BulletinGold #56
August 7, 2005   Vol 5 #6
 

Editor's Remarks
----by David Bragg

As co-editors of BulletinGold, Ed and I are thankful for every writer and item contributed for consideration in assembling each monthly issue.  This issue reflects the practical nature of so many of these excellent articles as the subject of Divine holiness and Christian purity is ably addressed.  Every believer, in their personal struggle with temptation and sin, will find hope and encouragement in the redemptive promise discussed in most of the entries of this month’s issue of BulletinGold.

Please keep Donna Richmond, the founding editor of BulletinGold, in your prayers during this time of transition as she moves from California to Texas and returns to the classroom.  Many of you have expressed appreciation for BulletinGold, the credit goes to the vision and dedication of Donna.  We all wish her the very best.

David Bragg, co-editor

PS - Just a note regarding my personal website address is now www.davidbragg.org    

  You are invited to visit this site to learn more about my most recent book, Memoirs of a Martyr, a study of the life and letters of Simon Peter.

__________________________via BulletinGold

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

Lordship
by: Lance Cordle

 

I believe the average person has a hard time grasping the scope of the term “lord.” After all, we live in the “land of the free; the home of the brave.” We choose the place we will live and the type of car we drive. We are subject to certain laws, but by and large, we are free. We may be aware of the dictionary definition of “lord,” (a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due”—Merriam-Webster), but we do not really encounter it outside religion.

When God revealed his will to us in the New Testament,  he used a word  for “lord” that  was  already in use in the public domain. It had reference to a ruler who had authority over others by possession of title, land, or the persons themselves. Throughout history, “lord” has carried with it the idea of obedience on the part  of those under the lord. During medieval times, people understood lords to be holders of land and rulers over those who were “lesser” by birth and social class. Now, with so much emphasis on personal freedom, it seems that the implications of “lord” are lost on the average American. (Partly because of a general disdain for history, they have no frame of reference.) They are “free” and “don’t have to answer to anybody.” They don’t see obedience to most laws as an infringement upon their freedom (at least, not yet). My point is  this:  when  God  spoke of “Lord”  in  the  New  Testament, the people knew what that implied because they were familiar with the concept. Now, however, some people resent even the demands of God because they  recognize only one complete authority: themselves.

American church-goers of all affiliations are confounding theologians in one major area: they want to “come to God” on their own terms. People want to be seen as “Christian,” (and really, any other religion they find appealing), but want only minimum indoctrination—a sort of “give-me-the-old-time-name, but-not-the-old-time-religion!” This, of course, is an oxymoronic state of affairs—you cannot sincerely call Jesus “Lord” and refuse to serve him. But, oh how men try!

This very circumstance is the reason for the multiplicity of religious bodies throughout America and the world. A serious study of the implications of “lordship” in the light of the New Testament would help all of us  see the gravity of the confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). No wonder, then, the burning question of Jesus, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”      

-- Lance Cordle preaches for the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  

__________________________via BulletinGold

Life Happens
by: Mitchell Skelton

 

    Life is never easy. Life on this earth will introduce you to a myriad of emotions. In the course of one day, we can experience boredom and excitement, elation and desolation, life and death. Whether your outlook on life is positive or negative, life is filled with diversity. Just when we think we have it figured out and know what to expect, life happens. The past few days in my life is a good example of the range of emotions life will throw your way. Tuesday found me conducting the funeral of a young Christian woman who died of cancer; Thursday dawned with the birth of a daughter to a good friend and fellow gospel preacher; Saturday ended with joining a young couple in holy matrimony. Contemplating this whirlwind of events, I could not help but think that there must be a learning opportunity here.

    A humanist would simply say that I had just witnessed the "circle of life." One life ends while another begins with some living in between. This "circle" idea may seem all neat and orderly, it may fit perfectly into the secular world, yet it fails to address the needs of man who is created "in the image of God." The essence of being created in the image of God is that we have an eternal soul. Instead of the "circle of life," we more aptly resemble an infinite line. Sure, we have a definite point of origin but when it comes to our soul there is no end.

    How we live while on earth and our response to the cross of Christ will determine where we spend the majority of our existence. Job summed up human existence by saying, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). Job was beginning to understand that life on this earth is insignificant when viewed in light of eternity. This life we are experiencing is only a tiny portion of our whole existence. Job seemed to understand this as he said, "If a man dies, will he live again. . . I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made" (Job 14:14-15).

    Let us not get so caught up in the happenings of life that we forget why we are here. We are the only one's who can let life get in the way of salvation. God has promised that no matter what happens in your life it will not stand in the way of your salvation unless you allow it. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38—39).

    --Mitchell Skelton preaches for the Midway church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website at www.TheLordsWay.com/Midway 

__________________________via BulletinGold

Are Your Hands Clean?
by: Todd Clippard

    Pontius Pilate is the most famous hand-washer in all of human history. Despite warnings from his wife that Jesus was innocent (Matt 27:19), and his firm belief in the same following an examination of Jesus (Luke 23:4, 14, 22), Pilate delivered the Son of God and Savior of man to be crucified (Matt 27:26). Before so doing, Matthew records, "he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it" (Matt 27:25).  

    Why did he do it? How could he do it? How could he knowingly send an innocent man to such a horrible death? The Bible gives us a couple of glimpses into the psyche of Pilate. In Mark 15:15, the Bible says that Pilate, "willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified." John records Pilate's concern regarding his standing before Caesar should he release a man who claimed to be a king (John 19:12-13). So, in a feeble (not to mention vain) attempt to absolve himself of any wrong or guilt, he conducted his now-famous hand washing scheme.  

    As we noted, Pilate's action in no way freed him from any wrongdoing or guilt in the matter of Jesus. All the soap and water in the world couldn't do that, for the prophet Jeremiah wrote, "For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD" (Jer 2:22 NKJV). The wise man wrote: "Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin"? (Prov 20:9 NKJV). Simply stated, man has no remedy for his sin. Ezekiel was also a man concerned about bloody or guilty hands. In Ezekiel 3:18, the Lord said, "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" NKJV. A similar warning is given in verse 20 concerning the righteous man who forsakes the way of God. However, in verses 19 and 21, when the watchman faithfully delivers God's warning, it is said of him, "you will have delivered your soul." One might accurately say, 'his hands will be clean, free from guilt.'  

    The Lord alone can cleanse a man's hands of sin. Only a man in a proper relationship with God can "lift up holy (clean) hands without wrath or doubting" (1 Tim 2:8). In James 4:8, the inspired writer penned, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded." The only way to draw nigh unto God is through the blood of Jesus Christ: "But now in Christ Jesus ye who were sometimes afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:13).  

    So many today are as the Jews of Paul's day, going about to establish their own means of righteousness, and in so doing have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God (Rom 10:1-3). Nothing we can do can cleanse our sins. No amount of good deeds. Nothing. Only through the obedience of faith can we trust in God to cleanse us of our sins. To the Colossians, Paul described baptism as the means by which we receive "the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (2:11). In baptism there must be faith "in the operation of God" who raised Jesus from the dead (v 12). "Operation" is from the Greek energeia, meaning "a working." Thus, God does something to the believer at the point of baptism! Peter described our obedience through baptism as "an appeal to God for a pure conscience" (1 Peter 3:21). It is an appeal to God to "cleanse our hands" (cf Ps 51:7).  And by walking in the light, God continually keeps our hands free from guilt by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7).  

    So, how clean are your hands? 

Todd Clippard preaches for the Burleson Church of Christ outside of Hamilton, Alabama.  He may be contacted at toddrow@ala.nu 

__________________________via BulletinGold

Wash!
by: David A. Sargent

 

    In 1818, Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis was born into a world of dying women. The  finest hospitals lost one out of six young mothers to the scourge of "childbed fever."  A doctor’s daily routine began in the dissecting room where he performed autopsies. From there he made his way to the hospital to examine expectant mothers without ever pausing to wash his hands. Dr. Semmelweis was the first man in history to associate such examinations with the resultant infection and death. His own practice was to wash with a chlorine solution, and after eleven years and the delivery of 8,537 babies, he lost only 184 mothers-about one in fifty. He spent the vigor of his life lecturing and debating with his colleagues. Once he argued, "Puerperal fever is caused by decomposed material, conveyed to a wound …  I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proved all that I have said. But while we talk, talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I am not asking anything world-shaking.  I am asking you only to wash … For God’s sake, wash your hands!" But virtually no one believed him...  Doctors and midwives had been delivering babies for thousands of years without washing, and no outspoken Hungarian was going to change them now! Semmelweis died insane at the age of 47, his wash basins discarded, his colleagues laughing in his face, and the death rattle of a thousand women ringing in his ears. "Wash me!" was the anguished prayer of King David (Psalm 51:2).  "Unless I wash you, you have NO part with me," said the towel-draped Jesus to Peter (John 13:8)* Without our being washed clean, we ALL die from the contamination of SIN. The ONLY thing powerful enough to wash away our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ, for He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28).  He has promised to wash way our sins when we believe in Him (Acts 16:31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in His name (Acts 2:38; 22:16).  He will CONTINUE to cleanse us from our sins as we CONTINUE to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7). 'And now why are YOU waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' (Acts 22:16 NKJV)  Our SIN condition is 100% fatal.   For your OWN sake, wash!  

-- David A. Sargent is a minister of the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama.  You may visit their website at: www.creekwoodcc.org

__________________________via BulletinGold

A Real Goal
by: Rick Woodall

 

    This past week gave me the opportunity to reflect back on the past as we took some time to visit family and just relax in the mountains of George Washington National Forest. Sometimes it’s good to get away from the busy roads and population and just spend a few days listening to the wildlife celebrating spring. On these thousands of acres of authentic wilderness untouched by developers and bull dozers the land remains preserved for future generations. The rock cliffs and mountains reach to the sky with powerful splendor. The bear and deer run free on hundreds of miles of rough country that can only been seen by the human eye on foot or horseback.

    Visiting relatives over Decoration Day is also a time to reflect as we visit the family grave makers and remember happy times with all those who have gone on before us. My gift reminds me that remembering where we came from helps us understand who we are today. It was Jesus who commanded in Matthew 19:19: “Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

    Life sure gets busy. Life should never get so busy that we never take the time needed to show respect and love for those who snuggled us in their arms and held their hands out as we took our first steps. Life should never get so busy nor should we allow anyone to make our lives so demanding that we permit those closest to us to go unloved or unattended.
Rest certain that I receive great encouragement from my parents to preach the Gospel. But know this. Sometimes just like the mountain calls, Mommas long for a hug and Dads long to see their sons or daughters. After all, this is a reasonable motive to keep us all revived and in good sense of worth.

    The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice./ -Proverbs 23:24-25

    I believe with all my heart that people who are insensitive to the years of sacrifice and pain of being away from their families will never understand what it will be like to be in Heaven.


   The Mountain View is in my mind. Mom’s hugs and Dad’s eyes are with me in memory. Reunion day in Heaven is more than a dream. It’s a real goal that I refuse to miss.

    -- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Milan Church of Christ in Milan Michigan.  You may visit their web page at:
http://www.milanchurchofchrist.org 

__________________________via BulletinGold

A Covenant of Purity
by: Bryan McAlister

 

    “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?”
    How deeply forged is the covenant of purity in your life? Job determined his eyes were in a holy relationship with God, just as his entire life was to be revered as the same. Recall again the words of Peter, as in I Peter 1:13, where he implored those who would live holy before God, to “gird up the loins of your mind” to prepare their minds to battle against those things which are of temptation. We must first set it in our minds to be holy before our God. Let us not be deceived, we cannot for a moment, look upon sin and not be affected by sin (I Corinthians 5:6). A covenant must be made with our entire body, beginning with our minds, to avoid sin and keep our relationship with God pure.
Have you made a covenant with ears, not to listen to anything harmful? The Proverb writer set the advice for all men to apply their, “ears to words of knowledge (Proverbs 23:12).” We have a choice in our lives as to what we will and will not listen to. Paul warned about itching ears, which seek out words to satisfy the mind, but are based in man’s reasoning (II Timothy 4:3-4). Consequently those who are to have sound judgment (parents) have the authority and the responsibility to monitor what is being listened to by the family both collectively and privately. An end should be put to our willingness to listen to the sounds of unrighteousness and turn our ears toward the words of life (Matthew 13:9).
    Where are you willing to allow yourself to go? Job (9:30) was aware of the omniscience and omnipresence of God as is made evidence by his words, “Does He not see my ways and count all my steps?” Regardless of how often we tell ourselves, or how fervently we try to believe otherwise, God is fully aware of our actions and intentions, both private and public. It was this knowledge, which prompted David to avoid standing in the path of sinners (Psalm 1:1). Do we determine in our minds to avoid going to places we know God’s righteousness is not held in awe? In your life, regardless of how tempting or powerful the draw may seem, set your mind upon the covenant of purity, to keep your way right and true in the presence of God.
    Issues of purity have always been part of the people of God. Israel was reminded they were a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Moses told them they were a holy people to God (Deuteronomy 14:2, 21). Christians are no different. We too have been given the distinction of being a royal priesthood and a holy nation (I Peter 2:9). We have been called the elect of God (Colossians 3:12). Such names of honor call for, yea demand our purity before God. With no doubt, God will see our purity before Him, and reward accordingly.
    -- Bryan McAlister is the minister of the Jackson church of Christ in Jackson, Missouri.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website, www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com 

__________________________via BulletinGold

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

Living Expectantly
by: Ron Bartanen

 

        Have you ever heard the tale of old Shep? Near where our daughter and family live in Montana, overlooking the Missouri River and the Great Northern Railroad, is a monument erected to pay tribute to old Shep, a collie dog that had belonged to an old shepherd.  Wherever the man went Shep was  always at  his  side.   

        Then  in  1936  Shep's master died.  Shep accompanied him the final time when men took his body to the train station, from whence it would be shipped back East for burial.  Shep tried to board the train with his master, but was put off.  As the train pulled from the station, Shep followed as far as he could.  Losing sight of the train, he returned to the station where he dug a spot under the depot, from which he would keep vigil for the return of his master.  Through six cold, snowy Montana winters and five springs he would expectantly greet the arrival of each train, looking for his master'' return.  In January, 1942, a train struck the old dog, killing him.  Railroaders who had befriended and fed the dog buried him on a bluff, and the monument was erected in his memory.  

        Are we, as Christians, as faithful as was old Shep as we look for the return of our Master? Unlike Shep, our Master will return.  When God's table of time is completed, "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:37).  Though years pass, we are "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 3:13).  The question is:  ARE YOU READY?  

-- Ron Bartanen, minister, Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  

__________________________via BulletinGold

Control
by: Ron Adams

 

          Every time a catastrophic storm hits, we are once again reminded that we have no control over the weather. Experts can forecast, inhabitants can be warned, and people can prepare, but no one can stop or control a storm. Our power to control external forces is practically non existent. This includes the actions of others. We have no control over what others think and do. However, we have complete control over how we think, act, and react.

          The Apostles, after being beaten for speaking in the name of Jesus, "... went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." (Acts 5:41-42) They had full control over how they reacted.

          Paul and Silas were in chains in the inner prison in Philippi with their feet fastened in stocks, "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God." (Acts 16:25). They were confined--but in heart, mind, and conscience they were free.

          Remember, we will be judged, not by what others do to us, but by what we do. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10) We have full control over how we think, act, and react.  

-- Ron Adams is editor of Thursday's Thought, a weekly inspirational message.  To learn more visit:  http://thursdaythought.homestead.com     

__________________________via BulletinGold

A Minister's Bold Moment
by: Keven Rayner

 

    A rather meek looking minister arrived at the pearly gates, and was greeted by St. Peter. "Welcome to heaven!" said St. Peter. "You may go anywhere you like -- except on the pink clouds. Those are reserved only for those Christians who did something truly exceptional for their Lord." The minister was dumbfounded. "But I DID do something exceptional!" he protested. "For fifteen years every Sunday my services were disrupted by violent motorcycle gangs. I was too timid to do anything about it. Then, finally, in a holy rage, I walked out from my church in the middle of the service and kicked all their motorcycles to the ground!" "Hmm ... and just when did that take place because I don't have THAT story in my files" asked St. Peter. The minister looked at his watch. "Let me see. Well, it couldn't have been more than two minutes ago."

 

-- Kevin Rayner Oak Tree church of Christ Rochester, MN For more information: http://www.geocities.com/otchurch  

__________________________via BulletinGold

Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Thought Whispers
by: Rose Ann Noey

 

Whispers, whispers pop into my brain.

Of what kind?  And of what strain?

Some good, some bad, but 'pon which to dwell?

Do I, the evil thinking quell?

 

Whispers of evil nurtured in the heart

Get planted firmly and thus becomes a part

Of you, but these you need to toss!!

Beware!  Beware!  These thoughts have cost.

 

As man thinks, that's what he'll become -

To sin, that man becomes just numb.

Appeal to Christ the Lord for aid

To help those evil thoughts to fade.

 

Make Christ your Lord, even of your thoughts.

This is a fight worth being fought.

To Jesus' Will if you'll conform,

Your sin-sick soul He will transform.  

__________________________via BulletinGold

The Grandest Place
by: H. L. Gradowith


The floor’s not dirt, marble neither, 
Don’t reckon I’d care for either;
The wall’s not jasper, I’ve no gold,
Like my house, I’m plain, poor and old…
But I’ve a mansion up on high
In a land where I’ll never die!
Just wait until you see me then:
It’s the grandest place ever been! 

I dine not on life’s richest fare,
Folks eat better most anywhere;
I must have plenty… I’m not dead…
And just remember what I said:

I’ve got a mansion up on high
In a land where I’ll never die!
Just wait until you see me then:
It’s the grandest place ever been! 

My clothes came off the rack, you see,
They’re not the best, but fine by me;
I don’t visit with this world’s kings…
So I don’t need the finer things…
But I’ve a mansion up on high
In a land where I’ll never die!
Just wait until you see me then:
It’s the grandest place ever been! 

That’s not a “Lincoln” in my drive,
It ain’t in style, but I arrive…
My pleasures are few, comforts slight…
For a poor man I do all right…
But I’ve a mansion up on high
In a land where I’ll never die!
Just wait until you see me then:
It’s the grandest place ever been! 

While my stuff ain’t the very best,
I’m happy and count myself blest;
I’m movin’ up, just don’t know when,
I’ll eke out my living ‘til then…
And in my mansion up on high
In the land where no one will die
I’ll be as rich as any then!
It’s the grandest place ever been!  

-- If you would like to subscribe to GRADOWITH POEMS, simply send a note to gradowith@yahoo.com  with the words SUBSCRIBE POEMS in the subject line or body of message.  

__________________________via BulletinGold

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

"Happiness doesn't depend on what we have, but it does depend on how we feel toward what we have. We can be happy with little and miserable with much." - via The Encourager, Calvert City, KY

"Smile! The world looks brighter from behind a smile."   -via The Voice of Truth International

"What one does, one becomes." (Spanish proverb)

__________________________via BulletinGold

Your input regarding BulletinGold is always welcome.  Please let us know how we can better meet your needs through this valuable resource.  We also encourage you to support us by contributing your brief bulletin articles, poems, etc. to share with others.

To submit items for future issues of BulletinGold email BibleTeacher01@yahoo.com  or editor@bulletingold.com  Your email address is never shared and will remain private.