BulletinGold #80
August 2007   Vol 7 #6
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
    Paul had often stood at death's door.  Reflecting upon those experiences he wrote to his faithful friends at Philippi, "For to me living is Christ and dying is gain" (Phil. 1:21).  To the Corinthians he described the many hardships endured as often taking him to the brink of death (2 Cor. 11).  At Lystra, two decades before, he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20).  The apostle's view of death is dramatically displayed as he wrote to Timothy, in one of his last letters, as we see Paul victoriously standing at death's door.

     Ironically, these thoughts on "death" provide great insight into the life he had lived.  Paul thought of his life as a ministry faithfully discharged (2 Tim. 4:7), a victory so certain he could already taste it (4:8).  But that was not all, he thought of the work still to be done by those, like Timothy, he would leave behind (4:10-15) and of the many ways that God had proven Himself glorious (4:16-18).  It was obvious that as turmoil swirled about him, Paul was at peace in his confidence of Jesus' great promises.

     History tells us that that anticipated day soon came as yet another apostle's blood was spilled on the ground and Paul joined the ranks of the victorious.  Even as the world rejoiced in the momentary victory over a faith they refused to understand, Paul reveled in the victory within, the eternal victory he would enjoy through Jesus.

     The items found below can help your readers better understand the obligation of all Christians to live faithful lives of obedient faith.  Christians today need this kind of aggressive, submissive faith.  We hope that these articles and "nuggets" will serve to stir God's people toward more holy daily lives.

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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


You Never Stump Your Toe While Standing Still
by: Edward Thomason

     A boastful voice may say, “I could have told you...

...if you care about people, you risk being hurt and disappointed.”
...if you teach someone the Bible, you will risk being misunderstood, misquoted, or even embarrassed at times.”
...if you share your prosperity with others in need, you will risk being taken, thought a fool, and you may even go broke.”
...if you take the lead in some good work, you risk making mistakes in judgment and taking the blame for the failures.”
     The voice comes to taunt, “I could have told you...” But brethren, it is not the voice of God that says, “sit and do nothing out of fear!” He did not give us “a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord’s business is risky business in the eyes of the materialist. But to those who love and trust God, there is no risk, only reward. We see our goal ahead and not the pebbles of the roadway!

     The apostle Paul not only stumped his toes traveling with the gospel, he was stoned, beaten with rods, shipwrecked (2 Corinthians 11:25), despised (1 Corinthians 4;10), forsaken by those he helped (2 Timothy 4:16), and considered by many to be foolish (1 Corinthians 4:10). Someone in his generation probably said, “I could have told you...” But Paul knew all the risks, and still chose to be active in the Lord’s work.

     James 4:17 still reads, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When we know to do good, but fail because of lack of effort, it shows our lack of faith in God. Those who do nothing may brag that they never stumped their toes, but they also never got anywhere in the Lord’s work.

     Study carefully the scene in Matthew 25 regarding those who did nothing and hear the voice of the Lord say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire...” (v.41). Now I ask, dear reader: Who really is foolish and who really runs greater risks - those who bury their talents and stand still doing nothing, or those who, like Paul, “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

- via Ed Thomason, co-editor of BulletinGold and minister of the New Madrid church of Christ, New Madrid, MO.  He may be contacted through one of his websites, preachtoday.com, a great resource for on-line Bible study materials.

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Expand Your Thinking
by: Joe Chesser

     It was a wondrous event when God became flesh, and the world will never be the same again. The possibilities of humankind can now connect with the eternal. Not only do we have the opportunity through Christ to live forever in the presence of God, but even before that, while still in the flesh, we have been given the opportunity to expand our thinking beyond the limitations of those still "of the world."

     Make no mistake, even to those outside of Christ God has given enormous mental capabilities. The evidence of this is all around us (cell phones, space travel, organ transplants, mathematics, etc.). Yet, the mind of man has limitations. There is only so much that logic, reason and research can accomplish. But when God enters the process, the human mind is transformed to a higher realm (Romans 12:2). It is allowed to leave the elementary restraints of humanity and be transported into the dimension of the divine (2 Peter 1:3-11). It is in this realm that the pure in heart can see God and those hungering for righteousness will be fed (Matthew 5:8, 6). It is also in this realm that the origin of mankind is found (by faith – Genesis 1:1).

     It is in this heavenly dimension where our thinking can expand beyond human comprehension. It is where we can "know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). It is where the peace of God that "transcends all understanding" will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). Having the mind of Christ allows us to expand our thinking into the spiritual world where the old boundaries and limitations no longer restrict us. We can now "live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). When our minds meld with Christ, paradoxes are allowed to dwell in harmony. Justice and mercy are no longer enemies. Perfect judgment can show grace. We can be in the world, but not of the world. We can find life and victory in death, and joy in suffering. The mind of man can become the mind of God.

     What an awesome opportunity!! Will you accept the challenge?

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ in Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

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We Need To Do More!
by: W. A. Martin


     We need to do more than move; improve. More than change our address; change our lifestyle. We need to do more than get; give ourself in behalf of some lost and needy soul.  We need to do more than regret; we need to repent because "the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Mat. 3: 10)  We need to do more than sympathize; help the helpless before it's too late for both of us.  We need to do more than attend church; worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). Our worship will be no better than our lifestyle the past week.  We need to do more than build a house; make a home that honors God and His Will,  that God is proud of.

     We need to realize that no brain is stronger than its weakest thought. We cannot expect to rise above our thoughts.  "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Pro. 23:7) "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Phil. 4:8)  What we think of the Bible does not affect it - just us.  A weak character cannot support a strong life. A clean body does not necessarily mean a clean life. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me." (Psm. 51:10) A praying mouth does not always signify a praying heart.   "Thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee."  (2 Sam 7:27) We need to work daily to keep the garbage out of our heart!

     Some wisely change their ways; others give up their religion. "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:66) What we need to do we may not want to do, but there is still time to change. If we have left our first love, there is one thing we must do:

     CHANGE!

- W. A. Martin preaches part-time for Scurry church of Christ, Scurry, Texas and is editor of a booklet that is distributed to many churches and individuals.  He may be contacted by e-mail at wagmartin@sbcglobal.net

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Pursuit of Happiness
by: Rick Woodall


     In the pursuit for happiness there is a thought out there that if one can attain financial security and social poise that everything is going to be all right. They begin their quest and raise the sails high on their vessel to begin the exploration to find the secret of euphoria.

     A long time ago one of the greatest kings of Israel composed his thoughts in the Bible book entitled Ecclesiastes. He was a young man blessed with great wisdom. There was just one question. Where does one find contentment in this life? He researched this question. As he did time was passed before him.

     “I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.” - Eccl 2:3-6

     He centered his life on himself and all his accomplishments. He associated with all those who would stand elbow to elbow with him and wallow in his business enterprises only to come up on the short end of the stick.

     “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” - Eccl 2:11

     My gift reminds me never to chase the wind. It is far better to let the creator of the wind reach down and wrap us in His eminence than to chase something we can never perceive.

     Wouldn’t it be great if we could all come to this conclusion?

     “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” - Eccl 12:13

     It’s a short life. Don’t waste it being a wind chaser.

     Have a great week.

- 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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Memorizing Scripture
by: David R. Miller

 
     Before a number of summer interruptions, I  began a series of articles on promoting spiritual growth in the home. In the first article, we noted that most Christian parents know that they have primary responsibility for teaching their children spiritual and moral values, but they feel poorly equipped to provide that training. In the next article, we showed that parents do not need to be experts in Bible knowledge, but that simply reading the story portions of God’s word for a short time every day with an attitude of faith and respect will provide the framework for a God-centered worldview. Finally, we noted that the purpose for knowing God’s word is not merely to know Bible facts but to reprogram the thoughts, feelings, and wills of our children so that they actually help our children resist temptation.

     In order to accomplish this latter goal, we must move beyond Bible history and begin instilling in the hearts of our children the thoughts and attitudes commended in Scripture. There are several tested and proven ways to instill godly attitudes in the hearts of our children. One tested way is memorizing portions of Scripture. The Psalmist said that he had “treasured” God’s word in his heart so he would not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Here are some suggestions for treasuring God’s word in our hearts and the hearts of our children.

     Set a goal of memorizing a new verse every week. Choose verses that are meaningful and speak to the heart (that deal with faith and attitude issues).

     Repeat the verse aloud several times during your daily devotional period.

     Write the verse on a card or piece of paper, and carry it with you during the day so you can review it occasionally. Think about what the verse means to you each time you look at your card. Have your older children do the same.

     Review the previous four verses once a week (Saturday or Sunday).

     Do not be super critical over exact wording. Aim more at instilling godly faith and attitudes.

     The first Psalm pronounces a blessing upon the person who delights in the “law of the Lord” and “meditates” on it “day and night.” May you and your children enjoy those blessings as you begin memorizing portions of God’s word.

- David R. Miller, 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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The Personal Touch
by: Edwin Jones

     A respected brother in Christ, Flavil Yeakly, has contributed much to the practical application of Bible principles to evangelism. His statistical work has well-illustrated a variety of important biblical teachings. Among them:

1. People feel most comfortable and respond most favorably and lastingly to a friendly Bible study where the Bible is the only equipment.

2. Manipulative methods lead to resentment and dropouts.

3. Mere transmission of facts leads to little or nothing.

4. A study between friends accomplishes more in the long run than any other approach.

5. Growing churches emphasize the personal, friendship aspects of evangelistic methods.

6. Stagnant churches do little besides give out information in an impersonal manner.

7. Some of the churches that seem to be growing really aren’t because they have high dropout rates due to their use of manipulative methods.

     All of the principles Flavil Yeakly has validated by his exacting research methods were to be expected. They all have supreme validation from the Bible. The personal touch is huge—God, after all, sent His Son to live with us in the flesh (John 1:1, 14, 18). Additionally, impersonal, exploitive means are clearly ineffective and unethical.

     Friends don’t treat friends with detached, manipulative techniques. God does not deal with us that way. There is a reason why integrity, compassion, concern, and friendship work—they are from God. Accept no substitutes!

- Edwin Jones; 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’s Legacy

by: Ron Thomas

     The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot (Proverbs 10:7)

     Having gone to many funerals, it is easy to tell what kind of legacy the deceased left. You can tell much about a person’s legacy when you consider the kind of life that person lived. What are some things that make a person’s legacy good? To name a few, consider:
Wisdom that transcends generations
The life lived was morally upright
The treatment of people, all people, was with respect and decency
Always had regard for the well-being of his neighbor
Raised children that reflect these same qualities
And, most importantly, became a Christian and lived to God’s glory.

     It is better to have a good name than to be rich. One’s wealth comes and goes, but a good name reflects the quality of one’s life. It will always last, but a person’s possessions will deteriorate. Legacy is more than just leaving positive influence with others.
 
- Ron Thomas preaches for the Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL.  He may be contacted at rthomas1@one-eleven.net or via the congregation's website: http://highwaycofc.com/sullivan/

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Twenty-One “More Thans”

     To have a winning day, here are twenty-one “More Thans” you must do:

You have to listen more than you talk.
You have to smile more than you frown.
You have to give more than you get.
You have to think “we” more than you think “me”.
You have to agree more than you disagree.
You have to laugh more than you cry.
You have to clean up more than you mess up.
You have to be more positive than you are negative.
You have to be fascinated more than you are frustrated.
You have to walk the walk more than you talk the talk.
You have to be accepting more than you are rejecting.
You have to see the cup half full more than half empty.
You have  to help more than you hinder.
You have to believe in self more than you doubt self.
You have to work more than you whine.
You have to do more than you don’t.
You have to act more than you react.
You have to save more than you squander.
You have to care more than you ever have before.
You have to love more than ever.

- Via The Reminder,  Huntingdon , TN; 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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A Time to Speak, to Share the Truth

     Fifty million people die each year without obeying the gospel. Of the hundred million born every year we are not converting one tenth of one percent world wide.

     How important do you think it is to tell people the truth about God and His Christ, about their souls and about the Lord’s church? Should we preach for entertainment? Should we preach about first principles, social issues, religious errors? Should we include everything that pertains to the welfare of the soul? To whom should we be preaching?

     It is in response to thoughts such as these that we hold gospel meetings. Here are a few things each one can do to make sure the effort is a genuine success.

1. Plan to attend all the meetings.
2. Invite others to attend with you.
3. Pray for the visiting preacher.
4. Pray for all who will attend.
5. Pray for all who take public part.
6. Participate enthusiastically.
7. Pay careful attention yourself.
8. Talk about the lessons to others.
9. Be ready with an answer when others ask about the faith – your faith and hope – and the church.
10. Put into practice all you learn.
 
- 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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Jewels of Wisdom

     “A FRIEND is one who can put a finger on your faults without rubbing them in.”
     “IF YOU are interested in the hereafter, remember that the HERE determines the AFTER!”
     “YOU may have had a bad start in life, but you need not have a bad ending.” (Old Union Reminder)
     “WHERE there is one soul who does not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord—there is a mission field.”
     “GOD never sends a burden to weigh us down without offering His arm to lift us up.”
     “HE WHO IS born of God is certain to resemble his Father.”
     “GREAT THOUGHTS reduced to practice become great acts.” (Steve Snider)
     “KINDNESS is a language which the blind can see and the deaf can hear.” (The Rylie Rambler)
     “WORRY does not exempt tomorrow from its griefs, but it does empty today of its joys.”  
 
- 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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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Wisdom of Shoes and Ships
by: J. Randal Matheny


It's better to wear out shoes than sheets,
For sloth brings ruin, by work you reap.
A lion-led army of sheep defeats
An army of lions led by a sheep.

The manner of giving outweighs the gift,
The spirit trumps intrinsic worth.
Avoid the tongue that's harsh and swift;
Give angry men a spacious berth.

Though no one cares, the singer sings,
For honor, true to self, compels.
The skilled in work will serve before kings,
And diligence rides the ocean's swells.

While others carp, the heart believes
And forges on to win the race.
The mind conceives, the hand achieves,
And muscled legs give tireless chase.

If tides delay your ship's arrival,
Then swim out to it, you need not wait;
Don't bet on luck for your survival;
For good or bad, you choose your fate.

- 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) 2007 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. On my Cloudburst Poetry list in March I published the poem "Wisdom." The positive feedback inspired me to write a second one on Wisdom, but I thought I'd share this one, today's offering, on the UPLift list. Many of the thoughts above come from wise quotes as diverse as Jonathan Winters and the Bible. I hope you enjoy it!  --Randal]

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The Bible
by: Damon Beaver

Although it is ridiculed and viewed with much doubt,
It speaks long and strong, always standing stout.

Those who hate it, reject it, and often debate it,
With flawed logic and foul judgment they pompously sit.

But it never changes to conform to their plan.
It stays constant and steady, a firm guiding hand.

For those who listen and open their mind,
Every hearer will discover a most valuable find.

It guides, rebukes, promises, and challenges,
Gives comfort and hope to all hearers of all ages.

Its wisdom far exceeds that which man can invent.
Its authority reminds us from whom it is sent.

Listen to it, absorb it, learn it, and share it!
Love it, obey it, and bravely defend it!

Its message is powerful, unlike any other,
From Jesus, The Spirit, and our Heavenly Father.

So what role does The Bible play in your day?
Do you open it often, or is it hidden away?

Are you reading God's Word; is it guiding you heart?
Or have you gotten more comfortable staying apart?

Remember, The Bible will enrich your life,
It will lead you on a path spread with blessing, not strife.

It will give you wisdom to walk that strait, narrow way,
So salvation and heaven you will realize some day!

- Damon Beaver preaches for the Summit church of Christ, Ludington, Michigan.  He may be reached at coc@t-one.net

__________________________via BulletinGold


The Years
by: H. L. Gradowith

     There is so much pain in the world and so many of our friends are hurting even as I type these lines.  The following lines acknowledge a bit of that pain and seek to reach out to those feeling it and let them know that people, while busy and often inattentive, do care.  We need each other second only to our need for Him.  HLG

I write these lines
And pass my time
With my work, my books, TV and the ceiling;
As my soul bleeds
Nobody reads
Or understands what these lines are revealing.

Nobody sees
I used to be
Much more than I am or am likely to be;
They smile and say,
"For you we'll pray."
And I am glad, for it means so much to me.

But late at night
Pain's at its height
And it's not only outwardly that I ache,
I sit and think
As my heart sinks
And often I wonder how much I can take.

What's done is done,
What's gone is gone
But sometimes I think it's still going, you see?
For bit by bit
I'm losing it.
And, oh. how I long for how things used to be!

I sit and sigh
And wonder why
Things are as they are and if they will improve
For me in life.
O, wretched life,
O, miserable life with so little love.

Whine and complain
About the pain
Until people are weary of hearing it,
But the pain stays
And stays and stays
And ever eats at my spirit, bit by bit.

So things are now,
Someway, somehow
I struggle along for a way to get through
The briny tears
And weary years
Until at long last He will make all things new.

And may He grant the strength we all need to get there
safely.

- 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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And They Say There is No God!
by: Clay Harrison
                  

The moon at night and the sun by day,
Migrating birds when skies are gray...
Whispering breezes, soft summer rain,
Shimmering fields of ripe, golden grain...
Seasons that change as if on cue,
Acres of flowers of every hue...
Shrimp boats at twilight, an eagle on wing,
New budding trees whispering spring...
Valleys and mountains, rivers and streams,
Magnolia nights with shiny moonbeams...
December days whiter than fleece,
An unknown soldier resting in peace...
Puppies and kittens made to love,
Sunsets and rainbows high above...
Mother and child in rocking chair,
Dad's calloused hands folded in prayer...
And they say there is no God!

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

A million dollars and a bale of hay
Will be worth the same on
Judgment Day!

- via Bulletin Digest.

"Freedom is not the right to do as you please, but the  liberty to do as you ought."

- Sword Scrapbook; 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

"ONE humiliating thing about technology is that it is gradually filling our homes with appliances that are smarter than we are." (Anonymous)

"THERE is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up."

- 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

"If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep.  Talk to the Shepherd."

Light but True

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say will be misquoted then used against you.

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

"More people would live to a ripe old age if they weren’t so busy providing for it."

"No one is paid for having brains but for using them."

"Conceit is a disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it."

Minnie Pearl once said of a certain person, "He wasn’t really a failure. He just started at the bottom, found he liked it, and was content to stay there."

- 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 best way to spend today ... is to invest it in eternity.

- 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