The Wisdom of Socrates – The Story of the Three Sifters

Someone once asked the great philosopher Socrates, “Do you know what people say about you?”

Socrates replied, “Wait a minute. Filter everything you say through three sifters.”
Friend: “Three sifters?”
Socrates: “Yes. The first sifter is TRUTH. Are you SURE what you are about to tell me is the true?”
Friend: “No, I just heard it.”
Socrates: “Let’s try the second sifter – the sieve of GOOD. Do you want to tell me something good?”
Friend: “No, the opposite.”
Socrates: “Then let’s try the sifter of USEFULNESS. Do I really need to hear what you want to tell me?”
Friend: “No, it’s not necessary.”
Socrates: “Well then” he concluded, “What you are about to tell me is not good, true, or necessary. So why bother telling me it at all?”

There is a great deal of wisdom in that story. And in this one:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

You can read the rest of this chapter online at


markmagill_t2_5For impoverished families, a brood of chickens can become a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness, as their eggs provide nutritious food as well as a source of income. For $14.00, we can supply a dozen chicks, help a family set up a coop, or offer basic veterinary care. For the next two weeks, our church is gathering donations from those who are able to do so to donate $14.00 USD (or any amount) to help these families. If you’re coming to the church, there is a collection jar on the wall in the fellowship (main social area) hall. Jesus once said He longed to gather the people of Jerusalem “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” in (Matthew 23:27) and this can be as a daily reminder to the families that someone here on Earth also cares for them. At the rate chickens can multiply, just that one batch of chicks can provide a food and nutrition source for years. If you’d like to donate by mail, please send it to the address below. Thank you!  –Mark Magill

North Bend Church of Christ
2761 Broadway
North Bend, OR 97459 USA
Attn: Chick Fund Donation.   <— please be sure to put this note on the envelope

If you don’t live near here and would like to donate via PayPal, just contact me directly at and I will forward your donation to the church. Thank you.

Together As Friends – Part 3 – by Bryan Johnston

bryan-jpgNothing describes the relationship we have with Jesus better than the word friendship. We did not choose him, but he chose us (John. 15:16). As our Lord and Creator, he had the rightful power and authority to define our relationship with him. He did not call us his servants, but rather his
friends. He chose to be our friend. As a friend, he protects us from evil, prays for us, and even lays down his life for us. The question is will we choose to be his friend? Will we spend time with him in conversation? Will we do the things that bring glory to his name? Will we care enough to put his interests before our own?

When we choose to be his friend, we have the blessing of joining a body of believers on this journey. Our common faith joins us together in sweet accord. These lovely companions provide us avenues to express our love of God, with one another. I am reminded of the great friendship between David and Jonathan. “Jonathan become one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself” (1 Sam. 18:1). Jonathan proved his deep devotion to David by protecting David against the attacks from his own father Saul. Jonathan said to David, “if my father is inclined to harm you, may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely” (1 Sam. 20:13). This is a beautiful picture of the type of sacrificial love that the Lord has for us, and an example of the type of friendship we are blessed to have with fellow Christians.

“Lord thank you for calling us your friends. Help us to be a good friend to you in return. Father, thank you for the friendship of believers who have sacrificed their time, energy, and resources for me. Lord thank you for friends in the Lord who help me grow and who I am blessed to share life
with. Help us as your church to continue to build one another up. Help the world to see our love and by our love to want to know you.” AMEN

Bryan Johnston

Together As Friends, Part 2, by Bryan Johnston

bryan_t2When the Lord called his first disciples he said, “Come Follow Me.” Each one had to decide for himself to accept the invitation. Each follower soon joined a tribe of other followers. Can you imagine the close friendship that the first followers established with each other? The Lord knew that it would take a group of friends working together to lead the world into the kingdom of heaven. The task was too great to allow for failure. The Lord would not allow his church to be overcome by fear, doubt, or weakness. Alone each one would face defeat; but together as friends they encouraged each other in the work.

The Lord had given the land of Canaan to Moses and the Israelites. They were to accomplish the task of going into the land and possess it as a fulfillment of God’s promise.Moses sent in twelve spies to explore Canaan and bring back a report of the land and the people. Ten of the twelve came back terrified saying, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31). But Joshua and Caleb, stayed faithful by saying, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid” (Num. 14:9). Despite the doubt and fear of the ten, which led to the fear of the nation, Joshua and Caleb’s joint trust in the Lord kept the mission of God alive. I’m not sure if one of them could have stayed committed in the face of insurmountable opposition, but together they succeeded in carrying out the Lord’s plan.

“Lord thank you for giving us friends in this Christian life. Lord I am so thankful to have friends who are strong for me when I am weak. It is such a joy to have a community of believers to experience life with and to carry out the Lord’s work together. Lord I pray that we will seek true friendship with the body of believers here in this place. I pray that we will make room to add more friend relationships to our circles. Lord thank for calling us to be your friend, help us to be a good friend to you.”

Bryan Johnston

Together As Friends – Part 1 – by Bryan Johnston

bryan_t2A good friend is someone who will stand up for you when others try to knock you down. A true friend will deny every lie, refute every doubt, and reject every curse. A courageous companion will uphold the credibility of one’s true character and choices. In times of uncertainty, a friend in the Lord will testify before others your faith and obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A friend sticks by you during the transformation process of becoming more and more like Christ, and does not waver when one experiences ups and downs during the maturing process. A friend does not live in fear but holds firmly to the truth of the power of the Holy Spirit to bring full redemption and salvation in and through the life of the follower.

Without a doubt, Paul’s faith, life, and writings have had an overwhelming impact on the spread of the gospel. His presentation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ continues to be a model and tool for how the kingdom is taking root today. But let us not forget his good friend Barnabas. When people were afraid of the “new” Christian Paul, Barnabas defended Paul’s confession and conversion to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the believers feared accepting this persecutor of Christians, Barnabas testified how the Lord transformed him into a preacher of the gospel. “He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord spoke to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27). Barnabas was a good friend who stood up for Paul and had assurance in the redemptive work of Christ in Paul’s life.

“Praise the Lord for friends in the faith. Thank you for friends who stand with us in our faith, they love us even when we fail and when others have doubts about us. Thank you for friends who do not give up on us during the transformation process of the gospel working through us. Thank you for friends who will rescue us when we get off the right path. May we be as good of a friend as others have been to us.”

Bryan Johnston

“Tell Your Story” – by Bryan Johnston

Tell Your Story - by Bryan Johnston     Jesus died and rose again. This is the greatest event in the history of the world. There is no greater story than this story of Good News! I am blessed to be a part of the great story of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like Mary the mother of Jesus, my humble response is “I am the Lord’s Servant.” I have faith in the assurance of the resurrection. I have hope that Lord will return. I have confidence in God’s power to save. And I have freedom to live by the redeeming blood of Jesus.

   We are blessed to be back in North Bend to serve as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were in North Bend from 2001-2007, serving the Church of Christ as Youth Minister. We have spent the last nine years in Oklahoma serving the church in Weatherford, OK as Youth and Family Minister. We have been called by God to return to serve the church and community here once again. We are blessed to be back in the beautiful North West. I hope to get to know the church and community well and to be able to share my story and the greatest story of Jesus with you.

     I invite all members to share your stories of how you came to faith, what keeps in the faith, and what your hopes and dreams are for your future as a follow of Christ. Tell you stories to your families, your friends, and your neighbors. Please come and share your life and stories together with me. I look forward to sharing my stories with you.

Bryan Johnston, minister, North Bend Oregon USA Church of Christ


Time to Go – by Norm Russell

"Time To Go" - Norm's Last Minute MessageIt is difficult at times to know when it is time to go. There have been CEOs who have hung on when it was obvious that their talent for that particular company has run its course. Middle managers are often caught in a squeeze between down sizing and expediency. Even preachers sometimes have difficulty knowing when their time has come.

My time has come and I cannot be more at peace with that. For several months I prayed that God would bless this church I have served with what would be best. He has answered that prayer and I am confident that the future will be an exciting time. The new preacher, Bryan Johnston, [began his work here] Sunday September 18th. He and his wife Leah are no strangers to our community. He served this church for six years as a youth minister. We were blessed to have them then and we are blessed that they are returning.

I hope all of you who read this will take the time to get acquainted with them. Let me say that those of you who wrote me cards expressing your thanks for this column, “thank you.” You made writing them more joyful. I pray I will get to meet you in person. May God bless each of you.

–Norm Russell

(Editor’s Note: Norm and his wife Dee Ann have been serving the church for 27 years!  Although there will be no more new Minute Messages, we have saved up a collection of the last 10 years of them (thanks to secretary Karen!) and will be publishing them online as time allows – so be sure to watch for them both here, on the church website at and on my home site at

“Thank You” – by Norm Russell

"Time To Go" - Norm's Last Minute MessageThe two words that make up the title of this article are very powerful when used often. When someone does something for you, it should be second nature to say “Thank You.” Recently a neighbor went next door to help an elderly man unload his car of some heavy blocks. When they were finished the man said “Thank you, now I need to do something for you.”  His neighbor replied “You already have, you said thank you.”

I have at times done things for others and never heard the words “thank you” uttered.  But, I am sure that there have been times when I have not said those words myself.  (I would be embarrassed if I had done that.) Jesus was always coming in contact with those who needed something.  It was mostly people who were suffering and wanted to be healed.  The Bible is replete with Jesus responding to those needs, not because He had to, but because He felt compassion for them.  On one occasion He healed ten lepers.  He told them to go show themselves to the priests.  One, a foreigner, when he saw he was healed, returned and gave thanks to Jesus for his healing.  Jesus’ response was, “Were there not ten who were healed?  Where are the nine?”

We need to be thankful always.  But more importantly, it just might be good if we told God “Thank You.” Come worship with us Sunday, and remember: EVERYONE is welcome here.

Norm Russell –


Free Clothing Ministry – by Norm Russell

"Time To Go" - Norm's Last Minute MessageYesterday, August 20, our church opened the doors to anyone needing free clothes. We wanted everyone who came to take as much as they wished. This ministry was born out of a recognition that many in our community were not able to provide for their family. It has grown because of great people who had a heart to help others.

We have received clothing from all around the county and some of it is new. We have been doing this for a number of years and feel blessed that someone was encouraged and lifted up. I know it has been difficult economically in our county. People have been talking about how we have emerged from the recession and that people are finding jobs and buying new homes. However, it appears we have been left behind. There are some good signs appearing on the horizon, but we are still struggling.
God has called us to be sensitive to those who could use some assistance, and that is what we are trying to do. I pray you will come see us. Feel free to also come and worship with us Sunday. We have Bible study at 9:30 AM, worship at 10:30 AM, evening study at 6 PM. You’re always welcome here.

–Norm Russell —

(Editor’s Note: This message is being posted on Sunday, the day after – and reports are that the event was heavily attended as it has been each year – indicating the need hasn’t lessened at all. We hold two of these special event giveaways each year, and spend months gathering  new or gently used clothing beforehand. Every year, 500+ people attend. It’s not uncommon to see people lined up hours in advance of the giveaway – so if your church of civic group can do this too, I encourage you to do so. –Mark Magill, webmaster)

Stewardship – by Norm Russell

"Time To Go" - Norm's Last Minute MessageTo say that our nation is in financial trouble is to state the obvious. Being twenty trillion in debt does not seem to bother most folks because they do not see it as their problem. They see it as the governments problem. However, we are the government. Thus it is our problem.

We may not be able to do much about the national debt, we can do something about our own use of money. That which we have is placed in our care and we are stewards of what God has entrusted to us. I want each of us to take a serious look at ourselves and to honestly consider how we are doing in our stewardship.

This is not a condemnation of anyone, as I am not God and know nothing of your finances or how you use it. But, we can look inward and ask ourselves “how am I doing with what God has given me?” Consider the following. First, when is enough, enough? We live in a world that promotes accumulating. Did you know that storage sheds came into being only recently. In the Coos Bay area alone there are about 20 storage companies.

There are probably enough storage sheds for everyone to have one. But, we return to the question. When is enough, enough? Everyone must come to their own conclusion regarding how much they feel is necessary to make life simple. The simplest way to answer the question is to ask yourself “Do I need this, or do I just want it?” Only you can answer that.

Secondly, what are our priorities? What is it that is most important to us? God must come first. This is not optional. When we say God, we are talking about spiritual matters. Unfortunately there have been some who have allowed themselves to become so burdened with debt, they cannot find room in their budget for God.

Finally, avoid pursuing wealth. Paul wrote “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root for all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10. I have nothing more to add, except I have witnessed Paul’s words lived out and the consequences have been devastating.

May God bless you as you consider how you might improve your stewardship.

Norm Russell –