Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: October 2012


There is a fellow who lives near the church who drops by just about every day I am in the office. He has no car, no phone and no family. His only brother is dead and some nephews and a niece have no contact with him, nor he them.

Now in his mid eighties, and having a rather troubled life, he is somewhat torn between agnosticism and belief, with agnosticism being primary. He went to church when he was younger and was baptized as a Baptist, which he claims to be, if and when he ever goes back.

On occasion he will bring up something about the Bible. Usually one of those things that have no simple answer, like who Adam and Eve’s son’s married.

A week ago he said he knew somewhere in the Bible it said something about someone seeing the face of God and they were afraid. He wanted to know what God looked like. I gave him a few simple answers, because I know from past experience his questions are more to test me than to change him.

In certain places in the Bible the appearance of God is generally seen as a fearful thing. I’m not sure what those who said they saw God saw. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t an old man with a white beard.

Jesus said in John 14 that if they’d seen him they had seen the Father i.e. God. In Matthew 25 Jesus said if they’d taken care of those in need, they had done it to him, which means we should see the face of the Lord in others.

It was a day or two after his question I saw the face of God on TV and then in the newspaper. So the next opportunity I had I told him I wanted him to see the face of God. I held up a newspaper article about Malala Yousufzia that had her picture in it. Malala is the 14 year old Muslim girl who was shot in the head by radical Taliban Muslim’s who are afraid of the light and truth she stands for. She believes in education for girls and women. She criticized the fundamentalist side of her religion. Her shooting has rallied most of the country behind her. She was recently moved to a hospital in England, and her survival rate looks good. The Taliban have sworn to kill her when they can.

I saw an interview with her and her father, who runs the school for girls and is also under threat of death. She was 11 at the time. She said she wanted to be a doctor, and then she covered her face and wept at the prospect of that becoming true. At 14 she said she wanted to enter the political arena in order to help her county. For the Taliban that meant bringing in “Western thinking”.

The face of God? Of course. God is light and truth no matter who or where that light (enlightenment) and truth appears. And when it does, it always strikes fear in the hearts of those who are in the dark.

In the Bible, leaven is usually considered to be evil. That may be due to its hidden and somewhat mysterious nature. However, it can also be used in a positive way, as did Jesus in Matthew and Luke 13. The issue is that a little leaven leavens a lot of grain. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like that. Which means that those who represent God’s will on earth will be like the leaven.

Today a fourteen year old girl has grown men with guns afraid of her. One child has a nation of people praying for her while they look at the ignorance and lies and the darkness of Taliban rule. The leaven works from the inside out and brings about the necessary change.

Think about the “leavened” people who have changed the world. We could go way back in history, but let’s start with Jesus. Is Jesus not the model of how kingdom leaven works? One man, harming no one, seeking truth and light, not only changes his country, but the world. How? From the inside (changed minds, i.e. knowledge) out. The ever-expanding truth will always root out ignorance and evil. That is the very nature of truth. That is why truth cannot be stopped with violence, weapons and bombs. That’s why truth always brings change.

As I said, light and truth is from God regardless who delivers it. The mystery is how and where do these “leavened” people originate? Some would say they are chosen and empowered by God. I don’t know, but I do believe their impact on the world is what God wants. I don’t know how to explain a fourteen girl who has been called perhaps the bravest person in the world. Why is she who she is? Why is she unafraid? Who among us would want our child to be the target of a bullet born of ignorance and prejudice? I’ve said before that Fed Gray is a hero of mine. What is it that makes a poor black boy born in Montgomery, Alabama, raised in a black Church of Christ, become a preacher and an attorney dedicated to, in his own words, “Destroying everything segregated”? He was one of Martin Luther King’s attorneys, Ross Parks’ attorney, and also worked in the Tuskegee syphilis reconciliation. Was that somehow his divine destiny? He worked within the law to aid in the work of King and others. And while I’m at it, why would Martin Luther King do what he did, knowing that he would be a target for evil?

Do I believe God is involved? Yes. How? I don’t know. Does God raise these people up to do his will? I don’t know. But I do know that when we see truth, justice and light brought forth from any person of any nation, race or creed it is still truth.

As with Malala Yousufzia, the enemy is not the guns that kill, it is literal fundamentalism. This is true in any idea, religion or philosophy. What killed Jesus? Fundamentalism. A view that “strains out the gnat and swallows the camel”. But as with Jesus, the leaven is there, working, and it will not be stopped. As William Cullen Bryant said. “Truth crushed to earth will rise again”.

Is it possible that God comes to us in those we wish would go away and be quiet? Isn’t that often the mark of a Christian, don’t get involved, don’t make waves, just be quiet? Think how many names in history and the Bible would be lost if that were the will of God. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

CONCERNS: Deanna McRoy, Debbie and Buster’s daughter-in-law, will have breast cancer surgery on the 29th. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick Nicklas, has been informed that his cancer is inoperable. Both Susan Phlegar and Garrett Lee Williams received the questionable steroid shots at a local center. The waiting period has now been extended to eight to ten weeks. Landon Cooper is a little baby boy who will have surgery to repair a hole in his heart. He is the grandson of a friend of Teryn Gaynor. Connie Crites’ brother’s condition has worsened. Sharon Breeding and Lauren, friends of Martha Foy’s need prayers. Martha’s mother and father have health issues. He is recovering from a second back surgery. Ben Robertson will be traveling abroad for GE until early November. Jim Hunter will have a chest X-ray taken soon. Stephanie Dixon’s boss’s son Grayson (eye injury), Del Bolin’s friend’s Sharon and Billy are cancer patients. Former member Ray Reiss is in rehab in Texarkana after a motorcycle accident. Jenni Cullum saw a doctor on the 18th to set the date for hip replacement surgery. Remember also Helen Nicklas, Alma martin, Joni Beach’s mother, and Tim Elder, as well as the other works we support.

Monday: Matthew 6:1-18
Tuesday: Psalm 96:1-13
Wednesday: 6:19-34
Thursday: Luke 23:26-43
Friday: James 1:5-18
Saturday: Romans 8:26-39
Monday: John 8:21-47
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:32-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9

Kevin Cornett and Lee Ann Gibson were married on Saturday, October 20, at Community Advent Christian Church. We wish them the best in their life together.

Sunday, October 21 is Super Sunday. This may be the last one with the beautiful fall colors and warm sun to enjoy along with the meal. Plan to stay.

Sunday is also our annual Peaks of Otter hike and picnic. The weather looks to be almost perfect and the colors in the valleys are peaking, so at the higher elevations it should be a beautiful day. As always, if you are riding the bus you will need to buy your ticket as soon as possible. We hope to eat around 5 PM and leave at sunset.

If you smell fresh paint in the building and notice the painted trim in the basement and restrooms you can thank Holly Wagner and Mary Willa Foy.

It’s a little painful, but as soon as we enjoy the fall colors and the Peaks of Otter, we have to start thinking about the dates of our Christmas party. Since it is usually early in December we will have to pick the most convenient dates. So be watching and listening for suggestions.

Thanks to Brad Hager for replacing an old computer in the minister’s office with a newer one. He also bought a wireless router for the office as well. He has also been helping move files from the old computer to the newer ones.

It’s good to see Del and John Bolin back from a medical trip to El Salvador. This was John’s first trip and maybe we can talk him into telling us some of his experiences.

Nancy is the grandmother of the twins we honored at their high school graduation. She is looking for a baby sitting job. See the bulletin board.


In Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus calls a little child to him and tells his listeners if they become like a little child they will be great in God’s kingdom. He then says in verse six, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

As we read such verses we should try not to allow our modern culture to be the interpreter. From any number of historic documents we can find how children were seen in ancient times. Male children were preferred because they could fight and protect the tribe. That, as well as a view of male superiority, defined the place of girl babies. There are a number of places in both Greek and Roman writings where wives were told by their husbands to kill a baby if it were a girl. Why? Children were another mouth to feed. As soon as they could hold their own they were put to work. In Sparta, all new babies were checked by soldiers for strength, the weak were either exposed to die, or were made slaves. At age 7 they were taken and trained to be warriors. ( among other sites) According to several web sites, the Romans were notorious for killing their unwanted children. Even among the Jews, boys were preferred and the almost inevitable large family was a hardship. Of course, many died at birth, others by illness, and accident. The males could be killed in battle.

So what picture might we get from what Jesus said and what it was like in that time? Children did not occupy a cute and cuddly position in that society. They had to “earn their keep” as soon as possible. They could easily be victims of abuse of all kinds. They were not considered to be important. So when Jesus says to be the greatest in the kingdom of God, he takes the least on earth as his example.

As to the cause to stumble or sin, anything done by anyone (in my opinion) that causes the child to lose their chance to be a child, (to miss the mark) so that they will not have the chance at being a productive adult, is worthy of the milestone. I’m not talking about hardship. Any family can experience that. I’m talking about abuse, physically and mentally. I’m talking about the child whose parents does not want them and lets them know it every day in one terrible way or another. You know what I mean, and the list could go on and on and on. But that’s not what I have in mind.

In last Sunday’s paper, in an article about the apple production in Virginia, there was a picture of a little boy and girl about six or seven, walking up a lane in an apple orchard. They were friends. I couldn’t help but smile. I do that a lot when I see kids. I even do it when I see cats and dogs. I even do it when I see those preteens who are about to stretch their wings and fly. But little kids are special, and for now that’s what I want to say.

We have two sets of grandchildren. Two granddaughters in their twenties. Then we have a boy and a girl, six and three. When I think of them I smile, even
when I think of the two older ones. I think of the innocence of being a little child and how I wanted (and want) them to have it for as long as possible. I think of the wonder of walking through an apple orchard and that being the whole world. I think of the child playing with a dog or a cat and having no other thing with which to be concerned. And yet I also know a child who remains a child will not thrive. And while I really hate what humans are capable of, I am also hopeful that just as it was for me, they will not have to be old before their time. That there will be more stories to read about less and less of the various kinds of abuse that is part of today’s society.

Bill Cosby said grandparents are just old people who are trying to get into Heaven. He may be right, but when I see the wonder of a child’s world I can’t help but smile. And I want them to be able to drink, one sip at a time, fully of life. And woe to those who would water-board them instead. They deserve the millstone.

CONCERNS: Connie Crites’ brother is now in guarded condition. Ken Teatino, Mark McRoy’s friend died last week. Kathy Sirgy will not have back surgery at this time. Ron Matney may have to go on dialysis. Ben Robertson leaves for India this week and will be gone until early November. Sheila will be returning from California after caring for her mother. Phillip Pierce’s mother is back at work. Jim Whites’s mother is recovering at home. Martha Foy’s parents as well as a friend, Sharon Breeding are having some health issues. Another friend, Lauren needs our prayers. Stephanie Dixon’s boss’s son, Grayson (eye issues) Ray Reiss is in rehab in Texarkana, recovering from a motorcycle accident. The following are dealing with cancer: Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Del Bolin’s friends, Sharon and Billy and Joni Beach’s mother. Jenni Cullum will have hip surgery probably sometime this month. Remember also Helen Nicklas, Alma Martin, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 66:1-20
Monday: Hosea 11:1-9
Tuesday: Matthew 10: 24-39
Wednesday: Exodus 16:1-36
Thursday: Luke 7:36-50
Friday: John 13:31-38; 18:15-27
Saturday: Psalm 103:1-22

Kahlyne and Chuck Nolde have moved to Austin, Texas. They are both from that area and Chuck’s employer let him transfer to there. They left on Thursday, September 27.

Although Nick Bolin is not very comfortable with public recognition, some accomplishments deserve to be mentioned. On the weekend of September 15, Nick was recognized for having achieved the rank of Life Scout in the Boy Scouts of America organization. Life is the highest rank a scout can earn short of Eagle Scout. Only 4% of all scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle, and Nick is on track to earn that as well. His Eagle Scout project is to replace the current storage shed at the Wagner’s home with a larger, more useful structure. He has an eight week timeline for completion once final design plans are approved. Hopefully all will go smoothly and his project will be completed on time. And while we are embarrassing him, you might as well know he also has the responsibility this year of being Senior Patrol Leaded, making him the highest ranking scout in the Troop leadership. Congratulations Nick! We are proud of you.

Our thanks to both the adults and young folks who have recently prepared two evening meals at the Ronald McDonald House. The latest was last Wednesday evening.

Thanks also to Brad Hager for working on the office computers and bringing us up to the 21st Century!

Our annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic will be on Sunday, October 21st. Remember, if you are riding the bus, you will need to get tickets early, especially if it is a nice day. A sign-up sheet in on the table in the foyer. You only need to sign it for the picnic. Remember, that is also Super Sunday weekend. Plan to be there for both events.

Del Bolin will be in El Salvador for eight days on a medical trip. John is going with him this time. They will leave today.