BulletinGold #70 
October 1, 2006   Vol 6 #8 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).  These are the last known written words of the great Apostle Peter and preserved for the modern church.

The noted disciple's departure from scripture is undramatic and anti-climatic.  His closing admonition is simple, but his life was very complex.  Here is an individual most commonly known for his failures.  Among the most memorable scenes of his life is the three-fold denial on the evening before Jesus' crucifixion.  This is the same man who had earlier confessed his sin to Chirst, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8)!

Patiently, Jesus continued to chip away at the rough exterior of Peter's stone hard, imperfect life, and in the end that apostle would exit sacred history, without fanfare, but in victory.  He was still a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  Why Peter followed Jesus has often been debated.  I suspect that Peter, at times in spite of himself, came to recognize the perfection of Jesus as an alternative to his own imperfection.  Then he chose to let Jesus perfect him.

The result was a lifelong journey of joy, peace, and comfort that closed with Peter still following Jesus.  It is easy to compromise under the pressure of an impure world.  Christ will give us the strength to resist.  He has also given us a practical standard that, when followed, will produce a pure and holy life in Him.  That spiritual goal is the theme of the bulletin articles, fillers, poems, and quotes below.  I pass them along to you with the prayer that the hearts of the impure and unbelieving will be softened, leading them to turn to God's Word to find the One who died to make them "perfect," and lives to make them His.

David Bragg, co-editor
http://davebragg.blog.com/

P.S.  Thank you for the expressions of sympathy at the passing of my sister.

Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles: 

Commitment
By David A. Sargent

Commitment.  Do we really understand what that word means?

Compare your idea of commitment to the commitment to principle and honor that is seen in a letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou of the Union Army. He penned it to his wife, Sarah, a week before the battle of Bull Run, July 14, 1861. They had been married only six years....

          

My Very Dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more ...

I have no misgivings about or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution.  And I am willing, perfectly willing, to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this Government and to pay that debt...

Sarah, my love for you is deathless: it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break, and yet my love for country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on, with all these chains to the battle-field.

The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God, and you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us.

If I do not (return), my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have oftentimes been...

O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the gladdest day and in the darkest night, amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always: and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall by my breath, or the cool air cools your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead: think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again...

Sullivan

           


Major Ballou was killed one week later in the first battle of Bull Run (James Dobson).

He certainly exemplified deep commitment to the cause for which he fought – and died, as well as a fervent love for his wife.

Are you aware… that there is Someone who expressed this kind of commitment for YOU!  Jesus’ deep commitment and fervent love for you took Him to the cross to die for your sins so that YOU could be forgiven and have the hope of eternal life (Eph1:7).

How can we NOT respond to His love - demonstrated by His selfless sacrifice,  with our own love and commitment? 

The proper response includes: placing your faith in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), repenting of sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), being baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), and committing to follow Him for the rest of your life (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Won’t YOU commit your life to the One gave His life for you?

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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Purity (Matthew 5:8)
By David P. Brown

Jesus pronounced a blessing on “the pure in heart.” he said they would see God!  “Pure” translates the Greek word “katharos.’ It is an adjective meaning “pure, as being cleansed.” The implication is that where a state of uncleanness or filthiness existed, now a process has worked to bring about the opposite state: that of cleanliness, i.e. purity.

What is the process that God has chosen to create a pure or clean heart in man? This is the most important question we could ever ask. Why? Because only “the pure in heart” shall see God!

In answering our question, we must first understand what this heart is that has been cleansed or made pure. Originally “kardi,” the Greek word translated “heart” in most places meant the muscle that pumped the blood through the human body. It came to symbolize the inner man (I Pet. 3:4); or the intellect (Matt. 9:4; Isa. 32:4; Prov. 14:10; Mk. 2:6); the emotions (Matt. 27: 37; Neh. 2:2; Dan. 7:15); the will (II Cor. 9:7; Rom. 6:17; Col. 3:15) and the conscience (Acts 2:37; I Jhn. 3:20). Now we are better able to understand why the translators also rendered “psuche,” meaning the soul or life, into our English word “heart.” The heart is representative of the complete mental and moral activity of man. We may conclude that the word “heart” represents the real person. For this present age it is tabernacled in the flesh (II Cor. 5:1).

With this explanation of the heart in mind, we are better able to comprehend what has been made pure. We may now note the process by which the Lord made clean or pure the heart (intellect, emotions, will, and conscience).

Jesus said that the apostles were made “clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (Jhn. 15:3). In the parable of the soils in Luke 8, the only soil receptive to “the seed” or word (vs. 11). was the “honest and good heart.” It heard and kept the word and brought “forth fruit with patience” (v.15). May we not conclude that this is not only how the apostles of John 15:3 were made clean through the word, but how any person’s heart is made clean through the word?

Without the evidence found only in the word, there can be no faith or belief created within the heart (Heb. 4;12; Rom. 10:10, 17).  And “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6).

- David P. Brown, via the  Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley serves the congregation as evangelist, and he may be contacted at church@belvederechurchofchrist.org

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Take a Stand
By Edd Sterchi


The Bible gives some great advice on how we are to stand.  Because each one of us will one day stand at the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10) and be judged for the things done on the earth (2 Cor. 5:10), let us be found standing for the right things.  Let us...

   * Stand in awe of God (Psa. 33:8)
   * Stand in respect of God’s word (Psa. 119:161)
   * Stand in the Lord’s grace (Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 5:12)
   * Stand by faith (Rom. 11:20; 2 Cor. 1:24)
   * Stand in the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1)
   * Stand fast in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13)
   * Stand in the liberty by which Christ has made us free (Gal.5:1)
   * Stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).
   * Stand for truth and righteousness (Eph. 6:14).
   * Stand in one spirit with the brethren (Phil. 1:27).
   * Stand firm in the Lord (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 3:8).
   * Stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Col. 4:12).
   * Stand upon the Bible (2 Thess. 2:15).

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
                      
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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Saltless Salt
By Gene Rowe, Jr.

 
Jesus often used metaphoric language that was common to his disciples, and others in order to make the lessons so plain and understandable.  Salt was one of those topics that Christ used when preaching the famous "sermon on the mount."  (Matt. 5:13 ; Mark 9:50)
 
The significance of salt in Jesus' day was exemplified in several ways.  Salt was used to flavor and preserve food, and sacrifices were required to be salted before they were offered to God.  Also, bodies of newborn babies were rubbed with salt for health reasons, and salt was placed in the cavity of a tooth to ease the discomfort of a toothache.  Even today, the Salt Institute lists over 14,000 different uses for salt. 
 
Using metaphoric language Christ is comparing his disciples to salt, as they very well understood the value of salt and what happened to it when it lost it's usefulness.  Today Christians have the responsibility of being to the human race what salt is to food.  Concerning the quality of preserving, imagine a world, society, continent, state, city, community, and home void of Christian influence. (Phil. 2:14-16; Titus 2:11-12)  Another quality of salt is that it produces thirst, and as Christians we ought to live in such a way that our influence causes others to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6).   Salt also purifies, and as Christians we are to be examples of purity and good morals so that we may remind the world that there is a standard of morality (James 4:8).
 
Salt loses its savour, becomes of no value and effectiveness, when it is mixed with other elements, and thus is stripped of its strength.  As Christians we should display lifestyles that possess influences for good, but when we are polluted by sin, we lose our strength and effectiveness (James 1:27 ; I Cor. 15:33). 
 
SALT, WHAT A GREAT LESSON FROM THE MASTER TEACHER!
     
- 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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Perfect Before We Get There
By Rick Woodall

 
How good do we have to be to seek help from God? How close to perfection must we achieve from childhood to adulthood before we can associate or be a part of those of like precious faith?
 
There seems to be a trend these days among some of our brothers and sisters in the faith to require higher demands on the ethics of flawlessness, as if they have no problems. I personally would find this quite amusing if it was not for all the broken hearts that exist over this attitude that is common among some of our local educators and others that are supposed to make a difference in the molding of our young people.
 
It works like this.  If you have problems and you are fortunate enough that your personal troubles do not come out in the open, then your range of getting support, help, love and encouragement is limitless. What I am telling you is this. We need to become aware that not all the people we reach out to are the premier example of perfection. 
 
We teach people to read their Bibles. In the Bible we see Jesus associating and reaching out to troubled people. So where do so many get the idea that one has to act like a Christian before they become one?  This does not make for a very good evangelism program.
 
Jesus did not love sin but He loved the sinner. Please don’t forget that. Jesus can still change lives.  We say we serve a living Lord. If that is the case why don’t we give Him time to work in other peoples lives?
 
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”  –1 Cor. 4:5
 
“Judge nothing before the time.”  That time is not ours to measure. Only God will have that figured out. So from now until then work on your own aptness and lend a hand along the way.
 
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.”  – 1 Pet 4:8-9
 
Have a great week.
 
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Milan church of Christ in Milan, Michigan. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be heard on the World Wide Web at this address: http://www.milanchurchofchrist.org/page3

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The Cover and Title Should Tell What Is In the Book
By Gerald Cowan


     As Bob Dylan once admonished us, "The times they are a-changin."  It may be so, but in general the changes are not for the better. The definition of a Christian must not be changed.

     What is really in a person affects everything he does and what he himself really is. There should be in every person a desire for knowledge, and a desire for spiritual growth. We use many defense mechanisms to hide the truth about ourselves, even from ourselves. But we need to know ourselves, to see ourselves as God sees us and perhaps as others see us too.

     Outward appearance will be taken as evidence of what is really in any person. We must present ourselves as we really are, not as what we want to believe or have others believe about us. We should be more concerned about the inner person, making ourselves right with God and making sure the cover and title tell what is in us.

-- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Lord's church in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


Nuggets and Quick Riches - misc. goodies this issue

HOW DID YOU LIKE THE SERMON?

This is a familiar question. By what guidelines do we determine a good sermon? I suggest a sermon is sucessful if:

1. Is it true to God’s word.
2. It is preached in love.
3. II is prepared to meet a need.
4. It is spoken so all can understand.
5. It glorifies God.
6. It challenges people to think.

Sermons are to be measured not by approval and pleasure of people, but by their response to holy living, godly action and true Christian dedication.

Sermons are preached not to be liked, but to be lived. The question in the heat of every faithful preacher is “What does God want?”

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

- Author Unknown, via the  Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley serves the congregation as evangelist, and he may be contacted at church@belvederechurchofchrist.org

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Cell Phones VS. The Bible


I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones.
 

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it
What if we flipped through it several times a day
What if we used it to receive messages from the text
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it
What if we gave it to kids as gifts
What if we used it as we traveled
What if we used it in case of an emergency
What if we upgraded it to get the latest version

 
—Anonymous, via the SEED, an e-mail list presented by James C. Guy, the minister of the Canal Heights church of Christ and THE BIBLE SAYS website at: http://biblesays.faithsite.com  To subscribe to the SEED e-mail list, click here: http://biblesays.faithsite.com/content.asp?CID=6372

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The Problem With Ignorance


     Ignorance is not our major problem. It is not knowing when we are ignorant that causes trouble.

     A man never knows just how foolish he is until he sees or hears himself imitated by another.

     With so many credit cards available today it's no wonder so many people are living in I-O-Utopia.

- Via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan preaches for this congregation and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


 Hearts of Gold - poetry this issue 

Who Else But God?
 
Who else but God could have thought of these things:
Dew on a petal, a tendril that clings,
The song of a bird and green moss on a log,
A bee on the wing and a fern in a bog;
The sweet smell of clover, of grass after rain,
The flame of October and full fruited grain,
A tree in its glory, a seed in its pod.
Who could have thought of such beauty but God.
 
Who could have thought of a meadow in bloom,
An orchard in blossom, a lilac’s perfume,
The egg of a robin, the sun through the trees,
The touch of cool water, a soft summer breeze,
Or white drifting clouds with wild geese wheeling by,
The blaze of a sunset, a star in the sky,
Eternity’s span and a butterfly’s wings;
Who else but God could have thought of these things.
 
Thrilled as a child I give thanks for these things,
Praising my God for the blessings He brings;
So grateful for bounties that crowd every day
And for His forgiveness when I go astray.
Oh, how can I show all the joy in my heart,
And humbly, devotedly do my small part?
I know of the tears on the road that He trod;
Who could have loved us so, who else but God!
 
- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of the  Harrisburg church of Christ, Harrisburg, IL.  Edd Sterchi, preacher and bulletin editor, may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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THE SHOCK OF HEAVEN

I was shocked, confused and bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Or the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
who made me sputter and gasp--
the thieves, the liars, the sinners,
the alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money-- twice!
Next to him was my old neighbor
who never said anything nice.
And Mike, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on Cloud Nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.
And why's everyone so quiet,
so somber? Jesus, give me a clue."
"Hush, child," He said "They're all in shock.
No one thought that they'd see you."  


- Via the SEED, an e-mail list presented by James C. Guy, the minister of the Canal Heights church of Christ and THE BIBLE SAYS website at: http://biblesays.faithsite.com  To subscribe to the SEED e-mail list, click here: http://biblesays.faithsite.com/content.asp?CID=6372

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DON'T CUT CORNERS
by J. Randal Matheny

While others work at odds with excellence,
don't cut corners--curb the urge
to lag and offer less than the best.
Quality garners a gift of kings.

Though murky waters move about you,
and voices cloud what virtue claims,
don't cut corners when doubts arise.
Honesty honors the spirit of law.

Don't cut corners to dodge restraints,
this slippery slope will slide to ruin.
The rock of right will break the rogue,
but keep intact whose character counts.  


- 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.


Gold Mines ----quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs 
The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will and the other from a strong wont!
(Henry Ward Beecher)

“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
(C. S. Lewis; via Bible Seed, James Guy, moderator)

It is never too soon to repent, because you never know how soon it may be too late.
(via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan preaches for this congregation and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com)


Nonchalance is the ability to remain down to earth when everything else is up in the air.
(via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan preaches for this congregation and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com)

CHURCH SIGN BOARD:

"Try our Sundays; they're better than Dairy Queen's."
Dignity is one thing that cannot be preserved in alcohol.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke).


- Via The Lantern, the weekly bulletin of the Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL.  Ron Thomas serves the congregation as minister and bulletin editor. He may be contacted at rthomas1@one-eleven.net