The Fortune of
By A. J. Cox
Thomas Edison experimented with
thousands of different filaments to find
just the right materials that would glow
well enough and last long enough for his
light bulb. Concerning his thousands of
“failed” attempts at achieving his goal,
Edison was quoted as saying, “I have not
failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that
won’t work.” The famed inventor had a
“glass is half full” mentality! Where
others saw failure, he saw progress and
The temptation is great to focus
exclusively on the negative aspects of
the obstacles in our lives. Christians,
however, should learn to recognize the
opportunities inherent in very trial. To
illustrate, consider what Paul wrote in
Philippians 1:12-14. “But I would ye
should understand, brethren, that the
things which happened unto me have
fallen out rather unto the furtherance
of the gospel;  So that my bonds in
Christ are manifest in all the palace,
and in all other places;  And many
of the brethren in the Lord, waxing
confident by my bonds, are much more
bold to speak the word without fear.”
Some, no doubt, would have viewed Paul's
prolonged imprisonment as a hindrance to
the gospel and to his ministry. The
apostle, however, points out that the
things that had happened to him had
actually furthered the spread of the
Paul’s bonds in Christ became known
throughout the ranks of the Praetorian
Guard and to many others in Rome.
Because of his “misfortune” people heard
the gospel who otherwise may not have
heard it. While Paul himself was bound,
truly the word of God was not bound (2
Tim. 2:9). Not only this, but his
example emboldened many other Christians
to speak the word without fear.
As Christians we must condition
ourselves to look for opportunity where
others see only negativity. Your
illness, grief, family predicament, and
such like may put you in a position to
share Christ’s message of hope with
those who have not heard it. And the
manner in which you endure your trials
can set a powerful example for others to
follow. May God help us to see the
fortune in our misfortune.
- A. J. Cox, Cloverdale, IN; via
BELVEDERE BEACON, the weekly bulletin of
the Belvedere church of Christ,
Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley serves
as minister, and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jimmy W. Cox
Your biography will have no more than
four pages. Some will have even fewer.
The first page is white, denoting
purity; the condition of a soul at his
or her physical birth. "....Unless you
be converted and become as little
children, you will by no means enter the
kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3). If a
child dies before being able to make a
decision about right or wrong, he is
"safe" – never lost. His biography has
The second page is black, because of
sin. Each person who has lived long
enough to make decisions, will commit
sin. (Rom. 3:23). "The wages of sin is
death", (Rom. 6:23). Sin is doing things
that are wrong (I John 3:4), or
neglecting to do what is right. (Jas.
4:17). Far too many people will continue
to sin, and will remain "lost in sin",
with a black page, and will go to the
great judgment with just two pages in
The third page is red. The only reason
we can have a "red page" is because God
loved us enough to send His Son to be a
"sin offering" for us. (John 3:16). "But
God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8). The
blood of Jesus was shed for everyone;
only those who have enough faith in
Christ to obey Him will be saved. To get
a "red page", we must: Believe in Jesus
Christ, Heb. 11:6; repent of sins, Acts
2:38; Publicly confess Christ, Matt.
10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ, Rom.
6:3-6). We are baptized "into His death"
where He shed His blood. We become
children and heirs of God, Rom. 8:17 and
Eph. 1:7. No sin is too great or too
black for the blood of Jesus to wash
away. (I Tim. 1:15-16).
Those who become Christians receive Page
4– a new white page, representing
purity. We must try our very best to
live a Christian life. But if we "are
overtaken in a trespass," (Gal. 6:1) and
soil our page, we can restore it– "If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins, and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If
we say that we have not sinned, we make
Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
I John 1:9. But if we turn our back on
Christ and start living a sinful life
again, we will blacken our page and be
lost. (Heb. 10:25-26). So be very sure
to live a Christian life – be an example
to those still in darkness. "Let your
light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16).
- Jimmy Cox lives in Sandy Hook, MS and
attends the Columbia church of Christ in
Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at email@example.com
The Company I
By Bill Brandstatter
Throughout the Bible the company a
person keeps has been very important.
Paul states a universal principle in I
Corinthians 15:33: “Evil companionships
corrupt good morals” (ASV). Indeed this
has been the case in every generation.
Consider that God’s people were
forbidden to marry pagan tribes. God
knew that being around idolaters would
turn them away from God. This was a
great problem with Solomon. “But king
Solomon loved many strange women,
together with the daughter of Pharaoh,
women of the Moabites, Ammonites,
Edomites, Zidonites, and Hittites;...And
he had seven hundred wives, princesses,
and three hundred concubines: and his
wives turned away his heart” (I Kings
11:1,3). Had he not so closely
aligned himself with sin and with the
foreign women and the ways of the world,
he would have stayed strong for God.
James stated a great truth that applies
to Solomon and many today: “Whosoever
therefore will be a friend of the world
is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
The company we keep is, therefore,
important to God. The company we keep is
also important to the church and the
elders. When Paul spoke to the Ephesian
eldership, he told them: “Take heed
therefore unto yourselves, and to all
the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers, to feed the
church of God, which he hath purchased
with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). "Take
heed" means that the eldership needs to
be watching the church, much like a
shepherd watches his sheep, to make sure
a wolf does not devour them.
What kind of company do you keep? Are
you found often in bars, drinking,
dancing around people of a rough nature?
It is God who knows your heart. God
knows you better than you do. What
does God think of the company you keep?
He did not like the company Solomon
kept. God tells us that we
are not to be “unequally yoked together
with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14).
Paul is simply advising of an unequal
alliance with people who are not
Christians. Paul, no doubt, knew about
Solomon, and did not want Christians to
turn away from God.
Let us all beware of the company we
keep. God loves us. He wants all of us
to be in Heaven with Him. He desires
that we follow His ways. We cannot do
that if we let the wrong people
influence us. If we stray, God is
willing to welcome us back.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the
church of Christ in Vienna, IL. He
may be contaced at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ABC'S of
by J. Randal Matheny
Life is governed by principle. God set
up this world to run by his rules. When
we recognize and follow them, we'll do
Let's mention three important ones right
ACCEPT others as they are.
One of the great disappointments is to
expect something of others that doesn't
pan out. There are few exceptions to the
rule that you cannot force others to do
what you want. (One exception: parents
should require certain things of their
children, like studying.)
But you cannot make people change. You
may use persuasion. Some try
manipulation. In the end, however, you
must come to accept people as they are,
with all their foibles, follies, and
The flip side: there is much to admire
and imitate in others. There is also
much to encourage and praise. Though
you'd never know it by the 6 o'clock
news, good people abound to enjoy, learn
from, and get close to.
BEAUTIFY your circumstances.
Some circumstances cannot be changed. I
cannot bring someone back from the dead.
I cannot change what happened yesterday.
I will never be younger than I am now.
But even the unchangeable circumstances
can be redeemed. My wife's uncle's
wife's mother (whew!) is over 90, but
she still puts on makeup every day and
goes to the beauty shop every week.
Mike Brooks's article, "Consider the
Lilies,"/1 reminds us that even what we
back in rural Arkansas called the
"dirt-poor" can choose to spruce up
their situation. Believe it or not, you
can sweep a dirt floor! Or you can plant
a flower in the midst of poverty. Or a
seed that will change the future.
If you can't move, redecorate!
CHANGE your life.
You can't change others directly, and
you will have to live with many
immutable circumstances, but one area
where you can tinker, dig, stretch, mess
and gom is your own life. Your mind.
Your heart. Your conscience and soul.
There are two kinds of change.
One is when you think or act wrongly and
need to rectify and redirect. That's
The second is making progess and
encouraging development of virtue.
That's called growth.
We need both kinds of change to do the
Prisoners of war discovered that in
their restrictions and limitations, they
could still work freely in the inner
How much more can we roll up our
sleeves, rip out rotten beams, and
install right attitudes and actions?!
The ABC's of life are there to be
discovered. And used. In order for you
to have the life that shines.
Remember, it's your day to shine!
- J. Randal Matheny, missionary and
minister, is the publisher of Uplift, an
on-line and e-mail devotional. He
may be contacted through this website: http://randalmatheny.com/doku.php?id=uplift
When reprinting this material, please be
sure to include the following:
Copyright (c) 2006 J. Randal Matheny All
rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not
alter it in any way or remove any text
By Stefano R. Mugnaini
In the eyes of the non-believer, there
is no surer condemnation of Christian
beliefs than the existence of Human
suffering in the creation of a
benevolent God. The oft-repeated
refrain goes something like this: "If
God exists, and loves us, then why does
He let us suffer?" Indeed, many
believers struggle with this same
question, especially in times of
hardship, bereavement or sickness.
There are numerous explanations for the
presence of suffering and evil in our
world, all essentially pointing to the
same source: the actions of man.
We did not all inherit the sin of Adam,
but we did inherit many of the
consequences; namely, expulsion from an
earthly paradise, and physical
death. Given more writing space,
it is easy to trace the root of human
pain and suffering to their original
cause: a misuse of the free will that a
benevolent God could only give to His
most beloved creation. However,
this article's purpose is not to argue
the weakness of this atheistic argument,
but to highlight the positive side of
suffering to the Christian.
First of all, Christ never hid the fact
that we should be prepared to suffer for
His name: "Blessed are those who are
persecuted for righteousness sake."
There are several other places in which
we are told that to suffer for Christ is
both commendable and requisite:
however, realizing the
necessity of suffering does not always
make it easier to bear. It only
shows us that we are not alone or
isolated in what we must undergo.
There is, indeed, a positive side to
hardship, pain, and suffering. It
is one of the most supreme of all
blessings: perspective. Had we
never tasted a lemon, could we
appreciate the sweetness of
lemonade? It is the same with all
"sour" aspects of life. Without
experiencing the bad, how could we
appreciate the good? We can apply
this principle from the smallest
inconvenience to the greatest.
If Adam and Eve had seen what it was
like outside the garden, would they have
eaten the fruit? We know that, as
Christians, we are promised a rest when
our labors end. How much more
then, is that rest worth to him who
labored greatly? How much more
beautiful a promise of heavenly bliss
must be to those whose earthly lives
were anything but blissful? Our
struggles here don't deny, but rather
emphasize, the love our God shows us by
offering us something better than
anything we have ever experienced in
"There remains, therefore, a rest for
the people of God"---Hebrews 4:9
- Stefano R. Mugnaini preaches for the
Cairo church of Christ in Cairo, GA, He
may be contacted at email@example.com
Distinguishes a Christian From Others
By Ron Thomas
Not too long ago I was asked to preach a
sermon on “what is a Christian?” The
person who asked the question was not
asking about what the Bible teaches on
how to become a Christian, but how does
a Christian distinguish oneself in this
world of darkness. We will address this
question from the series of questions
We will begin by considering how one
identifies a Christian apart from the
world. To answer this, it appears to me
we must be clear on what the Bible says
about how a person becomes a Christian.
Simply put, though it is more
comprehensive than this, if one were to
obey the words of the Lord Jesus in Mark
16:16, one would be a Christian. The
conversion of one’s soul is where Christ
reigns in the heart; physically, there
is no outward change.
To be a Christian is to be a follower of
Christ. By mere physical appearance
another person cannot identify a
Christian. Yet, by physical activity,
one should be able to identify a
Christian in this dark world in which we
live. The life lived is crucial to
distinguishing a Christian from a
Does one’s speech, dress, habits, etc.
distinguish a Christian from a
non-Christian? Not necessarily. Yet,
each of these attributes are crucial to
the Christian’s characteristic. There
are many non-Christians in this world
who dress conservatively and with
modesty, wearing clothing that do not
bring sensual attention to oneself. But
this does not make a Christian. There
are many fine people in this world who
use language in a most positive way;
they seek to build up and encourage
their neighbor, but this does not make a
Christian. The same thing can be said
about one’s habits. But, as we have
said, these qualities certainly fit the
mode of being a Christian.
A Christian is one who has been set
apart by the Lord Jesus; converted
people will change everything about
themselves from how this world would
have them live to how the Lord wants
them to live. This is the idea behind
Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified
with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. And the life
I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
himself for me” (ESV).
This includes the idea of “going to
church.” When we go to the building each
Sunday, we should be going in order to
worship God. God is our focus each
Lord’s day morning; we are focused on
the life He lived and the death He
suffered. More than that, though, we are
focused on His resurrection; because of
this, the Christian has hope.
Unfortunately, some Christians fail to
understand the significance of attending
worship with the saints. We need to
encourage them to think differently.
The distinguishing characteristics of a
Christian is seen in the what they did
(“Repent and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins”, Acts 2:38)
and how they live (“We were buried
therefore with him by baptism into
death, in order that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the
Father, we too might walk in newness of
life,” Romans 6:4) and also what they do
(“And let us consider how to stir up one
another to love and good works, not
neglecting to meet together, as is the
habit of some, but encouraging one
another, and all the more as you see the
Day drawing near,” Hebrews 10:24-25).
– Ron Thomas preaches for the Highway
church of Christ in Sullivan, IL. He may
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quick Riches - misc. goodies this
Sentences of Life
Life is easier to take than you’d think;
all that is necessary is to accept the
impossible, do without the
indispensable, and bear the intolerable.
Live each day as if it were your last –
someday you’ll be right. The measure of
life is not its duration, but its
I like living. I have sometimes been
wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable,
racked with sorrow, but through it all I
still know quite certainly that just to
be alive is a grand thing.
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness is another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.
~Adam Lindsay Gordon
Life is 10 percent what happens to me
and 90 percent how I react to it.
- Via The Mathis Messenger, the weekly
bulletin for the Mathis church of
Christ, Mathis, Texas. Kyle Moses
serves the congregation as
evangelist. He may be contacted at
or through their website: www.mathiscofc.org
What Is the
Meaning of Life?
By Travis L. Quertermous
From time to time all of us have asked
ourselves such questions as, “What is
the meaning of life? Why am I here? Is
there life after death?” In the Book of
Ecclesiastes, God gives us the answers
to such questions. He inspired King
Solomon to look at his life and his
search for happiness in worldly pursuits
like entertainment, wealth, alcohol,
sex, etc. For much of his life, Solomon
forgot about God and lived for himself.
He concluded that such a life was
“vanity and grasping for the wind”
Finally, the wise king concluded, “Let
us hear the conclusion of the whole
matter: "Fear God and keep His
commandments, for this is man’s all. For
God will bring every work into judgment,
including every secret thing, whether
good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14).
There is the reason for our being: to
serve our Creator and spend eternity
with Him! Anything else is a waste
of life, especially since we must one
day give an account to God for such a
At the beginning of each new year people
often re-examine their lives and make
resolutions to change for the better. As
you do so, ask yourself if you are
living your life to the fullest, the way
your Creator meant you to? Are you
living in obedience to His word, the
Bible? We at the church of Christ want
to help you do this. Why not contact us
today and start the new year off right?
- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the
church of Christ at Foristell,
Foristell, MO. He may be contacted
When I was little, going to McDonald's
for a Happy Meal was a huge treat.
One exciting Saturday, Daddy and I were
eating lunch there, and I was as happy
as a lark with my little cheeseburger
(no pickle), fries, coke and a 5-cent
prize. That all change though,
when Daddy asked me for a fry. I
was shocked and perplexed! Those
were my fries. Surely he could see
that! He was a grown-up -- he could
control his potato cravings! Then
he gently asked me, "You wouldn't give
your daddy one little fry when he bought
them for you in the first place?"
He had me there. How could I dream
of being stingy with the man who gave
me, well, everything? Of course I
offered him the fry and several more.
As I've grown, that McDonald's incident
has remained with me, and I now realize
a spiritual application. I'm still
that kid with the Happy Meal, but this
time God is sitting across from
me. He asks me not for a french
fry, but maybe an hour to spend
encouraging a sister going through a
difficult situation. He might ask
for $20 to provide school supplies for
children who cannot afford to buy their
own. I balk at first: Isn't
God all-powerful? Can't he do it
with his own resources? He has
more power and knowledge than I can even
Then he asks me, "You wouldn't give an
hour to the one who grants you a
lifetime? You wouldn't give a few
dollars to the one who enables you to
earn a living?"
He has me there. All I "have" is
his-I am his. How can I hold on to
what was given to me in an incredible
act of love? I am honored that he
should share so much with me. Am I
honoring him by my use of these gifts?
I'd like to say that since that Saturday
years ago I've been the epitome of
generosity. But being human, you know
that isn't quite true. Now when I
start to hold tightly to what is "mine,"
I see that look in my daddy's eyes,
lovingly asking me to be a better
person...and I relax my grip.
- Leigh Brannon (The Reporter, Faulkner
University; Montgomery, AL - title
supplied); 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
of Gold - poetry this issue
A little word in kindness spoken,
A motion, or a tear,
Has often healed the heart that’s broken
And made a friend sincere.
A word, a look has crushed to earth
Full many a budding flower,
Which, had a smile but owned its birth,
Would bless life’s darkest hour.
Then deem it not an idle thing
A pleasant word to speak;
The face you wear, the thought you
A heart may heal or break.
- Selected; via the bulletin of the
Harrisburg church of Christ, Harrisburg,
IL. Edd Sterchi serves as their
minister, and he may be contacted at email@example.com
Tug of War"
Life can seem ungrateful and not always
Life can pull at your heartstrings and
play with your mind.
Life can be blissful and happy and free.
Life can put beauty in the things that
Life can place challenges right at your
Life can make good of the hardships that
Life can overwhelm you and make your
Life can reward those determined to win.
Life can be hurtful and not always fair.
Life can surround you with people who
Life clearly does offer its ups and its
Life's days can bring you both smiles
Life teaches us to take the good with
Life is a mixture of happy and sad.
So. Take the life that you have
and give it your best.
Think positive. Be happy. Let God do the
Take the challenges that life has laid
at your feet.
Take pride and be thankful for each one
To yourself give forgiveness if you
stumble and fall.
Take each day that is dealt you and give
it your all.
Take the love that you're given and
return it with care.
Have faith that when needed it will
always be there.
Take time to find the beauty in the
things that you see.
Take life's simple pleasures. Let them
set your heart free.
The idea here is simply to even the
as you are met and
faced with life's tug of war.
- Author unknown; via
THE SOWER, the weekly bulletin of the
Arthur church of Christ, Arthur,
IL. Ron Bartanen serves as their
preacher, and he may be contacted at He
may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some murmur when their sky is clear,
And wholly bright in view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue;
And some with thankful love are filled
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God's good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.
-- R.C.Trench; submitted
by Mark McWhorter, who can be contacted
We often try to fix problems
with WD-40 and duct tape. God did it
with a nail.
- via Ed Thomason, co-editor of
BulletinGold and minister of the New
Madrid church of Christ, New Madrid,
MO. He may be contacted through
one of his websites, preachtoday.com,
a great resource for on-line Bible study
The following were collected from The
Encourager, the weekly publication of
the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola,
IL.. Gerald Cowan serves as their
minister (he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com):
Nature abhors a
vacuum. When a head lacks brains,
nature is apt to fill it with conceit.
Conceit is the disease that
makes everybody sick except the one
who has it.
Take a lesson from the weather. It
never yields to criticism.
There are two basic types of failure:
the one who will do nothing he is told
to do, and the one who will do nothing
except what he is told to do.
The shaft of an arrow has been feathered
with one of the eagles’ own plumes. We
often give our enemies the means of our
- Aesop (620 B.C.-560 B.C.); via The
Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin
for the Mathis church of Christ, Mathis,