BulletinGold #63 
March 5, 2006   Vol 6 #1

----by David Bragg
An old legend tells the story of a prince with a crooked back. Despite his physical limitations he remained very proud and strong. So it was not surprising to his subjects when he called the most skilled sculptor among them and commissioned him to make a statue in the image of the prince. The instruction was clear, "Make a statue of me, but with a straight back. I would see myself as I might have been."

Upon completion the statue was presented to the pleased prince. It was so impressive many clamored for the statue to be placed at the palace gate for all to admire. The prince, however, refused and ordered it hidden in a secret part of his private garden - a place he alone could visit.

Time passed and many forgot about the magnificent statue. But the prince would visit it each day. He would stand before it and imagine what it would be like to stand straight and tall. Months became years until someone noticed the prince's back was becoming straight. He was becoming the man in the statue.

Each of the items below are asking the same, challenging question: "Am I becoming more like Jesus or more like the world?"  The Word of God is all about this vital change, or transformation, into the spiritually mature Christians God desires.

David Bragg, co-editor

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  
Showing Everyday Faith
by: Edd Sterchi

 * The respect you show God and His Word on Sundays says a lot about your faith in Him.
 * The attitude you show the world on Mondays says a lot about your faith in God.
 * How much time you spend reading your Bible and in prayer on Tuesdays says a lot about your faith in God.
 * The number of brethren you visit with on Wednesdays says a lot about your faith in God.
 * The opportunities and resources you utilize in helping the needy on Thursdays says a lot about your faith in God.
 * The amount of energy and frequency you use teaching/telling others about Jesus on Fridays says a lot about your faith in God.
 * Where you go and what you do on Saturdays says a lot about your faith in God.

Now, I realize that all of these pertain to every aspect of our Christianity every day.  I just thought it would be a way to help us realize that we are to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).  Do you sacrifice for Christ daily as Paul did (1 Cor. 15:31)?

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg , IL .  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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Stand Firm and Tall
by: Larry Meissner

The air is cool, but still, and the flag hangs limply against the pole. Nothing of consequence challenges it; nothing lifts it out of the doldrums of mere existence. The colors and shape of the fabric seem to melt into an indistinct, purposeless blob. It seems drained of energy and purpose. It looks tired and insignificant.

The people it represents, for the seeming lack of anything more important, quibble over tax rebates increases, budget surpluses and shortfalls, granting and refusing of oil drilling rights, and whether or not prayer should be offered in public. They are all discussions that will go on and on. The career of a congressman is destroyed over rumors and innuendo, not knowing and maybe not caring, about the facts.

And then the winds come.

The winds lift the flag, challenge it, attempt to destroy it, to carry it away into oblivion; and yet it remains. The red, white, and blue banner takes on shape and distinction. It stands out from the pole stiff and straight, proud and purposeful. The winds whip it, the sun bleaches it, the rain and the ice may cause it to tear, but still it remains. It flies damaged, dirty, and torn above the carnage, but proud and firmly anchored in its history, its constitution, and most solidly in its people.

And the people it represents are changed. Old concerns remain, but the perspective is different. All the people are threatened. Others want to destroy them. Rather than be defeated, they rise up, united, strong, proud. Rather than be cowed by fear, they stand firm. Prayer is offered in public without shame, without question. Many volunteer their very lives for the benefit of all – and some die. But the challenges do not destroy; the threats do not discourage. Instead, they strengthen the resolve, the nerve, the very character of the people.

When struggles come, whether for the nation, or for you individually, whether from some outside, unknown source, or from within your own family or friends, stand firm. God is still there. Your faith is still there. Your character - your values, the things that make you who you are - is still there. Use the challenges to make you, as they have this nation, stronger, taller, and more capable. Draw on the strength and compassion of others. Remain anchored in your faith, your character, and your purpose. After the storm, when the calm returns, your flag may hang limp, faded, worn and frazzled, but having survived, you will be able to retire it to a place of honored, treasured memory and replace it with a new flag of brilliant color, heavier fabric and stronger seams. You, like a new flag, will fly with greater strength, greater sense of purpose, greater confidence, greater honor, greater respect for yourself, and greater respect for and from others.

And one other thing, when your neighbor's flag is worn, tired, frayed and frazzled, help him lift it up, help him mend it and get it flying again.

- Larry Meissner preaches for the North E Street church of Christ, San Bernardino , CA .  He may be contacted at LMeissner@aol.com

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If It's Not Fed, It Won't Grow
by: Lance Cordle

Consider the following hypothetical situations:

A man selects a site on his property for a garden. He does not till the soil.  He just scatters the seed and walks away. No fertilizer is  placed with the seed; no  watering is done. The man, however, expects a large crop of vegetables. Question: Is he being realistic? Answer: No.  Principle: If it's not fed (cultivated, nourished), it won't grow (flourish).

A young man hears about a party his friends are having. He accepts an invitation and shows up—only to find that it is a poker party. Since celebrities are playing poker and it is on so many TV channels, it must be a cool way to have fun and "make a quick buck," right? The young man, however, knows that it is gambling, and is well aware of the  tragic consequences of gambling addiction. He walks away from the party, resolving not to gamble, even if it means his friends will be disappointed. He believes the risk of  addiction  is too great. —If it's not fed, it won't grow.

A man has been married for several years. He loves his wife and believes their marriage is good, but he is a little bored. At work, he spends a lot of time around a single young woman. She is attractive and personable. Most of their contact is work-related and, so far, he has kept it that way. He knows, however that she would "see him" outside of work, if he would but ask. After thinking it over, he resolves to work on his relationship with his wife, to be more attentive, and to liven up their marriage with better communication and more romance. He resists the urge to build a deeper relationship with the woman at work. —If it's not fed, it won't grow.

A young man and woman in their early twenties have dated for several months and are "serious" about each other. There is a real possibility that they will get married. They love each other and express it in verbal and non-verbal ways. However, they are Christians and have resolved to avoid fornication and save themselves sexually for marriage. Thus, they have set definite limits on their physical displays of affection. They could give into lust, like so many have chosen to do, but they don't. —If it's not fed,  it won't grow.

A man is offended by a lifelong friend. He thinks about the situation, but decides to act in good faith and talk to his friend about the problem. The friend understands, and he too, wants to do what is right. Resentment, though contemplated, does not really even begin. —If it's not fed, it won't grow.

    Is there something you are feeding that shouldn't be fed?

- Lance Cordle  preaches for the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert city, KY.  He may be contacted at Lance@calvertchurchofchrist.com

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What A Tragedy! 
by: Steve Higginbotham

On Monday, January 2, 2006 an explosion in my home state of West Virginia , possibly triggered by lightening, trapped 13 coal miners 260 feet below ground. For two days, rescue workers worked day and night in an attempt to reach the miners. Then late on Tuesday evening, it was announced that 12 of the miners were alive and only one had perished in the accident. Families embraced each other, church bells rang out in celebration, and families joined arm-in-arm singing joyous hymns. Then the unthinkable happened. Three hours after the initial announcement, another announcement was made, stating that 12 of the miners had perished and only one remained alive in critical condition.

What a tragic mistake. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this accident. As the news recounted the terrible mistake that was made, I couldn't help but think of a few spiritual applications from this tragedy. Please consider:

. The words of men are not always trustworthy. Men can intentionally and unintentionally misrepresent the truth. Consequently, truth cannot be determined by what men say, but by the word of God (Romans 3:4).
. Feelings are not trustworthy. The feelings and emotions experienced by the families of these miners upon being misinformed were just as real as the feelings and emotions they would have experienced if they had been properly informed. The point is...our feelings do not determine truth (Proverbs 28:26).
. Imagine the surprise and devastation experienced by the misinformed families. Their loss must have been intensified by being so sure everything was alright when it wasn't. All hope was taken from them and they were left with only their surprise and devastation. Likewise, how many people will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, assured in their own hearts of their own salvation, only to hear the Lord say, "Depart from me...I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23)?

As sad and tragic as this story is, it pales in comparison to the multitudes of people who will someday be surprised and devastated when they learn of their eternal destiny. Give it some thought.

A Follow-Up to A Tragedy! 
by: Steve Higginbotham

A Follow-Up To A Tragedy
By Steve Higginbotham

Earlier this week, I wrote a MercEmail article on the tragic deaths of the 12 coal miners in West Virginia .  Following that email, I received over 90 email messages  from several of our readers, offering further insights and spiritual lessons that can be observed from this event.

I'd like to share an observation from one of our readers.  A MercEmail subscriber from Reader, WV wrote to me and said...
"I heard one thing from the people that came out of that church building that night, and it was one of negativity for God.  The same person they just praised moments ago, but now they claimed he never did anything for them."

Sure enough, I watched the news last night for myself.  I witnessed the reactions of the people who were so jubilant when they thought the miners were safe.  They sang hymns of praise, they thanked God, and one person in particular spoke of "miracles."  
However, when they received the devastating news that they had been misinformed, the same lady who moments before was thanking Jesus and speaking of miracles, turned to a reporter's microphone and said, "I don't even know if there is a Lord anymore."

I understand that in moments of overwhelming pain and suffering sometimes people say and do things that are out of character, so I can certainly bear with and be longsuffering toward this lady who was hurt so badly.  But I would like to remind the rest of us that the Lord's existence doesn't depend upon our circumstances in life.  I don't ever recall the Lord promising us "heaven on earth," but I do recall him promising "heaven after earth" to those who remain faithful!

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the South Green Street Church of Christ, Glasgow , KY.   He is also the editor of the e-mail based MercEmail.  He may be contacted at shigg@glasgow-ky.com  Copyright © 2006, South Green Street Church of Christ, Glasgow , Kentucky

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Good Fear and Bad Fear
by: John Telgren

My oldest son has been reading the story, Tell Tale Heart in school.  I remember reading the same story in school.  We talked a little about the meaning behind the story.  We discussed the insane paranoia that came from deep-seated inescapable guilt in the story.  There is no peace in wickedness.

The Bible makes this very clear.  Consider this proverb carefully:

"What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted (Prov 10:24)."

This proverb paints a picture of a person consumed with guilt, fear, and paranoia.  It will be their undoing.  One example is King Ahaz.  You can read about it in 1 Chron 28:16-20 (also 1 King 16) and especially Isaiah 7.  Ahaz was a wicked king who would not trust in God.  He made a treaty with Assyria (rather than trust God) because he was afraid of Aram and Israel attacking him.  In the end, Assyria , his supposed helper, attacked him.  Truly, "what the wicked fears will come upon him."  Consider this next proverb:

"The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion (Prov 28:1)."

I remember stealing a little toy from a store when I was little.  It was an inexpensive little hot wheel.  I felt pleased with myself at first that no one noticed I took it.  When I got home with it, I found that it brought me little joy.  I couldn't really play with it for fear I would be caught with it.  Even when my friends came over, I had to keep it in hiding.  I lived in constant fear of being caught with it.  I kept trying to find new and better hiding places for it.  I hid it under the dresser, in the vent, between the mattresses, in a shoe.  Then there was that time I nearly jumped out of my skin when I was in the process of finding a new hiding place for it.  I had the hot wheel in my hand, and then I heard one of my parents walking down the hall.  I ran behind my bed ready to fling the tiny toy under my bed.  They never came in, they were just going to the restroom.

People do it all the time.  There are those who run when then hear police sirens.  There is the person who lives in fear of losing their job for fear that his lack of honesty on the job will be found out.  There is the one who lives in fear that his affair will be found out.  There are those who lie, and out of fear of being found out, they tell more lies which causes even more fear.  And the list goes on and on.  There is no lasting joy or life in wickedness, only fear.

However, there is a type of fear that is freeing.  There is a fear that brings joy and life.  It makes you as "bold as a lion."  This fear comes not from guilt and paranoia, but from love and respect.  Consider this proverb carefully:

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge (Prov 14:26)."

- John Telgren preaches for the Leavenworth church of Christ, Leavenworth , KS .  He may be contacted through the church's website: www.leavenworthcoc.com 

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

Cheerful Giving

     A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson.  She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church.  "Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl.

     Sunday, when they were coming out of the church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.

     "Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the preacher said that God loves a cheerful giver.  I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.

-Cybersalt Digest; via THE SOWER, a weekly bulletin for the Arthur church of Christ in Arthur , IL (Ron Bartanen is minister and editor).

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What Have You Learned?

"I've learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night." Age 7
"I've learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up." Age 13
"I've learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me." Age 15
"I've learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice." Age 24
"I've learned...that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it." Age 39
"I've learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know how to show it." Age 41
"I've learned that you can make someone's day by simply sending them a little card." Age 44
"I've learned that singing ‘Amazing Grace' can lift my spirits for hours." Age 49
"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights." Age 52
"I've learned that regardless of your relationship to your parents, you miss them terribly after they die." Age 53
"I've learned that making a living is not the same as making a life." Age 58
"I've learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, try to improve your marriage." Age 61
"I've learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision." Age 66
"I've learned that everyone can use a prayer." Age 72
"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one." Age 82
"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn." Age 92

—Via email

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Start Counting

I have a friend in England who is in her mid-eighties. Although she's housebound and frail, she has an attitude of gratitude every time we talk on the telephone. One of her favorite hymns has always been, "Count Your Blessings." So I was concerned when she remarked one day, "I've stopped naming my blessings one by one." But then she continued cheerfully, "My blessings are so many, I'm weighing them ton by ton!"

Our Daily Bread, via the Lantern, a weekly bulletin for the Highway church of Christ , Sullivan , IL , Ron Thomas is minister and editor.

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Why I Love The Lord

You ask me why I love the Lord,
Well, friend, just let me say...
Life wasn't worth the living,
'Till the Savior came my way.
You say I miss so much of life,
Yes, friend, praise God, I do.
I miss the sin and sorrow,
That once were all I knew.
I miss the days spent seeking joy,
The long nights full of tears.
I miss the heavy burden,
That I carried through the years.
But, friend, I wouldn't have them back,
For all that life could pay.
Life wasn't worth the living,
'Till the Savior came my way.

- Author Unknown

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Sowers of Seeds
by: Michael Dubina

Let us sow God's seeds of glory
On our roads of life:
Seeds of virtue love and comfort
That diminish strife.
Everywhere we walk or journey,
Let us sow His seeds
And be planters of the harvests
That fulfill our needs.

Some may fall on barren wasteland--
As the Scriptures warn;
Some may fall on stones of pavement;
Some among the thorns --
But the ones we sow with patience
And with Christian care,
He will grow for us to harvest
Of the fruits they bear.

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by: Rose Ann Noey

The simple Gospel - unadorned
From my Bible, old and worn,
Has explosive saving Power
To rescue me from sin's dark hour
If I'll just take Him at His Word
To do the things which I have heard.
The church so simple - unadorned,
Into that Body, I've been reborn.
Submissive to the Heavenly King,
She shows the world a Heavenly Beam.
A Perfect Bride when Truth is sought
And Truth, in fullness, is what's taught.
Our simple Worship - unadorned,
Its fashion from His Word was formed.
Submissive hearts to God we bring
When simple praise from hearts we sing.
When God's approval is in view,
What kind of worship will we do?

- Rose Ann Noey is a frequent contributor of poems to BulletinGold.  She may be contacted at enoey@mchsi.com

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

"If you would master temptation, let Christ master you" 
Spencer Johnson said, "Happiness is not having what you want, it's wanting what you have."
Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip. -- Will Rogers
"If there is anything better than being loved, it is loving."
A slip of the foot you'll soon recover, but a slip of the tongue may last forever (Old Union Reminder, via The Lantern, the weekly bulletin of the Highway church of Christ , Sullivan , IL )

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