BulletinGold #79
July 2007   Vol 7 #5
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
     In the 5th century B.C. the Greek historian Herodotus referred to Colossae as a "great city."  In the 4th century B.C. Xenophan gave similar testimony concerning this city.  Yet, by the time the gospel reached this part of Asia Minor, some 400 years, Colossae had declined both in importance and in population to a small town.

     The Lord's church that met in Colossae, consisting of human members, would know its share of problems.  They struggled with mysticism mixed with Jewish influences mingled with apostolic doctrine they had received from inspired Christian sources.  Some worshipped angels while others served only their own wills.

     Colossae, overshadowed by Rome, Ephesus and Corinth, was socially and politically insignificant.  Their culture was troubling and volatile, but Paul was convinced that the congregation of Christian's gathering within that tiny town was absolutely great, not because of their numeric size or personal holiness, but because of the One they served (Colossians 1:2).

     The world around Colossae was literally falling apart, yet their faith could still shine through the darkness if only they would live it (Colossians 1:3-4).  All that remains of Colossae today is a "hollow cavity, a few stones from a theater, fragments of columns and traces of a hall" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).  More importantly, Paul's letter to the church that first met there still lives, proclaiming that in Christ there are no insignificant people.  In faithful service there are no insignificant acts.

     As Christians, we share the very same obligation to put the inspired message we proclaim, our faith in Jesus and God's Word, into action in our daily lives.  The offerings that follow in this issue of BulletinGold examine the various aspects of the Christian’s life in which faith impacts us to live better lives for Christ, and ultimately, to live eternal life with Him.

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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Truth Changes People
by: Dwight Butler

     The essence of Christianity is truth taught. The Lord’s commission to the apostles was to "go teach" (Matthew 28:18-20). Their faithfulness saw the message of hope spread to all nations (Col. 1:6, 23). The church stands as the "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

     Truth received will set man free (John 8:32). The great Emancipator cast the chains of sin that held man in bondage to Satan aside. The light of the world revealed in the good news overpowered the domain of darkness. Mankind was reconciled to the Creator by the redemptive blood of the Bible’s main character. Spiritual freedom was experienced in the heart of man for the first time.

     The effect of Christianity is truth practiced. As truth takes root, godly lives spring forth. Changes in character are produced. The seed of truth grows into lives of self-control, righteousness, and godliness (Titus 2:12). Christianity is more than the spread of knowledge. The message continues to be heard, believed, and practiced by men and women everywhere. They become God-like.

     Christianity is truth bringing forth fruit unto holiness. Christianity has not taken root where the fruit does not exist. Fruits will reveal the ones who have allowed the truth to influence them. Fruits will also disclose the unaffected.  "You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16, ESV).

- Dwight Butler, via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com/

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Three O’s of Assembling to Worship
by: Gerald Cowan

     There seems to be a very relaxed attitude toward assemblies of the church. Some want to attend every service of any kind, while others accept any possible excuse for failing to attend. It can sometimes be difficult to find enough willing men to fill the positions needed at any given service. So what’s the point? The point is, people do not seem to know why Christians assemble at "appointed times." Perhaps we can explain it by the use of three "O" words, using the example of Jesus from Luke 4:16.

     Assembling and participating in worship is an Option. That does not mean it is unimportant, do it or not, and it makes no difference. It is an option only in the sense that one does it as a personal choice. It was the habit of Jesus.

     Assembling and participating in worship is also an Obligation. God does not appoint the particular times, but God does appoint worship and assemblies for it as something He requires - the assembling and the activities of worship are commanded and regulated by God.

     Assembling for worship should be seen as an Opportunity. Rather than ask God to "bring us back at the next appointed time" (which makes any absence on our part seem to be God’s will), we should pray God to be with us and bless us until our next opportunity to be together.

     Worship will be approved by God and upbuilding to the worshiper to the extent that one exercises his option to assemble and worship. It will be more enjoyable if one plays down the aspect of obligation and plays the aspect of opportunity.
 
- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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Ways to Invest in Worship
by: Lance Cordle

     So many people talk about not getting anything out of worship. The usual response is that a person only benefits from worship in proportion to the amount of effort he/she puts into. Also, many people love the idea of "investment." They put "sweat equity" into their house and save for their children’s education. It is just as prudent to "invest" in worship so that you will benefit from it, as well as giving proper glory and honor to God. Here are some practical ways to invest:

     Learn to sing. Ask a song leader or someone who sings well to help you.

     Buy a CD or cassette tape of a good a cappella singing group and sing along with them as you drive or work.


     Sing out during worship.

     Think of others as you sing - find someone in the crowd to focus on as you teach and admonish (Colossians 3:16).

     Think of how each song applies to YOU.

     As someone leads a prayer, follow the words and individualize the prayer - think of specific blessings you have, specific friends who are ill, in need, or grieving.

     Follow the prayer through so at the end you can truly say, "Amen." (Which means, "May it ever be so!")

     Do a personal study of the subject of crucifixion and draw upon your knowledge each week, during the Lord’s Supper, as you think of the agony Jesus went through for you.


     Also during the Lord’s Supper, think of the wonderful blessing you have as the results of Jesus sacrifice. Also, anticipate the glorious return of our Savior.

     During the sermon, try to connect with the main idea of the preacher and follow along in your Bible as he reads or quotes.

     Make notes, either in a notebook, on a sheet of paper, or in the margins of your Bible.

     When it comes time to give as you have been prospered, think first of all the many physical blessings you have from the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17). Then, give bountifully.

     Yes, what you "get out of worship" depends on what you decide to invest.  Invest wisely.                                                                

- 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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The Lord's Supper (Matt. 26:17-19; 26-28)
by:
Gene Rowe, Jr.

     The subject of The Lord's Supper, or Communion, is very important and extensive in its nature.  To understand this subject we must gain knowledge of the Passover Meal that was partaken of by the Israelites, as directed and instituted by Moses under the direction of almighty God.
 
     Jesus referred to the Passover Meal in Matthew 26:17-19, as He obeyed all the laws under the Old Covenant (Law of Moses).  He instructed His disciples to make ready for the meal, and at the end of the Passover Meal He instituted "The Lord's Supper."
 
     The last plague God inflicted upon Pharaoh and Egypt was the death of the firstborn of both man and beast (Exodus 11:4-6; 12:12).  During this same time God provided safety to the Israelites through the commandments He gave to Moses.  The commandments included that each family would have to choose from their possession a male lamb without blemish and offer him as a sacrifice unto the Lord.  The blood of the sacrificed lamb must be struck upon the two side posts and upper post of each house.  Each member of the household must be prepared to eat in haste and ready to leave Egypt when the Lord executes judgment against all the gods of Egypt.
 
     As the Lord passed through the land of Egypt the blood of the sacrificed lamb upon the houses of the Israelites was a token unto them.  When the Lord saw the blood He would pass over their houses and they would be spared and saved from the plague of the death of the firstborn of both man and beast.  This is the actual meaning of the Passover Meal, and it was to be a memorial to be kept by God's people as long as the Old Law or Covenant lasted.
 
     One memorial was ending and another beginning as Christ partook of what is know as the "last supper."  Jeremiah 31:31-34 declares that the Lord would make a "new covenant" which would not be according to the covenant He made with their fathers when He brought them out of Egypt.  Jesus declared at the end of the Passover Meal that the bread is His body, and the cup is His blood, and that His blood is the New Testament (covenant), which is shed for many (Matthew 26:26-28).  The blood of Christ was necessary to enact the new covenant, cleanse us, and provide remission of sins (Hebrews 9:11-22).
 
     Under the new covenant Christ is "the Lamb of God" without blemish, and thus He is our Passover (John 1:29, 36; I Peter 1:18-19; II Corinthians 5:2--21; Hebrews 4:14-16; I Corinthians 5:6-8).   Christians in the first century, during the lifetime of the apostles, observed the Lord's Supper or communion on the first day of the week, Sunday, thus today we must follow the apostle's doctrine and practices (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; Ephesians 2:11-22).
 
     When we partake of the Lord's Supper it must be in a worthy manner, discerning what He did for us in His death, burial, and resurrection.   We must examine ourselves in our own minds, to make sure that we look back to the cross, and look forward to Jesus' second coming (I Corinthians 11:23-30).

     Understanding the Passover Meal, Christ's instituting of the Lord's Supper or communion, and the apostle's directives concerning this issue will provide us all with clarification and harmony!
 
- 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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Are You In His Kingdom?
by: Jimmy W. Cox

    "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." (Luke 1:31-33).

    There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming king, savior, and messiah. In addition, in the New Testament the word "kingdom" is used by Jesus more often than the word "church".

    Almost all of His parables begin with "the kingdom of heaven is like unto . . . ", so why is it that so many people believe that Jesus could not start His kingdom because the Jews rejected Him, so He started the church instead, but will come back at a later time and start His kingdom?

    But Jesus has "all authority in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18). Just as the Jews in the days of Jesus on earth thought the Messiah would have an earthly kingdom, some today have the same false idea.

    In John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world; My kingdom is not of this realm." It is a spiritual kingdom. Jesus said the kingdom would have its beginning while some of His apostles were still living. "And He said to them, Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not see death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." (Mark 9:1).

    To Nicodemus, Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." A person gets into the kingdom (the church) by a new birth.

    In Matt. 16:18-19, Jesus said: "I will build my church . . . – I will give you (apostles) the keys to the kingdom." In Acts chap. 2, we read of Peter using the keys to the kingdom to tell the believers how to be saved. Sometimes Christians are called citizens of the kingdom, other times they are called members of the body of Christ (church). Jesus is called "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" (1 Tim. 6:15).  So the kingdom and the church is the same divine institution.

    "For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:13-14).

- 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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Treating Visitors Well
By Adam Faughn

(This article was written with young people in mind, but the principles can be applied to any age.)

     At every worship service, we are blessed to have visitors.  Some are visiting family and have come from many miles away.  Others are visiting from our town or area.  We have been blessed by some young people lately who have visited several times.  Some have even come to youth devotionals and other events.  We are happy that visitors decide to worship with us.  But, how should we treat visitors?


     First, be friendly, but not fake.  In other words, we need to be ourselves.  We are not trying to win a popularity contest, we are trying to win souls.  Young people, I know how friendly you can be.  Our visitors need to see that in you.  But, you don't need to be somebody you are not.  If you're not comfortable shaking hands or giving hugs, then send a card or email thanking that young person for coming.  Be friendly in your own special way.

     Second, be serious, but don't "scare away."  We need to focus on bringing our visitors to a knowledge of the truth, but we need to do so in a loving way.  If we get a chance to study with him or her, we don't need to turn the study into an argument or an interrogation.  If our visitor asks about why we do (or don't do) a certain thing, we need to avoid rash answers like: "Because that's what the Bible says" or, "That's the right way."  Those answers may be correct, but there are kinder ways of putting them.  Also, as in everything else, we need to point our guests to the actual verses and passages in the Bible that teach these truths!  The Bible is the answer.


     Third, be thankful.  Never take visitors for granted.  Even if our guests come several times, we need to continue to say things like "I'm glad you decided to come," or "thanks for choosing to come to this devo."  Each time he or she comes it was a decision to be there ahead of being somewhere else.  We should show our gratitude and recognize that decision.

     Finally, be focused on how you act!  If you treat the devo as important, so will he or she.  Even if he or she is religious, the visitor is still looking to you to see how important "church" is to you!  Remember, visitors are searching for something.

     Hopefully, these simple suggestions will help more young people decide to visit and be impressed with the truth of the Gospel.

- Adam Faughn, 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: http://www.mainstreetcofc.org/

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


Eight Mysteries of the Church

     The empty pew.  The freedom to worship apparently is interpreted as freedom from worship.
 
     The disappearing church member.  Some move and disappear without a trace.  Some just simply stop associating with the church.
 
     The unaccompanied child.  Some children are sent along with other children and/or dropped off by a parent who does not attend worship themselves.
 
     The closed Bible.  In some homes the Bible is left on the table to gather dust.  It is not allowed to speak to the family which needs its message everyday.
 
     The buried talent.  Some of our church members have the ability to serve; yet they hide their talents, refusing to use them for God.
 
     The uncommitted dollar.  How does a person who professes faith in Christ get everything converted but his wallet?
 
     The grumbling saint.  With so much going for him, how can the Christian develop a griping, complaining attitude?
 
     The misused day.  Some Christians will use their day for everything but glorifying God or loving or helping others in His name.

 
- 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 http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org/

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Dear Preacher:

     There are 566 members in our church, but 100 are frail and elderly.  That leaves 466 to do all the work. However, 80 are young people away at college.  That leaves 386 to do all the work.

     However, 150 of them are tired businessmen, so that leaves 236 to do all the work. 150 are housewives with children. That leaves 86 to do all the work.

There are also 46 members who have other important interests. Which leaves 40 to do all the work, but 15 live too far away to come regularly.

So that leaves 25 to do all the work. And 23 of them say they've done their part. So, preacher, that leaves YOU and ME and, frankly, I'm exhausted.

Good luck to you.

A. Member

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Small Gems of Truth

If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats!
Don’t give God instructions, just report for duty.
The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
The will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
We don’t change the message, the message changes us.

- 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  Also, you may visit the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com/

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If You Have a Bible

If you have a Bible - READ IT.
If you read the Bible - BELIEVE IT.

If you believe the Bible - LIVE IT!

- 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 http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org/

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


The Perfect Congregation
by: Barry Galindo

I think that I shall never see
A congregation that's all it ought to be;
Where the members never stray
Beyond the straight and narrow way.

A congregation with no empty pews
Whose preacher never has the blues.
Where elders "eld" and deacons "deac"
And none are proud, and all are meek.

Where people never peddle lies
Nor make complaints or criticize;
Where all are always sweet and kind,
And all to other's faults are blind.

Such perfect congregation there may be
But none of them are known to me.
But still let's work and pray and plan

To make this church the best we can!

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

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Preach a Sermon, Preacher

Preach a sermon, Preacher, but don't preach very long;
Just tell the love of Jesus Christ but don't condemn the wrong.
Say not a thing of doctrines false, lest others be offended;
Then turn away from us today, and call us narrow minded.

Preach a sermon, Preacher, but don't preach very plain;
Let others guess at what is meant, don't ever call a name.
We'll sing your praises long and loud, we'll keep you many a day,
But make it clear, and you'll hear, "Brother, be on your way!"

Preach a sermon, Preacher, but say nothing of our sins;
Let us keep on as though we have none, perhaps we'll make amends.
Please, let us dance, gamble, wear shorts, and take in every show,
Make us secure and very pure, we're humans, don't you know.

Preach a sermon, Preacher, but speak not to us of duty,
Just preach about the grace of God, and picture heaven's beauty.
Leave out the things that we must do, we're busy making money;
We haven't time, can't spare a dime, won't even be there Sunday.

Preach a sermon, Preacher, when it comes mine to die,
Tell all my kith and kin about my home beyond the sky.
Preach the sermon, make strong, preach me straight to heaven;
That's my only way to get to stay, where Christ's reward is given!

- Gospel Digest; submitted by submitted by Mark McWhorter, who may be contacted at mtmcvb@concentric.net  Mark noted, however, regarding this item, that one can not "be preached into heaven. The last lines of the poem are spoken by the lost ones who find out at the end that there is no hope for them."

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Fly Away, Shadows!
by: Rose Ann Noey

Fly away, incense
And leave us only prayers.
Fly away, altar;
Our Savior bore our cares.
 
Fly away, candles,
His Word will light our way.
Fly away, shadows
And leave us in the Day.
 
Fly away, pianos;
Your music gives no praise.
Fly away, trumpets;
You're from a shadow's haze.
 
Fly away, shadows,
What's Real will leave its mark.
I have no need of shadows -
Christ's Light expelled the dark.

- Rose Ann Noey may be contacted at texasrose79@yahoo.com  This latest offering from our talented contributor was sparked through her study of the Old and New Covenants, more specifically, the fact that the Old is only a "shadow" of the New.  We greatly appreciate her for sharing this work with us.

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The Few
by: Edgar A. Guest
                 

The easy roads are crowded
And the level roads are jammed;
The pleasant little rivers
With the drifting folks are crammed.
But off yonder where it’s rocky,
Where you get a better view,
You will find the ranks are thinning
And travelers are few.
 
Where the going’s smooth and pleasant
You will always find the throne,
For the many, more’s the pity,
Seem to like to drift along.
But the steps that call for courage
And the task that’s hard to do
In the end result in glory
For the never-wavering few.

- 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  Also, you may visit the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com/
            

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

"You can build a religious organization on entertainment, but you can't build a church"

- Tom Holland, Church Growth Through Biblical Preaching; The Fourth Annual West Kentucky Leadership Workshop; March 24, 2007; Briansbug, KY.

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Christianity is a way of walking as well as a way of talking.

There are a lot of Christians who are doing nothing...
...but there are no Christians who have nothing to do.

- 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 http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org/

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"Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong."

- 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: http://www.mainstreetcofc.org/

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"Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."
--George Washington

- 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  Also, you may visit the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com/

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A Christian must carry something on his shoulders heavier than a chip. He needs to carry the cross. In some ways he needs to carry Christ.

If some people preached what they practice, it would have to be censored.

- 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