One of the characteristics of some Christians is to find a passage of scripture, or actually, to hear someone else use, or misuse a passage of scripture, and then give it a meaning never intended. For example, in Psalm 90:10 it says, “The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have strength.” If you do a web search for Ps. 90:10 you will find person after person who takes that literally, and works all kinds of magic to make it so. Doing this shows the difficulty we have with the language of the Bible. Of course, when we read Song of Solomon, (Song of Songs) we jump to say all that erotic language is metaphorical. I particularly like the one that says it’s all about the church.
I was thinking about the Proverb (22:6) which says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I thought about how people often seem to believe that it says if you teach your children in the right way, no matter if they turn from it, they will always return to the way of their early training.
Again, if you do a web search, or any search, you will find a multitude of comments about how that has to be literally true. At least one had the wisdom to say the statement had to be understood in its literary context, which is correct. However, reading a sample of the comments point to some divine instruction which, when done properly, secures the child for life. The problem is how to do it right, and there are many answers for that as well.
It is curious to me that the proverb never says. “Teach the child the commandments of God, and when he is old he will keep them.” Which may mean, as many feel, that these proverbs were a collection of “wisdom sayings” collected from several cultures. So the statement would be a general statement based on observation, rather than scientific “nurture/nature research.
Few people would argue that early childhood training and environment has no effect on how the child will turn out. However, using this text as a literal, absolute truth, presents problems. In what should the child be trained? Since we’re reading the Old Testament the natural answer would be in the Law. But it doesn’t say that. Who is to be responsible for the training? Again, since it is the time of patriarchal leadership, one would assume the father. One other question might be asked: Is there punishment if the trainer gets it wrong? None is mentioned.
So let’s see if this proverb is general, observational wisdom, i.e. truth, or is it a literal truth that when done as God commands, will always work.
Well, there’s Cain, who murdered his brother. Bad training? Then a whole string of bad guys cause the flood. I guess you could say almost everybody lost in that deal.
Abraham comes along and his two sons don’t get along. Let’s blame Sara, she’s the one who invited her husband to father a first born with her slave.
Then there’s the dysfunctional family of Isaac and Rebekah. Rebekah helps the younger son, Jacob, to dupe poor old dad into giving the blessing to him instead of the older son, Esau. Well, it all works out and they are both blessed with much land and stuff.
Jacob has twelve sons, and they decide to kill little brother Joseph, but sell him into Egypt instead. Who failed there?
Then Moses comes along and leads the Israelites out of Egypt, which seems to require that he leave his wife and sons, and marry an Ethiopian woman.
In the irony of all this, the first king of Israel, Saul, is seen as a really bad guy. But his son, Jonathan is probably the first best kid in the Bible.
The heartthrob of the kings is David. His son, Amnon, rapes his only (recorded) daughter, Tamar. Another son, and Tamar’s blood brother, Absalom, has Amnon killed. Who failed there?
We could talk about the sons of Eli, Samuel’s mentor, or even Samuel’s sons. Each of them had wicked sons. Whom do we blame? They never returned to the way they had been taught, if taught at all.
These little proverbial sayings all express a general, often, philosophical truth, but not a literal, absolute truth. The problem comes when we read the Bible as if every statement is an absolute truth, and then demand everyone else read it the same way, or be called a heretic.
Of course, the reader has to (or should) decide from several positions if the words are literal or otherwise. Even most people who say they take the Bible literally, don’t. They may say the earth was created in literally six days and that the Eden story is literal, but when it comes to the book of Revelation, they change. Maybe.
Looking at some of the major prophetic books, where the vision of the Messianic kingdom is described, predatory animals exist together in peace. The child will not be bitten by snakes. In Ezekiel 47, a river will flow from the temple, one way to the Mediterranean and the other to the Dead Sea, where it will make the waters fresh. It’s exact length and depth along the way is given. Do some believe this is literal? Yes, but most of those who see the Eden story as literal, take this to be symbolic.
There are other passages like this as well. When Jesus uses apocalyptic language in Matthew 24:29, which is from Isaiah, and concerned Babylon, it and other such expressions, like the trumpet sounding and every eye seeing him, are taken literally.
What does it matter? Not much if it expresses a personal faith. But when it becomes a doctrine, an authoritative teaching which everyone must agree on to be a true Bible believer, it becomes a serious problem. A problem, which historically, caused heads to roll
Perhaps the real issue is that such things as these in the Bible must be tested first by the Bible, and that requires more examination than just passing on what someone else claims the Bible says.
CONCERNS: Anna Ferrell has some friends who have asked for our prayers. They are the Harry Tuck family. The son, Greg (44) had a heart aneurism that burst while his father was having surgery for another issue. Greg is in recovery. The mother, Mary Ann is weighed down with the trauma of all this. Both Jim Smith and Bud McWhorter are doing well. Betty Billings, (Keith’s sister) is in rehab in Alabama. Nathan Beach is still on the mend and plans to be in the states soon for a visit. Continue to remember Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, Leena Bolin’s mother, Helen Nicklas and Leena’s aunt, Lee Nicklas who has leukemia. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Jennie Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary and Jim Smith, Marie Barnett and family, Mrs Matara and Todd Baumgardner, who is awaiting a kidney transplant.

Monday: Isaiah 53:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 28:1-30
Wednesday: Ezekiel 34:1-16
Thursday: Acts 21:37-22:16
Friday: Psalm 14:1-7
Saturday: Revelation 20:11-21:9
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-22
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

The Christmas Party this year will be on Saturday, December 6. It seems early to mention it, but that’s just three weeks away.
A sign-up sheet will be on the foyer table next Sunday. More information and details about recipes etc., will be forthcoming. Remember, a $5 gift for the gift exchange. We have been concentrating on local products for gifts if possible.
We will also be looking for some form of entertainment, so if you can help, please let it be known.
We also want to thank Del Bolin for being our MC for the last two years. Some scheduling and timing issues have prevented him from doing it this year.
The Sunday morning adult class will start a new study of the New Testament on the first Sunday in January. They will be reading from the NIV translation of the New Testament arranged as a book, without chapter and verse divisions. This will require at home reading to facilitate discussing in the class. This is similar to the format of a book club. Each week there will be about five questions the class will discuss.
The books are available now in the a downstairs adult class room if you want to pick up your copy.
It seems Google added some extra protection to web sites to protect from spam. This led to anyone who tried to receive the bulletin via visiting the site to be rejected. This has been fixed. On the home page, under “Navigation” go to “The Minister” and click on that. On the Minister’s page you will see a place to sign up for the bulletin. Follow the instructions and if there is any problem email me at
Thanks to Martha Albert and Mike and Karen Branch for fixing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening.
If you haven’t yet filled out a directory information card please do so.


The above passage from Hebrews 9:22 has become something of a hallmark to explain the death of Jesus.
Does that passage literally mean no blood, no forgiveness? Look at the Old Testament. Whereas blood was often used for covenants, it is under the law of Moses that the blood sacrifice develops more fully. Question: Was there forgiveness of sin under the Law without blood? Yes. There were various bloodless sacrifices that were “sin” offerings. There was also the “scapegoat” which carried the sins of the people into the wilderness, but was not killed. See also the atonement money in Exodus 30:11-16 In Ex. 32:31-35. David’s sin with Bathsheba was forgiven without a sacrifice. In Solomon’s prayer in I Kings 8:46-51, God’s forgiveness of sin is to be granted by repentance. Ps. 51:16,17 says God does not delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings, but a broken and contrite heart. In Ps. 69:30,31 says singing praise to God with thanksgiving is more pleasing to God than an ox or a bull. There are several other places in the Psalms which reflect this same thought.
There are also the two statements by Amos and Micah about the hatred of God for solemn feasts and sacrifices, but what God wants are mercy and justice. We should also consider the book of Jonah. There a whole nation repents and is forgiven without the “shedding” of blood.
So up to this point we can say the statement in Hebrews was not literally what the Law said, nor was it exclusive.
Let’s talk about grace. All of the definitions of “grace” center around the meaning of a free gift, given without having to be earned. In fact, earned grace is impossible. It is a free gift from God based on God’s love. Just for discussion’s sake, if it is a free gift, given willingly from the love of God, why do we say Jesus “paid” for our sins? If God required blood as payment for the free grace/gift, how is it free? And, if forgiveness, or the free gift of forgiveness to another, demands payment, how is that really forgiveness? Jesus forgave sins without telling the person to offer a blood sacrifice. The exceptions were lepers, who needed verification from a priest that they were clean, but it did not have to be a blood offering.
Here’s the point. No one verse about the sacrifice of Jesus should be used as a formation for a doctrine of atonement. The Hebrew writer has a reason to say to his Hebrew Christians what he said. A good guess would be that he was writing about, or after, the destruction of Jerusalem, which would mean the end of the priestly system of sacrifices, at least as long as the temple was gone. (On an interesting note, Ezekiel 40-48 describes the time when the Messiah comes and there will continue to be blood offerings in the new temple.)
The sacrifice of Jesus is a very meaningful thing, as the New Testament reveals. However, how we view it is often conditioned more on historical doctrines than the New Testament.
Did God send Jesus to the cross, or did Jesus give his life “as a ransom for many”? Paul says, “Who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20). Look also at how the Hebrew writer says it. “But now he has appeared once and for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” (Heb. 9:27)
So, what’s the big deal? For me it is the difference between God demanding someone die and shed blood to pay for something that is from love and grace, which is free, and someone living, loving and dying to set us “free (ransom us) from the law of sin and death” When a person gives their life for their count ry, we may say they sacrificed themselves for us, meaning our freedom. Among all (and there are many) ideas about why Jesus died, I start with John 3:16 and find that Jesus lived and died as an act of God’s love in the face of a world which refused to believe him. In so doing he set those who do believe, free from the attempt to earn God’s love and mercy, which is the law of sin and death. I find real meaning in Romans 8, especially the beginning and the end.

CONCERNS: Bud McWhorter had knee replacement surgery on Monday. Stephanie Dixon’s mother is also having the same surgery soon, and Stephanie’s surgery will be next month. Keep these people in your prayers: Betty Billings, (Keith’s sister) Nathan Beach, Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, and Leena’s mother, Helen Nicklas. Kim Hall’s friend, Mary, Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Rich Crites, Jim Hunter Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood and Sharon. Also Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Matara, Marie Barnett and her mother, Mildred and Todd Baumgardner, who is on the list to receive a kidney transplant.

Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John1:5-2:6
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

Since most of you receive the bulletin before Sunday, just a reminder to enjoy an extra hours sleep by turning your clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night.
Each year we try to set the date for the adult Christmas party early enough to accommodate as many folks as possible. The date is also reliant on those who will do the decorating, as well as some of the cooking, so the dates fluctuate each year. This year the date will be December 6. We will give more details later as to menu, gifts, talent, etc.
Thanks to Mike Branch for doing some trimming of the shrubbery and ivy around the building. Also, if you appreciate the fact that the walks are swept on Sunday mornings, thank Erma Williams.
If you haven’t filled out a new directory information card, please do so. There are about ten not yet filled out. We do not have a deadline because we have a few folks who are in the process of relocating soon and we want the directory to be as current as possible. However, we would like to have it within the next month or so.
After next Sunday a list of those we do not have will be placed on the foyer table in case you may have forgotten if you filled out a card or not. Thanks for your help.
For those of you who enter through the basement, pictures from the Peaks of Otter picnic are on the downstairs picture board. If any of you who took pictures at the top want to lend them to the board, feel free to put them there.
Starting on December 7th, the Sunday morning adult class will begin a study which will take them through the New Testament an in 40 days. Some of you have received an email about this. For those of you who do not have email, printed information is available. See Susan Jordan or Mike Branch.

Have you ever wondered what it was like after Jesus told a story or offered a teaching moment? I don’t mean the recorded things, but the things to which we aren’t privileged?
For example the story of the “Good Samaritan.” The story was part of a recent sermon, so forgive me for stretching it a little.

An “expert in the law” asked Jesus what it took to have eternal life. No other question, just that one. Jesus asks him what the law says and how he reads it. He replies with what we call the “Great Commandment.” When Jesus tells him that’s the right answer, he wants to know Jesus’ definition of “neighbor.” The answer is the story we know as “The Good Samaritan.”

We need to remember that Jesus had just been denied common hospitality in a Samaritan town, and was told he and his disciples were not welcome to stay the night, but to keep on moving. James and John were naturally incensed by this, even though the same could have been true of a Samaritan traveling through a Jewish village. They ask Jesus if they could call fire down on the town that had sent them packing. I don’t know if there was a certain curse or prayer available for such a thing, but Jesus tells them to get over it.

Then comes the opportunity to tell an “expert in the law” a story about whom a neighbor is, and Jesus, of all available people, uses a Samaritan! Keep in mind the original question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We would probably say, “What must I do to be saved?”

The story is over, the lawyer got an answer to his question about what it takes to inherit eternal life. Jesus and the disciples move on, but James and John are huffed. James says, “Not only did he embarrass us over the fire from heaven thing, but he pours it on with that story about the good neighbor by using a Samaritan!”
“Tell me about it,” said John. “First we get run out of their town and the next thing he does is make one of them a hero!”
“I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye.”
“What do you mean?”
“Little brother, didn’t you hear the question? The lawyer asked what it took to have eternal life! And Jesus tells a story about a Samaritan who does a good thing for a Jew!”
“I know. I heard. Do you think I”m deaf? What’s your point?”
“No John boy, I don’t think you’re deaf, just dense! I think you were so frustrated that he would use a Samaritan that you didn’t hear the whole story. Did you hear what Jesus said when he told the lawyer he’d answered correctly about the Samaritan being the one who was a neighbor because he kept the commandment?”
“Yeah, he told the lawyer to go and do the same kind of stuff. So what?”
“So what!? The question was how to have eternal life. Jesus said when the Samaritan did what the commandment said, he’d done what gives eternal life!”
“I didn’t hear that.”
“You just said you heard Jesus say, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Jesus said the Samaritan did that, and now has what it takes to have eternal life! They don’t worship like us. They don’t see the temple as the right place to worship. They don’t accept the same books as authoritative that we do. So how can Jesus say the Samaritan could have eternal life?”
“Because he fulfilled the commandment.”
“So since the Samaritan, or any Samaritan, does that kind of thing, they can have eternal life! They don’t have to be like us!? He’s got to be kidding!”
“Maybe they could mess up some other way, you know, eat bacon.”
“That’s not the point! You wanted to turn them to toast as much as I did! That’s the way it’s always been! They’re right next to Gentiles on the no way list! Now Jesus is saying if they keep the Great Commandment they can have eternal life! Do you think the other guys are upset about what Jesus said?”
“Who knows? Half the time they are arguing over who will be the most powerful when Jesus sets up the kingdom. They have no idea how wrong they are. We are not called the ‘Sons of Thunder’ for nothing. Jesus may not have liked our idea about burning down the city, but he knows we are the only ones with the guts to suggest it. He knows we are the best ones to advise him when he sits on his throne. All we have to do is wait for the right time to remind him.”
“Good point. Maybe Jesus is just trying to let us know that the Samaritans will have some use when the whole original nation of Israel is under his control. You know, somebody has to do the dirty work. But that thing about getting eternal life by just doing stuff like the Samaritan did still bothers me. With all the rest of the commandments, how could Jesus say that one of them was also all of them?”
“You may think that I’m dense, but maybe it isn’t the act of love itself, but where that act comes from.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the Samaritan, if there is such a Samaritan, and I have my doubts, was a loving person without the commandment. If he could be real, he was not a commandment follower, but a kind and loving person in his heart. And maybe that’s what Jesus was talking about. Not that he so much kept the commandment, but that he was the commandment. So it’s not about keeping one commandment, it’s about what kind of person you are in your heart. Didn’t Jesus say something about how a good tree can only bear good fruit? Maybe that’s why the Samaritan had eternal life”
“Little brother, you may be right. But that’s going to be a hard sell and I’m not sure any of us Jews are ready for it. We both know Jesus is something of a dreamer. When the kingdom comes we’d better be sure we are in a position to set some conditions. The idea of a kingdom without walls is impossible”

CONCERNS: Bud McWhorter will have knee replacement surgery on the 27th. Remember Betty Billings, Keith’s sister who is in rehab for some issues and a broken leg. She lives in Alabama. Del Bolin’s eye is almost completely healed. Stephanie Dixon, as she prepares for her upcoming surgery. Nathan Beach, Eleanor Bresee, Erma Williams’ aunt (cancer), Leena Bolin’s mother, Helen, and Leena’s aunt, Lee Nicklas. Sue Huels, Betty Foy’s sister. Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary. Wayne and Susan Phlegar. Rich Crites, Jim Hunter Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood and Del Bolin’s friend, Sharon.
Continue to remember Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Matara, Marie Barnett and her mother. Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner had surgery and is on a waiting list for a lung transplant.

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
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-14
Wednesday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:1-13-2:11
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12

Bonnie and Scott Blessing are grandparents again. Daughter Rebecca and husband had a baby boy on October 9th. His name is Landon, and he weighed in at 7lbs. 13oz. Mom Baby and everyone are doing fine.

After a rainy week we have a sunny weekend. Today is both Super Sunday and the Peaks of Otter hike and picnic. Please enjoy the fellowship meal following the service.

Today is going to be sunny and relatively warm, and crisp, about 66 degrees. A good day to take in the colors at the Peaks of Otter. As always, if you plan to ride the bus to near the top, get there as early as you can. If it is crowded, the tickets sell out quickly.

It’s good to have Erma able to be with us again this year. She put all the food together and will be there trying to secure a spot for the picnic. If you’re not climbing Sharp Top, look for her and give her a hand with the fire, etc. Come and enjoy the day together.

The weather canceled the work day. There are several things which can be done inside as well as outside. Some pews need to be cut down where we had to widen the back for wheelchairs after the new rest room was completed. Another pew needs to be replaced or repaired because of a separation in the wood. The downstairs wall in the communion preparation room needs some attention, and then the Drylock to be applied to the wall. There is a similar problem under the bench in the women’s rest room. We can schedule small groups to come and work on these things. On the outside there needs to be some trimming of the shrubs in front of the building on the Carlton Street side.

Sunday evening, the 26th of this month, the young people will be preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House. There will be several of these meals to be prepared in the coming months. See Martha Albert if you will help.

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