Monday, January 25, 2021


By Larry Pasley

    Bubba walked into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asked him what he had.
    Bubba said, “Shingles.”
    So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.
    Fifteen minutes later a nurse’s aid came out and asked Bubba what he had.
    Bubba said, “Shingles.”
    So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Bubba to wait in the examining room.
    A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Bubba what he had.
    Bubba said, “Shingles.”
    So the nurse gave Bubba a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Bubba to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.
    An hour later the doctor came in and asked Bubba what he had.
    Bubba said, “Shingles.”
    The doctor asked, “Where?”
    Bubba said, “Outside on the truck. Where do you want them?”


    There are many words which have two or more different meanings, like shingles. I used to play a game with the young people called, “My Teakettle.” In that game you choose a word that has different meanings and everyone tries to guess what the word is by the way you describe your Teakettle. A word like “plane” could be used and one description would apply to an airplane and the next description would apply to the tool. The descriptions then become confusing to those trying to guess the word.
    There are words in the Bible with different meanings which can lead to some confusion.
    For example when the word “spirit” is used, is it referring to the Holy Spirit or our human spirit?
    When the “body of Christ” is used does it refer to His physical body or His spiritual body, the church?
    When “kingdom” is used, is it referring to the kingdom on earth, the church, or the kingdom in heaven.
    With many words like these, we depend on the context to let us know which meaning should be used.
    Context is always to be considered to get the proper meaning of any Scripture.
    The story is told of the man who decided to get up every morning and open the Bible and blindly place his finger on a scripture and accept that as what God wanted him to do that day.
    The first day he opened the bible and the Scripture his finger landed on said, “And Judas went out and hanged himself. He thought, “That can’t be right,” so he tried again and the next Scripture said, “Go and do likewise.” Again he thought he would try again, this time his finger landed on, “What you do, do it quickly.” Needless to say he decided that method would not work.
    May we always strive to get the meaning intended in the context of the Scriptures.
- 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

United Again

By David A. Sargent

    10 months.  That’s how long Dr. Anne Hampton was unable to see her father, Chris, age 87, face-to-face.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the The Steppes care home in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England where Chris resides, went on lock-down back in March, 2020.  Since then, Dr. Hampton has only been able to see her father through a window at the assisted living facility.  On January 1, 2021, however, Dr. Hampton was able to see her father up close, even if it was through the shield of a PPE (personal protective equipment) uniform.
    Dr. Hampton jumped at the opportunity to join a medical team in administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the residents in The Steppes care home.  "When I realized we would be vaccinating The Steppes care home, I just thought this would be an amazing opportunity to take part in the vaccination program — and also to be able to get to see dad in a safe way," Hampton said.
    On January 1, Dr. Hampton, adorned in her PPE, went to The Steppes care home to administer the vaccine to 22 patients.  The first one she inoculated was her father.
    “Hello Dad, I’ve come to give you your vaccination today, to stop the virus,” Hampton said in a tender moment caught on camera.  Hampton later explained, “He didn’t recognize me at first in all of my PPE but it's been lovely to see him, just briefly, and start him being protected.”
    Hampton and all the world is hopeful that the vaccine will help defeat this dreaded virus that has kept us separated from our loved ones.  We long to see and to be with our loved ones, face-to-face in the same room, with no masks or barriers between us.
    Separated.  That word speaks to a painful reality.  It is a word that describes what our sins do to our relationship with God.  Isaiah the prophet told the people of Judah: “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).  Because of our sins, we are separated from God and doomed.
    But God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).  Through Jesus, we can be saved from our sins and reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
    God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin 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).  The atoning blood that Jesus shed in His death will not inoculate us from sin, but it will keep us cleansed and in fellowship with God as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
    What a glorious reality with eternal blessings: we don’t have to be separated from God anymore!  We can enjoy relationship, fellowship, and union with God – all because He loves us so much that He made reconciliation possible through the gift of His Son.
    Won’t YOU accept His offer of reconciliation?
- 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:

* Information gleaned from “Doctor gives dad COVID-19 vaccine after 10 months apart” by Janine Puhak,

Just Trust

By Edd Sterchi

To help your hopes
  From turning to dust,
To aid your plans
  From gathering rust,
To keep your dreams,
  From going bust,
 The simple plan is:
  You just must trust. 
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Devil's Schemes

By Ron Adams

Stop signs don’t stop cars–people still fail to stop.
Laws don’t stop crime–people still commit crimes.
God’s commandments don’t stop sin–people still sin.

When something is prohibited by law or command it doesn’t prevent someone from doing it. Road signs only regulate traffic. Laws against an activity only state that it is against the law to do it. God’s prohibitions only state what is forbidden. The “teeth” in a law or a command is in the punishment (consequence).

The tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden was easily accessible. There was no fence or wall around it. No locked gate. Adam and Eve had the ability and opportunity to eat it’s fruit at any time. God’s command did not keep them from eating the fruit of that tree.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

SERPENT SAID The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die. For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

Deny the consequence. Won’t die.
(Plant the seed of doubt.)

Promote the benefits. Will gain knowledge, be like God.(Plant the seed of desire.) Question God’s motive. Why?
(Plant the seed of distrust.)

First – Doubt the consequences. (Doubt either the possibility or the severity.)
DEFENSE: Don’t doubt or question the awesome power of God.

Second – Consider the benefits. (Savor the thought of having or doing.)
DEFENSE: Look past it and focus on the consequences that will surely follow.

Third – Question the reason for the prohibition. (Why is it prohibited?)
DEFENSE: Realize your wisdom is limited; trust God’s infinite wisdom.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.1 John 5:3

God’s commands are given for our benefit: 
(1) to lead us in the right direction and, 
(2) to keep us from harm.
- Ron Adams publishes F.Y.C., a monthly publication. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2021

Servants of the Word

By Joe Chesser

    There’s an interesting phrase in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. Though many others had undertaken it before, it was Luke’s goal, guided by the Holy Spirit, to write an account of the “things that have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1.1), meaning a carefully researched and orderly account of the story of Jesus (Luke 1.3). Where do you begin such a project? Luke began with the first eyewitnesses of Jesus (Luke 1.2). These eyewitnesses were “from the beginning” (ESV) or “from the first” (NIV) and handed down the details of Jesus’ life.
    But in addition to that, Luke also describes these eyewitnesses as “servants of the word” (Luke 1.2). That’s the phrase I find intriguing. No doubt there were many eyewitnesses of Jesus. Most of what Jesus did was out in the open for all to see and hear. But, as we know, not many became “servants of the word.” Some followed Jesus to be healed; some followed him to be fed; some followed him out of curiosity; others followed him to find fault. As John would write, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1.11). So, not all who followed and listened to Jesus would be reliable resources on which to base an “orderly account” of Jesus’ life.
    What does it mean to be a “servant of the word”? As we mull that over a bit there are some things that come to mind. Servants of the word are not passive about the message of Jesus, the Word. They are not hearers only (James 1.22). Instead, they listen intently to the word of God, and continue to study it. They are passionate learners and doers. They are not forgetful hearers, but actively, purposefully and wisely put it into practice (James 1.25; Matthew 7.24-27). From a human standpoint, for Luke be as accurate as possible about the story of Jesus he needed to hear the eyewitness accounts of those who were serious about Jesus and his message. So serious about his words that they were called “servants of the word.”
    Today’s world desperately needs to hear from “servants of the word.” We cannot give eyewitnesses accounts of Jesus, but we can be just as serious about what he said as were the Apostles and others who went everywhere “preaching the word” (Acts 8.4). Today’s world is just as spiritually lost as the 1st century world was. Today’s world is just as religiously confused as was the 1st century world. Today’s world needs to hear the pure gospel message as did the 1st century world. Today’s world desperately needs you and me to be “servants of the word” so they can see and hear about Jesus.
    The challenge is before us. Let’s be more than daily Bible readers, as important as that is. Let’s be more that students who sit in churches listening to teachers and preachers, as important as that is. Let’s resolve to be “servants of the word.”
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Monday, January 18, 2021

If the Devil Had a Social Media Account

By Adam Faughn

    Just a few years ago, we never could have imagined having such a resource as social media. Although email was a big deal, the reach and impact of such sites as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is nothing short of remarkable. None of these sites is good or bad in themselves, but how they are used decides the proper use of them.
    Knowing this I just wonder how it would look if our enemy, the devil (1 Peter 5:8), opened an account. I wonder what would populate his social media feed. Here are some possible things he might share with the world:
  • I imagine he would share things that might not be true but that simply prove his point. After all, he is the father of lies (John 8:44), so why would it matter if what he shared wasn't "fully" true?
  • I imagine he would share things that made people think less of each other instead of things that built others up. He might even do so through subtle or innocent-sounding comments, so as not to be obvious in what he is trying to do.
  • I imagine he would find it helpful to chime in on virtually every big event, news story and movement, trying to make sure people know how right he was and how he always looks so righteous. That way, people would be drawn to him as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
  • I imagine he would share things that promote shows, movies, music, books, and games that aren't "that bad" but that contain some level of questionable morality. After all, if he can tempt us with just something little and get us hooked with the plotline or cool characters or great beat, he can slip in a little darker material soon enough (and, who knows, maybe we will even promote it ourselves).
  • I imagine he would share things that constantly show how awful the world is, so we would distrust virtually anyone who is not just like me. And he would consider it a bonus if he could get Christians to distrust each other because then they will not work together to save souls. They would be too busy arguing among themselves about politics or economic matters or other news items for all the world to see.
  • I imagine he would share things that are snarky, sarcastic, and cutting, just to see if he can get under people's skin, especially if it is over an issue that is multifaceted. However much he can get people to not think and, instead, just react, his job gets far easier. And, if they react with other cutting and sarcastic comments, it becomes even easier.
  • I imagine he would share things that, in the long run, do not matter. After all, he does not have to get Christians to hold sinful positions; he just has to keep them distracted from their real work of preaching the Gospel to the whole world.
    I do not follow the devil on social media, but I do have my own personal accounts. Have I, in the things I share and the way I interact, given my enemy a voice to do his work through my social media?

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." (Proverbs 10:19)
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer

By Joe Slater

    Obeying the gospel doesn’t make you immune from temptation. The case of Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer clearly illustrates the life-long tug-of-war between sin and righteousness, pride and humility, faithfulness and disloyalty.
    All we know about Simon from Scripture comes from Acts 8:9-24. Before hearing the gospel from Philip, Simon practiced sorcery (literally “magic” – not cute tricks like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but occult magic). Simon proudly claimed to be someone great, and the astonished people of Samaria proclaimed that he was “the great power of God” (8:10).
    When Simon saw Philip performing real miracles, he grasped the difference between true miracles and the fraudulent ones he had used to deceive people. Having heard Philip preaching the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, Simon humbled himself enough to believe and submit to baptism (immersion) (Acts 8:13).
    Satan wasn’t finished with Simon, though. When the apostles Peter and John came, Simon saw them laying their hands on the new Christians to impart supernatural gifts. He offered the apostles money if they would enable him to give miraculous gifts through the laying on of his own hands (8:18-19). His prideful craving to be seen as someone great had returned!
    Peter rebuked Simon, telling him to repent and pray for forgiveness (8:20-22). Note that he didn’t tell him to be immersed for the remission of sins again; nor did he tell him that he had never been saved in the first place. Simon humbled himself and pleaded with Peter to pray for him (8:24).
    We aren’t immune from temptation. When we yield to it, then we, like Simon, must repent and pray.
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Blessings and COVID-19

By Joseph D. Chase

    These days seem filled with trouble. Job said, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). We have seen COVID-19 take the lives and good health away from loved ones and friends. Many homes and much property were destroyed by wildfires. We have seen cities across our nation ravaged by violence. We have even witnessed the hallowed halls of our nations capital building attacked by rioters. These things have not been seen in our country in our lifetimes.
    Many people are saying that our world is coming to and end and the Day of Judgment is soon to come. I don’t know if that is true because the Bible says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Certainly, we all should be using these dreary and unsettling days to warn men of the day when the Lord will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31).
    However, don’t let your heart be troubled for, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). God knows how to rescue the godly from trials (2 Peter 2:9). Jesus still loves us and is providing His grace to all who will come to Him. It is time for us all to lean fully upon our faith in the Lord, that in every hardship there is a blessing. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
    Let us all lift our heads, hearts and voices in that old hymn by J.P. Webster,

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

And let us pray as the Psalmist did,
Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. (Psalm 90:13-15).
- Joseph D. Chase serves the North Loop Church of Christ in Gladewater, TX. He may be contacted through their website:

Longing for Home

By Joe Chesser

    Longing for home. We all know the feeling. We plan a vacation for months, excitedly detailing each day’s activities. We can’t sleep the night before we leave because we are so anxious to get started. We are having a wonderful time, but invariably somewhere along the way our thoughts begin to turn toward home. Vacations are fun, but it’s not home. It’s nice to go camping or stay in a hotel on the beach, but it’s not home. How often have you said and heard, “It’s great to get away, but it’s sure good to be back home.” Why? Because home is where we belong, where life is most genuine and fulfilling.
    It’s great to have company over the holidays. It’s great to have family visit for several days. But I’ve often thought, “It was sure great to see them come, but it’s also great to see them go.” Why? Longing for home as it is meant to be.
    I believe the Apostle Paul might have been in that frame of mind when he wrote 2 Corinthians 5. In a sense, our life on earth can be compared to going on a vacation. We live in temporary housing. There is much to do, much to experience and enjoy, but it’s not like being home. The older we get, the nearer we come to ending our vacation here on earth, the more we long for home. At least that’s the way Paul describes it for Christians.
    In 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 Paul speaks of life as being in an “earthly tent.” Yet, while in this tent, we “long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.” ... “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” ... “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
    Sometimes we are enjoying our vacation so much that we don’t want to go home. We don’t even want to think of home. Instead, we long to stay another day or week. We may even wish for our vacation to be permanent. That’s what Satan is wanting us to believe about vacation here on earth. He wants us to long for a few more days here more than longing to be at home with the Lord.
    That’s why we are to walk by faith, not by sight. Do you “prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord”? Does your faith allow you to see that the heavenly dwelling is so much better than this present tent? Are you longing for home? Then make it your goal to be pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 5:9).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

The Family Name You Carry

By Ron Thomas

    Ephesians 1:3-14 is one sentence in the Greek New Testament (as the New English Translation Bible study note tells us). Thus, trying to get a handle on understanding is not always easy. Through the years I have worked on trying to summarize Paul’s point. I think I have something that may be helpful (I hope anyway). Paul wrote his letter to the saints (Christians) in Ephesus. He reminded them of their privileged status because of God’s grace. Consequently, they are to remember this.
    In summary, here is what they are to remember: Since all (1) spiritual blessings are in Christ, we are reminded by Paul that those who are in Christ (2) are chosen to be holy and blameless. This mean that each Christian is to make a concerted effort to live after the pattern of Christ (Gal. 2:20). This does not allow us to “go to church” and be a part of the congregation and do whatever it is we want to do that is not patterned after Christ. There are way too many people who are Christian in name but not in the way they choose to live life (cf. Luke 6:46). Because we are in Christ and are chosen to be holy and blameless, the Lord (3) adopted us as His children, which brings responsibilities with the family name we carry. If a family member soils (desecrates) your family name, how do you respond to this? With resignation? The Lord doesn’t. It was Peter who wrote, “...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). Remember your name.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

Monday, January 11, 2021

BulletinGold on Facebook

BulletinGold has undergone some changes with the start of 2021. With the close of YahooGroups the newsletter can not be sent out via e-mail. So please bookmark this page and check back at the first of each month to see the most recent newsletter. And you might want to check back more frequently as I plan to post five new entries each Monday.
Also, I have set up a BulletinGold Facebook page where new items will be posted on a weekly basis. As part of the Facebook page I have started a BulletinGold Facebook Group were the full monthly newsletter will also be posted. You can join this group and not miss a single issue.

The Most Valuable Book

By David A. Sargen
    Paul Batura has a friend named Ben that owns a bookstore in Colorado Springs.  The bookstore, which features used books, is called 2 Buck Books.
    Explaining to Batura where he obtained the books in his shop, Ben said, “All of these things come from the boxes of books people bring in — you’d be amazed what you find.”
    “Ever find anything really valuable?” Batura asked him.
    “My old colleague, Sandy, once took in a big box of books, most likely from an estate sale.  It contained a Bible,” Ben replied.
    “A valuable Bible?” Batura asked.
    “Once she opened it up, she realized it was hollowed out — and it contained $2,000.”
    “I think Sandy tried to find out the owner, but never did,” Ben added.
    Reflecting on his conversation with Ben, Batura wrote: “I’ve been thinking about the person who brought those books to Ben’s store, never realizing that the Bible had $2,000 in cash inside — because he or she never bothered to even crack the cover of the most powerful and most important book ever written.  A book that has changed countless lives for the better.”*
    The Bible is “the most powerful and most important book ever written” because it is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Through His Word, God reveals Who He is, what He has done and will do, and what He expects of us.  In the Bible we learn of God’s great power and His great love.  We learn that God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24).  God’s Word teaches us that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
    John Fawcett wrote these lyrics in 1782 extolling the value of God’s Word:

How precious is the Book Divine,
By inspiration given!
Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine
To guide our souls to heaven.

It's light, descending from above
Our gloomy world to cheer,
Displays a Savior's boundless love
And brings his glories near.

It shows to man his wandering ways
And where his feet have trod,
And brings to view the matchless grace
Of a forgiving God.

This lamp through all the tedious night
Of life shall guide our way
Till we behold the clearer light
Of an eternal day.

    God’s Word teaches us that He will save those who place their faith and trust in Christ (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin 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 1:7-9).
    Paul Batura has a great recommendation: “So if you have a Bible in your house, open it up. You might just be surprised what you find inside. And you might never be the same afterward.”
- 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:

* Information gleaned from “An old Bible held a shocking surprise that turned out to be an enriching experience” by Paul Batura,

The Pursuit of Happiness

By Edd Sterchi

When I lay my head at the end of the day
Having pursued self and selfish play
My mind is restless and preoccupied
And my heart’s uneasy and ungratified.

When I rest my head at the end of the day
Having helped another push burdens away
My mind is content and satisfied
And my heart is happy and fortified.

So as we go about our busy day
Interacting with others along the way
It may seem strange, but take note of this gem
True happiness stems on what we do for them.
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Anger (#1)

By Joe Slater

    We usually think of anger as a bad thing. Would it surprise you to know that when Scripture speaks of anger, wrath, and the like, it usually refers to God? So anger isn’t necessarily sinful. In fact, Paul quoted Psalm 4:4, “‘Be angry and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”
    While it’s possible for us to be angry without sinning, let’s be honest – that doesn’t happen often. Our anger, unlike God’s, is usually unjustified and involves us in sin. A few questions will help us determine whether our anger is righteous or not.
    The first question may be the most complex of all: “Why are you angry?” God asked this very question of Cain in Genesis 4:6. By reading the first five verses of that chapter, we can summarize the reason for Cain’s anger in one word: ENVY! His brother, Abel, had been accepted by God after offering a sacrifice by obedient faith. But the Lord rejected Cain and his self-willed offering. So Abel had something Cain didn’t have: God’s approval. Cain demonstrated the childish attitude, “If I can’t have it, nobody can have it!” So envy, itself a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:21), produced its evil fruit, anger.
    Is there ever a good reason for anger? Throughout Scripture, God’s anger resulted when people didn’t’ respect and obey His word. Jesus became angry when God’s Temple was defiled and God’s people abused. In the same way, sin (including our own) ought to make us angry. When God’s word is held up to ridicule, when sin is flaunted, when innocent people are abused, we ought to become angry – yes, angry enough to take steps to correct the situation. And that leads to the next question which we’ll cover next week!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Anger (#2)

By Joe Slater

    Anger isn’t necessarily sinful. Jesus Himself became angry, but always with legitimate reason. For example, the hard hearts of His critics drew his anger in Mark 3:5. Asking, “Why am I angry?” helps me to determine whether my anger is righteous or sinful.
    Another question to ask is: “What fruit comes from my anger?” When Cain became angry (Genesis 4:1-8), he ended up murdering his brother! In Ephesus, the Diana-worshipers were “full of wrath” because Paul taught against idolatry (Acts 19:23-34). They rioted two solid hours!
    Jonah the prophet became angry when the Lord didn’t destroy Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. He became even angrier when the plant that had been shading him withered. So he sat outside the city and pouted like a child! (See Jonah 4:1-8.)
    In Jesus’ parable of the lost son, the older brother became angry when the father celebrated the lost son’s return. He complained bitterly and refused to join in the festivities! (See Luke 15:28-30.)
    By contrast, Jesus’ anger produced good fruit. On both occasions when He cleansed the temple and drove out the money-changers and merchants, who can deny His anger? But He vindicated the holiness of the temple. Likewise when He denounced the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23), He was doing exactly what was needed! They deserved the scolding, and those who witnessed it learned about righteous indignation.
    Christians, above all others, ought to be outraged at ungodly behavior (abortion, racism, pornography, and others). That involves not only feelings, but appropriate actions to effect positive changes.
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Anger (#3)

By Joe Slater

    Anger can be righteous or sinful. How can you tell the difference? Thus far we’ve asked, “Why are you angry?” and, “What fruit comes from your anger?” Now consider a third question: “How quickly are you angry?
    Wise Solomon wrote, “He who is quick-tempered acts foolishly” (Proverbs 14:17). The same author said, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
    In stark contrast David wrote, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). And James 1:19-20 admonishes us in “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
    A short temper is no laughing matter! One may pass it off, saying, “Yes, I blow up, but I calm right back down.” Perhaps so, but the same is true of a stick of dynamite! And the damage from the explosion remains.
    Finally, we should ask, “How long to you stay angry?” Quoting David in Psalm 4:4, Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27, “‘Be angry, and do not sin;’ do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” A grudge harms no one but the person holding it. Harboring ill will serves Satan’s purposes shows a lack of trust in God. Rather than follow such a destructive course, let’s heed David’s counsel as his psalm continues, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous, and put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:4b-5).
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:           

Monday, January 4, 2021

Coping in 2021

By Ronald Bartanen
    What will we be facing in this new  year? Will it be a year of good health, or of illness? Will there be a stabilizing economy or a stock-market crash?  Will there be an increase of unity as a nation or an increase of chaos, looting, burning and physical violence? As individuals, will we learn to cope with life’s illnesses and failures or will we collapse under the stresses of life? We don’t know all the answers to the situations we must face.  As our fears mount up, it becomes more and more difficult to cope.
    Even those who are people of faith find it difficult to face personal, national and global problems confidently.  We need daily to be reminded of the words of Jesus: “In this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world” (John 1`6:33).
    Our ability to cope begins with faith in Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). Is your trust in Him who died for you, and was raised again? Have you, in faith, repented of sins, confessed faith in Christ, and been baptized?  (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). Are you faithfully following Him? (Revelation 2:1`0) When united to Him who died for us, we are encouraged and strengthened by His Spirit to cope with the problems of life, and to rejoice in the new life He has promised those who follow Him.
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Following the Pattern in the New Year

By Joe Slater

What do you suppose God’s people were doing on  New Year’s Day roughly 3500 years ago? Would you  believe they were putting up the tabernacle?
“On the  first day of the first month, you shall set up the  tabernacle of the tent of meeting” (Exodus 40:1). “And  it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on  the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was raised  up” (40:17).
Earlier in Exodus (chapters 25-31) God had given  Moses explicit and detailed instructions about the  tabernacle and all of its furnishings, beginning with this  exhortation:
“According to all that I show you, that is,  the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its  furnishings, just so shall you make it” (25:9). The Lord  repeated this command several times as He specified the  dimensions, materials, design, etc., of the tabernacle and  its furnishings. “And see to it that you make them  according to the pattern which was shown you on the  mountain” (25:40). “And you shall raise up the  tabernacle according to its pattern which you were  shown on the mountain” (26:30). “As it was shown you  on the mountain, so shall they make it” (27:8).
Moses and the Israelites took God seriously!
“Thus  Moses did; according to all that the Lord had  commanded him, so he did” (Exodus 40:16).
The tabernacle and things associated with it were a  shadow of the better things Jesus Christ established in  the New Covenant. The Hebrews writer taught that we  ought to be even more diligent to be faithful in the New  Covenant than Moses and the Israelites were in the Old  Covenant (Hebrews 2:1-4; 10:28-31).
In this new year, let us renew our determination to  follow God’s pattern set forth in the New Testament!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

New Year Predictions That Will Come True

By Bill Brandstatter

    It’s time again to reflect. We are all reflecting on 2020 and hoping for much better in 2021. With the distribution of a COVID 19 vaccine, hopefully, there will be some degree of normalcy restored in 2021. Christmas is over and the New Year is here. We will hear a lot of reflections about 2020 in the coming weeks. Already, I have heard about movie or television stars we have lost in the past year. I am sure that in coming weeks there will be lists of the best and the worst of the past year. I would like to make some predictions for the New Year. These predictions are based on the ever-changing cycles of events. All these will come true at some point this new year.
    There will be a lot of births and deaths in 2021. Solomon wrote about this and stated that there is ...“a time to be born and a time to die...” in Eccl. 3:2. One estimate is that there are 255 babies born every minute in our world. They, of course, will all be beautiful babies. Likewise, there will be people who die in 2021. This is something that has happened from the dawn of time. We don’t know the day or hour of our death; but all of us will one day die. (Heb. 9:27) The time for many will come in the New Year. If we are prepared, we need not fear death; but remember that it is like sleep and we wake up in another place (Jn. 11:11-15).
    Change will come in the New Year. Just the fact that it is a new year means change. We will be another year older. There will be changes in our government. We will apparently have a new President and Vice President. We might change jobs or locations. We might decide to retire. Everyone will face some change in life. The only thing certain about life is that change will come. Christians look for that change that will be out of this world. (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
    There will be weather-related problems before 2021 is over. So far during our winter season we have felt the brunt of cold weather. Some areas have experienced snow and bad travel conditions. The Psalms record for us that “He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes” (Psa. 147:16). Some areas of our country and the world will get snowfall in 2021. When they do, we are reminded that even though our sins are as scarlet, they can be white as snow. (Isa. 1:18) God can wash away our sins and make us pure and white as snow.
     God will still love us in 2021. God loves the world. He wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Unfortunately, not all the world loves God. Let us think back on 2020 and the ways in which God showed His love for us. Even in the midst of the pandemic, God was there. Let us remember the ways He blessed us and the ways He continues to do so. Let us remember the words of the Hebrews writer, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
    He sent His Son to die for us. All that obey His son will have a hope of seeing God one day. Let’s be faithful to Him and we’ll receive a crown (Rev. 2:10). We will then be ready for whatever the New Year brings.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Crises Reveal Our Character

By Joe Chesser
    What would you do if you were fired from your job and put in prison because your employer's wife told horrible lies about you?
     What would you do if you had run for your life because you helped defend a neighbor from an injustice?
     What would you do if you were offered something you greatly desired but knew was illegal and life-threatening to obtain?
     What would you do if suddenly you discovered that all that you had believed in the past was not true, and instead of serving God you were actually fighting Him?
     What would you do if you were offered a considerable amount of money to betray a friend?
     What would you do if you found out that the woman to whom you were engaged became pregnant before the wedding, and you knew it wasn’t your child?
     These are not hypothetical questions.  They really happened, and the answers to these questions reveal the type of character each person possessed at the time the crisis occurred.  You can probably identify each of the people in the above scenarios: Joseph (Jacob’s son), Moses, Eve, Paul, Judas, and Joseph (and Mary).  Some of them faced the crisis with faith and resolve, and withstood the challenge.  Others failed.  But what these examples teach us is that when crises occur, our character will be revealed.
     All of us have faced and will continue to face many challenges in our lives.  They may be strong temptations; they may be difficult choices; they may be heart-breaking health issues.  And many of our crises are not personally our own – they may involve our spouse, parents, children, family or friends.  Still, they are heavy burdens.
     As we reflect back on 2020, it’s easy to see that there were countless crises that shaped, molded and revealed our character. Not much we can do about them now except to determine that in 2021 we will learn from our mistakes and enhance our strengths.
     How we handle crises reveals who we really are.  It also reveals how we have prepared for the inevitable challenges.  We may not know exactly the kind of crises that may be coming in 2021, but they will come.  How we prepare today for them will determine how these crises affect us.  Roy Disney once said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”  Our three basic optional responses to crises are: 1) Joseph was able to overcome the crisis with Potiphar’s wife because he had already established his values, even as a teenager; 2) Moses overcame a poor decision by developing spiritually while in the wilderness; 3) Judas allowed his crisis to destroy him.
     What will 2021 reveal about your character?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Removing Our Debt

By Adam Faughn

    This time of year, we often run across stories of people doing good deeds for others. They are heart-warming and remind us that there are still plenty of good people in our world.
    One such story happened in Bristol, Tennessee, just a few days ago. Customers at a local Wal-Mart started receiving emails that confused them. The emails were from the store, informing them that their layaway balances stood at "zero." It turns out, a person who only wanted to be identified as a "secret Santa" had gone into the store very early that morning and paid off every cent of all layaway balances at the store, a sum that was less than $5 short of $65,000.
    It took a few customers some convincing to believe it. Still, everything they owed on those items had been wiped clean, and there is no residual debt--no further obligation--due to the generosity of this one who chose to remain anonymous. It is a reminder of the power of generosity, and we can only imagine the freedom they felt in knowing that debt was no longer staring them in the face.
    As wonderful as it would be to have a monetary debt simply wiped clean, that pales in comparison to what Jesus did when He died on the cross. The effect of what our Lord did is more far-reaching in its scope because He died for all people everywhere, and it is more impactful in its duration because His sacrifice is for all time.
    To the faithful who had lived in Old Testament times, Jesus took their debt of sin out of the way. No-tice, though, how Paul describes what Jesus did: "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14). He canceled the debt!
    And, for those of us who live after the cross, Jesus's blood stands ready to do the same thing. It is why the New Testament pictures baptism as a "washing away" of sins (cf. Acts 22:16) and why those who are Christians have the promise of the blood of Jesus cleansing them of all their sin (1 John 1:7). The debt is taken away because Jesus paid the price.
    Some people struggle with the idea that Jesus could forgive them. They realize the seriousness of what they have done, and they struggle to believe that Jesus has truly and fully relieved them of the debt they owe. But God is faithful, and His promise is true, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul would add that he is the foremost of sinners, which reminds us that Je-sus' salvation is not limited by the "size" of our debt or the seriousness of what we have done. Because of His loving and gracious nature, He will wipe all our sinful debt clean if we will just come to Him on His terms.
    We often sing, "He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay." Those simple words ex-press one of the most profound thoughts we could ever consider: that the words are true for every per-son who has ever lived. Anyone has the potential to sing those words because He stands ready to for-give each and every sinful debt! The only question is if we can truthfully sing lyrics found later in that same song: "I now can sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace." Only those who have allowed Jesus to pay off their debt by coming to Him on His terms can rightfully sing those words. Can you?
"He paid that debt at Calvary,
He cleansed my soul and set me free,
I'm glad that Jesus did all my sins erase." (Unknown)

"For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

Friday, January 1, 2021

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Accomplishing Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Edd Sterchi

    What New Year’s resolutions have you made? Most will have made ones that were designed to make their lives or the lives around them better. Such resolutions may include: losing weight, stopping a bad habit, exercising more, becoming more organized, or having a better attitude. Now, I’m not going to be sarcastic like the man who made the New Year’s toast, “May your troubles be as short lived as your resolutions!” I sincerely hope you succeed in every resolution you make (that is within the Lord’s will, of course).
    So how are you going to get your resolutions accomplished? Hebrews 12:1-2 can give us a lot of encouragement and help along that line. Even though the true context of the passage is ridding our lives of sin and striving toward heaven, we can make application to accomplishing worthy earthly goals, as well.
* “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” - Involve others. There are many in your life who can motivate and encourage you. Look to the example of those who have already completed what you are trying to accomplish.
* “let us lay aside every weight” - Get rid of all the obstacles that are hindering success. There are plenty of ways to fail, and the world will make sure to bring them all out. To succeed, all obstacles must be avoided or overcome. * “and let us run” - Exercise yourself in a specific plan of action to complete the goal. Accomplishing goals is often a matter of each of us being determined to run - then running.
* “with endurance” - You need to be persistent in accomplishing your resolutions. You can’t give up, even though there may be setbacks. If you stumble, get back on your feet and get running again.
* “looking unto Jesus” - Keep your eyes upon Jesus who overcame earthly obstacles, completed God’s plan, persisted, and made it back to heaven. Remember what all He went through and how what you are trying to do is much less demanding and that you can do it.
    Henry Ward Beecher once said: “We have passed through one more year. One more long stage in the journey of life, with its ascents and descents and dust and mud and rocks and thorns and burdens that wear the shoulders, is done. The old year is dead. Roll it away. Let it go.” May I only add, “let it go, and let’s go on to greater things in 2021.” 
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A God Who Makes All Things New

By Al Behel

Behold, I make all things new …” (Revelation 21:5)
     I like new things, don’t you? Being the fifth boy in my family I got lots of hand-me-downs. Big families tended to recycle everything. Occasionally, though, I would get new clothes and new shoes, and I felt really proud. I couldn’t wait to wear them.
     Scripture tells us that God makes all things new. No more remodeling or repairing the old stuff. No hand-me-downs. He gives us a new start, a new creation, and a new future. With sins forgiven we have a whole new potential.
     The old man with his limitations is replaced with a new man who shares a new nature.
     I like New Years. They let me look back and look forward at the same time. I can assess what I need to discard and leave behind. I can look forward to new beginnings and new opportunities. I can be free from past mistakes and accept new grace.

“A New Year, A New Beginning”

The old year ends, a new begins
With pages clean and new;
And what is written on each page
Will now depend on you.
You can’t relive the year that’s past,
Erasing every wrong;
For once a year, or day, is spent
It is forever gone.
But don’t give up in dark despair
If you have failed some test;
Seek God’s forgiveness and resolve
Henceforth to do your best.

Resolve each precious day to do
Things good and kind and pure;
Though days and years may pass away,
These things shall still endure.
You know not where your path may lead
Nor what’s beyond the hill;
But know that God walks by your side,
If you will do His will.
All things are possible with God,
Though days be bright or dim;
So do your best and know that you
Can leave the rest to Him.
                                    —Author Unknown
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Silence of the Season

By Bill Brandstatter

    One of the things I noticed most about the season that has just past is the silence. After the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, there is a great silence on day one of the new year. I often drive around town and look at stores closed and parking lots empty on Christmas Day. The silence is deafening.  One day a year everything stops for a while. Have you ever thought about silence regarding our approach to God? The Bible says, “Be still and know…” (Ps. 46:10)
    Be still and know that God exists. I was talking to a man at a recent Bible study and he told me how he really likes mornings. He said it was the time he took to pray and reflect on the things God has made. I am reminded of what Jeremiah wrote in the book of Lamentations: “Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (3:22, 23) In the 19th Psalm, David indicates to us that nature tells us of the wonder and beauty of God. (Psa. 19:1-4)
    Be still and know that God loves you. Sometimes we are so busy with our lives we forget one of the most important aspects of our lives…that is, that God loves us. We really don’t understand the love of God like we should. We often equate love with a feeling or a desire; but love is more than that. God’s love transcends both. Jesus stated that God “so loved the world…” (John 3:16). He demonstrated His love for us (Rom. 5:8). That love should be what compels and motivates us in all that we do in life. (Rom. 5:8)
    Be still and know that God can forgive us. This past year we might have messed up. Maybe we did some things we shouldn’t have. Perhaps we got into situations that resulted in problems in our lives. It could be that we were involved is some event that we should have avoided. God can forgive us if we seek and obey Him.  Jesus shed His blood so that our sins could be forgiven. (Mt. 26:28) We contact that blood when we are baptized into Christ. (Rom. 6:3) After that, through repentance, confession and prayer we can continually have our sins forgiven. (Acts 8:32; 1 John 1:9) God forgives us and we can rest assured His forgiveness is complete and thorough.
    In the hustle and bustle of our lives we need to stop and have some quiet time with God. Be still and know and see the great things about God that often get overlook in our chaotic lives.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

True Love

By Joe Chesser

    The Impressive Clergyman, in the movie The Princess Bride, began the wedding ceremony of Prince Humperdinck and Princess Buttercup with the classic words, “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”
    It’s appropriate while we are surrounded by Valentine’s Day cards, candy, flowers and gifts to be reminded of love.  And it’s certainly true that “Love, true love, will follow you forever. So treasure your love.”  But regardless of the money spent on trying to express your “true love,” a dinner at a nice restaurant, a box of candy, and a few flowers with a card do not really define “true love.”  I’m not saying that those things aren’t nice and very much appreciated. I’m saying that “true love” is not something you can buy at WalMart or Ruth’s Chris.  “True love” is expensive, but no amount of money can substitute for it or adequately express it.
    The greatest definition of “true love” is found in John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” and “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”  It’s clear how God defined “true love”: when you love others with your whole heart you hold nothing back that is good for them … nothing.
    That’s how God’s heart views “true love.”  And that’s exactly how God wants us to give “true love.”  The last part of 1 John 3:16 says, “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”  God wants us to not only learn from him what “true love” is, he wants us to imitate his love for us in our relationships with others!  John continued this thought in 1 John 4:11 by writing, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  Such love certainly includes cards and candy and flowers, but those things will never define “true love.”
    A more extensive definition of “true love” is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
    When defined this way, the Impressive Clergyman was on target when he said, “And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”
    Treasure “true love” from God to you, and through you to others.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

Note: The 4th Sunday of February each year is National Princess Bride Day.