By David Bragg
On the evening of September 13, 1814
an American diplomat found himself stuck on a British
vessel watching a fierce bombardment of Baltimore's Fort
McHenry. The state of affairs looked grim. As he spent
the night detained by the enemy, Francis Scott Key
looked out across the waters towards the American fort.
But with the dawn of a new day the American cause found
strength. The flag still waved above the fort. That
morning, on the back of a letter he happened to find in
his pocket, Key began to compose a poem that would be
finalized within a week. He called it “The Defense of
Over the space of many years the
beloved song would grow in popularity as it was sung in
patriotic settings and, in 1862, at a major sporting
event. The patriotic tune would also be sung to
inaugurate the first World Series game in 1903
(www.pbs.org). Many attempts were made to have it
adopted as America’s official national anthem, but that
would not happen until March 3, 1931 when President
Herbert Hoover made “The Star-Spangled Banner” America's
For Christians of every generation
the familiar words penned by Key have special meaning:
"the land of the free and the home of the brave." We are
citizens of a heavenly kingdom/nation (Phil. 3:20). As
such, our freedom is purchased with the precious blood
of Jesus (Acts 20:28). Our spiritual liberty demands
courage, the willingness to stand up for, and suffer if
necessary for, the cause of Christ. It requires courage
to live faithfully in the kingdom of the saved.
- David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the
Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is
co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/
or his blog: http://davidbragg.blogspot.com/
By Joe Slater
The question in the title could be
asked of moms as well as dads. You’ve heard the cliché
“like father, like son.” Scripture also recognizes the
tendency of sons to imitate their fathers and even
previous ancestors (Acts 7:51).
So, dads, what do you want for your
children? For your grandchildren? Are you teaching them
by word? I hope so! But the effect of your words will be
diminished unless you lead by example!
Do you want your children to learn
and obey the gospel? (How could any father not want his
children to become Christians?) Have you, yourself,
confessed Christ as Lord and been immersed into Him?
Do you want your children to meet
regularly with the brethren? You know what’s right, and
you know it goes far beyond a single hour on Sunday
morning. Your children will imitate your example above
Do you want your children to put God
first? Yes, even before ball games? birthday parties?
fishing? hunting? golfing? God holds you responsible not
just to tell them what is most important, but to show
Do you want your children to serve
others joyfully? When last did you take them with you to
visit someone homebound? (What a bright spot that puts
in everyone’s day!)
Do you want your children to be
evangelistic? If you don’t set the example, the secular
world will most definitely teach them, “keep your
religion to yourself!”
The list goes on endlessly. What do
you want for your children?
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ
in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com
By Ron Thomas
In discussions about the
holiness of God, sometimes the question arises, “How is
God holy?” I think it’s a good question, one that needs
to be answered. The Scripture clearly affirms the
holiness of God and that we are to pattern ourselves
after Him. “...but like as he who called you is holy, be
ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because
it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter
Holiness is a quality of God
that should be ours. Yet, though we recognize as much,
we also recognize our complete failure in attaining such
a lofty standard. Is there ever a time in your life that
you feel comfortable saying, “I am holy”? You can, you
know. We don’t, however, because it sounds arrogant,
pompous and egotistical. If one is called to be holy,
then one can live a holy life, otherwise the words of
the Lord have no meaning!
A holy life is one that is set
apart for the Lord, a life one lives to please the Lord
and not by one’s own standard. It was Jeremiah who said
that man has it not within him to know the right way, he
must be taught (cf. Jer. 10:23). This is easier to
understand than it is to put into practice. I can’t help
but to think of my personal failings along this line
when I think about the Lord’s holiness.
Consider how holy the Lord is.
First, He is the standard of right thinking. Nothing in
His mind has an element of thinking that begins to
wander off into an area that is unbecoming of holiness.
How would I know such a thing as this? Since it’s
impossible for God to lie, that also means He will not
lie to Himself (Titus 1:2). Second, He is the standard
of right conduct. The Lord is spirit, and spiritual
being are not controlled by physical limitations. Yet,
when the Lord conducts Himself in the physical realm,
who among us can dare say (and defend) the Lord did
wrong? There is no doubt that many do, but in so doing,
what standard of conduct are they using to measure the
Lord? “Let God be proven true, and every human being
shown up as a liar, just as it is written: ‘so that
you will be justified in your words and will
prevail when you are judged’" (Rom. 3:4, New
English Translation). The best a person can produce is
what one thinks ought to be done.
Just how great is the Lord?
Consider the words of Isaiah 40:12-14 (the ASV is
italicized). (1) All the waters of the earth fit into
the “palm of His hand” - Who hath measured the waters in
the hollow of his hand, (2) A “span” is the distance of
the pinky finger to the thumb, about 8 inches - and
meted out heaven with the span, (3) Take a handful of
dust, count the grains - and comprehended the dust of
the earth in a measure, (4) People weigh bales of hay,
body weight, but a mountain? - and weighed the mountains
in scales, and the hills in a balance? (5) With one’s
best effort, a person can only hope to know a fraction
of the way of thinking of a loved one, can you
comprehend the Lord’s mind? - Who hath directed the
Spirit of Jehovah, or being his counsellor hath taught
him? (6) It’s all people can do to do things in the
right way and to think of things in a righteous way, are
any of us in position to stand in judgment of the Lord?
Yet, we do when we make silly remarks like, “I don’t
think the Lord will do this or judge that.” Really? -
With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and
taught him in the path of justice, and taught him
knowledge, and showed to him the way of
When I think of the holiness of
the Lord, these are some of the things to which I give
attention. I consider myself to be above average in
intelligence, relatively strong for the age that I am,
good at understanding the frailties of people, and
especially the moral/spiritual failings with which each
struggle. Perhaps you think this, also, about yourself.
With all of that, however, I am but a “drop in the
bucket” in comparison with the holiness of the Lord.
Interestingly, the Lord made use of the term (drop in
the bucket) with regard to nations in comparison with
Him; how much more so the individual!
When we gather as an assembly
to worship the Lord, let us be reminded the holiness of
the Lord is sacred, and our approach to Him must be with
holy reverence. Any approach less than this is playing
Holiness in us, is the copy or
transcript of the holiness that is in Christ—As the
wax hath line for line from the seal, and the child
feature for feature from the father, so is holiness
in us from him. –Philip Henry
Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ,
Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
By Bill Brandstatter
I was at a dentist appointment once and the dentist and
I were talking. My dentist has known me for a long
time. He likes to kid and joke; but he asked me
the above question, and it got me to thinking? Have WE
saved any souls today?
The work of the church is saving
souls. The church is composed of saved souls (Acts
2:47). It is not the work of the church to entertain. It
is not the work of the church to just motivate. The work
of the church is to evangelize, edify, and encourage.
So, again, have we saved any souls today?
It is interesting that in Acts 8 the
Bible says the church “went everywhere preaching the
word.” (vs 3) This was not referring to the apostles
because they were somewhere else. This was talking about
the church. When we teach and talk to others we are
“preaching the word.” Preaching helps to save souls
(Rom. 10:13-17). It is the work of the church,
specifically church members, to seek and save the lost.
Many believe that if the church has a
located preacher, saving souls is his job. Certainly,
the preacher should be active in saving souls through
preaching, teaching, and evangelizing; but is he the
only one that should be striving to save souls? NO.
So, the question my dentist asked
might also be one we all should ask of each other. Have
you saved any souls today?
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of
Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/
By Ed Wittlif
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures
on earth...but store up for yourselves treasures in
heaven...for where your treasure is, there your heart
will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
One thing that stands out as I
read God's word is that this world which is so real to
me isn't real at all. Paul pictures our physical bodies
as tents and our real body will be obtained in heaven, a
body fit to house our spirit throughout eternity. (II
There is a better place than
this world. The roll call of great people of faith
seeking that heavenly country is found in Hebrews 11.
Their attitude was that they were strangers here. Their
treasures were laid up in heaven.
We need to learn to live like
pilgrims in this world. We are only passing through and
there is a home, a country so superior waiting for us.
If God is all that is in heaven, then that is enough.
The word pictures in the scriptures tell us that heaven
will be awesome.
Therefore, don't put down roots
here. Don't settle in and get comfortable here. Don't
put you desires here and do not put your treasures in
this place. This world is only temporary, a shadowland
as it were. There is no security here. In Matthew
6:19-21 Jesus reminds us our treasures entrusted on the
earth can be destroyed or stolen. But what we lay up in
heaven cannot be destroyed or stolen.
We have to examine our hearts
daily and decide to keep our eyes focused on the path
leading to heaven.
- Ed Wittlif is from Denver, CO; via the Church of
Christ in Justin, TX. Joe Slater serves as minister and
he may be contacted through the congregation's website:
By Jeff Arnette
Can you imagine how encouraging
it would be to walk into a job interview and hear the
employer say, “I already have plans for you.” Knowing we
had a place in the company might be encouraging.
However, knowing that the company recognized our
potential and was already forming specific plans for our
work with them would really get us excited. It would
mean that we have been assured of a good future with
this company and that would make the physical work
joyful, something we looked forward to each day.
Shouldn’t we have the same view
of our life with God? Honestly, God’s view of our life
should encourage us. Just think about the enormity of
this! Even before you lived one day of your life, God
knew you and what you would accomplish in this life
(Psalm 139:16). This should encourage us to entrust our
lives to Him, making each new day a new opportunity to
fulfill His grand will for our life? Do not doubt that
God has good things in store for you.
The Lord spoke to the prophet
Jeremiah and told him to share this simple message: I
will visit you, fulfill my promises to you, and bring
you back to this place (Jer. 29:10-11). He then says
that He knows the plans He has for our lives, plans for
good and not evil, plans to give us a future and hope.
What more could we want? Our God knows us, knows our
talents and abilities, and has a plan for us.
No matter where you are at
currently, God still has plans for you. As you submit to
His plans and His will for your life, He can make all
things work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). With God
on your side, there is nothing that you cannot
accomplish, and nothing is beyond your ability.
Remember, His plans for you are not evil but for your
In Paul’s letter to the church
at Ephesus, he said, “For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:10, ESV)
Do you realize what that means for you? As you walk with
Jesus, equipped, and strengthened to accomplish the
things He has called us to do in this life, we are
merely stepping into the flow of what He already had in
mind for us. Living following His Will, we can be
encouraged that with Him, we always have “a future and a
hope.” With God, this life is no accident!
Do not doubt that God has plans
for you, and when you embrace it by faith, trusting in
His plans, life is lived to its fullest.
“Now to him who is able to do far more
abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to
the power at work within us, to him be glory in the
church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV)
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church
of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website:
By Lance Cordle
Alex Trebek is a TV “icon,”
“legend,” “stalwart”—you choose the description. For
thirty-five years he has hosted the gameshow, Jeopardy.
Jeopardy is that game that tests a person’s
general knowledge of facts and world events, as well as
how big a risk they would take on that knowledge. The
unique format also forces that person to word their
answer in the form of a question (i.e. “What is . . .).
Alex Trebek is the man that informs the on-set
contestants as to whether they have answered correctly.
His name is synonymous with the show and encyclopedic
By the way, who among us has
not sat down and watched a Jeopardy episode
and shouted out the question-answer just to have the
satisfaction of knowing how much we know? Or being
humbled as to how much we don’t know?
Last year, Alex announced to
the world that he had stage-4 pancreatic cancer and that
he would immediately begin to undergo chemotherapy to
treat the disease. He has been in “remission,” as well
as in need of more treatment. He recently gave an
interview on the ABC network, in which he thanked people
all over the world for their outpouring of appreciation
for him. He also revealed that he did not yet know when
he would retire from Jeopardy, or who would be
When elaborating on his
inevitable exit from Jeopardy, Alex said that he
had already spoken to his producers and had assured them
of the amount of time he needed to say goodbye. I was
quite astounded by his simple request. After thirty-five
years and worldwide fame, all he anticipated needing and
using to bid farewell was thirty seconds!
His simple plan and expectation
should humble us all. Because, when it comes down to it,
most of us have quite a pretty high view of our
importance. Life teaches us (sometimes harshly) that
there really is no indispensable man or woman.
I am reminded of the sobering
message of Psalm 8:3, 4: “When I think of the heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which
you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful
of him, and the son of man that you visit him?” You
might think of it in Jeopardy form: Answer:
“The subject of the Psalmist’s wonder and amazement of
God’s care in Psalm 8:3, 4.” Question: “What is
- 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
By Al Behel
“In my Father’s house are many rooms…” (John
The Carpenter’s Son grew up with a hammer
in His hand. Many of the houses in Nazareth bore the
prints of His handiwork. He knew about buildings. Hence,
it was fitting for Him to tell His disciples that His
Father’s house is full of rooms…rooms which He would go
and prepare for them. And when those rooms are finished
He will come back for those whose hearts are kept pure
and untroubled by sin.
I like to think about my Father’s
house. He only has one house, but it has plenty of room
for all who hold the Father in their hearts. That house
is not made of perishable materials which will decay
with the years. It is indestructible and
ageless. It will never lose it’s radiant beauty. It will
never need repair. It will always be fresh and pure and
clean. Nothing unclean can enter through its doors.
His Father’s house is full of love
and peace and life. There are no conflicts or painful
words spoken, no resentments or painful memories. There
are no medicine cabinets or bandages for broken hearts.
The Father’s house is filled with the brightness of His
face, the glory of His presence, and the fragrance of
His grace. I love my Father’s house.
Regretfully, many will not
live in the Father’s house. They have given themselves
to a different father. Jesus described the traits that
separates these from His Father (John 8:31-47). They
rejected the Father’s Son. They refused to listen to His
words and sought to do the will of their father,
instead. Their father is the devil who is the originator
of lies. Those who follow his will believe lies and
spread lies themselves. They won’t listen to
I’m glad Jesus told us about his
Father’s house because that house is our house if we
have chosen God as our Father. If not, there is only one
other eternal home, where all the good is missing. It is
a house of darkness, and suffering, and painful
memories. Sadly, those who choose to live there will
live with eternal regrets. There will be no love there,
no peace, and no happiness.
God is a good God who offers
everyone a choice of eternal homes. It is our choice.
Let’s make sure we chose wisely.
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church
of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/
By Gerald Cowan
I wonder if you love me,
Though I really hope you do.
I wonder, if you told me so
Would I think it really true?
Actions overshadow words,
Whenever they are bad, not good.
Unless the words and actions match
They both can be misunderstood.
I hope that if you love me
You’ll find a way to let me know
So I can have the feelings
Which from true affection flow
Now, while I am living.
Do not wait until I’m gone
To speak your words to others,
Or have them cut in polished stone.
If you wait until I’m sleeping,
Never more in life to wake,
With silent death between us,
There’s no comfort we can take.
Even when we both are dead,
Love’s joy that might have been
But was not properly expressed
Cannot really bless us then.
And so I say again to you,
If you love me, please say it,
Tell me now while I am living
So I can know and treasure it.
And since I know you also need
To hear about my love for you,
I’m going to tell it to you now:
I love you. I do love you.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is
retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald
publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S
PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel
Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
By Larry Pasley
There is a scripture in which people
deliberately leave out the word “not.”
In James 2:24, “You see then that a
man is justified by works, and “not” by faith only.”
Many in the religious world today want to leave out that
little word and make James say that we are saved by
faith alone. Some people not only leave out a
“not” but they move it to another place in the sentence
and make the statement just the opposite. “you see that
a man is “not” justified by works and by faith only.”
When we read the context of James
2:14-26 it is very clear that works are involved in our
Notice James 2:14, What does it
profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but
does not have works? Can faith save him? The obvious
answer to James’ question is “no, faith cannot save you
James removes all doubt in verse 17,
20 and 26, by clearly stating that “faith without works
In verse 18 he indicates that the
only way you can see a person’s faith is by their works.
If faith alone would save then the
demons would be saved since they believe and tremble
James says in verse 19.
James even gives the examples of
Abraham and Rahab and states that they were both
justified by their works.
All of the scriptures which talk
about judgment, say we will be judged by what we have
done in the physical body: Mat 16:27; Mat 25:34-46;
Romans 2:4-11; 2 Cor 5:10; Gal 6:7: Rev 20:12. It would
be terribly unfair for God to tell us we are saved by
our faith alone and then judge us by our works. But God
has never told us we are saved by “faith alone.”
In order to have a correct
understanding of God’s word, we must put it all together
and get the whole picture.
We must not remove or untie the
“nots” that God has placed in His Word to us.
- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson
Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be
contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.JacksonStAlex.com
By Travis Robertson
How would you feel if someone
said to you, “You’re just like your dad!” It may depend
on what your dad is like, right? If your dad was
handsome, and had the brains of a Nobel prize winner,
you might be happy that people think you are like him.
No matter who your parents are or what they do, you will
most likely pick up many of their traits, whether it be
their appearance or behavior.
In John 14:9 Jesus says,
“…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” If you
asked Jesus if He was a lot like His Father, he would
have answered, “Absolutely!” Jesus is our access to the
Father (John 14:6). He is the visible image of the
invisible God (Colossians 1:15). The more you learn and
know about Jesus the more you come to know about the
We might not be the spitting
image of our dad or mom, or even act much like them. But
Jesus shows us exactly what God is like. Take
opportunity through the scriptures to learn more about
Jesus and you will know more about God. Reflect this
week on how much you know about God because of what you
have seen in Jesus.
- Travis Robertson preachers for the Lake Norman Church
of Christ in Huntersville, NC. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website at http://lakenormancoc.org/
By Joe Chesser
I think I am safe to say that
the song “Joy to the World” is a favorite among all of
us any time of the year. It certainly is one of my
favorites. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! … Repeat
the sounding joy!” First published in 1719, Isaac Watts’
lyrics teamed with music attributed to Handel have
produced the most published Christmas hymn in North
America. It might be difficult to find any Christmas
album that did not include this song. And rightly so.
After millenniums of promise
and hope and expectation for a coming Messiah through
whom the entire world would be blessed (Genesis 12.3),
the time had finally come! While John the Baptist
was still in his mother’s womb, he leapt for joy in
anticipation of the coming of Jesus (Luke 1.44)! When
the angel of the Lord announced the birth of Jesus to
the shepherds, the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I will
bring you good news of great joy that will be for all
the people” (Luke 2.10). 2000 plus years later we are
still being filled with joy when we think of the birth
Why? The answer is obvious,
isn’t it? The depth of joy Jesus brought to the world
was unlike anything known before. Before Jesus, the
forgiveness of sins was merely a shadow, a promise to be
fulfilled in the future, a distant hope. The Old
Testament Law itself was but a “shadow of good things to
come instead of the true form of these realities”
(Hebrews 10.1). At its best, hope was always for better
things yet to come.
But in Jesus, that kind of hope
was suddenly transformed into an ever-present reality.
No more wishful thinking. Although not as expected, the
Savior has come (Matthew 1.21). The Lamb of God who
takes away the sins of the world is finally here (John
1.29) to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10). The blood
he shed on the cross not only forgives our sins
initially (Ephesians 1.7, Revelation 1.5, Romans 6.3-4),
it also continually forgives our sins as we walk in the
light (1 John 1.7). In Jesus, light and life have come
(John 1.4). Only Jesus can show us the way to the Father
And that, my friends, is the
source of inexpressible joy. In the words of
Bernard of Clairvaux, “Jesus, the very thought of thee,
with sweetness fills the breast, o hope of every
contrite heart, o joy of all the meek … Jesus, our only
joy be thou, as thou our prize wilt be; Jesus, be thou
our glory now, and through eternity.”
Because Jesus has come we
triumphantly sing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down
in my heart … I’ve got the peace that passes
understanding down in my heart, down in my heart to stay
… and if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of
Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ron Bartanen
How do you determine what is right
and what is wrong, what is godly and what is evil? Is
the difference determined by the culture of the
country you happen to live in? Or possibly by a
church’s traditions? Or maybe by each person’s
feelings as to what is right or wrong, letting one’s
conscience and human reasoning be the determining
factor? Or how about thinking like Jesus?
A few years ago there was a book
entitled “Thinking Like Jesus,” in which researcher
George Barna concluded that while in earlier years
most communities were Christian-oriented in their
standards—Bible-based standards—in recent decades even
those claiming to be Christians have largely abandoned
the Scriptures as the norm for the Christian life and
doctrine. With 30 years of research, and
thousands of interviews with people who claim to be
“born again Christians,” he found 3 out of 4 shaped
their world-view from sources other than the
Bible. Even of those who claimed they rely on
Biblical truth, only one out of seven believed moral
truth to be absolute and unchangeable. Barna
made this observation: “When people wonder why the
church is losing out in American society—which seven
out of ten contend—the reason is that so very few
think like Jesus.”
How did Jesus think? What was His
standard? Read it in Matthew 4:1-10. After
Jesus’ baptism, He underwent a 40-day period of
fasting, in which He was tempted three times by
Satan. He quenched the devil’s fiery darts by
citing Scripture, saying each time, “It is
written….” The source of direction for His life
was not human reasoning. Nor popular religious
tradition. Nor the prevailing Jewish
culture. Nor what was then “politically
correct.” But Scripture. Jesus berated the
religious leaders of His day for their failure to
adhere to the Scriptures as their authority. He
rebuked them for “teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men” (Mark 7:7), declaring their
worship to be “in vain.” He then charged, “Full
well ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep
your tradition” (v. 9). This is followed by His
reference to commands in the writings of Moses as
Scripture for God’s authority. Again, in Mark
12:24, He asked, “Do ye not therefore err because ye
know not the Scriptures…?” Would He not say the
same to religious leaders today as they claim to honor
the Bible, but, at the same time, cling to
denominational creeds and dogmas that are without
Scriptural warrant? There are even more and more
preachers and denominations that adhere more to
“politically correct” standards for morality than hold
to the word of God.
To think like Jesus, let
God-inspired Scriptures—the Bible—be your guide.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God
may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good
works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of
Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
"For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of
power and love and discipline" (II Timothy 1:7).
Rosa Parks said, "I have learned
over the years that when one's mind is made up, this
diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away
with fear." Rosa Parks was not rich, did not hold a
doctorate degree, and was not famous when she made
up her mind to stay seated in that bus. But she knew
what was right, and was willing to act on what was
One might say that the opposite
of courage is a spirit of fearfulness. It is a
disgrace to modern Christians, especially those in
the United States where we have little persecution,
that we let our little fears hold us back from
telling others about God and Christ. What do we
fear? Ridicule? Humiliation? Being called a
"You have not resisted unto
blood, striving against sin," the author of Hebrews
reminds us (12:4). No, we are not like the six newly
baptized Christians who died in a public park in
Pakistan last March 27. They were targeted because
they believed in Christ and had gathered to
celebrate Easter with other believers. American
Christians have opportunities to show and tell their
faith to others every day, but we are often afraid.
"Be strong and of good courage,"
God told the Israelites over and over as they went
to fight their battles. The Lord was their leader,
and He fought for them and conquered their enemies.
All they had to do was put their faith and trust in
God and obey Him, and He discomfited the foreign
armies that threatened them.
The same God, our Heavenly
Father, has promised to be with us always. Can we
not have the same faith as the Israelites did as
they watched God smite their enemies? Our Father
will do the same for us as we go forth to tell His
- Donna Richmond Wittlif, the founder and first
editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna
is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World
Eternal: Promises and World Eternal:
Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils
are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and
other book outlets. For more information visit her
As we take the bread and fruit of
the vine, we remember Jesus. He died on the cross,
not because of His sins, but He died on the cross for our sins. 1 Peter
2:24 says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on
the tree, that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."
The nails that went through his
hands and feet were not for any sins he had done.
They were for my sins and for your sins. The crown of thorns was placed on
his head so that I might die to sin and live the new life as a disciple of Christ. When you die to
something you separate yourself from it.
We separate ourselves from a life
dominated by sin to live a live dominated by
righteousness. (Romans 6:13).
When we die to sin we do not live
in it any longer. (Romans 6:1-2). Jesus died so you
and I might have that opportunity to live a Christ-like life.
Shouldn't that be our goal? Jesus allowed himself to
be sin for us.
Why? (2 Cor. 5:21) "So that, in
him, we might become the righteousness of God"
Let that sink in as we study
about the Lord's Supper today and share in this time
of remembering Jesus.
- Rob Alright serves as one of the ministers at the
Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may
be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/
Let me spell the word
m-o-t-h-e-r, with a message to complement.
M is for Mature. Do you remember
when mom always seemed to have the right answer, and
when she gave the answer, it was with the right
spirit and attitude (I remember that).
O is for Open. Mothers who love
their children will have an “open door policy” with
the kids. That simply means that when trouble is
brewing in the youth, mom is there to lend a hand.
T is for Teacher. Can hardly
think of mom without there being some component of
teaching involved. Mom taught things of importance
like personal hygiene, laundry, or doing the dishes
because that was women’s work! (Boy, did I learn
H is for Health. I remember that
when I got sick, I never wanted dad to tend to my
needs or concerns. He would have been there and done
what was needed, but gruff and “suck it up” just
wasn’t the same as the tender “honey,” and “sweet
E is for Expectations. Mothers
who love their children will have expectation and,
when they are not met, the child (or children) will
suffer consequences. I learned early that suffering
was less than pleasant.
R is for Remember. Mom had (has)
a memory that just doesn’t need to work as good as
it did (at least when I was in trouble!), but on the
other hand I am glad it works as well as it does.
Let our “memory” work the same, and be sure to wish
your mother (and all mothers) a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of
Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be
contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/
David R. Ferguson
Jesus came to the Earth the first
time meek and lowly, and riding on the back of a
donkey. But that’s not how He will return at His
The Second Coming of the Lord
Jesus is the “blessed hope” of the church (Titus
2:13). Throughout the centuries of church history,
concerned believers have waited expectantly for this
glorious event to happen.
The Son of God came the first
time in Bethlehem as a virgin-born baby. He was
“despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). He was
arrested, ridiculed, and finally crucified. His
death was a perfect sacrifice for sin.
But some day He will come again –
not to experience mocking and humiliation – but to
reign as King over the universe. The Second Coming
of Christ to the Earth is the bright and radiant
hope of God’s people. The Apostle John, writing from
the island of Patmos, says, “Behold, He cometh with
clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also
which pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus Himself
declares that people will “see the Son of Man coming
in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory”
Jesus promised that He will
prepare a place for us, and that He will come again
(John 14:2b-3). There are scoffers who say, “Where
is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4). They
are not willing to take the promises of God’s word
seriously. But the Angels declared to the disciples
of Jesus who witnessed His ascension into Heaven:
“This same Jesus, Which is taken up from you into
Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen
Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Apostle Paul
declares that “when Christ Who is our life shall
appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory”
The truth about the Second Coming
of Jesus is clear – and we do not try to explain it
away. Are you ready for that day? Have you come to
the Lord in obedient, saving faith? If not, then why
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church
of Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted
through the congregation'sFacebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/
There are three dates you should
keep in mind as you read this article: 1897, 1900,
The first is the most debatable
because the circumstances have, ironically, been
exaggerated. One of the most popular versions has it
that while Mark Twain was in London an American
newspaper erroneously printed the humorist's
obituary. When asked to comment on this mistake
Twain reportedly replied, "The reports of my death
are greatly exaggerated." Twain would go on living
for another 13 years.
The second date, 1900, was the
year that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
passed away. He was 55 years old. He is perhaps best
known for his observation, printed in various works,
declaring that "God is dead." In intervening years
his comment, and what various writers suppose he
meant by it, have been widely debated.
The third date is 2012. In that
year American theologian William Hamilton died.
Hamilton is perhaps best known for an article
appearing in the April 8, 1966 issue of Time
Magazine entitled "Is God Dead?" Liberal
theologians, skeptics and atheists rallied around
Hamilton's observations as if it somehow justified
their anti-religious views.
All three of these dates are
important to consider. Let me state the obvious.
There is one date that can not be given because it
has not (and never will) exist: the date of God's
death. Twain is in his grave. Nietzsche is no more.
Hamilton is dead. Yet God, the eternal God, lives.
the mountains were brought forth,
You had formed the earth and the world,
everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm
David A. Sargent
Keith Wishum recently wrote: “I’m
afraid that we sometimes forget the obvious fact
that we are not self-sufficient.” Then Wishum
illustrated his point with the following story:
A young construction worker was
bragging that he was the strongest man on the job.
He especially made fun of an older worker.
After several minutes, the elder
man had enough. "Put your money where your mouth
is!" he exclaimed. "I'll bet a week's pay that I can
haul something in a wheelbarrow over to the other
building that you won't be able to wheel back."
"You're on, old man," the young
man replied. "Let's see."
The old man grabbed the
wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the
young man, he said with a sly smile, "All right. Get
Wishum concludes: “We cannot
carry ourselves. We did not give ourselves life. We
cannot sustain life on our own. There is no such
creature as a ‘self-made man.’”
No, we are not self-sufficient.
Whether we like to admit or not, we are dependent
upon God and others for so many things in our lives.
This is even true of our salvation from sin.
In our “self-sufficiency,” we are
sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the
glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What we “earn” from our
sins is death, “for the wages of sin is death”
We cannot save ourselves from
sin. We just can’t do it.
But God loves us so much that He
sent His Son to be our Savior! “For God so loved the
world that He gave his One and Only Son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish” (John
3:16). Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for
our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the
Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father
except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus is the only
way to the Father and to the eternal life that He
We cannot save ourselves, but we
CAN accept God’s offer of salvation! This is the
sense of Peter’s words when he told the Jewish
audience on Pentecost Day: “And with many other
words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be
saved from this perverse generation’” (Acts 2:40).
They couldn’t be saved by their own merits, but they
could be saved by accepting God’s offer of salvation
on His terms.
God has promised to save those
who place their faith and trust in Jesus (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) into Christ
for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). God will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to
walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Just as one cannot push himself
while sitting in a wheelbarrow, we cannot save
ourselves. We can, however, place ourselves in the
arms of Jesus through our trusting obedience and be
saved by and through 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
* From “I Can’t Do It.” By Keith Wishum in A Word
from Williams Road. Wishum is the minister for the
Williams Road Church of Christ in Americus, GA.
When candidate Trump was running
for President, he stated that he was going to
enforce the current laws on immigration that were
already on the books. A law in 1952 gives him the
right to do what he is currently doing with
immigration. Other presidents have done it, so is
he. Yet there is a big outcry about his decision.
Laws are made to be enforced. Laws are made for our
good. Some hold the view, “Laws are made to be
broken.” God’s people are ones who have laws that
must be obeyed.
In the Old Testament, laws were
expected to be obeyed. .At the end of the Old
Testament, the Lord speaking through Malachi stated,
“Remember the law of Moses, My servant, which I
commanded him for all Israel, with the statutes and
judgments” (Mal. 4:4 NKJV). Mankind has always been
reminded to obey the laws, not make new ones of
their own. Many today want to make new laws on
morality and number of other issues and ignore the
law of God.
Some today may believe there is
no law in Christianity. They might emphasize the
grace of God instead. However, we are under law
today. That law is Christ’s law. Paul described it
as “under law toward Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21). James
described a law that all Christians are to obey as
the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). The
Psalmist wrote: “the law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7). Paul described the
law of the Lord as “holy, just, and good.” (Rom.
7:12). All these adjectives describing the law
indicate there is nothing better. There is no need
to appeal to a higher court. There is no higher
court. Christ has all authority (Matt. 28:18; John
5:27). John writes, “For this is the love of
God that we keep His commandments, and His
commandments are not burdensome.”(1 Jn. 5:3). We
therefore cannot love God unless we keep His
commandments or laws.
The Bible plainly indicates we
are under a law today. What does it mean to be under
law? It means we are to obey the law or consequences
will result. Laws are meant to be obeyed, not
broken. Paul commands Christians to obey civil law
(Rom. 13:1). As with any law, a violation
brings repercussions. This general principle is
stated by Paul in Gal. 6:7 when he states, “Whatever
a man sows, that will he also reap.” The punishment
for obeying Christ’s law may not come in this life,
however (Jn. 12:48) The punishment is far reaching
and everlasting. Jesus will take vengeance on those
who don’t know Him and don’t obey Him (2 Thess. 1:7,
8). However, God’s law is always superior to man’s
law. That is why Peter and the other apostles
stated,” We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts
We ought to be content with the
laws that are given to us in the New Testament. Are
we satisfied with them, or do we think we can change
them to fit the situation? We don’t need any others.
Christ has the perfect way. To follow it means
heaven will one day be our home.
– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church
of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through
the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com
By Jeff Arnette
A change has taken place!
From the power of Satan to the
power of God.
Anyone who has repented and
submitted to Christ in baptism has made the greatest
choice this life can offer. A person whose faith is
real and whose repentance is genuine has truly died,
in a spiritual sense, to the old life of sin.
Symbolically, he has died, been
buried with Christ, and resurrected to walk in a new
life (Rom. 6:3-4). They have become a new creation in
Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). All previous relationships,
everything that makes up the old life should fade into
extinction until all that remains is a new person
created in the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The true
convert to Christ has been “born again”, “born of the
water and the spirit” and now walks in “a new life”
(John 3:3, 5).
For the mind and the soul,
conversion to Christ is a vast change. It is a change
from having “no hope” and “without God in this world”
to being a new born child of God (Eph. 2:12; Gal.
3:26-29). When one truly obeys the gospel of Jesus
Christ (which is God’s power of salvation) he has been
delivered from the power of Satan, the kingdom of
Satan, to the power and kingdom of God (Acts 26:18;
To be delivered from the power of
Satan, from death and darkness, and translated (placed
within) into the kingdom of God’s dear Son; is to be a
recipient of God’s greatest act of love. It is a
miracle with eternal possibilities (Rom. 8:12; Col.
1:13). Everything about the New Testament conversion
to Christ is miraculous and amazing.
Faith, for example, is a form of
courage that cannot be measured. It is “assurance” and
“conviction” that we need to approach a holy God (Heb.
11:1-6). It is a courage that dares to step out into
the unknown simply because God exists. A courage that
places all its hopes and dreams in God’s precious
Repentance (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19)
is also a profound and significant new reality for the
Christian. Only a person who has been remade in the
image of God can have the power to truly repent. It is
the freedom to reverse previous choices. The power
needed to submit all your life to Jesus Christ and
simply follow him.
Confession of faith in Christ as
the Son of God is also a priceless privilege (John
12:42; Rom. 10:9). When we do this as an honest and
open profession of our choice it strengthens us and
the church. Confession is a constant reminder that we
have believed and committed to living for Jesus for
the rest of our life (Heb. 13:5).
Baptism in water, for the
forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), gathers
together and reflects for us, the truest meaning of
faith, repentance, and confession in a new symbolic
way (Rom. 6:1-14). It shows ourselves and others that
we have died to sin and self and have resurrected to a
new life of submission to God.
Each of these (faith, repentance,
confession, and baptism) are great by themselves but
even greater is the fact that they place us in Christ
(Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-4). There is no other way into
Christ and no condemnation to those who are safe and
secure in him. For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and
death (Rom. 8:1-2).
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church
of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted
through the congregation's website: http://centralhaywoodchurchofchrist.com
By Jim Faughn
Recently, I came across some
material I have had for years. In that material, I
was reminded of a book written years ago by brother
Norman Hogan. The book was entitled Leadership
in the Local Church.
to what you might imagine from the title, this book
is not at all merely for elders, deacons, preachers,
and others in “leadership positions” in a
congregation. The book contains material that, if
taken to heart and put into practice, could benefit
every member of every congregation of God’s people.
very first sentence in the very first chapter of the
book should serve as a “wake up call” for all of us.
Please carefully and prayerfully read, reread, and
consider the implications of these words:
“If the members of a local church
refuse to lead for Christ, it is certain that
others, whose philosophy of life is alien to that
of Christians, will lead people away from Christ.”
you not see in that statement what I did not
did not see in that sentence any of the following
words: elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class
teachers. The word I saw was members.
do you react to brother Hogan’s statement? How do
you react to the word “members?”
you believe that he is accurate in what he wrote? If
so, what are you doing about it?
you (and I) consider that, let me suggest something
else I did not see in his statement. I did not read
that he was discussing leading people to
do not misunderstand. I am, in no way, meaning to
leave the impression that leading people to Christ
is not important. It is vitally important. It is
what is under consideration here is leading for
Christ. It seems to me that what is called for here
would be individuals who will do more than lament
the deterioration and decline of what some have
called the “moral fabric” of our society – and other
societies in the world.
brother Hogan thought was desperately needed were
people who would take a stand based on firm
convictions. They would do more than merely take a
stand. They would move forward in the right
direction and encourage others to follow.
lead. They do not merely stand.
act. They do not merely complain.
our society all that you want it to be? What about
your community? What about your workplace? What
about your school? What about your congregation?
What about your family?
you leading for Christ?
Faughn, a retired preacher, serves as an elder for
the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.
He may be contacted through the congregation's