BulletinGold #66
June 4, 2006   Vol 6 #4

----by David Bragg
Someone has said that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.  For years our family has enjoyed vacationing in the Great Smokies of eastern Tennessee.  More recently, we have lodged in mountainside cabins.  I remember one trip in particular when rather frequent storms interrupted our vacation.  There we were, in a cabin literally on the top of a mountain.  The view was nothing short of spectacular as from those heights we escaped the hectic rush below and enjoyed the handiwork of our Creator.  But then came late Sunday night when we were caught in a storm that seemed to pass just inches from our roof.  The wind buffeted the windows and thunder cracked just over us, lightning flashed so close you could only shudder at its power.  Come morning the storm had passed and we could once again enjoy the view of nature's grandeur.

Memories!  Some say it's the stuff life is made of, and some of the very "best stuff" for us are the memories of family, the love and the time we shared together.  Today our children live hundreds of miles away from my wife and I.  Yet, we are so very thankful for the precious memories of those great times of togetherness that can uplift us as parents and remind our children of our unfailing love for them.

There are few things in life more important than family.  Family serves not only an important role socially, but for the Lord's church to be sustained in future generations Christians must instill in their family a deep love for, and involvement in, God's Word and Christ's church.  This demands full-time commitment from each family member.  Today we are reminded of the frequent and serious admonitions God has extended to fathers: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church" (Eph. 5:25); "and fathers, do not provoke your children to anger: but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).  Marriage, and all the relationships that go with it, must be grounded in a lasting commitment that must endure the storms along with enjoying "the view" of life.

However, the world does not reflect these truths.  Unfortunately, the world's perspective can easily creep into the church.  The items below will address the importance of the family as viewed from God's perspective, and qualities we need to embrace to better serve our own family.  May God help us all to understand the biblical pattern for our lives and to take the vows of marriage seriously.  Then our marriages and families will be equipped to weather the storms and joys of life for better or worst.

David Bragg, co-editor
Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  

A Father's Example
by: David A. Sargent

A small boy was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing.

At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed. . . .

The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son.

When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my life I've known what God is like by what my father did that night." *

Because we ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we ALL deserve the wages of sin: DEATH (Romans 6:23).

But THIS is what God is like: He is a JUST God (Psalm 89:14), but He is also a LOVING God (1 John 4:7-8).  Because He is a JUST God, He must punish sin.  Because He is a LOVING God, He provided a way for us to have forgiveness.  That way was through the gift of His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).  A wonderful exchange is made possible through Jesus Christ: He took the punishment for our sins and He offers us His righteousness. "For He [God] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The "exchange" is activated when we: believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as we continue to walk in the light of God's Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9).

In the exchange of dinner plates, that small boy learned the meaning of GRACE from his father.  Grace is something we NEED but we do not DESERVE.  The boy's example illustrates what the Heavenly Father offers to YOU and ME.  We deserve DEATH, but He offers us forgiveness and LIFE! That's something we need but we don't deserve; that's GRACE!

Won't YOU accept His grace through your faithful obedience today?
God bless you!

- David A. Sargent, serves the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile , Alabama . David also authors Living Water, of which this is a sample.  He may be contacted at sargentd@juno.com                                 

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My Sons, No Longer My Children
by: Dan Winkler

His name is "Time." He's a stranger we would like to ignore but cannot avoid, an intruder from whom we cannot protect our families.

For years our family has been blest by three wonderful sons! But, now, one has been married for several years, a second is to marry in a few days, and a third is soon to make his way to college. What happened?  "Time" paid a visit to our house, took our boys by the hand, and escorted them into adulthood. That has a way of sending one's thoughts down memory lane." So, if you will indulge the sentimental reflections of an ole dad, when I look back on yesterday:
I'm glad that we, as a family, took the time to say, "I love you." - - There is something special about those words. I'm glad that we, as a family, went to elementary plays, summer baseball games, high school football games, etc. What memories! I'm glad that we, as a family, went to Bible School and worship without fail. - - It gave us something to stand on and stand for. I'm glad that we, as a family, learned the value of hard work. -  That's what helps any of us rise above the ordinary.  I'm glad that we, as a family, took the time to laugh together. - - At best, life is serious and difficult, but "a cheerful heart is good medicine." I'm glad that we, as a family, prayed together. - - How is it possible to work through life without talking to, with being close to God? I'm glad that we, as a family, have been and still are the best of friends! His name is "Time."

He's a tough rascal to deal with, but one thing can help: beautiful memories. Not even death can erase the pictures of happiness a family helps paint on the canvas of one another's heart!

- Dan Winkler, who preaches in Huntingdon, TN. This article came to us from a number of sources, indicating not only strong support for this family but a realization of the great need in our hurting society to hear these timely thoughts.                               

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Did You Know My Mother?
by: Michelle Spiceland

She was a homemaker, not just a housekeeper. She cooked, cleaned, and kept everything under control. She was always great under pressure-She could cook, clean, wash, and get you to ball practice and band camp, and fix food for the sick, and rock a baby to sleep, all at the same time-and never skip a beat. She ran the house like a drill sergeant-you followed orders, or punishment was swift and you knew she would not forget what she had promised. Many times on the way home from church services, Megan and I would ask, "Are you still going to whip Fritzie when we get home?" We already knew the answer, but we didn't want her to forget. She kept four children quiet and in order through every service, even when Fritzie swallowed his money for the collection basket (and he pretended he had dropped it).

Well, Megan and I weren't always good. When we were not pleased with the way things were going, we would threaten to run away from home-We were always told not to cross the road. And you sure never said, "Well, everyone else is  doing it."   That surely meant you were not going to get to. Mom taught us to cook, clean, and do our work first, then you had time to do what you wanted to do. But, growing up, that was not always the way we put things in order of most importance.

Mom was not perfect, but she was a mother with many  talents. She was a cookie baker, a banana-cake-baker, a band-trip-chaperone, a Girl Scout leader, a foster mother, a carpool driver, healer of many cuts, scrapes, broken bones, and hurt knees. She was very proud of her family and always made you feel special. She was a Bible class teacher, a flower gardener, and the first one there when you needed help of any kind. She could make a costume out of a few pieces of leftovers and you felt like you were the best one in the bunch. We were "the house in the neighborhood everyone played at"-the house where snacks and fun were always a part of life.

But, most of all, she was a Christian. That is what was important to her. She taught us to live by example and not word. Anyone who knew our mother knew how important the church was to her. She could not have made it through those last two years without her friends and loved ones.

So, if you helped in anyway, by the many cards that were sent, the food, the flowers, the phone calls, the visits, and the words of encouragement-Sometimes it was just a hug, or a look, or a special touch of the hand-The many prayers that were offered on her behalf and ours. We could not have made it without each and every one of you.

So, we thank you very much and hope we can do the same for you when you are in need . . .  Because that's what  Mom taught us to do. . . I hope you knew my mom.

- This was read at the funeral of Michele Spiceland's mother, Patty Metzger, on May 13, 2004 (via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult he congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com).                                 

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Making Time for Our Families and Ourselves
by: David Ferguson

"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, with a loud voice glorifying God; and he fell upon his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, "Were not the ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger?" And He said unto him, "Arise, and go thy way: Thy faith hath made thee whole." (Luke 17:15-19)
"This beginning of His signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee , and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed on Him. After this He went down to Capernaum , He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and there they abode not many days." (John 2:11-12)
"And straightway He constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before Him unto the other side, till He should send the multitudes away. And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into the mountain apart to pray: And when even was come, He was there alone." (Matthew 14:22-23)
Luke's account described how Jesus had cured ten men of leprosy, and only one of them, a Samaritan who was considered a foreigner, had bothered to come back and thank Him. John recorded Jesus and His disciples and family staying in Capernaum immediately following Jesus' first miracle. The passage from Matthew occurred just after Jesus had miraculously fed five thousand men, plus women and children, with only five loaves and two fishes. What lessons can we learn from these scriptures?
First of all, I believe we can learn that working can make one feel a sense of euphoria, especially when one is working for the Lord. Ministerial work can be at times somewhat discouraging. But either way, ministering is always going to be dangerous work, and I am not even talking about the physical harm that can take place, as was the case with Stephen. In fact, the highs that come from working for the Lord can be more dangerous than the times of discouragement. There are many accounts in the Bible of God's greatest servants stumbling during their moments of greatest victory and success. Jesus, however, frequently chose to get away from the mayhem of the pursuing multitudes. Often He did so in order for Him to commune with the Father alone. Frequently He did so to draw nearer to His closest disciples. Occasionally, it is simply for time to spend with His family and friends. Those are good lessons to learn for those who wish to remain fresh while serving the Lord. Spend time with your family, and get the rest you need. Receive the spiritual nourishment provided by communing with the Lord. We all need friendship, and we all need the love and support of family. Do not neglect your loved ones, whomever they may be.

-- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL .  He may be contacted at davidferguson61@yahoo.com                               

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The Influence of Mothers
by: Alan Smith

Author John Maxwell has collected some notes from children who have written to their Moms on past Mother's Days.  Here are just a few samples.  This is from Angie, who is 8 years old:  "Dear Mother, I am going to make dinner for you on Mother's Day.  It's going to be a surprise.  P.S.  I hope you like pizza and popcorn."
Robert, age 8:  "I got you a turtle for Mother's Day.  I hope you like the turtle I got you this year for Mother's Day better than the snake I got you last year."

Eileen, who is 9 years old:  "Dear Mother, I wish Mother's Day wasn't always on Sunday.  It would be better if it were on Monday so we wouldn't have to go to school."

And here's my favorite.  This is from Carol who is 8 years old:  "Dear Mother, Here are two aspirins.  Have a Happy Mother's Day."

Sunday, we will celebrate Mother's Day in this country.  And, while it's not a "Christian holiday" in any sense, I certainly think it's certainly an appropriate celebration.  Paul said that we as Christians are to "give honor to whom honor is due" (Romans 13:7), and I can't think of anyone any more deserving of honor than our mothers.

I don't know what image the word "mother" conjures up in your mind.  Charles Swindoll has written, "For some, this word brings up images of June Cleaver, complete with lace apron and pearls -- singing lullabies, baking brownies, kissing away a child's hot tears.  Others envision the Erma Bombeck model, who drives a wood-paneled station wagon and whose hobby is dust."  Whatever the type, no one has more influence than a mother." (You And Your Child)

Nobody -- not teachers, not preachers, not psychologists -- gets the same chance to mold human minds and nurture human bodies and emotions like a mother does.  For better or for worse, she will forever impact the life of her children.  The results of mothering can truly be seen for generations.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "All that I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother."  John Gray said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."  Napoleon Bonaparte said, "Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons."  And I especially like this Spanish proverb -- "An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy."

All of those quotations have one thing in common -- they all emphasize the fact that mothers have such a powerful influence, not only over their children, but over the very course of history.
"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (Proverbs 31:28)
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com                               

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Eli as a Father (I Sam. 2:22-25)
by: Gene Rowe, Jr.

Fathers we may have various occupations that enable us to take care of our families, but we must not neglect one of our greatest duties, which is to discipline and teach our children.
Eli held the office of high priest, and also judged Israel for forty years, but with all the greatness he displayed, he was an ineffective father when dealing with his sons.  The true legacy of a father is the impact that he had on his family.  Eli will always be known as a father who did not restrain his sons, which led to their death as warned twice by Almighty God.  (I Sam. 2:27-36; I Sam. 3:10-18)
Hophni and Phinehas, Eli's sons, displayed a tendency to do wrong, as the scripture refers to them as "sons of Belial." (I Sam. 2:12)  Also, they were priests who disrespected God by taking meat from sacrificial animals before they were dedicated to God, and they "lay with" women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle.  (I Sam. 2:13-17; 22)
Eli heard of his son's actions and he questioned his sons about their behavior, and reproved them of their actions, but they did not "hearken unto their father." (I Sam. 2:22-25)  Their minds were already set on mischief, and God had sentenced them to death!
Fathers, the tendency to do wrong appears at an early age.  A little plant may be easily rooted up or bent in a certain direction to grow, but when it becomes a tree with solid roots it can only be moved by extraordinary efforts.  Take time to know each child and their tendencies, and DO NOT turn a blind eye to their tendencies as if they do not exist.  If we wait too long to reprove, it may be too late.  It is possible for one to become hardened by sin, if it is not dealt with in love, swiftness, and firmness.
Remember these scriptures as we reflect on the situation of "Eli as A Father:"  PROV. 13:24; PROV. 15:10; PROV. 19:18; PROV. 29:15; PROV. 29:17; HEB. 12:6-8.   Fathers, let us be true to God and our families by standing in our place, and thus fulfill our responsibilities!

- Gene Rowe, Jr. is the minister of the church of Christ - Westward Ave.   Texas City, Texas .  He may be contacted at GTrowe67@aol.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

Making a Marriage Work

How can you prevent a marriage from going bad, or rescue one that already has? John Gottman says, "What can make a marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couples aren't smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But, in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a  dynamic. This dynamic keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones." (Say only positive things, in public, about your mate.  cdw)

Four negative things that will lead a couple toward divorce:
- Escalating a fight (Prov.15:1).
- Negative comments (Prov. 29:11).
- Invalidating comments (Prov. 25:20).
- Withdrawal and avoidance (Eph. 4:25,29).

- Adapted by Charles Williamson ( Lewisburg , TN ) from an article in the Eastside Informer, Columbia , TN ; via The Family Friend, a monthly publication of the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert Cit, KY.                             

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Opportunity Knocking
by: Kevin Rayner

Sebastien Chamfort said "Do not suppose opportunity will knock twice at your door."

The year was 1952, and Walter H. Annenberg of Triangle Publications had seen a newspaper advertisement for a new weekly magazine called TV Digest, which was to contain information about local television shows. The idea hit him like a ton of bricks. It was obvious that it would be a success, but others might just beat him to the punch. Annenberg reasoned that such a magazine could be put together on a national basis. It would include local program listings plus feature stories that would have national appeal. Convinced that such a publication offered enormous possibilities, Annenberg vigorously began to research the market. He found that there were already local television magazines in many major cities, and he moved quickly to buy them all.

Annenberg put together a staff of writers and began planning the first issue. The most popular show of the day was I Love Lucy, so star Lucille Ball was designated to appear on the first cover. Inside, there would be stories about Lucy, husband Desi Arnaz, and their new baby, who had already garnered considerable television and newspaper attention. The first issue of TV Guide came out in April 1953 with ten local editions, and its success seemed assured. But as summer approached and people began pursuing more vigorous activities than watching television, the publication's circulation started to drop. To bolster its sagging circulation, TV Guide devoted an issue to the new fall lineup of shows, thus beginning the publication's Fall Preview tradition. Today, TV Guide is one of the most widely read magazines in America.

When an idea comes, do something about it right away, or it may be too late. Don't let someone else beat you to the punch.

You think about it!

- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Oak Tree church of Christ, Rochester , MN.  He may be contacted through this website:  http://www.geocities.com/otchurch/index.html                              

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A Lot of Truth in These Old Adages
(An old farmer's advice)

Life ain't about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered not yelled.
Meanness don't jest happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
Don't judge folks by their relatives.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
The easiest way to eat crow is while it's still warm, 'cause the colder it gets, the harder it is to swaller.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave every mornin'.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it backin.
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

--From the Internet; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL . Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@one-eleven.net                                  

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Somebody's Mother
by: Mary Dow Brine

The woman was old and ragged and gray
And bent with the chill of the Winter's day.

The street was wet with a recent snow
And the woman's feet were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng

Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eye.

Down the street, with laughter and shout,
Glad in the freedom of "school let out"

Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and gray
Hastened the children on their way.

Nor offered a helping hand to her-
So meek, so tired, afraid to stir

Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.

At last came one of the merry troops,
The gayest lad of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,
I'll help you cross, if you wish to go."

Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,

He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.

"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all she's aged and poor and slow,

"And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,

"If ever she's poor and old and gray,
When her own dear boy is far away."

And "somebody's mother' bowed low her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said

Was, "God be kind to the noble boy,
Who is somebody's son, and pride and joy!"                                 

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The Road That Leads to Home
by: D. Sue Jones Horton

I've been on a long, long journey,
And it's been a rough old road,
But I just keep pressing onward,
Tho I carry a heavy load.
Many times I've asked the question:
"Why do I keep plodding on?"
It's then I am reminded:
This old road will lead me home.

Tho I stumble on the pathway,
Tho I fall along the way,
There's still hope for my tomorrows,
And there's a Hand that stretches downward,
Makes my feet to walk again.
Tho my journey may be rugged,
He'll be with me 'til the end.

Yes, this old road has been rocky,
But I travel not alone.
My dear Lord is ever with me --
As I cross each stepping stone.
Day by day, we're getting closer
To those gates that will swing wide --
Where I'll be "welcomed home" to Heaven,
As Jesus leads me safe inside.

- D. Sue Jones Horton; submitted by Mark McWhorter, who may be contacted at mtmcvb@concentric.net                                

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"No child of mine." I used to cry
(Before the stork had fluttered by).
"Will ever throw a temper fit,
Or bite or scratch or whine or hit,
Or take a bottle till she's three,
Or sit for hours and watch TV,
Or dawdle so he makes me late,
Or leave his spinach on the plate,
Or act (in short) like other kids
Who've made their parents
Flip their lids."

But with the patter of little feet
Come forty million words to eat!

Author Unknown

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

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and when he grows up, he’ll never be able to merge his car onto the freeway (via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL).

"Life is like an ice-cream cone, you have to lick it one day at a time." -- Charles M. Schulz, as "Charlie Brown", Peanuts, cartoon strip

Some Thoughts on Love:

  • "Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction" (Antoine de Saint-Exupery).
  • "Sometimes the more love we give away, the more we have."
  • "If there is anything better than being loved, it is loving."
  • "No one can love who has not served."

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