Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: March 2016

“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – NO. 13&14 – UNDERSTANDING GOD

If the subject of this article has a familiar “taste,” it is not intentional. It comes from an attempt to understand the power we so commonly call “God,” the one Jesus said was “Spirit.” (Jn. 4:24 )
Jesus told Philip (and the others) “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) Paul refers to Jesus as ‘…the image of the invisible God…” (Col. 1:15) For me that’s a very important concept. From Paul’s relationship and understanding of Jesus, he can say what is invisible, is visible in Jesus. There is no evidence Paul had seen Jesus until, according to his own testimony, he “saw” Jesus on the Damascus road. Even then, it’s not about recognizing Jesus as someone he knew. It was during this and other encounters that Paul realized Jesus was the human image of the invisible God. The writer of Hebrews feels the same way when he writes, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Heb.1:3 NIV)
In order for the readers of scripture to “see” God in the image and representation of Jesus, they will have to “see” (understand) Jesus. And while I don’t like to hang an understanding of God on one or two verses of scripture, it seems to me these verses represent a significant understanding of who God is. So how are we to “see” Jesus?
While Paul’s letters give us several teachings about Jesus, there are few which describe his personality as he interacted with people. Nearly all of them speak of his work of love and redemption.
Therefore, for me to “see” God’s invisible nature in Jesus, I need to “see” Jesus. I’m not sure how that could be done without the gospels. I know there are those Old Testament passages about the nature of God’s Messiah. But for the most part they are structured in a poetic and utopian fashion. However it is in the gospels that I can see Jesus interacting with the world through the eyes of the witnesses. If Jesus reflects the exact image of God, then I can understand God by understanding Jesus.
Now, if I can trust these scriptures, as well as my understanding of them, and the Jesus I see in the gospels, it means I can better “see” (understand) God. It means I can let go of the conflict between the pictures of God in the Old Testament and the image of God in Jesus. It means I can “see” how their understanding of God was seen (understood) through the law of Moses.
Are there other ways to understand God apart from Jesus? Yes. But they are incomplete, unless they reveal how God and man have relationship. For example, Paul, in Romans 1:19-20 says “God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” By that he speaks from the position of all ancient people observing the works of nature as a way of understanding the deity.
It is Jesus who brings nature and the reflection of God together in action and in teaching. In Luke 6:35,36 Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. In a comparison passage, Jesus says, “He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)
That this is the nature of God is played out in Jesus’ own life. He finds no problem presenting a different
understanding of God than those who tried to follow exactly the law of Moses. When he said he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, he did not mean he was going to obey all the 613 laws therein, even though, if you look, you can find those who say that’s what he meant.
For me it means in Jesus I can see the true intent of the law and the prophets. Moses never said one command was greater than another. But when Jesus was asked, the reply was to love God, neighbor and self. And, in Matthew he also says, all the law and the prophets hang on that. Paul says the same thing in Gal 5:14. So fulfilment of the law is just that, not a strict keeping of such things as the Sabbath, which Jesus said was made for man, and that the Son of Man was Lord of the Sabbath. (Mk 2:27,28)
In these and other illustrations of Jesus’ actions and teachings, I can build an understanding of God I can better try to live out in my life.
Keith

CONCERNS: Philip Pierce’s mother is under hospice care. The decision concerning Kevin Cornett’s unborn baby is that the doctors at UVA want to see them again at the end of the month. However, as of now, the baby’s chances are slim. T. J. Hall is having to take it easy due to heart issues. It was good to see Jim White at church Sunday as he recovers from the bike accident. Teryn Gaynor has been visiting with her mother in Ala. as she undergoes cancer treatment. J. R. Hall (Judy and T. J.’s grandson, continues to have tests run on his eyes. Dr. Del Bolin is working with the Baxter Institute in Honduras this week. Scott Blessing’s father had to have a pacemaker and is doing better.
Jim Hunter is having neck and back problems which cause a lot of pain. Continue to remember Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber, Marjorie Wilson (cancer), Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s parents, as well as her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Wayne Phlegar, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her as she deal with cancer and loss of sight. Mary (MS). She is a friend of Kim
Hall’s. Daniel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson (MS), Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Mary and Jim Smith and Tim Elder. Jenni Cullum has a growth on her eye, and it seems to be responding to treatment.

OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 4-9
Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 14:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15

OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 11-16
Monday: John 4:27-4
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

BETTY FOY
Betty Foy died on Wednesday afternoon about 3:30. She was in her bed, surrounded by her husband, Larry, and members of her family.
Had the inside article not been printed, and had there been more time, I could have easily filled it with stories about her, Larry and the family. However, I want all those in and beyond our congregation to know what a strong person she was. In many ways she lived out the scripture where it says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
She was born a coal miner’s daughter, in Richlands, VA. It seems from her roots she was blessed with a strong conviction of equality for all people.
Even before she and Larry relocated to Roanoke from Blacksburg, when they visited with Martha and her family, she and I would have these conversations after church. Those introduced me to the person she was.
She had a keen disdain for the prejudice shown toward African Americans and other minorities. She was born and grew up during segregation.
Her desire from her youth was to become a nurse, and she did. She told me of two times in Tennessee when there were “White Only” hospitals, and “Negro” hospitals, which were few and far between. Late one night as she was working, a black man came in and said his wife was about to have their baby, and the black hospital was about 80 miles away. It was a violation of the Jim Crow law’s to take them in. But she found a doctor and they snuck them in and delivered the baby. It could have cost her her job, and probably being banned from nursing, but she would have none of it.
Another time a young black boy had polio and needed an iron lung. There were none available for blacks. Again she made a decision, found a doctor who muttered an expletive about such a system, and at risk of both their jobs, placed the child in a “white” iron lung.
She took those kind of risks for people all her life. We need more like her, and we will miss her. But her example will continue to call out the best in us.

“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 28, NO. 11&12 – THE MYSTERY THAT IS GOD

Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” That translates to the more common, “God’s ways are not our ways.”
So how is that helpful to me to know? And, how do I know that unless I know what God’s ways are? Are God’s ways always opposite of mine? I don’t think that’s what Isaiah is saying.
It’s always a good thing to read the context. The context is a Messianic vision of the future. Verse nine, in a poetic echo of verse eight says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” Verse 11 says, “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire…” (Let me say here, “God” is the English word for deity. Different languages refer to the same concept using other words.)
If God’s word goes out and accomplishes what was intended, it has to be understood. So at some point, what is said to be God’s ways and thoughts have to become our ways and thoughts.
The normal view of the prophetic writings is that they spoke the thoughts of God. Their message usually was loud and clear. “The Lord said…!” Isaiah and the others certainly wanted God’s thoughts understood.
So how might we imagine understanding something beyond our understanding? How do we understand anything beyond our understanding? How does a child learn to read, write and everything else that maturity requires? They don’t start with a book on physics. It’s cat and dog stuff. Would understanding the concept and power we call “God” be any different? As humankind learns about the world around it, so too it learns about the power behind it known as God.
Look at the text from Isaiah. What cannot be understood by Isaiah and the world at that time, is the universe as we know it today. The “heavens are higher than the earth” expresses the world as it was known then. A flat earth covered by “heavens.” By the way, the word Isaiah used for heavens was a Hebrew word that meant “heaved up things.” Did the power (God) behind what we understand to be the universe, know it was more than that? Yes. Could Isaiah, or anyone in his time even begin to imagin the universe as we understand it today? No. No more than the infant understands peek a boo. Studies show the child actually thinks the person playing is gone. The reasoning power is not yet developed to understand the experience.
Since that is true with human development and reasoning, is that not also the way we understand God? Can we imagine a God who hands Moses a book on cosmology and expect him to understand it and teach it to the Israelites?
As we read the Bible and any historical book, we are reading about a specific time in history and culture. We know very little about the prehistoric period. But what we do know is they had a different understanding of the earth than those who came later. It is easy to understand the attention (worship) they gave to the sun and the moon, or as Genesis says, “the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.”
The image of the sun going down, or setting, and the moon rising and setting would become such a strong idea that we still use those terms. At the same time, we know the sun does not rise and set, nor does the moon. We know it is the earth that moves. And yet, there are educated people who still maintain Earth is the center of the universe.
In reading the Old Testament on Sunday morning, we talked about the importance of blood found there. It was seen as life. Breath was seen as even more important than blood. It was the “nephesh” soul, breath of life. There was no firm knowledge of the brain. The “heart,” “mind” or emotion of man was centered in the “bowels.” That’s where they were on the scale of human development and knowledge. And, if they hadn’t been there at that level, we would not be where we are today.
I think the same has to be true of God, the energy and dynamic power of the universe. We should not limit the yet unknown ways of God by what we do know. God is too great for that. If we limit our understanding of God to a particular time and culture, we take away the divine inspiration that moves us forward in our development and understanding of God.
I don’t want to stretch a text too much, but In I Cor. 3:2 Paul says, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. In deed, you are still not ready.” My point is this, they had to be ready, spiritually and otherwise, to get what he wanted them to understand. They had to move past a former way of thinking.
In I Cor. 13:11 are Paul’s famous words, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.” What were those things? Within the context he seems to be talking about his understanding of God based on his former understanding of the Law, God’s law. What would have happened if Paul had not been willing to see God though a different lens than the one he said he had faithfully followed? (Phil. 3:6)
For Paul, the difference was Jesus. And Jesus had such a different understanding of God that it got him killed. Again, I don’t want to misuse scripture, but what did Paul mean when he said, But when the time had fully come, God sent his son…” (Gal. 4:4) Whatever you make of it, Paul said there was a time when it wasn’t time.
Part of the mystery of God knowing what we don’t, is that God is not content with that, but wants us to keep on knowing more and more about what God knows.
Keith

CONCERNS: Betty Foy’s health is rapidly failing. Kevin Cornett’s wife’s pregnancy may have to be terminated due to complications from a car accident. They will be going to UVA Medical Center next week for a final opinion. Stephanie Dixon had successful surgery on her nose and is now mending. The medicine is helping Judy Hall with her eyesight problems. More tests are being done on the Hall’s grandson, J. R. concerning his eyesight. Roxie Eanes has died of complications from pancreatitis. She was the great aunt of Nick Bolin’s girlfriend. Philip Pierce’s mother is at home under hospice care. Jim White as he recovers. Remember the following people in prayer as well, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, (cancer) Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s parents as well as her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter, David Albert, Wayne Phlegar, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her. She lives in Pa. where Del Bolin grew up. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary, (MS) Darnel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, (MS) Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder

OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 21-26
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: Mar. 28-APR. 1
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 4:1-13
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24

JIM WHITE
Jim was riding his new bike to work on Wednesday morning while it was still dark and three dear ran in from of him on the Grandin Road Extension and he struck one of them sending him over the handlebars. He ended up with five broken ribs, a punctured lung and to hairline hip fractures. After a night in the hospital he is home quickly mending. Martha may need some help as she deals with this and her mothers condition. Give her a call.

TODAY
Today we will have a special song and devotional service rather than a sermon. It has been developed and conducted by Del Bolin. We thank him for the praise service today

SUPER SUNDAY
This is also Super Sunday. That means we will have the opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of eating together following the service. The weather looks as if we will have perhaps the last fire in the fireplace as we bid goodbye to winter. Plan to stay.

REMEMBER
Keep in mind that whenever someone moves away it often leaves the service they rendered to the church open. If you see something you are willing to start doing that you have not yet done, see Erma Williams. It will be a big help to her as she develops the service roster.

EASTER
Easter is next Sunday. For those children who come, there will be an Easter Egg Hunt in the yard behind the annex. Bring cameras and take pictures of the fun. Holly Wagner will be in charge of the event. See her about things she may need.

THANKS
If you came in the front door today you noticed the shrubbery along the building has been trimmed back. We van thank Lyn Jordan for doing that. The shrubs had grown higher than the windows and really needed the care. Thanks Lyn

STEERING COMMITTEE
A brief meeting following the meal.

“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 28, NO. 9&10 – WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?

I preached on the Good Samaritan last Sunday. Original, right? One reason I did it was because I had a real live story to end it with about a family who were “Good Samaritans.” They opened their home to a Mexican mother with four children. And for three months twelve people lived in one house while they got on their feet. During that time, the host family invited their guests to study the Bible with them, as well as attend their church. This was 1971, and they became first Hispanic family to become Christians at that church. Out of that invitation came a university professor, who was also a missionary in Mexico for almost ten years, of whom two of their children are missionaries in China. The church happened to be the College Church of Christ in Fresno, Calif. The Good Samaritan story does not ask who our neighbor is, but to whom will we be a neighbor?
The problem is that Jesus, in telling the story, knew we all want to “justify” ourselves in deciding who the neighbor is. This is why the Good Samaritan (GS) story is accepted, while at the same time allowing us to defend an open prejudice against Samaritan-types. Just as “Samaritan” in Jesus’ day referred to a class of people, rather than the individual, so it is today. Today the primary targets are the Muslims. A person is not a Muslim, “they” are Muslims, meaning they are all alike. However, what Jesus was teaching had nothing to do with religion or nationality.
In the most recent Christian Chronicle, there is the story of Salah Sabdow Farah , a Muslim teacher in Kenya. Islamic Muslims ambushed a bus filled with 100 Muslim and Christian passengers. They demanded the passengers split up into groups of Muslims and Christians. Farah and several other Muslim passengers refused, saying, “Kill all of us or leave us alone.” The report didn’t say any of the Christians said anything like that. Two people died in the attack and Farah was wounded.
Contrast that with the words we hear of hatred and fear from Christian churches across America.
Farah died from his wounds in that December attack. A picture of him in the hospital accompanied the article. Before he died this Muslim teacher spoke to Voice of America. “I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us. And let us help one another and let us live together peacefully.” Would Jesus agree with that? That sounds like a statement Jesus would make. It’s a Godly statement, worthy of acceptance.
I found it interesting that the author of the article asked that we pray that Muslims “will come to know and accept Christ.” That’s understandable. But the next “prayer” was to “pray for more Muslims like Farah.” I certainly agree with that. Farah was a Muslim teacher who died as the result of defending Christians. In other words, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Or, in Farah’s case, some of different belief. I might also add that we should pray for more Christians like Farah.
The danger is painting everyone with the same brush or prejudice. All Samaritans are bad, so there can’t be a good one, or countless good ones who act as the “neighbor” should. Muslim terrorists are bad, so all Muslims are bad. The list is sadly and historically endless.
Jesus is asked by the “expert in the law” what was needed to have eternal life. Jesus asked what the law said. The law said a lot more than loving God and the neighbor, but that answer, says Jesus, is the correct one. The correct one for what? How to have eternal life. One question, one answer. However, it’s not enough for the “expert”. So Jesus tells the GS story and asked, “Which one was the neighbor?” Meaning, which one did what it takes to have eternal life? The answer, the one who showed mercy. So the Samaritan, Jew, Muslim, Christian, whoever, fictional or real, who acts like that has done what it takes to have eternal life, so says Jesus.
So it’s not about who you are, it’s about what you are that gives eternal life. For Jesus, it was based on mercy.
Keith

VOL. 28 MARCH 6, 2016 NO. 9&10
CONCERNS: Betty Foy is very ill at this time. Hospice is with she and Larry. Stephanie Dixon will be going to North Carolina next week for cancer surgery on her nose, which may require a skin graft. T. J. Hall is dealing with a bad cold. Judy is having vision problems, but the medication seems to be helping. Their grandson, R. J. Is still waiting on tests concerning his vision problems. Joni and Alan Beach will be spending time in NC due to the health of Joni’s parents, especially her mother. Joni also asks prayers for her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter may need surgery as the result of an accident which happened some time ago. Philip Pierce’s mother is in a Lynchburg hospital being treated for cancer. Teryn Gaynor’s mother continues with cancer treatment. It was good to see Wayne Phlegar able to be with us last Sunday. Remember Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber. Marjorie Wilson, (cancer) Melanie Gentry, David Albert, Sandy Blanchard and those carrying for her. Kim’s friend, Mary (MS), Daniel Ray Barns Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson (MS) Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary smith and Tim Elder.

OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 7-12
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 14-19
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

THANKS
Many thanks to Lyn Jordan for removing the sections of the tree which fell in the front yard, as well as all the limbs etc. Wayne Flora had cut it up one evening after work. Also to Mike Branch and Holly Wagner for stacking the broken pieces for easier removal.
THE FORSYTH’S
If you were not here last Sunday to say goodbye to Jeff and Kirissa, you can catch a picture of them being presented with a going away gift on the church Facebook page, When we get their new address, we will print it in the Sunday handout.
WORSHIP
When we come together to worship there are several ways in which we might help. Certain events in our lives can take us out of town or otherwise prevent us from helping during the worship service. First of all, we do appreciate those who so willingly offer to help with the service, as well as those who are asked to fill in at the last minute. However, perhaps we might take some time and ask ourselves if there is something we can do that we haven’t yet done in bringing about the worship service. Take a look at the duty roster and see if there is something you would be willing to do. If you will, contact Erma Williams or Wayne Flora.
THE SUNDAY ADULT CLASS
The adult class on Sunday is growing due to the study of the Old Testament being read in book form with no chapters and verses. This has produced a lively discussion from the class along with the leading of Del Bolin. There is still time to jump in because we are finding much to talk about without moving too fast.
JUST A WORD
Several things are in the works. We will be silencing heat and air conditioning noise in the adult classroom. The duct work will be rerouted to the hallway, and storage space will be added beneath the addition to the wall. The blower noise can make it very hard to hear in that room. So if you see a little dust, you’ll know what it’s all about.