Roanoke Church of Christ

Bulletins

WHEN I’M GONE – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

The mind isn’t changed by someone else. The mind is changed by a willingness to be changed. A changed mind receives, sorts and sifts by using the wisdom, facts and knowledge at hand and then retains and discards that which does not fall into those (and perhaps even instinctual ) categories.
If I sound like I’m an expert on the subject, I’m not. However, as someone who deals with both the Old Testament (Hebrew) and the New Testament (Christian) Bible, I’m always struck by how the Bible is understood by those who read it.
I don’t know why I never encased the Bible in a steel vault, never to be taken apart and examined. I was, and am, always curious to examine a new idea about the Bible. Do I swallow everything which comes down the track? No. I see way too much of that from those who listen to and watch preachers as if everything they say is right from the mouth of God. (As if God had a mouth.)
I remember in a religion class, the teacher, Pat Harrell, said the passage in Matt. 19:24 (also in Mark and Luke) about the camel going through the eye of a needle could also mean a rope going through the eye of a needle. All I’d ever heard was about a (fictional) gate used to sneak into the city which was so small a camel could barely get through. Wow, I was impressed! It seems the two Greek words are very close in spelling and in being copied over and over it was possible a scribe may not have been able to tell what the scribe before him had written and did the best he could with it. Or, as some people, who rather insist it was “camel” say, it was hyperbole. The reason given is that if it isn’t camel, the inspiration (truth) of the scripture becomes suspect. My mind doesn’t work that way. Rope makes more sense to me, but camel is equally a hard thing to thread a needle with.
What I’ve noticed is that when such “changes” in long-held understandings are offered, there is an instant closed-mindedness expressed by a good number who refuse to accept any possible change.
Here’s another example. When Paul preached at Troas a young man named Eutychus, fell asleep and fell from a third floor window. He survived. Now, what I found interesting, as told by someone who also liked to look beyond the surface, that “Eutychus” means “fortunate.” Now, was that his name, or was that what he was called? It could be both, but to some the very thought that it may be more of a definition, rather than his name, is offensive. Remember, there are no upper case letters in Greek.
How about the story of young David killing the giant Goliath? Was David at a disadvantage when he went out to fight with only a slingshot? It makes a great story. Would learning something about “slingers” be too offensive? Joel Baden, Old Testament teacher at Yale, and writer Malcomb Gladwell, looking at the story of David and Goliath, says David was not at the disadvantage in the fight with Goliath that is traditionally depicted. David, as young as he was, was a “slinger.” A “slinger” was a person expert in using the sling as a weapon. Such people throughout history have been known to be able to hit a target at over a hundred yards. At 38 yards a stone could hit traveling at about 37 yards per second.
In a battle with a lumbering nine- foot tall man weighed down with armor, with a sword, which to use, he would have to get within striking distance, a slinger would have about as much advantage as a 45 caliber bullet against a knife. Slingers, like archers, could kill from a distance. However, an archer would be seen as an archer, and defended as such. The element of a bag of rocks and a sling gives an advantage of surprise.
Does that destroy the story of David and Goliath? I’m sure there are some people who will not entertain the possibility that the “slinger” idea can be true, even though it has historical president. Why? Because when it comes to the Bible and not just the Bible, the mind refuses to accept anything new.
Why are such examples worth thinking about? Because resistance to such changes in thinking also penetrate deeper issues.
Slavery was justified for centuries based on Biblical reading. Rev. Ebenezer W. Warren in a 1864 pro-slavery book, said it was against scripture to oppose slavery because the Bible said slaves should obey their masters just as children should obey their parents.
The same has been true when it comes to gender equality. This is still an ongoing issue. Those who used scripture to subjugate women have had to yield, even though they are not open about it. In my younger days a woman’s place was in the home, as it seemed to be for all time. However, in war-time things changed. Women worked outside the home. Again as inflation hit. One blue-collar salary was not enough. Preachers who had held the stay-at home-mom view found that their income from preaching did not meet the family needs, especially in formal education. So they eased up on that.
The view of divorce and remarriage changed because of a deeper investigation of scripture, at least for some. Adultery, is recognized as not just sexual, but also a breaking of the covenant vows of marriage, just as Israel was adulteress when it broke the covenant with God. Much of that was with another “love” idols.
It was inevitable that this would lead to a second look at the Bible and the recognition of the equality of women in all aspects of the church as have we and others, but still a minority in our churches.
There are other hard issues where scripture, along with current science, medicine and culture need to be examined.
When I’m gone I don’t want to be remembered as someone who shut the doors of the kingdom of God against those Jesus would welcome. I’d rather God tell me I opened them too wide, than not enough.
Keith

CONCERNS: Former members Debbie and Ray Reiss’s son-in-law has had a portion of a large tumor removed from his brain. Tests are being done to determine a course of action. Deanna McRoy, her type of cancer is prone to return. Richard Foy is doing better. Keep the parents of the Beach’s and Del Bolin’s mother and Teryn Gaynor’s parents in prayer. Leena Bolin’s friend is still dealing with stress related issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Amber is totally paralyzed. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry and family. Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
TODAY
Today is Super Sunday. After the morning service we will enjoy our monthly fellowship dinner in the annex. Please stay and enjoy this time together.

THE SERVICE TODAY
Since this is the third Sunday of the month, the service will be conducted by Susan Jordan. Thank you Susan for sharing with us today. Her theme is “Then Sings My Soul.”

THE STEERING COMMITTEE
The steering committee will meet in the library following the Super Sunday meal to continue talking about the plan to upgrade the annex lighting and acoustics.

VISITORS
While we have had some of our folks away, we have been blessed to have visitors from Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Washington DC with us this month

WEDNESDAY EVENING
In 1977, the governor of West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller, was warned of an impending blizzard coming from the west. He canceled businesses, government and schools and told everyone to go home and be prepared.
That day the sky was a strange beautiful blue. An eerie calm ensued. Everyone got ready for the “big one.” As I remember, not one flake of snow fell in most of the state. You can read about it on the internet.
Wednesday, a severe storm was pounding Smith Mt. Lake. Martha Albert was not able to get out. Storms were in most counties around us and we were told we’d all get some rain. Over half of the Wednesday crowd was not coming. So the service was canceled. Guess what? Not a drop of rain fell in Roanoke! O well.

THERE’S SCRIPTURE AND THEN THERE’S SCRIPTURE – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

Whenever I hear a politician quote scripture I cringe. They are out of their element. I would say there should be a law against it, but that would eliminate the fault revealed in such use of scripture. I would add to that list a good number of preachers.
Why? Because there two main reasons to quote scripture.
One is that the person has arrived at a conclusion (about just about anything) and wants to make it beyond being challenged. Just throw in a scripture and it’s untouchable.
The other use of scripture is to lay it out for examination, discussion and reflection. I have to admit Jesus did both, well, at least once. In Matt. 15:7 (also Mk.7) Jesus called some Pharisees and teachers of the law “hypocrites” and quoted from Isaiah to back it up.
My research tells me that Jesus quoted the OT (scripture) about 77-84 times. Only one time (maybe a couple more) did he use scripture to prove he was right. Of course, there are the “you shall not” passages spoken when he was tempted after his baptism. As far as I can tell by reading the list, the other times he used the OT (scripture) to cause people to examine who and what they thought about him or God, and what God had said for them to do. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but here’s my point.
If we get anything from the temptation story of Jesus in the wilderness, we get that any devil can quote scripture.
However, that doesn’t stop people from believing that quoting scripture or to site scripture somehow proves their point of view. I was once highly criticized by a guy who said I didn’t site any scripture in an article I’d written. Well, I couldn’t find any scripture about making snowmen and women. Just kidding. I don’t feel the need to use scripture to prove what I say is infallible. When I speak or write about the Bible, I want to express what I think I understand about it based on other teachings in scripture or other comments and explanations I believe are in harmony with scripture. I am well aware that there are varied opinions and views about the meaning of scriptures. The debate over the meaning of scripture is as old as scripture itself. Rabbi’s debated the meaning and the interpretation of the Law of Moses. Their conclusions are found in such works as the Mishnah and the Talmud. In them you will find varied explanations of Scripture.
Opposing views can make for good dialog and deeper understanding. In many cases it is about as significant as how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. However, in other cases it deals with issues which determine how people are to be viewed and treated. Does Romans 13 say that all government is ordained by God and the laws of such government must be obeyed by everyone? Or does it say the government is “God’s servant to do you good.” One view says blind obedience to all government is what is required. The other says when the government does what is “good” (v.4) for all its citizens it is of God.
How do we decide such dilemmas in scripture and even where scripture is not clear, or silent?
I’m going to quote some scripture for your consideration. I don’t have room for all of it, but I would encourage you to read I Cor. 2:10-16. Here’s a sampling: v.11″For who among men knows the thoughts who a man except the man’s spirit within him” V.12. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” V. 14. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” You will note that Paul never talks about the interpretation of scripture here. It is about understanding the Spirit of God as it guides our decisions.
Add to that one of my favorite passages for consideration, found first in Jeremiah 31:33 and in the New Testament in Hebrews 10:16. It is the promise of the new covenant. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after that time says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts and will write them on their minds.”
As I understand those passages, spiritual understanding comes from the Spirit of God, written on the mind and hearts of the believer. It is the Spirit in the person’s mind and heart that applies scripture. It is also that Spirit which applies God’s Spirit in situations where there is no scripture or clear agreement of scripture.
That means I have to do my best to know God through the Spirit of Christ and to understand enough to show that Spirit in all that I say and do.
Keith

JULY BIRTHDAYS
7-Kathy Sirgy 8-Larry Foy 9-Nathan Flora 13-Samuel Blessing 16-Zona Fisher 19- Jim Hunter 21-Brock McRoy 25-Oliver Hogan 26-John Bolin
JULY ANNIVERSARIES
2-Jake & AC Fuller 4-Wayne & Susan Phlegar 13-Jim & Mary Smith

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is recovering from her illness and has been able to travel a little, as well as being at church. Debbie McRoy’s sister-in-law’s tests have come back negative for cancer. Debbie also has a cousin with health problems. Debbie’s daughter-in-law, Deanna, is in recovery from cancer. Del Bolin’s mother is at home, but dealing with aging problems. Leena Bolin’s friend’s father, diagnosed with cancer, has died, which adds to her other stress
related problems. Lilly, the young CF patient who had a double lung transplant is now in rehab at UVA Med. Center. Richard Foy (Chrone’s disease). Joni and Alan Beach’s parents; Teryn Gaynor’s mother and step-father; Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver; Melanie Gentry and family; Wayne Phlegar; Ray and Darnel Barns; Gil Richardson (ALS) Jamie Cole; Jim and Mary Smith; Tim Elder and Steve Fox, who is making wonderful progress.

STEERING COMMITTEE
Among the things discussed in the steering committee was the improved lighting and acoustics in the annex. A few ideas were explored and when they can be laid out, the congregation will help decide which lighting plan is most desirable.

WATER ISSUE
There was a little scare last Wednesday evening. One of the ceiling tiles fell onto the floor due to the weight of some water which had collected in the insulation on top of it. At first it was thought the heavy rains had caused it and that the roof would have to be replaced. However, the problem was the drain for the air conditioners had stopped up and the catch pan had overflowed. Everything is good now. The roof is good for a little while longer.

THANKS
Thanks to Lyn Jordan for cleaning up the weeds etc. on Carlton at the top of our property. That area looks so much better since Roger Fisher cleaned it before he died.

NOTE TO THOSE WHO SERVE
Because we are in the Summer season and many of us will be away, the service roster has some changes with some folks who usually only serve a week now serving all month. As always, if you are unable to be here, someone will take your place. Without knowing who will or will not be here all the slots were filled in and can be changed at any time.
VISITORS
Last Sunday we had several visitors. Among them were Wendy (Hall) Davis and her son, from Texas. Susan And Michael Smith from Alabama, and Susan Kelly.

CONDITIONAL CHRISTIANITY – New Life Bulletin

Paul told Timothy (11 Tim. 2:15) to study and handle correctly the word of truth.
My intention here is to ask how we too should handle scripture reasonablely, within its historical and cultural context.
Did the New Testament have a historical and cultural context? Yes. If you agree with that, and you may not, it has to be understood (handled) in that context. Which means there are some passages which should be understood in that framework. Which also means the application for the later (modern) reader may have no contemporary application at all, except to illustrate a given point in time and culture. .
The foundation for this is that the early (NT) Christians expected Christ to return soon, even within their lifetime. See I Thess. 1:9, 3:12, 4:16-17; James 5:1-11, I Cor, 1:7 and I John 2:28, 3:2,3 to name only a few.
Let’s look at I Cor. 7 for example, and ask if these instructions (commands) are conditional or contemporary?
The chapter opens with Paul addressing “matters about which they wrote”. He answers a “matter” by saying, “It is good for a man not to marry” (NIV) Other translations use other terms, but we’ll use this one. Do Preachers preach that today?
His response is that due to “immortality” it’s okey to marry. In v. 5 he says marriage is because of “your lack of self-control.” Is that what we think and preach today? Remember, it’s in the book!
The same lack of self-control is applied to all unmarried and widows.” V.8&9.
V.10 Paul says the Lord “commands” the wife not to separate from her husband, but if she does she must remain unmarried, or return to her husband. He adds that the husband should not divorce his wife. Notice that according to Paul, the Lord commands (allows) the wife to leave her husband as long as it is not to marry another man. No reason is given. (More about that later.)
In vs. 12-16 Paul tells how marriage to non-believers should be handled. If the woman has an unbelieving husband who is content to live with her, she should not divorce him because of his unbelief. This is to work both ways. (V.15) However, if the non-believer wants out of the marriage, let them go. “A believing brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances.” Meaning the marriage is no longer binding, i.e., can be dissolved. There is also the issue of the non-believing “husband” (partner) being sanctified, as well as the children, through the believing partner. (V.14). The answers (?)) to that are about as many as the stars in the sky! It should be noted that even if Paul is granting divorce for such a situation, under his previous advice, neither should remarry.
In vs. 17-31 he sets out his view on all of this by saying “Nevertheless.” His main principle is based on this thesis: “Let everyone retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” Which is better explained in v20. “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.”
So circumcised or uncircumcised, don’t try to change it. (Yes, there was a surgical attempt to make the circumcised appear uncircumcised.)
A slave? No problem, stay a slave, unless you can gain freedom.
A virgin? Forget marriage. Married? Forget divorce. Unmarried? Forget marriage, but if you do, it’s not a sin. If married, live as though single. (v.29) Mourning? Stop. Happy? Stop. Buying things is meaningless. (v.30)
Vs. 32-40. Unmarried men are more concerned about the Lord’s business. (More later) Unmarried women are better at the Lord’s affairs. Married women are not. Everyone must have undivided attention to the Lord.
If the man has a virgin-bride-in-waiting, who is getting on in years, it’s not a sin to marry her. But if marriage is not what the man wants, it’s not a sin to not marry the virgin-bride-in-waiting, but he does better if he doesn’t marry her. A widow can remarry, but only to a believer.
Let’s review. It’s better not to marry. This is stated several times. If one does, it’s due to a lack of self-control. (v. 5&9)
A wife can’t leave (divorce?) her husband to get another man, but she can leave him if she wants. No reason given. A man must not divorce his wife.
If married to an unbeliever and they are living in peace, no divorce. If the unbeliever wants out, let them go. The believer is not bound any more than if they died. Note v.39.
Each person should remain in the situation in which they were called, i.e., became a believer. Live like you are single if married and so on.
Conditional or contemporary? If contemporary, why does Paul want elders to be married, and doesn’t tell men to live like they are single in other writings?
As to women leaving (separating from) their husbands, if the Lord is expected so soon as to cause marriage to cease, perhaps these women wanted to be part of those single women who “worked for the Lord’s coming. (v. 34)
As to remarriage after the unbeliever leaves, this is not a contemporary discussion about divorce and remarriage. Paul has said it’s better not to marry (or remarry).
All of chapter 7 is conditional, because, as Paul says in vs.26, 29&31, “Because of the present crisis” “The time is short” and, “The world in its present form os passing away.” The expectation of Christ’s speedy return conditioned how Paul, at least at that time, instructed them to live. For us and the later believers, not so.
That being true, how much more of what we apply as instructions or beliefs is the result of the conditions and the culture of the New Testament period? To examine such questions is about handling the scriptures right.
Keith
CONCERNS: Judy Hall continues to improve each day. Lilly, the young woman who received a double lung transplant due to CF is now in rehab. Del Bolin’s mother, Carrie, spent some time in the hospital. Ellen Tidwell, Debbie McRoy’s sister-in law had a lump scan on Tuesday. Debbie’s has a cousin who is having health issues as well. Richard Foy (Chrone’s disease) Deanna McRoy; in cancer recovery. Joni and Alan Beach’s parents; Teryn Gaynor’s mother and step-father; a friend of Leena Bolin’s who is having stress problems. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Melanie Gentry; Wayne Phlegar; Ray and Darnel Barns; Gil Richardson; (ALS) Jamie Cole; Jim and Mary Smit; Tim Elder, and Steve Fox a recently retired minister who is being treated for neurological issues.

TODAY
Our thoughts today will be directed by Mike Branch. Our thanks to him for the message.

SYMPATHY
Out sympathy is extended to Lyn Jordan in the death of a cousin who died over a week ago. The funeral was in Knoxville, TN.

SUPER SUNDAY
Today is Super Sunday. The fellowship meal will be in the annex following the service. Visitors are considered our honored quests. Please stay.

STEERING COMMITTEE
There will be a steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.

SUMMER TIME
During the summer months many of our congregation will be traveling. If you are going to be away, let Keith know. In relation to that, the Susan Jordan (and sometimes Lyn) will be away for the rest of June. The Bolin’s will also be away in July. During one of those “aways” Del will be lecturing in Greece.

THINK ABOUT THIS
Mike Branch invited me (KW) to sit in on a scipe session with the daughter of Joy Johnson, the former director of the Rescue Mission, who is studying at Notre Dame. She is involved with the Mennonites. When asked about evangelism among that group, she said their growth comes from the members sharing how much they enjoy being part of their church. When I heard that I thought about those of our church who have come to us for the same reason.

PLANNING THE SUMMIT – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

(The following is email intercepted by Heaven Wide Security. How they reached me via the deep state is a matter of world-wide security requirements.)

Dear Beevil,
It has been several years since we had a summit on how the thing called Facebook has helped our cause. That being the case, the Great One says it’s time for those of us in the higher levels of our government to come together to review and plan for future.
The summit has been set for September of this year. The exact date will be forthcoming. It will be on the island of Banaba, which is part of Kiribati of the Gilbert Islands. Banaba has a population of about 300 or so. It is also on the equator, which offers those of us from the underworld, so to speak, a place of comfort while we work.
What I need from you is a report from your section of the underworld as to how well our work is doing on Facebook in your part of North and South America.
I would’ve called, but there are no longer any secure lines. Even this secure email is subject to hacking by those who seek to limit our influence.
You will also notice I am using a new code name. It is always important to keep changing your code name, and I would advise you to do the same.
Please respond as soon as possible.
El Lobos

Great El Lobos,
I am happy to say that since our last communication our work on Facebook has outperformed our wildest expectations! Now we have Twitter to add to that as well!
As you know, email worked well for it’s time. Facebook has surpassed that by far. Did you hear about the Russians? They used Facebook (and Mark Zuckerburg) to influence the elections in the United States!
All they had to do was buy space and then put out anything they wanted people to believe! No one seemed to know it was the Russians, nor thought to investigate. As you know, if it looks believable, those who want to believe it, will. In fact, it works so well that the fact-checking sites are doubted. People post things about who is checking the fact-checkers! So as long as the fact-checkers are not believed, we are in business!
As we have known since the beginning of time, humans are self-serving before anything else. Remember the Eden story? As long as they can find anything which will support their preconceived, prejudicial self-serving ideas, we win. Facebook has become the Garden of Eden for us.
You need to read some of the evil, ugly and nasty responses to about any and all posts. Some posters will go on and on. It’s easy to see how, if they were face to face, it would turn violent. In fact such violence has increased. Others seem to use it to vent their wicked side. Which, of course, makes us winners.
Facebook has given humans a place to express the very worst of humanity while being unexposed. They use this thing called “hash tag” to hide their identity. They seem to have no idea we know who they are. Of course, our adversary, you-know-who knows what they say as well. But it doesn’t seem to bother them, even the ones who use their own names, or refer to themselves as “Christians.” It’s as if they are in another world.
Now, Twitter is another thing. It allows people to communicate with their followers almost instantly.
What we’ve found is that the time telling others your thoughts and activities consumes an astounding amount of time. We have even begun to see Twitter addiction.
I would invite you to come above before the summit and see for yourself. Go into any home or public place and people who could be talking to each other are looking at some form of electronic device! This has become a virtual gold mine for us!
In closing, it seems that the Russian thing has caused Zuckerburg and others to try to tighten their security. Good luck! We will always find a way to bring out the evil in people.
Your always obedient and faithful servant,
Beevil
PS. Next time I will be El-Toro

Dear El-Toro,
What a good name for you! Now, I want you to hack these Facebook and Twitter accounts for me. Coded: vxctqu, pnutzj, 8s7gcvx, talp666n. Send them ASAP!
I look forward to seeing you at the summit. By the way, how is the little woman and all the little devils? I wish the summit could be a little vacation for all of the Devils family, but we have to remain as inconspicuous as possible. We will be going as archaeologists.
Until then,
EL-Lobos

THOSE TO SERVE IN JUNE
Announcements: Martha Albert
Serve Communion: James Downing
Megan Downing
Carson McRoy
Connie Crites
Usher: John Bolin
Communion Care: Susan Phlegar
Singing: Scripture:
3-Scott Blessing Judy McWhorter
10-Alan Beach Mark McRoy
17-Karen Branch Steve Gaynor
24-Del Bolin Holly Wagner
Communion: Nursery:
3-Wayne Flora Susan Phlegar
10-Abraham Sirgy Megan Downing
17-Scott Blessing Holly Wagner
24-Mike Branch Alisa Flora
If you can’t serve call Erma Williams
JUNE BIRTHDAYS
13-Michael Branch 13-Susan Jordan
21-Wayne Flora 23-Betty Billings
29-Joni Beach

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is recovering at home and has been able to attend services. Matha Foy’s brother and Larry’s son, Richard Foy is struggling with Chrone’s disease, and may require surgery. Deanna McRoy has been declared cancer free at this time. However, her cancer is aggressive and has returned before. Debbie McRoy’s sister-in law, Ellen Tidwell has a spot on her lung which is being monitored. Lilly, a double lung transplant due to CF, is in UVA Med Center. Keep Joni and Alan Beach’s parents, as well as Del Bolin’s mother and Teryn Gaynor’s mother and step-father in prayer. A friend of Leena Bolin also needs prayer for strength to cope, as does Steve Fox, a recently retired minister in WV known to Keith and others of this congregation. Sheila Jansen’s daughter, Amber Weaver, remains the same. She is paralyzed and unable to move or speak. Also Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Ray and Darnel Barns, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

RETURNING
Since we have had to say goodbye to so many people over the last few years, it is exciting to announce that Stephanie Dixon is returning to Roanoke after spending about two years in Florida. She has a nursing job at the Glebe in Daleville. She plans to be in Roanoke in a week or so. When she arrives she will need help unloading the truck. More information on the time and place will be announced.

NEEDS A RIDE
A woman who lives at the Stratford Apartment on Brandon Ave,. Would like to come to services here. She does not have a car so she needs a ride to the worship service.
If you come that way just for worship, talk to Keith. Her name is Susan Kelly. Her Phone number is 540-355-6318.

WEDNESDAY EVENING
For those of you who attend on Wednesday evening, it has been discussed that the “soup supper” before the class be discontinued. It can work a hardship on those who travel farther to get here. However, if enough of the class wishes to continue we will.
If enough are there this Wednesday we will try to make a decision.
While the Sunday evening storms caused flooding in the Cave Spring area, as far as we know, none of our members had any more than some water which leaked into their basements.

AWAY
Mike and Karen Branch are away, as are the Beach’s and Erma Williams. It was good to see Scott Blessing and the family able to be with us last Sunday.

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.

THE BIBLE AND IMMIGRATION – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

Among the issues Christians face, especially in the United States, is immigration, and it is a complex and thorny issue. Ask about it in any church and you will find out how thorny it is.
Interestingly, President Trump was about to deport illegal Iraqi Christians, until the ACLU stopped him. It seems Iraqi Christians stand a good chance of being killed if they are returned to Iraq. As far as I can tell, this is still on hold. However, it brings up a question: Why should illegal Iraqi Christians be treated differently than illegal Christians from El Salvador or some other country where they live in danger? The answer, I suppose is in how clear and present is the danger of death. But the issue is “illegal” and why some illegal immigrants get a religious pass, while others don’t .
As “People of the Book” we should know what the Bible says about immigrants, and how it spells out how they are to be treated.
First, the word for “stranger” and “alien” in the OT is the same word, “gur.” It had nothing to do with nationality, since such lines were not yet drawn. It had to do with what gods people worshiped, what language they spoke, or the area in which they lived. Keeping that in mind, here is everything, well nearly everything, the Bible has to say about the subject.
The people of the Bible were always aware they were immigrants. Psalm 39:12, the plea is for God to hear, and it says. “For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.”
Abraham was probably the first immigrant. He moves to Canaan, a land already occupied where he has no land or kin.
Israel moves his family to Egypt to survive and becomes enslaved. They leave Egypt and migrate to the land of Abraham.
The book of Ruth is maybe the best immigration book. It is the story of a Moabite woman who immigrates to Israel and eventually becomes the ancestor of King David and Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, according tp Matthew, he and his family were political refuges in Egypt for awhile.
Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy all say, “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt. Ex. 23:9.
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.” (Lev. 19:33-34 )
Deut. 24:17-18 says, “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of a widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your Go redeemed you from there ” It adds that when they harvest they should not go over the harvest a second time because they should remember they were slaves in Egypt. (V. 19-22.)
Deut. 10:18-19 says “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt”
Isaiah 16:3b-4 says, “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite (longtime enemies of Israel) fugitives stay with you, be their shelter from the destroyer.”
Numbers 15:15-16 “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.”
Exodus 12:48 “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it.”
I Kings 8:41-43 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name–for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel.” This is from Soloman’s dedication of the Temple.
This view of the alien continues into the prophetic period, which is interesting because it’s the time foreign countries had taken Israel captive, and they are looking for the reconstruction of the country and the Temple. Ezekiel 47:22-23 says, “You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settle, there you will give him his inheritance.”
The NT books of Romans and Hebrews tell those who follow Jesus to “Extend hospitality to strangers” And of course there is the passage in Matthew 25:35&40 where Jesus says all nations will be called before his throne. The blessed will hear that they took in strangers (v. 35) and the cursed were those who did not. (v. 40) The reason for the division was that in doing or refusing to do such to the least of them was the same as if it was done or not done to Jesus.
Most folks reading this are not directly involved in immigration, but it is part of the general conversation. As I said, it’s a thorny issue. It is interesting that the Bible does not see it as such. Neither religion, conduct or morality is discussed.
II Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
That’s the biblical foundation where the children of God should start the discussion.
Keith

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is making very good progress in her recovery at Raleigh Court. She is in Room 116. Carlos and Silvia Baltedado, who were with Health Talents in Guatemala (and friends of Susan Jordan) are moving to Nashville so Carlos can work on a degree in ministry. Continue in prayer for Deanna McRoy, Joni and Alan Beach’s parents. Del Bolin’s mother, Teryn Gaynor’s mother. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim & Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

SUPER SUNDAY
Today Is Super Sunday. The fellowship meal will be in the annex following the service. Plan to stay and take a look at some of the new quilts Judy McWhorter has on display. The quilts have improved the acoustics in the room. If you are a visitor, please be our guest for the meal.

TODAY
Today, for our special third Sunday service, Joanne Elder will be speaking to us about the grace of God.

THE TREE
The city has trimmed the tree that had a large branch leaning toward the front porch. This had become a worry to us because it would have caused a lot of damage had it fallen. They also trimmed back some other branches as well. We were hoping they might take down the whole tree because it is slowly dying. Perhaps that will be the next step. As for now we can breath easier.

THANKS
Thanks to those who prepared the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening. And also to those who picked up the bread at Panara Bread and to those who delivered it to the Rescue Mission.

SPRING CLEANING
Let’s take a good look at finding a time when we can do some yard work around the building. We want to gradually clean the area at the lower end of the property between us and the apartments. They have already cleaned part of the area and it has been that way for more than thirty years.

EASTER ON HICKORY RIDGE – “NEW LIFE” Bulletin

by my friend, Ben
It were perty much my habit agettin’ up at five o’clock in the mornin’. It Were. The saw mill ‘n lumber yard opened at seven so folks could get what they needed to start their day. It did. So this bein’ Easter Sunday I were awake way before sunup. I were.
Ol’ Blue stretched out an’ groaned as he got up. He were gettin ‘ slower an’ slower. Doc Parsons said it were all part a him gettin’ on in years. He did. He gave me some pills what he said would help, ‘specially in the colder weather. He did. Well, it bein’ April an’ all I reckoned he’d need a little help gettin’ started, so first thing I got his pills. I did.
Now ol’ Blue would let me do just about anything to him. He would. But when it come to takin’ his pills he acted like I were about to kill him. He did. He’d drop his head an’ hunker down with his head between his legs an’ stiffen his neck so I couldn’t get to his mouth. He would.
It bein’ Easter an’ all I figgered I’d give him some a my scrambled eggs an crush his pill up in ‘em. I would. So when I got out the skillet he raised his head an’ looked relieved. He did.
There were still some late snow on the ground as I loaded my chair an’ guitar into my truck. There were. I’d picked some daffodils and crocuses from the yard where Ma had planted ‘em years ago. No matter how bad the winter, them flowers were always ready on Easter. They were.
Ol’ Blue were waitin’ by the truck with his tail awagin’. He knowed we was headin’ up to Hickory Ridge Cemetery like we’d done every Easter since Ma, an’ then Pa, died. We did.
I laid the flowers behind the seat an picked ol’ Blue up an put him in the front seat. I did. The days of him junpin’ in on his own were done gone. They was.
As headlights on my truck shined down the lane, four deer run across an’ jumped the fence headin’ up the lespedeza hill across from the house. They did. Iffen ol’ Blue saw ‘em he didn’t let on none. He still liked to chase ‘em on a good warm day, but not like he used to. He didn’t
As we come round the hairpin bend, just over the hill were Hickory Ridge, layin’ out there in the valley. It were. Some folks asked why it were called Hickory Ridge when it were in a valley. They did. The answer I heard were that a battle between the states were fought on the ridges round about. So the town what grew up after the war were named after that there battle. It were.
I reckon the reason folks like to stay in Hickory Ridge were cause it probably looked perty much like it did back in them days after the war. It did. It were a place what were perty much untouched by big city life. It were. Course the streets were paved an the ol’ gas lamps were electric, but the storefronts looked perty much the same. At least that’s what the old pictures at the Courthouse showed. They did.
Just a tad on the west side a town the road up to the cemetery turned right up the hill. It did. I were one of the folks in town with a key to the gate, which were locked at sunset each day by Jim Bob Thomas, the local constable. They were.
When I reached the top a Cemetery Hill, I pulled offen the road by ma n’ pa’s graves. I did. They were on the top, sloping down facin’ the east. Ma said she wanted to face the east while she were waitin’ for the Lord to come. She did.
I helped ol’ Blue outta the truck an he took off like he always did to see what he could scare up. He did. I pulled out my chair an’ guitar an’ sat down. I knowed the town folks would soon be coming’ up for the Sunrise Service, so I started singin’ ma’s favorite hymn, “I Come to the Garden Alone.” I did.
Ma didn’t go to the Sunrise Service the town put on. She didn’t. What she loved to do was get up way before me’n pa an’ start her special Easter breakfast. She did. It were a feast of biscuits, eggs, sausage an’ sausage gravy rounded out with jelly, creamy butter an’ apple butter for good measure. It were.
But before she fixed it, she would get her coffee an’ sit on the porch all wrapped up-like an’ rock in her chair. She would. She liked to see the sun come up on Easter. She did. Once in awhile I’d hear her an I’d wrap up in my blanket an’ come out with her. I would. She would smile an’ begin to talk about the beautiful world God had gave us. She would.
As the sun would start to come up she’d sigh a little an’ say somethin’ about how wonderful it musta been for the Lord, after bein’ in that dark tomb, to hear the stone roll away an’ step into the morning darkness. She did. She would sometimes imagine him going up to the highest point an’ lettin’ the risin’ sun shine on his face. She would.
Ol’ Blue come around the hill just as I laid them flowers on Ma an’ Pa’s graves. He did. I loaded him in the truck an’ we headed down the hill. We did. I’d get home in time to sit in her rocker an’ watch the sun come up. She’d like that. She would
Keith

CONCERNS: Judy Hall continues to make good progress with her rehabilitation at Raleigh Court. She is in Room 116. Remember Carlos and Silvia Baltedano in Guatemala. They are part of the Health Talents team there. Also Deanna McRoy, Joni and Allan Beach’s parents, Del Bolin’s mother as their health declines. Teryn Gaynor’s mother and father. Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Amber is paralyzed and can only move her eyes. She is in the Salem Rehabilitation Center. Marjorie Wilson, Wayne Phlegar, Melanie Gentry, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

JON MOELLER
Former member, Jon Moeller called a week or so ago to say hello and get some information. He and his wife now live in North Dakota, just across the state line from where they were before. His oldest, Maddie is married and working as a psych nurse in a juvenile health hospital for troubled youth. His son, Mark is teaching High School and coaching track in Minnesota.
He sends his greetings and said they almost were able to visit with us when Mark’s team was competing in a preliminary track competition to be held in Johnson City TN. However, they lost. He still hopes to bring his children to see where they were born. He is staying busy with his bronze horse sculpturing business. If you’d like to drop him an email it is moellerbronze@rrt.net
WORK DAY
A work day at the building is in the works. The weather has been so unpredictable a day hasn’t yet been decided. One area we want to work on is the lower end of the property. The owner of the apartments has already cleaned up some of our property and we would like to continue to make that area look better As mentioned, the city will not pick up piles of brush because we are considered a business. However, we can dump free if we take it to the dump. It will take a few chain saws and other brush clearing tools as well as elbow grease. We should be able to find a Saturday this month. Of course, it will not be a one day job, but it’s a start.
EASTER
This is Easter Sunday. Think what a difference Jesus had made in your life.

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

I feel in a reflective mood, which isn’t always good. I was reflecting on an interview where a woman was asked why she voted for Donald Trump. Her answer, “So I can say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
That made me reflect of something I haven’t heard lately, that America was and should always be a Christian nation. Some like the “Merry Christmas” lady, may feel it has finally become one.
It hasn’t. It never was. It never will. I’m glad it won’t. Why? Because it would cease to be America. You see, “nation” and “Christian” are not compatible. A nation is an area with boundaries. Christianity is universal. Nations seek their own partisan agenda. As Jesus noted, “Nation shall rise against nation.” (Matt. 24:7) Christianity’s agenda is a ministry of reconciliation among all nations.
A nation is built on self-preservation by military might. The Church offers itself upon the cross of suffering love. It is not seeking survival, but spreading the good news of God’s love. And, historically, nations have come and gone, but Christianity, at its worst and at its best, after two thousand years plus, still can be a power for good.
Citizens of a nation are, in a general sense, simply those born there, like it or not. No one is born a citizen of the Church. It is by choice that one becomes part of Christ’s purpose on earth.
I don’t want to spend much time on the history of America and its Constitution, but some things need to be remembered. America was never a Christian nation by those who shaped the Constitution. “Christian” nor “God” is mentioned. “Creator” and “Supreme Judge of the World” is, but these are Deist statements which can mean anything. “Religion” is mentioned and everyone is free to choose what that religion is. Article IV.
The Treaty of Tripoli (1797) stated that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
There is not enough space nor need to mention everything Thomas Jefferson said about the Bible or religion. However, moving forward in history it was 1954 when the Eisenhower administration added “Under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It should also be noted that President Eisenhower also said, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply religious faith–and I don’t care what it is.”
The idea of a “Christian America” distorts Christianity. It’s the idea that America cannot be a good and significant country unless it is “Christian.” Who is America? America is the people, all people, not just Christians. In fact, often enough it has been “America” which has taught “Christians.” Two examples are racism and patriarchy, both of which were strongly held views by the majority of Christians in earlier periods of America’s development.
Before I go any farther, I should explain the title of this article. In 2016 the state of Tennessee House and Senate pushed a bill to make the Bible the official state book. The Governor, having more civic and historical understanding of America, vetoed the bill. Hence, they missed it by that much. Thank God. By the way, Louisiana also tried and failed, for now.
It’s not that the Bible is not important. It is. But a nation or a state is first of all lead by it’s constitutional law.The Bible is about God, the Jews, Jesus and Christianity.
Jesus, as the leader of Christianity was about a suffering, giving, love for all, even the enemy. If we lay that beside America, the idea that this is a “Christian” nation is a failure.
Jesus said the teaching of the kingdom of God was to be like salt and light. It was like leaven. It was like a mustard seed which grows in the soil (of any country) and brings forth in abundance.
If it becomes captive to any one people or country, it loses its universal value. It becomes identified with a certain ideology, rather than the loving, divine power penetrating the whole of creation. As such, the teachings of Jesus (Christianity) belong to and can thrive in any country, in any culture, in any situation. A Christian church can produce Russian Christians, African Christians and socialist Christians, among others. Democracy, however it is defined, is not Christian, even though at its best it employs the teachings of Jesus.
The Jews (Hebrews) were led by prophets, not kings, at least that was the ideal. It was to be a theocracy. Reading the Old Testament shows that didn’t work very well, as kings and politicians (religious leaders) took power. What would have worked? The easy answer would be if they kept the Law of Moses i.e., and the prophets (God). Did they? Not very well.
Who were the voices of God in the Old Testament? Rarely a king. The record of kings is up and down. But at all times there were prophets. Moses is called a prophet. Nathan guides David and so on. The Jews felt everything hung on the law and the prophets, not on the kings. That being true, what were the guiding principles of the prophets? Take my word for it, they are consistent.
Amos can speak for all them. “Let justice roll down like waters.” 5:24. The rich trample on the poor. 5:11. The poor are driven out or cheated by rigging the scales and currency and the floor sweepings were sold for wheat. 8:4-6. Amos’ message is summed up in chapter 5: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts: I cannot stand your assemblies.” v.21
Isaiah, working in Judah says God denounces the elders and princes of his people and saying “the spoil of the poor is in your houses” Isa.3:14 .
In summery: the powerful treat the poor, who make up most of the populace, as sources of wealth and underpaid labor, using coercion, dishonesty, legal technicalities, and even violence. Justice is the opposite. See Ezek. 18:5-9.
Keith

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is in room 116 at Raleigh Court. She is making headway and as soon as she can walk she will go home. Jim Hunter is having pain. Prayers are asked for the Scotts who lost a three month old baby to apparent SIDS. Also for Carlo and Silvia Baltedano in Montellano, Guatemala. Deanna McRoy is cancer free at this time,but the type she has is very aggressive and can return. Keep The Beach’ parents in prayer, as well as a niece, Jamie Cole. Also Del Bolin’s mother, Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

TODAY
Today’s service will be lead by Wayne Flora. These third Sunday services give us a chance to listen to the gospel from those of the congregation. Be sure to thank Wayne for his service.

SUPER SUNDAY
This is also Super Sunday, which means we will enjoy a meal together in the annex following the service. Visitors are considered our guests. Please stay.

THE BIG DANCE
Del Bolin has been serving as the team doctor for Radford University and traveled to Dayton Ohio with them where they scored their first tournament win in several years. They went on to Pittsburgh and at the time of this printing had not yet played, so if Del is here it means they lost.

WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT
Just kidding a little. It was mentioned that since we are now required to pay for trash collection, we could now begin to clean up the area at the end of our property and the city would remove the brush placed on the curb. You may notice the pile Len Jordan worked up is gone. Yeah! However, a call was received from the city saying they do not do that for businesses, and we are a business. So all we get for the money is that other refuse except brush will be picked up. But some nice man did pick it up. We can fill the dark can with brush, or haul it away. Such is life in the big city.

NEVER AGAIN – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN

“Never again will I curse the ground because of man.” Gen. 8:21
I’m not going to write about the flood, but I am going to mention a rainbow.
As you may know, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have labeled one of several organized protests against the lack of political movement to quell gun violence, especially with assault-type weapons, “Never Again.”
When they returned to that school on Monday to retrieve what they had left behind in the wake of the shooting, which left fourteen students and three faculty dead, they were greeted by a rainbow in the sky.
The school hockey team lost one member to the shooting. They were to play in a tournament to decide the state championship and they were not expected to move up in the brackets. They won the state with seventeen players.
Let’s recap. Seventeen people killed. Seventeen players won the state hockey championship as underdogs. One protest movement chose “Never Again” as their slogan and a rainbow greeted them on Monday as they went to the school for the first time since the shooting.
If I were a person who looked for omens and signs, and I was one of those the students feel have dragged their feet due to political pressure, I’d be worried. In fact, they need to be worried regardless.
I was in my mid twenties when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. I remember a preacher passed out literature with a black man’s face super-imposed over a monkey, which contained all the dangers of rape and sexually transmitted diseases and social chaos blacks and black/white marriage would bring into the populace if they were granted equality. A discussion took place and one preacher offered what he felt was the calming word. He said something like, “This can’t be pushed on people. You can legislate it. It will take time.”
“Now is not the time to talk about it.” “We’ve got to move slowly” That has been said after every mass shooting or social crisis. But there comes a time when, as Victor Hugo said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Get ready, that time has come, just as it did with integration and a long historical list of other such events.
There are those who see the students at Stoneman Douglas as immature and not able to make decisions on such an important issue. On one social media outlet, a retired teacher for 24 years, wrote her solution to Parkland’s shooting. She told the students not to protest, but to go back to school and find the lonely, ignored, etc., person and make friends with them. It was long letter offering some good advice. It seems she was sure this would solve the problem. Her solution never addressed the fact that some damaged people do not kill others, in fact, in many cases they go on to become leaders. The mystery of nurture or nature and evil has not yet been solved. Her suggestion misses the urgency. While reaching out to the “loner” or lonely, nothing is done to stop the one not yet reached, or can’t be reached, who has a killing machine in their hand.
Where would we be with racism in America if no one had stood up and said, “Enough”? I’m not sure where we would be, but it wouldn’t be where we are, and we’ve not gone far enough.
Those who see the students as being children, not mature enough to understand the big picture, might want to remember the quiet line of black children walking in protest in Montgomery Ala., who were met with fire hoses and police dogs. It was seen around the world and the power of Jim Crow and Bull Conner cracked a little more.
These young people in Florida were met with round after round from an assault rifle. It also was seen around the world and the survivors can hear the political powers cracking.
Throwing in a little Bible, we might remember David and Goliath, which has become the standard for the little guy beating the big guy. Or even the words of the prophet Isaiah, “And a little child shall lead them.”
Students across America are making their voices heard. They will march on Washington and they will not even have to march around the Capital seven times, if you listen carefully you can already hear the foundations of self-interest, greed and power cracking. The time has come. Sadly once again, at the cost of children.
Finally, the words of junior Sheryl Acquarola, as she gave her emotional protest speech at the State House in Tallahassee: She said her little brother told her as he left for his grade school following the Douglas shooting, “Don’t worry, I won’t be murdered at school today.” Think about that.
Keith

MARCH BIRTHDAYS
3-Vivian Dugan 5-Bonnie Blessing
12-Buster McRoy 13-Bill Albert
29-James Downing 31-Erma Williams

MARCH ANNIVERSARIES
10-Alan & Joni Beach
19-Bill & Martha Alb

CONCERNS: Judy Hall was to be transferred to Raleigh Court Nursing Care on Friday. Mark McRoy asks prayer for a colleague, Keith Scott and his wife who lost a three month old baby to apparent SIDS. Also prayers for Carlos and Silvia Baltedano who live in Montellano, Guatemala and are part of the Health Talents team at the Ezell Clinic. Deanna McRoy has been given a cancer free at this time. However, her type of cancer is very aggressive and can return. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is still being treated for cancer. Both Joni and Alan Beach’s parents are experiencing health problems as is Del Bolin’s mother. Continue to remember Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Rat and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

SPRING FORWARD
March 11 (next Sunday) starts Daylight Savings Time. Be sure to set your clocks ahead an hour before going to bed on Saturday.
NEXT SUNDAY
Each year, usually in March, a member of Gideons International speaks to us about the Gideon’s work of distributing Bibles throughout the world. Richard Perkins will represent them this year. He will speak briefly before the sermon and will take an offering in the foyer after the service from those who wish to contribute.
THANKS
Thanks to Len Jordan for cleaning up the lower end of the parking lot. It had been overgrown with ivy creeping out from the yard. Lyn is also interested in cleaning the lower end of the yard between us and the apartments. Since we now pay for refuse collection all be have to do is stack it on the curb. However, large trees will have to be cut in smaller sections. A day will be planned for this work as the weather gets milder.
WEDNESDAY EVENINGS
The Wednesday Evening Class continues in the Gospel of John. This week we will start chapter 4, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well.
SUPER SUNDAY
March 18 will be the next Super Sunday. Plan now to attend.
GRADUATES
If you are graduating from any educational school or training center, let Erma Williams Know. The banquet will be in May.
AWAY
Vivian Dugan will be away for the next few weeks.