BulletinGold #92
August 2008   Vol 8 #6
 

Editorial
----by David Bragg

     Among Jesus’ many parables the Gospel writers have preserved for our instruction is the one commonly known as the parable of the tares.  After the farmer’s long, tiring day of sowing, with seed bags empty, the fields tilled and full of potential, and his heart overflowing with a sense of satisfaction he reclined for the evening of well-deserved rest.  Little did he know that deceitfulness was afoot in the darkness of his unguarded field (Matt. 13:24-25).  When the farmer arose from his rest in the morning there was no indication of the mischief that had been perpetrated while he slept.
     The "tares" in Jesus' parable were really weeds, probably the "bearded darnel," which is difficult to distinguish from wheat in early stages.  While scholars disagree on the level of danger the tares pose (poisonous or not), all agree that it was some time before the field hands could recognize the work of their enemy.  By then the roots of the wheat and tares would be so entwined that the tares could only be uprooted at great loss of the wheat.
     Our enemy, Satan, is not only evil, he is industrious.  He will use every means at his disposal to sow his seeds of temptation and sin in our lives.  This calls for greater diligence in our own lives and clearer instruction to those we can teach about the danger of sin and the great hope Jesus provides.  This is the central theme of this month’s BulletinGold.
     It is interesting in this parable that Jesus does not blame the sower with negligence, human limitation demands that one takes time to rest (Mark 6:31).  The sad reality is that while the sower slept from doing good, Satan seized the moment for evil (Matt. 13:39).  "While men slept" Satan worked twice as hard.  Knowing this makes the words of the sower on harvest day even more encouraging.  He tells his servants, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matt. 13:30).  The enemy, underhanded as he is, will not succeed (Rev. 12:11; 20:10).
     The Parable of the Tares is a powerful reminder that the devil shrewdly uses our weaknesses to his advantage.  Therefore, the New Testament is filled with admonitions to be vigilant (Rom. 13:11; Rev. 16:15).  Sleep we must.  But let us look out for each other lest "the enemy" come to sow his seeds in our lives and find all of us fast asleep.

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

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Panning for Gold
- Feature Articles:  


Complain

by: J. Randal Matheny

     I FOUND THE purple rubber bracelets on the Internet...
     A group promotes their use to help people learn not to complain.  If you complain, you have to change the bracelet to the other wrist. By the changes and the presence of the bracelet, one should eventually learn to quit complaining.
     I laud the effort -- I'm wearing the bracelet right now. I won't tell you how many times I've changed it recently.  As laudable as the effort is, however, the campaign rests on a negative. To stop a habit. (And what an entrenched habit it is!)  It appears to be a failed effort to rid oneself of a habit or vice without replacing it with a positive or a virtue.
     The Bible presents complaining -- what many versions call murmuring -- as a lack of gratitude, a lack of contentment with what one has.  The examples are many. One of the greatest is the nation of Israel in the desert, where thousands fall for their complaining.  The lesson is startling and shocking.  You can't please God and you can't go to heaven when you complain.  "And do not complain, as some of them [Israel] did, and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:10-11).  It's pretty serious stuff when complaining makes the same list as idolatry and sexual immorality.
     Complaining means I'm dissatisfied with my lot. It's a direct shot against God.  For that, there is only one antidote. Thanksgiving. Voiced gratitude. Starting many a sentence with, "I'm grateful that ..."  The command to thanksgiving is all over the place. Ubiquitous. In Colossians 3, surrounding and penetrating one of our favorite verses about singing in worship, the gratitude command appears three times in three verses. Three heavy percussion beats of the heart.
     "And be thankful" (v. 15).
     "Singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (v. 16).
     "Giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (v. 17).
     I'll let you run the other references.  One thing is clear. Open mouth, exit gratitude. Exercise the never-tiring tongue muscle by giving thanks.  One of Jesus' trademarks was giving thanks. At meals. In public.  So when I look at that little piece of purple rubber flopping on my wrist, I think not only of a complaint-stopper, but a thanks-prompter. A blessings counter. A contentment meter.  And that points me back to the Word where an eloquent God describes in detail the true measure of all I possess.
     KneEmail: "And do not complain, as some of them [Israel] did, and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:10-11).

- J. Randal Matheny, a frequent contributor to BulletinGold, via KneEmail, an on-line devotional edited by Mike Benson.  To subscribe, send ANY message to: kneemail-subscribe@welovegod.org  Mike may be contacted at mlbenson@wowway.com

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Riches
by: Stefano Mugnaini

     Last year, billionaire Warren Buffet shocked the country by donating 85% of his fortune to charity, an astonishing 35 million dollars.  Second only to Bill Gates, Buffet’s assets totaled over 42 billion dollars.  This amount of money is beyond our ability to grasp (in more ways than one).  It is said that individuals like this would lose money if they stopped their normal business earnings long enough to pick up a hundred dollar bill.   Most of us, upon finding a hundred dollars, could take the rest of the day off!
     In our materialistic society, wealth is generally associated with success.  Status and value are based on what we acquire.  It is easy for us to forget that all material things are temporary, and that striving after them is meaningless.  Even if we’re trying to live a faithful Christian life, it is easy for us to get caught up in the quest for earthly treasure.  We need to remember that there is an immeasurable treasure within our grasp.  By the grace of God, we stand to inherit so much more than any material blessing.  By His mercy, the promises of God, both in this life and the next, are made available to us.  Christ offers life: abundant and eternal. 
     In Matthew 13:44, Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Notice something about this passage:  The treasure in the field was great enough that the man SOLD ALL HE HAD.  What does that mean?  Consider this: Jesus told His disciples to expect hardship, homelessness, poverty, persecution for the sake of the kingdom.  He said they could expect to suffer as He was to suffer.  He said that all of these things were necessary for those who desired to be a part of the kingdom of God.  In this light, the lesson of Matthew 13:44 becomes clear.  The kingdom of God is such a great treasure that it is worth forfeiting all that we have to be a part of it.  Worldly goods? Yes.  But so much more that that; We must count all else as dispensable in order to truly enjoy what God has in store for us as members of His kingdom. 
     Are we willing to sell all we have?  Will we forfeit all that this world can offer for the great treasure of the kingdom?     

- S
tefano R. Mugnaini preaches for the Cairo church of Christ in Cairo, GA, He may be contacted at ssmugnaini@syrupcity.net

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Worry Is An Adult Sin
by: Hugo McCord

     Youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22) do not cause older people to sin, but Satan besets older people with a special sin: worry.
     The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets forth principles by which worry and anxiety may be eliminated. Those principles are set forth in a prayer written by Reinhold Neibuhr and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous:
“Dear God, give us strength to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed. Give us courage to change the things that can and should be changed. And give us wisdom to distinguish one from the other.”
     That which should and can be changed, do it! Many of life’s problems are solved by work and application. Abraham’s large entourage, both human and animal, was badly in need of water in Palestine’s Negeb desert. Worry would not settle the problem, but hard work in well digging did.
    That which you would change but cannot, make the best of it! Though hard work is the answer to many problems, it is not to others. Some things are beyond human exertion. Joseph did not want to be sold as a servant, being laid in iron chains, his feet hurting in fetters. But he refused to allow his unpleasant condition to make him grumble and whine. Instead, he determined he would make the best of a bad situation. Instead of settling into worry and a hopeless case of self-pity, he made himself a cheerful and efficient workman.
     Naomi did not want to lose her husband, and to bury her only two sons. These things she could not change, but she made the best of a bad situation. She started life again as a bereft widow being a mother to Ruth. And before she died she had held Ruth’s baby in her arms.
     Many memory gems help one to accept with contentment an unchangeable condition:
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isa. 26:3.)
“In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever.” (Isa. 32:17)

—Hugo McCord [This article was written by brother McCord in 1955. The Bible quotations have been updated to the English Standard Version.]  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 Sin of Profanity
by: Travis L. Quertermous

    It used to be that men would never “cuss” in front of a lady.  But in today’s world, the girls can often “out-cuss” the boys!  Actress Jane Fonda made national headlines recently when she used profanity on the “Today” show.  When “Gone With The Wind” debuted in 1938, many theaters refused to show it because Rhett Butler used the “d-word” at the end of the movie.  Such a thing was scandalous in those days.  My, how times have changed!  Today’s movies and television shows do not hesitate to use the most vulgar and profane language imaginable.
    God, of course, never approved of such language.  In Colossians 3:8, the apostle Paul wrote to Christians, “But now you must also put off all these: Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”  That would certainly include profanity.  Likewise, in Ephesians 5:4, Paul condemned “foolish talking.”  The Greek text of the New Testament can literally be translated, “the speech of morons.”  That’s just how God views profanity and cussing, as moronic behavior.
     In Ephesians 4:20, we read, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”  Is that how your speech affects others or are you just polluting the air?

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted
via their website: http://www.dexterchurchofchirst.com/

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Sinking Treasures
by: David A. Sargent

     Rose O’Neal Greenhow (1817-1864) was born in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Orphaned as a child, Greenhow was invited to live with her aunt in Washington, D.C. as a teenager. While living in the nation’s capital, she was introduced to important figures in the Washington area. One of those figures was John C. Calhoun, a man of pro Southern politics, who apparently convinced Rose to also be of pro Southern interests during the time of the American Civil War.
     Greenhow's sympathy for the Confederate cause grew after the death of her husband, Dr. Robert Greenhow.  Her loyalty to the Confederacy was noted by those with similar sympathies in Washington, and she was soon recruited as a spy...
     In July of 1861, Greenhow passed secret messages to Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard containing critical information resulting in the Union rout at the First Battle of Bull Run. Suspected of espionage and imprisoned in August 1861, she continued gathering and forwarding information vital to Confederate operations. News of her activities brought publicity and tremendous popularity among Southern sympathizers. After being brought to trial in spring 1862, Greenhow was deported to Richmond, where cheering crowds greeted her.
     That summer Jefferson Davis sent her to Europe as a courier. She stayed there collecting diplomatic intelligence and writing her memoirs until recalled in 1864, apparently bearing dispatches urgent to the Confederacy. Sailing on the British blockade runner Condor, she reached the mouth of the Cape Fear River just outside Wilmington, N.C., when a Union ship, the USS Niphon, gave chase, forcing the Condor aground on a sandbar early on the morning of October 1, 1864. 
     Greenhow, fearing capture and re-imprisonment, persuaded the captain to send her and 2 companions ashore in a lifeboat, but the small vessel was capsized by a wave. Greenhow, weighed down with $2,000 worth of gold from her memoir royalties intended for the Confederate treasury, drowned.
     The demise of Rose O’Neal Greenhow illustrates the end of all those who cling to “sinking treasures.”  People throughout the ages seek security and happiness in material wealth, but Jesus warned: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
     The true and eternal Treasure is found in Jesus Christ.  He is the ONLY Savior and Giver of eternal life in heaven (John 14:6).  And, He will save those who believe in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will give safe passage to eternal bliss those who continue to cling to Him in trusting obedience.
     Stop clinging to “sinking treasures.”  The REAL treasure is salvation in Jesus Christ, and it can be YOURS if you will trust and obey Him.

- 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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Chaste or Chased?
by: Steve Higginbotham

     Warm, sunny, days have already arrived, and with the warm weather comes the challenge of modesty.  I'm not going to lecture or give you my "opinion."  I don't want to set your standards for you, and tell you what you can and cannot wear.  All I want to do is ask you to read God's word and then answer a question.
    First, God's word...
• Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
• Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's wife (Exodus 20:17).
• Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28).
• Abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).
• Flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22).
• Possess your vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passionate lusts (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5).
• Dress in modest apparel; dress that professes one's godliness (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
• Let us resolve not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way (Romans 14:13).
Now then, the question...
• Does the way you dress cause the opposite sex to think you are "chaste," or does it cause them to think you want to be "chased?"
    Honest self-evaluation, virtue, and an unrelenting desire to be pleasing to God is all that is needed, and modesty will take care of itself.
     Give it some thought.

- 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


Arrogance
by: Ron Thomas

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12)
 
The word “hatred” is defined as a “great dislike” of something or someone. Can you imagine a marriage where one of the two has a “great dislike” for the other? I cannot; perhaps, you can. If there is such a marriage, why this great dislike? Many things come into play at this point, but perhaps one thing that should have come into play and did not was love. If you love a person, you are going to be interested in that person; you will give up your comfort so your spouse can enjoy the comfort. If a man loves a woman and marries her then he will seek her best. His love of her will not amplify her wrongs or bad habits; rather, love will overlook them and, perhaps, seek to influence in such a way as to persuade one away from habits that can be counter-productive.

- 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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Two Wolves

There is an old Cherokee legend about a young man who keeps getting in trouble because of his aggressive tendencies.  The young man goes to see his grandfather, and says, “Sometimes I feel such anger that I can’t help it.  I can’t stop myself.”  And his grandfather, who is a tribal elder and a wise man, says, “I understand.  I used to be the same way.  You see, inside of you are two wolves.  One is good and kind and peaceful, and the other is evil and mean and angry.  The mean wolf is always fighting with the good wolf.”  The boy thought for a moment, then said, “But Grandfather, which wolf will win?”  And the old man said, “THE ONE YOU FEED.”
 
- 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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Satan Will Provide A Way
by: Charles E. Moore

     When Jonah was attempting to flee from God, he found a ship conveniently waiting for him. Satan made it very convenient for him to disobey or ignore God’s command. When Adam and Eve had sinned and sought for some way to attempt to justify their wrong, Satan provided an excuse for both.
     Some folks say, “Yes, we will be in services Sunday if nothing happens” or “I’ll be happy to help if something doesn’t come up.” When I hear that, I know immediately that they will not be present, for Satan will see that something will happen - that something will come up.
     When we look for a way to forsake the assembly, a way to not give as we have prospered, a way to get out of working for the Lord, or for some way to justify our sins, Satan will provide a way!

- Charles E. Moore, 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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A Sure Sign of Anger

A shoemaker in Leyden attended the public disputations conducted at the Academy. He was once asked if he understood Latin, the language used by the disputants. “No,” he replied. “I do not know Latin, but I know who is wrong in the argument by noticing who gets angry first.”
 
- 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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Hearts of Gold
----poetry this issue


If Jesus Came To Your House

by: Lois Kendall Blanhard

If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two . . . .   .
 If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored Guest.
And all the food you’d serve to Him would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there.
That serving Him in your home is joy beyond compare.
But…when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder…if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read?
And let HIM know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go?
Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day of so?
Would you be glad to have HIM meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do
If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.

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Living The Way We Pray

I knelt to pray when day was done
And prayed “O Lord, bless everyone
Lift from each heart the pain
And let the sick be well again”
And then I woke one day
And careless went on my way,
The whole day lone I did not try
To wipe a tear from any eye.
I did not try to share the load
Of a brother on the road.
I did not even go to see
The sick man just next door to me.
Yet once again when day was done
I prayed; “O Lord, bless everyone”
But as I prayed, to my ear
There came a voice that whispered clear
“Pause, hypocrite, before you pray
Whom have you tried to bless today?
God’s sweetest blessings always go
By hands that serve him here below.”
And then I hid my face and cried
“Forgive me God for I have lied.
Let me but live another day,
And I will live the way I pray.”

- Author Unknown

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Would You Be Ready?
by: H. L. Gradowith

Should today mark your death, or even the end,
Oh, would you be ready? Oh, would you, my friend?
Have you trusted in Him and obeyed His Word?
Have you lived ev'ry day as if He's your Lord?

There's coming a Judgment - a reckoning day -
When we'll all have to give an answer to God,
The living and dead will all be whisked away.
Oh, what is the end of the path you have trod???

If you knew tomorrow you'd lie down and die
And thus meet your Maker up above the sky
Would you have some ways that you'd like to amend?
Oh, would you be ready? Oh, would you my friend?

It will come when it comes, there'll be no delay!
Then we'll give an answer to the Lord above!
When Jesus addresses you, what will He say?
Oh, how can you turn down such marvelous love?

Should today mark your death, or even the end,
Oh, would you be ready? Oh, would you, my friend?
Have you trusted in Him and obeyed His Word?
Have you lived ev'ry day as if He's your Lord?

- 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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Why, Oh Tell Me Why?
by: Tim Childs

Why would a man choose blindness over sight?
Why would a man choose darkness over light?
Why would a man choose hatred over love?
Why would a man choose a thief like Satan,
Over God’s gift from above?
Why would a man choose the broad path that leads to destruction,
Over God’s great guidance and patient instruction?
Why would a man choose his own opinion and speculation,
Over God’s Word made known through the Spirit of truth’s revelation?
Why would a man choose filth, separation and alienation,
Over God’s cleansing power and glorious sanctification?
Why would a man choose hunger and starvation,
Over the bread of life provided freely to all within his holy nation?
Why would a man choose unquenched thirst,
Over drinking from the fountain of life to be not cursed?
Why would a man choose death over life?
Why would a man not choose peace and unity,
Over religious division, confusion and strife?

- Tim Childs preaches for the Hillcrest church of Christ in Baldwyn, MS.  He may be contacted at  hillcrestchurcho@bellsouth.net, or through the congregation’s website: http://www.thelordsway.com/hillcrestms

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

"A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water." 

“A half truth is a whole lie.”  --Ancient proverb
 
ANGER: An acid which can do more damage to the vessel that holds it than to anything on which it is thrown.

A BARGAIN? "When you get something for a song, watch out for the accompaniment."

- 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

One who sings his own praises is often a soloist.

Fools still rush in where fools have often been before. I suppose that is because fools do not want to learn from other fools.

Some people can’t tell a lie, some can’t tell the truth, and some can’t tell the difference.

Some people think they are bearing their cross when they are only putting up with themselves.

Some battle their way to the top. Some bottle their way to the bottom.

Some people want to be in the front of the bus, the back of the church auditorium, and in the middle of the road.

Sometimes a fellow who acts like a big gun on the job doesn’t dare pop off at home.

The devil has many tools, but sin is the one handle that fits them all.

The person who can laugh at himself will never cease to be amused

Sin pays!  
What it pays is death.

An egotistical person thinks that, had he not been born, people in the world would want to know why.

Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad. (Diogenes the Cynic -- 412 BC - 323 BC)

I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.  (W. C. Fields; 1890 - 1946)

- 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

Some people will walk a mile for a cigarette, but can’t walk two blocks to church.


Nature abhors a vacuum. When a head lacks brains, nature is apt to fill it with conceit.

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

Ambrose, a bishop of Milan in the fourth century, said, “As we must render an account for every idle word, so we must of our idle silence.”

- Jack Wilhelm, Know Your Bible, The Paradoxical Tongue, Gospel Advocate, June 2008, p. 10.

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it. (Voltaire)

I've been trying for some time to develop a lifestyle that doesn't require my presence. (Gary Trudeau)

If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it. (Arthur Schopenhauer)

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