BulletinGold #96
December 2008   Vol 8 #10

----by David Bragg
One Special Day

    In 1912 C. P. J. Mooney wrote an amazing editorial that opened with the words, "There is no other character in history like that of Jesus."  He goes on to point out that Plato was a great thinker, Aquinas a great philosopher, Napoleon a great soldier but Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world, "the perfect man."  His timeless thoughts have been printed annually in Memphis, TN's Commercial Appeal.
     James A. Francis wrote that Jesus, although born in obscurity and living unencumbered by possessions and worldly honor, after nineteen centuries remains "the central figure of the human race."
     Francis continued, "I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as that One Solitary Life."
     We have now come to that special day above all the rest when we are to remember and give special honor to Jesus Christ.  It is not the day of His birth, for that is unknown to the entire human race.  It is not the day of his death or resurrection, for these too are not known with certainty but are memorialized by Jesus Himself in our weekly observance of the Lord's Supper.
     The one special day we must remember Jesus as our Lord is "today."  With the dawn of each new "today," if we will exalt the One who died to save the world, we can live in Him and thereby change the world for good.

David Bragg
P. S.  As much of the world will pause to consider Christ this time of the year, and as most will recognize the rapidly approaching New Year, this month's BulletinGold focuses on a deeper, more serious reflection of the mission and meaning Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, and the real impact those truths should have in shaping our swift sojourn of life in preparation for and in anticipation of our eternal, heavenly home.

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  

The Only Gift

by: David A. Sargent

    A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door. "Daddy, may I ask you a question?"
    "Yeah, sure. What is it?" replied the father.
    "Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?"
    "That's none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?" the father said angrily.
    "I just wanted to know. Please tell me. How much do you make an hour?" pleaded the little boy.
    "If you must know, I make $20 an hour."
    Looking up, the boy said, "Daddy, may I borrow $9 please?"
    The father was furious. "If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you're being selfish. I work long, hard hours everyday and don't have time for such childish games."
     The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The father sat down and started to get madder about his little boy's questioning. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After an hour, he calmed down and started to think he might have been a little too hard on his son. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $9. And, he didn't ask for money often.
     The father went to his son's room and opened the door. "Are you asleep, son?" he asked. "No, Daddy, I'm awake," replied the boy.
     "I've been thinking. Maybe I was too hard on you earlier," said the father.  "It's been a long day, and I took my aggravations out on you. Here's the $9 you asked for."
    The little boy sat up straight, beaming. "Oh, thank you Daddy!" he said.
    Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled bills. He counted the money; then looked up at his father. "Why did you want more money if you already had some?" the father asked.
    "Because I didn't have enough, but now I do," the little boy replied. “Daddy, I have $20 now...... Can I buy an hour of your time?" *
    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
    There is Another who loves you and me and longs for an enduring relationship with us.  He demonstrated His love for us by giving us a tremendous gift: the gift of HIMSELF (Galatians 2:20).
     Our sins separate us from God but Jesus gave His life as payment for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him.  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men -- the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
     If we will respond in loving obedience through: faith (Acts 16:30-31) and repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name (Acts 2:38), then our sins are washed away and we can be reconciled to God. Then as we continue to follow Him faithfully, He will continue to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
     Jesus gave more than a “portion” of Himself for us; He gave His ALL.
     He DIED so that we might LIVE!
     Won’t YOU respond to His great love on His terms and LIVE for Him?

* Author Unknown

- David A. Sargent, minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

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Overspending and the Holidays
by: James C. Savage

    Overeating . . . Overspending . . . one’s as easy as the other this time of year. Overeating we understand: there’s a lot of good food out there. But overspending? Why are so many people tempted to overspend during the holidays? There are many reasons.
    Carelessness. Sometimes we just don’t keep up with what we’re spending and before we know it, we’ve overspent. Regardless of how unintentional it is, though, all those bills still have to be paid off-not the best way to start the New Year.
    Advertising. As experts in motivation, marketing professionals know all the right buttons to push to make us want whatever they are advertising. Little jingles, cute slogans, eye-catching pictures—all have their effect on us in less-than-conscious ways. The result? Overspending before we know it, even on things we really didn’t want.
     Wrong use of gifts. Sometimes we overspend because we try to use gifts in the wrong way: we think that buying the perfect gift will cause someone to love us, or that buying a large number of gifts will impress others, or that buying a particular gift will make up for some wrong we’ve done. We all want to be loved and thought of as generous people. None of us wants to be Scrooge that disappoints and ruins Christmas for everyone else. Knowing this, advertisers, often imply that giving “things” will create happiness, make others admire us, even love us.
    Trying to do the impossible. Sometimes we overspend because we try to do the impossible: we try to create the “perfect” Christmas from some television show, or we try as adults to make up for something we wanted as a child but did not get. Remembering our own childhood disappointments, we try to protect our children from such feelings. We try to create “perfect” experiences for them, to give them everything they want to make them happy.
    Resisting the Temptation to Overspend: So what do we do? How do we resist the temptation to overspend? Here are some suggestions.
    1. Set a budget and stick to it. Keep track of what you’re spending and stop when you’ve reached your limit. A little self-discipline now can save you a lot of heartache and stress when the bills come rolling in.
     2. Ignore as best you can the slick advertising hype. Learn to argue with those little jingles and cute slogans that lure you into buying what you don’t need. Hold your ground and be firm. Tell yourself, “No, I don’t need it, and I won’t buy it.”
     3. Aim for a good Christmas, not a perfect Christmas. There is no “perfect” Christmas except in the make-believe world of TV fantasy or childhood dreams. Holidays in the real world are usually a mixture of getting what we want and of being disappointed, of having a pretty good meal and of something being burned, of laughing with family members and of being irritated by their little quirks. We live in the real world of human relationships, not the make-believe “perfect” world of fantasy TV. But Christmas does not have to be perfect to be good. Aim to have a “good” Christmas, not a “perfect” Christmas.
    4. Stop trying to do the impossible. Material things seldom if ever create long-lasting happiness. Trying to buy the perfect toy or perfect gift to make someone happy is doomed to fail. New gadgets might intrigue us for a while, but we will quickly discover new things that we need or want “to make us happy.” Happiness is ultimately an inside job—we decide inside to be happy, even if things around us are less than perfect. While good parents often give their children what they want, they know that overspending for that perfect gift to make their children happy seldom if ever works. Showing their children how to be self-controlled in spending, and helping them handle disappointments, are more valuable gifts, ones they will use time and again in the real world.
    5. Don’t substitute gifts for doing what is right. If you have wronged someone, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Don’t try to ease a guilty conscience by overspending on expensive gifts.
    6.  Remember that real love is based on who we are and how we relate to others, not on what we can or cannot buy. The more important gifts in life are relational in nature and often cost no money at all: gifts like companionship, attention, time, care, and service. Playing with a child, taking a walk with a spouse, listening to a loved one, sharing a cup of coffee or tea with a friend, drinking a coke together, watching a sunset or sunrise together, taking a child fishing, making a craft with your children to send to a shut-in, baking cookies together, feeding ducks on a pond—what wonderful gifts for a friend, family member, or loved one.
     7. Finally, recognize and thank God for all that He has already given you. And help others do likewise. Teach your children to recognize and appreciate God’s gifts, given and received every day: gifts such as good health, the ability to walk, run, see, hear, do, think, play, work, love, create, along with a host of things.
     God gives freely everyday, not just on holidays like Christmas, and God gives of Himself, not just stuff. Indeed, as James so rightly put it, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” (James 1:17).

- James C. Savage, Ph.D, LPCC, LMFT, Director of LifeStories Christian Care and Counseling Services, Mayfield , KY.  Via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter devoted to family related issues published by 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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Goal Setting for 2009
by: Craig Evans

    Have you started setting your goals for next year?  Let me encourage you to set a goal that would greatly benefit you, the Lord’s church, and the world around us.   This goal is simply to build and strengthen your relationship with God.  You may be asking, “How can I attain that goal?”
    Read and study God’s word.  God blessed us with His word complete and inerrant.  By reading it we develop faith, find comfort, and are directed in the way we should live.  There are many opportunities for us to increase our knowledge of God’s word.
    Spend time in worship to God.  The congregation comes together to worship at least three times a week.  There are also youth devotionals and gospel meetings.
    Talk to God.  Prayer is a gift of a loving, listening Father who is always there to help.
    Build relationships with God’s people.    This congregation has numerous activities that assist us in fellowshipping one another, but don’t just depend on activities.  Open up your home and share a meal with another family.  Christian friends are a tremendous strength.
    Bring someone to Christ.  Look for opportunities to study with the lost so they might be saved.   
    Restore the lost.  You may know a Christian who in unfaithful and walking away from God.  Pray for them and admonish them to be restored to God.
    Be benevolent.  If you see a need that you can meet, then meet it.  You will make a difference.
    May we all set a goal of “Strengthening our Relationship with God.”  It is definitely a goal that will benefit you, the Lord’s church, and the world around us.                        

- Craig Evans serves as youth minister for the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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To Help Us Live Better Lives
by: Jimmy W. Cox

    There are lessons in the Scriptures which will help us live better lives, if we will be constantly aware of them.
    The great value of our soul– Our soul, or inward person, was made in the image of God. (Gen. 1:27). Our soul is of great worth–even more than the whole world. (Matt. 16:26).
    Always be aware that we will be judged– (2 Cor. 5:10)– "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad." "Every idle word that man may speak, they shall give account . . . in the judgment."
    Live every day as if it were the last day– (Matt. 24:44)– "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man (Christ) is coming at an hour you do not expect." – We do not know the day we will die. "What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (Jas. 4:14).
     Remember: In eternity you will be in heaven or hell.– "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Now is the time to prepare for eternity. "Christ is the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6).
    A greater degree of faith. We must believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as our Saviour, and obey His ever command in order to become a Christian. But we must increase our faith. A regular study of God’s Word will give us a stronger faith. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17).
    Encouraging words for doing what is right, encourages us to do even more good. We should encourage one another. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." (Heb. 10:22) .Jesus commended the widow.
     Christians must so live that they set a good example– "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16). "For to this you were called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps." (1 Pet. 2:21).
    Become a Christian– Believe in Jesus Heb. 11:6; Confess Christ Matt. 10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:3-5; Be faithful– "Be faith until death, and I will give you a crown of life." Rev. 2:10.

- Jimmy W. Cox lives in Sandy Hook, MS and attends the Columbia church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at coxsandyhook@yahoo.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

Is Jesus The Reason For The Season?

by: Travis L. Quertermous

    The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is one the cardinal doctrines of true Christianity, as well as one of the greatest events in world history (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20). But what of the holiday known as Christmas? Can it be found in the Scriptures?
    The simple truth is that the Bible does not give us the date of Jesus’ birth and there is no Scriptural or historical evidence that the apostolic church celebrated an annual holiday in honor of it. Some Christians began to celebrate Christ’s birth by the end of the 2nd century A.D. December 25 was arbitrarily chosen by church officials in the 4th century, but even this is probably an error. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were “living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night” (Luke 2:8), thus indicating a date in the spring or summer. The fact is that the word “Christmas” was not even coined until the 11th century.
    Churches of Christ believe in the practice of New Testament Christianity. We reject the creeds, dogmas, and traditions of men. Since Christmas is not authorized as a religious holiday in the New Testament, we do not observe it as such. For us, it is a secular holiday and a season of giving, but not the birthday of our Savior. Are you interested in simple, non-denominational Christianity? Then why not contact us today to learn more?

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

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What Kind of Christmas?
by: Ronald Bartanen

     Christmas means different things to different folks.  To some, it is a celebration of “Jesus' birthday,” although in all likelihood Jesus was not born in the winter.  Shepherds would not be watching their flocks in the fields at night at this time of year.  December 25, in fact, was instead the date celebrated in the heathen world as the birth date of the Sun God.  To others, it is simply a time of good will and family togetherness.  Others—myself included—see Christmas not as a “holy day” instituted by God, but nevertheless as a national holiday—a day in which we can rejoice as the world is reminded of the coming of the Savior into the world.  It is never an evil thing to be reminded of our Savior.
     Sadly, still others would rid the day of all religious connotation, lumping it together with New Years as a part of a secular “Winter Holiday.”  Some stores, while raking in the money from the occasion, even instruct their clerks to not say, “Merry Christmas,” but instead, “Happy Holidays.”  Secularists, supported by such as the ACLU, would allow children in public (governmental) schools to be restricted to singing about “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, while forbidding “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Sad! Sad!
     By the way, what kind of Christmas are you having this year?

(Someone once wrote something like, “Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, it availeth thee not except He be born in thee.”  He came to be received as our Redeemer.  Have you accepted Him as Savior and Lord in your life? Have you believed the Gospel, repented of sins, confessed your faith and been baptized in His name in acceptance of salvation? [Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 10:32; Acts 2:38])

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted at ron33dor@yahoo.com or via the congregation's website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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This New Year, Let Us Be Reminded Of...
by: Edd Sterchi

...the New Song that the Lord can put into our hearts (Psa. 96:1).
...the New Name the Lord has given to His people (Isa. 62:2).
...the New Covenant we now live under (Jer. 31:31).
...the New Commandment of love that we are to express (John 13:34).
...the New Creation that we have been made in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
...the New Way we are to live our lives (Heb. 10:20).
...the New Jerusalem we are to look forward to in heaven (Rev. 21:2).
“He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Rev. 21:5)

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

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Ancient New Years

"Happy New Year!" That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way.  But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern America was not always January 1.

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays.  It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago.  In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year.  It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted.  January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance.  It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days.  Each day had its particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

- Via the weekly bulletin of the Lakeland church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  David R. Ferguson preaches for that congregation, and he may be contacted at davidferguson61@yahoo.com   You may also want to visit the congregation's website at http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

The New Leaf

He came to my desk with a quivering lip;
    The lesson was done;
“Dear Teacher, I want a new leaf,” he said,
    “I’ve spoiled this one.”
I took the old leaf, torn and blotted,
    And gave him a new one, all unspotted,
And in to his sad eyes smiled:
    “Do better now, my child!”
I came to the throne with a trembling heart;
    The year’s work was done:
“Dear Father, I want a new year,” I said,
    “I have spoiled this one.”
He took the old year, torn and blotted,
    And gave me a new one, all unspotted,
And into my sad heart smiled:
    “Do better now, my child.”

- Author unknown; 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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Happy New Year
by: Avis Corley Porter

It's Two Thousand and Eight,
Now isn't that just simply great?

God has blessed us to see another New Year,
Let us enter it with thanksgiving and cheer.

Another year to live and love,
And worship our heavenly Father above.

Another year to thank Him for the blessings He sends,
For our broken hearts He so kindly mends.

For the beautiful sunshine and the falling rain,
For heaping us bear our aches and pains.

For being as near as a Prayer away,
For being with us through the day.

Happy New Year, two thousand eight,
Now isn't that just simply great?

- Avis Corley Porter is a prolific poet and a faithful sister in Christ from Thaxton, MS.

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Auld Lang Syne
by: H. L. Gradowith

The old man sat and thought of what folks would say
About how he had lived when he passed away,
Would they speak of the many troubles he had?
Would the good things about him outweigh the bad?
Would his self-control stand out, or his temper?
Would his wins or his losses be remembered?
As he reviewed his life through the many years
He saw much joy mixed with many bitter tears,
He saw many right moves and many mistakes,
He saw much true love, and, his share of heartaches.
He saw so many times when his prayers availed.
And he saw many times when evil prevailed.
He saw himself when he was but a small child,
So pure and innocent ere by sin defiled.
He saw the lady to whom he gave his heart,
And thought of his love for her right from the start.
He saw his children as they were being reared,
He thought of his pride as their adulthood neared.
He remembered the pain when one went away.
It always hurt him so to recall that day.
He thought of the awful loneliness he'd known.
Of the angst and anguish that made his heart groan.
He thought of the Savior Whose blood made him whole,
And of his belief in the Heavenly goal.
He thought of his many companions and friends,
And how some pleasure and some pain never ends.
He thought of the changes he would like to make,
And of a few chances he would like to take.
He wondered why this world had treated him so,
Then decided he'd really rather not know.
He thought of his loved ones who'd gone on before.
And of the reunion to come on that shore.
He thought of the wrinkles time put on his face,
Wrinkles nothing down here could ever erase.
He wondered when his Savior would call him home
To that lovely city whence he'd never roam!
He sat there and thought of what people would say
When at long last his Lord would call him away;
He was tired and weary and ready to go,
Heaven was waiting and he longed for it so.

- 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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Another Year Closer to God
by: Helen Steiner Rice

Your many years of loving God
have been golden years well spent,
Which have brought a golden harvest
of deep, serene content.
For glorious is the gladness
and rich is the reward
Of all who work unceasingly
in the service of the Lord.
And I know our heavenly Father
has directed you each day
As you try to serve and please Him,
as you follow in His way.
And looking back across your life,
your spirit grows serene,
As your soul in love envisions
what your eyes have never seen.
And while the springtime of your life
is pleasant to recall,
You know the autumn of life
is the richest time of all,
For great has been your gladness
and priceless your reward
As through the years you walked with joy
in the vineyard of the Lord.

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