BulletinGold #45
August 1, 2004   Vol 4, #4

Editor's Remarks
----by Donna Richmond

Family is so important.  I had not seen my father nor my brothers and sisters in West Virginia for ten years.  I had not seen loved ones in Texas for ten years, maybe longer.  This summer I made up my mind that I had to go for a visit.

I flew into Austin on July 18 and was picked up at the airport by Neil and Martha Carroll, who live in Liberty Hill.  Martha is the sister of my first husband, who was killed in a car accident.  Monday we drove to Brownwood, Texas, and spent several days at the home of Paul and Lucille McClung, my first in-laws.  I'm sure some of you know them since Paul has been a faithful minister of the gospel in Texas and Oklahoma for more than six decades.  What a great time we had visiting, sharing memories, and putting up figs and peaches. 

On Thursday, July 22 I flew to Dallas-Ft. Worth, then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  My sister Debbie and her husband drove up from Fairmont, West Virginia, and picked me up.  Friday we drove from her house to my sister Patty's house in Cameron.  My father joined us for dinner.  Saturday we spent all day going from house to house, visiting with friends and relatives.  Sunday I was privileged to attend church in Cameron and to visit with church members I had not seen for thirty years.  After church Sunday, 25 of us, including my brothers David, Dean, and Douglas and their families, gathered at Patty's house for a family potluck and a long afternoon visit.  Then I said my good-byes and drove back to Fairmont with Debbie and Ron.  Monday they took me back to the airport.  I had a three-hour layover in Dallas-Ft. Worth.  My first husband's brother and his wife, Larry and Gail McClung, live nearby.  They took me to their home for a wonderful dinner, then back to the airport for the flight to Santa Barbara, California.

Friday I said good-bye again, this time to my 22-year-old son, Michael.  He flew to Japan, where he will spend his senior college year studying Japanese.  Please keep him in your prayers that he will be safe and find a church where he can worship. 

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Panning for more Gold
---- preacher's articles this issue

Forsake Not the Assembly
by: Paul McClung

I can understand why people will quit a social or civic club, or even a fraternal order, but I find it difficult to understand why a person will quit the church of the Lord.  If you inquire of the church quitter, he will always give you an excuse, but I am convinced that in most instances, it is only an excuse.  He may blame it on the church or some particular person in the church, but this is not the real reason.  The real reason is that his faith has grown weak.

I realize that attendance does not make a Christian, but I challenge you to find a person who is not providentially hindered who ever demonstrates more than a token of Christianity in any other respect. I know a number of shut-ins who read and study their Bibles much at home, but I don't recall ever meeting a person who just willfully or careless forsook public Bible study and worship who ever read or studied his Bible much at home.  I know of members, who, when they are absent because of sickness or being out of town, always send their contribution to church or make it up when they return, but I can count on one hand the number of members who just forsake the assembly and then give to the Lord when they are absent.

I know of members who work on Sunday who will volunteer to do church work which they can do at home or at some other time than Sunday, but I have never been approached by a member who just "lays out on Sunday" to volunteer to do church work.  When a man forsakes the public assembly for worship, he usually begins to let up in every other active work of Christianity. 

This bulletin will go into the homes of members of the church who are guilty of "forsaking the assembly" (Heb. 10:25).  It is not my place to say if you can miss one service or two or ten or one-hundred and still go to heaven.  It is my place to exhort and warn you of the danger and possibility of falling away from the living God (Heb. 3:12, 13).  You cannt absent yourself from God's family and stay emotionally attached to the people of God.  You cannot have a steady literary diet of newspapers, textbooks, stock market reports, and magazines and never study God's Word and sustain your faith.  You cannot fraternize all the time with worldly people and expect to grow stronger in the faith.  You cannot fail to exercise your spiritual qualities without growing spiritually weak.  Do not forsake the assembly.

Paul McClung is a retired minister and an elder at the 4th and Stewart Church of Christ in Brownwood, Texas. 

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Which "Demas" Are You?
by: Edd Sterchi

A study of Demas is an interesting one. Here we have a man who is a Christian. He is only mentioned three times in the New Testament, and sadly when you look at them in chronological order, you will see a story of apostasy.

In Philemon 1:24, Demas is called a "fellow worker."  Not long after that, Paul mentions Demas and Luke in Colossians 4:14, where Luke is called "beloved" but nothing is said of Demas. He is mentioned by name only. He is still among the number of disciples, but nothing else is said of him good or bad. By the time Paul writes His second letter to Timothy, Demas has forsaken his Christianity and gone back to the world (2 Timothy 4:10).

Demas' life, as mentioned in the Scriptures, reveals to us the three types of Christians: those who are actively working for the Lord, those who are just here and that's all, and those who have fallen away.  Which "Demas" are you? Are you the Demas who is doing, the Demas who is dawdling, or the Demas who is dying?
Edd Sterchi is the minister of the Church of Christ that meets in Harrisburg, Illinois.    His email is sterchi@midwest.net

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by: Jay Kelly

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. I Peter 5:1-4.

Sometimes we forget that a lot of scripture falls into the reminder category for many of those to whom it was first written. Paul, and I am sure the others who planted and watered churches, taught them about elders and their particular work.

But, as we are human, we need to be reminded from time to time. Shepherding the flock is hard and time-consuming work. It can often seem like a thankless task and drudgery. That is when we need to be reminded of not only the work, but also the reward.

The Chief Shepherd is, of course, Jesus, and I believe Peter is making an allusion to the ideal of elders being the most Christ-like men among us.  It is common for Godly men to see their faults more than those around them if for no other reason than they are constantly comparing themselves to Jesus.

Peter reminds our elders that he is an elder as well and counts it a worthy occupation, though he is also an apostle. He does not claim apostleship and therefore superiority, but rather equality in purpose and superiority only in experience.

Peter is not giving us the qualifications of elders as much as he is reminding those who are elders, and those of us who aren't, of the nature of our shepherds. It is just as easy for those who are not elders to forget they work for the Chief Shepherd in watching for our souls.

If we rebel against that, what will the Chief Shepherd think?

Jay Kelley is the evangelist for the church of Christ in Colby, Kan. His e-mail is jkelley@nwkansas.com

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Building Upon the Rock Foundation (Matthew 7:24-27)
by: Mel Martin

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus relates a lesson about two houses, which for all practical purposes are the same.  The point of difference in Jesus' lesson is not found in the house or the elements that beat upon the house, but in what happened to the houses and why. 

What is the house?  The house is what constitutes the life of man.  It is man's morals, heart, ambitions, seat of reason and conviction, and all that constitutes the life of man.  As we build our house, our life may not seem all that much different from that of our neighbors, for both the joys and the sorrows of life fall upon the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  Both the wise and the foolish must deal with the natural affairs of the world.  Because of this, we might reason that we are no different from the pagan.  Yet, if our house is built upon the rock, we will find that when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds beat upon our house, it will stand. 

The fool is he who does not discern that the sand, though presently peaceful, is not a permanent and sure foundation of life.  To be wise, we must build our life upon the sure and solid foundation of Jesus. What does it mean to build our house upon the rock?  Jesus begins this parable by saying, "Therefore whosoever heareth these
sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock."  Building our house upon the rock, then, means hearing and doing the will of God.  It is obedience.  Obedience is doing WHAT God says.  Obedience is doing ONLY what God says.  Obedience is doing ONLY what God says and ONLY in the way God says to do it.  Obedience is doing ALL that God says.

Mel Martin preaches for the Lincoln & Tunnell Church of Christ in Santa Maria, California.

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

The Door

"I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and
shall go in and out and find pasture."  John 10:9

We go IN for salvation;
We go OUT to save others.
We go IN to gain comfort;
We go OUT to give comfort.
We go IN to commune;
We go OUT to communicate.
We go IN to wait on God;
We go OUT to walk with God.
We go IN for out spiritual bread;
We go OUT to break the bread of life to others.
We go IN for strength;
We go OUT to serve.

Author Unknown

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Why Do You Go?

Some go to church to take a walk.
Some go to church to laugh and talk.
Some go to church to meet a friend.
Some go there their time to spend.
Some go there to meet each other.
Some go there a fault to cove.
Some go there for speculation.
Some go there for observation.
Some go there to doze and nod.
The wise go there to worship God.

Author Unknown

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Gold Mines
----quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs this issue

Christ is the Sun of Righteousness.  Christians are as moons reflecting His light.  When we let the world come between us and Christ, there is a total eclipse.

God never asks about our ability or inability-just our availability.

The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not
a right.

The Bible is ALL true, or it is not true at all.

The heart is an organ; keep it in tune with Jesus.

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