Roanoke Church of Christ



I mentioned a part of “Blood Done Sign My Name” in a sermon and also said I had not yet read it. Just before we flew to Florida Martha White Foy dropped by to give me a copy as a birthday present and something to read on the plane. Having finished it I would make it required reading for anyone going into the ministry.

It is not a book on how to preach, but rather a book that indirectly deals with what I think are the most important qualities for a preacher. Qualities of which I have often been weighed and found wanting.

The book is written by Timothy Tyson, the son of a white Methodist preacher, who grew up in North Carolina during the 60s and 70s when integration was in full bloom. An experience in Tyson’s early days in Oxford, NC changed his life. It had to do with a friend of his saying. “Daddy and Roger and ‘em shot ‘em a nigger. “ He was referring to the murder of Henry Marrow, a twenty-three-year-old black veteran who had been accused of flirting with a white man’s wife. The eventual trial at which the husband, father-in-law and a step-son were found not guilty, and the events that both preceded and followed the trial make up the bulk of the book.

Tyson’s father, Vernon Tyson, as minister of a Methodist church in Sanford, NC, had tried to bring about racial harmony in his town as racial discourse spread across the deep south. After the events of April 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., Vernon Tyson wrote a letter to the editor of the Sanford Herald saying that all the Sanford churches should open their doors to everyone, regardless of color. He received a scolding letter from the editor, warning him that leaders who went “too far, too fast” ended up without any followers, and maybe without a job. Along with the hate mail that followed, were lowered eyes on the streets, and resentful stares.

In 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy, Vernon Tyson met Dr. Samuel Proctor, president of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, and one of the leading black preachers of his time. After hearing Proctor speak, Tyson asked if he would come to Sanford and speak at the Methodist church. Proctor agreed. Both Proctor and Tyson knew that Martin Luther King’s words were true, that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America, and all-white churches did not welcome black preachers in their pulpits.

When the church members heard about Proctors proposed visit, the telephone rang constantly. A meeting by fifty church members was called and they insisted that the invitation be rescinded. He tried to reason with them, but refused to comply with their demand. Death threats followed, among them threats to dynamite the house. His job was on the line as well.

When Tyson came home from the meeting at the church he was met with the news that a threat had been made to blow up his house and harm his family. He was ready to give in, but his wife gabbed his arms and told him to stand his ground. Even his supporters began to back off. Their comments are almost the “scripture” of churches, “It isn’t worth tearing the church apart over.”

The night before Proctor was to speak there was another meeting called. The board demanded that Tyson call and cancel the appointment. One member pushed the phone across the desk saying, “You can end all this with just one phone call.” Others said it was going to tear up the church. Then Miss Amy Womble, a sixty-year-old first grade teacher, who had taught most of the people in the room, stood up. I won’t tell all her story, but she said something that needs repeating. After saying she knew their preacher and she didn’t know Dr. Proctor, She said, “If there’s going to be any tearing done, we’re going to do the tearing apart ourselves.” Then she went on to remind them that a white boy near Chapel Hill had run his car off the road and was killed in the crash. As they stood waiting for the ambulance to take him to the funeral home, an airman from Pope Air Force Base stopped. He went down to the boy and opened his mouth. He saw the boy’s tongue was stuck in his throat and he ran his finger in and pulled out the tongue. He then gave the boy mouth to mouth resuscitation. By the time the ambulance got there the boy was walking around. The following week they had a big dinner at the fire station for the airman. Then Miss Amy paused and said, “What I haven’t told you is that the boy who had been in the wreck was white, and the airman that saved him was a black man.” She looked around the room and said, “Now which one of you fathers would have said to that airman, ‘Now, don’t run your black fingers down my boy’s white throat’? Which of y’all would have told that airman, ‘Don’t you dare put your black lips on my boy’s mouth’?” Dr Proctor spoke at the church the next day to a packed house.

One of the members who was a wholesale grocery salesman said that when he told a costumer he was supporting Tyson’s asking Dr. Proctor to speak, he was ordered out of the store and told never to come back.

A few years later, in 1966, Tyson was invited to a church at Oxford, NC. There, amid the racial tension of the time, he once again invited a black minister to preach. Once again, he was in trouble, but not as much as before. It would be his stand in trying to bring reconciliation during the riots after Henry Marrow’s killers went free, that sent the Tyson family to Wilmington.

Timothy Tyson’s life was so changed by his father’s courage and the death of Henry Marrow, that he went to Duke and earned his Ph.D. and is now teaching Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin.

As I read the book, I was reminded too much about the times in West Virginia during the sixties and seventies, I stood by far too quietly as Church of Christ preachers passed out their racist, bigoted, material.

It would be nice to say such things are in the past, but they are not. Prejudice of all kinds still raises its ugly head. And, as it was then, far too much of it comes from the pews of churchgoers. And it is always based on the same thing, fear.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith has had a setback. Another vertebra has fractured. However, they are hoping it will heal by her wearing a cast. She will be in rehab a few more days. Brice Reid had an appendicectomy on Wednesday afternoon. He is home and doing fine. Several in the congregation have been sick with chest congestion and head colds. Remember the Hall’s neighbor who has cancer. Mike Breeding has not yet had his surgery. Keep him and his wife in your prayers. Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Connie Crites father, and Debbie Conner, whose husband, Randy, has what seems to be terminal cancer. Helen Nicklas is about the same. Continue to remember Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum, Tim Elder, and Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida, who has cancer, but is responding to treatment. Also the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Cor. 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
Monday: I Timothy 6:11-21
Tuesday: Psalm 119:89-112
Wednesday: Mark 2:15-3:6
Thursday: Acts 8:4-24
Friday: Luke 22:39-53
Saturday: 1 Cor. 15:42-58

Sleiman e-mailed last week to say that he had retired from AEP and had taken a position in Houston, TX. He will be leaving Columbus in March and Juliette and the children will follow in June. Maria is a Junior at Ohio State and Danielle is a Junior in High School.

Sunday, February 20, is Super Sunday. As the weather changes what better way to enjoy a good meal and good friends than to eat together. Plan to stay.

We are still in the process of taking updated pictures for the new directory and this Sunday looks to be a nice day. Some of the pictures taken a week or so ago didn’t turn out due to the sun reflecting in the lens. Erma will be taking them after the service and during our fellowship time together.

Our young folks are at Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN. This weekend and will be returning on Sunday. They hope to be here in time to enjoy the Super Sunday meal with us. Keep them in your prayers as they travel home.

Last week a woman dropped by the office and said she wanted to make a contribution to the church. It seems we had helped her several years ago and she wanted to give back. After being told that was not necessary, she insisted and presented a hundred dollar bill. When asked if that was what we had given her she replied she had only needed fifty-two, but she wanted to give the hundred.
In all the forty some years I have been preaching that is the first time anyone ever did anything like that. Say a little prayer for this unusual woman.

You will notice that the two pictures (of which only one was on the wall until it was taken down for VBS) in the foyer have been hung. Frames for the pictures sent by the chaplain for the troops we helped in Iraq
have been purchased. As soon as a frame and a self for the flag is found, they will be placed on the wall downstairs. Rather than hang the flag it seemed more appropriate to frame it and place it on a self out of the way.


If I were a certain kind of person, which I am not, I might be a little spooked by the fact that just a week after I picked on the “Jesus is coming soon” folks, the newspaper reports there is a group that is now sure of it. It will take place on May 21, 2011. I’m not sure of the time but it will probably be after midnight when it is dark or as the sun shines from the east to the west.

I know these folks do not represent main line Christianity, even though there is a large number of people who are sure it’s soon, but not sure of the date. However, this group, lead by an 89 year old “prophet” (Remember I said some people can’t stand the thought of dying without taking the rest of us with them. This guy doesn’t have that much longer) named, Harold Camping. He is a retired civil engineer, which only means that he is not uneducated, even if he is going to be sadly wrong. How do I dare say that? Because I have my own calculations. All I can say is that if any of those folks own a house in south Florida they will not need after May 21, I’m open for taking it over on May 22 regardless if they go or not.

They are not a large group, but they still have the resources to use traveling caravans of RVS and renting billboards across America, as well as spreading the word in foreign lands.

Now all this is not new and I certainly don’t want to curtail their freedom of belief. But this quote from one of the adherents really bothers me theologically. Allison Warden, of Raleigh, NC, says, “If May 21 passes and I’m still here, that means I wasn’t saved. Does that mean God’s word is inaccurate or untrue? Not at all.”

On May the 22nd I’m not sure what this young woman is going to do. If you are not saved, do you go on believing in God when there is no hope for you? Or do you readjust your ideas about the Bible? I hope she, as well as her leader, change their understanding of scripture. However, when the attitude is sealed in stone, “My understanding of God’s word is accurate and true” there is little hope for change. What often happens is giving up on the Bible altogether. There are any number of atheists who were once believers with a wrong understanding of the Bible.

Anyone who grows in grace and knowledge has to also grow in the way they understand God and scripture. On a simple level, I once was sure how big heaven was. It was literally a 1,500 mile cube, only I used cubits back then. In fact, I’m not sure if 1,500 miles is correct and I don’t care. Because I now understand that to be a figure of speech rather than a literal city. That goes for the street of gold and wanting a mansion that is silver lined as well.

There is the constant need to revisit the views we hold about God. After all, few if any of us got them by revelation. We got them from those who taught us, just as I did the size and literalness of heaven. We are told the Bible is true even before we can absorb it for ourselves. We are told how the Bible is true and warned not to fool with it. It is presented as an untouchable document. Of course, just as these “end times” folks are doing, we accept some person’s idea about what it means. All of us have eaten what someone else cooked for us. Does that make it bad? No. But it must be tested. If we accept Jesus as the one who reveals the nature of God, then we start with discovering who and what he was. That in and of itself is not easy, as anyone who observes the Christian religion can see. We make him in our own image and in our own social and political ideologies. This started soon after Jesus’ death and can be seen in the letters of Paul and it will continue.

What we continually have to do is realize we understand God as we understand the world around us. There is an evolutionary quality to human knowledge and understanding. It takes place in medicine, science, music, art and social interaction. But in the area of God, and all kinds of religions concerning a deity, such an evolution is often considered heresy.

For example, there are those who still defend slavery because it is part of the cultural scene of the Bible. To do so is to miss and to misunderstand the nature of God as revealed in Christ’s teachings. As Elvis sang, “I’m (you’re) caught in a trap.” But it’s not cause I love you too much baby.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith spent some time in Pheasant Ridge undergoing rehab after her back surgery. Hopefully she will be home by the weekend, but if not, she is in room 609B. Judy Hall is mending well after injuring her elbow. Remember the Hall’s neighbor who has cancer. Also Mike Breeding and his wife, Trisha, the Bolin’s friend, Joanne Elder and Erma Williams as they job hunt. Joni Beach’s mother got a good report. Her cancer has not advanced, but it is still serious. Connie Crites’ father. Helen Nicklas is not doing very well at this time. Little Isabelle Simmons has responded very well to her treatment for Leukemia. Debbie Conner, a friend of Erma’s that some of us know, husband, Randy, has cancer that seems to be quickly spreading. Continue to remember Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida who has cancer, Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum, Tim Elder, and the work of Health Talents Int., Bread For A Hungry World, the unrest in Egypt and in other needy spots in the world.
Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-8
Wednesday: Philippians 4:8-23
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians 3:7-21
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24

Our Sympathy is extended to Judy McWhorter and Jan Overstreet in the death of an aunt who died in Georgia. Also, former member, Rhonda McRoy’s grandmother died. The funeral was in Alabama.

For those of you who receive the bulletin beyond the congregation, there was no mid-January bulletin due to the Wagner’s being on vacation.

Also, if you have E-mail and you do not receive the bulletin that way you can go to the church website and at the place under the minister’s name there is a “subscribe” button. However, if you already receive the bulletin via E-mail, and you have a new E-mail address, let Keith know and he will see that the old one is deleted and the new one added. This will keep the list from filling with addresses that are no longer valid. As the new directory is completed all E-mail addresses of members who currently receive the bulletin via E-mail will be checked against the new directory. As to the directory, Erma Williams will be taking the new pictures in the weeks to come, probably up till Super Sunday.

Several of our young folks will once again be attending Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN the third weekend of this month.

If you noticed some parts of trees near or behind the annex, the weather has kept the man doing the work from being able to put his truck on the soft ground. As soon as the ground hardens several more trees behind the annex will be removed.

Since Judy Hall has injured her elbow she will be on the sidelines of knitting the scarves she will distribute to the various groups she has been working with. She needs at least two more knitters to help finish this up. If you can help please see Judy.

Famis Plus is Virginia’s Health Insurance (Medicaid) for children under 19 in low income families. Depending on income, this service for children can be either free or at a small cost. This program is not well known, so if you know someone who needs such help, see the downstairs bulletin board for information.


Listen! Did you hear Rome fall? I grew up living in fear that Gibbon’s reasons for the fall of Rome would be the downfall of every nation, I needed to listen for the thud. I even had a woman tell me about twenty years ago that America had to fall (a president had been elected she didn’t like) because every nation fell after two hundred years.

Who in their right mind would want a nation about the size of Florida to rule all of Europe? Or the idea that the sun never set on Great Briton’s holdings? Isn’t independence a good thing? Isn’t freedom what we all want for ourselves and others?

While I’m talking about falls, when was the last time anyone quoted J. Edgar Hoover? He was almost sanctified in the past, but finding dresses in his closet after he died kind of took the shine off his pronouncements.

I face 2011 the way I’ve faced all the coming years since I “woke up”. I’m both anxious and excited. I’m not surprised that greed and selfishness are still running the politics of the world. That makes me anxious, but not hopeless, I find that within all the corruption there are still those who fight against it, and often win. Neither does the evil in the world surprise me, but I will not let it define my world view. I am amazed at the sacrificial good people all over the world do for others. And I believe that as more and more years come and go some of the evils that plague us will pass with them.

I feel sorry for those people who believe there was some time in the past that was the best of times. They are afraid of the future because they are narrow in mind. Those days never existed, except to them and them alone. When we define the good old days by our singular definition, we make ourselves out to be fools.

I grew up in the fifties. I have fond memories of the “rock ‘n roll” age in Norwood, Ohio. My world was small. The world of southern blacks was not my world. That would come near he end of that decade. When I saw the segregated part of the country my idea of “good old days” faded. They were good for me, but not good for all Americans.

It was near the end of my “good old days” that I realized even though my mother also worked, she could not get a credit card without my father co-signing Nor could a woman buy a house without a man to co-sign the deed, no matter how much money she made and how little he did. So I was excited when the days of equal rights for women came along. My good old days faded a little more.

The technology of television brought pictures from Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta and Mississippi into our living rooms. Segregation could only be good days for the prejudiced and bigoted. When it comes to that, I suppose another generation will have to die off to remove the stain of racism. I was in Kroger just before Christmas and two elderly women were talking and blocking the isle I wanted to go up. One was on a riding cart, the other was about four feet eight and bent over. She looked to be in her late seventies. They were talking politics. As they started to move, the small one said to the other, “I vote for the one I think will do the job best.” As I stepped by them I said something about how we did need to find the right kind of people to serve. As I walked away she said her choice was Sara Palin. I didn’t realize she was coming up the same isle where I was picking up an item. I heard her say, “My grandson voted for that thing in the White House! People ought to know better than to put a d–n n—-r in the White House!” All I could do was look at her and say “O my goodness!” and walk away. It is sad that after all these years that feeling is still alive.

I remain excited about the potential of the future. I think those who are always seeing the “rapture” coming are people who don’t want to go unless they take the rest of us with them. It’s as if they can’t imagine a world without them, and the world they see isn’t worth having. The world has to end with them. It’s as if they feel since they have failed to see God’s continuing will being done on earth, that God has to do their bidding and end it all. That seems egotistical to me. The will of God is not conditioned by a person’s lack of vision for the future of the earth
As for me, in 2060 I would like for my grandchildren to say, “Granpa would be so excited to see what the world is like.” And I’d like for them to tell their children so that in 2111 they will say, “I wish great-granpa could see this.” That’s my vision and I’m sticking to it. After all, didn’t Jesus say, in Matthew 12:29, “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first tie up the strong man?” Has Satan tied up Jesus or Jesus Satan? Your answer will be part of the final.

CONCERNS: Jim Smith is doing well after cataract surgery. Mary is still having back problems. The Hall’s neighbor has cancer. Mike Breeding and his wife need pray for their heath and well-being. Trisha, a friend of the Bolins, Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still seeking employment. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer), Connie Crites’ father is also dealing with cancer as is Zona Fisher’s niece. Wayne and Susan Phlegar’s son is recovering from being struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The driver did not stop. Also, their friend, Julie, has just about reached the extent of recovery after a serious stroke. Wayne is still having circulation problems in his leg. Remember Helen Nicklas and Isabelle Simmons. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer) Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World and the recovery going on in Haiti.

Monday: John 17:1-26
Tuesday: Revelation 19:1-16
Wednesday: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

The food pantry has been restocked and a few families have benefited from it.

The holiday fruit baskets have all been delivered. This year the baskets were paid for with a donation made in the memory of Polly Altice.

The poinsettias in and around the auditorium need good homes now that their job of beautifying the building for the holidays is over. If you would like one or know someone who would, please take one. Just leave any dish or coaster on which they are sitting.
Richard Crites will be giving a financial report from the steering committee today. He will also be telling us about some ideas and plans for this year.

The information sheets for the new directory have been collected. If you missed updating yours or if there are any recent changes, see Keith.

Judy Hall is once again assembling all knitters to knit scarves for children in the Roanoke schools. She has purchased the material and all she needs is your help again on this good project. She will be back in town soon if you need to talk to her.

We are having some trees cut behind the annex that were in danger of falling on the building. This will give us additional wood for the fireplace as well as make the area look better. Once the weather clears and drys out the large branch leaning toward the front of the main building will be cut off. This might also be a good time to once again warn you that the large trees along Brandon Ave. are old and limbs are dying and falling off. Be careful where you park on windy days and when there is heavy snow or ice on the trees.

A nice number of you came to the Christmas Eve service. It was especially nice to see families (some from out of town) gathered together for the service.

This year Kirsten Pierce read the story for the children (and the rest of us) and we enjoyed Karen Branch leading us in the songs of the season. Thanks to both of them and all who attended for making it a good experience. For some the evening was topped off by eating out afterwards.


I put the ol’ Farmall into “mule gear” as pa used to say, so it wouldn’t get away from me as I started down the steep hill by the big oak tree. I did.

Me’n ol’ Blue’d gone back to the north forty to get us a Christmas tree. Pa’d planted bout a hundred trees what the conservation folks had given away about ten years before he died. He did. Over the years we’d gotten all our trees from that there stand of Fraser Firs. We did. Most of them were so big now I were just cuttin’ the upper parts for my tree. Then I’d go back in the spring an’ hitch the tractor to the roots an’ pull out the stump. I would

I’d let the town folks at Hickory Ridge have a big tree for the town square for the past few years. I did. I were hopin’ to replant them trees just so the deer would have a place to bed down. I were. I reckon I’d have to see Bailey Lawson who were the extension agent an’ see iffen I could get some more. I would. Course, come July I’d have to go back an’ trim ‘em up so they’d look good to cut. I would.

As that ol’ tractor’s gears groaned against the weight, ol’ Blue were runnin’ here an’ there tryin’ to pick up a rabbit or maybe a deer scent. When he found one he’d let out that big ol’ howl of his’n to let anyone what cared know that he’d been successful. He did.

Bumpin’ along the lane I got me to thinkin’ about Christmas an’ all. I did. It were just the best time of the year for ma. It were. We didn’t have much, but ma always found some way to make it seem like a royal feast. She did. Lookin’ back I reckon she squirreled away money little by little all year long just for Christmas. She did. An I reckon her love for it were equally divided between her love for the Lord and me’n pa. I do. The very idea that the Lord would come to us as a little baby, growin’ up just like any other little boy never ceased to excite ma. It didn’t. An’ come Christmas she were all smiles as she talked about the birth of Jesus. She were.

I remembered the time when Stanley Watts came as the preacher at the church. It were when I were about seven or eight years old. Stanley weren’t with us very long. I reckon part of the reason were his attitude, which some folks called narrow minded. Fact is, Lindy Adkins once told ma Stanley were so narrow minded iffen he were a woman one earring woulda suited him fine. She did.

Stanley were all about keepin’ the rules an’ not doin’ anything what God hadn’t commanded. He were. The only Christmas I remember him bein’ around, he had this here sermon about how Christmas was based on a pagan holiday an’ how Christians had to “come out from among them pagans an’ their ways.” He did. He said there weren’t no place in the Bible what authorized havin’ no birthday party for Jesus. He did. He said iffen Jesus wanted us to have a special time to remember his birthday he’d a told us. He did. He also said that December 25 were nowheres near the time Jesus were born, an’ it were a pagan day too. He did. So as far as he were concerned the true Christian wouldn’t even put up no Christmas tree cause not only did it represent paganism, but iffen anyone drove by an’ saw it in the winder, they might do the same thing an’ maybe lose their soul to an eternal hell. He did.

I remember tellin’ ma that Donny Kirk were one of them Jehovah’s Witnesses an’ he didn’t believe in Christmas neither. So I reckoned Preacher Stanley were just like Donny. I did. Ma smiled an’ said she didn’t reckon they were, but she didn’t say why. She didn’t.

After Stanley’s sermon I were a tad troubled. I knowed how much ma loved the Lord an’ Christmas, so while she were cookin’ Sunday lunch that day I asked her about what Stanley said. I did.

She looked at me with that smile that told me she were about to take my face in her hands an’ hug me. Which is what she did. Then she told me she weren’t one to have roast preacher on Sunday, an’ how she were hopin’ Stanley would somehow catch the real meanin’ of the Lord bein’ born an’ all. She did.

She checked on the chicken in the oven an’ sat me down at the kitchen table. She did. Then she sat down an’ said, “Benny, there are rules an’ then there is the spirit of the rules. When your pa an’ me tell you what we expect of you, we leave it up to you to decide how to do those things. In other words, we want you to understand why we want you to do them. I reckon that’s what you’d call the spirit of doin’ what we ask. Just doin’ it without knowin’ why gets it done, but it don’t help you to become a good boy. Do you understand?”

I asked her iffen it were like the time she wanted me to try to like Mandy Green. Mandy were a girl at school what bothered me all the time. She did. Well, one day I saw Jeffery Stowers hit Mandy an’ knock her down. I did. She were cryin’ an’ I gotta holda Jeffery an’ told him to help her up an’ tell her he were sorry. I did. He knowed better’n to mess with me an’ he did what I told him. He did. Mandy kept right on bother’n me, but I felt good being able to help her. I did.

Ma said it were somethin’ like that. She did. Then she said, “Benny, remember all the times you’ve taken your pocket knife an cut one of my flowers an’ brought it to me an’ told me you loved me? It weren’t even no special day, cept you made it special for me. Benny, I didn’t tell you to do that, did I?. An’ I didn’t tell you those were already my flowers anyway, did I?” I told her I reckoned she hadn’t. “Well Benny, I reckon the Lord knows I know December 25 ain’t his birthday, an’ that he ain’t asked for me to remember it. But I reckon since he loves me more’n I love you, he won’t be upset with me bringin’ him some flowers outta his garden even iffen he didn’t tell me to. An’ that’s why I love Christmas so much. It gives me the chance to show my love for him comin’. It Does.”

I wished ma were here to decorate the tree, cause every time she did it were like she were givin’ the Lord some flowers outta his garden. It were. An’ I reckon he loved it just the way she loved mine. I do.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith had a set back but is slowly improving. Jim had cataract surgery last week. T. J. And Judy Hall’s neighbor (cancer). Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer). Connie Crites father, Zona Fisher’s niece, Mike Breeding, Helen Nicklas. The Bolin’s friend, Trisha. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer). Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder and the people at Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World and the work of recovery in Haiti. Also, remember those who were displaced when Polly Altice’s house burned.

Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5

Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday Psalm 66:1-20

Once again we enjoyed the Christmas Party and the good fun and fellowship. The meal was wonderful and a special thanks to our own Chef Jeff Bland for getting the meat and fixing it to perfection! Also thanks to all who brought all the other goodies that made for a great evening.

Another big thanks to Erma Williams and Judy McWhorter for decorating. Erma and Garrett Lee brought the tree over and after it was set up, fluffed out the branches. Erma worked many hours bringing the final touches and Judy gave it her own touch with the table settings. Thanks to everyone who participated it was a wonderful evening.

The funds collected for the health and rebuilding of Haiti were sent to two different places. Half was sent to Helping Hands Int. They are digging wells so good water can be had to contain the cholera epidemic. The other half went to the Southwest Church of Christ in Ada, OK to help with rebuilding houses. Thanks for you help.

Thanks to Erma and the rest of the youth teachers for arraigning the trips to see the latest Narnia movie and the Christmas tree exhibit at the Hotel Roanoke Convention Center, and of course, the lunches before the trips.

Judy Hall is asking those of you who knitted scarves last year to do it again. In case you haven’t started and you can help, she is furnishing all the material. Once they are finished they will be given to those school children in the Roanoke area who need them.

As announced last Sunday, we will soon be taking clothing (shirts, jeans, Men’s underwear size 32-36) to the Samaritan Inn. They clothe those who spend much of their time on the street. These should not be new items due to the sad fact that they can be beaten up and taken from them. Shoes, belts, socks (the socks can be new) of all sizes can also be used. Check your closets and see if there’s anything you can give there folks.


Few if any of us develop our faith and understanding of scripture in a vacuum. We are taught what to believe almost before we can read and study it for ourselves.

In the last twenty some years I have found myself seeing this more and more in the way I have applied scripture..

The change in understanding for me was helped by being around Jerry Sumney while they were here. I remember quoting some scripture and applying it in a literal sense. I looked at Jerry, as I usually did, after all, he had a Ph.D. in New Testament, and I saw him frown slightly and shake his head. Jerry was not one to counter a person’s view unless it was really bad. So I went back and looked at the scripture I’d quoted and I didn’t see anything wrong. Then I looked again, from a non literal angle and I found it was much more in harmony with the overall teaching of the New Testament. It was really liberating.

I was reading an article in a little paper that comes to the church, and in it the author was denouncing denominations. At one point he said “The Pharisees were the most prominent denomination among the Jews of the time. But even a powerful sect as was the Pharisees represented no more than blind guides leading the blind.” Of course, he gave a passage to prove Jesus said that. This guy no doubt believes all Muslims are terrorists.

My question, other than the false assumption that all Pharisees were “blind guides”, would be, “Who were the nondenominational Jews?” I’m sure he placed the Sadducees as the less prominent group. So, who were the ones doing it right? Jesus went to synagogue and the temple. There were no “independents”. You either believed in the resurrection of the dead, (Pharisee) or you did not (Sadducee). In Matthew 23:2-4 Jesus says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.” So apparently Jesus was a Pharisee by definition and was a member of that “denomination”. Which is not to say he did not understand the Sadducees who rejected the resurrection on the basis that it was not taught in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

This article is about how we look at scripture, so lets look at another one. In oft quoted Mark 10:29,30, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life.”

In my “literal” days I took that literally. After all, Jesus said it! Then it didn’t seem to be working out that way and I heard folks start to “spiritualize” it. A Christian would have a new family, lots of mothers and fathers and siblings. Houses would be open to them, they would go to many lands spreading the gospel. Fine, but that’s not what Jesus said. He said it would be houses and lands. So, what else could he mean?

The context is the one we call the “rich young ruler”. He had a money problem. Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God”. The disciples were perplexed and Peter said, “We have left everything to follow you!” Why that question? Because Peter, like all the folks of his day believed in getting a reward for doing the right thing. Rich people were rich because they were doing the right thing. If Jesus is being literal it is stark contrast to his life and his teaching about possessions. So we have to conclude he is teaching something else.

Jesus’ life was lived not to achieve any reward, but as he says, “For the sake of the gospel.” So, it fits better if we see his statement about houses, families and lands, as an exaggerated statement to call attention to the fact that such things are not to be sought as a reward for doing what is “for the sake of the gospel”. Jesus didn’t have to aim at a heavenly mansion or for eternal life. Living for the sake of the gospel guarantees them. Living from faith in eternal life for Christ’s sake is a far cry from living to gain eternal life and other possessions. That gets too close at attempting religious shrewdness, and that always fails

Mistaken identity brings about false convictions.

Polly Altice’ death before Thanksgiving ended a long battle with several illnesses. However, she was as spunky a few days before she died as she ever was.

This was Polly’s church. She probably brought more people with her than any of us. And, the people she brought were the kind of people we need to see in church. They were, for the most part, the “down-and-outs” who found at Polly’s house a place to crash for awhile.

Someone commented at her funeral that even though she lived about a block from the Rescue Mission, she had her own little mission on the hill.

She never had much and never complained about not having more. She was fiercely independent, but knew she could ask us for help when the need surpassed her ability to handle it. The money she gathered from collecting aluminum cans made up her contribution to the church, much like the widow’s two pennies. She taught us much and we will miss her strong faith and positive attitude.

December 18 will be this year’s adult Christmas Party. The theme this year is “Be Merry”. It has been suggested that the gifts for the gift exchange be from local, or at least regional merchants to help the local economy. The gifts should be in the five dollar plus range.

The appetizers will be served about 5:30 and the meal at about 6:00. Chef Jeff has arraigned for the meat dish. There will be recipes passed out. A sign-up sheet is on the table in the foyer. Let it be known as soon as possible if you plan to attend.

Zona Fisher’s other brother, Tim Wade has also died of cancer. This is just a few weeks after her other brother, Roger died. Tim was in Georgia. Grave side services were held at Mt View in Vinton on Thursday. Also, Judy McWhorter’s uncle died. The funeral was in New Hampshire.

This is the first of two Sundays we will collect for helping the folks in Haiti. It will be sent to a group that’s helping rebuild.

If you haven’t checked on your directory info, please do so today

The young folks will be attending the showing of the new Chronicles of Narna movie on Saturday, Dec.11. Everyone is invited. See Erma for advanced tickets.

On Sunday, Dec. 12, the young folks will eat together and then go to the Hotel Roanoke for a tour of the Christmas Trees. Parents are welcome.

Judy Hall is calling all knitters to help make scarves to be given to school children. She has the material and is ready to go.

CONCERNS: First the good news. Mary Smith is much improved as is their neighbor. So is Sheila Robertson’s mother as well as Ron and Joyce Matney. T. J. Hall is recovering from illness. The Hall’s neighbor has cancer, Pray for him. Both Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are unemployed. Joni Beach’s mother is dealing with cancer, as is Connie Crites father. Zona Fisher’s niece (cancer).Mike Breeding (heart problems) Helen Nicklas, Trisha, the Bolin’s friend. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida, (cancer) Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. Bread For A Hungry World and the folks we are about to help in Haiti.

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-42
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24


By my friend, Ben

Matilda Martin had to be about the most cantankerous, stubborn woman what were ever born. She were. Whenever she showed up on the sidewalks of Hickory Ridge kids of all ages ducked outta sight. She were a big woman. She were. It weren’t that she were fat, she were just stout in a big way. Her voice were a mixture of garglin’ with gravel an’ a hammer strikin’ a train track. Cats ran under anything they could find an’ dogs knowed better’n to bark at Matilda Martin. They did.

Matilda lived about three miles outta town back in a holler on property what her pa’d left her. She never married and that were understandable bein’ the way she were an’ all.

Folks round about avoided Matilda at all costs an’ that were alright with her. It were. Fact is, anybody what found a need to make their way to Matilda’s place ended up starin’ down the barrel of a twelve gage shotgun. They did. A tax assessor said she also had a deer rifle, cause he ended up on the business end of it when he went to reassess her property. He did.

There were all kinds a rumors about Matilda. There were. Some folks said they knowed she were operatin’ a still in her barn. They did. Most folks said that were right silly cause as mean as she were, who’d even dare get close enough to buy any moon shine from her. They did. So Matilda Martin were somethin’ of a mystery what most folks seemed happy not to pry into. She were.

That changed a bit when ma noticed she hadn’t seen Matilda in town for two Saturdays. Ma always bid Matilda a good day whenever they passed. She did. Matilda made some kinda noise that I couldn’t tell iffen it were good or bad cause I were always out in the street to give Matilda plenty of room. I were.

Well, ma told pa she wanted him to take her out to Matilda’s place on Sunday after church. She did. Pa weren’t too happy about meetin’ up with Matilda an’ her guns. He weren’t. But ma insisted an’ told pa iffen he took her to the ridge leadin’ to the house, she’d walk the rest of the way. She did. Pa said iffen she were gonna die he’d die right along with her. He did. I don’t remember why, but I went along. I did.

When we reached the crest of the ridge, about a hundred yards from Matilda’s house, her hound dog started barkin’. He did. Next thing we knowed, a shot rang out from the house an’ dirt flew up in front of pa’s truck. It did. Pa started to put the truck in reverse an’ get outta there, but ma stopped him. She did. Before he could say a word ma were outta that truck an’ walkin’ toward Matilda’s house. She were. Next thing we knowed Matilda’s boomin’ voice hollered out, “Ain’t you Preacher Franklin’s kid?” Ma said she were. Matilda yelled back, “I knowed yer pa. He were a good man. What you wont?” Ma said she were worried about her since she hadn’t seen her in town. She did. It were then Matilda hobbled out on the porch with a coal shovel for a crutch. A dirty lookin’ bandage were wrapped around one of her legs. It were. Ma told pa to wait for her an’ started toward the house. I got outta the truck cause it were hot that day. Then I heard Matilda say, “ Is that yer boy?” Ma nodded. “Well bring him on up here with ya.” I shook my head, but ma put out her hand an’ I went. I did.

Ma asked Matilda what happened to her leg.  She pointed to a hole in the porch an’ said, “I fell through the dang porch. Scraped myself up good! This were the first week I were able to walk! I been crawlin’ fer nigh on to a week!” Ma asked iffen she could look at the wound and Matilda sat in a chair what were on the porch. She did. Well that wound looked worse than anything I’d ever seen. It did. I had to look away. I heard ma take in her breath an’ she told Matilda she needed to have a doctor look at her leg. Matilda were havin’ none of that. No fancy doctor were gonna fool around with her leg. She’d get by just fine. Ma asked iffen she’d let her bathe it an’ put on a clean bandage. She said she would an ma told her she’d be back as soon as she could get some medicine from home. She did.

She told pa to stop at Pauley’s Drug  Store an she told doc Pauley, the druggist what had happened to Matilda She did. Doc Pauley gave her some salve, bandages and something to clean the wound. He did. After goin’ home to get a wash pan we headed back to Matilda’s. We did. This time pa drove right up to the house. He did. I asked iffen I could stay outside an play with Matilda’s dog, an ma said I could She did.

Every day for the next week an’ a half ma went to make sure Matilda were mendin’. She did. Once or twice Matilda insisted that I come in, She did. The house were filled with all kinds of old things. There were an old pistol what caught my eye an I asked iffen I could look at it. Matilda said I could do more than that, I could have it iffen I wanted it. Ma said it weren’t necessary, but Matilda insisted, iffen I promised not to try to shoot it. She said it were so old the barrel might explode. Besides, she doubted they even made bullets for it any more. She did. With that ma said I could have it. She did.

Well, by an’ by, sure enough, Matilda gotta walkin’ again, good as new. Perty soon she were drivin’ her ol’ broken down Ford truck back to town. She were. An’ she were still as contrary as ever, cept to ma. Whenever she came upon me’n ma in town, she’d smile a little an’ her mumble were a low, “Howdy.” An’ ma, seemin’ to respect’ her privacy, would smile an’ say a hello back at her. She would.

I asked ma iffen it bothered her that after all she done for Matilda that she weren’t no different than before. Ma said, “Benny, first of all, I didn’t do for Miss Matilda to change her. I did it because she needed me. Besides, Miss Matilda has changed, more’n folks know. But unless we hear someone runnin’ her down, it’s not up to us to expose the Miss Matilda we know. She’ll do that when she’s ready.”

One Saturday Matilda pulled her truck up close to ma an’ said, “Iffen I’d ever go to church it’ll be because of you an’ yer pa.” She never did. But I reckon Matilda Martin had seen the Lord in what ma’d done for her. She did. An’ I reckon that’s the way it ought to be. I do.

CONCERNS: Polly Altice was taken from the hospital to Berkshire Health Care Center in Vinton on Clearview Dr. She had to return to the hospital last Sunday evening, but on Tuesday she was returned to Berkshire. Her recovery may be slower than expected. Sheila Robertson has returned from California where her mother is dealing with health problems. Ron and Joyce Matney have had recent health problems and have asked for prayers. Mary Smith was able to see her Dr. last week and may be able to be with us after suffering with back problems. The Smiths also have a neighbor who is in bad health and needs our prayers. Judy and T. J. Hall have a neighbor with cancer. The customer of Judy McWhorter’s whose 8 month old nephew who has cancer is responding very well to treatments. Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Connie Crites father is also doing pretty well. They are there for Thanksgiving. Zona Fisher’s niece is also being treated for cancer. Mike Breeding (heart problems), James Altice, and Helen Nicklas. Trisha, the Bolin’s friend  . Both Wayne and Susan Phlegar had falls this past week. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida (caner) Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder. Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World

Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 8:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday; Matthew 16:13-28

Monday: Exodus 1-15
Tuesday: Matthew 9:14-34
Wednesday: Eccleasties 12:1-14
Thursday: II Corinthians 5:11-21
Friday: II Samuel 11:1-27
Saturday: Psalm 121:1-8

Judy Hall is asking anyone who would like to knit scarves again this year to see her. The ones last year were greatly appreciated by the organizations they were given to.

Rich Crites has talked to the folks at the Samaritan Inn about their needs. They have enough coats at this time but can use shirts, blue jeans and such. Rich will go to a local thrift store and buy some of these things. Shoes are also needed.

Today (11/21) is Super Sunday. It looks to be a pretty day and the warm fire should add to the wonderful food. Plan to stay.

Many of you have approved the new directory sheets. They are on the foyer table. If you haven’t checked on yours, please do so as soon as possible.

The steering committee will meet after today’s fellowship meal.

The special collection for Haitian relief will be the first two Sunday’s in December. What funds we give will be added to the money raised by the young folks and then a decided amount from the treasury will added to that.

December 18 will be the adult Christmas party. This year’s theme will be, “Be Merry”. A request has been made that the gifts for the gift exchange be “local” as in not made in China. More details in the next bulletin.

The new Chronicles of Narnia movie will be out in Dec. The young folks are going and anyone else is invited to attend on Saturday, Dec. 11. Erma Williams needs to know in advance so she can arrange the tickets. This is a 3D movie, so it will cost more. See her for more details.

Sunday, Dec. 12, the young people will have lunch together then visit the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center for a Christmas tree tour. Parents are welcome to attend. More details later.


The famed Crystal Cathedral has filed bankruptcy. Who will be next?

Robert H. Shuller started the church by buying an abandoned drive-in theater and turning it into a drive-in church. Quite novel. You could go, sit in your car, listen to the sermon and drop your money on the way out, or in, I don’t know which. Out of that came the one-of-a-kind Crystal Cathedral, a landmark and tourist attraction.

I remember a family telling me they had attended the Easter pageant at the Cathedral and they were sure it was even better than the real thing.

Robert Shuller was a mixture of Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie. His sermons were all filled with the power of God and positive thinking. His success attracted preacher after preacher to try to emulate him.

When he preached, he was high above the audience, almost as if in heaven itself. Live birds flew here and there and fruit-bearing tress grew in the natural greenhouse light of the Cathedral. It was the Garden of Eden all over again, if not better. After all, the Cathedral was air conditioned and heated.

When Robert H. died, his son, Robert  A. received the mantel. Things seemed to have gone well enough until there was a family feud between he and his sister, Sheila. Robert resigned in 2008. Sheila Shuller Coleman is now the head pastor of the church.

She believes they can pull out of the  over 40 million they are in debt by scaling down. But what if the scaled down version is too disappointing to those who go there? What if it doesn’t attract new attendees?  Any sign of failure today is a death sentence. If the parking lot is not full, it matters not what is taught inside, the sign “failure” is hanging on the building. It’s been that way for a long time and it’s not about to change. What has happened is that the institution of church has become something other than that with which many of us grew up.

Several years ago Carroll Osburn said to me, “Doctrine doesn’t matter anymore.”  I heard the same thing while listening to a church historian who was in town recently. He said that membership in churches today can be as fragile as the smile or lack thereof on the minister’s face. The laughter from ministers of several different denominations backed up his claim. He went on to say that people of his age (he looked to be in his seventies) inherited their religious affiliation from their parents, but that is no longer true. Today it is about what a particular group can do for them. That was not new to me. But then he said that the question is no longer, “What does the Bible say?” It is “How can I know God?” “How can I have a relationship with God?” The particular church or church doctrine does not matter, at least among what we would call Protestant churches. We of the Churches of Christ are not immune. More and more, people who have grown up in the Church of Christ, graduated from one of our universities or colleges, are becoming part of some other group. To deny the change is like the woman with the broom trying to sweep the flood waters away from her door.

If the modern searcher is looking for a relationship with God as a first priority, I think that’s a good thing. I’ve been preaching that for about thirty years. However, if everyone who heard me say it’s all about relationship had gone out and told everyone that’s what we were about, that should have made this the largest church in Roanoke. So I don’t think that’s all of it. That’s where the Crystal Cathedral comes in, as well as other mega-churches.

I don’t want to criticize success, but neither do I think bigness necessarily validates God. So I would ask the question: What concept of God does the person have who believes the big, entertaining church is the best place to find and have relationship with God? The answer to that seems obvious; relationship with God is about being big and successful. Of course, the opposite of that could also be true.

All churches have a doctrine, a  view of what scripture says. A person can find relationship with God in a large or small church. But relationship means being related to something, to God. It means whatever we do and say as God’s relatives, it will reflect the teachings and actions of Jesus. That alone identifies the one, or the thing, with which we have relationship.

CONCERNS: Sheila Robertson’s mother has not been well, but is doing better. Sheila has gone to California to spend some time with her. Mary Smith is having back pain that is keeping her unable to get out. The Smiths also have a neighbor who is very ill, as does Judy and T. J. Hall. Joanne Elder, Erma Williams are looking for jobs. Zona Fisher’s brother, Tim’s cancer is getting worse. Her niece also is being treated for cancer. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Connie Crites father, Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer). Helen Nicklas fell again, but didn’t do any damage other than some bruises. Mike Breeding (heart problems). Polly Altice is still having breathing problems due to scar tissue on her lungs. Her son, James’ cancer is about the same. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s still needs prayer. Wayne Phlegar is still having circulation problems in his leg, but they hope to take a trip to Texas soon. They will see their friend Julie, who is slowly recovering from a stroke. Those with continuing problems, or shut in are Barbara McCauley, and Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Remember also Tim Elder, the work of Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World.
Three families were helped from the food pantry recently. It will be restocked soon.
Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday: II Thessalonians 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 10:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45
Monday: John 17:1-26
Tuesday: Revelation 19:1-16
Wednesday: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48
Since many of you receive the bulletin before the date on the back, it might be a good time to remind you that Daylight Saving Time ends early on Sunday morning, Nov. 7. So set your clocks back an hour before going to bed on Saturday.
Following is the translation of a letter from one of the children we sponsor with our ABC work via Health Talents Int.
Dear Sponsors,
I write you this letter hoping you are enjoying of good health next to your dear family. After my brief greeting I want to say the following, the reason for this letter is to let you know I am very grateful for all you have done for me. I wish the best in everything you do daily. God bless you
Luis Alexander Perez Nicolas
The card is on the downstairs bulletin board.
With summer vacations we have not yet decide on a Sunday to have a special collection for the ongoing work in Haiti. We have several hundred dollars the young people raised and we want to add to that this month. Set aside what you plan to give now for when the time comes.
This is also the time of year the budget for next year is developed. We have had a good year and have been able to make several costly improvements and repairs. All this is due to your generosity and commitment to the work we do here.
Next week the “up date” sheets will be on the cry room window for you to check. We will also start taking pictures in the near future, perhaps starting on Super Sunday. We hope to have the directory ready in December.
It seems early, but it is only about a month before the available dates for the adult Christmas Party roll around. Take a look at the first three Saturdays in December and be ready to let the best date for you to attend to be known. The children’s party will be on Super Sunday in December.
Be thinking about anyone you would like to receive a fruit basket from the church.


When our kids were little I used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle with them. Well, the truth is I probably watched it even if they weren’t there. There was a segment called “Fractured Fairytales”. You get the picture. It was clever and funny. What is neither clever or funny is when Christianity gets fractured. That is a tragedy.

A recent case in point is the fire along the Kentucky Tennessee boarder where the local fire department arrived, but was prevented from fighting the fire because the home owner had not paid the fire fee. That this gained national attention was not surprising. What was surprising is that “Christian” commentators jumped in to defend the fire department’s actions. The reasoning was that if they treated one family to free service it would somehow damage those who had paid.

In one remarkable comment by Bryan Ficher, part of the American Family Association, he said,”The left wants to reward the irresponsible by forcing the responsible to cough up resources to bail them out! Thus perversely the irresponsible are rewarded and the responsible punished! That frankly sounds more like the teaching of Jim Wallis than Jesus Christ!” He then goes on to blame Mr Cranick (the home owner). “What would Jesus do? That’s easy. He’d tell Mr Cranick, ‘Man up, accept full responsibility and don’t blame anyone but yourself for what happened, that’s the Christian thing to do. And next time, Gene, pay the 75 bucks, all right?’”

To his Christian critics (he at least admits there ere Christians who disagree with him) he tells them, “Instead of whining about how hard-hearted everyone else is, why don’t you man up (he loves that term) and send the man some money to help him rebuild his house? That’d be the Christian thing to do right then! Any takers?”

You may remember the American Family Association. They were noted for ranking TV shows as to how much skin was shown, how many sexual innuendos and how many  gays were used, among other things. I don’t know how they chose those steely enough to be the censors, but somebody watched a lot of TV.

As to Mr. Ficher’s request, I think I heard that over five thousand dollars had been sent to help with the rebuilding. I would be surprised if there is any from Mr. Ficher. After all, why reward irresponsibility? It might also be noted that the fire department was offered up to ten thousand dollars on the spot via a check from a neighbor (a good irresponsible Samaritan?), but it was refused because of the “letter of the law”.

It might surprise Mr Ficher if a poll was taken from those who had paid their fee, as to if they would allow their money to be used to save a family home. I could quote a lot of scripture here, but I’ve learned those who claim to know the Bible, read it, as Paul said, “with a veiled heart.” In other words, it would do no good.

Ficher also added that he was surprised that so many Christians disagreed with him. He said it was usually Marxists, and socialists who did that. I found that currently interesting. It seems in the current political climate that if you disagree with the likes of Ficher, you are ether a socialist or a Marxist.

From my point of view, the case for fighting the fire was a no brainer. In fact, I’m surprised the firemen didn’t ignore their orders to stand down. As I understand it, they were volunteers. I guess you can fire a volunteer, but how bad is that when your integrity is on the line?

In many areas the rescue squad and fire department are volunteer. Would Mr Ficher say the same thing if it were not a fire, but a medical emergency? Would he say the Christian thing to do was to “man up” and watch a loved one die because you had failed to pay the fee? Who would he blame? In his own words, the person so irresponsible they had not paid the fee. The scriptural ramifications of that is so staggering I can’t begin to know where to start!

Let’s look at another real-life case. In New York an EMT is on trial for not helping a woman who was dying from an asthma attack. It seems Eutisha Rennix was in the Au Bon Bakery when the attack occurred. Melissa Jackson and her EMT partner, Jason Green were in the bakery as well, but they were off duty. When Eutisha had the attack, Jackson called 911. Rennix died. Why did Jackson and her partner not help? They were off the clock. Why give away free service to someone? (Remember, Mr Cranick didn’t set his house on fire.) If everyone who gets paid to do something starts doing it for free, then everyone will expect free service! Doctors and nurses should not stop and help if they are off the clock. Teachers should not offer to stay after school and tutor. For crying out loud, where would that logic(?) end?

Thank goodness New York City has a different view than the Fichers of the world! Of course, Jackson’s lawyer has said she did nothing wrong. In fact, he says she did what she should have, she called for help. We’ll see how it turns out

I don’t know if Melissa Jackson is a confessing Christian or not. The question is, did she do the Christian thing? Unbelievably, there are Christians who would say she did. How? Because of the letter of the law. I will quote a scripture here. 11 Cor. 3:6  ”He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter, but of the spirit;  for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.”

I hope no one is thinking that the “letter” and “spirit”, as used here, does not mean every moral and ethical situation in which we  might find ourselves. The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, (31:33,34) says, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” The writer of Hebrews quotes the same passage as the new covenant is explained.

As Christians we are called on to use the spirit/law written on our hearts to make the moral and ethical decisions we face each day. Those decisions will be guided not by the letter of any law, but by the law of God that tells us to treat others the way we would want to be treated. I can just see a person like Mr Ficher telling the EMTs to let his child die because he was irresponsible and didn’t pay his fee. God help us.

CONCERNS: The Pettry family as they deal with their tragic loss. Leonard Plaster’s brother is having hip surgery. Judy McWhorter’s customer’s nephew is doing well with the cancer treatments. The Smiths have a neighbor who is ill and needs prayer. The Halls also have a neighbor who has cancer. Remember Joni Beach and family as her mother’s health declines from cancer. Joanne Elder and Erma Williams as they search for jobs.  Trisha, a friend of the Bolins. Mike Breeding, Ron Matney’s nephew will soon have a pacemaker implanted. Connie Crite’s father, Polly Altice and her son, James. Zona Fisher’s brother, Tim, (cancer) and her niece is also being treated for cancer. Roger’s nephew in Fla. is also a cancer patient. Helen Nicklas was able to be with us last Sunday. The Phlegar’s friend Julie who lives in Texas and is slowly recovering from a stroke. Jenni and Wilma Cullum, Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder and the work for Christ being done across the world, especially Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World.
The food pantry has received another donation and continues to help those in need.
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-20
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 21:37-22:16
Friday: Psalm 14:1-7
Saturday: Revelation 20:11-21:9 & 22-27
Our hearts were torn with the news of the death of former member, Jim Pettry. Jim and Pat were riding horses at a dude ranch outside of Little Rock, when Jim’s horse was spooked, reared up and then fell on him, causing massive head injuries.

The Pettry’s were part of almost everything that was done when they were here. Jim loved music and gave his talent by  being one of our song leaders. The Peaks of Otter Picnic was Pat’s idea, as was the soup suppers on Wednesday evening.

When I (kw) told our son, Todd, of Jim’s death, he said, “Jim was one of the good ones.” He’s right, Jim was one of the good ones.

Jim had just turned 60. His funeral was in Mawmelle, AR on Friday, Oct. 15. If you would like to drop Pat a letter or a card,  her address is: 129 Hibiscus Dr, Mawmelle, AR 72113.

Today, Oct. 17, is Super Sunday. Plan to stay after the service today and enjoy the fellowship meal. October birthdays and anniversaries will be served first
This is also the day for the annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. Erma will secure a place for the picnic. If you are just going for the picnic offer to help her set up. If you are riding the bus, and it happens to be a pretty day, try to get your tickets early. The picnic will start about 5:30 after the last bus comes down. If you are hiking it’s a good idea not to start up much after 3:00
Sorry about missing Susan Phlegar’s birthday in the last bulletin. These “misses” will be taken care of when we publish the updated directory. Susan’s birthday is the 24th, which just happens to be next Sunday. Be prepared to sing to her.
Phillip Pierce has fulfilled a lifelong dream and has opened his own collision repair shop in the West Lake area of Smith Mt Lake. See him if you want to know more about it.
Stephanie Dixon’s address is 2116 Broadway Ave. SW Roanoke, 24014. Made a notation in your directory.


By my friend, Ben

Lucy Banes were about five years older ‘n me. She were. The last time I seen her was when me an’ ma were in town shoppin’. Lucy were walkin’ down the street chewin’ a wad a gum an’ swangin’ her purse an’ her hips. She were. She looked like she were just darin’ anyone to say something to her. She were.

Lucy took off a few weeks later when she turned sixteen. She did.  She were never seen around Hickory Ridge again. Some folks said they’d heard she’d run off to Ohio. Other folks what knowed Lucy better’n most said she ran off to get away from her pa. They did. It weren’t until she were executed that the truth began to come out. It did. By then her pa were dead. He were.

After Lucy’s death, Karry Bradford, what were about Lucy’s only friend, said Lucy told her that her pa would come into her bedroom at night an’ do things she didn’t like. She did. Karry said when she told some folks what Lucy said were goin’ on they just turned a deaf ear. They did. Bein’ that Lucy had a reputation around town of lettin’ boys have their way with her, it didn’t seem right to them to bring her pa into it.  .

Lucy were thirty-one when she died. She were. Accordin’ to the news it seemed Lucy had taken up with two brothers what owned a farm about twenty miles north of Columbus. One neighbor what testified on her behalf  said she were turned into a slave an’ made to do all kinds of bad things. They did.

One day, she felt she couldn’t take nomore. So she went to the barn, grabbed the first thing she saw, which were an ax, an’ waited. When one of them brothers came lookin’ for her, she killed him. She did. When the other brother came in she killed him too. She did. What she didn’t know were a nephew were droppin’ by. As she started outta the barn she saw him getting’ outta his car. Scared, she stepped inside the barn, hopin’ he’d leave, but he came lookin’ for his uncles an she killed him too. She did. Lucy hid out for a few days, but she finally gave up. At trial she were sentenced to death for murderin’ the nephew. She were.

It were what happened to Lucy in prison that caused some folks to ponder. They did. Lucy were visited by a prison chaplain. She were. An’ that there chaplain talked to her about a father who loved her an’ who could see the Lucy that no other human being could see. He could see the beautiful little girl who grew into a beautiful woman. She told her about a big brother who would stand beside her an’ never let anyone hurt her again.

In time, Lucy began to listen. She did. Then she asked for her own Bible an started readin’ on her own. She did. One day she asked the chaplain iffen she could really be forgiven an look like that woman the chaplain said God could see. When she were told yes, she asked iffen she could be baptized, an’ she were.

It took five years for them to execute Lucy. In the mean time she became a real kind an’ gentle woman. She did. Fact is, the news folks said she were a tower of strength in helpin’ other women prisoners adjust to prison life an’ findin’ the peace of God. So it weren’t much of a surprise when there were an appeal for clemency. Even the warden asked for a commutation of her sentence to life. He did. Folks from all over the land, an’ even the world asked that her life be spared. But it weren’t. The governor and the courts said the law were the law.

Some folks around Hickory Ridge said she deserved to die. They did. Others said she didn’t deserve to live. I Reckon that were about the same thing.

What were botherin’ me were that I’d heard preachers all my life sayin’ that we deserved to die, but Jesus died in our place. They did. I reckon that were supposed to mean we didn’t deserve to live. But we got spared and Jesus were executed in our place.  Lots of hymns say the same thing. They do. I also heard them preachers say sin were sin, that one were no better or worse in the eyes of God. They did. But somehow it seems doin’ what Lucy did were worse. It were.  Iffen we were spared when we came to the Lord, why not Lucy?

So I got me to ponderin’, do we Christian folk really truly, down deep in our hearts, believe that we deserved the death penalty? Or do we say that because we’ve been taught that’s what we are supposed to think? Fact is, what good comes from executin’ anybody, especially iffen we all deserve it?

* Since we were in West Virginia for three days, this article was written before our Wednesday evening discussion on ethics.

CONCERNS: The Nephew of one of Judy McWhorter’s customers is responding well to treatments for cancer. The tumor has been reduced by 80%. Judy is collecting funds to help with his medical expenses. Wayne Phlegar is healing from a wound on his leg which will heal very slowly. The Smiths ask that we pray for their neighbor who is very ill. The Halls also have a neighbor who has cancer. Joni Beach’s mother’s health is slowly deteriorating from cancer. Remember also Joanne Elder and Erma Williams. They are both unemployed. Trisha, a friend of the Bolins, Mike Breeding (Ron Matney’s nephew) will soon be getting a pacemaker. Connie Crites’ father, Polly Altice has lung damage. Her son, James, (cancer) Zona Fisher’s brother, Tim, (cancer) and her niece also has cancer. Roger’s nephew in Florida (cancer), Helen Nicklas, Isabelle Simmons, the Phlegar’s friend, Julie (recovering from a stroke) Wayne’s aunt (recovering from a bad fall), Jenni & Wilma Cullum, Barbara Mc Cauley, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Psalm 48:1-14
Tuesday: Romans 11:33-12:8
Wednesday: Matthew 15:29-39
Thursday: Luke 15:1-10
Friday: Galatians 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 19:1-14

Monday: Ezekiel 16:1-22
Tuesday: I Corinthians 14:1-12
Wednesday: Philippians 3:2-21
Thursday: Luke 9:46-50
Friday: Luke 6:17-26
Saturday: Psalm 124:1-28


After a brief improvement, Judy McWhorter’s sister-in-law, (Bud’s sister) died in North Carolina. A memorial service was held there a little over a week ago.


Our own Chef Jeff Bland not only won a chef’s competition during a charity golf tournament at the Roanoke Country Club, but he has been selected to be the souse chef for Paula Dean both for her appearance in Richmond and then here in Roanoke yesterday.  Way to Go Jeff!


Our thanks to Martha and Bill Albert for a lovely evening at their home on Smith Mountain Lake. It was a beautiful day and the food was great! Thanks Alberts!


Super Sunday, October 17, will be our annual Peaks of Otter Hike (or bus ride) and Picnic. Erma has already put a sign-up list on the foyer table, so let her know if you are going to be at the picnic. She may need some help from non-climbers to secure a picnic place and set up the picnic.

Even if the fall colors are later than in the past, it is still a great time to be out in the beauty of the mountains. Be sure to bring folding chairs, warm clothing, (it will get cool when the sun goes down) and whatever else makes a picnic enjoyable

Also, if it is a very pretty day bus riders need to buy their tickets as early as possible. The picnic will start after Five, which is usually the last bus down. We are usually away before it gets too dark.


On Saturday, October 16. there will be a yard sale in the church parking lot to help finance traveling funds etc., for the soccer team Brice Reid plays for. If you have items you would like to donate, bring them to the church and place them in the room to the right as you enter the basement.


We have been mentioning that both Kroger and Food Lion will send 5% of what you spend there to the Rescue Mission. You have to use a gift card. Information is on the foyer table.


In last Sunday’s sermon I was talking about the time when the king of Assyria had his army surround Dothan in an attempt to capture the prophet Elisha. You remember that Elisha’s servant woke up to find the city surrounded by the enemy army. He woke Elisha and asked what they were going to do. Elisha told him not to worry, that there was more of them then there was of the enemy. Old Testament scholar, Walter Bruggaman explains this as  looking at things as they are and understanding the facts of the situation are not always the way things must be. That’s an important concept when reading scripture.

Another example is from the temptation of Jesus. The tempter knew scripture and tossed it in Jesus’ face. A good point to remember, just because a scripture is quoted doesn’t mean that’s the way things must be. Jesus knew more than scripture. Jesus knew how to do scripture. That’s also a desperately needed lesson to learn.

Nearly everyone who has been taught the Bible has been taught to use it as a proof text. Of course, there is a need for that as we teach the Bible, as long as the proof text is also context. I’m going to go a step farther, there are times when the scripture and its context needs to be understood, not as it is, but as it should be.

A easy example is Ps. 90:10 “The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength.” How many people do you hear quote this “threescore and ten” passage as fact? Lots. Is it literally true? No. In fact, if we wanted to get into a scriptural war over it (and don’t we like to do that!) We could say, “Well, what about Isaiah 65:20, where the new earthly world ruled by the Messiah is envisioned? It says, ‘…he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.’ What about that?”
Contradictory? Only if you read the Bible as literal fact.

I can remember hearing Sunday school teachers and even preachers say that Jesus literally meant to cut off one’s hand or pluck out one’s eye because that’s what Jesus said. On the other hand, I never, and I mean never, heard anyone say that Jesus’ remark to the “rich young ruler” to sell what he had and give to the poor was to be taken literally. That is not to say no one ever did that, just that no one in my church background ever said that.

Well, why don’t we say that? We don’t because to do such a thing does not fit within the whole context of the life of Jesus. We are told in Luke 8:1-3 that Jesus was helped by several wealthy women who were followers. We also know that the message to the young man was not a message constantly repeated. But it does have a message to us about how we view money and the poor.

Here’s another little example of how scripture can be thrown around to prove a point. On one hand there are scriptures that are used to “prove” the world is getting worse, and that there was a time (it varies from person to person) when the days were good, as in “the good old days.” But, in Eccl. 7:10 it says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such a question.” I hit the ball on your side of the court and you hit it back until one of us fails to return it. Such is the life of literal interpretation.

So, how does the person arrive at one conclusion or the other? By observation. But that depends from where you are observing and how wide your depth of field. From where I stand, too many people are looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. Instead of looking at a wide open view of history, some people take the narrow view of looking only at their own time, or some vague time just before their time.

Who is right? Well, both see what they see and therefore mold their lives and view of God on their observation, be it long or short, narrow or wide. No one can argue with the “facts” of what is seen, but rather with how what is seen determines our view of God’s will and the world.

The “fact” is, slavery was never condemned in scripture. Is that fact therefore the truth about “owning” another human being? No. Did that fact allow the owners to teach, and even believe that a slave was not actually a complete human being? Yes. There are sad records of those who believed that the African slaves were not completely human. In fact, I have heard that in my lifetime, since moving to Roanoke. A youth minister who was a resource person at camp one year told me while he was working in a southern state (I’d rather not blemish that state by saying which one) was told by an elder, when he began to reach out to young blacks, not to worry about them because he wasn’t sure they had souls.

Well, how did slavery become unchristian? By observation. Christian people began to see and know black people and when they did their observation trumped the scriptures for slavery. Is that permissible? Of course! It happened all the time in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses said death to adulterers. While that meant only with another Hebrew man’s wife, even before the time of David, who was both adulterer and murder-for-hire king, the observation of the people said that law needed to be amended. Was it done officially? No. It was done because either the original law was outdated, or it was seen as unjust. Did they need a chapter and verse, or a word from a prophet to reach that conclusion? If there is one, we don’t have it. But the answer is “No.”

In our own history we had no chapter and verse to release women from the “weaker vessel” status. In fact there was (and still is) much quoting of verses to the contrary. What happened? Observation. The “facts” where not really the facts.

So when someone sees women serving God along with the men and says, “What about ‘Let the women keep silent in the church”, or some other such scripture, I don’t waste my time serving my scripture back into their court, (which can be done) unless they express a sincere desire to discuss the subject. Why?  Observation tells me those “facts” are not the real ones.

There will always be something that  challenges us to question the “facts”

CONCERNS: Jeff Bland’s friend’s father died just over a week ago. Remember the Major family as you pray. Bud McWhorter’s sister is slowly improving. Helen Nicklas had a CAT scan last week. Jeff Bland’s friend, Thomas Major’s father has died from cancer. The Smiths have a neighbor who needs our prayers, as does two of T. J. And Judy Halls. Remember also Trisha, a friend of the Bolins. The little boy Judy McWhorter mentioned with cancer is the nephew of a customer, not the son. Judy has set up a “fund jar” at her business. If you’d like to help, give it to her. Joanne Elder (needs a job), Martha Foy’s dad is still dealing with his back problem. Zona Fisher’s niece has cancer, as does her brother, Tim. Polly Altice reports that she is some better. Her son James is dealing with cancer. Isabelle Simmons is responding to treatment for leukemia. The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas is slowly recovering from a severe stroke, She is not yet walking. Wayne’s aunt is recovering from a serious fall. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 15:1-21
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:16-14
Friday: I Thess. 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 22:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
Roger Fisher’s oldest brother, Atley, died last week. The funeral and interment was near Union WV on Tuesday. ALSO: Zona Fisher’s brother, Roger Wade, died Sunday night after a short battle with cancer. The funeral was Wednesday. Keep these families in your prayers as they deal with their loss.
Today, September 19, is Super Sunday. It looks to be a beautiful day to stay and enjoy the fellowship of food and friends after the morning service. If you are a visitor, consider yourself our guest.
Martha and Bill Albert have invited us to their home on the lake this afternoon. This is a great time of the year to enjoy the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.

The food will be hot dogs on the grill, so bring some buns, some drinks, chips and maybe some potato salad and enjoy their hospitality. Martha really needs to know how many plan on coming, so see her after church. And, Thank you Martha and Bill for the invitation.

The Fort Ave congregation in Lynchburg started a monthly hymn sing last month. We missed getting it announced. The one for this month is on Saturday, the 25th at 6 PM. There will be a time of fellowship and refreshments following the singing.

The address is 1132 Sandusky Ave. You can check their web site @

Next month on Super Sunday, we will have our annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. Erma Williams has already put a sign-up list on the foyer table. If you remember last year it was a beautiful day with warm weather that turned comfortably crisp for the picnic. It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors and the picnic. More about that in the next bulletin.
If you shop at Kroger or Food Lion you can put money on a gift card from either store and as you use it 5% will go to the Rescue Mission to help those in need. For the Kroger card you have to pick it up at the mission.