2, 2006 Vol 6 #5
|Summer, along with
it's longer days and increasing heat,
often brings with it dwendling attendance
as vacationing church members are away
from their home congregation (i.e. "the
summer slump"). For some churches,
along interstate highways and in resort
destinations, attendance during this time
may remain near normal or even larger than
normal. Sadly, many Christians use
this time away from home to also take a
"vacation" from worship. These do
not make any effort to locate and attend
worship services, revealing either a lack
of commitment or a lack of understanding
or appreciation of the Lord's church.
This month's issue features articles and
bulletin fillers revolving around the
subjects of church, its work and
worship. We appreciate the authors
and bulletin editors who share their work
with us and we are thankful for each of
our group members who play the important
role of passing these along to their
readers who might come to better know
God's will for their lives.
What is the church of Christ?
considering the four questions that
follow one can demonstrate to the
inquiring individual a clear picture of
the church, Christ's spiritual body.
1. Is the church of Christ a
denomination? The church revealed
in the New Testament was unified in one
body under one Head, Jesus (Col.
1:18). This unity was essential to
prove the identity of Jesus as God's Son
to the world (Jn. 17:20-21).
Division and denominationalism destroys
this unity by dividing believers.
Unity is restored when Christ is again
enthroned as head and reigns by the
authority of His word. As men
realized the need to go back to the
Bible and find God's plan for His church
and the unity of all believers, the
church of Christ as taught in the New
Testament began to be restored.
The result was the original church
established in Acts 2, and not a new
denomination. The church of Christ
is not a denomination.
2. What does the church of Christ
believe? If it were not for the
message of the Bible, man would not
really be able to know God or
Jesus. Man would likewise be
ignorant of the purpose and organization
of Christ's church, salvation, and God's
will for man's life. The Bible is
God's message to man (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
and is the only source from which one
can learn this message (2 Tim.
2:15). The one who does not study
cannot know what to believe on any of
these subjects. The church of
Christ believes the Bible to be the ONLY
authority and guide for ALL matters of
religion. Since the Bible is God's
Word and Will for the church and every
believer today, the church must plead
for mankind to join in a serious
investigation of God's Word and then
believe and practice neither more nor
less than the Good Book teaches.
3. How does one become a member of
the church of Christ? One becomes
a member of the church of Christ today
in exactly the same manner as one became
a member of the church of Christ in the
New Testament times. When a person
obeys the gospel they are saved.
Peter's audience on Pentecost verifies
this. When they obeyed (Acts 2:38,
41) they were saved (vs. 47). When
they were saved the Lord added them to
His church (vs. 47; cf. other examples:
Acts 8:12, the Samaritans; 8:38, the
Eunuch; 9:18, 22:16, Paul; 10:47,
Cornelius; 16:15, 33, Lydia and the
Jailer). Everyone who was saved
after the church was established in Acts
two was saved in the same manner.
They believed Jesus was the Christ,
repented by turning away from their
sins, and were immersed for the
forgiveness of their sins (1 Pet.
3:21). When they did this Jesus
added them to his church. When one
does this today Jesus will add that
person to the same church.
4. Why should I be a member of the
church of Christ? Because the
church is the body of Christ, who is its
Savior (Eph. 5:23). It is this
body, with Christ as the head, that will
be saved. Therefore, it is of the
greatest importance to be a part of that
body that will be saved by its
Head. To be a part of another body
would require having another head, and
the Bible plainly teaches that salvation
is only found in Christ (Acts
The Bible tells man of God's will for
him and what he must do to be
saved. Nothing is more important
than to learn God's will for one's life,
thereby preventing their soul from being
- David Bragg lives in Cape Girardeau,
MO and worships with the Jackson church
of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may
be contacted at email@example.com.
A Caring Church
The title phrase is
one commonly heard when describing
particular congregations. But what
does it mean to be a caring
church? Is this church a caring
church? Let's find out.
A Caring Church is a Sharing
Church. A caring church is
thankful Christ has shared with them and
thus is willing to share with others
(Heb. 13:16; 1 Tim. 6:18; 2 Cor.
9:13). A caring church shares with
one another, both blessings and burdens
(Eph. 4:16; 1 Tim. 6:18). A caring
church shares the gospel with the lost
and shares with those who spread the
gospel (Philemon 6; Phil. 4:15).
A Caring Church is a Declaring
Church. A caring church is one
that declares Jesus as Lord and Savior
(1 John 1:1-3; Rom. 1:1-3). A
caring church is one which declares the
whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27; 1 Cor.
2:1). A caring church is one that
will declare praise to God in proper
worship (Heb. 2:12; 1 Cor. 15:1-2).
A Caring Church is a Preparing
Church. A caring church is one
that prepares for eternity (1 Cor. 2:9;
Heb. 11:16). A caring church is
one that prepares its members to live
pure, faithful, and active lives for
Christ (2 Tim. 2:21-22; Eph.
2:10). A caring church makes all
future preparations in harmony with the
will of God (Eph. 6:15; cf 2 Chron. 35:6
as an example).
A caring church cares for others, cares
for what is right, and cares for God,
and as a result will always be sharing,
declaring, and preparing. Do you
care enough to be a part of a caring
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the
Harrisburg Church of Christ in
Harrisburg, IL. He may be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remembering The Head
New Testament book of Colossians warned
of teachers who promoted humanly devised
"doctrines" and "commandments of men"
(2:22), imposing their own authority
over believers, and "not holding the
Head" (2:19a). The "Head",
obviously, is Jesus Christ
that would desire to
restore the purity and unity of the
church must look beyond the sects and
denominations of Christendom,
remembering who is "the Head of the
body, the church". We can never
hope to achieve God's desire of unity
for His people by seeking grains of
truth in sifting through the sectarian
chaff that has accumulated through the
centuries, for all truth is in Christ
alone, the Head of the church. In
Christ are hidden "all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians
2:3). Jesus declared, "I am the
way, the truth, and the life" (John
14:6). Too long have men looked to
popes, bishops and church councils for
direction, ignoring Him who declared,
"All power (authority) is given unto me
in heaven and in earth" (Matthew
28:18). For any to seek to usurp
that which is the Lord's alone, is to
despise the authority of Him who is the
Those who would submit to
the Head must go to the New Testament
Scriptures, the truth He has revealed
through His apostles by the Holy Spirit
(John 16:13-14). Jesus prayed, "Sanctify
them through thy truth; thy word is
truth" (John 17:17). It is
"through the knowledge of God, and of
Jesus our Lord" that we have been given
"all things that pertain unto life and
godliness" (2 Peter
- Ron Bartanen preaches for the Arthur
church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He
may be contacted at email@example.com
The Foolishness of Preaching
The apostle Paul
wrote: “For since, in the wisdom of God,
the world through wisdom did not know
God, it pleased God through the
foolishness of the message preached to
save those who believe” (1 Cor.
1:21—NKJV). Why did Paul refer to
preaching as foolishness? From the
viewpoint of many in the world and
perhaps some in the church the following
may be part of the reason.
Preaching is not entertaining enough.
Many today want to be entertained. The
Bible tells of a certain reverence and
awe that occurred during the Word being
proclaimed. One of the Old Testament
Minor Prophets, Habakkuk describes the
attitude during worship: “But the LORD
is in his holy temple: let all the earth
keep silence before him” (Hab. 2:20). A
worshipper today might declare: “How
boring!” Yet we cannot equate preaching
with entertainment. They are two
entirely different areas.
The purpose of preaching is not to
entertain. The job of the preacher is to
proclaim the Word of God. David wrote:
“I have preached righteousness in the
great congregation: lo, I have not
refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest”
(Psa. 40:9). The first words Jesus
preached were: “Repent: for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17). Peter
stated, “If any man speak, let him speak
as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).
John F. McArthur Jr., in his book
Ashamed of the Gospel states “Nothing in
Scripture indicates the church should
lure people to Christ by presenting
Christianity as an attractive option.
Nothing about the gospel is optional”
(72). He further declares:
“There seems almost no limit to what
modern church leaders will do to entice
people who aren’t interested in worship
and preaching. Too many have bought the
notion that the church must win people
by offering an alternative form of
Preaching causes me to make a change.
Throughout the Bible many were changed
by preaching. On the Day of
Pentecost in Acts 2 thousands were
pricked to their hearts and gladly
received the message and were baptized.
The jailer in Acts 16 heard the spoken
Word and was baptized (Acts 16:30-31).
Felix however did not want to change and
when Paul preached to him he stated “Go
thy way for this time; when I have a
convenient season, I will call for thee”
(Acts 24:25). There is no doubt about
it, preaching can change a person. Many
unfortunately simply do not want to make
a change. If a person hears preaching
long enough, there is a likelihood
something in that person’s life will
change. The Gospel may not be obeyed,
but change might come. It is easier for
some to stay where they are than to make
Preaching gives a message that means
responsibility. In a day and time when
everyone seems to be a victim taking
responsibility for actions is not a
popular message. Whenever evil occurs,
excuses are made for the person’s
actions. Perhaps they were mistreated as
a child. Maybe they simply did not get
enough attention. There may have been
discrimination of some kind in life, and
that person reacted in a negative way.
Sin today is condoned because many do
not want to take responsibility.
When Jesus said “except ye repent, ye
shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3),
He was preaching a message that was hard
for some to obey. If a person repents,
that person must admit wrong in life.
There must be an acknowledgment of sin
and wrong doing. In our day where
negativism, truth, and responsibility
are wrong, that is something few want to
For the above reasons, we can understand
why preaching seems foolish to some. To
the child of God however it is “the
power of God unto salvation” (Rom.
1:16). If a person tells me “I enjoyed
your sermon” it usually means, I said
something they found of benefit.
Whenever the Word of God is preached,
great benefit can come. If the heart of
the listener is right, faith and
obedience can result (Acts 2:41). Thanks
be to God for the foolishness of
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the
church of Christ in Vienna, IL.
Bill may be contaced at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can be involved in an argument.
Paul and Barnabas are reminders that even
faithful brethren are not immune from
having disagreements (Acts
our disagreements get out of hand and we
end up saying things we later regret. So
what are some safeguards we can use in
handling disagreements in a Christian way?
Here are a few suggestions with the help
of the book of Proverbs:
Be friendly. Try not to be adversarial in
your point of view. "He that hath friends
must show himself friendly" and "A friend
loveth at all times" (Prov. 18:24; 17:17).
Ever use kindness. Cordiality goes a long
way towards maintaining tranquility. "A
soft answer turneth away wrath: but
grievous words stir up anger" (Prov.
Let up some. Most disagreements would
remain friendly if we would just back off
a little. ". . .but he that refraineth his
lips is wise" (Prov. 10:19).
Overcome with good. Oftentimes in the heat
of an argument we lash out in retaliation.
"Say not, I will do so to him as he hath
done to me" (Prov. 24:29).
Value their opinion. Listen attentively to
what others have to say. "He that
answereth a matter before he heareth it,
it is folly and shame unto him" (Prov.
Introduce soothing words. You can get your
point across in a nice way. "Pleasant
words are as honeycomb, sweet to the
soul, and health to the bones" (Prov.
Never engage irate behavior. If a
disagreement becomes ugly - conversation
over! "Put away from thee a froward mouth,
and perverse lips put far from thee"
Grow taller. The desire to win an argument
often escalates it. Bigger people will
refuse. ". . . Therefore leave off
contention, before it be meddled with"
- Bulletin Digest; via The
Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the
Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert
What did you bring to worship?
Each Lord's day,
the church of our Lord gathers together
for public worship. We do this because
our Lord died for us and those who love
Him desire to worship His high and holy
name. Those who love the Lord do not
come to the building to "get something
out of it", but to serve the Lord. Mind
you, those who come seek to be edified,
but edification is the result of
serving/worshipping the Lord not by
being pleased because of what some
preacher says. It is not unreasonable,
however, for the Christian to expect a
lesson from the preacher that does at
least two things. First, exalt the
Lord's glory by proclaiming His will.
Second, by bringing a lesson that one
can make application to.
Unfortunately, a great many people judge
the worship of the church by the sermon
preached. Is that the standard by which
we judge the worship of the church? The
worship of the church is much more than
just the sermon preached. It is also the
singing of praise to the Lord's name,
participation in the Lord's Supper, our
prayers, and our contribution to the
Lord's work. Yet, some people are
wanting something "sweet" rather than
something substantive. "Worship is like
cotton candy. A great deal of sugar, but
in a moment's time, nothing is left but
a pleasant taste" (William Woodson).
Perhaps, too many people forget that God
is the object of our worship.
If you want "something out of worship,"
then you might put something into it.
You can do this by making preparations.
You expect the preacher to be prepared
for his Sunday morning lesson (lessons
if he teaches Bible class). Perhaps the
Christian needs to be prepared for
worship as well.
We can be prepared by going to bed at a
reasonable hour in order that we are
fully rested by morning's light. This
way we can give our attention to the
Lord and not go through the mere motions
of routine. When we come to the building
maybe we need to leave earlier than we
normally do so that we are not rushed
and, ultimately, arrive late. This will
allow us time to sit down and collect
our thoughts. When we sing our songs of
praise we expect the song leader to be
prepared, don't we? It is unfortunate
when our song leader is unprepared and
just "gathers some songs" to sing
because it's his turn to lead. You
expect the song leader to prayerfully
think about the message of the songs,
don't you? If so, then perhaps it is a
good idea that all of us who sing along
with the song leader be prepared as
well. Our preparation is important.
"A student came to a Scottish professor,
asking him how long he might safely put
off decision for Christ. "Until the day
before your death," was the strange
reply. "But I cannot tell when I shall
die," said the youth. "True," replied
the professor, "then decide now.""
(Knight's illustrations, p. 541)
Someone said, "The cross is something
you wear, not just bear." If we "wear"
the cross of Christ, then preparation
for our Sunday worship is never a
problem. It is like getting dress each
day; unless we have lost our minds, this
is never a problem. I think too many
Christians are just trying to "bear" the
cross on Sundays. Our exhortation from
this is that what we are supposed to
bring to worship on each Lord's day is
our prepared heart to worship/serve God.
This is not to much to ask for the Lord,
- Ron Thomas preaches for the Highway
church of Christ, Sullivan, IL. He
may be contacted at email@example.com
misc. goodies this issue
Dangers Confronting the
Several years ago brother N.B. Hardeman,
one of the greatest spiritual giants of
his generation, was asked what dangers
he saw confronting the church of his
day. His reply was as follows:
1) A lack of Bible
knowledge and a light regard with what
2) A tendency to make
the church a social club of
disposition to compromise the truth and
to discourage sound preaching.
4) A love for the
praise of men more than the praise of
Consider these four things and note how
the growth of each of them is causing
problems to the church in our day.
- Copied; I apologize for this vague but
oft cited source. I try to
identify each item's source when used in
BulletinGold. However, in this
case I failed. My sincere apology
to whomever submitted this insightful
piece. Although I do not know who
you are I, and all our readers, am very
thankful for you sharing this with us.
Boy! What Preaching!
As a young minister, I was asked by a
funeral director to hold a grave-side
service for a homeless man, with no family
or friends. The funeral was to be held at
a cemetery way back in the country, and
this man would be the first to be laid to
As I was not familiar with the backwoods
area, I became lost! And being the typical
man did not stop for directions. I finally
arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe
and the crew, who were eating lunch, but
the hearse was no where in sight.
I apologized to the workers for my
tardiness, and stepped to the side of the
open grave, where I saw the vault lid
already in place. I assured the workers I
would not hold them up for long, but this
was the proper thing to do. The workers
gathered around, still eating their lunch.
I poured out my heart and soul.
As I preached the workers began to say
"Amen," "Praise the Lord," and "Glory," I
preached, and I preached, like I'd never
preached before: from Genesis all the way
to Revelation. I closed the lengthy
service with a prayer and walked to my
As I was opening the door and taking off
my coat, I overheard one of the workers
saying to another, "I ain't never seen
anything like that before and I've been
putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
- This item came to us via The Lantern,
the weekly bulletin of the Highway church
of Christ, Sullivan, IL.
Don't Laugh, It's Real!
If you are old enough to remember the Ma
and Pa Kettle movies (or have seen the
occasional re-runs on TV) you will
appreciate this excerpt. In one movie
two situations stand out indelibly. The
first involved the Kettle family at the
dinner table. Pa offered a four word
prayer: Thanks for the vittles." A
mad scramble of forks and elbows
followed. The second situation involved
the Kettle family at a church service.
As the collection plate went from hand
to hand, each member of the Kettle clan
rapped the underside with a knuckle,
counterfeiting the sound of money
dropping into the plate. But the plate
was still empty when it got to the end
of the pew.
Maybe it was all in
fun, it did make a lot of people laugh,
but it contained a good deal of realism
too. A proper attitude about prayer and
a sense of financial responsibility to
the church are both highly important to
the Christian. I wonder how many pots
would call the Kettles black.
- Gerald Cowan lives in Marion, IL and
preaches for the Dongola church of
Christ, Dongola, IL. He may be
contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
|Hearts of Gold
In The Valley I Grow
Sometimes life seems hard to bear
Full of sorrow, trouble, and woe,
It's then I have to remember
That it's in the valleys I grow.
If I always stayed on the mountaintop
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.
I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountaintops,
But it's in the valleys I grow.
I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing:
My Lord will see me through.
My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross.
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.
Forgive me, Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.
Continue to strengthen me, Lord,
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.
Thank you for valleys, Lord,
For this one thing I know:
The mountaintops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow.
- Via The Sower, weekly bulletin of the
Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.
>From day to day,
and trials encountered
Along the way,
For the opportunity to go
To Him in prayer
To relieve your burdens
Toils and care,
For grace bestowed
And blessings received,
For forgiveness of sins
And heartaches relieved
For the refreshing rain
And the evening's sun,
For a crown of life
When our tasks here are done,
The Faithful Few
In every church, in every clime,
When there's some work to do,
It's very likely to be done
By just the faithful few.
Many folks will help to sing,
And some are glad to talk,
But when it comes to doing things
A lot of them will balk.
"I can't do this", "I can't do that",
"Excuse me please, this
"I'd be glad to help you out,
But it's not in my line".
So when the elders look about
For some who'll help to do,
They nearly always have to go
And ask a faithful few.
They know full well they're busy, too,
And always hard at work;
Yet they are sure they'll not refuse,
Nor any duty shirk.
They never stop to make excuse,
But always try to do.
Some day the Lord will come again
With judgment wise and true
And then with him to heaven fair
He'll take the faithful few!
- Author Unknown
& sayings for bulletins and signs
""We must not
change the message; the message must
change us" (Galatians 1:6-9) [via The
Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin of
the Mathis church of Christ, Mathis, TX;
Fortune does not change men, it unmasks
them (Suzanne Necker).
"Some people are born on third base and
go through life thinking they hit a
triple" (Barry Switzer).
being scared to death and saddling up
anyway." (John Wayne; via the APRIL
2006 MSFYi; Multiple Sclerosis
Foundation Internet Newsletter).