Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: May 2018

CHURCHES NEED GRACE, TACT, SENSIBILITY – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

by Erma Williams, as featured in the May Christian Chronicle in response to “Big Questions for Churches of Christ.”

(Due to space issues , the introduction about Erma is limited.) Out of 645 respondents they made Erma’s the featured response. She mentions her 26 years as a member here at Roanoke, and before that at University Park church in Hyattsville, MD. She mentions her work as a trainer for a publisher of children’s Bible class and Vacation Bible School material, which brings her in contact with many former members of Churches of Christ. She hears of totalitarian, controlling and cult-like stories about the Church of Christ.

What would you say defines a Church of Christ?

A Church of Christ is an assembly of believers who look to the scriptures to learn how to be Jesus centered.

What are some of the significant strengths of Churches of Christ?

There is no central headquarters, but there is the desire to search the scriptures for answers and not rely on hierarchy. We have the ability to visit any town in America (or the world) and do the “six degrees of separation” game, knowing someone who knows someone’s somebody.

In recent years, Churches of Christ in the US have declined numerically. Why do you think this is happening?

Distractions. Today we have Google to find answers to everything. Our 24-7 society (think Amazon) says you can get what you want when you want it–at whatever price you want to pay. Why wait until Sunday, much less Wednesday night, to get answers to our religious questions?
At the same time, I believe younger generations question everything we do. They want to know why we take communion each week. Why do we sing a cappella? Why do we not have women preaching? These are questions that make the church uncomfortable, and many of us are unprepared to answer. Too often we reply with “thou shalt not” instead of saying, “Well, let’s look together at what the scriptures have to say.”
Jesus didn’t attack his foes. He answered questions with questions. He allowed his audience to discover the answers. That requires patience, not a five-step plan for salvation–or Google.

Why are you a member of the Church of Christ?

It’s by design and faith. Yes, I grew up in the church, but I took ownership of my faith when I married and moved away from my family and my faith support system.
Marrying a non-Christian made me question everything I did. Seeking answers to my spouse’s questions in the Bible forced me to ask questions too. I have realized over the years that I was very blessed by my faith foundation but needed the extra little kick in the seat to get me engaged.
My foundation is rooted in a congregation that took extra special care and attention when my family went through a tragic incident when I was young. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure that I would have had the endurance and desire to be the child of God I am designed to be. They taught by showing me, by loving me, and by being Jesus-centered themselves.

What excites you about your congregation?

My church gets it–gets that we are all broken, that all have sinned and fallen short. They understand that there are many outside the fellowship that need to be fed physically to be able to be fed spiritually.
There’s no judgement. We all come as we are, opening ourselves to what God desires us to be

What are your greatest concerns about our fellowship in the United States?

We must realize that churches of Christ have a bad reputation in the marketplace.
As a trainer who works with former church members, I am privy to many testimonies of how the church of Christ has failed them. They recount episode after episode of judgement, unsympathic leadership, and–my oh my–rules they’re being told to follow in order to belong.
A friend of mine attended a congregation whose elders marked an X on hymns they didn’t want led during the worship because of word choices such as “Holy Spirit.”
At a regional youth and children’s ministry networking meeting, during an introduction exercise, a lady beside me literally scooted her chair away from me when she discovered I worship with a Church of Christ.
Later I learned that her church had ridiculed her and her family when she was a teenager over some issue. She said her mom cried all the time and withdrew from the church (she had been involved in many church activities), and her father became aggressive and distant .
On the flip side, I learned of a congregation that split three ways. The elders were publically accused of lying and stealing, and resignations were demanded. None of the elders resigned but told each family leaving the church that they would always be welcomed back.
The elders showed grace, leadership and love to people to people who showed them disdain. Fast forward 20-plus years, and approximately 70 percent of those who left have returned. Many have apologized and become members once again.
We must not only show grace, but also tact and sensibility.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I love the church as much as I love Jesus. I realize on a daily basis that not only am I an ambassador for Jesus, but I am also an ambassador for the church.
Often, there is a pregnant pause when I identify myself with the Church of Christ because of our negative reputation and marketing.
I’m proud of my heritage, my lineage and my foundation.
Still, I wish the church had more of a love and grace approach.

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is now at home and was able to attend Wednesday evening.
Scott Blessing has been house-bound due to his back. He is on all the pain medicine he can take. Pray for pain relief. Those who need continuing prayer are Deanna McRoy; Ellen Tidwell, (Debbie McRoy’s sister-in -law; Lilly, a double lung transplant recipient at UVA Med Center. Joni and Alan Beach’s parents; Del Bolin’s mother; Teryn Gaynor’s mother and step-father. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. A friend of Del and Leena Bolin’s who is dealing with stress. Melanie Gentry; Wayne Phlegar; Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Tim Elder and Jim and Mary Smith. Ask the guidance of God for our graduates as they plan their future.

SUPER SUNDAY
Today is Super Sunday. Stay and enjoy the fellowship meal in the annex following the service.

CONGRATULATIONS
Congratulations to our graduates. Laura Hogan graduated from Hollins University. Logan McRoy graduated for James Madison, and Garrett Williams from Virginia Western.

BANQUET CANCELED
Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men astray. Such is the banquet for our graduates.
May had conflicts with Mother’s Day and other logistical issues. June presented Father’s Day as well as other time related problems. Let’s remember those who attend the Super Sunday meal with a big hurrah!

THANKS
Thanks to Susan and Lyn Jordan, along with Lyn or Susan’s sister, who gave Martha Albert, Holly Wagner and others a day off for Mother’s Day. ALSO: Thanks to a crew of folks who regularly pick up and deliver the Panera bread to the Rescue Mission.

THE ANNEX LIGHTS
We have had lighting problems in the annex for some time. The patchwork is no longer working so we will be making the change as soon as we can find an electrician to do the work. New lights will be installed in such a fashion so they can be serviced easier.

AWAY
The Wagner’s are away today. Thanks to Wayne Flora for delivering the morning message.

THE ILLUSION OF THE DILUTION – “NEW LFE” BULLETIN

In the adult class last Sunday, Mike Branch involved us in a discussion about how we understand, i.e., interpret scripture.
He brought a blog written by Joy Sylvester-Johnson, former director of the Rescue Mission. In it she talked about being reprimanded by a friend because her view of a certain scripture was in conflict with her friend’s understanding. She went on to discuss all the past teachings and influences we bring to scripture when we read it. In other words, we can’t all see the Bible alike, regardless the title of a sermon, article, or book on the shelf. That’s an illusion of the dilution.
It’s like saying if you have the same bat, the same stance in the batter’s box, the same height and weight, you could hit the ball as well as Hank Aaron. For basketball lovers, think Lebron James.
For the intellectuals out there, it would be like saying everyone who attended the same class, heard the same instructors, graduated with the same degree, would have the same understanding and application of the subject. All lawyers would interpret the law the same way, all doctors would have the same understanding of illness, there would be no need for a consultation.
Yet when it comes to understanding the Bible, only idiots disagree as to what it says and means.
Notice how Paul reinterprets Moses in Romans 10:5ff. “Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The man who does these things (in the law) (parentheses mine kw) will live by them.’ But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven…’” The last quote is from the book of Deuteronomy. Paul is “layering” scripture over scripture. He quotes Moses saying it is by the law that a man is righteous, and then quotes Moses to say righteousness is by faith. Which is it? It is both. Scripture interprets scripture. Moses said then, but now Moses says this.
In other words, Paul moves the meaning forward and interprets it in the light of Christ. That is still necessary. However, as in Joy Johnson’s case, not everyone would agree, as I’m sure not every Jewish rabbi agreed with Paul’s understanding of Moses.
Question: If your doctor said he or she was going to treat you with the same medical practices which were used a thousand years ago, how would you feel? If his or her understanding of illness was that of a thousand years ago, would you feel safe? If the only “official” medicine you could be given was the same medicine used a thousand years ago, would you feel okey with that?
Why is it then that when it comes to the Bible, we think everything in it has to be brought forward? There is nothing in the Bible that forbids polygamy. In fact, there are numerous examples of it. Is that “cultural?” So it seems, but how do we then separate other such “cultural” views?
What made God suddenly decide those who had physical deformities, dwarfism, eunuchs and others, were welcome in the assembly when God banned them in the Old Testament?
At one time, (even in my lifetime) the curse of Ham was taught as the reason for black-skinned people, and that they were a “cursed” people. This led to explaining why they could be enslaved and considered as less valuable than light-skinned people.
We are diluted by the illusion that the Bible can be understood the same by any and everyone who reads it. That was no even true in Biblical times. I stand with Paul when he says neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything of religious value. But not all Christians agreed. However, he never told those Jewish converts not to continue to circumcise their sons, in spite of the fact that circumcision was declared to be an “everlasting covenant” Gen. 17:9-14. If you read that text it is quite straightforward.
At no time did Jesus speak pro or con about it, even though he himself was. It is said that Peter’s visit to Cornelius, an uncircumcised Gentile, did away with it. Great. But why? Did it mean something to God, or did it comply with social beliefs at the time? The Egyptians practiced it as did other nations. Was it a reinterpretation of an old rite, which because of a better understanding of God, was tossed out by those who followed Jesus? The Jews have not changed their view of the “everlasting covenant.” How many other things are dividing people because of the refusal to look at God through the advances of human understanding?
If you want a good example of what happens when everyone understands the Bible alike, look at Jesus. The general consensus was he was wrong and the guardians of the word were right. That dilution got him killed.
Can we all agree with Jesus when he said, “By their fruit you will know them.”
Keith

CONCERNS: Good news! Judy Hall is now recuperating at home. The spot on Ellen McRoy’s lung is being monitored. She is Debbie’s sister-in-law. Keep Deanna McRoy in prayer that she may remain cancer free. Jim Hunter is three years cancer free now. Carlos and Silvia Baltedano as they settle in Nashville. Lilly, who is a CF
double lung transplant patient is not doing well at UVA Med Center. Remember the mother of Del Bolin, The parents of Joni and Allen Beach and Teryn Gaynor. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder. Tim is having serious problems with diabetes.

WELCOME
Today we are blessed to have with us Shen Kretzschmar, who is a nurse with Health Talents and works among the people in and around Chichicastenango, Guatemala. She will be speaking after a brief sermon by Keith. She has also brought her parents with her and we welcome then to Roanoke.

NEW ADDRESS
Jeff and Kathy Martin have moved. They had someone who made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Their new address is 7022 Mountain Spring Trail, Roanoke, 24018 Vivian will be joining them soon, if not by today.

AWAY
The Wagners will be away on Super Sunday, May 20, Keith is conducting a wedding in Huntington, WVa. for the daughter of a couple he married several years ago. They will be returning on Sunday.

GRADUATION BANQUET
The banquet for our graduates has been rescheduled for June. May was just too busy to enable as many friends and relatives to be able to come. However, it will be an evening function in the annex.

CONGRATULATIONS
Congratulations to Garrett Lee Williams who receive his AA Degree from Virginia Western. To Logan McRoy who will graduate from James Madison University and Laura Hogan who will graduate from Hollins University. They will be honored at the banquet in June.

THE ANNEX LIGHTS
The lights in the annex are acting up again so some changes will be made as soon as we can get it done.