BulletinGold #89
May 2008   Vol 8 #3
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg
   Temptation and opportunity to sin surrounds the Christian as they make their journey through life.  This is nothing new.  Since time began the human race has struggled with temptation and suffered in sin.  Today sin seems to have become socially acceptable.  Far from being condemned, worldliness is much more likely to be embraced.  It is a welcomed guest in many homes.
   Obsession is another characteristic of this world of ours.  Many are shackled with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and countless other life controlling problems.  Some are so wrapped up in pleasure and materialism that they are blind to what really matters in life.
   Rage erupts with little provocation and sweeps the guilty and innocent alike into its inferno of sorrow and suffering.  Fanned by senseless violence, it claims to seek justice but injustice and pain seem to be all it can produce.
   Lust masquerades as love in a world infatuated with sex.  Convinced God doesn't know best, children become sexually involved before marriage and pay a  terrible price whether or not they get "caught."  Pornography, prostitution, rape, and incest begins a seemingly endless list of lust's carnage.
   Divorce is common and accepted by many as not only normal but a completely acceptable end of marriage.  God's will has been silenced by the judge's gavel.  But ask any child shuffled between parents and they will tell you that they, like God, hates divorce.  A stable home would have been worth the extra effort.
   Below you will find a collection of bulletin articles, filliers, poems, and quotes relating to this ugly, but universal topic.  Take a good look at our world.  See the pain and sorrow in the wake of rampant sin.  Isn't it great that God offers us an alternative (John 14:1-4)?

David Bragg, co-editor
www.davidbragg.org

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Sin
by: Ronald Bartanen


     The following is from a March 13 OneNewsNow-article by Allie Martin, entitled, “Survey reveals variations in peoples’ perceptions of ‘sin.’”
      A new survey finds many inconsistencies among Americans when it comes to beliefs about sin.
     The survey, conducted by Ellison Research, polled 1,000 American adults.  Among the findings, 87 percent of Americans believe in the concept of sin – which was defined in the research as “something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective.”
     Among those who believe in sin, 81 percent classified adultery as sin, 74 percent named racism, 65 percent said using hard drugs was sin, 52 percent named homosexuality, and 56 percent said having an abortion was sin.  Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, says while most Americans believe in the concept of sin, there are inconsistencies when it comes to what qualifies as sin.
     “For instance, Americans do tend to define sin according to degrees,” Sellers explains.  “We have 81 percent who say yes, adultery is a sin.  However, only 43 percent say having sexual thoughts about someone you’re not married to is a sin.  Same thing on drinking – only 14 percent believe that drinking any alcohol is a sin, yet significantly more than that believe that getting drunk is a sin.
     The researcher is convinced that religious leaders can learn a lot from the survey.  “A lot of religious leaders would be very surprised to find out what ‘their own people’ believe,” he shares.  [Many] evangelical leaders would say, ‘Wow – that’s all the evangelicals that believe such-and-such is a sin? [And] a lot of the Catholic leaders would be very surprised at some of these findings as well.”
     Sellers says the survey shows a need by pastors to investigate and dialogue about absolute truth and sin with members of their congregations.
     What I find particularly significant in the above article is the evident lack of understanding what sin actually is.  My impression is that sin is defined more and more by what one’s culture regards as sin. For instance, while homosexuality a generation ago would almost universally have been considered a sin, now it is only a very slim majority that would so define it.  Only a slightly larger majority believes that the killing of a baby in a womb is a sin.  In the former instance, public opinion has been swayed by favorable media coverage, and the opposition to what the Bible calls an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22) as “homophobic,” intolerant and judgmental.  Schools now are teaching even the youngest of students that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, and a cause to be celebrated, irrespective of parents’ objections.  From this worldly perspective, what the Bible calls sin—even an abomination—must now be accepted, while opposition to what the Bible calls sin must be condemned as sin.
     Contrary to growing public opinion, sin is not to be defined by what society defines as sin, a definition that will become increasingly liberal and decadent, but rather by an unchangeable authority: God.  His word (the Scriptures) defines His laws, and to transgress His laws is defined by Him as sin (1 John 3:4).  Whether the action is homosexuality, lust, abortion, or any other socially acceptable practice, our acceptance of it will make it no less of a sin.  There is “absolute truth and sin,” and it will be defined in Judgment by His word (John 12:48).

- 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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Soul For Sale
by: Joe Slater


   Several years ago an atheist tried to sell his soul at the online auction site eBay.  Bidding advanced to $400 before eBay officials caught on and deleted the item.  The seller said he didn’t mean for anyone to take it seriously - he was just bored.  He wished the high bidder luck in collecting!
    While obviously a prank, this incident highlights some serious matters. First, we ought to be concerned about the well-being of our souls above all else. A typical atheist doesn’t believe he even has a soul - he thinks “matter in motion” is all there is. How sad! God is Spirit, and we are made in His image. The spiritual part of us (our soul) will exist eternally.
    Second, while some joke about it, you really can sell your soul to the devil by sinning. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey?” (Rom. 6:16). Fortunately, Jesus paid the price to redeem (buy back) our souls, thus delivering us from the bondage of sin.
   Third, your soul is worth far more than $400. Jesus asked, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Your soul is worth more than all the world’s riches. Yet we spend decades accumulating this world’s wealth while doing little or nothing to benefit our souls. Go figure...
    Fourth, it is pitiful that so many people are bored - especially when there is so much good to be done. We are addicted to television and video games, but bored with anything that requires us to actually work or think! Learning the truth is a fine alternative to boredom! We can buy a Bible anywhere for almost nothing, yet the population is abysmally ignorant of the Bible. Self-less service also alleviates boredom. We have time and resources, yet we are bored!
    What will you do with your soul? You can give it to Jesus, or sell it to Satan.  Neither will have any problem collecting. It’s up to you!

- Joe Slater; 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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Renaming Sin
by: Alan Smith


   Someone has come up with the following list of "politically correct" terms for teenagers:
*  No one fails a class anymore, he's merely "passing impaired."
*  You don't have detention, you're just one of the "exit delayed."
*  Your bedroom isn't cluttered, it's just "passage restrictive."
*  These days, a student isn't lazy.  He's "energetically declined."
*  Your locker isn't overflowing with junk, it's just "closure prohibitive."
*  Kids don't get grounded anymore.  They merely hit "social speed bumps."
*  Your homework isn't missing, it's just having an "out-of-notebook experience."
*  You're not sleeping in class, you're "rationing consciousness."
*  You're not late, you just have a "rescheduled arrival time."
*  You're not having a bad hair day, you're suffering from "rebellious follicle syndrome."
*  You're not shy.  You're "conversationally selective."
*  You weren't passing notes in class.  You were "participating in the discreet exchange of penned meditations."
*  You're not being sent to the principal's office.  You're "going on a mandatory field trip to the administrative building."
*  It's not called gossip anymore.  It's "the speedy transmission of near-factual information."
*  The food at the school cafeteria isn't awful.  It's "digestively challenged."
     We have become experts at using language to hide the reality of our situation.  We don't hear much about homosexuals; instead we talk of those with an "alternative lifestyle."  Fornication is now referred to as "cohabiting with a significant other."  We rarely sin; we merely "fail to live up to our full potential."  It's not a new game -- the Pharisees neglected the welfare of their parents, but called it "Corban" (dedication to God).
     Changing the wording doesn't change the sin.  "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com

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Sin of Nadab & Abihu
by: Paul L. McElroy

    "Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord."
    When the tabernacle was first set up, God sent fire from heaven to burn the sacrifices on the Altar of Burnt Offerings. The fire was to be kept burning always and fire to burn incense was to be gotten from that Altar.
    Although Nadab and Abihu were doing most of the right things– Burning incense at the right place (Tabernacle) for the right reason (To praise God), they did one thing wrong– they did not get fire from the right place. Instead, they offered profane fire.
    Perhaps, they thought "fire is fire regardless of where they obtained it. But they did not do exactly what God wanted.  Therefore, God put them to death.
    It seems that even today some people think it is perfectly acceptable to change God’s law concerning musical worship to God.
    Notice what the Scriptures say– "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, SINGING and making MELODY IN YOUR HEART to the Lord." (Eph. 5:19). "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, SINGING with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Col. 3:16).
    Some today apparently think it is all right to teach "we are saved by faith only." Faith is absolutely necessary but there are other things that God and Jesus Christ require for salvation.
    "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him." (Heb. 11:6). But notice (Jas. 2:26)– "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
    To be saved, become a Christian–Believe in Jesus, Heb. 11:6; Repent of sins, Luke 13:3; Publicly confess Christ, Matt. 10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ, Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:3-5; Be faithful unto death and I will give you the Crown of Life, Rev. 2:10).

-
Paul L. McElroy preaches for the Columbia church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at (601) 444-9861.

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Homosexuals
by: Hardie Logan

   In the January 2002 issue of the "American Family Association" magazine, page 17, there is an article about a columnist who wrote a critical article about same sex marriages. The article points out all the repercussion the columnist endured for writing the article. He was called names. He received mail and phone calls complaining about the article. Letters and phone calls were sent to his boss. Letters and phone calls were made to the sponsors of the magazine trying to get the sponsors to stop supporting the magazine. All this was done by the gay community because of the authors disapproval of same sex marriages.
    It has been said that in the United States, there are less than 2 percent homosexuals. Out of all the millions of people that make up the United States, less than 2 percent are homosexual, if that is correct. Yet this one small group is responsible for swaying lawmakers, congressmen, judges, policemen and even columnist in this country. How did so few people get such a controlling voice in this country?
    There are more people "professing to be Christians" in this country than there are homosexuals. Yet there is no doubt the gay community has more clout. They get special laws passed just for them. They get people elected that further their cause, and yet they are in the minority!
    Could it be they are willing to fight for their cause? Could it be they are willing to work for their cause? Could it be that while Christians are relaxing and trying to "find themselves" the homosexuals are out beating the drums and perpetuating their doctrine of sin?
    It is one thing to believe a cause and yet another to believe in a cause. Many Christians today would take offense if they were told they no longer believe in the cause of Christ. Without hesitation, with no forethought at all, many would stand tall and acclaim they believe in Jesus Christ. They have been taught this. They have heard it preached. They understand this and that is what they believe.
    James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
    One simple fact. Our Christianity is not a belief, it is what we are. We have been transformed to be what we believe. We know God will one day make a choice where people will spend eternity. We know God will keep His Word. We believe God means it when He says "walk in the light as He is in the light..." Christians believe in God with their lives. But when we stop living what we believe the world will not see God. When we stop upholding the Word of God, the world will not know God's ways. Only through us will the message of God be carried out.

- Hardie Logan preaches for the Marshfield church of Christ, in Marshfield, WI.  He may be contacted at xnman01@gmail.com

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What If Adults Acted Like Children?
by: Steve Higginbotham

 
    Last evening, my seven-year-old daughter was upset and crying over something that was rather insignificant.  As I was trying to console her, I told her that this issue was nothing about which she should be crying.  It was petty, childish, and her tears, well...were more an attempt at manipulation than tears of sadness.
    So the adult that I am, attempted to "reason" with the child that she is.  I attempted to convince her that crying over such an insignificant issue was childish.  I tried to explain to her that her mother and I deal with the very same issue she was dealing with and we don't cry about it.  I then asked her the following question, "What do you think would happen if adults acted like children?"  Her response ended our conversation.  She said, "They'd all go to heaven." 
   I turned and looked at my wife sitting across the room.  My wife just smiled and said, "There's your MercEmail article for this week."
   My little girl was right.  If adults would just act like children, they'd all go to heaven!  "But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14).
   Out of the mouth of babes...

- Steve Higginbotham is the minister for the South Green Street church of Christ, Glasgow, Kentucky.  He may be contacted at shigg@glasgow-ky.com  [Copyright © 2007, South Green Street Church of Christ, Glasgow, Kentucky.  Permission is granted to copy these articles.]

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Nuggets and Quick Riches
-    misc. goodies this issue


An Eternity in Hell is Not Worth...

by: Edd Sterchi

 
...having illicit sex or an unscriptural marriage...
...even if it makes me happy for the moment.
...consuming alcohol or misusing drugs...
...even if it gives me an escape for the moment.
...dressing immodestly or being indecent with my body...
...even if it gains me attention for the moment.
...cheating in business or lying to others...
...even if it makes me more wealthy for the moment.
...running with the worldly crowd or compromising my Christianity...
...even if it makes me feel important for the moment.
...getting revenge or giving someone their “just desserts”...
...even if it makes me feel like I have “gotten even” for the moment.
...overspending my money or putting my family in financial stress...
...even if I get the things I want for the moment.
...refusing to obey the gospel or repenting after having done so...
...even if I feel saved for the moment.

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

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Some Problems Do Not Go Away
by: Gerald Cowan

     What do you expect to happen when you turn your problems over to God? You give Him your weakness and your despair, and you thank Him for being faithful even when you are not. You ask His pardon for your self-pity and your grumbling, and you know He has forgiven you for it. But what then? Are you sometimes disappointed to find that the problem is still there, and has not gone away?
     It is still there – and you had such high hopes that it would miraculously vanish! Why did it not go away? Perhaps because God has not intended that it do so. Certainly God has not promised that our problems will vanish just because we pray for it to happen. What He does promise is that He will change our despair to hope, if we will trust Him. He promises us strength to bear the burden and cope with all our problems if we are determined to face them (see Phil. 4:13 and 19, and 1 Cor. 10:13).
     If you have prayed about some problem and asked God to take it away and He has not done so, then you should probably accept the fact that He is not going to. You had best learn to live with the problem, live in spite of the problem. Be like Paul who also begged God to remove a problem, a “thorn in the flesh,” but learned to accept it as part of his own cross (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
     If your problem remains, then that is how God intends it to be, at least for now. Learn from it. You will be stronger and humbler. You will be a better and more faithful Christian if you learn to bear it patiently, without losing your faith or trust in God (see James 1:3, 12). Somehow, though we cannot always see it now, things have a way of working out to a good and successful conclusion for those who love the Lord and fulfill His purpose and calling in their lives (Rom. 8:28). You may not be able to see it now, with the pain and frustration clouding your vision. But keep the faith, and someday you can look back at it and thank God for the victory He helped you have on your journey to Him and His heaven.
 
- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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The headline reads: Addiction to Porn Invading Our Churches
by: Ron Thomas


   "In a 2006 study reported by Morality in Media, 73 percent of U.S. adults thought viewing pornographic Web sites and videos was morally unacceptable. Yet today, it was found in a survey conducted by ChristaNet.com, 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women admitted to being addicted to pornography. The survey also found 60 percent of Christian women admitting to having significant struggles with lust; 40 percent saying they were involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20 percent struggling with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis."
    I hope this does not apply to you, but if it does, you need to be honest with yourself because your thoughts and actions are standing before the Lord God Almighty. We all have our various struggles in life and for most people shame prevents people from speaking about it. The answer to our problem, whether pornography or anything else, is a matter of resolve. "I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world's delights. I am resolved to follow the Savior. Leaving the paths of sin. I will hasten to obey." The old song conveys exactly to remedy to our individual plagues.

- 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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A Message From The Devil

Dear Members and Friends of the church,

I secretly visited your Bible classes recently and was overjoyed to see that so many of you had not come. I heard some lessons that were not very well prepared and other teachers said no visits had been made during the week. I was simply delighted! It thrilled me to see some leave the worship service right after the Lord’s Supper was over, indicating that they were not going to let the proclamation of God’s Word come near to them. I saw some others come just in time for the worship - to sit glassy-eyed with their mouths shut while a few sang the hymns. Then they dozed or acted bored to death while the preacher went through his Sunday morning ritual and hum-drum or “bore -a-tory.” I was especially pleased to note how many failed to bring an offering. I love to see the church in financial difficulty. Again, there was a sparkle in my eyes when I returned Sunday night and saw that so many did not come back for the evening worship hour. I was so very glad. I am writing this letter to encourage you to forsake the worship this coming Sunday. It will be more comfortable for you, and besides, it will make my work much easier to do. Hoping to be with you real soon!

Deceitfully yours,

THE DEVIL
Bottomless Pit, Brimstone Ave., 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
http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org

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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


“Too Busy”

Too busy to read the Bible;
Too busy to wait and pray,
Too busy to speak out kindly
To someone along the way,
Too busy with cares and struggles
To think of life to come;
Too busy building a mansion here
To plan for the heavenly home.
Too busy to help a brother
Who faces the winter’s blast
Too busy to share the burdens
When self in the balance is cast,
Too busy for all that is holy –
On earth beneath the sky;
Too busy to serve the Master –
But not too busy to die.

- 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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The Power of Words

 A careless word may kindle strife.
      A cruel word may wreck a life.
         A bitter word may hate instill.
           A brutal word may smite and kill.
              A gracious word may smooth the way.
                  A joyful word may light the day.
                   A timely word may lessen stress.
                      A loving word may heal and bless.
 
 –  Author Unknown (but very much appreciated); 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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Sunshine and Rain
by: Clay Harrison

No life is useless and no day is vain,
For God has a purpose for sunshine and rain.
All are discouraged, and everyone cries,
But we're never alone beneath cloudy skies.
All hearts can break...they're fragile as glass,
But God will mend them, and this too shall pass.
Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail,
So follow your dream whatever the trial,
For no one's a loser who gives it his best,
And you can stand tall above all the rest.
Those who are faithful are noble at heart,
And no life is useless when God has a part.
Be swift to give praises and slow to complain...

God has a purpose for sunshine and rain.

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Be Sober
by: H. L. Gradowith


If Satan can't get you the usual way
    He'll just turn your world upside down,
He'll bathe you in troubles thru all the long day
    And at least make you feel low down.

He'll work on your loved ones and then you through them,
    Make you question your very faith.
And don't think you'll ever be too smart for him
    He's patient - he has time to wait.

He'd like you to go out and do something wrong,
    If nothing but telling a lie;
The devil's not foolish - and he's very strong -
    He'll be after you 'til you die!

If the devil can't make us go out and sin
    He'll have us do nothing at all,
For you see, either way he knows that he'll win:
    He cares not how - just so we fall.

Be sober and watch:  for he is ev'rywhere,
    And there's just One Way to beat him:
Come to Jesus and He'll your ev'ry sin bear -
    It's in Him alone you can win!

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

"TEMPER is what gets most of us into trouble. Pride keeps us there."

“Nothing makes people go into debt like trying to keep up with people who are already in debt.”

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

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

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

“He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.” (Anonymous)

- 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

SENTENCE SERMONS
 
 There is a difference between having something to say and having to say something.

 It is a terrible condemnation of any Christian that no one would suspect him of it.
 
When a person turns green with envy it is a sure sign he is ripe for trouble.

The wages of sin will never be reduced. (Rom. 6:23)

- 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

"A hypocrite is someone who is not himself on Sunday."

ANGER is just one letter short of DANGER! (Wise Words and Quotes)

- 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

Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

Never miss a good chance to shut-up.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

Always remember that you’re unique.  Just like everyone else.

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

I define ego as Edging God Out. (Kenneth Blanchard; from Leadership Magazine)

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