BulletinGold #122
February 2011   Vol 10 #12

BulletinGold #122
February 2011
Vol. 10 Num. 12
David Bragg
Edward Thomason
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In This Issue:
- Setting the Record Straight, David Bragg
- Why Can’t We Be Friends, Allen Mercer
- The World Refuses to Listen, Alton W. Fonville
- Love God - A State Of Mind, Andrew Laux
- So, You Want a Guarantee? By Lance Cordle
- A Barometer of Modern Morals
- A Better Life or It Will Die!!!
- The Lesson of the Ants
- It is Really Not All That Difficult: Love People; Use Things
- "As Evening Falls," Daniel & David Ferguson
- People Think ... But We Know
- I Am So Glad, Grace Noll Crowell
- Never What I Wanted
quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs

New Postings At
Editorial by David Bragg
Setting the Record Straight

     True repentance always involves surrender.  This is evident in the charge to John's audience (Luke 3:7-14), the realization of the Prodigal (Luke 15:17-19), and the 3,000 penitents at Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41).  Without surrender there can be no repentance.
     True surrender always demands change.  This is evident in the agenda of Peter the Fisherman, Saul of Tarsus, Apollos the Orator and Lydia.  They stand in stark contrast to the rich young ruler, who was unwilling to fully surrender and change (Matthew 19:22).
     True change sometimes requires restitution.  This is evident in Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).  Receiving from God much more than he deserved, this tax-man, moved by guilt and remorse, parted with much of his ill-gotten gain to help those less fortunate.  Perhaps he was compensating for his former greed.  Maybe uncertain of the tactics used to build his wealth, he just wanted to set the record straight.  Being able to do so, he felt compelled by his encounter with Jesus to make his change complete.
     Jesus, recognizing a heart permeated with repentance by these signs of surrender, change and restitution, pronounced Zacchaeus saved (vv. 9-10).  When Jesus gave him the chance to be made right with God, Zacchaeus did everything he could to make things right with those he might have wronged.  That is true repentance.

David Bragg


Panning for Gold Feature Articles:
Why Can’t We Be Friends
By Allen Mercer

     James, the Lord’s brother, has a very unreligious way of discussing religion. Take his definition of pure religion: “…to visit orphans and widows in their troubles and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). The word translated “visit” carries with it the idea of “looking after” or “caring for” and reminds me of Jesus' request of John to care for his mother (John 19:25-27). I cannot imagine that request being fulfilled by monthly visits or brief conversations in the foyer.
     One of the deepest needs our widows’ deal with is the loneliness that comes from losing a lifelong companion. There is no way any of us can ever hope to fully meet that need or replace that loved one, but we need to be aware of the real need that is present. Physical needs are relatively easy to address, but becoming a companion requires a much greater investment of time than a few visits.
     Our widows, however, are not the only ones who need friends. We do not just need acquaintances we see at church or even those we feel comfortable chatting with after services, but people we look forward to getting together with just to hang out or go out to run errands. You know, those people you create excuses to be with. With this in mind, what better place to find friends than in the Lord's Church. Am I, however, making myself available so I can be found? Time is tight and it keeps getting tighter. Am I too busy to spend time with other Christians so I may cultivate friendships? What opportunities are there to reach out to those I don't know as well? There are the meals at the Church where I can start new relationships by sitting with someone I don't know. Or I can invite a few families over to the house to play games. Or I can ask someone to get coffee or a coke after Church, it doesn't have to be Starbucks, but go someplace where for a buck you can just sit and talk.
     Jesus didn't call us to be friends, rather He committed us to be family. Remember He promised the disciples that no one would sacrifice for His Gospel without receiving “a hundredfold houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” (Mark 10:29-30). Just in case you were wondering, this promise was made to be fulfilled in the “here and now” by “you and me”, even though it will be more perfectly realized when we all get to heaven.

-Allen Mercer; via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN.  Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/

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The World Refuses to Listen
By Alton W. Fonville

     I heard it again this very morning: “we should be thankful for the many different faiths in the world.” This is one of the many similar statements which have been made since I can remember. It goes along with the statement: “it does not matter what a person believes, just as long as he is sincere.” All this sounds real nice and makes a person “feel good” about himself, but is it the Truth which God has given us? Can we place our trust and confidence and salvation in it? Each of us has at least one copy of God’s Holy Word available to us, so let us see how that idea compares with what God wants for the world which He created for His glory and pleasure.
     Do you have a love for the Truth of God? The Bible shows what HE said, and what HE wants. This is not just one man’s opinion or interpretation. Common words with which we are familiar will be used, as recorded in Scripture. How you respond to it will show your real self and will answer that question.
     Remember, Jesus said “if you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). For those who do not love the Truth of God, listen to what He said: “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:10-12). Paul said almost the same thing in Romans: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:28).
     It is vital that we love and receive the Truth in order to be saved. But, God will not force anyone to do different than what their heart is set on doing. We still have a free choice and what we do in life determines our judgment. For the most part, the world is going full speed against what God wants. Jesus told us that in the story of the many who would be on that broad, easy road and the few who would be on that narrow road which leads to life eternal (Matt. 7:13-15). He concluded that story, warning of false prophets which would come to deceive many. Well, they came and are still coming and deceiving many today. So, we must have a love for the truth of God first and foremost, or we may be deceived also. Now, let us turn to the Scriptures and see about the “many faiths” which are in the world today.
     The Holy Spirit directed Paul to write for our benefit: “glory was to be in the church by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:21). Notice, “the church” is singular—not churches. He said specifically, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now, read the next few words. He gave us seven things and said of each: “there is one” (Eph. 4:3-6). “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all,  and in you all.” Did you see what inspiration said about how many “Faiths” there were? There are just as many Gods and Lords and bodies (churches) (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18) as there are faiths. Now, a big part of the world agrees there is only one God and one Lord, but, they refuse to listen to there being only one faith in the same verses. Why? It all goes back to having the love for the Truth of God or not. Are we going to accept what God said, or will we give heed to what false prophets have said and continue saying? In order for us to be saved, we must submit to that one faith, obey it and be part of that one body.
     “It is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). Why not determine now to learn and love the Word of God, accept and obey it? It will be our judge on that last day (John 12:48).

- Alton W. Fonville, St. Paul, AR; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

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Love God - A State Of Mind
By Andrew Laux

     “Mind” is a common word we use often, however we often do not realize how important our mind is in our daily Christian lives. Webster’s Dictionary gives many definitions. The word is used as a noun and as a verb. The Bible uses it both ways. As a noun, Webster defines it as “recollection; memory; the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks wills and especially reasons”. As a verb, it is used as: “remember; to attend to closely; to become aware of; notice; to give heed to attentively in order to obey; to follow orders or instructions”. Christianity, unlike godless religions, is not a mindless religion. Loving and following Jesus begins with our mind.
     The Bible has much to say about our mind. When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment, He replied: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37, 38) Truly, loving God begins in our mind. Jesus said in John 14:15: “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.” He did not say keeping the commandments is love but, rather, that love leads one to keep His commandments. Loving God does not start with repenting, baptism, giving or even preaching the gospel. It starts with a mind that hears the gospel (good news) of Jesus then, evaluating the evidence, reasons to the point that one knows that God is God. One then realizes that he/she is alienated from our Creator by sin but the good news is that He has provided a way for us to regain that lost place.
     Faith is developed in Jesus based on the logical evidence presented in the gospel that He is, indeed, the Messiah that can take away the sins of the world, including ours. Understanding what He has done for us will lead us to love Him and thus obey Him. Some people try to make excuses for their failure to love (obey) God the way they should by blaming others, even God. How many times have you heard (or said) “that’s the way God made me/them, I/they can’t help it” or “the Devil made me do it”, etc. Yes, the physical part of us is powerful and Satan uses it to his full advantage. Remember though, that sin, just as love, begins in the mind. The apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 12:2 that we have control over our mind, and thus our actions. “And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” “Transformed” means to change. God would not expect us to do the impossible; we can change. Some call it “will power”. If we make up our mind to love God to the point of obeying Him, then we will.

     We can have a doubtful mind. Jesus said we have this condition when we do not trust God to do what He has promised. In Luke 12:29 He was trying to reassure His disciples that they did not have to worry about the mundane things of this life. “And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.” Sometimes we are so wrapped up in “earthly things” that we forget God’s promises. We forget His love for us and so our love for Him wanes. We believe we are alone but, in fact, we are not.
     Other times we simply want to sin. This was the condition of those of whom Paul spoke in Romans 1:28. “And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting….” Paul said they had a reprobate mind intent on satisfying their lust of the flesh. (cf. Rom. 1:20-32) I believe that is where many in our society are today. This attitude is also not foreign to some who call themselves Christians.
     It is obvious that we cannot serve God acceptably with a doubtful or reprobate mind. Jesus never doubted His Father and He certainly did not sin. We must have the mind of Christ! Paul said in Philippians 2:5: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. How do we have the mind of Christ? Again, Paul said: “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Christ is above. We have the mind of Christ by learning about the things of Christ and, believing them to be true, living as close to His way as we can. We have the mind of Christ when we let His will replace our will.

     In Acts 17:1-15 Paul and Silas visited two cities and preached the same message to both. In Thessalonica some of the Jews reacted negatively to the gospel because they were jealous. Jealously is a state of mind. They had not transformed their mind to things above. In the other city, Berea, there was an entirely different attitude (state of mind). The scripture says: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 NKJ) The ASV says: “they received the word with all readiness of the mind…”
     What is your state of mind? Have you transformed it? Have you renewed it? Is it focused on things above? Do you want to be like the Bereans?  Do you truly want the mind of Christ and all that goes with loving Him (obedience)?
     You have control of your mind; your eternal destiny depends on how you shape it.

- Andrew Laux is an Elder for the South Anchorage church of Christ, Anchorage, Alaska.. He may be contacted at sacoc@gci.net

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So, You Want a Guarantee?
By Lance Cordle

     It is interesting, that as we go through life and become more competent at doing things, people want a guarantee. They want us to guarantee that a job will be finished on time, a pizza will be delivered within a time limit, and a product will last for as long as they want it to do so, etc. Then, if those  expectations are not met and the guarantee does not hold, they want their due recompense—somebody must pay!!
    What has happened is that men have drunk deeply from the well of self-sufficiency.   They believe, that because they can guarantee so many things, that everything in life ought to live up to their expectations.  If that is not the case, then they expect a satisfactory explanation.
     But think about it realistically. What can we expect when humans are involved? Who can say for sure that a project will be completed on time, or that a product will last as long as we say it will? Some people go beyond these types of things and look with critical eyes at the events which shape our world. Someone asks, “Why did the events of September 11, 2001 occur—Could we not have prevented them?” Or, take the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. So many people wonder how it could have happened and then say someone should guarantee that it won’t happen again. Such things are not possible to guarantee.
     Who can guarantee that…
Your job will be the same until you retire?
You will not experience a tornado or other natural disaster?
You will not have cancer or some other disease?
     In my opinion, mankind has become too expectant of the extraordinary. There is nothing wrong with expecting someone to do their best to follow through on their word (We must keep our promises!), but there are times when a thing cannot be done—when something goes wrong. When you think about it you must remember that there is only one thing (being) that we can count on: God. He will be with us through all things and He will save us if we remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).
     Men will continue to be weak and fragile, but only God will stand the test of time. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on you own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6).

- Lance Cordle preaches 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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Nuggets & Quick Riches - misc. goodies
A Barometer of Modern Morals

     The Pew Research Center conducted phone interviews from February 1-5, 2006, to measure the moral compass of America. Respondents were read a list of ten behaviors and asked whether each was "morally acceptable, morally wrong, or not a moral issue."
     Married people having an affair brought the most widespread moral disapproval (88%), while three percent say it is morally acceptable and seven percent say it is not a moral issue. Some 90 percent of women say adultery is morally wrong, compared with 85 percent of men. Overeating drew the least disapproval.
     Seventy-nine percent of fellow citizens consider not reporting all their income on one's taxes to be morally wrong, five percent consider it morally acceptable and 14 percent say it's not a moral issue at all.
     Homosexuality and abortion are two moral issues that have had the greatest political resonance in recent years. In sub-groups, men are more morally disapproving than women of homosexuality. Both genders have similar views about abortion. The older generation is more disapproving of homosexuality than the young; however, there is no clear difference between the old and the young on abortion.
     Despite the sub-groups, the full population sees these two areas as nearly identical. About half say abortion (52%) and homosexual behavior (50%) are morally wrong. One in three (33%) says homosexuality is "not a moral issue." Some 23 percent say that about abortion and 11 percent say "it depends on the situation."
     Other results of the survey are:
Drinking excessively is worse than smoking marijuana.
Telling a lie to spare someone's feelings is worse than gambling.
Sex between unmarried adults is more objectionable than overeating (but not by much). [Visit the Pew Research Center Web site for the full report.  PWB (3/2/07)]

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

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A Better Life or It Will Die!!!

     Take a leaf from a branch, lay it carefully aside, and watch! Slowly the color fades, the leaf goes limp, curls up, and dies!
     Take a fish out of water, lay it carefully on the ground, and watch! Frantically, it twists, struggles, gradually weakens, quivers. and dies!
     Take a Christian away from the fellowship and worship of the church, let him remain at home on the Lords’ day, and watch! Gradually, he stops praying, misses the Lords’ Supper, frets about activities of others, points an accusing finger at “hypocrites” in the church, and, finally, he opposes Christianity and dies!

- Bulletin Digest; via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY.  Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website at: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org

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The Lesson of the Ants
     Several missionaries were having tea one afternoon, when an ant appeared on the tablecloth, made its way to a tea cake, walked around it, and finding nothing to eat, made straight for the sugar bowl.  After eating several bits, it walked off with a small piece.  They watched it disappear underneath the door.  It soon returned with several of its relations.  They climbed the table leg, entered the sugar bowl and ate their fill.  They then departed, each with a piece of sugar in its mouth.  But it did not end there—presently a swarm of ants arrived to partake of the same sweet food.
     These ants teach us a lesson.  The first went and told others the “good news,” who, in turn, went and told the glad story to many more.  Like Isaiah, the demoniac, the woman of Samaria, and others, we must “go and tell” the glad story of God’s redeeming love!
    “Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6;6)

-Arthur Peterson, 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 through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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It is Really Not All That Difficult: Love People; Use Things
    Why is it that we have so much trouble understanding that simple concept? We live in a world that to a large extent wants to reverse the order.  They love things and use people!   “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

– Bill Williams, Something to Think About; 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 through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Hearts of Gold - poetry
            "As Evening Falls"
    By Daniel & David Ferguson

Daylight fades as the sun has set
Twilight still is lingering yet.
See the colors up in the sky
Who put them up there, tell me why?

Now the day darkens toward night,
Still there is a beautiful sight.
Twinkling stars one by one appear
Making God’s presence seem so near.

Light from the stars, the moon and sun
Made for us by God’s Holy One!
All creation gives Him glory!
As we sing love’s greatest story.

From whence came this blessed treasure
Piercing heart and soul with pleasure?
God Almighty did it for us!
Won’t you join our happy chorus?

Flee the one who tries to seize us.
Give your life and all to Jesus!
He said we can all receive Him,
If we trust and will believe Him.

He will save us if we obey.
Will you not come to Him today?
You can have your sins washed away.
Be immersed into Him today!

- An original poem by Daniel (8 years old) and David Ferguson; David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx

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    People Think...But We Know

People think it rather odd
That we do not honor God
With a special holy day
‘Round a manger in the hay.

But we know to honor God
We must use His staff and rod
To guide us, so we never stray
Worshiping the Savior’s way.

People think it rather strange
That we do not rearrange
Worship marking Jesus’ birth
Making much show and great mirth.

But we know to rearrange
Add to, delete, or to change
Our worship while on the earth
Makes the Bible of small worth.

People think it rather queer
That we do not e’er adhere
To a special mass for Christ
Nor can ever be enticed.

But we know that to adhere
Our conscience we would have to sear
Claiming His Word does not suffice
Then what would that make of His sacrifice?

It is not odd, strange, or queer
To follow God with holy fear
Doing only what Scripture states
Knowing this leads to heaven’s gates.

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Jackson church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.com

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                I Am So Glad
         By Grace Noll Crowell
I am so glad He was not born
In some rich palace bed.
I am so glad to know it was
A lowly place, instead,
A place where soft-eyed cows and sheep
Were sheltered and were fed.
For to the country-born of earth a stable will ever be
A wholesome place where night comes down
With its tranquility,
A place of heart’s ease and content
For all who choose to see.
And so I like to think of Him,
First opening His eyes
In that good elemental place
Beneath the friendly skies,
That the men of fields could find Him there,
As well as the great and wise.

-Grace Noll Crowell; 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 through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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               Never What I Wanted
It was spring, but it was summer I wanted—
The warm days and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted—
With the colorful leaves and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted—
With the beautiful snow and the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted—
With the pleasant warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted—
With its freedom and respect.
I was twenty, but it was thirty I wanted—
With its maturity and sophistication.
I was middle-aged, but it was twenty I wanted—
With its youthfulness and freedom of spirit.
My life is over, but I never got what I wanted.
(The item above expresses a regrettably common trait in the human personality—that we are never content with present circumstances.  We think we know what we want until we receive it, and then our desires change.  How fickle is human nature!)

- 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 through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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Gold Mines ---- quotes, sayings & sign messages
Giving all your love to others is no assurance they will love you back. Wait for love to grow in their hearts, but if it doesn’t, be content that it grew in yours.

If you cut a person too much slack you shouldn’t be surprised when he becomes a slacker.

Life is like a bath. The longer you stay in it the more wrinkled you get.

No rule of success will work if you do not.

One cannot go anywhere by straddling the fence.

People with tact keep relationships intact and have less to retract.

The grass next door may be greener but it is just as hard to cut.

Things could always be worse. Suppose your errors were counted and published every day, like a baseball player’s.
"Before a diamond shows its brilliancy and prismatic colors it has to stand a good deal of cutting and smoothing." -- Author Unknown

Those who invite trouble find it usually accepts the invitation.

The trouble with going your own way is that you may not find your way back.

- 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

It is much easier to be critical than correct. (Benjamin Disraeli)

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

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” (Chinese Proverb)

- 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 through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

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BulletinGold Extra ---- recent postings on our Blogsite
- 2 Spiritual Kingdoms: Which for You?
- Whatever Happened to the Question Mark?
- We Serve A Living Savior
- If I Could Go
- The Lukewarm Disease
- The Morning of Forever
- Who's To Blame?
- Going Home after Worship
- Integrity
- Based on an Idea of Mine
- Too Small Containers!

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