BulletinGold #58 
October 2, 2005   Vol 5 #8
 

Editor's Remarks
----by David Bragg

The events of the past few weeks have brought unprecedented heartache to so many of our fellow Americans reeling from the effects of two hurricanes striking so close in our Gulf Coast.  It has also witnessed unprecedented generosity from nearly every
quarter of our world as hearts moved by compassion have reached out to help the hurting.  Although so very unfortunate, these events have also presented the Lord's church with amazing opportunities to share God's love with others, especially the hope we enjoy through His beloved Son.

Many of the following articles perfectly illustrate the need to seize the opportunities of each moment, even the saddest moments of life.  These are shared in the hope that they will encourage, and through being further shared, instruct all who read to bring glory to God by reflecting His love through our thoughts, words and deeds.  Please continue to pray and be alert to serve those who are still suffering.

David Bragg, co-editor
www.davidbragg.org

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

Katrina
by: Ron Bartanen

     Hurricane Katrina has been called by some the greatest natural catastrophe to ever befall our nation.  The dead are yet to be counted, but it is predicted the number will be in the thousands. Thousands of survivors in the Gulf states have within a matter of hours lost their homes and practically all of their possessions. These have become virtual refugees, dependent upon the government and the good will of their fellow-citizens.  There is scarcely a person whose life has not been touched adversely by this tragedy. All of us have already been dismayed at how quickly gas prices have escalated, with no end in sight.

     Such events remind us of how dependent we are upon God.  We live in a fallen world, beset by sin.  Since Eden, all of nature itself "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22).  As we think of our world as a woman about to give birth, could we be reminded that the pains increase in both intensity and frequency as time goes on, looking for the deliverance (v. 21), the "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).  Did our Lord not remind us that we should expect "upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking
after those things which are coming on the earth." (Luke 21:25b-26a)? For the believer, however, there is no room for despondency. Jesus then  admonished the disciples, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (v. 28).  This should serve as a constant
reminder to us that whatever disasters we must face in this fallen world, a better day in the Kingdom of God awaits.

- Ron Bartanen preaches for the Arthur church of Christ in Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted at
ron33dor@one-eleven.net

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Dealing With Whatever Life Throws at You

One of the things that you can count on as you live your life are the unexpected surprises that will come your way from time to time. We all do our best to try and control what is happening in our life, but there will always be things happening to us we simply have no control over.  It is at those times in life that our faith must become real and sustain us no matter what the challenge may be.

Nobody who is reading these words today is immune from the unexpected surprises of life.  Waking up and finding your pet has run away, going out to play and getting injured, having a doctor tell you that you have a disease, coming home and finding your spouse has left, getting a call from the bank that a deposit bounced causing your checking account to be overdrawn, getting hurt by a close friend, being told your job has been eliminated, getting a phone call in the middle of the night that one of your parents has died, finding out your child is on drugs, getting rear-ended by a
careless driver, being told your credit card was declined, and the list could go on and on of unexpected surprises great and small.

You see my friend, no matter how much control we think we have over our life, that is a myth because you cannot control how other people think or act.

People make mistakes that can affect your life.  People choose to live in rebellion to God and their rebellion can affect your life. The reason we can never have total control over our life is because we can never totally control the people that are part of our life each day.  People will always fail us, people will always let us down, whether it is intentional or not.

That is why our faith is not in a man, but in THE Man....Jesus!  He is the only one that will never fail us, never let us down.  He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  It is during those difficult times in life, especially when we are faced with the unexpected, that we have to find our strength and hope in Him.  You see, through Jesus, no matter what life may throw at us we can find the strength and hope each day to battle through the problems life may bring our way.

There is no battle you are fighting today that you can't win with Jesus!!!  The key to victory is to not let the surprises of life distract you or cause you to lose focus from what God has called you to do with your life.
 
- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ, Harrisburg, IL. The congregation's website address is
www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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What's Really Important!
by: Russ Lawson

Grandkids are great, just ask any Grandparent, well maybe you better not, you might hear more than you really want to know. I digress from my main thought, but grandkid's make you do that also.

This weekend we had our 3 years plus, grandson Christopher stay with us. We started the first evening with a picnic in the family room floor. I went out to a local restaurant and picked up chicken in the rain. In fact it was because of the rain that we were having the picnic in the house. 56 years old and setting on the floor in the middle of the family room on a blanket eating chicken with a three year old, why? Because it was important! Maybe more so to us than to him, though he seemed to have a good time and he did eat.
 
After supper he and grandma went upstairs to the play area and had a tea party. He had been bugging her ever since he arrived to go have a tea party. She convinced him to wait until after supper, but when it was over he was ready, he didn't forget and didn't allow us to forget. Why? Because it was important to him as well as it is to us.
 
Now both of these events are equally important. Why? Because they are making memories and building relationships and helping us bond in ways that we wouldn't have thought possible before he came along. That's why these things are important; doing them forms relationships. At three years old, I don't expect him to realize the "why" behind what we do, but he does realize that coming to grandma and grandpa's is something he likes to do. He likes to play with us, talk to us, spend time with us, read stories with us, and play with the dog. All of these are fun things, but sometimes we have to discipline him also, that's not fun for any of us, but it is important for him to learn that there are rules and limits in life. What is important is that the discipline doesn't destroy the relationship, because he understands even when he is hurt or mad that we love him more than anything else. Surely not in those words in his young mind, but he knows just the same, that's why he loves to come to our house.

Now what is the point of all that I have just said? Well, it's pretty simple really. It is that if you don't spend time with God and his people on a regular basis, building relationships, when the bad things come along in our lives we ask, "Why are you (God) so mean to me?"

The wise king, Solomon wrote a couple of thousand years ago in the Song of Solomon 2:4, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." Granted, to our adult eyes it wasn't quite a banquet we shared, but the banner waving over our small group was one, which boldly displayed the words, "These folks love one another."

The apostle Paul tells us what is written on the banner which God displays for us today in Romans 5:8, "But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us."

So, are you taking the time to go to the trouble to build the most important relationship of all? If not, why not? And if in the end you hear the words, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," whose fault will that be?  Not God's, he's done everything in his power to build the relationship, the choice is now up to you.

- Russ Lawson serves the Greenville church of Christ, Greenville, OH.  He may be contacted at
rlawson@wclo.net

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Circle of Protection
by: Mitchell Skelton

The Musk Ox seems to have more sense than God's family at times.  When faced with danger musk oxen form a circle with their heads and horns facing outward.  In the center of this circle of protection musk oxen place their young and weak.  They gather for mutual protection rather that trying to go out on their own or running away.  We can learn a lot from the Musk Ox.  When things get tough we have a tendency to withdraw from those who care for us the most.  When trouble comes, instead of coming together to draw on our mutual strength, we stray from the pack and conjure up lame excuses to justify our actions.

We should all remember the old saying, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven."  As long as we are on this earth, Christians will make mistakes.  Sometimes these mistakes will be embarrassing, not only to the person themselves but also to the church.  Our tendency in such cases is to distance ourselves from the situation.  We leave the weak ones outside the circle of protection to fend for themselves.  Scripture tells us that we have an obligation to our brothers and sisters in spiritual need.  "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2).

Young Christians are especially vulnerable to being abandoned in their time of need.  Mature Christians should be the first to stand beside a fallen brother or sister.  We need not be afraid to admit that we too have stood where they are standing.  By doing so, we are not condoning their sin but rather we are protecting them in a time
of weakness.  We are showing them that while perfection is not in our lot as humans, maturity is. 

Jesus was not afraid to stand beside those who had fallen prey to temptation.  In the case of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stood beside her and became a one man "circle of protection."  Not once did Jesus say her actions were acceptable, yet not once did Jesus act as if she was unworthy of his presence.  On the contrary,
once the protagonists had disappeared, those who delight in the fall of another, Jesus was able to show her the way to repentance.  "Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11).

Helping God's children in their darkest time of need is as close to being Christ-like as one can get.  It was for this purpose that Jesus came to earth and it is because of our sin that he suffered death on the cross.  "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16).

Mitchell Skelton serves as the minister of the Midway church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN.  He may be contacted at
www.TheLordsWay.com/Midway

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House of Love
by: Rick Woodall

Living a life of mere existence without setting spiritual goals, is sad, to say the least. We usually focus on the things that mean the most to us. We make ourselves busy with our hobbies and leisure activities. We entertain our lives with all the pleasurable things money can buy. The fact remains that all these things wear out through the course of time.

The grand architect of life itself, designed life to be lived at a higher standard. Our toys wear out when they are gone, and it leads to regretful consequences. Taking time out in life for the pleasurable things is not in its self, wrong. It's when we store
up all those things as if our life depends on the material, and we cannot see the spiritual. Jesus teaches us with these words. 

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." -
Matthew 6:19-21

Our valued assets tell a lot about us.

Give me a house where love is, that's the best of all.
Give me a house where love is, where praises fill its halls.
Give me a house where love is, you can have all the rest.
Give me a house where love is, where all can feel real blessed.
Give me a house where love is, you can have the gold.
Give me a house where love is, this house will never be sold.
For in the house where love is hearts focus on the treasure.
In this house where love is Jesus gives us pleasure.
So, give me a house where love is, where everything is old and worn.
For in the house where love is, we are all reborn. - R.L.W.
 
- Rick Woodall is  the minister for the Milan Church of Christ in Milan Michigan.  He may be contacted through the church's website:
http://www.milanchurchofchrist.org

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The Grace of God Freely Given
by: David Ferguson


In Paul's letter to his young friend Titus, he wrote, "But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and His love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that, being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7)

We must never think of divine grace as some impersonal, abstract reality which can be defined and discussed apart from a relationship between two or more real living persons. Grace is nothing less than the undeserved mercy and kindness which the living God pours out freely on all who entrust themselves to Him as known through His Son Jesus Christ, surrendering to the Father their sins and their lives for His disposition and control.

In Jesus Christ, God reveals Himself as the Judge who possesses life-and-death power, but who is ready, even eager, to forgive those who repent. Just as in the story of the prodigal son, He is the Father who awaits our return with fresh robe, ring and fattened calf for His wandering children's return. He is the Physician who heals because He cares and loves. Jesus shows us God the Almighty who became a human infant, weak and dispossessed, to save those who have no strength themselves. He reveals God as the deity offended by our sins and transgressions of His law who, incarnate in the Messiah, embraces the offenders' guilt and then personally goes the gamut of punishment and disgrace until His body was broken and His blood poured out on a cross.

"Grace" is not a theory or just a concept. It is God-in-Christ-for- sinners. Nothing we do can earn it or create it. We can only receive it with the empty hands of faith, trusting God and relying on His promise that He has forgiven our sins and has accepted us for Jesus' sake. But when we trust the gospel promise that God receives sinners, we happily entrust ourselves to such a God - eager to seek and to know what pleases Him, ready to obey His every command.

It is through God's grace that we are saved, and in the passage to Titus above Paul explains how we receive the grace from God: We receive His grace through His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. This washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit occurs when we are baptized. This is the same message that Peter told his audience when the first gospel message was delivered on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is the same message that Ananias told Saul in Acts 22:16: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on His name." And this is the same message Paul told the congregation in Ephesus when he wrote, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it; that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Jesus calls us and seeks us to come unto Him, for He said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) We need to come
unto Him on His terms, for Jesus said, "If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) The apostle John, a constant companion of Christ throughout His ministry, wrote, "And hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, `I know Him,' and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keepeth His word, in
him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in Him: he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked." (1 John 2:3-6)

Have you followed after Christ on His terms? Have you demonstrated your love for Him by keeping His commandments? Are you ready to access the saving grace of God by having your sins washed away in the blood of His Son? Will you do as James said in James 1:22, and be a doer of the word, and not a hearer only?


- David Ferguson preaches for the Lake Land church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.

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

Stop and Enjoy Life
by: Kevin Rayner

On a plaque marking Abraham Lincoln's birth place near Hodgenville, Kentucky, is recorded this scrap of conversation: "Any news down t' the village, Ezry?"

"Well, Squire McLains's gon t' Washington t' see Madison swore in, and ol' Spellman tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most of Spain. What's new out here, neighbor?"

"Nuthin', nuthin' a'tall 'cept fer a new baby born t' Tom Lincoln's. Nothin' ever happens out here."

Some events, whether birthdays in Hodgenville (or Bethlehem) or spiritual rebirth in a person's life, may not create much earthly splash, but those of lasting importance will eventually get the notice they deserve.

- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Oak Tree church of Christ in Rochester, MN.  He can be contacted at
otchurch@hotmail.com

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Christians Are Rich
by: Unknown author

A tax assessor  came one day to a poor Christian to determine the amount of taxes he would have to  pay.  The  following conversation took place:

"What property do you possess?" asked the assessor. "I am a very wealthy man," replied the Christian. "List your possessions, please," the assessor  instructed.

The Christian said: 
"First, I have everlasting life, John 3:16
Second, I have a mansion in heaven, John 14:2
Third, I have peace that passes all understanding,  Philippians 4:7
Fourth, I have joy unspeakable, 1 Peter 1:8
Fifth, I have divine love which never fails, 1 Corinthians 13:8
Sixth, I have a faithful wife, Proverbs 31:10
Seventh, I have healthy, happy obedient children, Exodus  20:12
Eighth, I have true, loyal friends, Proverbs 18:24
Ninth, I have songs in the night, Psalms 42:8
Tenth, I have a crown of life, James 1:12"

The tax assessor closed his book, and said, "Truly you are a very rich man, but your property is not subject to taxation."

I pray that all of us will have this kind of tax free "wealth".

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100% American

In a book called 100% American, Daniel Weiss profiles the American populace using a variety of statistics, including these:

* 1% of Americans read the Bible more than once a day.
* 15% of American married men say they do most of the cooking in the
household.
* 30% of Americans smoke cigarettes.
* 42% of Americans cannot name a country near the Pacific Ocean.
* 67% of Americans believe files are being kept on them for unknown
reasons.
* 70% of Americans own running shoes but don't run.
* 84% of Americans believe heaven exists.
* 94% of American men would change something about their looks if
they could.
* 96% of American school children can identify Ronald McDonald (who
is second only to Santa Claus).
* 99% of American women would change something about their looks if
they could.

Here are some additional statistics that should drive us to our
knees:
* 100% of Americans (and everyone else) are spiritually lost until
they meet Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
* 100% of Americans need to hear the gospel (Romans 1:16).
* 100% of Americans need to worship God in spirit and truth (John
4:14).

So, where do you fit in those statistics?

- Michael Dunduit, Glad Tidings of Good Things, 3-10-05 (via THE SOWER, Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL)

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Be A Friend

Take time for friendship when you can,
The hours fly swiftly, and the need
That presses on your fellowman,
May fade away at equal speed
And you may sigh before the end,
That you have failed to play the friend.

Not all life's pride is born in fame,
Not all the joy from work is won,
Too late we hang our heads in shame,
Remembering good we could have done.
Too late we wish that we had stayed,
To comfort those who called for aid.

Take time to do the little things
Which leave the satisfactory thought,
When other joys have taken wings,
That we have labored as we ought,
That in a world where all contend,
We often stopped to be a friend.


--Author unknown

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Do not Despair
by: Anna Lee Edwards McAlpin

Do not despair,
Let not dismay
Impair your vision
For today...
Though sunny skies
Have disappeared,
While thunder sounds
And storm cloud nears;
Do not lose hope
For He abides...
A Faithful Friend,
Close at your side.

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God is never far away
by: Michael Dubina

God is never far away.
I can see Him every day:

In the caring things you do,
I can see God's love -- in you;
In the gentle words you say,
I can see His gentle way;
In your touch, I feel Him near;
In your smile, I hold Him dear;
In our children's songs and cries,
I can hear His loving sighs.

By the forest, lake and stream,
I can see His gift of dreams;
By the ocean's rhythmic roar,
I hear music He has scored;
And -- in nature's varied sights,
I can see His strength and might
That remind me -- with enthrall--
He is Master, over all.

God is never far away.
I can see Him every day.

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

"There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile." -- Anonymous
Roman poet Ovid advised, "Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be fish."
"It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to be kind to another, without helping himself." --Bailey
"A man is only as good as what he loves." (Saul Bellow, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature) -From Leadership Magazine

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