BulletinGold #65
May 7, 2006   Vol 6 #3

----by David Bragg
More than anything else, Mark wanted to be a missionary.  He enjoyed a close association with Christianity from the beginning, plus the confidence of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:25).  But when it came to doing mission work Mark's efforts seemed to fall short (Acts 13:13).  In reality, growth results from experience, which is often unpleasant.  It involves consistently refusing to be defeated by our failures, choosing rather to build on them.  In spite of the pain of his own failure, Mark was determined to grow.

For Mark, Christian growth did not come easily.  Growing creates a greater burden of responsibility.  Hearing carries the added responsibility of living.  On the mission field Mark would feel the scrutiny of his message and life, the demands of commitment within himself, and even the pain of responsibility.  Growing requires sacrifice.   Mark’s struggle is publicly displayed in the pages of Acts.  Behind the scenes, under the watchful guidance of Barnabas, he made the necessary sacrifices and grew (Acts 15:39).  In Paul's final letter he asked for Mark saying, "he is useful to me for ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11).  Young Mark had proven that growing is worth the pain.

Each of the items that follow address the vital need of recognizing our need to grow spiritually and the encouragement to do so.  They are offered in the hope that those to whom you pass them along will find the joy of spiritual maturity as they apply the great truths of God’s Word to their own lives.

David Bragg, co-editor

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  
The Need For Perseverance
by: Boyce Edwards

In English, the word persevere means to continue steadfastly in a given task or purpose.  In Greek, the word HUPOMONE (translated in the KJV as either patience or endure) could be used to refer to a certain kind of plant persevering under hard and unfavorable conditions.  Within the context of the church we might define the word as "spiritual staying power."  Jesus once said: "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God " (Luke 9: 62).

These are strong words!  The Lord meant for them to be strong.  He is trying to impress upon our minds the thought of continuing in faithful, dedicated service, even when "The going gets tuff."  James, Stephen, and Antipas had such strong "spiritual staying power" that they gave their lives in faithful service to God (Acts 7:54-60; 12:1- 2; Revelation 2:13).

The idea of continuing steadfastly in a given task or purpose is seen in Acts 2:42, where the record says: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."  Some brethren evidently have the concept that all they have to do to receive their eternal inheritance is to "run the 50 yard dash."

They are mistaken!  The clear Bible teaching is that we must finish the Christian race.  "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (II Tim. 4:6- 8). The crown of righteousness will be given to those dedicated souls in the church who have "spiritual staying power."  They keep on fighting the good fight until the end. They keep on running until their race is run.  They keep on keeping the faith!

There will be no "spiritual drop outs" in Heaven.  There will be no Demas' in Heaven (II Timothy 4:10).  The Judas Iscariot's of today will "go to their own place" even as Judas did (Acts 1:5). The wilderness was filled with the dead, stinking carcasses of Israelites who had no "spiritual staying power." Congregations of God's people everywhere are departing farther and farther from God's truth - there is need for perseverance!  May we never be counted among those who have not the courage to persevere.  "For ye have need of patience (Gk. HUMOMONE, perseverance), that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). May we keep our hands to the plow.

-- Boyce Edwards; via BELVEDERE BEACON, the weekly bulletin for the BELVEDERE CHURCH OF CHRIST, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley, who serves as their evangelist, may be contacted at church@belvederechurchofchrist.org                               

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Making Your Life A Beautiful Picture For Christ
by: Edd Sterchi

I have recently gotten a new camera.  This is more than just your average point and shoot digital camera.  I wanted to be able to adjust the settings manually and hopefully take better pictures.

I have been doing a lot of research on all the different things that affect the taking of a picture with this kind of camera.  It is a little overwhelming - there are things like shutter speed, aperture, white balance, exposure time, light metering, ISO speed, and focal settings to learn about.  Experimenting with these on my new camera has produced some interesting results!

>From what I have learned, there are basically four aspects of a good picture (quality-wise).  After contemplating these, I realized that these also must be "set" right in the Christian's life if it is to be presentable to Christ.  See if you do not agree.  To take a great picture you need proper...

...framing.  The subject and the positioning of the subject are crucial for appealing photos.  If the subject is intriguing enough, people will be literally drawn to your photo.  For the Christian, the subject of our "photos" should be Christ.  He should be at the center of all that we do so that everyone can see Him in the "picture" of our life.

...lighting.  Improper lighting can make an otherwise good picture unusable.  Proper lighting can bring out incredible details and can actually affect the mood of the viewer.  For the Christian, we must let the light of the gospel shine in our lives.  Appropriately used, the light will reveal great godly details to all.  The proper "exposure" of Christ's word in our lives can greatly affect others.

...speed.  The shutter speed is very important to an effective snap shot.  A fast shutter will freeze motion, while a slower shutter will make the picture softer, more flowing.  For the Christian there are times we need to be quick (i.e. doing the Lord's will, telling others about Christ, etc.) and times we must "slow down" (i.e. meditation, worship, etc.).  The proper balance of these will produce great "images" for Christ.

...focus.  Everything else in a photo could be "picture perfect," but if it is out of focus the picture is ruined.  This is why you see photographers spending so much time focusing.  For the Christian, our focus to our duty to Christ should be sharp.  And we should always stay focused, so that we are always ready to take a good "photograph" in His name.

I hope I bring back some great pictures from Africa with my new camera, but I hope even more that when He views the "photos" of my life, Jesus on Judgment Day will say "Well done."

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

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by: Lance Cordle

"Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of men.  Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak" (Psalm 12: 1,2, ESV).

Have you been lied to lately?  Chances are, you have.    Has someone significant in your life proven to be unreliable?  Chances are, someone has.  Have you, like the Psalmist, wondered where faithful people have gone? We are facing an even deeper crisis than the one addressed by Warren Wiersbe in his 1988 book, The Integrity Crisis.  In short, we need men and women to stand up and be reliable-do what they say and be what they claim to be.

While considering the term faithfulness, several thoughts come to my mind that might help us in our quest for faithful people and to become faithful ourselves.  Please consider the following:

1. We Have a Faithful Father.  God's very being is grounded in the trait of faithfulness.  He will not, and cannot, lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).  He has made promises in the past and kept them.  He has made promises to us and He will keep them (Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13).  We can rely on God.

2. We Can Build and Maintain Faithful Families.  Despite the current glut of dissolved marriages and mock marriages (living together- "commitment" without commitment), it is still possible for a man and a woman to pledge themselves to one another and keep that pledge for many years (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31).  It is possible for a man to commit himself to the leadership of a family and provide for his wife and children (Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 5:8).  We can have solid families.

3. We Can Build and Maintain Faithful Friendships.  We may meet many people in our lifetime, but only a few will be worthy of the label, friend.  It has been said that a true friend is "one who comes in when the whole world goes out."  The Bible says "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity" and "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 17:17, 18:24).  We can be faithful friends.

4. We Can Be Faithful.  Circumstances may change and people around us may change, but it is always possible for us to remain faithful to the Lord.  God knows that we are not perfect and He does not expect more from us than we are able to deliver.  He does, however, expect faithfulness.  We can be faithful-even if that faithfulness means our death (Revelation 2:10).

- 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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Christian Steadfastness
by: Jimmy W. Cox

In the church at Corinth , there were some who didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead.  In 1 Cor., chap. 15, the apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, pointed out that two of the basic facts of the gospel (good news) is that Jesus died, was buried, and arose from the dead.  In verse 20, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." - Verse 22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."  Verses 25 and 26: "For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. - The last enemy that will be destroyed is death."  Then the apostle Paul answered the question, "If the dead are raised up, what kind of body will they have?"

The answer: Verses 42-44: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption - It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. - It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."  Verses 52-54: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory ".

Then in verse 58 is written this exhortation, based on the wonderful resurrection that Christians will receive. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."  We are brethren, in the same family, having God as our Father.  We love each other and are loved by our heavenly Father.  We are steadfast - diligently living as Christians.  We are immovable - our lives are based on God's Word and we will not allow false teachers.  We abound in the work of the Lord - doing every good thing that we can include in our lives.  We do all this because "our labor is not in vain in the Lord."  We will be rewarded by God for all the things we do.  What great blessings faithful Christians will receive from God.

Become a Christian: Believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son (Heb. 11:6); Repent of your sins Acts 2:38: Confess Christ publicly Rom. 10:9-10; Be baptized into Christ Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:3-5.

- Jimmy Cox lives in Sandy Hook, MS and attends the Columbia church of Christ in Columbia , MS . He may be contacted at coxsandyhook@yahoo.com                               

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Extreme Makeover
by: Russ Lawson

When it comes to television my wife Melody and I are usually a whole lot behind the times. I know it's been on a couple of years, but just a couple of months ago we discovered the television program, "Extreme makeover, home edition". We like much of the United States , are completely enchanted with the program and those who work so hard to make the lives of other people better.  We normally don't get to see it when it is broadcast, but then that is what the video recorder was made for, so we do get to watch it at some point.

Just in case you are not familiar with the program, the organization finds people who are having extreme problems in life and whose lives can be made better or easier by improving their living conditions.  The group then goes in and remodels, changes or maybe replaces the home to make life better for them. As the name of the program suggests, sometimes the makeovers are "extreme".

Of course the obvious application of this to our life is the extreme way our life can be changed or 'made over' by Christ.  The Jewish religious fanatic Saul was so completely changed that even his name was changed to Paul and he became an apostle of Christ and one of the greatest missionaries ever to live.

Another extreme makeover is the man we read about in Luke 8:27-35, "As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him.  Homeless and naked, he had lived in a cemetery for a long time.  As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell to the ground before him, screaming, "Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  Please, I beg you, don't torture me!"  For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him.  This spirit had often taken control of the man.  Even when he was shackled with chains, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon's power.  "What is your name?" Jesus asked. "Legion," he replied," for the man was filled with many demons.  The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the Bottomless Pit.  A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons pleaded with Him to let them enter into the pigs.  Jesus gave them permission.  So the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake, where they drowned.  When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby city and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran.  A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, for they wanted to see for themselves what had happened.  And they saw the man who had been possessed by demons sitting quietly at Jesus feet, clothed and sane.  And the whole crowd was afraid."

Ask yourself if you might be like that man is some small way?  You may not be running around naked, break off handcuffs and living in a cemetery, but does it seem that at times you are ruled by a spirit other than the Spirit of God?  Do you do or say things that you know you shouldn't, perhaps you act in ways that clearly bring to mind the question, "who is in control of your life"?

After Jesus spoke with this crazy man he was found "sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, clothed and sane".  What is it going to take to allow Jesus to give you and your home an "extreme makeover"?  How long will you resist, how long will you keep living in a cemetery?

Now, when the television group arrives at someone's home, they run out and embrace the ones coming to change their lives.  They don't resist and say, "well, I'm just not at a good time in my life to make this kind of change"!  They recognize that something good is about to happen and they willingly give up all of their past for a new beginning, what about you?  Wouldn't you really rather be sitting at the feet of the Master rather than running around like a crazy person?

You see, the choice is ours, it always has been and always will be!  The simple truth is, that God won't make us over, until we are ready to give ourselves over to him completely!

My prayer is that no matter what craziness is going on in your life, you will recognize there is a way to find sanity.  That way of course is to let God be in charge of things and take away the things (demons) that are troubling us.  That is an "Extreme Makeover Live Edition"! 

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

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Golden Deeds
by: Keith Parker

     You know the Golden Rule don’t you?  Jesus put it like this in Luke 6.31: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”  In other words, treat people like you want people to treat you.
Let me suggest a few Golden Deeds:

Give money for a clothing drive
Mow a widow’s lawn
Bake cookies for a shut-in
Teach a class in VBS
Attend a funeral service
Write a note of encouragement
Give gum to children
Write to a missionary
Share your garden vegetables
Invite someone to worship
Introduce your self to church guests
Sit with a visitor at worship services
Take a friend to lunch
Visit the nursing home
Provide transportation to the elderly
Pray daily for a lost person
Personally thank your church leaders
Encourage someone who responds

Remember the anniversary of someone’s death
Send flowers
Be kind to the mentally ill
Baby sit for free    
Say “thank you” to family members
Give away a religious tract
Open your home to teenagers
Be optimistic

The golden rule?  Do golden deeds.
- Keith Parker; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City , KY.                               

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

A Job or a Ministry?

Some people have a job in the church; others involve themselves in a ministry.  What is the difference?
 - If you are doing it because no one else will do it, it's a job.  If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.
 - If you quit because somebody criticized you, it was a job.  If you keep on serving, it's a ministry.
 - If you will do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a job.  If you are committed to staying with it even when it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.
 - If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it was a job.  If you stay with it even when no one recognized your efforts, it's a ministry.
 - If your concern is success, it's a job.  If your concern is faithfulness, it's a ministry.
It’s hard to get excited about a job.  It’s almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.  An average church is filled with people doing jobs.  A great and growing church is filled with people involved in ministry!  Where do you fit in?
-- Selected; via the weekly bulletin for the Harrisburg church of Christ, Harrisburg , IL .                                 

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Ingersoll's Life: Chapter One

At Dresden , N.Y. , in 1833, there was born into a clergyman's home a remarkably precocious child.  There were two such boys in that home, greatly attached to each other.  The mother was kind and indulgent; the father, dictatorial and unsympathetic.  He was fully engaged with his ecclesiastical responsibilities and seemed to have neglected his own children.  The result was that as they neared manhood they left home.  The mother grieved greatly.  Search was made, but in vain, till a farmer found a large pile of leaves raked up in his woodland, and in that pile of leaves he found the two youths.  They had hidden there, determined to remain until they starved to death.  When the farmer invited them to his home to get something to eat,they would not go until assured that he was not a preacher. 

This is chapter one of the history of the illustrious skeptics, Robert G. and Ebon C. Ingersoll.  The nation has seldom had a more fascinating speaker, nor one with more destructive beliefs than Robert G. Ingersoll.  Two very capable lives were ruined by austerity and neglect.

- Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations; via The Sower, the weekly bulletin of the Arthur church of Christ , Arthur , IL .  Ron Bartanen preaches for this congregation.  He may be contacted at ron33dor@one-eleven.net                                

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Making Progress

When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter threw him a question: “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?”  And Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

Your goal is to make progress every day of your life.

- Dr. Maxwell Maltz, quoted in Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 12; via James C. Guy, Canal Heights church of Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama.  He may be contacted at THE BIBLE SAYS website at: http://biblesays.faithsite.com

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by: H. L. Graowith

You can't be ev'rything to ev'ryone these days it seems,
So just do ev'rything you can to be what you should be;
Just live and love and hope and pray and do your very best
To stand up through the storms of life and be up to the test.

Look up to Him Who died for you and watches from on high,
And always try to do the things that you know to be right,
He'll help you anyway He can, if help is what you need;
But from some troubles you should know you never will be freed.

And such is as it should be, for we all must live and learn
There's always something off somewhere for which some heart will yearn;
When you quit yearning you quit living, so you see my friend:
Your life is just one long pursuit of nothing but its end.

The most important thing you'll do in this life is die right,
The only way you'll do that is by walking in the Light.
So be there for the ones you love and help them on their way,
And make decisions that are right; those are the dues we pay.

You can't be ev'rything to ev'ryone don't even try,
Just be the person you should be until the day you die.
Just live and love and hope and pray and do your very best
To stand up through the storms of life and be up to the test...

- H. L. Gradowith  For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e‑mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ ‑ the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

by: Florence Stone Reeh

There is a famine in the land,
But not of food and drink;
A lack of knowledge is at hand,
Men do not want to think
Of what the Bible has to say
They plan for God to wink
At ignorance, and let them play at being right; 
They have no plan,
They have no hope, nor time to pray.
 Unless they read the Word, how can
They know what God’s prepared for man?                           

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Judgment Day
author: unkown

I was standing at the seat of judgment, waiting for my turn.
Thinking of the houses and the treasures I would earn.
Thinking of how I’d lived my life just as a Christian should.
Thinking of how I’d always done what was right and what was good.
I knew that when my turn would come with the Father and the Son,
They would look at my life and me and say to me, “Well done.”
I knew I was sinless, and my life beyond reproach.
But just then I looked around and whom should I see,
But the lady I worked with, just down the hall from me.
We always passed each other with a wave and a smile,
And when the time would allow, we would chat for a little while,
We would talk about our jobs, our kids, and various little things.
Our conversations always pleasant and laughter is would bring.
Just then she looked up, and her teary eyes locked with mine
And my smile faded when I realized she was in the other line.
She began to speak the words that broke my heart in two.
It pains me now to remember as I share these words with you.
She said, “Why didn’t you tell me about the God that you do know,
You went to church each week but never invited me to go?”
You never told me of his plan to save, and that He died on the cross.
And now it is to late for me and my soul’s eternally lost.
I see you saved yourself and that you are among the triumphant few.
But tell me couldn’t you have made an effort to try and save me too?”
Just then I sat straight up in bed, my heart pounding in my chest.
Thank God it was just a dream but my spirit still couldn’t rest.
I realized I couldn’t keep my God a secret among friends,
But that I must learn to always share the hope the gospel lends.
So I encourage you not to wait until it is too late.
Go and tell everyone you meet that your God is so, 
so Great!

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

"No longer does one need to enter a store marked XXX, today they just need to type WWW."
(Bryan McAlister, Jackson church of Christ, Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website, http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com)

“If all neglected Bibles were dusted simultaneously we would have a record dust storm and the sun would go into eclipse for a whole week.” 
(David F. Nygren; via THE ENCOURAGER, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola Church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan is the preacher for this congregation, and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com)

“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”  (Eric Hoffer)

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. (Margaret Bonnano)

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