BulletinGold #54 
June 5, 2005   Vol 5 #4

Editor's Remarks
----by David Bragg

Welcome to the 54th issue of BulletinGold, but only our third as co-editors.  Each month a number of items are submitted to us for consideration in assembling the monthly publications.  All of these are individually read and carefully filed for possible future use.  To insure that BulletinGold best serves your needs, allow me to briefly
share our vision for future issues with you.  

Like Donna before us (who created and edited BulletinGold for four years), our primary goal is to publish material that is true to God's
Word.  After carefully reading each submission to BulletinGold since mid-March I have yet to see anything questionable.  Still, we will be vigilant to share only what is first true to God's Word.  While only a handful of articles are published each month, the competition is stiff among the many articles on hand.  We prefer the shorter articles that would fit on the front of an average bulletin (as I envision it). Some articles, although good in content, have been passed over because of their extended length.

A secondary goal is to expand BulletinGold to include more little "filler" items (small brief inserts we call "nuggets") to assist those who are looking for quick help with their bulletin.  These have proven more difficult to come by, and you are encouraged to pass along helpful items that have helped you so that others may benefit from your find.

Our final goal is to most effectively serve those who subscribe to BulletinGold.  We hope to receive your articles, poems, and bulletin "fillers," along with any comments and suggestions on how to improve BulletinGold.  You will find the appropriate e-mail addresses you will need to use to submit such items.  We greatly appreciate each of you.

David Bragg, co-editor

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

The Christian and the World
by: Edd Stercjo

Do you know what you look like when you dress like the world?  The world.

Do you know what you sound like when you speak like the world?  The world.

Do you know what you "smell" like when you commune with the world? The world.

Do you know what you become like when you act like the world?  The world.

Note the following combined verses from the Bible concerning the Christian's relationship to the world and worldly things, and consider the way you dress, speak, associate, and act:

"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God...Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him...And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever...For whatever is born of God overcomes the world...But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world...Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:...to keep oneself unspotted from the world...that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as
lights in the world."

- Edd Sterchi is the minister of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, Illinois.  The congregation's website address is www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

(Verses in order of wording above: Jas. 4:4; 1 John 2:15, 17; 1 John
5:4; Gal. 6:14; Jas. 1:27; Phil. 2:15)

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Giving Blood
by: Kevin Rayner

A little boy was told by his doctor that he could save his sister's life by giving her some blood. The six-year-old girl was near death, a victim of disease from which the boy had made a marvelous recovery two years earlier. Her only chance for restoration was a blood transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the illness. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Johnny, would you like to give your blood for Mary?" the doctor asked.

The boy hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled, and said, "Sure, Doc. I'll give my blood for my sister." 

Soon the two children were wheeled into the operating room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and the picture of health. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.

As his blood siphoned into Mary's veins, one could almost see new life come into her tired body. The ordeal was almost over when Johnny's brave little voice broke the silence, "Say Doc, when do I die?" It was only then that the doctor realized what the moment of hesitation, the trembling of the lip, had meant earlier. Little Johnny
actually thought that in giving his blood to his sister he was giving up his life! And in that brief moment, he had made his great decision!

-- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Oak Tree church of Christ in Rochester, MN.  He may be contacted at http://www.geocities.com/otchurch 

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Houdini's Hardship
by: David A. Sargent and Allan Eldridge

Harry Houdini, the great escape artist, bragged that there wasn't a prison cell that could contain him for more than thirty minutes. It has been said that a certain town built a new prison cell and invited Houdini to come and see if he could escape from it. Houdini accepted the challenge. He entered the cell, closed the door, pulled the
curtain, and began to try to use his remarkable skills to get out of the jail. Thirty minutes later, the curtain was drawn, and there on a cot sat a dejected Houdini.  He had tried every trick he could think of but still - he was unable to escape!

The jailer walked to the cell, and without a key, simply opened the cell door... - It had been UNLOCKED the whole time! - "Houdini's hardship" illustrates the serious problem that each of us has due to SIN.  By our OWN choosing, we imprison ourselves within the confines of SIN. We sin by breaking the law of God (1 John 3:4) and by failing to do what He wants (James 4:17). And, "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34).  Then, despite our best efforts, we - like Houdini - are unable to free ourselves from the prison of SIN. Understanding the dilemma of sin, the Apostle Paul cried, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me?" (Romans 7:24). Then Paul answered his own question: "I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25).  We find ourselves caught in SIN, a prisoner of our OWN
device. We struggle in so many different ways to get out on our own, but despite our best efforts, we are unable to break free from the sin that has enslaved us. And like Houdini, many simply GIVE UP - resigned to their hopeless condition. But there is GOOD NEWS! The door has been UNLOCKED for us by God's own Son - by the blood that He shed on the cross!

On the cross, Jesus paid the price to set us free from SIN. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).  All that is required to be freed from the bondage of SIN: is a response of submissive, obedient faith to what Jesus has done for us. Those who place their faith in Jesus (Acts 16:31), repent of their sins (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38) are set free from sin - they have passed through the "door" that Jesus has UNLOCKED for them!

Christ died to set us free, but NOT free to have our OWN way or to indulge our selfish desires. That would lead us right back into bondage! Listen to the Apostle Paul: "What shall we say then? Shall we CONTINUE in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who DIED to sin LIVE any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were BAPTIZED INTO Christ Jesus were BAPTIZED INTO His death?" (Romans 6:1-3). As long as we CONTINUE to follow after Jesus, He will keep us free from SIN.  Imprisoned by sin? DON'T try to be an escape
artist! Follow Jesus; He will set you free.

-- David A. Sargent is a minister with the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama. Archived issues of "Living Water" can be viewed and accessed at: www.creekwoodcc.org

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Where Your Treasure Is
by: Rick Woodall

In these life thoughts I often find myself reflecting back to the past. Looking back at the long ago is a remarkable thing. The previous can teach us many lessons. The former has molded us with its joys and merits. It has scolded us with its scars and sadness. Needless to say, all these previous memories make all of us unique and different.

It would be a boring world if all of us were the same. It is wonderful to see people unite with the Lord by putting on His name, by being obedient to the Gospel message. Jesus can do so much through the human heart. I try to imagine what this world would be like without a Savior. We would all be so disoriented and miserable.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do that may inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said unto him, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my
youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. - Mark 10:17-22

Thinking back at all the different possessions my parents gave me the greatest gift was love. It just goes to show if that is the important thing then everything else will fall into place. My gift reminds me that material things have a way of collapsing, fading or rusting. When we stand before God face-to-face and heart to heart, the real remedy for a happy life will finally be reality. The truth is this: the reality was already experienced in the hearts of people who knew where their treasure was. It is now continued though eternity.

-- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Milan church of Christ in Milan, Michigan.  His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be heard on the World Wide Web at this address: http://www.milanchurchofchrist.org/page3

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How's That Again?
by: Ron Bartanen

   A question that was asked Miss Alabama in 1994 at the Miss USA contest was: "If you could live forever, would you? and why?"  Her reply was: "I would not live forever because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever."
   I gather from what she said that she does not desire to live forever, although I'm not certain why that would be her choice. Anyway, I believe she would be in a minority with that decision.  At least that should be the desire of any who would desire to live in continual bliss, without pain, sorrow and death.  John the Revelator, given a vision of that eternal state in his viewing of the heavenly Jerusalem, wrote, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor drying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away"
(Rev. 21:4).  Some would dismiss this as just so much wishful thinking.  All who believe the Scriptures, however, have the assurance that "these words are true and faithful" (Rev. 21:5).
   Our hope is in Jesus Christ, "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).   It is something to be desired and sought.  God has established that eternal life is "in his Son" (1 John 5:11).
   Those who have put their faith in God's Son, through the commitment of repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38), have entered into "newness of life" (Rom. 6:3-4).  These have the assurance, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
   How would you answer the question: "If you could live forever, would you? and why?"

-- Ron Bartanen is the minister of the Arthur church of Christ in Arthur, IL.

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Serving as a Priest
by: Lawrence Barr

    Many people today believe they can't do anything without a priest, or whatever name they may call him. But the Bible truth is that you do not need any priest here on earth. Only those who do not know the Lord Jesus need a priest. I'll try to explain that, so hang on! Peter the son of Jonah, one of the apostles of Jesus, said to some
ordinary Christians, "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5, NIV)
    He also says almost the same thing in verse 9! So if I, a Christian, am a priest, why do I need some other human being here on earth to be my priest? In the Bible there are no special qualifications given for someone who can baptize, give the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) or hear our confession of sins and pray for us.
    "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (1 Timothy 2:5, NIV). That means no one else is our mediator. No human being is needed to intercede for us.
    But the person who is not a Christian needs a Christian who is a priest to tell him/her about Jesus. Christian, are you offering your sacrifice (Romans 12:1)?
Why do people who are free as we are in our country allow themselves to be kept under authorities who have set themselves up in their positions of authority? Jesus is the one who has all authority (Matthew 28:18).

-- Lawrence Barr is the minister for the Indiana Church of Christ.  He may be contacted at indianacoc@winbeam.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
----misc. goodies this issue

James A Garfield
   When James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College in Ohio he was approached by the father of a prospective student.

   "Can't you simplify the course?" the father inquired.  "My boy wants to get through by the shorter route."

   "I can arrange for that," answered Garfield.  "It all depends on what you want to make of him.  When God wants to make a mighty oak, He takes a hundred years.  When He wants to make a squash, He requires only two months."

-- Via The Sower, Arthur church of Christ in Arthur, IL.

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Written in Sand and Stone

Two friends were walking through the desert and got into an argument.  One friend slapped the other one in the face.  The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "Today my best friend slapped me in the face."
They kept walking until they found an oasis.  Thirsty, they stopped for water.  The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire, fell in, and started drowning.  His friend saved him.
That evening, he carved in a stone, "Today my best friend saved my life."
The friend who had slapped and then saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, but now you write on a stone.  Why?"
He replied, "When someone hurts us we should write it in sand where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away.  But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where it will long be remembered."
Learn to write hurts in sand and carve benefits in stone.  Someone observed that it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire lifetime to forget them.

-- Selected; Via the Harrisburg Church of Christ, Harrisburg, IL

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Self Examination

     Here are some suggestions for a spiritual examination (1 Cor. 11:28 and James 1:23):

1. Am I so CRITICAL that I see only a person's failures and not his/her good points?
2. Am I so CHILDISH that people must handle me gently lest I be offended?
3. Am I MATURE ENOUGH to handle hurts and disappointments without feeling mistreated and making everyone else miserable?
4. Do I HURT people while boasting, "I believe in saying what I think."
5. Can I be completely TRUSTED with confidential information?
6. Am I guilty of making SARCASTIC REMARKS about the success of others?
7. Am I big enough to admit when I am wrong, or do I seek to excuse myself by BLAMING OTHERS?
8. Do I excuse my sins while self-righteously CONDEMNING OTHERS?
9. Are others LIFTED, UPLIFTED AND ENCOURAGED through their association with me?
10. Do I follow after peace or do my words and actions PROMOTE LIFE?   

--Via The Words of Truth, published by the church of Christ in Metropolis, IL

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Seven Wonders of the World
by: Kenneth E. Thomas

To See: Oh what a wonderful gift!
To Hear: This is wonderful too!
To Touch: The soft hand of a child,
will melt one's heart that's for true!
To Taste: Brings sweet sensations!
To Feel: That's indescribable joy!
To Laugh: Something only humans do;
To Love: That dear girl or dear boy!
God gave us humans these senses,
so let's use them as we should do!
Let's not misuse these good senses;
Use to the glory of Him who is true!
(Philippians 4:8-9; Colossians 4:6)

- Submitted by Morris Bowers of the Westview church of Christ in Athens, AL. He may be contacted through his website at http://christiansRus.blogspot.com

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A Pebble
by: James W. Foley

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You've disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there's gladness still a-swelling, and there's joy circling yet,
And you've rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

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The Weaver

My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

- Author unknown; via The Sower, Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL)

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Do it Now
by: 10

If you're got a job to do,
Do it now!
If it's one you wish were through,
Do it now!
If you're sure the job's your own,
Do not hem and haw and groan-
Do it now!
Don't put off a bit of work.
It doesn't pay to shirk,
Do it now!
If you want to fill a place
And be useful to the race,
Just get up and take a brace-
Do it now!
Don't linger by the way,
Do it now!
You'll lose if you delay,
Do it now!
If the other fellows wait,
Or postpone until it's late,
You hit up a faster gait-
Do it Now!

-- Author Unknown; via Ruth Patterson, who attends the Hinesville church of Christ in Hinesville GA

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At the End of the Day
by: John Hall
Is anyone happier
Because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember
That you spoke to him today?
The day is almost over,
And its toiling time is through;
Is there anyone to utter now
A kindly word of you?

Can you say tonight,
In parting with the day that's slipping fast,
That you helped a single brother
Of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing
Over what you did or said;
Does the man whose hopes were fading,
Now with courage look ahead?

Did you waste the day or lose it,
Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness,
Or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber,
Do you think that God will say:
"You have earned one more tomorrow
By the work you did today."

                  - John Hall

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