Bimonthly Bulletin

The title is historically tongue-in-cheek, but also serious. It is serious because Jesus stated a profound truth when he said if the foundation isn’t solid, the house will fall. Matt. 7:24ff. He was talking about following and doing what he taught. However, it applies to just about everything, especially when it comes to explaining scripture.

In a “journal” of sorts I receive, the author was railing about the gay community. He spent a couple of thousand words talking about Sodom. He didn’t throw in Gomorrah and the cities of the plain, but I guess they were included. The problem was he built his case on faulty ground. I don’t need to tell you what that was, it’s well-worn.

So lets look at the whole picture. In Genesis 13 we are told Lot and Abraham separate and Lot chooses the land near Sodom and “pitched his tents near Sodom.” vs 13.In 13 it says, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.” Good choice Lot! In time it seems Lot moved into the city. Another great move! And, he had a house with a door on it. Gen 19:9.

Later, in a war, Sodom and Gomorrah and some other cities were taken and Lot is captured by some “kings” (tribal rulers) and is rescued by Abraham. In that fight, Sodom and the other cities are also rescued by Abraham. Bera, king of Sodom wants to pay tribute to Abraham, but it is refused because Abraham did not want to be indebted to a crummy guy like him. I added the “crummy”.Gen. 14:21ff.

Okey, lets review. Lot goes to live with people who were known throughout the region as being wicked and sinning greatly against God. He even moves into the city itself. Sodom and Gomorrah are captured, along with Lot, but Abraham saves the day. One might ask why Abraham didn’t just save Lot and let Sodom and the other wicked cities find their own way.

Time passes. Lot has two daughters and engages them to two local boys. Gen. 19:14. Lot, what are you thinking? But we need to set the stage for the big day.

In Gen. 19, the two men (angels) deliver a message to old Abraham that he will indeed have a son who will be a big blessing to a lot of people. Then, as they leave, they decide to tell him another reason they were in town. God had heard rumors about Sodom and Gomorrah. Interesting that the all-knowing God has to send angels to check on rumors that were well-known. Remember 13:13? But God was fed up with Sodom and Gomorrah and they were to be toast. Abraham pleads for the cities, especially Sodom. Why? He’s just an all round good guy.

Lets pause and ask how many people lived in Sodom? I’ve read as high as 3,000, but who knows? There probably weren’t any women or children, since the common idea is they were all (but Lot, and maybe two more) :”homosexuals”. So, lets just say 300.

Abraham asks if God will destroy the cities if there are fifty good people (men?) there. But fifty can’t be found. This goes all the way down to ten, but still falls short. When the angels (“men” the rest of the story) came to town Lot insists they stay under his roof. Hence, in that culture, he now had to protect them with his life. It says (19:4) that all the men of the city, both young and old came and demanded that these strangers be released to them so, (The NIV says) “so that we might have sex with them.” That translation shows how much we have changed, so that we “have sex” like having a Big Mac with fries. A better translation would be, “So we can disgrace them by raping them.” The usual word is “know” and it does imply sexual contact, but not all the time. It is the context which determines the meaning.

So, what do we have? All the men in the city are outside Lot’s door. That’s a lot of men! Or, as the author of the article would say, “A lot of homosexuals.”

Inside, Lot offers his virgin daughters to the crowd. If they were all “homosexuals” what would make him think they would want his daughters? He wasn’t born yesterday! Lot tells them these strangers have his protection, and they say, “You’re an immigrant too. You’re not going to tell us what to do!” That should tell us they were not taken with strangers in town.

Then the men/angels make every man in town blind and tell Lot to get out of town. Lot goes to his future sons-in-law and tells them to get out too. Okey, filling in the blanks, his would-be sons-in-law were not at the door, and it would seem, not struck blind and not “homosexuals”. So not “all” the men were demanding the strangers release to them. Also, just think about it, if Lot and his two future sons-in-law were the good guys, they were just seven guys short of saving the city! Which is ironic, because the promise of God was that ten good guys could save the city and let the rest of the bad guys go on being bad. Bummer!

So lot, his wife, and his two daughters flee the city. His wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. He and the girls make it to Zoar. Apparently the men of Zoar were as bad as the ones in Sodom because Lot is afraid of them so they live in a cave. Why they were not destroyed is not revealed. As the story unfolds it seems there wasn’t even two good men in Zoar, so the girls decide to get dad drunk to carry on the bloodline.. The outcome explains the existence of the Moabites and the Amonites, which is probably the purpose of the story in the first place because that’s the last we hear of Lot..

To understand the story of Sodom and Gomorrah it should be compared with Judges 19-21. Here is a story like that of Sodom. The Levite and his concubine are in a city of Benjamin when the men of the city demand he be sent out to them so they might “know” him. The same word as in Genesis.19. Yet when the Levite tells of the abuse in which his concubine was killed, he says, “intending to kill me”. So they were going to “know” him in a way that would end in his death. Were they also “homosexuals”? No. We need to get it right.

CONCERNS: Richard Crites’ sister had back surgery and is doing well. Martha Foy asks prayers for Sandra Anderson, and her aunt, Sue Huels. Continue in prayer for Nick Bolin (Leena’s brother), Hannah, a classmate of Garrett Lee Williams, Gil Richardson, Jim Hunter, Dee=ana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Sharon, Jennie Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Gary Overstreet, and Mrs. Matara, the mother of one of Jim Hunter’s friends. Also those with Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-4
Wednesday: II Corinthians 1:3-11
Thursday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12
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: I Corinthians 15:42-48

Today, Feb. 16, is Super Sunday. With the heavy snowfall we had to cancel Wednesday evening service again last week. Many of the city streets are not yet in good shape, but we hope to we are able to be together today. The fireplace is all set up for a nice warm day.
A steering committee meeting is planing to meet in the library after the Super Sunday meal. There are several items that we are seeking to start n very soon. When the plans for the improved upstairs restroom are finished we will start on that. We are also getting closer to starting the improvements in our worship time together. This, as well as something planned for April that will involve the community are some of the things we will be discussing. In e=relation to that, thanks to all of you for your generous support of the work we are trying to do.
The main roads were mostly clear, but most of those going could not get out of their neighborhoods until it was too late to go to Gatlinburg.
Once a year for a number of years we have had a representative on the Gideons tell us about their work of distributing Bible throughout the world. Next Sunday, Larry Davis will present a short message before the sermon. He will take a “retiring offering” in the foyer after the service for anyone who would like to make a contribution.
Sunday, March 2nd, Dwayne Castell will be our speaker. He represents Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort. Inc. Out of Nashville. He will inform us about the good work of this organization as they carry on disaster relief all across the country, and what we might expect from them if we had a need for their services.
During the water crisis in West Virginia they took four tractor trailer truck lots of water to the Cross Lanes and Charleston area.
Due to the record breaking snow, the bulletin was not mailed locally.

I realize there are Christians who take very word of the Bible literally. I realize there are Christians who base their faith on a literal interpretation of the Bible. I find that lacking, but it is, after all, their choice. The problem comes when they feel the need to enforce their view of scripture on others. In so doing, they become the fodder for those who see Christianity as a bunch of antiquated superstition.

Such was the case with a letter in the newspaper lately. The writer followed the usual method of reminding us of the fact that Bible believers thought the earth was flat, the center of the universe and a number of other were-worn historical facts. And, those are facts. However, “facts” of one period of time are not facts for all time. The fact that God was seen and understood in a particular way during a certain time in history can not be used as the final word on God, even if some Christians say so.

Those who use the literal and fundamental statements made by those who will not let the truths of the Bible “grow”, as all truth does, are the ones always used as an example of faulty belief. It is if they represent all of those who are Christian, which is not true.

Do we treat other sciences the same? What about medicine? The author of the letter spoke about advances in medicine, which is a good point. Bloodletting, drilling a hole in the head to relieve a headache are some. (“I need this like a hole in the head”)

Lets look at a few others. Until 1910 babies were given morphine to keep them quiet. Heroin was invented by Bayer, the aspirin people. In the 1940s insulin was used to induce comas. Lobotomies were performed until the mid fifties. The was even a tape worm diet. You get the picture. By the way, I understand that is still going on in a few cases. The list is much longer, and it’s an interesting read on the internet.

But, as the author pointed out, medicine advanced. Yes, just about as slowly as any other science. A more than a shallow look at the Bible (He was talking about the Judeo-Christian religion) shows a rejection of former held beliefs. For example, the author said the Bible taught that illness was the result of sin. That is true. However as the understanding of God grew, especially in the teachings of Jesus, that false belief was replaced. This is seen in Luke 13, and the many places Jesus healed and then said, “Your sins are forgiven”. Which may seem that sin was involved, which, of course, it was, but not as the cause. The “sin” which Jesus assured the person was forgiven, was the deep seated, mistaken belief, that their illness was the result of sin. Any good doctor knows that the person needs to be free of anything that would inhibit the healing process. Believing you were responsible for you illness when you were not, also needs to be removed. The only way, under those conditions, would be for the healer to also remove any guilt by assuring the person that their sin, which they had been taught and believed was the problem, was also gone.

In other places Jesus will say, “You have heard it said of old, but I say to you.” At that point, Jesus is moving the understanding of God to a newer, and higher level.

The newspaper writer pointed out the rejection of interracial marriage in past times. (And still today, by some) He seemed to imply that only Christians (That was his context) objected to such changes in marriage. That, of course, is not true. While many Christians stood out in that issue, I have met more than one person (usually in the South) who believe nothing about God, but believes ignorant things about race.

If we look for Biblical change in such areas, we might look at how the early Christians took the message of Jesus and broke down the very deep, long and strong wall between the Jews and the Gentiles. Reading the book of Acts shows how difficult an advancement that was. But it did happen, just as today, most segregationist Christians have come around.

Are Christians continuing to have a deeper and growing understanding about what the God Jesus revealed is like? Yes, and it must continue. And I would ask that while that has and will continue, those who are critical would know there are believers who are trying to be honest to God.

CONCERNS: Anna Ferrell asks for prayers for a friend, Erin Carroll, she is in critical condition. Rich Crites’ sister will need back surgery due to a fall. Martha Foy asks prayers for her aunt, Sue Huels, and for Sandra Anderson. Continue to remember Gary Overstreet, Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Garrett Lee Williams’ friend, Hannah, Gil Richardson, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Sharon, Del Bolin’s friend, Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Mary Smith and Tim Elder. A friend of Jim Hunter has asked prayers for his mother, Mrs. Matara.

Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Philippians 4:4-9
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 7:13-8: 11
Saturday: Ephesians 3:7-21
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7

The day of Alma Martin’s memorial service, we learned of the death of Doris Cornett. Doris and Bob had retired to Ashland, Oregon where their son Steven lived, after spending time in Florida. Before that they were part of this congregation for many years. Doris remained in Oregon after Bob died.
She developed bacteria in her lungs a few years back, which damaged her lungs. They were able to stop that, but later she developed a fungus in her lungs that was unable to be diagnosed for treatment even after going to several large hospitals in different states. She became a test case for the doctors, but gradually lost the use of her remaining lungs and died of pneumonia last Saturday.
The funeral was Saturday and she was laid to rest beside Bob at Sherwood Memorial Park in Salem.

Once again the frigid weather causedus to cancel the Wednesday evening service. Hopefully these arctic blasts will soon be gone and we can get back to normal.
Some of our young folks will be attending Winterfest in Gatlinburg on February 14-16. This is also the weekend of Super Sunday, so as before, they will arrive back here in time to eat with the rest of us. Pray that they will have a safe and meaningful trip. Megan and James Downing will also be in Gatlinburg that weekend, for a getaway.
Two reports from HTI are on the downstairs bulletin board. One features the ABC work and contains the story of one such student who is now a teacher of elementary education in Guatemala. Along with the 40th Anniversary edition, they sent a book, “Mud on Your Own Boots” by Marie Agee. It is the story of Health Talents which highlights the vision and work of Dr. Robert Clark which involved Belize as well as Guatemala. It spans forty years of progress in that country. See Keith if you would like to read it. It will need to be checked out from the office.

Right after my article warning the atheists about starting churches, a good friend of mine in Denver sent me an email with an article from about that very subject. It’s too long to print all of it here, but if you want it and can’t find it, I’ll forward you the link.

I have to say I smiled all the way through the article. In it’s own way it was wonderful. Everything they did and are doing sounds just like the Christian Church. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

The major movement seems to have taken root in London. A group of atheists led by a couple named Jones, started the Sunday Assembly. Soon, as all mega-church fellows know to do, they franchised it to New York, Dublin and Melbourne. No sooner than it was set in motion, New York split off and called themselves Godless Revival. Does any of this sound familiar?

Jones accused GR, saying they had “a problem with atheism.” OK, I know you think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Atheists are now arguing over who is “sound” (our term) in the unfaith or not! Wonderful!

Jones wrote to Lee Moore of Godless Revival and told him, among other things, to stop meeting “in a dive bar” where women wore bikinis, and adopt a more traditional dress. See, even atheists have trouble with what women wear to church!

In time, Jones’ group disfellowshipped (our word) Moore’s group by telling them they were “no longer welcome.”

The reporter who wrote the story, who seems to be something of an atheist, said on the first visit to Sunday Assembly, it met in a “deconsecrated church building.” Perhaps an ironic twist, or an attachment to the tradition of “church”. Who knows? Regardless, they soon outgrew that place and at the time of the article they were meeting in the “elegant Conway Hall.” Again, it sounds familiar.

Now it gets really delightful. The fundamental atheists (those sound in their unbelief) attacked the idea of “organized disbelief.” That’s right folks, there are watchdogs of unbelief, even among those who don’t believe! Imagine if you will, an article appearing in an atheistic brotherhood paper denouncing the lack of sound disbelief among some of the brethren.

“It has come to the attention of some of the brethren that some among us are no longer sound in the unfaith. They are no longer actively preaching the sound doctrine of Godlessness. They are becoming more like the Unitarians and have actually allowed Unitarians to place membership without swearing they believe there is no God. They are becoming denominational in their organizational structure. They misuse the texts that guide us and twist them to their own destruction. Even the Christians mark those who cause divisions! I think it is time we decide who we will follow. As for me and my house, we will not follow any idea of a God, and will contend for the unfaith that was once and for all delivered to the atheists.”

Actually, the article said that among the fundamental atheist’s complaint was the “pillaging of their texts and traditions.” Amazing how people are alike, godless or not!

Sunday Assembly is now expanding its franchise not only across England, but Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United States.

The reporter noted that as SA grew it began to change and “move away from its atheism.” She, her name is Katie Engelhart, said that Jones remarked, “how atheistic should we be? The short answer is, not very.” Surprise! Surprise! I’m a prophet and don’t know it!

She also noted that during several meetings for “church,” rarely was God’s nonexistence mentioned, and that it looked to some as if it was becoming more and more like a revised form of the Unitarianism. One person said they’d left the Unitarians because they “weren’t Godless enough.” Now that may offend some of you, but I found it funny.

She also stated that if a person was looking for a firm, (our word would be “sound”) atheistic church where unbelief is celebrated, they would not find it in Sunday Assembly. More and more they are welcoming everyone.

On the actual sermon level, she said one sermon she heard was a five minute Wickipedia-esque lecture on particle physics. (I haven’t tried that one yet!) There was also a lot of tweaking of technical glitches and concerns about the web-casting and how hard they’d worked to make it all happen. Sound familiar?

Sunday Assembly now has its own materials for all the franchised churches, and, to operate (not pastor) a Sunday Assembly church, one must go to England for a three to six week peer review. See, even the atheists “ordain” their preachers. I don’t know if there is a franchise fee or not, but there should be. All mega-church leaders know there’s big money to be made in religion, or in this case, nonreligion.

I know you may not believe this, but there is even an issue over the little “c” or the big “C” in “church”. To be fair, the big “C” is the global little “c” church. But some do not like the idea, as stated before, of organized atheism, which the big “C” would indicate. Maybe they should study up on the house church idea. And if they should decide on small groups, they need to be sure to have a “sound” atheist there to assure that the conversation does not get too Godly.

When Engelhart spoke to Moore (the New York guy) on the phone he was still bitter about the split between Sunday Assembly and Godless Revival. She remarked that it had probably squashed any possibility of a “multinational atheistic enterprise.” Moore said he still had expansion aims.

I’m not really worried about organized atheism, because if they catch on they’ll probably have an atheistic church on every other corner and none of them will agree with the other.

CONCERNS: Alma Martin suffered two major strokes, and she died on Thursday. Anna Ferrell has asked our prayers for a friend, Erin Carroll. It was good to see Wayne Phlegar and Zona Fisher last Sunday. We’re glad they are feeling better. Keep the following people in your prayers: Gary Overstreet, Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Hannah, a classmate of Garrett Lee Williams who has leukemia, Gil Richardson, a friend of Martha Foy’s, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Sharon, a friend of Del Bolin’s, Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder and Mary Smith. A friend of Jim Hunter’s has asked for prayers for his mother, Mrs. Matara.

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:49-59
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 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24

Since the bulletin is a kind of record of events and things, we welcome Larry and Betty Foy into our fellowship. They are certainly not strangers, having visited Martha and her family many times over the years.

They have moved from Blacksburg to Roanoke to be closer to Martha in their retirement. They are living at Brandon Oaks, just down the street.

They have both served the Blacksburg church in many ways while Larry taught at VT. Larry, as one of the elders, and Betty in her own many serving ways.

More directory information later

Sunday, Jan. 19th is Super Sunday. After the weather problems we have had it will be a good time to enjoy the warm fire and an equally warm meal with equally warm friends. Plan to stay.

Adam Fleming has installed a new light at the downstairs entrance. Any of you who have had to come into the building at night know that it was not only dark under the overhang, but it was hard to see the keyhole as well. The light is motion sensitive and remains on for about five minutes. This will also serve as a security light to deter anyone who attempts to break in.

On Sunday, the 5th, some on higher elevations had ice, while those in the lower areas had just rain. It was to clear fast, but we were not sure how fast for those on hills, so we made a late decision to cancel services. We could have had a 10:30 service, but we just didn’t know.

In conjunction with weather related problems, I (kw) had at least one phone number for someone who attends here regularly but is not in the directory, but their number was in the office and our hill was icy. I now have at least two such numbers at home and it will not happen again. A new directory will also solve such issues.

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