BulletinGold #85
January 2008   Vol 7 #11
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
The thresholds of life, pivotal moments in which one takes serious stock of their lives, often give rise to resolutions.  So it is common to make promises to others, God and ourselves at the dawn of a New Year.  Perhaps you have your own set of "New Year's Resolutions" for 2008.  While it is one thing to make promises (especially vague ones), the real challenge of self-improvement is keeping these promises.

Various studies have concluded that around thirty-eight percent (38%) of New Year's resolutions are broken during the first week of the New Year.  Nearly seventy percent (70%) fall victim to violation during the month of January.  Only very are kept throughout the New Year.  One’s greatest resolution will always be the commitment made in the waters of baptism, for it will impact the rest of their earthly lives, but their eternal destiny as well.  While we may struggle to remain faithful to our resolve to stay on that new diet, the commitment to remain faithful to Christ simply carries too great a price for failure.


The only way to live a better life this year is to do better each day.  It is our prayer that each of us can honestly resolve every day to live more faithfully to Christ, to be a better example of spiritual service, and to let fewer opportunities for sharing our faith in Christ with others slip by without any effort to seize them.  To accomplish these goals will require an outlook on life drastically different than the view commonly embraced by most in this world.  Jesus spoke to this unique outlook when He said, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).

Christians should think seriously about their relationship to God, Christ, His church, the Bible, and their individual life as a disciple of Christ, striving to embrace their own personal goal for spiritual growth as they live faithful, obedient lives.  The contents of this issue of BulletinGold will address this always pressing need of spiritual self-improvement.  Then, come next December, we will have real cause to thank and praise our Father.  May the hearts of your readers be stirred to be found faithfully serving Christ every day in 2008.

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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Real Commitment
by: Alan Smith

During a confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1964, a group of Gurkhas from Nepal were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat if the need arose. The Gurkhas had the right to turn down the request because they had never been trained as paratroopers.
 
The Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, but on this occasion they rejected the plan. However, the next day they sought out the British officer who made the request and said they had reconsidered and were prepared to jump under the following conditions: The ground was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops and they wanted the plane to fly as slowly as possible at no more than 100 feet high.
 
The British officer assured the Gurkhas that all these conditions could be met except one. To jump from only 100 feet was impossible, because the parachutes would not open in time from that height. Then the Gurkhas said, "Oh, will we be wearing parachutes? You didn't mention parachutes before. In that case we'll jump anywhere with parachutes!"
 
When I read that story, I can't help but compare the commitment those men had with the commitment that we ought to have to Christ. Here is a group of people so committed to their leaders that they were actually willing to jump out of an airplane from 100 feet without a parachute! And yet, that's the kind of commitment that God expects from His people -- a willingness to go anywhere, do anything, even if it means giving up our lives.
 
When God asks us to do something, our immediate reaction is often to ask, "How much time will I have to give up?" or "How much money will it cost me?" The faith of Abraham in being willing to give up his only son seems foreign to us. We are so resistant to giving everything to God.
 
But Jesus says: "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." ( Matthew 16:24-25 )
 
When God says jump, our only response should be, "From how high?"

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com                              

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Could You Stand Up for Jesus?
by: Mark Ray

John Pigg, preacher for the Lake Harbour church of Christ in Ridgeland (formerly the South Madison congregation), related the case of the Fox News journalist Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig who had been held hostage in the Gaza Strip. To win their release after several weeks, they had to agree to pay a large ransom, make an anti-American video and agree to publicly convert to Islam.

In following interviews, Centanni and his cameraman have both made clear the fact that to them, converting to Islam was not a big deal since they did not happen to be all that religious anyway. But this got me to thinking . . . What would I do in that situation? If someone held a knife to my throat and told me to confess Allah as the only true god, what would I do in order to be free again?

How strong is the temptation to see my home once again, to hold my children once again in my lap, even to take an additional breath? Is my belief in God strong enough, true enough, zealous enough to even give my life for Christ’s sake? Many I have asked about this situation have told me they would openly deny Christ because of their fear. Others have rationalized the situation and said, “I would just repent when I got home.” But Christ demands our faithfulness even to the point of death, Revelation 2:10. Christ said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33.

What would you do?

—Mark Ray [The incident mentioned in the above article occurred in the summer of 2006. The article confronts us with a very thought-provoking situation and raises a soul-searching question.];  via The Encourager- 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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Clock
by: Mike Benson

BRIEF SERMONS ARE in great demand ... If one could package and sell twenty-minute sermons with "preheat and serve" instructions, he would become an instant Forbes celebrity. The "hurry up and get this over with" philosophy has found a home in the church.

"If a man cannot strike oil in twenty minutes, he is drilling with a dull bit" may provide a chuckle, but not from the spiritual mind intent on drinking deep from the well of living water. Sunday's high noon sounds the gun for the Indianapolis 500 to the local restaurants; beating the Baptists to the drumstick has become a sporting event.

One brother said, "When the sermon goes overtime, I turn it off." Rest assured he never said that about his favorite television program. One can easily discern Sunday's time of day by taking note of the activity in the pew. Proceeding past the "allotted time" is like scraping the top of an ant bed. Overtime is no man's land where preachers void of stout hearts fear to tread.

Some attempts to justify this disturbing lack of interest in God, worship and the gospel by pointing to man's diminutive attention span. This is insane. The application of this point is always limited to small children or adults in a worship assembly.

The truth is, the capacity of one's concentration is dependent upon his sense of priority and interest. One lacking in spirituality can devote rapt attention for several hours to some entertainment medium, while experiencing a severe shortage of mental vigilance under the sound of gospel preaching.

Missionaries tell of people who walk for miles to sit for hours on backless boards in thatched huts and scorching heat to feast on the treasures of the gospel. It is indeed tragic when one's interest in spiritual things can be exhausted durin
g the course of a thirty-minute sermon. (Frank Chesser)

- Mike Benson is the author of the popular e-mail devotional KneEmail  He may be contacted at 4bens@sigecom.net.  Also, be sure to visit the KneEmail website for additional material: http://www.forthright.net/kneemail/  To unsubscribe, send ANY message to: kneemail-unsubscribe@welovegod.org                              

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A Tale of a Candle
by: Tom Moore

Once upon a time a little candle stood in a room filled with other candles, most of them much larger and much more beautiful than she was. Some were ornate and some were rather simple, like herself. Some were white, some were blue, some were pink, and some were green. She had no idea why she was there, and the other candles made her feel rather small and insignificant.

When the sun went down and the room began to get dark, she noticed a large man walking toward her with a ball of fire on a stick. She suddenly realized that the man was going to set her on fire. "No, no!" she cried, "Aaaaagghhh! Don’t burn me, please!" But she knew that she could not be heard and prepared for the pain that would surely follow.

To her surprise, the room filled with light. She wondered where it came from since the man had extinguished his fire stick. To her delight, she realized that the light came from herself.

Then the man struck another fire stick and, one by one, lit the other candles in the room. Each one gave out the same light that she did.

During the next few hours, she noticed that, slowly, her wax began to flow. She became aware that she would soon die. With this realization came a sense of why she had been created. "Perhaps my purpose on earth is to give out light until I die," she mused. And that’s exactly what she did.

God created you and me to produce light in a dark world. Our purpose on this earth is to let our lights shine so that God may be glorified. Jesus said, "Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Think About It!

-Tom Moore, Malvern, AR, submitted by Paul Kent, Covington, IN; 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 http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com/

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Develop What is Good
by: J. Randal Matheny

  Little progress can be made by merely
  attempting to repress what is evil; our
  great hope lies in developing what is good.  
                           -- Calvin Coolidge

Most people don't even try to repress evil, in Coolidge's words, much less develop what is good.

Most watch the telly shaking their heads and tsking their tongues at the bad in the world.

Most have never contacted their representatives in government.

Most have never lifted their hand to protect the weak.

Most have never faced evil, felt its rotten breath, and pushed back.

Those who do are newsworthy, so rare are they.

If you barely lift you're finger to do good, you will be far, far above the masses.

If you work hard at developing the good, you will be a star shining refulgent in the darkness.

If you dedicate yourself to repressing the evil in the world (at least, in your corner of it), and become the virtuous person you can be, people will point you out to their children as you walk by.

If ...

- 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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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


Twelve Proven Ways to Get Along Better with Everyone

by: (Advice from the Proverbs)

1. Before you say anything to anyone, ask yourself three things: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? 3) Is it necessary? (see Pro. 16:24)
2. Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully. (see Pro. 20:25)
3. Never miss an opportunity to compliment or to say something encouraging to someone. (see Pro. 12:25)
4. Refuse to talk negatively about others; don’t gossip and don’t listen to gossip. (see Pro. 10:19)
5. Have a forgiving view of people. Believe that most people are doing the best they can. (see Pro. 19:11)
6. Keep an open mind; discuss, but don’t argue. (It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.) (see Pro. 17:14)
7. Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing or saying anything that could make matters worse. (see Pro. 14:15)
8. Be a giver, not a getter (in everything). (see Pro. 11:25)
9. Be a true friend. (see Pro. 17:17)
10. If someone criticizes you, see if there is any truth to what they are saying. If so, make changes. If there is no truth to the criticism, ignore it and live so that no one will believe the negative remark. (see Pro. 16:21)
11. Cultivate your sense of humor; laughter is the shortest distance between two people. (see Pro. 17:22)
12. Do not seek so much to be consoled, as to console. Do not seek so much to be understood, as to understand. Do not seek so much to be loved, as to love. (see Pro. 22:9)

- Adapted by Edd Sterchi, who preaches for the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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Strength For The Asking

A little boy was having a hard time lifting a heavy stone. His father asked, “Are you using all your strength?”

“Yes, I am,” the boy replied.

“No you’re not,” said the father. “I’m right here waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help.”

When we are faced with a problem that seems unsolvable or a burden that is too heavy, we might ask ourselves, “Are we using all our strength?” Our Father, too, is waiting to help.

— BULLETIN DIGEST; 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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Sitter-Quitter-Or Getter

I'm a SITTER, I just want to sit and enjoy the service and do nothing.

I'm a QUITTER.  I taught a class once, but I've served my time.  I even visited for the church a time or two, but no one was home.  If anything is done in this church, somebody else will have to do it.

I’m a GETTER.  The more I think about God and His salvation, the more I want to do for Him.  Even today He is preparing a place for me, in eternity.  He hasn't stopped working for me, so I will continue to work for Him.

- Bulletin Digest, via The Shady Acre Servant, the weekly bulletin of the Shady Acre church of Christ, Sikeston, MO.  For more information, visit the church's website a
t http://www.shadyacreschurch.com

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Trust in the Lord

Trust in yourself, and you will always be disappointed at your level of achievement.

Trust in friends, and they may let you down in your hour of greatest need.

Trust in money, and you will spend your days trying to protect your investments.

But trust in the God, and you can rest assured of His Eternal presence.

- via the weekly bulletin of the Garfield Heights church of Christ, Indianapolis, IN. Charles Blair serves as their minister.  He may be contacted at: general@GHchurchofChrist.org,

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


Backbone People

What our churches need are more people with the right kind of bones.
There are at least four different types around most churches.

Wishbone People
They hope for, they long for,
They wish for and sigh;
They want things to be done
But aren’t willing to try.

Funnybone People
They laugh, grin and giggle,
And twinkle the eye;
If work were a joke
They would give it a try.

Jawbone People
They scold, jaw and sputter,
They froth, rave and cry;
They’re long on talk
But short on the try.

Backbone People
They strike from the shoulder,
They never say die;
They’re the winners in life
Since they’re willing to try.

- Selected; 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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Find the Time

I knelt to pray, but not for long;
I had too much to do.
Must hurry off and get to work,
For bills would soon be due.
And so I said a hurried prayer
And jumped up from my knees;
My Christian duty now was done,
My soul could be at ease.

All through the day I had no time
To speak a word of cheer,
No time to speak of Christ to friends;
They'd laugh at me I feared.
No time, no time, too much to do
That was my constant cry.
No time to give to those in need .
But there'll be time to die.

And when I come before the Lord
And stand with downcast eyes,
Within His hands He'll hold a book
That's called The Book of Life.
Suppose He looks into that Book
And says, "Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down,
But never found the time."

- Selected; 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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You Can’t Fool God

You can fool the hapless public.
You can be a subtle fraud.
You can hide your little meanness,
But you can’t ever fool God.


You can advertise your virtues.
You can self-achievement laud.
You can load yourself with riches,
But you can’t ever fool God.


You can criticize the Bible.
You can be a selfish clod.
You can hide the fact you gamble,
But you can’t ever fool God.


You can magnify your talent.
You can hear the world applaud.
You can boast yourself as somebody.
But you can’t ever fool God.

- Author Unknown; 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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Bridges

When anything in life brings pain,
Or anyone upsets my day,
If I can build a bridge to God
His peace will chase my fears away.

When problems leave me tense, unstrung,
And peace of mind cannot be found,
If I can build a bridge of faith,
He’ll lift me up to higher ground.

If I can build a bridge of trust
To span the tensions of my day,
God’s grace and understanding love
Will be a light upon my way.

No difficulty, large or small,
Can come between my Lord and me
If I can build a bridge of prayer
To feel His presence constantly.

-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 http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com/

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

In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain. (Pliny the Elder)

I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time. (Charles M. Schulz)

People are where they are because that is exactly where they really want to be - whether they will admit that or not. (Earl Nightingale)

"Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful; yourself." (Alan Alda)

The absent are always in the wrong. (English Proverb)

"The grand essentials in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." (Addison)

"We come and go just like ripples in a stream." (John V. Politis)

"What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled." (Augustine)

*****

"Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought would never be yours." (Dale Carnegie)

THOUGHTS TO PONDER
   "Time wasted is existence; used, it is life."
   "When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection."
   "If you want to kill time, why not try working it to death?"
   "Each moment is the meeting place of two eternities."

- 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

*****

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)

- via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Visit their website at www.highwaycofc.com

*****

All progress is the result of change but not all change is progress.

If your life is an open book, don't bore your friends and others by reading it to them.

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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