Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: July 2010


A minister friend of mine asked me to write a couple of paragraphs about how the Bible surprises, or surprised, me. I know when the question about the Bible surprising us comes up, there is bound to be those statements about how truthful it is, how beautiful, how strengthening and how comforting. To me, all that is a given. It is supposed to be, it’s the Bible. We are told from the beginning of our biblical learning that all these things are true about the Bible.

What surprises me, and this is something which developed over time, is how raw and earthy the Bible is. When I say that I realize the Bible covers a long period of time and changing culture. Even the idea that the Bible had cultural changes surprised me. That was denied by some of those in my early years, and still is by some today.

For example, I was surprised when I first realized that Abraham, faithful Abraham, was willing to let his wife be taken into a kings concubine to save his own life by lying about their marital status, twice! It was the first time I realized that in that culture and history, women were seen mostly as chattel. They were little more than a warm place for the man’s seed to grow and develop. They were replaceable. This started me on the journey to discard all such ideas of the different value and purpose between men and women and seek equality.

I was surprised when I found that adultery for ancient Hebrew men was limited to another Hebrew man’s wife. If a Hebrew man “took” a foreign woman or a prostitute, it was not adultery, since no Hebrew woman’s womb had been “polluted.” This also allowed for the introduction of concubines and multiple wives. It has been said that God did not approve of this, but “allowed” it. And yet, when the prophets spoke what they said was “from the Lord” they never said, “And Oh, by the way, God wants you to quit viewing women as objects of pleasure and boy babymakers.”

The Bible surprised me when I read about King Saul asking for a hundred foreskins as the price of his daughter’s hand in marriage. So David and his men killed two hundred Philistine men and brought Saul their foreskins. I Sam. 18:24-27

The brutality in the Bible is surprising. For example, read the last three chapters of Judges. A Levite has a concubine. He lets her die in a city of the tribe of Benjamin by ruthless men to save himself. Then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. They fight the tribe of Benjamin and win. Men and women are slaughtered. Virgins are captured and placed in a field so men could take the one they wanted for a wife.

In the life of David, one of his sons rapes one of his daughters by another wife. The young woman’s only plea is that if David is asked he will give her to the man. How does that stack up with the Law of Moses?

In nine places in the Old Testament the word “piss” is used in The King James Version. Men are told they will eat their own “dung” and drink their own piss. They are told that those who “pisseth against the wall will be among those who die. I don’t have the space to list all the verses, but a KJV concordance will lead you to them.

Now, at the time of the KJV translation that word was common. It is not considered the same way today in much of our culture. So offensive is the word (and it means literally “to make water”) most modern translations avoid it.

In the New Testament I was surprised to find what I would call the “direct integrity” of Paul. I remember my surprise when I read, really read, Gal. 5:12, where Paul expresses his feelings about those who would make circumcision part of Christ. He says in the NIV “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.” Pretty direct language. He also confronts Peter openly in Antioch about his hypocrisy toward eating with Gentiles.

All this makes the Bible very authentic to me. It isn’t polished up to sound pious and sanctimonious and it doesn’t have that sweet, sticky, sound of the TV evangelists. It’s more like Bible Raw!

CONCERNS: Alan Beach will be going to Mayo Clinic for some minor surgery. Dr. Melanie Almeder has been told she is cancer free, but she is still recovering from the treatment. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s needs prayer for strength. One of Judy McWhorter’s customers’ son has cancer. Sylvia, one of the dentists with Health Talents is having her first child a little later in life. She is 40. Joanne Elder, (unemployed) Martha Foy’s dad, Joni Beach’s mother. Connie Crites father is now home after a short stay in the hospital, but he is still critical. Pam Pierce is gaining strength each day. Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger. Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Polly Altice tests for a kidney will begin in September. Her son, James (cancer) Isabelle Simmons (recovering from leukemia, Helen Nicklas, the Phlegar’s friend, Julie is slowly recovering from a stroke, Teri Burks, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder. Also, the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-20
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11

Monday: Job 1:1-12
Tuesday: Jeremiah 1:1:10
Wednesday: Matthew 11:1-19
Thursday: Romans 2:1-20
Friday: Revelation 18:1-20
Saturday: Psalm 93:1-5

In about a week Mike and AC Branch, along with Susan Jordan and Brice Reid will be going to Guatemala for a week to work with the Health Talents medical and mission team there.

Because of government changes, medicine is harder to take in on short notice. However, They do need such things as tooth brushes, and small tubes of tooth paste. Small travel-sized shampoo, small bars of soap etc.. They also like to give the children that come to the clinic a toy of some kind. These can be the small items that McDonalds gives away, hot wheels, or any other small toy. Bring them as soon as possible. Keep these folks in your prayers, and we look forward to hearing from them when they return.

Once again so many pitched in with many hours of preparation and then making Vacation Bible School happen this year. With the supplies many of you provided, and help from nearly everyone else, this was certainly a congregational effort. To list each person would be to probably miss someone because there was so much that happened each day as the time neared. All we can say is thanks once again to everyone who turned the building into a High Seas Expedition that all the children enjoyed.

After a well deserved rest, we will begin to get ready for the Labor Day Bar-B-Que. It looks like it will be on Saturday, September 4. Chef Jeff is already preparing to make this one even better than last year. So mark the dates and get ready for the best fixin’s you can imagine.

After checking with the young folks it looks like the rest of the summer will be too busy to pull together a mini-camp. However, we are going to have a weekend outing sometime in September while the weather is still warm.

Thanks to Rich Crites for filling in at the last moment for Keith last Sunday. Three of the Wagners came down Saturday night with a “bug” that seems to be going around and were unable to make it to church. Keith especially thanks Rich.


In our Wednesday evening class we are discussing prayer. The will of God came up. Anyone who talks about God knows that the will of God is a complicated subject. Maybe it’s supposed to be, after all, who knows the mind of God? Except Jesus, of course. Well, there’s Paul, in 1 Cor. 2:16 , where he both says in a quote, “For who has known the mind of the Lord” and then, “But we have the mind of Christ”

I know having the mind of Christ does not make us God. And mind and will may be two close, but separate things. But God’s will, which usually means we are wondering about things we don’t understand and where God fits in it all, has a lot of different answers for lots of people.

Among the ideas about God’s will is that everything that happens is God’s will, so if prayer isn’t answered, it’s God’s will. We rarely entertain the idea that what we are praying for can’t happen under the circumstances. We believe “all things are possible with God” even though in the texts where these words are said, three of the four times deal with God’s ability to save the wealthy, and the other is about Jesus’ reassuring answer to a man whose son needed to be set free from what was seen as an “evil spirit.” Jesus never implied that God would defy the laws that order the universe. You can believe all you want, but if you jump off a building you will hit the ground, hard. Of course, if you are a hard line “god decided it all before I was born” you know, predestination, then you fell to your death or serious injury because God willed it. Bummer.

We also know and admit that there are things impossible for God. We preach and know that God can’t, can’t make anyone believe. God can’t make anyone do anything they refuse to do. It’s called free will. God’s will can not overpower the free will God has given humankind. I can almost feel the  tension of some as they read those words. There is the need to say, “Well, God could but he chooses not to.” No, God can’t.

The old guide is, “It’s always a good idea to read the manual.” In this case, the Bible, and in particular, the New Testament, where we find the teachings of Jesus. What better place to examine the will of God than the one who said he came from God?

The first thing we notice is that Jesus does not use the language we do about the will of God. When Jesus talks about the will of God he talks about doing what God wants us to do, not if God already has willed that we will or won’t do it. He say’s we should pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Which means God’s will is about what God wants, not what God makes happen, or lets not happen. He talks about those who know and practice God’s will. But he never says, “It was the will of God that a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho…”  He also teaches that it was not God’s will that towers fell on people, or the Pilate’s murdering and mixing the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices had anything to do with God’s will or punishment. Jesus says over and over that it is the will of God that we do what God knows makes for a better world, and is therefore salvation. The only place Jesus really gives a specific example of the will of God is when he said it was not God’s will that anyone perish. Now that’s one we need to remember! That being true, it would mean that God’s will  has nothing to do with those who do perish.

One more thing about Jesus and God’s will. At his death, Jesus prayed for deliverance from the cross, but said he would do whatever God’s will was. Did he know the will of God? Yes. Did he believe God could offer him a way out? Yes. Was it “foreordained” that he die? Yes. Could he himself have refused the cross? Yes. Does the preordained death of God’s one and only son, become the standard to teach that our exact method, time and place of death is set by the will of God? No.

What about Paul? Paul believed it was the will of God that he was an apostle to the Gentiles. He even believed he was born for that task. Does that also mean he believed he could not fail? No. Does it mean he believed he himself could not “fall away.” No. Quite the contrary, and he says so in several places.

So when Paul and James (4:15) speak of the will of God, neither of them say the will of God controlled or was part of everything that happened. When James says the good thing to say, rather than boast, is “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” he is not saying that if that was not done, it was also the Lord’s will.

Nearly all of what the New Testament refers to as God’s will, has to do with what God wants for humankind. What we get into is something rare to scripture, and that is if God’s will is everything that happens. The only place in the NT even close to that is in Romans 9, where Paul; is trying to show that the Jews are not lost. And it is typical that such a scripture is used to try to build a complete doctrine of the will of God.

In the text, Paul says God can do whatever God wants. Then he talks about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which we latch on to like a drowning man. If that is to be taken at face value, would it not also mean that all sinners who resist God and commit evil acts, are doing it because God has hardened their hearts? Paul never deals with that. In fact, he says “Who are you to question God?” But neither does he ever excuse sin on that basis.

While we will always have trouble with what God knows, what God does and how the events of life are related to God, we are told over and over in scripture that God is love and always does the loving thing. And we need not believe God “causes” everything that happens or even “allows” it.

However, each of us has to come to a place where we have a relationship with God. If that relationship requires that we believe everything that happens to us, both good and bad, is the will of God, that’s where we stand. However, we should not enforce our view on others. We tend to get nervous around people who have a different view of God’s will than do we. If we think about it, differing views can be a good thing. They can make us reexamine our own.

CONCERNS: Michelle Yates has died from the cancer. She was a friend of Ian McRoy’s.  Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s needs strength to deal with some things. The son of one of Judy McWhoter’s customers has cancer near his heart. Jewell Manhold had surgery. Joanne Elder is job hunting, as Erma Williams soon will be. Martha Foy’s dad is improving.  Joni Beach’s mother, Connie Crites father, Pam Pierce is getting stronger as she prepares for surgery. Zona Fisher is still undergoing tests for blood pressure, and her two brothers who have cancer, Roger and Tim, are about the same. Melanie Almeder is recovering from cancer surgery. She is one of Melanie Beaver’s teachers. Mike Breeding (heart problems), Polly Altice will began tests in September to see if she can receive a kidney. Her son, James (cancer) is about the same. Isabelle Simmons is doing well with her treatments for leukemia. Helen Nicklas , the Phlegar’s friend, Julie (stroke) Teri Burks, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Barbara McCauley Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 28:10-22
Tuesday: Matthew 18:1-14
Wednesday: Luke 5:1-11
Thursday: II Samuel 12:15-25
Friday: Acts 19:23-41
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16
Monday: Genesis 2:1-14
Tuesday: Matthew 3:1-17
Wednesday: I Thess. 3:1-13
Thursday: Matthew 28:28-44
Friday: II Peter 1:16-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 33:1-22
The food pantry has helped three families recently. A donor has given money to restock it. A couple of persons were helped with utility bills as well.
Our High Seas Expedition Vacation Bible School is just a week away. Erma needs more help. See if you can be the one. Also. Alice Blessing needs a ride to VBS for Summer. They are without a car at this time. If you know of a good Lumina for about 1,000. to 1,500. Let her know.

Also, there may still be “needs” barrels that have not been taken. If you can help, take one off the foyer wall and fill it.

The dates for VBS are July 26- 30. Please sign up today either by letting Erma know, or on the church web site.

A special thanks to Lisa Hawks for once again helping out getting things ready for VBS. Also, be sure to invite some children.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to help with the construction of Vacation Bible School materials. As always, it looks great. We will also be meeting next Saturday to actually place the decorations and sets in the auditorium.
Lights are being left on in both buildings. When you leave the main building, the only lights that should be left on is the one by the water fountain near the restrooms, and the one in the hallway at the bottom of the back stairs under the baptistry. Once again, in the annex, the newer switch has a “soft” click at the end of the dimmer. This is the one with the white knob. It must be turned all the way until that soft click is felt. Thanks.
Today we will be reading the letters from the two ABC children we educate in Guatemala. We also have pictures of them and their families. They are Luis Alexander Perez Nicolas and Nery Neo Perez Nicolas. The pictures are on the foyer table.
The air conditioner in the annex has been serviced and is doing the best it can. Our H&C man suggests an additional unit that will take care of the problem. This will not be done this summer, but perhaps by next season. As of now we are OK.


I made up the title. The “letteralists” are legalists by the “letter” of whatever law is on the floor at the time.

I discovered a long time ago I didn’t speak the same language as many of those who call themselves Christians. We read the same Bible, in the same language, but we come away with a different understanding. I don’t want to sound smug, but I think it has to do with the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I see Jesus more interested in the spirit, the intent, the meaning and purpose of the law, rather than the statement of the law itself.

I thought about this as I looked through a journal that comes my way every so often. The topic of the issue was Situation Ethics, so I knew it would have a number of examples of the barriers of spirit versus law.

In one article, the author seems concerned about Rahab. Two passages say she was justified by “faith”, Heb. 11:31, and by “works”, James 2:25. But she is saved because she lied about the Hebrew spies and hid them to save she and her family.

Let’s see how this fellow worked that out. He said that nowhere in the New Testament does it mention that she lied. That’s true, but it hardly changes the fact that she did. (By the way, she was also a traitor to her country.) The writer says this “…demonstrates that all justification before God involves both faith and works.” He then says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17. Conclusion? “We do not know how the information had been brought to Rahab, but her faith came from the truth that she had heard.” He says that Rahab was told the truth about God’s people (Josh. 2:9,10), so she had faith and acted on it. That’s a terrible use of scripture, but she still lied.

In a place where his language gets twisted, he mentions Abraham. Remember Abraham lied twice and put Sara in jeopardy to save his own life. The author says about Abraham, “More than once he thought lying was necessary to save his life. The situation demanded it. (Read that sentence again) But it was a sin…”

I have my doubts about the situation demanding it, but he did it. But how can anyone say the situation “demanded it” and then say it was wrong?

After running around more than I have room to discuss, he says, “Further, in view of all the Bible teaches about repentance and forgiveness, it has to be recognized that Rahab, Abraham, Noah, David, and all the rest did not continue in their wrongs.” So Rahab repented?

If we apply the logic (?) he used on Rahab, the Bible never says they all repented. In fact, the writers of the Bible have no trouble with any of that. Why? It seems to me that they were more interested in how the will of God as they saw it turned out, (the spirit of it) rather than finding a way to deny or to justify it.

Using his logic we could also say since faith comes by hearing from God, all the concubines and plurality of wives of the kings must have been because God said they could have them.

A close look at the Old Testament shows a different ethic applied to the enemy than to countrymen. When Moses went to Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Israelites, he said they were only going out on a three day trip to worship. Not true. He knew they were not coming back. And, the Israelites were to ask their Egyptian friends and neighbors for gold and silver and clothing. The assumption was that these items would be blessed by the God of Israel and returned. Not so. See Exodus 3ff.

When David was running from Saul, he and his men came to Nob. David told Abimelech, the priest, that they were on the King’s business. Not true. David demanded the consecrated bread to eat since they were hungry. (Another ethical dilemma) A servant of Saul’s, Doag, saw all this. Later, when Saul demands to know how David escaped, Doag tells the “truth” and gets an innocent Abimelech and some other priest’s killed by guess who? Good old, truthful, Doag. (I Sam. 21,22.)

The “letteralists” ask, “Is it right to do wrong for the right reason?” Their assumption is that because it does not fit the letter of the law it is wrong. Thinking of Doag, I would ask, “Is it ever wrong to do right?” Which is what Doag did by the letter of the law. Is there ever a time when the “letteralistic” truth is a lie? .

CONCERNS: Polly Altice has been told she will need a kidney. Tests will begin in a couple of months to see if she is strong enough for the surgery. Debbie McRoy’s great-niece, Jewell Manhold, will have surgery on the 6th. Ian McRoy has a friend, Michelle Yates, who has terminal cancer. The son of one of Judy McWhorter’s customers has a tumor removed that is affecting his heart. Tricia, a friend of the Bolins needs our prayers. Alice Blessing has a friend whose child was born with scolioses and will need surgery. A good friend of the Foys also has terminal cancer. Connie Crites dad is doing well, but hospice has been suggested. Pam Pierce (Philip’s mother) is improving as she gets ready for heart surgery. Remember also Joni Beach’s mother, Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger, who have cancer, Roger Fishers nephew, (cancer) James Altice, (cancer)
Melanie Almeder, (cancer) Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Isabell Simmons, Helen Nicklas, Julie in Texas, (stroke) Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11

Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1=10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

That’s’ the theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School. It will take place on the days of 26-30 each evening from 6-8 PM each evening. As the dates arrive the building will become more and more transformed, which will require helpers, so be ready to volunteer mate!

Some of the needs are posted on the wall near the steps. Take a look at the barrels and see which of them you can supply. Also, if you have any nautical items you could lend, s let Erma know.

Registration can be done on the our web site @

Since we did not have camp this year we have been talking about doing a short camp on our own. It looks like August will be a good time for that. What we need is for all the young folks who go to camp to talk to their parents and to each other and find the best dates that will not conflict with vacations etc.. We will get ideas from the Lynchburg folks as well. We will also be doing our own cooking, so we will need to fix a menu of the most liked breakfast and food for other meals. Anyone who would like to go as a cook, let it be known.

Our thanks to Nathan Flora for his help in cutting up the tree that fell last Sunday behind the annex. There was just a little damage to the gutter and down spout. The tree was part of a tree that had a twin trunk, so the other half will be taken down soon.

While we are talking about trees, the two large trees along the street on either side of the entrance to the parking lot tend to be the ones that drop limbs in the summer. If you usually park there you may want to find another place. The trees belong to the city and in time they will probably replace them with new ones as they have on nearby streets.

Manna Ministries distributes groceries to over 200 local families each week. Baker Chiropractic and Wellness Center, 3260 Electric Road is helping out by being a collection center from July 5-29. A box will be in their office for non-perishable food items and paper items.