BulletinGold #97
January 2009   Vol 8 #11

----by David Bragg

Life can be funny, but few people left to their most intimate thoughts can truly find humor in their own mortality.  Erma Bombeck suggested these words for her grave marker, “Big deal!  I’m used to dust.”   “I’m not afraid to die,” said Woody Allen, “I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”  “If you live to the age of a hundred you have it made because very few people die past the age of a hundred.”  That was the late George Burns’ take on life and death.  Dustin Hoffman once said he wanted the epitaph, “I knew this would happen!”*  While one may seek to bring levity to nearly every aspect of living their thoughts quickly sober when faced with he serious subject of dying.

Death can be many things but in the end no man can honestly say that it was unexpected.  Life is plastered with warnings.  We are reminded of death in the changing of the seasons, the observation of nature, and the passing of generations.  Our bodies send out warnings when something is not right.  Death is personally experienced through the loss of friends and loved ones.  God reminds all that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The Christian's perspective of death should be clearly reflected in their approach to living.  When faced with difficult circumstances in life, what choices did they make?  When confronted with divine commands, what direction did they choose to go?  This month's issue of BulletinGold revolves around this crucial aspect of one's daily life ... our daily choices that will prepare them for God's promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Baseball great Leo Durocher once said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality by being inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I want to achieve immortality by not dying.”  What seems impossible, Jesus has made possible.  The weeping of death shall give way to the joys of life eternal.  Death is no laughing matter.  Come to Jesus, and allow Him to help you make the choices today that will prepare you for forever.

David Bragg, co-editor

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


by: David A. Sargent

     “The Mutiny on the Bounty.”  Many recognize these words as the title of some well-known novels and movies.  Clark Gable and Charles Laughton starred in a movie of the same name in 1935. Another Mutiny on the Bounty was released in 1962, starring Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando.  More recently, Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson starred in The Bounty in 1984.  Each of these movies and other novels are based on actual historical events.
    The mutiny on the Bounty was a mutiny aboard a British Royal Navy ship, the HMS Bounty, on April 28, 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against the notorious captain, William Bligh. Bligh and 18 of his loyal followers were cast adrift in a small open boat; they later made it to safety.
    Fletcher Christian and eight fellow mutineers, along with six Tahitian men and 11 women, set sail in Bounty hoping to elude the British Royal Navy.  On January 15, 1790, they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy's charts. The passengers of the Bounty settled on the island, and to prevent the ship's detection, the ship was burned on January 23, 1790, in what is now called “Bounty Bay.”
    Although the settlers were able to survive by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among the settlers.  In just a few short years, alcoholism, murder, disease – even a civil war – took the lives of most of the mutineers and all of the Tahitian men.
    John Adams and Ned Young were the last two surviving mutineers.  In order to establish a new and peaceful society among the remaining inhabitants of Pitcairn Island, they turned to the Bible as their guide.  Adams and Young sought to follow the principles of Christianity and taught the children to read and write using the Bible. When Young died of an asthmatic infection, Adams continued his work of educating the women and children using biblical principles.
    On September 17, 1814, the crews of two British ships, the Briton and Tagus, found the community on Pitcairn Island.  John Adams, nine women, and some children were the sole inhabitants.  The British commanders were charmed by the physique, simplicity and piety of the islanders.
    What they witnessed in the lives of Adams and his “congregation” is testimony of the power of God’s Holy Word!
    When God’s Word is taught and obeyed, lives are changed.  The Bible tells of God’s love for mankind.  He loves us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son to die for us so that we can have forgiveness and be set free from the tyranny of sin (John 3:16; 8:32).  This is the Gospel – the Good News – that is the power to change our lives and save our souls eternally (Romans 1:16).
    God will save those who obey the Gospel: believing in His Son (Acts 16:30-31), turning from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  When we obey the Gospel, we become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), with a new standard of living (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and a new hope for life eternal (Titus 1:2).
    YOUR life can also be changed IF you will read God’s Word and obey it!

- 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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Rediscovering Our True Purpose
by: Don Loftis

    George Colbert conducted a survey of religious individuals active in their local congregations. He asked them what they thought the church’s #1 purpose was. The response was that 80% thought the church’s primary responsibility was to take care of the members’ needs. In other words, four out of five felt that the church existed to take care of itself.
    Certainly, the local church should provide for the physical needs (food, clothing, and shelter) of members who are struggling. Likewise, emotional needs are met in hospital visitation and grief counseling. Worship facilities, Bible classes, fellowship activities, and youth projects help lead members toward spiritual maturity.
    Like individuals, churches have to resist the temptation of selfishness. Personal comforts and needs must not blind us to the greater needs of those outside of our fellowship. Paul challenges all of us with the message of Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
    After restoring Zaccheus, Jesus said, “...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). If Jesus was interested in the lost, should we not be as well? If Jesus’ primary message was evangelistic, how can we make outreach a secondary project? The local church needs to be evangelistic and mission minded. The lost need to weigh so heavily on our hearts that we share our energies and resources to seek them.
    Colbert’s statistics explain why most churches are not growing and why mission efforts are sagging. If our personal comforts and fellowship needs are our primary focus, we simply become a social club with a religious theme. If helping the “needy” is the final goal of our efforts, we settle for being a service organization with a religious vocabulary. However, it is the spiritual reality of evangelism that sets the church off as a unique entity—one that is rescuing the lost and addressing the realities of eternity.

- Don Loftis; 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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Choices Have Consequences
by: Ken Chumbley

    In the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve, He created them to be creatures of choice and not robots that had to do His will. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was told: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (Genesis 2:16-17a). That Adam was able to make to make a choice is clearly seen in that God set forth a consequence if he violated that restriction: “: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17b).  Eve was also aware of the restriction that God had made and the consequences of making a wrong choice. When she was confronted by the serpent, she stated: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Genesis 3:2-3).
    We all know of the choice that Adam and Eve made when the serpent (Satan) was able to convince Eve that God didn’t really mean what He said. She was able to convince Adam and both made the choice to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, Adam might try to say it was Eve’s fault and Eve might try to place the blame at the feet of the serpent but those excuses would not fly. They both made the choice and thus both bore the consequences of that decision. They might have felt like the consequences of eating the fruit where good based on what they saw and the immediate results. However, the real consequences came later when, true to His Word, they died, spiritually, and were thrust out of their home in Eden. Other consequences followed for them, as we read from Genesis 3:15-24. However, that was not all, for all men and women have suffered the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve  (Romans 5:12-14; I Corinthians 15:22).
    One lesson all need to learn in every area of life is that each choice that we make brings consequences. When one makes a good choice, there can be good consequences. Bad choices can bring bad consequences. Note I did not say that every good choice brings good consequences or vice versa. Paul made a good choice when he was obedient to the Gospel of Christ but as we read some of the consequences were not good. However, it is clear that the eternal consequences, as Paul teaches, were all good. Sometimes people make bad choices and, the immediate consequences may be good. For example, one may choose to rob a bank. The initial consequences are good – they have lots of extra money. However, the good consequences do not last. Often they end when the bank robber is apprehended and he has to give up his loot and also will probably loose his freedom. Further, if the robber is not repentant, there will be eternal consequences that are not good.
    All are called upon to make a choice – whether or not to serve God and be obedient to His will. God has told us of the consequences of that choice. What is your choice? Will you choose to serve God and be obedient to His will? That choice brings eternal consequences with respect to Heaven and Hell. God does not want any to perish but desires all to come to repentance and be saved (II Peter 3:9). However, each individual has to make that choice bearing in mind the eternal consequences.

- Ken Chumbley preaches for the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  He may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org or e-mail: church@belvederechurchofchrist.org

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Remembering Things We Take For Granted
by: Patrick Hogan

    Sometimes seemingly insignificant events can teach important lessons.  Tuesday morning the electricity went off twice at my house.  The first time it was off for about a minute.  The second time it was off for perhaps five minutes.  During the second outage, while I was shaving, I realized how dependent we are upon electricity, but how much we take it for granted.  Without power there would be no morning coffee, no hot breakfast, no heat, and no lights.  Even knowing that the power was off, I wanted to switch on the light so I could locate some things more easily.  I again realized that we pretty much take electric power for granted and don’t appreciate it until it goes off.  It is truly amazing that we have so many conveniences that are made available through electricity, a source of power we cannot see and to which we give little thought until it’s not there.
    You can probably see the applications before I even mention them.  Though we cannot see God, we have so many blessings from Him that make our lives so good.  Unfortunately, we often take Him and the blessings that He gives for granted.  We don’t really think too much about them until they aren’t there.  Often we do not really think about God unil adversity strikes and then we wonder why He isn’t doing what we expect Him to do.
    A couple of passages of Scripture come to mind.  The first is James 1:16-17, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  The second is form Acts 17:  “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. … for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.”  May we become more mindful of all that God, our Father, does for us and become more grateful to Him for His love and care for us.

- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at http://www.shadyacreschurch.com

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A Fragment of a Mirror
by: Tom Moore

    Alexander Papaderos, a doctor of philosophy, worked for many years trying to bring peace between the bitterly divided countries of Europe after WWII.  His motivation for doing so stems from his childhood and a very odd event which took place.  “When I was a small child,” he said, “during the war we were poor and lived in a remote village.  One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror.  A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place... I kept one, the largest piece... By scratching it on a stone, I made it round.  I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine—in deep holes and crevices and dark closets.  It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.  I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game.  As I became mature, I grew to understand that this was a metaphor for what I might do with my life.  I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light.  The light [or truth] is there, and it will shine in many dark places only if I reflect it.”
    He concluded: “I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.  Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of the world...and change some things in some people.  Perhaps others may see and do likewise.”
     Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
     Think about it!

- Tom Moore, Malvern, AR; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor,
may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue

Fail Forward

Virtually nothing comes out exactly right the first time it is tried. Repeated failures can be progress markers on the road to achievement and perfection. The only time you do not fail is the last time you try something and it works. Even then you can often improve on what you have done, make it more effective and efficient. You should always try to fail in the direction of progress and improvement.
- 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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Ten Suggestions For Improving Your Experience at Church Services

1) Make church assemblies a priority.  The more meaning worship has to you, the more meaningful it will be.
2) Prepare yourself ahead of time.  A pre-focused mind and prepared heart becomes a precept for great worship.
3) Be on time.  Rushing in late makes it difficult to settle into meditation.
4) Make your worship God-centered, not man-centered.  Worship is giving to God.  Focus on Him.
5) Bring your Bible.  Following along in your own Bible makes the lessons more worthwhile and beneficial.
6) Participate heartily in the singing.  Singing not only praises God, but it also instructs others, and it makes you feel better - all at the same time!
7) Sit in a spot where you can pay attention.  Find a place where you are free of distractions so you can concentrate on worship.
8) Put your all into worship.  Do not give God your leftovers.  He deserves only your best.  You will feel better for it.
9) Take notes.  Writing down the main points of the class lesson and sermon helps with memory and provide resources for the future.  Make every effort to  apply what is learned.
10) Be friendly.  Worship is enhanced when we are closer as a family.

- adapted by Edd Sterchi; - Edd Sterchi preaches for the Jackson church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted at sterchi@shawneelink.net or through the congregation's website: http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com

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12 Things to Learn

The value of time—
The need of perseverance—
The pleasure of serving—
The dignity of simplicity—
The true worth of character—
The power of kindness—
The influence of example—
The obligation of duty—
The wisdom of economy—
The virtue of patience—
The nobility of labor—
The teachings of Him who said, “Learn of Me.”

- via The Sword Scrapbook; 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 7 Ups!

1. Wake Up !! Decide to have a good day. This is the day the Lord hath made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalms 118:24
2. Dress Up !! The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance, But the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)
3. Shut Up!! Say nice things and learn to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, So He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking. "He who guards his lips guards his soul." (Proverbs 13:3)
4. Stand Up!!.. . . For what you believe in.  Stand for something or you will fall for anything. "Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, We will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good..."  (Galatians 6:9-10)
5. Look Up !!.. . . To the Lord. "I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me". (Philippians 4:13)
6. Reach Up !!.. . . For something higher. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)
7. Lift Up !!.. . . Your Prayers. "Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING." (Philippians 4:6) I hope every day is a good day full of 'ups' for you!!!
A POSITIVE THOUGHT If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring, and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He could live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. What about the gift He sent you in Bethlehem ? Not to mention that Friday at Calvary . Face it, He's crazy about you.

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

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue

Open Mind and Hungry Heart

by: Russell L. Simmons

Receive the Word with open mind
And hungry heart, and then you'll find
A meaning new to words of hope;
And never more in blindness grope.
Just lay aside your old belief,
To find the way to sure relief
From worldly cares, and ways you've trod:
Contented, in the arms of God.

Each sacred Word has meanings new
When analyzed with heart that's true:
With nothing in it preconceived,
Nor stubborn mind by world deceived.
So tell yourself: "I may be wrong
In many thoughts I've had so strong;
I'll turn away from what I've heard,
And only take the Sacred Word."

So test each thing that you are told;
It may be dross, it may be gold.
Then only keep what stands the test,
And do away with all the rest.
The Bible tells salvation's plan:
It's plain enough to any man
Who takes the Word with hungry heart,
And then proceeds to do his part.

The things It tells us, "Do," we must --
The only acts that we can trust;
The things It tells us not to do
Are then the ones we must eschew.
Take nothing less, or nothing more
Than God's instructions do implore;
Then leave the worldly way you've trod,
And rest secure, content with God.

- Russell L. Simmons, Gospel Digest, June, 1960; submitted by Mark McWhorter, who may be contacted at mtmcvb@concentric.net

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Lead Thou the Way
by: Esther Nilsson

Each time I speak let what I say
Be of Thy Word,
That those who listen shall be blessed
For having heard.

Of what I do let every move
Be first a prayer,
That in my touch of other hearts
I shall not err.

And when I walk my feet shall take
Thy Chosen Way,
That those who hold my hand shall not
Be led astray!

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The Words of Christ
by: J. Randal Matheny

    Heaven and earth will disappear,
  but my words will remain forever.
    Mark 13:31 NLT

Don't neglect eternal truths
  For pleasures that will disappear.
Don't trade what you can never lose
  For a moment's want, for wavering fear.

Heaven and earth will pass away,
  And all the treasures they contain;
Enjoy what lasts beyond today,
  Forever will His words remain.

- J. Randal Matheny, missionary and minister, is the publisher of Uplift, an on-line and e-mail devotional.  He may be contacted through this website: http://randalmatheny.com/doku.php?id=uplift
When reprinting this material, please be sure to include the following:  Copyright (c) 2006 J. Randal Matheny All rights reserved. You may forward the email to friends as is. You may not alter it in any way or remove any text or attributions.

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Freedom’s Prayer
by: Daniel Whitworth

Lord, we thank you this day for our cherished freedom.
Freedom to be citizens of the Lord’s eternal kingdom,
Freedom to live in this great and wonderful land of the free.
Freedom as well to give all glory, honor, and praise to Thee.

We give thanks for the leaders of our good land,
We honor the memory of those fallen in Iraqi desert sand,
And we give thanks for the soldiers whose sacrifice we cherish,
Knowing that their lives were given that our freedoms don’t perish.

Lord, bless our troops that are still serving overseas,
And bring them home soon to their families.
Keep them alert, safe, strong, and wise,
And help the Iraqi people our sacrifice not to despise.

May they build a new nation democratic and free,
Knowing that all good things in this life come from Thee,
May their hatred for others be replaced with Christ-like love,
Knowing that your eternal truth comes down to us from above!

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

Be glad the future only comes one day at a time – at least for the present.

If you are going nowhere, just follow the crowd.

Stand still and watch the world go by  – and it will.

One cannot be good or bad without personal choice.

Always do what is right. You will amuse some and amaze the rest.

He who does a good deed should keep silent about it. He who receives one should publicize it.

One who will not share Christ cannot keep him.

- 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

“In a free society, there is much clamor with little suffering; in a despotic state there is little complaint but much suffering.”    --Carrot

About “words” --
    The easiest way to eat crow is while it is still warm, ‘cause the older it gets, the harder it is to swallow.
    Choose your words and actions carefully so if you have to swallow them it will be easier.
- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo.com  You may also visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family; but to a solitary and an exile, his friends are everything. (Willa Cather; 1873-1947)

"Nothing endures but change." ~ Heraclitus, from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Greek philosopher (540 BC - 480 BC)

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