brandstatter

     With the recent warmer weather comes thoughts of springtime. Springtime is planting time. We all are
planting seeds of some sort. Some of us may be planting seeds in the minds of our children. Others may be planting seeds in the minds of Bible students. Whatever kind of seeds we plant; there are some general principles that apply. Let us make some observations about the planting the Word of God.
     First, the seed must be the right seed. So much seed is sown today wrongly labeled as “God’s seed.” The true seed, however, is the Word of God. (Luke 8:11) We have all of God’s word we need. (2 Pet. 1:3) We are not to alter, change, or modify it. (Gal. 1:6-10; Rev. 22:18, 19) This seed is described as incorruptible. (1 Pet. 1:23) When God’s pure seed is sown on good ground, only good results will come. Is your heart ready for the pure seed of God’s word? Faith is produced by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) Faith does not come from emotions or feelings, but in obedience and in compliance with the Word and the Will of God.
     Second, seed must be planted in the right soil. If the soil is not right even the best seed won’t germinate correctly. Spiritually, we must have our hearts willing and ready to receive the Word. Those Peter preached to “gladly received the word.” (Acts 2:41) The word is to be implanted within us. (James. 1:21)
     Third, the seed must be watered and nurtured. Sometimes seed is planted but nothing more happens. Paul explains how the process is to work. Paul planted seed. He stated, “I planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6) Some people today might be seed planters. Others are good at watering, but let us always let God provide the increase. Paul writes to fathers to bring up children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4 KJV) Throughout the coming years those seeds will need to be watered so that the plants will develop. Further nurturing will need to be done before harvest in the fall. In the Bible, the seed is the Word of God. (Luke 8:11)
     The word of God must be planted in the heart and mind in order to save a person. Jesus told his apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15, 16) The Bible tells us, “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47 NKJV)

- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
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Editor: David Bragg