VOL. 26, NO. 31&32
I’m not about to tell you I understand everything in the Bible. But I have discovered that what I thought I understood can be wrong. I have discovered that some of it has to do with perspective.

For example, if I read the book of Genesis and the following history of the Jews, I can have a bad view of how women were treated. There is no doubt that women were basically property in most cases. They had little to say about the conditions under which they lived. So it is easy to see those conditions as the way it was supposed to be, and that God said it was the way it was supposed to be. So if I didn’t like it, I’d have to lump it, or find some way of explaining it away by saying that’s the way things were back then, which is also true. That would also be true of polygamy.

I was listening to something from a guy named Timothy Keller, who put a different spin on what could be going on back then.

He pointed out that among the most distasteful things we see men doing was having more than one wife. They bought them, worked deals for them and collected them like trophies. How those wives felt about it was beside the point. But what Keller pointed out was that if we read the Old Testament closely, we will find that there is not one case where polygamy was a happy situation. Every polygamous marriage caused problems. Well, we don’t know about Lamech and his two wives, except he brags that his ancestor Cain was (somehow) avenged seven times, but in killing a man who had injured him he was avenged seventy-seven times.

Abraham shows up and we know how that hand-maiden-wife thing worked out. Jacob will end up with two wives and there were problems. Then there are the kings. In the story of the kings the many wives they collected were a constant source of conflict. In fact, In Deuteronomy 17:17 Hebrew kings, when anointed, are to be told not to have many wives. The example would be both David and Solomon.

So, one way of looking at polygamy in the Old Testament is to look at how it turned out, rather than that it was a good thing. Which, according to the record, it never really was. Looking at the outcome should teach us, as well as those who want to justify it, to see it differently.

However, while I agree with Keller’s point, there is still the question as to why those prophets who spoke for God did not more openly condemn the practice. It may be because it was so culturally intrenched, that in their minds it was not a bad thing. That the rule in Deuteronomy is not sited is probably due to the books of the Torah not yet being assembled. At this point much of the law was oral tradition.

Another thing he pointed out was the constant rule that the oldest son was the one to receive the inheritance. However, in every case in the Old Testament, it is the younger son who receives the blessing that seems to count. Ishmael is the first born, and is blessed by God, but it is Isaac who is seen as the child of the promise. Esau is the first born, but it is Jacob who receives the true blessing from his father. But Esau does very well himself.

Jacob’s (now Israel) first born was Reuben, but Levi and Judah will have more prominence, and Joseph is the favored one who saves the day. Jacob does the same thing when he blesses Joseph’s sons. Gen. 48:14.

These culturally accepted rules of birthrights are being subverted at every hand in the Old Testament, especially in Genesis.

Another example of this is slavery. When someone says the Bible condones slavery, they are right. However, we think of slavery as the type that enslaved Africans, kidnaped and brought to America and other countries, where they were slaves for life. This was not the way slavery was in the New Testament. However, that is not to say it was the ideal. Paul’s letter to Philemon shows that, as well as other places where he encourages slaves to attain their freedom. That slave owners in America used such passages to tell slaves God wanted them to obey, was a perversion of the context.

Here’s another one, (not from Keller) and I have to admit it will change how I preach about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. When we think of “hem” we think of the hem on the cuff of our pants, skirt, or robe. The tassels that were commanded in Judaism were originally, as far as history can tell, the tassels on the end of a long robe, which is the image we get from the story of Jesus and the woman. However, with the passing of time the “garment” “tallit” in Hebrew, became the prayer shawl worn around the shoulders. It also had tassels which could be “enlarged” to make one seem more holy. So it is likely that when the woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was touching the hem of his prayer shawl, which makes sense. She was not bent over, just sick. In a crowd it would be easy for her to touch one of the tassels that hung from the shawl. The tassels were the most personal and holy part of the shawl, so that was the best place to sneak in a touch which represented his personal power.

I did find it interesting that while Keller did a good job in the wives and first born categories, he fell back into his own assumption when he talked about Moses and the Passover. He was talking about the seriousness of obeying God and he said, (this is a quote) “God said to Moses, ‘You all deserve to die because of your sins. Slay a lamb and put the blood on the doorpost and find shelter under the blood of the lamb. And when the angel of death passes over you won’t be paying for your sins.”

If you read Exodus 11&12 where the instructions for the Passover are detailed, the word “sin” or the idea that Israel’s sin, or lack thereof had anything to do with the death angel passing over them is just not there. What they escaped was death, not sin. So even when we do a pretty good job of understanding in one area, our presuppositions may get us in another.

CONCERNS: Stephanie Dixon had an evaluation at the UVA Medical center on Wednesday. Her brother, Dwayne will suffer no permanent damage from a nail puncture in his eye. Betty Branch had knee replacement surgery on Wednesday and should be home by today. T. J. Hall will see a neurologist next month. Nathan Beach is recovering from a virus which inflamed the area around his heart. Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee’s cancer is advancing. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia). Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary; Martha Foy’s aunt, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, and Gil Richardson. Also Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick and her mother, Helen. The Phlegars, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood and Sharon, a friend of Del Bolin. Also remember Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs. Matara, Marie Barnett and her family and Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner. Bud McWhorter’s knee surgery has been postponed.

Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 138:1-8

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

The time slipped up on us, but there is just thirteen days until the Saturday Bar B Que. A sign-up sheet is on the foyer table. All you need is to write your name and the number who are attending. We’ve done it so many years we now know how much pork, beef and chicken to fix based on your preference over the years. However, we do need the number who will be attending. As always, the meat will be provided. Those coming will bring the extras. We hope to eat around 4:00 PM Invite your friends and family.

After more discussion, the steering committee has decided that the contribution will still be collected as before, but at the end of the service. The collection box on the rear pew may still be used by those who so chose. The collection will be accompanied by a song, after which the one making announcements will offer closing comments and a closing prayer, which will include thanksgiving for the offering. The service will close with a final song. Thanks for your help as we make these changes

Susan has returned from the Ezell Clinic in Guatemala and we hope she can give us a report about her week there at next Sunday’s service.

Today, August 17, is Super Sunday. These occasions give us time to be together and enjoy fellowship as a family. Plan to stay and eat following the service.

There is some brief business there steering committee needs to address. They will meet in the library after the Super Sunday meal.

We have had to cancel Wednesday evening services on two occasions due to the hot weather and the inability to cool the annex and not knowing quite why this was occurring now and not before. It seems one of the electrical phases coming into the annex had failed, so the air conditioner was only working at half it’s efficiency. The AEP problem also fried a circuit in the smaller unit. It has all been repaired and things should be fine.

While writing last Sunday’s sermon, I noticed a familiar passage that suddenly wasn’t as familiar as I remembered. It is Paul’s statement on Mars Hill in Acts 17:24,25. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else”

What I saw was clouded by what I have heard. We get that, “does not live in temples built by human hands” thing. But what about the, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he gives all men life and breath and everything else.”?

If this is true, why is it you can hear over and over such statements about God demanding (commanding) that we praise him, and that we serve him and so forth? Why is it we can hear so much about a God who wants worship toward him to be exact in order to please him? How much of the Old Testament lingers in our view of God?
What do we do with Jesus’ comment that he came not to be served, but to serve? Matt. 28:20 Who did Jesus serve and how? How are we to serve and worship God? If you examine the writings of Paul, you find very little about worship. Rather than “acts of worship,” Paul seems to see worship as service. Rom. 12:1 In other words, worship to God is service to others.

Let’s get it straight: The will of God has never been about doing something for God. The will of God has always been about his creatures and his creation. From the very beginning the writers knew this, so we read in Genesis, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man (humankind) in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” That, and fulfilling what is meant by being made in the image of God, is the will of God. God does not need any of that. It is the “life and breath and everything else” that God provides in creation. When we get that right, how we treat the earth and everything in it, we are doing the will of God. Why would God be pleased with that? Because it is a gift, not to God from God, but to us, and we should appreciate it

You know the rule, “When in doubt, read the instructions.” So how does Jesus serve God? Sure, he went to synagogue, but that was a place where full attention was paid to God and learning more about God, as well as thanksgiving for what God had done. It’s obvious from events Jesus encountered in the synagogue, that going and being there did not mean the same as doing the will of God, i.e., serving God.

In Acts 10:38 it says”…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (NIV)

My concentration here is that the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which I would assume was to do the will of God, was about doing good to people.

But, on a side note, read that text again. How does God anoint God? Why would Jesus need the Holy Spirit, and why would he need “power” along with the Holy Spirit? And why didn’t Peter say “because he was God,” instead of “because God was with him.”? But that’s another discussion

Jesus served and worshiped God by doing the things God wants for his creation. (See the Sermon on the Mount.) Jesus made it plain in Matthew 25:31-46, that worship (service) to God was found in this statement, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

The synagogue (church) is important, but true service (worship) goes beyond those doors and into the world. The writer of James also knew that and expressed it in very clear terms.

CONCERNS: Stephanie Dixon will go to UVA Medical Center on the 13th to see a specialist about her skin cancer. Her brother, Dwayne, is recovering from a nail that entered his eye. Things look pretty good, but more surgery will be needed. T. J. Hall is to see an eye doctor. The light is hurting his eyes. Judy Hall will have a heart test as well. Betty Branch will have knee replacement surgery in New Jersey on the 13th. Bud McWhorter also had knee replacement surgery. Helen Nicklas has not been doing well lately. Kathy Sirgy, Abraham’s wife, is having a lot of back pain and may need surgery. Jim Hunter will see a new orthopedic surgeon this month, hoping to help reach a settlement in a law suit involving a car accident he was injured in. Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, (ovarian cancer) Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, (leukemia) also her brother, Nick who is well enough to have knee replacement surgery scheduled. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary, (Parkinson’s) It was good to see Susan Phlegar up and about after her back surgery. Continue prayers for Rich Crites, Gary Overstreet, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim elder, Mary Smith, and Mrs. Matara, Marie Barnett’s family and Todd Buamgardner, Wayne Flora’s postmaster who is on dialysis..

Monday: Psalm 16:1-11
Tuesday: Matthew 20:1-16
Wednesday: Amos 3:12-4:5
Thursday: Hebrews 10:19-39
Friday: Ephesians 5:3-20
Saturday: Psalm 148:1-14
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9

THE CONTRIBUTION The steering committee has been discussing ways in which the contribution can be separated from the Communion. It has been decided that the contribution will be taken up as before, but at the end of the service following the sermon. There will be a collection song sung during the offering and then the one making closing announcements will say the blessing for the contribution which will include the closing prayer. The one collection box on the rear pew will still be used for anyone who needs to use it.

The upcoming new directory is a list of those who worship here. It is not a membership list, but a convenient list which enables information and ways of communication to be available. Please fill out one of the large cards on the foyer table even if you filled out one for Ben Robertson. These cards are kept in the office because they contain information not in the directory; such as what service you would be willing to render. Leave the filled-in card on the foyer table or hand it to Keith. The sooner this is done, the sooner we can print the new directory.

Susan is once again spending a week working at the Ezell Clinic in Guatemala. Keep her in your prayers and we look forward to hearing about her trip when she returns

There is no hot water in the building today. We were told the old heater had to be replaced after the new rest room was finished. A new one was purchased and low and behold, the old one gave up the ghost before we could replace it. It will be installed tomorrow.

Jordan came forward last Sunday to ask our prayers as she deal with head injury related problems. She is receiving care, but needs to know God is there for her. Jordan is Marie Barnett’s brother’s child.

Our sympathy is extended to Debbie McRoy in the sudden death of the daughter of a special cousin of hers. The funeral was in Tennessee.

In the process of preparing to write a wedding ceremony, I was thinking about an appropriate passage of scripture to insert. All the usual ones ran through my mind. Somewhere in that list was the things Paul said in the letter to the Ephesian church. By the way, I’ve never used these passages and never will in a wedding ceremony. However, I have heard them used as such, so they floated through my mind.

In chapter 5:22-33 there are the familiar instructions about husbands, wives, Christ and the church. Verse 22 begins: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Let the games begin!)

That, and other such scriptures are usually read as absolute, narrow instructions But you will notice that wives are never told to love their husbands, and the church is never told to love Christ. So the cold, literal reading is that wives do not have to love their husbands and the church does not have to love Christ. All that is demanded is submission. Hang onto that.

Beginning at Verse 25ff, Four times Paul tells men they must love their wives. He uses Christ’s love for the church as an example. Verse 33 is key to the discussion. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Some translations use the word “honor” rather than “respect.”

Once again we are told the wife must respect, or honor her husband. Which seems to include submission. The husband is not told to respect or honor his wife, just to love her, which may include both honor and respect, without the submission. However, it doesn’t say that.

My reason for being picky here is because of the way I have heard this passage used in all kinds of “happy marriage manuals,” in sermons and in classes.

Here’s how it works. Men need respect (honor) more than love. This seems to me to indicate men’s egos are somewhat frail and need that constant boost that love alone will not give. If wives boost their husband’s egos by honoring them and submitting to them in everything, then the husbands will return that with love. That’s what the marriage manuals say. However, that’s not what Paul said. Paul has to tell (order) the men to love their wives four times in eight verses. He does not say to do it because she loves him back or respects him. He compares it to Christ loving the church. We might ask here if Christ only loves the church when it honors and respects him? (If you say “yes” you’re wrong.) Paul also compares loving the wife to the man loving himself.

Now let me tell you why I will not use this in a wedding ceremony. The context for Ephesians is problem solving. First, why would Paul have to tell wives to submit and respect their husbands? Wasn’t that part of the normal culture between the Jews and Gentiles? From social studies it would seem to be. What happened to cause Paul to issue instructions?

A close reading of the letters to the primarily Gentile churches, including Paul’s personal letters, such as those to Timothy, indicate the announcement that a world savior had come, and would soon return, changed social attitudes. In Corinth, the women were throwing off the veil and praying and prophesying (proclaiming) publically. This display of being free from the accepted social norms of marriage would leave the wrong image of the church. It would be much like the woman announcing that she was now free in Christ and would no longer wear her wedding ring because it was a sign of being bound to a husband.

There is also some indication in I Corinthians 7 that the women are free to separate (divorce) from their husbands, for no stated reason, except they must not marry someone else. I Cor. 7:10,11.Notice Paul says she should remain unmarried, and never condemns the practice.

In I Timothy2:9,10 the instructions given to women, (though seldom seen this way) is that to dress as they were, made a public statement that they were no longer under any man’s control, but were free and independent women. It made them look similar to the prostitutes and other loose women. Paul does not want that to be the image the world sees of those who are serving Jesus, even though he does believe Christ has set both men and women free who are in Christ. We might ask here if Paul was giving permission for men to dress any way they wanted, since he said nothing about that. We should also state openly that if the way those women were dressing then, no longer leaves the same impression, then it is alright today.

We might also ask in Chapter 3 if the women were excused from the qualities required of the men, since Paul only told the women, (deacons, or wives of deacons and elders) “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” V. 11

Reading the Bible a certain way opens us to all sorts of problems. If lists are exclusive, then they only apply exclusively. Is it wrong for a wife to love her husband? Is it wrong for a husband to respect his wife? Is it wrong for a husband to submit himself to his wife? By the way, Paul starts that section with verse 21, which should not be separated form the following verses. It says, “Submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Some say that verse defines it all. It is mutual submission. I agree with that, but I would add another element. The passage should not be read in a vacuum, but in relationship to the teachings and attitude of Jesus, as well as understanding the reason it was written and the cultural norms at the time.

Failing to do that stops our growth and understanding of the Bible.

CONCERNS: Both T. J. And Judy Hall will be having medical tests this month. Jim Hunter will also see a New doctor about his back in August. Alan Beach’s father is in rehab recovering from a badly broken leg due to a fall. Erma Williams cousin, Eleanor Bresee (ovarian cancer), Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas (leukemia), Leena’s brother, Nick, (cancer), Judy McWhorter’s brother’s step-daughter is recovering from a near fatal heart attack. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary (Parkinson’s) Martha Foy asks prayers for Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson and her aunt, Sue Huels, who is Betty Foy’s sister. Rich Crites, the Phlegars, Gary Overstreet, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, and Sharon. Also Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Mary Smith and Mrs. Matara. Marie Barnett asks prayers for herself and her family. Todd Baumgardner (Wayne Flora’s postmaster) is on dialysis.

Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10
Monday: Psalm 62:1-12
Tuesday: Luke 20:9-26
Wednesday Matthew 15:1-20
Thursday Micah 6:1-8
Friday: John 16:16-33
Saturday: Psalm 99, 100

Congratulations and best wishes to AC Branch and Jacob Fuller on their wedding. They were married on July 12, at the Hotel Roanoke.

After the honeymoon at Holden Beach, NC, they will be living here in Roanoke.

Along with moving the communion service, the steering committee wants to change the way the offering is taken. For the time being it will be taken as it always has, but when the logistics are worked out there will be several offering boxes placed in convenient locations in which your contribution may be placed. The goal is to make it possible for the collection to be placed in these boxes as you enter, so the one counting the money can do so during part of the song service. Any contributions dropped in as you leave can then be counted in much less time and turned in to be deposited. This is both an experiment and a test of faith. There will still be a prayer of thanksgiving for the offering at the end of the service. This can also serve as reminder if you have missed doing it coming in.

Today is Super Sunday. Stay and enjoy the fellowship meal in the annex.

Following the Super Sunday meal the steering committee will meet in the library.

Prayer concerns are usually on the back page, but this is worthy of the front page. As you may know, Judy McWhorter told us about her brother’s step daughter, who, at 39 years old, had a massive heart attack. This left her in what was considered a “brain dead” condition. After several days of not brain activity, the family was faced with a terrible decision about stopping artificial life support. But one day she licked her lips upon command. Judy says she is now walking the hospital halls regaining her strength. She is still serious and has much ahead of her, so keep her in your prayers.

The pews removed for wheelchair access will be modified and replaced as soon as we can get together and do it

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