Bimonthly Bulletin


After reading the last bulletin, where I examined the real issue with Sodom, (and Gomorrah) A friend sent me this e-mail: “So, actually I’m a Sodomite, as are most believers.” He then quoted Ezekiel 16:49. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy.” The context is about how Jerusalem and other Jewish-linked peoples are acting.

Because of space, in the last article I didn’t mention that the author of the article I was reviewing not only started his diatribe on a false foundation, but he then went on to say something like, “And that’s not all they (Sodom) were guilty of, and then quoted some Old Testament scriptures. Actually, it is the scriptures that explain what was really Sodom and Gomorrah’s problem. So let’s, as they say in detective dramas. “Follow the evidence.”

Remember, the most common view is that the Israelites were in Egypt for about 400 years. It is estimated that Abraham lived about 250 years before Moses. Therefore, the story of Sodom had been around about 150 years or so before it was ever mentioned in the Bible.

Following the evidence, Sodom is first mentioned beyond the book of Genesis in Deut. 29:23. There, in a warning about what would happen if the covenant was not kept, it says, “It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah…” A similar thought is expressed in 32:32.

Almost 700 years passes before anyone else writes about Sodom. Isaiah 1 again refers to Israel becoming “…a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption.” In vs. 9, 10 it says unless God had left some survivors, they would have become like Sodom…” They were called “rulers of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrah.” In 3:9 they are accused of parading their sin like Sodom. So they were “homosexuals”?

In Jeremiah 23:14, in a rant against Israel’s false prophets, he writes, “I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are like Sodom to me…” In 49:18 and 50:40 he uses Sodom as an example as to how God feels about Edom and the Babylonians. In each case it has to do with their wickedness toward those around them. In one citation from Lamentations, it says, “The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom.” That’s pretty bad!

It is Ezekiel who uses Sodom in a string of verses in Chapter 16 which gives us the best description of Sodom’s sin. He doesn’t mention Gomorrah. The whole chapter should be read, but basically he calls Jerusalem a prostitute (v. 35) and goes on from there. The body of the Sodom text is vs. 46-56. The key verse is v.49. (See above with emphases on “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom”) Verse 49 is also interesting. “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.” Really!?

Both Amos (4:11) and Zephaniah (2:9) use Sodom and Gomorrah as examples as to how God will judge wickedness among the people.

It is in the New Testament where the clear pictures from the Old Testament about Sodom are enhanced. In Matthew and Luke, (for some reason the KJV inserts it in brackets in Mark) there is Jesus’ lament over the rejection of his message. In Matthew 10:5-16 it has to do with sending out the out the twelve with message that the kingdom of God was near. In 11:20-24 it had to do with his rejection at Korazin and Bethsaida. In both case he said it would be more “bearable” for Sodom and Gomorrah than those people. In Chapter 11 Tyre and Sidon get thrown in the mix. Luke 10 echos the same idea as Matt. 10.

It is Jude (v.7) alone who expands on the evil of Sodom by comparing it to some “godless” men who had slipped in among them and were like Sodom and Gomorrah in that they were involved in “sexual immorality and perversion.” (NIV) There’s the evidence. What’s your verdict about the sin of Sodom? And about what my friend said about us who believe?
Keith

CONCERNS: Melisha Scruggs has ask for prayer for one of her instructors who works full time and is the care giver for her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. Martha Foy asks our prayers for Sandra Anderson, her aunt, Sue Huels and Gil Richardson. Remember also Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Hannah, a classmate of Garrett Lee Williams Jim Hunter, Gary Overstreet, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, and a friend of Del Bolin’s named Sharon. Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, and Mary Smith. Also Mrs Matara, the mother of a friend of Jim Hunter.

OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 3-8
Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday: II Thess. 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 10:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45

OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 10-15
Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 111:1-10

GUEST SPEAKER
Today (3/2) we have with us Dwayne Castell. Dwayne is a spokesperson for the Church of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Inc. out of Nashville.

Along with the lesson, he will be telling us about how the CofCDRE can help us in the event of a disaster such as the big flood of 1985. Recently they took tractor trailer-loads of bottled water to the folks in West Virginia during the recent chemical spill in the Charleston area. .

SPRINGING FORWARD
Ready or not its time to spring forward. Saturday, March 8 is the end of EST. So before going to bed, set your clocks ahead one hour. After the Winter we’ve had any kind of “spring” sounds good, even if it means losing an hour’s sleep to welcome Daylight Savings Time.

THE UPSTAIRS RESTROOM
An architect Mike Branch contacted has submitted plans for converting the restroom off the cry room into a handicapped facility. It is not going to be as complicated as we thought. We are talking to someone who will do the work and we hope to start soon and not be inconvenienced too long. We may need some help moving a pew to the large classroom downstairs to prepare the room.
ALSO: The overhead lights in the annex have been failing at a record rate. Plans are moving toward improving the acoustics and a new lighting system which will enhance an already charming facility.

THANKS
Thanks to Martha Albert, Wayne and Alisa Flora, Holly Wagner and Mary Willa Foy for preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Wednesday

THE TROOPS
As we help the troops in Afghanistan with breakfast items as they prepare to withdraw form that country, it has been good to hear the comments of appreciation passed on to us from Cris Phlegar. Hopefully they will all be home by next year. Please keep them in mind and pick up a list of items needed from the table in the foyer. Be sure to add to that list such things as coffee, sugar and creamer.

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.
Keith kswrev@aol.com

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.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JANUARY 17-22
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
OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 24-Mar.1
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

SUPER SUNDAY
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.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
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.
WINTERFEST TRIP CANCELED
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.
THE GIDEONS
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.
ON SUNDAY, MARCH 2nd
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.
THE SNOW
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.
Keith kswrev@aol.com

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.

OUR DAILY BREAD: FEBRUARY 3-8
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
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEBRUARY 9-14
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

SYMPATHY
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.

WELL, IT DID IT AGAIN
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.
WINTERFEST
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.
HEALTH TALENTS INT.
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.

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