Roanoke Church of Christ



Were I to write a book or two, one of them would be about how to escape Christianity and still be a Christian. In it I would examine the pain preachers and churches inflict on those who come seeking hope and purpose. If you want material for such a chapter just go out to the public places in the community and ask how people feel about church. The divorced and remarried have to sit and be condemned until they finally either quit or find a more open and loving church. Those who do not hold to the accepted interpretation of some doctrine of scripture sit quietly in pain as they hear their understanding ripped apart as false doctrine. I remember in the church where I grew up a family moved in that everyone liked. The father was a good song leader; the two teen-aged kids were fun to be around. But at some point it was discovered that they were premillennialists. (Shut your mouth!) They dared to believe the Lord would come back to earth and rule for a thousand years! Well, he continued to lead singing, but something changed and a few years later they went to another congregation that “leaned” in that direction. To the congregation and the preacher’s credit, these people weren’t “preached” against. They just knew they were considered to be doctrinally wrong.

I don’t like clichés, like “Thinking outside the box”. It is an accurate description of what is happening, but I’d suggest we have to look over edge in order to see what’s on the other side.

Let’s say the “box” is a view of scripture that says everything is literal and must be understood as it stands. What if that scripture, as understood using this rule, leaves a bad taste in one’s heart and soul? The answer, under the accepted terms is that it’s the will of God, so suck it up. But what if the pain and harm it causes still eats at us? What happens if we dare climb the wall of scripture and look over? What if on the other side we see things, maybe even other scriptures, that make what we’ve climbed up on, look different? What if we see and feel something about the overall love and grace of God, but we don’t have a “Thus saith the Lord”? Dare we say with Paul, “I have no commandment, but by the Lord’s mercy am trustworthy”? (I Cor 7:25)

The answer for a multitude of people is to slide back down into the original understanding, nearly always passed on to them by someone else, and pull the cover back on.

But what if there is still that nagging feeling that where you are isn’t where love is? When that happens, the first thing a person should do is thank God. Why? Because they are on the way to a whole new life with God. The “spirit” of the law becomes more important than the”letter”.

Let’s take an easy example. Years ago I heard a well-known scholar talk about the fact that the early Christians met in houses, i.e., house churches. His point was not to make that the pattern, but to point out that some of these were overseen by women. He did not discuss why the house church was the norm for the Christians. As the years passed, any number of authors came out with books that said the house church was the proper model for today’s church because that’s how they did it then. They even had chapter and verse to prove it. It was as if they had found the Ark of the Covenant. But to say that the house church is the model for the church today is like saying because Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, we should all ride donkeys to church. Was it a donkey? I don’t know. The Greek word is “onos” so you decide.

Could it be that the reason the early church met in homes was it was not in their understanding to have a permanent place when they expected the Lord to return at any moment? There would be time for building in the new heaven and new earth. Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they came together, and as time passed they made adjustments to how they viewed worship. As to if they were always the “Lord’s will” is up for debate.

I mentioned in an earlier article about the idea that literalists believe a 61 year old widow can be put “on the list”, whatever that was, but a 60 year old couldn’t because “their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry”. (I Tim 5:9-12) If you can’t peek over the edge of that one and see the need for more than a surface understanding, well, slide back down and hide from those sensual 60 year old widows. If you happen to be one of those widows, jump over the edge and be free.

I Corinthians 7 is a good place to see the need to see over the edge of stated scripture. Especially good is Paul saying in v.12, “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)” Which means he doesn’t have direct statement from the Lord. What? There is something the Lord hasn’t said? What Paul is dealing with is the marriage between the believer and the unbeliever. Jesus had said nothing about that. So Paul had to look over the edge of what marriage was to him, and give some advice. Was that advice to become the law? Probably not, even though it has been helpful. Neither would his advice about “it not being good to marry at all”. But then there’s that sex thing. v. 1,9. We tell people that marriage for sexual pleasure only is an incomplete marriage. How did Paul see it? Or that part about how marriage brings trouble in life so you shouldn’t do it? (v. 27,28)

If we look over the edge of those scriptures we can see reason for them then, and why they don’t belong today. Verse 29 says, “What I mean brothers, is that the time is short.” And in v. 31, “For the world in its present form is passing away.” Paul, like the other Christians of his time expected the soon return of Christ, so advice was given for what was assumed to be going to happen.

Can you imagine what changes in our understanding of Jesus and God would take place if we looked over the edge of the scriptures that cause division and held them up to the light of love and grace? Do we dare?


CONCERNS: Connie Crites’ brother is being treated for lung cancer. Jim Hunter continues treatment as well. Del Bolin’s friend, Steve Mullins has died. Del also asks prayers for Sharon, also a cancer victim, and one of his students’ brother-in-law, who has thyroid cancer. His name is Billy and his wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Remember also Jenn McCready who works in Gel’s office. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick Nicklas, is awaiting surgery and treatment for cancer. Tony Smallwood will enter nursing care in NC. Mark McRoy’s friend, Ken Teatino is still being treated for lymphoma. Randy Conner has had a reoccurring problem with cancer. Helen Nicklas is about the same. Remember Jenni Cullum, Alma
Martin, Ron Matney, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Matthew 2:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13-23
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19-31
Friday: Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40: 1-11

After a rather sudden illness and many prayers, Richard Crites’ brother-in-law passed away. The funeral was held in Illinois about two weeks ago. The Crites were visiting both of their families at the time, so Rich had been with his brother-in-law and attended the funeral. Our prayers and sympathy go out to this family.

Today (June 17) is Super Sunday. It is also Father’s Day. Come and enjoy a good meal together after the morning service.

The steering committee will meet in the library after the Super Sunday meal. If you have something you want discussed, see one of the members.

Remember, a group of students from the Virginia Tech School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are collecting “gently used” clothing for the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. There is an extra need for plus sizes. We already have some clothes and will make a call for them to pick them up soon. So if you can help, do it pretty soon. Of course, they will come any time we have something for them.

The pull tabs from aluminum cans have been coming in very well, so don’t forget to put them in the various containers in the downstairs hallway or in the room to the left at the bottom of the stairs

AC Branch has told us they have nearly reached the goal in collecting aluminum cans to be sold to help out a fellow who is getting out of jail, so when you tear off the tab, put the cans in a bag and bring them with you. You may put them in the same room downstairs as the tabs. AC is in Costa Rica on a mission trip with a group made up mostly of kids from her school. Keep her in your prayers and she will bring us up to date about the cans when she returns.

Do be selective when you park in the parking lot. The large trees along the road have dead limbs and more of them are falling. We are hoping the city will remove them as they are on city property.


The greatest commandment is to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself, and is expounded on by, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If that is true, would it be fair to say the opposite would be the greatest sin? I know we don’t like to talk about degrees of sin, (there is) but if one commandment is greater than the others, it seems to me that should also be true when it comes to sin.

One of two good things about growing old (I can’t remember the other) is that you have a history, that is if you don’t suffer from amnesia. Perhaps the wisdom of the aged comes from what they have seen, heard, read, still remember and learned from. That’s the way it is with me, if I can dare claim anything close to wisdom.

First let me talk about the history I’ve read. Being a Christian it seems logical to start in scripture, the New Testament. The story of the Good Samaritan sheds light on the lack of love between them and the Jews. Samaritans were lumped in with the “Gentile dogs” from a Jewish perspective. In other words, there would be a discrimination of worth and value. By the time we reach Paul’s letter to the Romans, the problem is still there. The Jewish Christians were not about to see the Gentile Christians as equals in the gospel, and maybe a little bit vise versa. The disenfranchisement of slaves is also a problem that had to be addressed, as did that of women. It is sad that these discriminatory practices lasted for centuries among Christians. That Great Commandment thing had a hard time getting in the picture. And when it did, somebody’s head was likely to roll.

We know that the “All men are created equal” line was penned with completely Anglo-Saxon European ink. African slaves and Native Americans need not apply. The majority of Christian congregations accepted that separation as God’s word.

By the grace of God, slavery was abolished. But the discrimination still continued, as it does today. It would be about a hundred years before any action was taken to change the Jim Crow laws of the South, and bring the North as well to face the issue of discrimination. Sadly, Christian churches often led the battle. This is where my history comes in. I can remember the preachers with their pamphlets with an ape superimposed over the face of a black man on the cover, and inside were the claims that integration would destroy our society, bring about a plague of venereal disease, and destroy the white race by inner marriage. That “Loving one’s neighbor” thing had its limits.

I don’t need to mention (but I will) the fight just to let women vote. As much of that resistance came from Christians as from others. Color was, and is, not the only form of discrimination I can remember when (as late as the 1980s) that women entering the work place was condemned by preachers as the end of God’s plan for the family, and therefore, the nation. I don’t know how many Christians approved of the Japanese/American internments camps of WWII, but I’m sure there were too many.

Does anyone remember when a Jew couldn’t get a job because they were Jewish? How many Christian employers were part of that discrimination? Too many. How about the signs in New York that read, “Italians need not apply”? What about the view many Christians had, and have, about mixed marriages? Remember the sermons that said a marriage between a member of one Christian group to a member of another, was not a marriage sanctioned by God? Or that a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian was not a “scriptural” marriage? The list could go on, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, etc.

There is a common denominator that runs all through the history of such events. Inequality. One person or group diminishes the worth and value of another. The way it is fed is by fear; fear that if the others are seen as equals, we will become less. To not love is to discriminate against the neighbor who is different than we are.

As Christians, we don’t “go” to church. We “are” the church, the body of Christ in the world

CONCERNS: Richard Crite’s brother-in-law is not expected to live but a few more weeks. The Crites may stay there until the end comes. Jim Hunter is continuing with cancer treatment. Sheila Robertson had cataract surgery on Friday. Keith Wagner will have the same this Wednesday. Steve Mullins, a friend of Del Bolin, has serious cancer, as does another friend, Sharon. Also, one of Del’s student’s brother-in-law has aggressive thyroid cancer. His name is Billy. Nick Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s brother is preparing for cancer surgery. Tony Smallwood, the truck driver-friend of Garrett Williams has shown slow, but continuing improvement. Jen McCready (eye issues), Ken Teatino (cancer), and Randy Conner. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, and Tim Elder.

Monday: I Samuel 16:1-13
Tuesday: Mark 15:1-20
Wednesday: Luke 12:1-12
Thursday: I John 2: 11-24
Friday I Peter 4:1-19
Saturday: Psalm 11:1-7
Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Philippians 4:8-23
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians 3:7-21

As it gets hotter the dead limbs on the old tress along the highway dry out and fall. If you look you will see some are big enough to do serious damage. These trees are on city property but hang over our parking lot. There is plenty of room, and while it’s tempting to park in the shade, be careful which tree you pick. We hope in time the city will cut and replace these trees as they have at other places in the neighborhood.

A Thank You card was sent to us from John, Lisa, Jacob and Kayla Hawks for including Jacob and Kayla in the recognition dinner for graduating high school seniors. It is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Remember, a group of students from the Virginia Tech School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are asking for gently used clothing. There is an extra need for plus-sized clothing. These items will be picked up at the church and delivered to the Rescue Mission. A box is in the room to the left at the foot of the stairs.

We are considering a weekend VBS program for the fall. It will be called “Rocky Point Lighthouse”. It will take helpers, so be prepared to be asked if you can help.

A friend of AC Branch is collecting aluminum cans to help a friend get a start when he gets out of jail. The friend has a goal, and AC says with our help he has almost reached it. However, he would like as many cans as possible.
When you save the cans, remove the pull tabs and place them in a container in the same room as the collected clothing. These benefit the Ronald McDonald House.

We have been unable to make the connection with the source in NC for the sound system. We will now begin to look at local options and hope to see this moving forward soon.


I was sitting in the van last week, waiting for someone, and I had the radio on. The host said his next guest was (I don’t remember his name) the editor of Skeptic Magazine, and that he was going to be talking about the role of religion. I thought I’d be listening to another person who was going to say religion was all about superstition, etc. But I was surprised when he said studies had shown that religious people live about six years longer than those without some kind of faith. He also said they test better at being happy with life and have a greater sense of purpose.

At this point I was wondering what his skepticism of religion was about. What he said was rather enlightening and interesting. He did not demean religion. In fact, he praised it. But his praise did not come from believing in God, but witnessing through research, that being part of a believing group of people was good for one’s health and wellbeing.

I’m not about to get into a debate with someone on the radio about God. What I want to look at are the results of the study. The guest said that it is good to be part of a larger group. In the case of religion, it was good to be among people to be encouraged to live right and to do good to our fellow humans. He said this could come from any group of people who cared about the others in the group. You can easily see that AA, or any other recovery program works on this same principle. In other words, we all need others, not only to make life better, but to be healthier as well.

I know from what I’ve read, as well as what I’ve heard at times growing up going to church, that for some, attending church is all about obeying God. What is important is that you are in the right place when God calls the roll. This does not mean that in times of death or sickness that prayers and food are not delivered. They are. But church is about obedience and pleasing God. Any peace or health you may have received from that was often tied to what God would do in the area of peace and health if you failed to attend faithfully. In other words, it took us awhile to understand that communal worship was actually good for us. (Try telling that to your kids!)

I think the need for a group is more important now than it has been. When I was growing up in Norwood, Ohio, we knew the names of everyone on our block, around the corner, and up a good ways on each intersecting street. (Please don’t think I’m going to say we need to get back to the good old days.) We knew them because we walked to the bus and to school and the local grocery store. There was no air conditioning or an abundance of televisions, and the good radio programs could be heard on the porch from the open windows in the summer. Our lives were more exposed, and for the most part it made for a good community. When people moved out of towns and cities to have more room and privacy, houses lost the big front porches with the chairs and the swing. The need to drive to the supermarket stopped the walking to the local store on the corner. Sidewalks became a thing of the past, and we pulled the shades in our cool, comfortable homes and lost touch with our neighbors.

I can still remember the names of many people on the streets around the two houses in which we lived in Norwood. After twenty some years in Roanoke, there are still some people on our one-block street I only know by waving at them as they drive by. Is that partly my fault? Sure. But you know as I do, that times have changed. Our society has changed and I can’t turn it back.

Because of this change, the life and health value of having a group to be part of is more important now because it is more difficult. It is not just outside the window, next door and down the street. It has to be sought after and valued. The research has shown that we humans are pack or herd animals. We do better when we are with others. The apostle Paul recognized this when he said, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.” (Rom. 14:7) Poet John Donne put it another way when he wrote, “No man is an island.” Down deep we miss something when we try to live a solitary life.

That’s where church should come in. I would rather hear the person say they come to church because their life is more balanced and full, than to say they are there because God commanded it. One is a response to an order; the other is the response to a relationship, both with God and the congregation. Of course, we know it’s not as simple as just joining any group, church or otherwise. It has to be the place where you feel accepted, safe, respected and loved. In other words, a place of common bonds. It should be a place, where upon leaving, you feel better for having been there. If not, find another place. The idea that the worshipper has to feel bad in order to feel good, is a sad view of worship. That does not mean there can not be pain in worship. When the person becomes “pricked in the heart” it’s a good thing. That causes them to have hope, and it’s a far cry from being beaten half to death by feeling hopeless and helpless. It is sad that much of worship makes people feel that way.

The editor of the magazine is right when he says being part of a group makes life better all the way around. He can see that in group studies which have nothing to do with God, as such. Any religion or meditative group will work. The proof is in the outcome.

However, as a believer, I have another issue. If the desired outcome is peace, health and wellbeing, why is it that it is the believers in God who will give up their health and wellbeing because they are part of a believing group? In fact, becoming a Christian can get you injured or killed. Just being part of the Garden Club does not mean you will risk or give your life for a stranger. That defies the research of having a group for personal growth and security, even though that is a good thing. But risking or giving one’s life for others because of the chosen group is something speaks of the nature of God.

CONCERNS: Richard Crites’ brother-in-law. Also his cousins’ family as they deal with the accidental death of mother. Mary Smith is still improving, Jim Hunter is still receiving treatment for cancer. Zona Fisher is doing some better. Remember Sharon, the Bolin’s friend who has lymphoma. The other friend, Ellen, died last week. Pray for her family. Del also has a student whose brother-in-law has aggressive thyroid cancer. His name is Billy and his wife Kate is pregnant with their fourth child. Tony Smallwood, the truck driver injured in an accident, has shown some slight improvement. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is recovering from bladder cancer surgery and treatment. Pray also for Jenn McCready, (continuing eye issues), Ken Teatino (cancer), Randy Conner, who has an issue after successful cancer treatment. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, who has moved to another facility. Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder and the good works done by Christians across the world.

Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-21

Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5

Richard Crites was named Professor Emeritus of Virginia Western Community College at the graduation ceremonies on May 11. Richard devoted his teaching life to Virginia Western because when he was young, the state of Illinois brought a building in his small home town and started a community college where he got his start. Roanoke presented a similar situation and it was his first and only teaching job. Congratulations Rich!

This evening May 20, there will be a dinner honoring the high school graduates. Along with our own AC Branch will be Kayla and Jacob Hawks, as well as the Poindexter twins and their family. The twins are honor graduates at Lord Botetourt High School, who will be entering Radford University. These twins, a boy and a girl, along with a younger brother and sister belong to a family we have helped some in the past and we recently bought microwave ovens for the twins’ dorm rooms. Come and meet this family and the other graduates.

Today (May 20) is Super Sunday. As you can see from the former announcement, it will be a full day of food and celebration. Plan to enjoy the fellowship meal together after the morning service. If you see a visitor be sure to encourage them to join us.

A thank you card was sent from the staff at the Ronald McDonald House, thanking Martha Albert and all her young and older volunteers who prepared the meals at that facility. The card said the meals were delicious and they were thankful for the help given to the families of hospitalized children.

At least two more meals are planned in the month to come, with adults taking the lead. Martha will let us know the details.

A group of students from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are collecting clothing for the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Bring it to the building and it will be picked up.


One of my favorite TV shows was Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Like you didn’t watch it!) It was supposed to be for kids but it had a sneaky appeal to at least some adults.

A favorite segment of mine was “Fractured Fairy Tales”. They were cute and creative. Fractured scriptures are neither. Fractured scriptures are those taken out of context. They are the ones used to defend a position, usually prejudicial, or traditional.

It is interesting that a number of those commonly used, have to do with the poor and the needy. That is ironic, since the poor and needy are among the most talked about by Jesus and the prophets. In fact, something Jesus himself said gets fractured. In Matt. 26:11; Mk. 14:7 and Jn. 12:8, Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” When that is quoted it is usually, “Well, Jesus said there’d always be poor people.” The context for using that statement is mostly in relation to what to do about poverty. That was not Jesus’ point if you read the whole context. He also said they would not always have him. If the statement meant the poor would always be with us, does it also mean that Jesus will not always be with us?

Another one is in II Thess. 3:10. Here Paul says, “For even when we were with you we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Translation: “Poor people on welfare are lazy and should not get help because they will not work.” First, the passage has
nothing to do with public assistance. Second, no one likes freeloaders. But there are a lot of rich boys and girls, men and women, who never worked a day in their lives and eat really well. Think Paris Hilton and countless others. But wait, they have the number one god—-money.

About this text we need to ask at least two questions. One: Why do we immediately think of welfare? Two: Why is this the only place Paul feels the need to say this? By the way, the idea that Paris Hilton and others like her are “busybodies” because they don’t work doesn’t fit the context either. People who work can also be “busybodies”. If we ask why the two letters to Thessalonica were written, perhaps we might get closer to what Paul meant. If you remember, the folks over there were called “a model” for believers. (I Thess 1:7) But it seems there was a problem with accusations of greed on the part of Paul, which takes up most of chapter 2. After personal notes in Chapter 3, he deals with the need to stay away from sin. Then in Chapter 4, it is interesting that in vs. 11 he tells them to “work with your hands, just as we told you”. Are they a “model” church of freeloaders? Then in response to some questions about those who had died before Jesus returned, he tries to answer their concerns. In so doing, his words leave the impression Jesus’ return will be soon.

In II Thess. He speaks of their “persecutions and trials”. He says these will be solved when the Lord comes with “blazing fire”. 1:7 But he needs to correct some ideas about Christ’s return. A bad guy has to show up first, someone he’s told them about who is on the horizon, about to be come. In the meantime they are to be ready. Then, as he ends, he tells them to stay away from everyone who is “idle”. 3:6 There it is again. What’s the problem with these “brothers”? In vs. 11 he comes back to it, saying he has heard about the idle “busybodies”. Note that in vs. 12 he urges them to “settle down and earn the bread they eat.” Why were they unsettled and not working? What were they “busy” about that caused them to not work? Dare we say they were like those who quit work any time someone predicts the coming of the Lord and goes about spreading the message of “Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon”? Why else would this “model” church have people unsettled and not working?

There are other such passages, like that whole thing about widows in I Timothy. Do we really believe Paul thought a sixty year old widow was young and then old a year later”. (I Tim. 5:9) And have you noticed how, when Jesus’ words about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, we rush to explain it, rather than say, “O yeah, all those greedy rich people!” Or when James says, “Is it not the rich who are exploiting you”, (2:6) we don’t say, “Boy is he right about the rich!” Do you know why?

CONCERNS: Mary Smith is home, but still unable to be out and about. Jim Hunter has started chemotherapy. Del Bolin asks prayers for Sharon and Ellen. Ellen is near death. Sharon has lymphoma. He also has a student whose brother-in-law, Billy, has very serious thyroid cancer. His wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Tony Smallwood, the injured truck driver has shown some improvement. He is in Forsythe Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is recovering from bladder cancer. Jenn McCready, a therapist in Del Bolin’s office, Mark McRoy’s friend, Ken Teatino, has had good reports as he undergoes treatment for lymphoma. We have learned that former member Anita Pennell’s mother is critically ill in Tennessee. Helen Nicklas remains about the same. Remember Jenni Cullum, Joni Beach’s mother, Alma Martin, Tim Elder and all the good work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9

AC Branch will graduate from Faith Christian soon. She has been on the Honor Role each of her years there. She will be, as it is officially said, matriculating to Roanoke Collage. She will be living on campus, but we’ll still get to see her. ALSO: There will be a dinner hosted by Erma Williams for her in the annex on Sunday, May 20 at 6:00 PM. Everyone is invited to come. Also in attendance will be former members Jacob and Kayla Hawks who are also graduates.

Our thanks to several of our young folks as well as some adults who prepared and served the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House on Wednesday evening. This has become a really enjoyable and rewarding work.

Kirous (that may not be the right spelling) is a prison ministry that Joanne Elder is involved in. They will be using the annex on Saturday, May 12 to develop some of their plans. If you would like to help, they could use some. They will be there from 8 or 9 AM to about 2 PM. See Joanne for the exact time.

The steering committee was asked about having a weekend VBS program in late summer or early fall. It depends on how many people will be available to help. It would be called, Rocky Point Lighthouse. Think about it and more information will be forthcoming

AC Branch is collecting aluminum cans for a friend who is trying to help give his friend a “boost” when he is released from jail by being able to sell the cans to Cycle Systems. You can put them in the room to the left at the foot of the stairs.

Before turning in the cans, remove the pull tabs. These can be used by the Ronald McDonald House. A jar has been placed on the table downstairs and a box in the same room where the cans may be deposited.

Super Sunday is May 20. Make plans to stay and enjoy the meal together.


By my friend, Ben
Jim Bob were laid out all peaceful-like in his casket. He were. I reckon I‘d never seen him look so good. That were because Jim Bob were one of them unhappy folks what were on the mean side. He were. He’d married a girl named Amy Justice, but he beat her an’ their little boy so bad they put him in jail. They did. When he got out he went back to his pa an’ worked the mines. He did. Like his pa, he did a lot of drinkin’. He were a well-known bar fighter an’ spent a sight of time in jail. He did.

How he come to die were because him’n Billy Joe Hartley, who were about the only friend he had, decided to jump offen the Blackwater bridge one night after doin’ some heavy drinkin’. In the dark, an’ not bein’ all together, Jim Bob dove into the shallow part of the river an’ hit a rock. Since it were dark, an’ Billy Joe were three sheets to the wind, he couldn’t find Jim Bob until it were too late. It were.

His pa looked up at me from the corner of the room an’ frowned. He did. I reckon he wondered why I were there. I weren’t even sure myself. Jim Bob sure weren’t no friend of mine. He weren’t. I reckon I came because I were perty sure not too many other folks would. An’ from the looks of things that seemed to be right. It were. I took one more look at Jim Bob an’ nodded to his pa an’ left. I did.

I knowed Jim Bob an’ his pa since they come to town when I were about ten years old. I did. Jim Bob were a bully, an’ more’n once me an’ him had it out on the school yard. We did. The last time were when he said somethin’ nasty to Sara Jane. I saw the look on her face when he said it an’ I stepped between them an’ looked Jim Bob in the eye. I did. I told him I knowed it wouldn’t do no good for him to take back what he said, cause he’d already said it. But iffen he ever said anything like that agin to Sara Jane, or any girl while I were around, he’d have to answer to me. I did. Well, Jim Bob looked at me like he wanted to kill me. He did. As he drew back his fist I told him I didn’t want to hurt him none, but iffen that fist came forward, it’d better knock me out. Cause iffen it didn’t I be on him like a flea on a hound dog. I did. Well, he walked away cussin’ an’ promisin’ to get me when I weren’t lookin’. He did. An’ all the years since he’d kinda nod his head when he saw me, just to let me know he hadn’t forgotten that day on the schoolyard. He did.

But I reckon what I remember most about Jim Bob were a day when he an’ his pa were in town. It were passed about that the ma’d run off with a feller an’ took a little sister with her. Some folks said ol’ man Jones only kept Jim Bob so he could make him do all the work around the house while he worked in the mines an’ did some drinkin’ an’ carousin’.

On that day me’n Ma were in town doin’ some shoppin’. We were. As we was walkin’ toward Jamison’s Mercantile, Jake Jones parked his truck a ways ahead of us an’ got out. He were mad about somethin’ an’ it seemed to be Jim Bob. Ol’ Jake pulled Jim Bob from the truck an’ shoved him to the ground. He did. He started slappin’ an’ cussin’ him out. He did. An’ then he drawed back his foot as iffen to kick him. He did.

Now Ma were a right strong woman. She were. An’ as fast as lightenin’ she stepped forward an’ hooked ol’ Jake’s drawed back foot with her umbrella what she were carryin’. She did. It caught ol’ Jake off balance an’ he spun around an’ went down. He did. When he got his bearin’s an’ saw ma he jumped up an’ I knowed he were gonna hit her. I did. Ma held her ground an’ told ol’ Jake he weren’t gonna be beatin’ on his boy while she were around. She did.

I reckoned ol’ Jake mighta done somethin to ma, but by that time Fred Wallace an’ his son Bill were walkin toward us. They was. Ol’ Jake just grabbed Jim Bob by the collar an’ put him in the truck an’ off they went. They did. As they drove away Jim Bob looked back at ma like he were glad she were there. He did.

Now none of that kept Jim Bob from bein’ a bully. It didn’t. Fact is, he got worse. So the day me’n him had it out over Sara Jane, I asked Ma about it. I did. She said, “Benny, do you remember that ol’ dog what wandered in here a few years back? Remember how he were all beat on?” I told her I did. “Well Benny, you remember how even though we fed him, he still were afraid of us, an’ growled when we got too close? He’d been damaged so much all he could do was be afraid an’ be sure nobody got close enough to hurt him no more. One mornin’ he were gone. Do you remember? Benny, that poor dog had been so mistreated, he couldn’t trust nobody. Folks are that way too. You know how Jim Bob’s dad treats him. Well, Jim Bob knows iffen he fought back he’d get it even worse. So he takes his hurt out on other folks, like them kids at school.”

As I drove home I thought about Pa. He didn’t take none to church. He didn’t. He weren’t agin it, he just weren’t for it. I asked ma about it one time an’ she said pa were raised real strict-like an’ went to a church with one of them hell-fire preachers. He kept folks afraid of him and God. She said he were always preachin’ on how nearly everything was worldly an’ how one little unforgiven sin would send a body to hell. An’ pa’s ma n pa believed every word of it. Problem were, they found out the preacher were doin’ about all the things he were condemnin’. He were. So when pa left home he stopped goin’. He did. She said they’d talked about it, but were like the die had been cast. It were.

I reckon Pa, Jim Bob an’ that ol’ dog had something in common. They did. They was all shaped by the bad things what happened to them. The things what were supposed to make ‘em what they could be were the things what didn’t.

Once Ma told me she loved me with the love of the Lord. She did. When I asked her what that meant, she said it meant she would live an’ die for me, just like the Lord did for all of us. She did. An’ I reckon iffen we treated folks an’ animals like that we’d be shaped the way the Lord wants us to be. I do

CONCERNS: Mark McRoy has asked for prayers for a friend who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. His name is Ken Teatino. Mary Smith is receiving rehab at the Berkshire Health Care, room 10. Del Bolin has asked for prayers for Sharon and Ellen. Sharon has lymphoma and Ellen’s illness is terminal. Remember also Del’s co-worker Jen McCready, who must have monthly treatment to keep her sight. Tony Smallwood a truck driver who was seriously injured in an accident has been removed from life support, but as of this writing was not dead. Jim Hunter has started radiation treatments. Donna Brutto (cancer). Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder and Health Talents International, Bread For A Hungry World and for the will of God on the earth.

MONDAY: Psalm 119:57-72
Tuesday: Matthew 12:38-50
Wednesday: James 1:19-27
Thursday: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Friday: Romans 6:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 113:1-9
Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 138:1-8

On Sunday, April 15, the new members of the steering committee will be formally introduced and blessed with prayers and welcome from the congregation. They are: Del Bolin, Martha Foy, Susan Jordan and Wayne Phlegar.

Sunday is also Super Sunday. What more appropriate day to welcome and encourage the new committee members than at a fellowship meal. Plan to stay.

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

Students from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Jefferson College of Health Sciences are helping the Rescue Mission by collecting clothing. They especially need plus-sized clothes for women as well as men. A box has been placed in the downstairs kitchen. If you have more than the box will hold, place the bag next to it. Someone from those two places will come and collect this when they are called. A reminder is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Pull off the aluminum tabs from drink cans and bring them to the building. These help the local Ronald McDonald House. Save the cans for AC Branch. A friend of hers has a friend is incarcerated. His friend wants to collect as many aluminum cans as possible to give him something he can sell to get started when he gets out. The cans may also be placed in the downstairs kitchen. A box has been placed for the tabs.

We are making progress in replacing our old sound system. Contact has been made with a church member in Greensboro, NC who is in the audio/visual business. He has offered to work with us on quality and cost. More information may be available by Sunday’s steering committee meeting.

With the warm weather coming, we hope soon to start on some improvements to the air conditioning.


Jo and I accepted an invitation from Connie and Rich Crites to go to a local church last Sunday evening to see a Russian Jew perform the Passover Seder.

What I found interesting was how the speaker gave the Passover a Christian interpretation. Not that it was in some way wrong. It was in the way he wove items together.

For example, he had a small, cute, Muppet-like lamb, which served as the Pascal lamb. He said the Jews were to take the lamb as God instructed, into their homes for four days before it was killed. He said the reason for this was to make the little lamb part of the family and loved (as a pet kw) by the children. That would make the slaughter of the lamb more significant. He would later tie this to the love of Jesus we should have for his sacrifice. However, while the lamb was to be taken in the house for four days, it was probably more about purification than loving. Also, it says if the house was too small for the lamb, a neighbor could share theirs. By the way, the lamb was to be a year old. (Ex. 12:5) A year old sheep isn’t all that cuddly. The term “lamb” probably meant it had to be born in that gestation year.

I was pleased that he did not say the lamb was a sin offering. He said it was to set them free. He said nothing about them being less sinful after the lamb was slain, or when they went out the next morning. He also jokingly said that Pharaoh was “baptized” in the sea when the waters came rushing back together. The Bible never says Pharaoh died, just his army. No big deal, it was just a funny.

I caught another difference between his presentation and the one I’d previously seen on film. He took three squares of matzo bread and said the bottom represented the people, the top was God, and than asked what the middle represented. In the film presentation, the leader, who was part of the Jews for Jesus, said no one knew why the middle piece was there. He later said Christian Jews saw it as Christ. The local speaker said the middle piece represented the priests, and then tied this to Christ being our high priest. Looking at the internet I found that the three pieces of matzo can represent any number of things, depending on what you want to make them symbolize. So, since the arraignment of the matzo is not clearly explained, nor in the Bible, its beginning and interpretation is pretty much left to interpretation.

All this seems to say that while symbols can be significant, they should not be taken too literally. We generally think of the Passover as the time when only Israelites escaped Egypt by putting the blood of the lamb on the doorpost. But in Exodus 12, after telling how many Israelites left Egypt, verse 38 says, “Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.” Who were these “other” people? Could they have been Egyptians who lost a firstborn and were therefore “converted”? If so, nothing is said about it.

We can tell the book of Exodus was not written chronologically, but in verse 43 and following, part of the regulations concerning Passover was that any foreigner or alien male who wanted to join in the Passover had to be circumcised just as the Israelite males were.

You may be wondering about the title of this article. Few people who describe the Passover note that “lamb” in 12:3 means lamb or goat. In verse 5 it says the year old can be a sheep or goat. While “the blood of the goat” may seem offensive, we might remember the “scapegoat” of Leviticus 16 that carried away the sins of Israel into the wilderness. Which, when you think about it, is also a symbol of what Jesus did. What is interesting is our aversion to goats. Can you imagine having a year old goat in the house for four days? And, dare we think how many Israelites were spared by putting goat blood instead of lamb’s blood on their doorposts? While we’re at it, were all those “other people” who went out with the Israelites, Egyptian friends that were given the blood of a goat or lamb so they too could be saved? Now that sounds like something Jesus would do.

All this should cause us to think about how we can become too literal.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith fell and broke her arm. She is now in Berkshire Nursing Care, room 10, in Vinton, where she is having therapy. After a week or so in the hospital, Wayne Phlegar is home and doing well. Susan is having back problems, but they hope to be at church soon. Jim Hunter will be starting cancer therapy. Erma Williams’ father, also, one of Erma’s good friends has lost her father who lived in WVa. Garrett Williams as asked for prayers for a fellow truck driver, Tony Smallwood, who was critically injured in a trucking accident last week. Donna Brutto, Jen McCready, Sam, who is recovering from an eye injury. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder, the work of Health Talents and Bread for a Hungry World.

Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 7:36-50
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 66:1-20

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

Our thanks to Scott Blessing and Richard Crites for filling in while Keith was away. Not to put Scott on the spot, but someone said it was the best sermon they’d heard him preach. I (kw) got to hear Richard’s sermon and it was also very good. ALSO: You may be interested in knowing that after Dr. Wayne Morris spoke about the work of the Gideons in distributing Bibles, you gave $680.00 toward their work.
After working with the Ronald McDonald House, we discovered that they can redeem the pull tabs from aluminum cans. So if you drink from cans, save the tabs. We will have a container on the downstairs table to collect them.
After you’ve pulled the tabs from the cans, also save the can itself. AC Branch is saving them for a friend who can use them to, in some way, help a friend who is in prison. You can be sure it’s not to escape. Ask AC for the full details.
We welcome the new members of the steering committee. All of the people nominated received at least a 75% vote of confidence by the congregation. The new members are, in alchemical order: Del Bolin, Martha Foy, Susan Jordan and Wayne Phlegar. Our thanks to them for their willingness to serve.
The annual Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones will be next Sunday (Easter) on the area behind the annex. All little ones up to the third grade. Holly Wagner and her helpers will hide the eggs. If you will bring wrapped fun-sized candy, Skittles, M&M, or Fruit Snacks. See Holly today as to if she needs plastic eggs. Parents, be sure to bring your cameras. If the weather fails us another place will be selected.
The 18th is Super Sunday. Now that the weather is sunny and warmer there will not be the need for a fire in the fireplace, but there will still be wonderful food and fellowship. Make plans now to attend. It’s always a great day.


I have a high school classmate who does a wonderful job keeping us informed on class events, much of which (at our age) is the death of a classmate. I do value the effort she puts out doing something she loves.

I doubt that she knew me in high school. We were in different circles. I knew her. She was bright, pretty, friendly and popular. However, she was not on my dream team.

In updating her information she asked us to reply as to who we are. I simply sent my E-mail address, my name, and year of graduation. She wrote back asking if the “rev” in my e-address meant I was a “Reverend”. To which I replied it was a joke by my son who owns the AOL account, and that Church of Christ ministers do not use the term “Reverend”, although it is sometimes used about them. She went on to say how many Christian leaders we had in our class, she also being a Christian.

I could tell by the things she sent out to those on her mailing list, that she and I were at different places in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian. In a recent mailing she sent the following: “Isn’t it ironic? The food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.

“Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture asks us to ‘please do not feed the animals’ because the animals may grow dependant and not learn to take care of themselves.” You get her point. It’s played out over and over. It’s not original with her.

You may wonder why I’m discussing it here, rather than with her via e-mail. Well, she is my age, and at our age our brain cells have turned to stone, so it would be useless for either of us to try to convince the other. On the other hand, I do feel a need to say I find it appalling that people of any age think comparing human beings to wild animals somehow solves the problems of the poor. As much as I know, some animals eat their young, and some animal parenting actions leave something to be desired. I guess the best way to have a human who is a wild animal, is to raise them like a wild animal.

I also feel the need to ask if the author of the statement believes all domestic animals, beloved cats, dogs, horses, birds, etc., should be turned out so they can learn to fend for themselves. And, the fact that we don’t, doesn’t that make us more interested in animals than people? Were I to use a scripture (not in context, but that’s normal) I’d say what about the Syrophoenician woman who told Jesus even the dogs got to eat the food that fell from the table.

A few months back, Rich Crites gave me a copy of a quarterly magazine from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. This is the school where their son-in-law received his seminary degree. The issue was on Christian Ethics. In an article written by Eldin Villafane, Ph.D., who is a professor of Christian Ethics, he quotes Amos 2:6-7. “They sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.”

In his commentary on the passage he says, “We will be judged by how we treat the weakest members—this is the heart of Amos’ message. Why is that so? I believe that the teaching of Scripture is clear (in Amos as in other prophets) that beyond God’s intrinsic love and championing for the stranger, widow, poor and needy lies also the reality of idolatry.” He goes on to define idolatry as not just idols, but also wealth. He says it was greed that led to oppression of the poor, corruption in the courts, the market, the religious system, and society at large. He quotes another scholar who said the central note of Amos was of “social injustice as the specific form that the sin of idolatry assumes in society.” Villafane adds, “The lesson is clear, idolatry is at the heart of social injustice and the eventual downfall of a nation.”
We Christians should allow Scripture to mold us, not us molding Scripture to our own image.

CONCERNS: Jim Hunter has developed an infection from his surgery and has to be on antibiotics for about a week. Jim White’s grandmother isn’t doing very well. Erma Williams’ father is still not clear of the infection he developed after knee surgery. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin, (bladder cancer) Jenn McCready, The friend of Garrett Lee Williams and Brice Reid who is being treated for an eye injury. Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder and Health Talents Int and the various work they do, as well as Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Malachi 1:1-14
Tuesday: John 3:1-15
Wednesday: Psalm 65:1-13
Thursday: I Peter 2:1—10
Friday: Mathew 4:1-11
Saturday: Exodus 15:1-18

Monday: Job 38:1-18
Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-5
Wednesday: Psalm 37:1-17
Thursday: Luke 18:35 – 19:10
Friday: John 18:1-14
Saturday Hebrews 13:1-21

We were saddened by the death of Eleanor Crush, who died on Tuesday, February 21.

Eleanor had fought pancreatic cancer for a year. She was a blessing to all who visited her during those tough times, and always had that gentle face and beautiful smile.

Her interment was Saturday, March 3, with a memorial service following at 1:00 PM at the church building. Our love and sympathy go out to all the Crush and Branch family.

After some unintended holdups due to the weather and some other matters, we are ready to present to the congregation the names of three people who have been asked and have agreed to serve on the steering committee for at least a three year term.

The ballots will be made available on Sunday, March 4. Please be sure to sign the ballot so it will be known how many votes of confidence the nominees receive.

Wednesday, March 7, some of our young folks and adults will be preparing and serving the evening meal at the Ronald Mc Donald House near Roanoke Memorial Hospital. This is a trail run to see if they would like to continue doing it on other occasions. Thanks to Martha Albert, Holly Wagner, and the others who donated time and items for this event.

Because of the way the calendar works out, the next bulletin will be printed the last week of the month, because April I is a Sunday, so the service roster will also be printed in that bulletin.

On Sunday, March 25, someone from the Gideon’s will be here to make their annual presentation about their work of distributing Bibles throughout the world.

Keith and Jo Wagner will be on vacation from the 18th trough the 25th of this month. They will be in Florida and flying back on Sunday, the 25th


You may have read that the iconic Crystal Cathedral in Orange Co. California has been sold to the Catholic Diocese. The deal had hit a snag, but it seems to be going through. Of
course, the members of the Crystal Cathedral are devastated and in their words, “Looking for a miracle.”

The Crystal Cathedral could have been seen by some as a wonder of the world. It is doubtful there is a more magnificent church complex anywhere else in the world. Worshippers could see the sky and birds flying in an aviary, and tropical plants growing inside the building. For some it may have been the closest thing to heaven on earth. The minister, Robert H. Schuller, stood “high and lifted up” above his listeners. His messages were the combination of “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the Bible. He was charismatic and charming. Not only did ministers “lust in their hearts” to have what he had, they wanted to talk like him. He was every preacher’s secret dream.

It all started forty or fifty years ago at a drive-in theater he bought and converted to a drive-in church. In time he expanded and the Crystal Cathedral was born.

The absolute beauty and enormity of the project attracted thousands. But those thousands alone could not keep the project going. The main source of income came from Schuller’s talent as a speaker on the radio and TV program, “Hour of Power”. When the listener funds began to dry up, serious changes began to take place. Last year the church filed for bankruptcy. Schuller is now retired and his son and daughter have had conflicts over how the church was to proceed. (I stated in an earlier article that Robert H. Schuller had died, which was incorrect.)

Did the church mismanage their funds? I don’t know. But there is a stated reason funds became scarcer. Donations from listeners began to dry up. Why? Was it because Schuller was looking to retire? Perhaps he already had. But the outside interest in supporting the Cathedral began to stop. Having productions as professional as anything on Broadway, with hired professional actors, cost money. The plays and pageants they produced and put on had a cast of hundreds. They charged up to $45 a ticket and filled the place to the doors. Even the Sunday service was a well-oiled production. Anyone who worshiped there believed they were in the most famous place in America to worship. But what happens when the funds coming in do not match the cost of the operation? What happens when it becomes “It’s not as good as it used to be”? What happens when the leading man is replaced by an understudy? If the people who make up the worshiping body are simply concert and stage production goers, in this world where an iphone is out of date by the time you make the first call, there is bound to be a lot less season ticket holders after awhile.

There is, at some point, in every mega-church, (and even smaller ones) that it becomes a business. There will be prayers, singing and sermons, but when the doors are closed, the money has to be counted and the competition assessed. The spoken word may be the big “F” faith, but the operational “F” is finance. There’s nothing wrong with financial stability as a church, except when wealth and grandeur is the unstated reason to exist.

There is no doubt that Christianity in America is changing. The term “market share” has become a common phrase in the world of church growth. The competition is stiff, to say the least. If you don’t keep up you’ll be left in the dust of antiquated Christianity. The newer generation is looking for a place that will confirm what they already believe and want, and there is an abundance of places which will provide it.

Christianity has always been in flux. Divisions over the meaning of scripture have produced almost countless groups. Today every group has divisions within themselves. The original purpose for being and the original names often relate very little with the theology now being taught.

What we can hope for is that among the changes that will take place, there will still be those who will courageously stand for human dignity and equality, and whose existence is based on bringing the life and teachings of Jesus to bear on the world. If you look back through history, few if any came from the big, powerful, political churches. Most of them were little-known people who couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t stand up and speak out against that which was unjust and unloving.

CONCERNS: Jim Hunter had cancer surgery on Thursday. The doctors feel very optimistic about his recovery, but he will need further treatment. Joni Beach’s brother was admitted to Duke Hospital for tests concerning a growth on his spine. Erma Williams’s father is still dealing with a staph infection. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin (bladder cancer). Jenn McCready, who works with Del Bolin, faces lifelong shots to keep her vision. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams and Brice Reid has continuing treatments to restore the sight in one eye from an accident. Jenni Cullum recently traveled to Haymarket with Debbie and looked at a place for her to live that will let her take her cat. Continue to remember Helen Nicklas, Eleanor Crush, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and the work in Guatemala and around the world.

Monday: I Peter 1:13-25
Tuesday: Psalm 95:1-11
Wednesday: Matthew 14:13-33
Thursday: Romans 12:9-21
Friday: I Timothy 1:12-2:7
Saturday: Psalm 116:1-19

Monday: Psalm 16:1-11
Tuesday: Matthew 20:1-16
Wednesday: Amos 3:12-4:5
Thursday: Hebrews 10:19-39
Friday: Ephesians 5:3-20
Saturday: Psalm 148: 1-14

Today (2/19) is Super Sunday. If you forgot it doesn’t matter, just stay for the fellowship meal following the service. And if you see a visitor, be sure to let them know they are welcome to come.

Our young folks are at Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN this weekend. They plan to be here in time to eat with us. Our thanks once again to Holly Wagner for arranging the trip as well as driving the van. Our thanks also to Bill Branch for the use of the van.

When the directory was printed, Susan and Wayne Phlegar’s page was skipped, so they were placed in the back. That also meant that their names did not make the birthday and anniversary list in the front. Please make a note that Susan’s birthday is Oct. 24, and Wayne’s is Feb. 5. Their anniversary is July 4.

The steering committee will meet right after the Super Sunday meal today. The names submitted to serve on the committee will be placed in nomination if they have accepted the invitation to serve.

If you are eating with us today you may want to stop by the kitchen and see that all the new appliances have been installed. This gives much more counter space to prepare food since there is now only one counter-top microwave.

We have been in contact with Hoss Ridgeway, the minister in Statesville concerning a man in Greensboro who will give us a discount on what we need and will come and do the installation. Hoss will put us in contact with him as soon as he can. And we can get started on the first phase of the worship changes.


It is no secret that your method of interpretation determines how you understand the Bible. OK, it’s called “hermeneutics. But I don’t need a big word to prove the above statement, just listen to preachers and read the letters to the editor in the local paper.

In the most recent case it came in the form of a bulletin article. It was a guest article. I enjoy most of what the local preacher writes. It had to do with “faith”, and of course, it was about Abraham.

The writer’s first premise, though unstated, (that’s where the sneaky hermeneutic slips in) was that no person of faith good enough to have the story of their faith appear in the Bible could ever have moments of faithlessness. So it became vital that he clean-up Abraham and remove all the warts before he painted his picture.

Obviously his main problem had to do with Abraham’s lie (twice) about Sara being his sister and not his wife. About that he says, “Did he (Abraham) act out of faith, or out of fear? While we may not always agree with the decisions Abraham made, and can often point to negative consequences of those decisions, none of that has any bearing whatsoever on the nature of his faith.” REALLY? Can you think how many politicians would like to adopt that explanation for their past!? The writer goes on to say the reason for the article is to show the “true nature of saving faith”.

About the Sara thing, he says that “Abraham had to make reasonable decisions designed to safeguard himself and his family and thus preserve his family line—something he knew must happen if God’s promises were to be fulfilled.” He feels faith needs help, regardless what kind. So Abraham’s lies and impregnation of Hagar were not moments where his faith failed, but where faith needed a boost. I suppose that’s what Abraham told Hagar.

Another way the writer keeps all of this in the “true nature of saving grace” is to point to the fact that God got after both Pharaoh and Abimelech (the guys he lied to) but did not chastise Abraham. I’m not sure, but it seems like he is saying if you know the “true nature of saving grace” you can say the end justifies the means.

He says, “Abraham knew the promises of God, believed them, and did what he could to see them fulfilled. In every circumstance he acted as one who possessed saving faith.”

Most things written start with a conclusion or a goal, and then the needed gaps are filled in. This writer had a thought about “saving faith” and decided to expand on it. Of course, Abraham, being the man of faith he was, is the focus. Now all that is needed is to make Abraham fit his conclusion of what that faith is.

For extra proof that faith means doing whatever it takes, he uses James 2:26 and says it means “No works equals a dead faith.” Therefore, all the “works” Abraham did (the lies and Hagar) were actually saving faith.

The final cap he put on it came from the book of Hebrews. He quotes from chapter 11 and then highlighted the phrases, “Without weakening” “did not waver,” and “fully persuaded.” According to the writer, these prove Abraham had no doubts or fears. So when he lied to save his skin and put Sara at risk of rape (twice) and then became impatient when Isaac didn’t arrive when expected and used Hagar to start the Arab nation, it was by “saving faith.” Ouch!

The problem is how he understands the Bible. There is no room in his understanding for the cultural devaluation of women over men, both in the lies Abraham told, as well as the use of Hagar, a servant. There is no room for the writer of Hebrews (whoever it is) to paint Abraham without his flaws to make his readers think seriously about the faith and endurance they needed. He misses the real beauty of faith, and that is that it is always filled with doubt and fear. That’s what makes it faith and not “sight.”

One might want to ask about the meaning of Paul’s “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil. 2:12. Or Jesus’ begging that the cup of the cross be taken away.

Demanding that faith be without times of faithlessness and doubt and fear only makes faith, which is hard enough, harder.

CONCERNS: Susan Phlegar was jerked by their dog and suffered back problems. She will have to have a few more treatments before she can be out and about. Jim Hunter is having some problems related to an accident he was involved in and is under the care of a doctor. Erma Williams’ father has not yet shaken all the staph related problems in his knee. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams and Brice Reid is still being treated for an accident which damaged an eye. The therapist at Del Bolin’s office who suffered a rare eye infection has lost some of her sigh and will need eye injections the rest of her life. Those who continue to be on the prayer list are: Donna Brutto, Eleanor Crush, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10

Monday: Psalm 62:1-12
Tuesday: Luke 20:9-16
Wednesday: Matthew 15:1-20
Thursday: Micah 6:1-8
Friday: John 16:16-33
Saturday: Psalm 99, 100

For the past few weeks we have been asking for nominations for steering committee members. Today, February 5, will close out the nomination process. Please write down the names of those you wish to nominate and give it to one of the present steering committee. Those nominated will be asked by the committee if they wish to serve for a three year period. If they agree the congregation will select those nominated by a vote. Those nominated must receive a 75% vote of confidence in order to serve.

In just a few weeks several of our young people will once again be traveling to Gatlinburg, TN for Winterfest. Keep them in you prayers as they plan the trip.

Some of our young people have decided they would like to cook one evening for those who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Roanoke Memorial Hospital. It will be on a Wednesday in March. After doing so theywill decide when and if to do it again. It is a big project for our small group. At least thirty-five meals must be prepared. There will be some adults helping out as well. Thanks to all the young people who decided to help with this worthy project.

At the end of each year we remind people that the bulletin can be received via e-mail. We will be dropping a few names from our list of folks we haven’t heard from for awhile. Remember, you can always subscribe to the bulletin by going to the Church website. It is When you get there go to “The Minister”, click on that and a subscription form will be displayed.

The new range has been installed and microwave/convection oven will be mounted above the range by Super Sunday. We are also in contact with a member of the Church of Christ in North Carolina who is in the sound business and will sell us what we need to upgrade our sound system at his cost.


As I write this I’m sitting in Wilma’s office. Wilma Cullum died about midnight Thursday, January, 5th. Her health had gradually slipped away and her last days were quiet and free of pain.

Wilma retired sometime in 2003-4 as the church secretary and treasurer. The date is hard to determine because she decided to work just a day or two a week because of health problems. Since her departure I have worked at her desk so I can see the front door, but it will always be “Wilma’s desk”, just as we continue to refer to it as “Wilma’s office.” And I’m afraid she’d find her desk a little more cluttered with me working at it than she might have preferred.

She became the church secretary about 1978 or so, and served three ministers, myself from 1989 until she retired.

Until computers became user friendly, she kept all the financial records in ledgers, the big kind that almost covered her whole desk. They are still on the self in the supply room. To look at them is to see the perfection with which she did her job. Each entry carefully written in with minute detail.

She loved the Christian Youth Camp, and each year she was able to do it, she would drive to Alta Mons and register the campers and collect the money, since Roanoke was responsible for paying the bills.

Her “office code” might well be described as, “What happens at the office stays at the office.” Any minister who worked for her knew that anyone who came to see them would not be discussed outside of the office. She was not just my secretary, she was also my friend. As such, she was protective of me and had little patience with anyone who had an issue with me. As they say, I knew she had my back. That was true with anyone who was her friend. I only heard a few of the names of the women who found in her a confidant and an adviser, but there were many. I think they saw, as did I, that she did not project a super-pious attitude…

She had a sense of humor, and I can’t remember a day in the office, or at her extended care apartment, that we didn’t laugh about something. Even the next to the last time I saw her, we laughed together about something silly.

She was also a woman of strong personal convictions. Locally, many of her friends wondered why there was no obituary or even a one line notice of her death. She made it clear that was the way she wanted it. However, I didn’t know that until she died. I knew she had an aversion to anything about death. Each year a local funeral home brings us two large calendars. With a little modification, I could make one work as a desk calendar for my desk. She wanted them out of her sight. On occasion she would come in on a Monday and complain about the morbid “Life’s evening sun is sinking low” songs of the day before. And yet, as death neared, she never fretted about it. I never saw any fear of dying in her. I think it was more that she wanted to live each day without thinking about it. Which to me,
Showed her confidence in God.

She also had a conviction about her death. She wanted no obituary and no service. She donated her body to medical research. It was to be sent to a school that studied osteoporosis and other bone issues. She was something of an institution around here, and she will be missed.
The following is an obituary graciously provided to the church by her daughter, Debbie Huffman. This is to let her many friends beyond this church and area know of her death.

Born and raised in Nashville, TN, she met Dad while attending David Lipscomb High School. Opposites attracted as Dad was the social, fun-loving, stayed in trouble all the time type and Mom was studious, always making the A Honor Roll and played both the piano and violin. They were married in 1950 after their first year of college and Dad joined the Army. They lived from New Jersey to New Mexico and she loved that part of her life. She worked at various jobs, but one of her favorites was working the Switchboard at a large hotel in Augusta, Ga. She managed all the VIP calls, and even President Eisenhower. She loved New Mexico the most though and a lot of the jewelry she wore was reminiscent of that area.

They returned to Nashville after the Army and then moved to Roanoke in 1961 with their first born, Debbie. This was when they started attending the Roanoke C of C. Bobby and Jenni grew up during this time, and through Jenni’s cancer diagnosis and Bobby and Jenni’s accident, the church family was there to lend support. Mom did not return to work until 1973 where she worked for Roanoke Co. Schools, then a gas company and finally the Church. She enjoyed working and continued to be friends with many of her co-workers through the years.

After Dad died in 1990, Mom and one of her best friends. Christine Brown, became the “Thelma and Louise” of Roanoke. One exception-they had Jenni and Melanie in the back seat. Listening to their stories, it was a wonder they all got back in one piece. It always took a while to get the whole story from them because they were both laughing so hard. The bottom line-if you were a friend of Mom’s, you were a friend for life. Strong bonds existed with her friends for years and years, and only death could separate them.

Mom is predeceased by her husband, Joe, and son, Bobby. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Jay Huffman and her daughter, Jenni Cullum. She had three granddaughters, Emily Huffman Still (Ryan). Laura Huffman Doenz (Kellen) and Katie Cullum (Spencer Duncan). She also had three great-grandchildren, Brody and Eli Still and Reagan Duncan.

Jenni will remain in Roanoke until a place where she can take her cat can be found near the Huffman’s. She would love cards, calls and especially a visit. Her address is 4435 Pheasant Ridge Road, Roanoke, VA 24014. Her phone number is 540-989-1216.

CONCERNS: Judy and T. J. Hall have been under the weather. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is being treated for bladder cancer. Bud McWhorter is recovering from back surgery. A traveler, Jeremy Hamilton, is in RMH with serious health problems and asked for our prayers. Sam Green’s (Sam from VBS) father is an unemployed diabetic with heart problems. Jenni Cullum will remain in Roanoke until a place can be found near her sister, Debbie, which will let her keep her cat. The therapist in Del Bolin’s office must receive an eye injection each day to keep from losing any more of her eyesight. Her name is Jenn McCready. Garrett Lee Williams friend who had an eye damaged in an accident is receiving treatments to hopefully restore his sight. Also keep in your prayers Eleanor Crush, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World, and for world leaders.

Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9

Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-2

The congregation mourns the death of Wilma Cullum, who died on January 5th at the Roanoke Nursing Home. We extend our sympathy to Jenni, Debbie and the rest of Wilma’s family. More information can be found inside the bulletin

The steering committee is seeking to add more members. The congregation is asked to nominate anyone they feel can be of service to the committee, and thus to the congregation. Names of those nominated should be passed on to any member of the committee. Their names are at the top of the bulletin. Those who agree to serve will be confirmed by a congregational vote, which requires at least 75% approval. The process will begin as soon as names are received.

Sunday, January 15th is Super Sunday. All January birthdays (no anniversaries this month) and visitors will be served first in line. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal and the fellowship.

We are moving forward on various improvements around both the buildings. A new chandelier now hangs in the foyer. A new range and an above-range microwave will soon be purchased. If you know of anyone who would like the old, above and below oven range, please let us know. It works fine but the upper oven needs some thermostat adjustment. We had all the cabinets overhauled as well as the flooring in the sink area. Outside improvements have also been made.

Due to a very generous contribution toward upgrading the sound system, which will be the first part of the audio/visual improvements for the building. Keith has a contact that has a Christian friend who will sell us what we need at cost. He may also be able to install it for us. Whenever they can, the heating and cooling folks will start on improving the air flow for the air conditioning.

If you have e-mail the bulletin will reach you faster. A hard copy can always be picked up in the foyer. If you would like to receive the bulletin via e-mail, give Keith your e-mail address, or better yet, go to our website to subscribe to it. The e-mail address for the church is