Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: February 2010


I said in a resent sermon that just because something is found in the Bible does not make it a reality. I went on to explain that while the sailors on the ship on which Jonah was fleeing was being assailed by the gods of the sea, that does not mean there are sea gods. I spoke of that because in Ephesians 2:2 Paul says at one time they “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Just because Paul refers to such a spirit does not mean that is a reality, a real entity. It means some of the Ephesian converts where still hanging on to their old beliefs in the gods of Rome and Greece. While commentaries will often refer to this as part of Satan’s world, Paul does not call this Satanic, or refer to the “disobedient” as servants of Satan. It probably had to do with the ancient belief that the stars and other heavenly bodies controlled life on earth, which, in the broad sense of the word could be called Satan’s world..

We need remember that Paul, in First Corinthians, talked about the “many gods”, but then went on to say they were not real. He called them, “so called gods.” There is only one God, not many. There is only one ruler of all creation, not many. The plurality of gods was an ancient way to explain life and why the unpredictable and unexplainable things happened.

When Paul was in Athens he saw what he called their “objects of worship.” (Acts 17:23) These were the gods and goddesses they worshiped and believed controlled their lives. They were very real to them. They even named them. Paul knows that. He tells them he can see that they are “very religious.” (Vs.22) It is telling that the KJV says, “superstitious.” The root words are the same in this case. So the question is, were these gods real? The answer is “yes” to the Greeks, but “no” in reality. Did they shape their lives? Yes. But was Mars, Neptune and the others real? No.

However, quite often the old beliefs (superstitions) came back to haunt and rule those who had converted to Christianity. They were much like the Jews who kept finding themselves drawn to the gods of Egypt and their neighbors. Israel rarely if ever, turned completely away from God. They just thought it was safer if they covered all the bases by adding all the gods they could. This was especially true when their pagan neighbors had better crops and bigger sons than did they. “If it worked for the pagans, it should really work for God’s people.”

We don’t live in the same world as did those of the Bible. However, there are millions upon millions of people on the earth who still believe in the “fates” or whatever. Superstition still has a strong hold on people, even Christians. Many of the Haitian people believe God caused the earthquake that has devastated their country. Probably an equal amount of Christians believe the same thing. When the Christian wakes up in the morning and believes they are surrounded by all kinds of evil spirits, turned loose on them by God, (after all, if God created everything, then these spirits are God’s creation) they have fallen victim to superstition.

Simply put, there are only two worlds, the physical and the spiritual, the seen and the unseen. It’s more complicated than that, but that will do for now. Any force that is unseen is spiritual. It’s either good spiritual or bad spiritual. That’s why the Bible speaks of an “evil spirit” and “unclean spirits.” They represent those things that can’t be explained physically, even though the results can be seen physically through the person’s actions. Anything of the mind (heart in the Bible) is spiritual. So Jesus will say it’s what comes out of a man that will condemn him, not the food that goes in.

Paul, in Eph. 6:12 (In the letter written for those who were sliding back into their pagan beliefs) says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. But against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” When he said that he did not mean these things had some kind of personality or form. He meant the battle was for the minds of people who were caught up in a false view of life. Did they believe the heavens were filled with all kinds of entities? Yes. Did Paul? I don’t think so, but he did know the enslaving grip these beliefs had on the people. The whole armor of God Paul says to use is all about combating teachings, superstitions and ideas. The belt of truth. No greater weapon against ignorance can be found. The breastplate of righteousness. The integrity of someone who lives right can’t be overcome. The footwear of the gospel of peace. Peace, no greater power for changing lives. The shield of faith. The conviction of the unseen that is seen in the results of faith. The helmet of salvation. The confidence of one’s understanding of God’s grace toward all. The sword of the Spirit i.e., the word of God. To speak with the authority of one who knows and serves God. It should be noted, that when Paul speaks of “the flaming arrows of the evil one”, it does not mean the “evil one” has personality or form, any more than it means there will be actual flaming arrows shot at the Christian.

Is the warfare spiritual? Yes. It is a battle against every ungodly idea and belief that manifests itself in the enslavement and harm to the individual. Poverty is a spiritual battle. Mental illness is a spiritual battle. Prejudice is a spiritual battle. Greed is a spiritual battle. We even have an idol to greed. It’s Wall Street. That does not mean the stock market is evil, just that we associate greed and avarice with that name. Ignorance is a spiritual battle. And yet, like Paul, we need to understand how deeply ingrained ignorance can be. It can even be the “truth” of that time. The world was never flat. But the “truth” for centuries was that it was. Ancient people were not stupid, but they, like us, were ignorant of a yet undiscovered truth. That’s why truth is the first weapon against ignorance.

We need to spend less time trying to imagine a battle in heaven going on among some kind of spiritual beings, and get on with the real battles here on earth that need our attention to be won.
Keith kswrev

CONCERNS: Melanie Beaver’s faculty advisor and favorite teacher, Dr. Melanie Almeder, is being treated for cancer. Helen Niklas, Laena Bolin’s mother, is unable to be out and about right now. Remember Isabel, the daughter of friends of the Bolins who has leukemia. Ron Matney was able to be at church last Sunday. Martha Albert’s grand nephew has grown enough to be home. Tamala Beach finished her radiation treatments. The Phlegar’s friend in Texas, Julie, is making slow recovery from a stroke. Polly Altice has made some progress. Her son, James still deals with cancer. Also Evelyn Hammer. Chris Phlegar has returned to a war zone. Continue to remember Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixi Long, Barbara McCauley, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Roger Fisher’s nephew, (cancer) Tim Elder, those in Haiti who are recovering slowly from the earthquake, Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World and all those who are working to relieve suffering around the world.

Monday: Matthew !8:10-20
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

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

We are very close to opening our new Internet web site. James Downing has been working on it for us and has sent a Trial page so we can make changes and recommendations. One of the things that will be posted every two weeks is the bulletin. However, that does not mean the bulletin will no longer be e-mailed to those who want it sent.

The site will also allow us to display relevant pictures and events, as well as the various ministries in which we are involved. In other words, it will be a place those looking for a church will be able to see who we are before coming. Any ideas you have about what should go on it are welcome.

The Shivers have let us know that former member, Jerry Sumney, has been selected as Alumnus of the year in the field of Bible. More news of that will probably arrive via The Christian Chronicle. Jerry is still at Lexington Theological Seminary.

This Sunday, February 21, is Super Sunday. Even though there will still be piles of snow, it will be warm an toasty inside with lots of good food and fellowship. Plan to be there.

This is Winterfest weekend in Gatlinburg. Several of our young folks will be attending. Pray for their trip and safe journey. They plan to be home on Sunday in time to eat with us.

Ebenezer Baptist Church, at 7049 Thirlane Rd. Is having a panel discussion concerning Race, Religion & Roanoke. The date and time is Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6:00 PM. Certainly a needed thing, too bad it is on Wednesday. However, if someone goes they can report back to us.

A women’s retreat is planned for April 23-24. The theme will be Sweet Life Cafe’. It will be here at the building. More details later, but you can talk to Erma Williams, Susan Jordan and Laena Bolin about it.

Also in April, on the 17th, there will be a city-wide VBS training seminar here at the annex. You can see Erma about that.


IMAGINE The title of the beautiful and probing John Lennon song. Of course, the Christian community isn’t too keen on imagining there is no heaven or hell. On the other hand it is a call for peace and loving one’s neighbor as oneself. That is Christian. However, I wonder if we as Christians can imagine a world where the teachings of Jesus, and the rest of the ethical principles of the Bible are lived out? Or, secretly do we see Jesus as a hopeless romantic on the same level as Lennon?

Perhaps we see Jesus as one who knew it would never happen, but wanted to get the world as close as possible so the “Many are called but the few are chosen” could be saved. By the way, that passage in Matthew 22:14 must mean something other than what it seems to say. Jesus has just told a parable about a king who had a wedding feast and no one came. So all kinds of people, both the good and the bad were invited. In fact, Many are called (chosen) and get to stay, it is the one man, the “few” who is thrown out.

But the question is, “How do we really feel about the ethical teaching of Jesus”? For example, how do we feel about what we sometimes call “the golden rule”? Do we dare ask what would happen in the halls of congress, business, and around the world, if people began to practice that principle? Do we come and praise the Lord, while all of the time we think he was a little naive.

When we read the words, “Love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, do we smile and say it’s a nice thought but it won’t work? If we were asked what approach to life was the best, of course we would say the Christian life. But if we were asked which way of life was the most powerful, would we say the same thing? Do we worship an all powerful God and then live in such a way as to say God’s power is less powerful than whatever other power stands against the ideals and life of Jesus? Are we so “other worldly” that we have given up hope on the “God so loved the world that he gave his only son to die” for?

Am I looking for a utopia? No. But can I hope for and even imagine a world without conflict? By that I mean a world that is without war. Not a world where everyone will always agree or even get along. Just a world that has learned to settle differences without killing. A world where we have finally come to realize that we are all one family.

I can almost hear (because I’ve heard it over and over in my life) someone quoting Jesus’ saying, “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” That’s a good example of “pull and paste.” In context, in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Those with him have asked how they will know when it’s coming, so he tells them.

Are we hopeless romantics when we sing “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”? Are we just going through the motions when we say the words of the commonly called “Lord’s Prayer” when we say, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Is that a prayer we expect to be answered? Thankfully we have stopped saying the prayer is invalid because the kingdom has already come as the church. The prayer plainly calls for us to ask that God’s will will be done on earth. The question is if we think that is a valid request? If it isn’t, why would Jesus think it was?

So much of the Christian’s life is going to church, keeping some commandments, singing the songs and feeling good. Along with that we read, or hear read, the scriptures and nod our heads in agreement. But when asked what we really believe in about the power of God and the teachings of Jesus, we get a little uneasy. And I can understand it because I do too. I have to dig deep to find those in history who practiced the principles of Jesus. When I do I am then threatened as to if I really want to be like them. It seems all of their work was only recognized after they had either died or been killed.

I can bring whatever peace and good I can to my own little world, but that’s not the question. The question is whether I believe I’m just doing it to satisfy God, or because it really makes a difference in a future that can go on longer than I can imagine. I want to imagine it does.
Keith kswrev

CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering well from knee surgery. Ron Matney also had surgery on his leg and is doing well. He will have to stay in for a few weeks, especially during slippery weather. Martha Albert’s new grand nephew is growing stronger each day. Remember little Isabel, the daughter of friends of the Bolins who has leukemia. Tamala Beach will soon be finished with radiation treatments. Julie, a friend of the Phlegars in Texas, is recovering slowly from a stoke. Polly Altice is about the same. Her son. James, is not doing as well as before, as he deals with cancer. Chris Phlegar has returned to a war zone, and we will know more about where later on. Continue to remember Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida who has cancer. Barbara McCauley, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World and those suffering in Haiti and those who are trying to alleviate that suffering.

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 1:13-2:11
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12

Because of the weather we have not been able to set a Sunday when we will take up a special collection for the earthquake victims in Haiti. We are also looking at which organization to send the funds to. From what we have received it seems most of the funds have been going to Helping Hands in Nashville. More on that when we are able to have services again. We may have another winter storm this weekend so watch either channel 10 or 7 for updates.

In December folks from Blue Ridge Behavioral’s Project Link used our annex for a Christmas party for some of their clients. We have received two cards from several of the women who were here. About nine women signed the cards and commented on the lasting impression they have from our kindness. The cards are on the downstairs bulletin board.

As we’ve been announcing, the troops we have been sending goodies and other things to in Iraq are being sent to Afghanistan. So until we find a contact, either with the chaplain, or if and when Chris Phlegar arrives, we are going to hold up on what we’ve been sending. However, when we do resume we will have perhaps an even deeper commitment with some donated things we will have to prepare for shipping. The fact that a single idea given to us by Wayne and Susan has grown to this point is a wonderful thing and an example as to what God can do when we do good things ourselves.

Several of our young folks will be attending Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN on the weekend of February 20,21. This “happening” gives them a chance to see other friends from around the area, as well as from farther away in an atmosphere of learning and song. Keep them in your prayers as they travel.

One of the new opportunities we have been given is helping settle immigrants in our area with such things as household goods, etc.. A list of those things is on the table in the foyer. Also remember the Samaritan Inn and the Rescue Mission.