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Monday, June 1, 2020

The Ballad of Fort McHenry

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 Fort McHenry.”
    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 song.
    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/

What Do You Want For Your Children?

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 your words.
    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 them!
    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

The Holiness of God

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 1:15-16, ASV). 
     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 understanding?  

     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 with fire.

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 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/

Have You Saved Any Souls Today?

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/

Home Is Where The Heart Is

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 Corinthians 5:1-2). 
     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: http://justinchurchofchrist.com

He Has Plans For You!

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 good.
     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: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/ 

Thirty Seconds

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 knowledge. 
     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 his replacement. 
     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 man?”              

- 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

My Father’s House

By Al Behel

In my Father’s house are many rooms…” (John 14:2)

   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 truth.
      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/

The Time to Love is Now

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

Faith and Works

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 salvation.
    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 without works.”
    James removes all doubt in verse 17, 20 and 26, by clearly stating that “faith without works is dead.”
    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                                                                                            

Like Father, Like Son

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 Father.
     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/

Be Filled With Joy … the Lord Has Come

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 of Jesus.
     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 (John 14.6).
     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 tack!”
                                                                                                               
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com

Are You Thinking Like Jesus?

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

Courage

By Donna Wittlif

"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 right.
    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 "religious fanatic"?
    "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 story.

- 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 website. http://www.donnarwittlif.com/                        

Remembering Jesus

By Rob Alright

    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." (ESV)
    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/

Happy Mother's Day!

By Ron Thomas

    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 about that!)
    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 heart.”
    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/

He Won’t Be Coming Back on a Donkey Next Time

By 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 Second Coming.
    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” (Matthew 24:30).
    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” (Colossians 3:4).
    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 not?

- 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/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com

Reports of His Death

By David Bragg

    There are three dates you should keep in mind as you read this article: 1897, 1900, 2012.
    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.
        Before the mountains were brought forth,
        Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
        Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:2)
- 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/

I Can’t Do It!

By 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 in."
    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” (Romans 6:23).
    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 promises.
    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.
    Won’t YOU?

- 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.

The Rule of Law

by Bill Brandstatter

    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 5:29).
    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

A Change Has Taken Place

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; Col. 1:13).
    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 promises.
    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

Will You Lead?

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.
    Contrary 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.
    The 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.”
Did you not see in that statement what I did not see? 
    I did not see in that sentence any of the following words: elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers. The word I saw was members.
    How do you react to brother Hogan’s statement? How do you react to the word “members?”
    Do you believe that he is accurate in what he wrote? If so, what are you doing about it?
    As 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 Christ. 
    Please 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 eternally important.
    However, 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.
    What 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.
    Leaders lead. They do not merely stand.
    Leaders act. They do not merely complain.
    Is 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?
    Are you leading for Christ?

- Jim 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 website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org