BulletinGold #84
December 2007   Vol 7 #10
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg

In my personal opinion, “It Is a Wonderful Life” is the all-time greatest holiday movie.  Especially given Hollywood’s concept of what components are necessary to make a blockbuster film, it is difficult for me to imagine the production of a greater holiday classic.  In this film George Bailey learns the hard way that the world would have been like if he had never existed.  Friends, family and events, once taken for granted, took on richer meaning.  Unrealized dreams suddenly seemed unimportant.  Viewers could reflect on Jimmy Stewart’s intriguing performance and come away with a clearer understanding of the important things in life.

 

This time of year Jesus becomes popular.  The story of His birth is rehearsed repeatedly.  Joy and peace become the operative words as goodwill is mingled among the shopping frenzy.  But life is not a Frank Capra film.  We cannot experience what the fictional character George Bailey experienced.  Yet, in the inspired discussion of Jesus' life and ministry an interesting observation was made by Christ Himself, upon which we would do well to dwell.  He said, in John 15:22, "If I had not come ..."

 

Imagine what we would miss if Jesus had not come.  There would be no church, New Testament, and no hope.  Nothing encouraging could be said by an open grave.  Nothing could help sustain marriages through difficult times.  There would be no meaning to this life and no expectation of the next.  There would be no Savior.  Life would not be so wonderful.

 

We know, of course, that Christ not only lived, but lives.  And while much of the world’s concept of Jesus’ life and mission is based on false information, the fact of their focusing on Him during this season is a reality of which His church should take advantage.  Therefore, the items of this issue of BulletinGold will focus upon the One whom we recognize as Lord and Savior.


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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


A
Plan for the Holidays
by: Lance Cordle

As we enter the “core” of the holiday season, please allow me to remind us all of some things we can do to make and keep it a joyous time for us all:

Be careful about your spending. Stick to a budget. Life does not consist in the quantity or price of things (see Luke 12:15).

Do something for others. Whether it is with a group, or on your own, give a little extra to help someone in need. In your plans (parties, etc.), try to include those who may not have plans of their own (widows, singles, couples who live far away from family, etc.).

Face your negative feelings.  If you are sad about a loved who is no longer alive, think about them and face the sadness, but end your contemplation with a reflection of the precious memories and the positive influence of that person on your life.

Use part of your time to take personal inventory and set goals for the coming year. Try to avoid too much self-criticism, but be realistic in your evaluation. Prioritize and set some attainable goals (not too many at once) for yourself in the New Year.

Enjoy the happy moments. Try to truly savor the times of celebration. They will serve you well as sweet memories in the years to come.

- Lance Cordle preaches for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
                              

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Gifts You Can Give the Year Long

There are certain times of the year that we plan on giving - and that is good.  But there are some gifts that we can give all year long - gifts that don’t cost much financially, but gifts that are of great value nonetheless.  Make plans to give:
 
The Gift of Praise - Acknowledging someone else’s qualities or just a job well done is always appropriate and appreciated.  Make sure this is done right in front of their face and watch for the smile.
 
The Gift of Consideration - Try putting yourself in the other fellow’s shoes for a while.  Make an effort to gain a genuine understanding of their side of the case.  Let them know you understand and are truly concerned.
 
The Gift of Concession - Humble yourself and just at the right time be sure to say, “Sorry, you’re right and I’m wrong.”
 
The Gift of Gratitude - Always remember to say, “Thank you very much” and never fail to mean it.  People like to know that what they are doing is appreciated by others.
 
The Gift of Attention - When someone else speaks to you, listen attentively.  If their words are directed to you personally, meet their eyes squarely.  Undivided attention makes one feel important.
 
The Gift of Inspiration - Do your best to plant seeds of courage and action in the hearts of others.  Do what you can to encourage others.  Help others to strive for greater accomplishment and lasting satisfaction.
 
The Gift of Your Personal Presence - Few things equal the value of your shoulder - given in a hug, offered to cry on, used to move the arm to pat another’s back, or just to bring the rest of your body into the presence of others.  In times of trouble or joy, your presence makes the difference on other’s lives.
 
These are the gifts that all of us can bestow throughout the year and the great thing is that we will all be the richer for giving them.
 
“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he said,
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35)
 
- Selected; the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  Edd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net   You may visit their website at www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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The Observance of “Holy Days”
by: Gerald Cowan

     Why do some observe certain “holy days” and others do not? “Holy days” have entered the religious calendar from many sources and for many reasons, not all of them valid. In addition to the weekly Sabbath, God gave the Jews a number of special days and seasons which were to be kept holy for Him and His purposes under the Old Testament. Passover was a day followed by a seven-day season of unleavened bread (Ex. 12:1-20). YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement, was an annual observance, a day of national atonement and commitment to God (Lev. 16). Other feasts and festivals stipulated by God included a week of “booths” or “tabernacles,” a day of “trumpets,” and the “harvest weeks and Pentecost” (see Lev. 23). The feast of Purim or Lots was added much later (Esther 9:21, 27). The Jews themselves added certain other holy days, such as Hanukkah or the festival of lights and dedication (see 1 Maccabees 4:41ff, 2 Maccabees 10:6-8) which was observed with no hint of disapproval in the time of Jesus (John 10:22). But when the covenant was changed and the New Testament of Christ was placed in force all the “holy days” given to the Jews were invalidated. They were not added to the new covenant, and were not replaced by new covenant counterparts. Not even the Sabbath, the Passover, or the Day of Atonement.

     What “holy days” have been imposed by God upon Christians under the New Testament of Christ? Emphasis is given to the first day of the week as “the Lord’s day,” a day appropriate for observance of the Lord’s Supper and certain other activities of worship. The Lord’s Supper is not the Christian Passover. There is no sacrifice made in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus Christ, our true Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), has been sacrificed, once for all (Heb. 9:24-10:15). None of the trappings of the old Passover are retained in the Lord’s Supper. What about Pentecost? Though Paul mentions Pentecost in connection with his travel plans and other activities (1 Cor. 16:8, compare Acts 20:16), there is no indication that the feast of weeks or the day of Pentecost has been sanctified for Christian observance. Many nominal Christians observe the day of Pentecost as a holy day because on the first Pentecost following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit was given, the church or kingdom of Christ was established, and the New Testament of Christ was set in place (see Acts 2:1-47). Because of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” some received on that day, the day came to be called “White Sunday” (Whitsunday) in some Protestant traditions.


     Numerous “holy days” and “religious festivals” have been introduced by theologians both Catholic and Protestant. We can call them “dog day theologians” because their pronouncements have no more validity than that of the astrologers who gave us “the dog days of summer.” The Passover, determined according to the Jewish calendar, was replaced by “Easter,” to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. But pagan trappings celebrating spring and fertility (including flowers, eggs, and rabbits, etc) were added. Even the name “Easter” was borrowed from pagan mythology. It is the name of a fertility goddess Eastre, Oestar, or Ishtar, also called Asherah, Astarte, and Ashtoreth in the Old Testament (Judges 2:13 and 6:25-30, 1 Kings 11:5 and 33, 2 Kings 23:14). Observance of pagan idolatry certainly cannot be approved by God, not even if joined to a celebration He might otherwise approve. Note: the word “Easter” found in the KJV of Acts 12:4 is a mistranslation of PASCHA, (Greek for Passover). “Christmas” was established as a day to celebrate the birth of Christ (the date varies among professed believers – December 25 is not accepted universally). There is not a shred of evidence in the Bible to support it. The festival, often with several days before or after in included as “the Christmas season,” has also collected many trappings of pagan mythology – trees, lights, elves, reindeer, and a jolly old “saint” who advocates giving things to “good little boys and girls” and their older associates too. The patron “saint” of this tradition is Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus. One might wonder how God feels about the desecration of things that are truly holy to Him. But these things have become so firmly entrenched in the minds of people that they cannot be dislodged – the effort to dislodge them is deemed “un-Christian” by their advocates, those who approve the celebration.


     Feast days honoring church-appointed “saints” are part of the centuries-old tradition of corrupt religious systems. One day has been set for honoring all acknowledged saints. It is called All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day. It was conjoined to the druidic holy night which celebrated the one-night release of spirits from the underworld by Samhain, the god or ruler of the dead. All Hallows Evening, popularly known as Halloween, is a combination of the two festivals, neither of which can have any approval or acceptance by God.


    
All of these and many more “holy days” have been introduced by theologians wanting to wed Christianity to paganism in such a way as to make pagans more comfortable in and with the church. These “holy days” are nothing but “dog days.” Persons who know and love the truth will reject them as untrue, invalid, and anti-Christian.


– Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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What Shall I Do With Jesus?
by: Jimmy W. Cox

This question was asked by Roman governor Pilate, and the Jewish leaders and people said, "Crucify Him".

    Now in the Christian age, the question is asked of every person when they hear the Gospel preached. No responsible person should ignore this question. (Matt. 12:30). The depth of the question includes many things.

–In the Christian age, Jesus is God’s spokesman (Heb. 1:1-2).
–He is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
–Man’s only Savior (Matt. 1:21).
–Our perfect example (1 Pet. 2:21).
The question has to do with the soul, judgment, and eternity (John 12:48). Have you considered your answer?

    What some did with Jesus:  Shepherds were attracted to Him (Lk. 2:1-16). Wise men worshiped Him (Matt. 2:1-2). Herod tried to kill Him (Matt. 2). Some tried to ensnare Him in His speech (Matt. 22:23-30). His own did not receive Him (Jno. 1:14). Judas betrayed Him (Matt. 26:14-16). Pilate tried to be neutral (Matt. 27:24). Saul (Paul) persecuted Him (Acts 9:1-6).

    Some day the question will be reversed! As the Gospel is preached, Jesus is saying: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mat. 11:28-30). Have you yet heeded the invitation?

    But the day will come when we will stand before Him, and He will decide what to do with us! "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10). His sentences will be: To those on the right– "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." To those on the left– "And these will go away into everlasting punishment." (Matt. 25:34, 46). What will your sentence be?

    Become a Christian if you want to go to heaven– Hear the Gospel Mk. 16:15-16; Believe Heb. 11:6; Repent Acts 17:30; Confess Christ Matt. 10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16; Be faithful all your life Rev. 2:10.

- Jimmy Cox lives in Sandy Hook, MS and attends the Columbia church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at cc0c@Bellsouth.netmail

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The Greatest Gift
by: Rick Woodall

This is the season of gift giving. Gifts come in different sizes and colors yet, not all gifts are the same. Some gifts are expensive while others are inexpensive. Some gifts are popular while others are unpopular. Some are commercialized while others are acknowledged only to you. The greatest gift one can receive is unnoticed by to many.

One hopes to receive the greatest gift
That eyes will ever behold.
One hopes and dreams for ribbon and bow
When the days get dark and cold.
 
The one true gift is never seen
By those who are so blind,
For there’s not a package big enough
To wrap a gift so kind.
 
The beauty of the package
In you I must confide
Is much more than I deserve
Now look at what’s inside.
 
A peace that honors destiny
A love so good and true
A trust that offers hope
In a world so lost and blue.
 
I open this gift so gently
Thanking God, before I start.
In the wind I hear the word
Be careful with my heart.
 
Many will never come to know
This gift, that never fades.
The greatest gift in all the world
Certified, Creator made.

Happy Holidays in hopes that the splendor of the season is found in your exceptional yet evident gift. Hope you can catch sight of yours.

- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:  http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/

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Resolutions
by: John Gipson

It has been said that good resolutions are a pleasant crop to sow—the seed springs up so readily. There is a brave show, especially at first. But between the sowing and the reaping there are the difficulties—difficulties that tend to snuff out the early enthusiasm.

Benjamin Franklin told the story of a man who wanted to buy an ax from a smith. The man agreed to pay the advertised price only on the condition that the smith grind the ax until the entire surface of the head shone as brightly as the cutting edge. The smith accepted, on a condition of his own: that the purchaser power the grinding wheel. The man consented and the work began. After a time the man inquired how the polishing was progressing. Steadily, said the smith. The man turned the wheel some more and inquired again. Steadily, said the smith. Again more turning, again the inquiry. Again: Steadily. Finally, exhausted from his labors, the man said he would take the ax as it was. No, no, said the smith; keep turning and we shall have the whole head like a mirror by and by. So we might, said the man, but I think I like a specked ax best.

We extol the apostle Paul because he was a man who refused to settle for a speckled ax. He, too, encountered his problems, but refused to give up on the resolution he had made to go to Jerusalem. His dogged determination is clearly evident in the following: “and now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:22-24).

Resolutions are worthless without the follow-through. Paul knew this and calls to us across the centuries. “And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”
                                                                                                                                                         

 —John Gipson; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


One Solitary Life

    Here is a young man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another village.  He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never owned a home.

   He never put his foot inside a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born.  He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.  He had no credentials but himself.

    While He was still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to His enemies.  He went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross, between two thieves.  While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth, and that was his coat.  When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Nineteen centuries wide have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race, and the leader of the column of progress.

    I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as has that ONE SOLITARY LIFE.

‑Author Unknown; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Christmas Card Oops

     Last Christmas, Grandpa was feeling his age, and found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult. So he decided to send checks to everyone instead.

     In each card he wrote, "Buy your own present!" and mailed them early.

     He enjoyed the usual flurry of family festivities, and it was only after the holiday that he noticed that he had received very few cards in return. Puzzled over this, he went into his study, intending to write a couple of his relatives and ask what had happened.  It was then, as he cleared off his cluttered desk that he got his answer. Under a stack of papers, he was horrified to find the gift checks which he had forgotten to enclose with the cards.
                                                                      
--Author Unknown, via via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Origin of the Candy Cane
by: James C. Guy

Stories and meanings of the candy cane are numerous as are many other symbols of Christmas. Here is one more story of the candy cane -- true or not? - I don't know.

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness of his faith. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy-white to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church and the firmness of God's promises.

The candy maker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also be thought to represent the staff of the Good Shepherd with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received, and by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

The candy became known as the candy cane.

- 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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Is Jesus The Reason For The Season?
by: Travis L. Quertermous

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is one the cardinal doctrines of true Christianity, as well as one of the greatest events in world history (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20). But what of the holiday known as Christmas? Can it be found in the Scriptures?

The simple truth is that the Bible does not give us the date of Jesus’ birth and there is no Scriptural or historical evidence that the apostolic church celebrated an annual holiday in honor of it. Some Christians began to celebrate Christ’s birth by the end of the 2nd century A.D. December 25 was arbitrarily chosen by church officials in the 4th century, but even this is probably an error. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were “living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night” (Luke 2:8), thus indicating a date in the spring or summer. The fact is that the word “Christmas” was not even coined until the 11th century.

Churches of Christ believe in the practice of New Testament Christianity. We reject the creeds, dogmas, and traditions of men. Since Christmas is not authorized as a religious holiday in the New Testament, we do not observe it as such. For us, it is a secular holiday and a season of giving, but not the birthday of our Savior. Are you interested in simple, non-denominational Christianity? Then why not contact us today to learn more?

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted at minister.church@sbcglobal.net or through the church’s website at http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


H
e Will Give (Colossians 2:10)
by: Roy Harris

In the midst of sorrow He will give us joy;
In the time of parting He will bring us hope.
In the midst of burdens He will give us ease,
And for each heartache He sends a soothing balm.
In the night of darkness He will leave us light.
When we’re bewildered He will give us guidance.
He shares fellowship when friends be few or many.
When hearts are empty, He fills us with Himself.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Savor the Moments of This Day
by: Clay Harrison


Savor the moments of this day
and heal the wounds of yesterday.
Linger where the lilac grows
to share a dream the blue bird knows.
 
Rest awhile beside a brook--
it's surely worth a second look.
The way you spend your time today
determines what you take away.
 
Sow a seed and say a prayer
for God will bring a harvest there...
Savor the moments of this day
and heal the wounds of yesterday.

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Happy New Year
by:
H. L. Gradowith

This morning time gave birth to a brand new year,
It won't be one of peace, free from pain or fear;
For each year comes complete with its share of strife,
You can like it or not: my friend, that's just life.
My prayers are for you that your dreams will come true,
That ev'ryone you know will be nice to you;
That your health will be good, each day filled with love,
That your labors will be smiled on from Above.
And that may be the way 0-6 goes for you,
If it is then I'm sure you'll know what to do;
But should you meet with grief or troubles or cares
Know that I will be praying for you somewhere!
And if you see me bowed 'neath a heavy load,
Or perhaps straying from the Heavenly Road,
It would mean so much if you'd call me and say,
"Friend, I gave your troubles to the Lord today!"
If you pray for others and they pray for you
At least then we'll have done all that we can do,
Let us place all our cares in His Able Hands,
And rejoice for we know that He understands!

- H. L. Gradowith  For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL.

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Resolution

I will start anew this morning
   With a higher, fairer creed;
I will crease to stand complaining
   Of my ruthless neighbor’s greed;
I will crease to sit repining
   While my duty’s call is clear;
 I will waste no moment whining,
   And my heart shall know no fear.
 
I will look sometimes about me
   For the things that merit praise;
I will search for hidden duties,
   That elude the grumbler’s gaze;
I will try to find contentment
   In the paths that I tread;
I will cease to have resentment
   When another moves ahead.
 
I will not be swayed by envy
  When my rival’s strength is shown;
I will not deny his merit,
   But I’ll strive to prove my own;
I will try to see the beauty
   Spread before me, rain or shine.
 
                       Author Unknown

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

“By looking at Jesus, we can know more about God. He said the things God would have said … What Jesus was, was God in the flesh.”    —Steve Higginbotham 
 
“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.”     — Washington Irving
 
Consider the following quotes of brother George Bailey (“Polishing the  Pulpit” workshop):
 
“Don’t just count time; make your time count!”

“It’s too late to lock the gate after the horse is gone.”

“If you don’t work hard when you don’t have to, you’ll have to work hard when you don’t want to.”

“It matters not what else you lose if you save your soul; and it matters not what you save if you lose your soul.”


- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
 
 
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the heart." (Shakespeare) --Trib-Bits, Decatur Tribune, 10-20-'04
 
- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
 
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life. - John Homer Miller

- via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  Edd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net   You may visit their website at www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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