BulletinGold #69 
September 3, 2006   Vol 6 #7 

Editorial
----by David Bragg

There is a difference between an apostle and a disciple.  An apostle is "one sent on a mission."  Jesus selected twelve men, equipped them to succeed, and sent them on a specific mission.  A disciple is "a student, learner, and follower."  Although Jesus was often surrounded by  a "multitude," the true disciples were found in the  mere handfuls remaining true to Christ, no matter what (cf. John 6:66.)  In the familiar account of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22), Jesus revealed three traits of discipleship.

 

Discipleship demands learning.  This young man displayed a good foundational knowledge of the will of God and could boast of his success in applying these truths to his daily life (vs. 20).  Yet, to be a disciple, Jesus demanded that he learn even more about the deeper truths of God's will as it was revealed in Christ.

 

Discipleship demands leaving.  To be a disciple of Jesus requires that one leave behind the things of the world, anything that distracts them from becoming like Jesus, their ultimate goal (vs. 21).

 

Discipleship demands living.  It demands that our lives change, thes very point at which this  young man failed to prove himself a true disciple of Jesus.  He turned his back on the love of Christ (vs. 21a) and walked away in sorrow, seeing only the demands of discipleship, not the rewards.


The items included in this issue of BulletinGold address the importance of incorporating all of these aspects into our daily lives.  Without that, we, and those we teach and influence,  fail to become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

David Bragg, co-editor
http://davebragg.blog.com/
Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:

The Fortune of Misfortune
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 opportunity.
 
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; [13] So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; [14] 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 gospel!
 
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 church@belvederechurchofchrist.org

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Every Person’s Biography
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 one page.

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 his life.

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 coxsandyhook@yahoo.com

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The Company I Keep 
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 djpreacher@juno.com

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The ABC'S of Life
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 very well.

Let's mention three important ones right now.

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 failures.

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 called repentance.

The second is making progess and encouraging development of virtue. That's called growth.

We need both kinds of change to do the job right.

Prisoners of war discovered that in their restrictions and limitations, they could still work freely in the inner person.

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!

Brightly,

- 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 or attributions.

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Suffering
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 this life.

"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 ssmugnaini@syrupcity.net

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What 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 asked.

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 non-Christian.

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 rthomas1@one-eleven.net

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Nuggets and Quick Riches - misc. goodies this issue

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.
~Kathleen Norris

Live each day as if it were your last – someday you’ll be right. The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation
~Peter Marshall

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.
~Agatha Christie

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.
~Lou Holtz

- 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 MathisCofC@stx.rr.com or through their website: www.mathiscofc.org

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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” (Eccl. 4:16).

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 selfish existence.

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 at churchofchristatforistell@centurytel.net

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What's mine is.....His!

 
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 fathom.
 
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

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Hearts of Gold - poetry this issue

Kindness
 
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 bring,
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 sterchi@midwest.net

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"Life's Tug of War"

Life can seem ungrateful and not always kind.
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 you see.
Life can place challenges right at your feet.
Life can make good of the hardships that we meet.
Life can overwhelm you and make your head spin.
Life can reward those determined to win.
Life can be hurtful and not always fair.
Life can surround you with people who care.
Life clearly does offer its ups and its downs.
Life's days can bring you both smiles and frowns.
Life teaches us to take the good with the bad.
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 rest.
Take the challenges that life has laid at your feet.
Take pride and be thankful for each one you meet.
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 score,
    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 ron33dor@yahoo.com

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The Difference
 
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 at mtmcvb@concentric.net

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Gold Mines - quotes & sayings 

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 materials.

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 own destruction.”

- Aesop (620 B.C.-560 B.C.); via The Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin for the Mathis church of Christ, Mathis, Texas.