BulletinGold #77
May 2007   Vol 7 #3
 


Editorial
----by David Bragg

     Nicodemus stood on the fringes of a huge crowd.   Under normal circumstances he would have most likely been the center of the crowd's attention, but now it seemed as if nobody was even aware of his presence.  All eyes, including his own, were focused upon Jesus.  With Pharisaic robes, tassels and phylactery boxes, complete with scripture notations tucked securely inside, he stood in stark contrast to the hungry, sick, dirty, and poor crowd assembled.

     We first met this Jewish leader as, under the shroud of darkness, he approached Christ in John's third chapter.  The discussion that followed reveals as much about the noted Pharisee as it did the popular rabbi from Nazareth.  The former may have been reminding himself of just how much he was unlike the unholy rabble that madly rushed to be with Jesus: the blind, lame, deaf and dying.  These were moved by an obvious lack of wholeness that indelibly marked their lives.  But Nicodemus had holiness, power, and respect ... to be completely honest he had emptiness, and that was why he, along with all the others, followed, listened, and longed to be touched by Jesus that they might be made whole.

     "You must be born again," Jesus told him that night.  To realize the completeness for which he longed Nicodemus would have to unlock the secret of the new birth, one of water and of the Spirit (Acts 2:38).   But even at this early stage Nicodemus seems to have but little doubt that Jesus was the only One who could make man whole (Colossians 2:10)!

     Many of the items included is this month's edition of BulletinGold address this universal need of humanity, the need to be forgiven.  We are thankful for each of our contributors and every single reader.  Thank you for sharing the vital truths with those who have yet to consider our Savior.

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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Forgotten? No Way!
by: Rick Woodall

     It becomes hard to believe in oneself when we have been neglected or forgotten. I recall my friends coming back from serving our country during the Vietnam conflict. Many of them were just kids when they left our small town to go to another world. They experienced and completed missions one could never imagine. Well, you might be reading this thinking others did that too. They did. There was only one difference. There was no ticker tape thrown out of skyscrapers, no parades and no hero’s welcome home celebrations. It was like this. You go serve and do your job and now you are home. Oh well! Many of these precious souls lost their identity. Many lost faith. Others became passionate and went on with their lives to become great community leaders and examples for you and I to look up to.

     What is the difference? How can one continue on when they pour out their heart and make so many sacrifices and those receiving service do not convey appreciation? My gift reminds me that inner strength comes from the objective not the admiration.

     I am sure you have been told by someone to “follow your dreams.” That is all well and good. Just make sure if you follow those dreams not to get all tangled up in the web of self-indulgence. Give God the glory for He sees all and knows your heart.

     “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” - Heb13: 14-16

     In this life there are no permanent dwellings. All is temporary. People who get a grip now are individuals who long for the eternal. They are not looking for appreciation here. They will continue to sacrifice, share and forgo themselves. Why? Because they know God is pleased. That’s all they need to continue on.

- 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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Why Did Jesus Die On The Cross?
by: Travis L. Quertermous

     Just before His arrest, Jesus Christ told Peter, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”  (Matt. 26:53). The Lord’s implication is clear—He did not have to suffer and die on the cross if He chose not to do so. So why did He endure such an excruciating and humiliating death?

     Imagine a squad of soldiers on patrol. Suddenly an enemy soldier from ambush hurls a live grenade into their midst! The squad leader hurls himself upon the grenade and smothers the blast with his own body. Through his heroic self-sacrifice, the rest of the soldiers were saved from certain death.

     That is exactly why Jesus died on the cross. Scripture makes it plain: “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), that is, eternal separation from God in hell. As every accountable person has transgressed the law of God (Rom. 3:23), all of us deserve eternal punishment. But the Son of God came and paid the wages of sin for the whole world at the cross. He was punished in our place, He sacrificed His sinless life to atone for our sins and thus, He saved us from hell (cf. Isa. 53:1-12; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:21-26; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

     This wonderful gift of salvation is available to all who will sincerely obey the gospel plan of salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38). Can we help you with your obedience to Christ?

- 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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Seeing As God Sees
by: Marvin L. Weir

     It is an age-old problem that becomes a stumbling block to so many people. A person observes those who appear to be healthy and successful as they live in willful sin in rebellion against God. He also observes the struggles and apparent lack of success of those striving to live righteous lives. The false conclusion is quickly drawn that the “end really does justify the means” and that God is failing to bless the righteous.  The Bible warns against making rash, quick judgments without all the facts (Matt. 7:1) and based only on outward appearances. A classic example is God choosing a king for Israel from among Jesse’s sons and Samuel thinking that surely Eliab will be the one who is chosen (1 Sam. 16:6). “But Jehovah said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart” (16:7).

     Making judgments based upon outward appearances caused the Psalmist to say, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; My steps had well nigh slipped” (Psa. 73:2). One must fight the temptation to be envious of the arrogant upon seeing the “prosperity of the wicked” (73:3). Let us learn from the 73rd Psalm that our faith and trust is to be rooted and grounded in Jehovah and not in the glamour and glitter of this present world.

The Problem To Overcome:

(1) “The prosperity of the wicked” (v. 3) – their boastfulness that was apparently justified by their security and success.
(2) The wicked had “no pangs in their death” (v. 4) – that is, they died easy without fear or pain with no apparent mental or physical struggles.
(3) The wicked were not “in trouble” and “plagued like other men” (v. 5) – in normal life poverty and disease affect the poor while the wealthy appear to be living in luxury.
(4) They are characterized by “pride” and “violence” (v. 6).
(5) They possess more than a heart could wish for (v. 7).
(6) They scoff and set their mouths against the heavens (v. 8).
(7) They are willfully ignorant of God and blasphemous and haughty in attitude (v. 11).

     The Psalmist then notes the wicked being at ease and increasing in riches and exclaims, “Surely in vain have I cleansed my heart, and washed my hands in innocency; For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning” (73:13-14). People today wrestle with the same thoughts. Does it matter what a man does? Will righteousness be victorious over unrighteousness? Does it pay great dividends to be wicked and God-defiant?

The Solution To The Problem:

     The realization that the wicked do indeed prosper and enjoy this life is often quite painful to the one striving to live a righteous life. But when one considers and accepts God’s eternal truths, earthly things are then seen in their true perspective. Temporal prosperity takes on an entirely new character when seen in the light of eternity.

(1) The Psalmist saw that the feet of the wicked were set “in slippery places” and that they were cast “down to destruction” (v. 18).
(2) A day is coming when the wicked will become “a desolation in a moment” and they will be “utterly consumed with terrors”(v. 19).
(3) In the Day of Judgment when all accounts are made right, God will despise the image of the wicked (v. 20).

     Understanding and accepting God’s revelation (the Scriptures) disposes quickly one’s envy of the wicked.  Who in his proper mind would covet the position of one who is rich and famous in this world but wretched and lost throughout eternity? Physical prosperity will never be able to overcome spiritual bankruptcy!

The Destiny Of The Righteous:

(1) He has fellowship with Jehovah God (v. 23).
(2) He is guided by divine counsel (Word of God) that will lead to eternal glory (v. 24).
(3) He realizes that nothing upon earth can compare with God and His eternal blessings (v. 25).
(4) He knows that the flesh and heart will fail, but that God is his source of strength and refuge (v. 26).
(5) He understands it is always good for man to draw near to God, and he places his complete trust in God (v. 28).

     Let us realize that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and neither are His ways our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). May we see as God sees, and cherish the blessings that come from God more than the prosperity that comes through the world!

- Marvin L. Weir, Rowlett,TX; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at their website: www.belvederechurchofchrist.org or e-mail: church@belvederechurchofchrist.org                              

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When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder, Will You Be There?
by: Gerald Cowan

     "Don't take my name off the church roll!" How often we hear it said by people who have been absent from worship and service activities of the church for a long time, and have supported any part of the work program of the church. They often realize their negligence is wrong. There is no good reason for their failure. They are not sick, disabled of otherwise incapacitated. To make things worse, they usually do not honestly intend to start being faithful - at least not in the immediate future. But they are anxious that their names not be dropped from the church membership list.

     Strange how much saving power some attribute to a list of names, a man-made list! A church roll is nothing more than a list of members. It usually contains only the location of the members and says nothing about their spiritual condition. It has no saving power at all. Can you imagine God, on the day of judgment, examining all the church roll books to see who is supposed to be saved and who is not, who goes to heaven and who does not?

     When a person does not attend, does not support the church, and does not respond when called upon to serve why should his name be kept on the roll? There is very little value, perhaps none at all, either to that person or to the church, in keeping his name on a membership list. Taking his name off the list does not remove him from the church and adding his name to the list does not make him a member. Those who do not assemble are not part of the assembly. Those who do not congregate are not part of the congregation. Those who isolate themselves from the church and refuse to take part in its activities forfeit the right to be called faithful members of the church.

      Look at it another way. If your name is kept on the list but you are not fulfilling your Christian obligation in the church, then you are no better off and no worse off than if your name were removed. Taking your name off the roll would be one way to acknowledge the action you have already taken. By your negligence and indifference you trample underfoot the Son of God; by your indifference you put Him to shame; by your sins you separate yourself from Him (Hebrews 6:6 and 10:26-29, Isaiah 59:1-2).

     Taking one's name off the roll does not solve the problem of his true relationship to Christ and the church. Actually, to do so creates the very real danger that the person thus dropped will be completely forgotten. Souls may then be lost forever which might otherwise have been restored to God. Perhaps the best answer is to keep a list that reflects each one's relationship to the church and his apparent spiritual condition. They might be identified as SHUT-INS (because of age, illness, or physical condition); ACTIVE MEMBERS (interested, helpful, involved, regular in attendance, faithful in support of the church - "faithful Christians"); INACTIVE MEMBERS (uninterested, unwilling to serve, irregular or erratic in attendance and support, not dependable - "unfaithful Christians"). This kind of list could be very helpful. It would indicate who needs help and who can be called upon for help.  No doubt many would object to such information being published for others to see. They would call it an invasion of privacy - they would probably bring a lawsuit if the church tried such a thing. Would they really rather be dropped? Of course not! "Don't take my name off the roll."

      Here's a final thought on church rolls and membership lists: God is keeping a list that honestly and accurately reflects every person's spiritual condition and relationship to Him. It isn't enough that our names are known to God. Jesus said that we should rejoice if our names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20). But only the faithful are recorded in the Book of Life (see Rev. 20:12, 15). The unfaithful have their names blotted out of the heavenly directory (Ex. 32:33). One who ceases to fellowship and serve with the people of God has no practical or effective membership in the church, on earth or in heaven. When the roll is called up yonder in heaven such a person's name will not be heard, for he himself will not be there.
 
-- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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You Need A Doctor?
by: Steve Higginbotham


     The book of 3 John begins with John praying for the well-being of Gaius.  But take a moment and let the words of his prayer sink in.
 
     John said, "I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."
 
     Did you see that?  He prayed that his physical well-being prospered as his soul prospered.  I wonder what would happen if that prayer was answered just as it was prayed.  Would you be full of new found energy, and feel better than you have in years?  Or would you need someone to call a doctor or maybe even the coroner?
 
     In a day and age when so much stock is placed on our physical condition, it is refreshing to have our attention refocused upon what is really important... the prosperity and well-being of our soul!
 
- Steve Higginbotham is the minister for the South Green Street church of Christ, Glasgow, Kentucky.  He may be contacted at shigg@glasgow-ky.com  [Copyright © 2006, South Green Street Church of Christ, Glasgow, Kentucky.  Permission is granted to copy these articles.]

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Where There Is No Vision The People Perish
by: W. A. Martin


     Today, be driven on by an ever-growing desire to learn more and more about God and his will for you. Has there ever been a time when the fields were whiter to harvest than now? Jesus confronts us again and again demanding that you lift up our eyes, that we may be able to look with a clear vision of those that are lost.  Sheep without a shepherd.  “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Pro. 29:18)

     One of the greatest temptations of our day is the temptation to be satisfied with a mediocre vision.  It  is far easier to be content with awareness of our immediate surroundings.  There is a Macedonia call for each one of us today. (Acts 16:9)  In the words of the Master, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” (Mat. 9:37-38) The Lord knows how many lost souls each one of us feel responsible for.


     We can learn from the bee. If it spent its time stinging others and other things, there would be no honey.  Looking at a hive of bees and seeing them work, some would think there is much confusion. Yet, we are talking about one of best organized things in the country, a colony of bees.  Every bee entering the hive must pass inspection and be identified. A careful study reveals a purpose in every move made by a bee. It’s not the hours we put in, but what we put into the hours in behalf of lost souls.  Are we making our minutes, hours, and days count for the Lord?

     There is someone that needs your help before it’s too late for them and you. Do you truly care enough to do something about it today?  Someone is thinking, do you actually care about me? ‘I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul?”(Psm. 142:22)  “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov. 11:30)


-- W. A. Martin is part-time preacher at Scurry church of Christ, Scurry,Texas.  He is also editor of a weekly bulletin that is distributed to several Churches of Christ and individuals in the area.  He may be contacted at wagmartin@sbcglobal.net

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


Insight From Benjamin Franklin

#1 Benjamin Franklin once pointed out that some of the best things to give others are free of cost:
      To an enemy, forgiveness.

      To an opponent, tolerance.

      To a friend, your ear.

      To an employee, a good example.

      To yourself, respect.

      To all mankind, charity.

#2  FROM THE PEN OF BEN FRANKLIN:
   When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

   Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.

   Diligence is the mother of good luck.

   He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.

   The sting of reproach is the truth of it.


-- #1 "Words of Wisdom," via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  You can contact this congregation via their website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
-- #2 " FROM THE PEN OF BEN FRANKLIN," 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@one-eleven.net

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WE GROW
by: Ed Thomason

... AS INDIVIDUALS when we:

GLEAN FROM GOD'S WORD DAILY

REPENT AND PRAY DAILY

OPPOSE SATAN'S TEMPTATIONS DAILY

WALK WITH THE LORD DAILY

... AS A CONGREGATION when we:

GLORIFY GOD
READ HIS WORD
OBEY HIS WILL
WIN SOULS

‑ Ed Thomason preaches for the New Madrid church of Christ, New Madrid, MO, is  co‑editor of BulletinGold, and webmaster for BulletinGold.com and PreachToday.com Ed may be contacted at ed@mydoghouse.com

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Insufficient Standards

1.  I like (Isaiah 55:8-9)
2.  I want (Acts 8:18-24)
3.  I think (2 Kings 5:1-15)
4.  I feel (Galatians 5:16-24)
5.  They do it (1 Samuel 8:4-8)
6.  I am sincere (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
7.  It feels right (Proverbs 14:12)
8.  God doesn't mind (Psalm 10:13)
9.  I don't see why not (Acts 5:1-11)
10.  It is for a good cause (Romans 3:8)
11.  No one will see me (Proverbs 15:3)
12.  Others do worse things (Matthew 7:5)
13.  The preacher said to (Galatians 1:6-9)
14.  It isn't against the law (Acts 5:26-29)
15.  I am always right (2 Corinthians 13:5)
16.  God did not say NOT to (Leviticus 10:1-2)
17.  Most people think it is okay (Matthew 7:13-14)
18.  It hurts no one but me (1 Corinthians 8:12-13)
19.  It doesn't bother my conscience (Proverbs 30:20)
20.  We have done it this way for years (Joshua 5:2-9)
21.  My parents and grandparents did it (Galatians 6:5)
22.  As long as we do it in God's name (Matthew 7:21-23)
23.  God doesn't expect us to be so technical (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

- via the Main Street Monitor, the weekly bulletin for the Main Street church of Christ in Manchester, TN.  Wes Hazel serves the congregation as minister and may be contacted via their website: www.mainstreetcofc.org

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Ten Rules of Forgiveness

     One of the greatest hindrances to a Christian is being able to live a victorious life and grow in Christ in an unforgiving spirit.  So long as Satan can persuade Christians not to forgive, he can to a large degree prevent the Church from growing.  If you are tempted to be unforgiving, try the following  “Ten Rules of Forgiving.”

1.  Determine that you are going to forgive.

 2. Remember the harm resentment can do, not to the other person but to you
 
 3. Remember that you will never be spiritually blessed until you forgive.

 4. Thinking about forgiving is not enough.  You must come to a specific moment when you say, “With God’s help, I now forgive,”

 5. Repeat the Lord’s Prayer, inserting your offender’s name “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive ________________________________.

 6. Practice praying for the other person, asking specific blessings for him.

 7. Speak to others in a kindly manner about the person against whom you harbor antagonism.

 8. Write a brief letter of good will.  Do not be offended if it is not answered.

 9. Study the causes of this unhappy situation to correct the “mistake pattern” in yourself.

10. Ask God to effect a permanent spiritual change in your nature to forestall future rifts.  God will surely hear and answer your prayer.

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


He Died On The Cross

by: H. L. Gradowith

He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem
Because there was no room for Him in the Inn,
The Blest Son of God, still He humbled Himself
To come to this old world and dwell among men;
Thirty years He was the poor carpenter's son,
Only few seemed to know just Who He might Be;
Despised and Rejected He went to the Cross
And there paid the price to save someone like me.
He died on the Cross so very long ago,
He paid the price to save a sinner like me;
He died on the Cross that new life I might know,
He paid the price that in Him I might be free.

For three years He proclaimed the coming Kingdom,
He preached the Good News to the halt and the lame;
He made no distinction between rich or poor
Preaching the Gospel for one and all the same!
The Romans were ignorant of Who He was,
Like so many are unto this very day;
The Jews - they knew Him, but rejected Him still -
Oh, the awful price that for this they must pay!
He died on the Cross so very long ago,
He paid the price to save a sinner like me;
He died on the Cross that new life I might know,
He paid the price that in Him I might be free.

 But my Jesus loves me, just like the song says,
He loved me enough to give Himself for me;
Though others may try, He's still the Only One
Whose Precious Blood can set this old sinner free!
And some glad morning He is coming for me
To take me to His Blessed Home in the Sky!
O! Glory of Glories to think of it all!
In Heaven with Him we will nevermore die!
He died on the Cross so very long ago,
He paid the price to save a sinner like me;
He died on the Cross that new life I might know,
He paid the price that in Him I might be free.

- 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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If I Should Stumble
by: Helen Lowrie Marshall

If I should stumble—as I have and will
Oh, let me stumble going up the hill;
Let the stumbling be because my eyes
Are fixed upon some star high in the skies.

If I should fall—and I will have my share
Let me fall going up the stair;
And let me not blame others for the pain,
But quietly arise and try again.

If I should stumble, let it be I see
A precious foothold toward a mountain peak;
Or that I feel the challenge of the pace
Set by fleeter runners in life’s race.

If I should stumble on my little mile,
Help me to make that stumbling worthwhile;
To recognize the blocks that fouled my way
And thus climb better on the coming day.

- 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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The Grace of God
by: Harold F. Mohn

He gives me hope and courage
To face each newborn day.
He guides me through the shadows
To light and show the way.
He comforts and sustains me
In times of my distress.
His Word gives me solace
To find true happiness.
He’s willing to forgive me
When I may go astray.
He says He’ll always love me
And does my fears allay.
He never does forsake me
In moments of despair,
And when I need a helping hand,
I always find Him there.

- adapted; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, ILEdd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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Forgive!
by: Dalton Key
                 

Harbored, hateful unforgiveness,
Seeming harmless at the start;
Soon becomes malignant business,
Like a cancer in the heart.

- Dalton Key, via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, ILEdd Sterchi serves as one of the congregation's ministers.  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest.net

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

What this country needs is more free speech that is worth listening to.

If it is true that "to err is human" - some are apparently more human than others.

To err is human, but to remain in error is stupid.

The longer a person remains in error the more certain he becomes that he is right.

- 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

"The more arguments you win, the fewer friends you will have."

- 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@one-eleven.net

At three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May this year, the time and date will be

02:03:04 05/06/07

This will never happen again.


-- Submitted by Roseanne Sager to The Lantern, the weekly bulletin of the Highway church of Christ in Sullivan, IL.  You can contact them through their website:  http://highwaycofc.com/sullivan/