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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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A Publishing Church

The CEO of a big company was scheduled to speak at an important convention, so he asked one of his employees, Jenkins, to write him a punchy, 15-minute speech. When the CEO returned from the big event, he was furious. "What's the idea of writing me an hour-long speech?" he barked. "Half the audience walked out before I finished." Jenkins was baffled. "I wrote you a 15-minute speech just like you asked," he replied. "I also gave you the three extra copies you asked for." Our world is saturated with words and messages – and much of it is a repeat of the same old worn out stuff from one day to the next. From the mindless and mundane to the urgent and earthshaking – people are talking, telling stories, and sending messages. We live in a wordy world awash in talk and messages and stories and news.

What can the church do in a world of non-stop talk? We, too, have a story that needs to be told! And retold. A "good-news" story. A Gospel story that never grows old. A hope-filled story so important and urgent that God wants it told to everybody everywhere. Jesus gave the church her mission statement and marching order in these familiar words – "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). The salvation of the world depends upon a church that is willing to talk! The world is more than willing to talk — by texting and twittering and e-mails and faxes and cards and calls and letters and facebook and youtube. And don't forget the "blogosphere" – that place out in cyberspace where anybody is free to say and write anything about everything anybody else has said or written! Also in this flood of words there is "talk TV" and radio where "talking heads" tell us what they think and try to convince us they are eminently and exclusively qualified to tell us what we ought to think about everything from athletics to politics. There is talk around the office water cooler and down at the diner, and there are magazines and newspapers and newsletters and advertisements. The talk is truly unending.

Two verses from Mark's account of the Gospel picture what the church ought to be doing. The first is Mark 1:45a. After Jesus healed a leper, Mark informs us the man "... went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter" (King James Version). The second is Mark 5:20 where, after Jesus had healed a man of the unclean Legion demons, the man went out and "began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him" (King James Version). Millions of messages are being preached and published. Thousands of groups have an agenda they are unashamed to proclaim, and endless energy and money is spent promoting and proclaiming their products and ideas and philosophies. Meanwhile, some in the church are quiet and shy, seemingly intimidated, more of a society of silent saints than a body of redeemed people determined to publish and blaze abroad what God has done for us. Jesus has put His church in the publishing business! What do you love to talk about most? The old, old story of Jesus and His love needs to burn in our hearts and be on our lips. Have you published that lately? Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ