Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: September 2010


In last Sunday’s sermon I was talking about the time when the king of Assyria had his army surround Dothan in an attempt to capture the prophet Elisha. You remember that Elisha’s servant woke up to find the city surrounded by the enemy army. He woke Elisha and asked what they were going to do. Elisha told him not to worry, that there was more of them then there was of the enemy. Old Testament scholar, Walter Bruggaman explains this as  looking at things as they are and understanding the facts of the situation are not always the way things must be. That’s an important concept when reading scripture.

Another example is from the temptation of Jesus. The tempter knew scripture and tossed it in Jesus’ face. A good point to remember, just because a scripture is quoted doesn’t mean that’s the way things must be. Jesus knew more than scripture. Jesus knew how to do scripture. That’s also a desperately needed lesson to learn.

Nearly everyone who has been taught the Bible has been taught to use it as a proof text. Of course, there is a need for that as we teach the Bible, as long as the proof text is also context. I’m going to go a step farther, there are times when the scripture and its context needs to be understood, not as it is, but as it should be.

A easy example is Ps. 90:10 “The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength.” How many people do you hear quote this “threescore and ten” passage as fact? Lots. Is it literally true? No. In fact, if we wanted to get into a scriptural war over it (and don’t we like to do that!) We could say, “Well, what about Isaiah 65:20, where the new earthly world ruled by the Messiah is envisioned? It says, ‘…he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.’ What about that?”
Contradictory? Only if you read the Bible as literal fact.

I can remember hearing Sunday school teachers and even preachers say that Jesus literally meant to cut off one’s hand or pluck out one’s eye because that’s what Jesus said. On the other hand, I never, and I mean never, heard anyone say that Jesus’ remark to the “rich young ruler” to sell what he had and give to the poor was to be taken literally. That is not to say no one ever did that, just that no one in my church background ever said that.

Well, why don’t we say that? We don’t because to do such a thing does not fit within the whole context of the life of Jesus. We are told in Luke 8:1-3 that Jesus was helped by several wealthy women who were followers. We also know that the message to the young man was not a message constantly repeated. But it does have a message to us about how we view money and the poor.

Here’s another little example of how scripture can be thrown around to prove a point. On one hand there are scriptures that are used to “prove” the world is getting worse, and that there was a time (it varies from person to person) when the days were good, as in “the good old days.” But, in Eccl. 7:10 it says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such a question.” I hit the ball on your side of the court and you hit it back until one of us fails to return it. Such is the life of literal interpretation.

So, how does the person arrive at one conclusion or the other? By observation. But that depends from where you are observing and how wide your depth of field. From where I stand, too many people are looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. Instead of looking at a wide open view of history, some people take the narrow view of looking only at their own time, or some vague time just before their time.

Who is right? Well, both see what they see and therefore mold their lives and view of God on their observation, be it long or short, narrow or wide. No one can argue with the “facts” of what is seen, but rather with how what is seen determines our view of God’s will and the world.

The “fact” is, slavery was never condemned in scripture. Is that fact therefore the truth about “owning” another human being? No. Did that fact allow the owners to teach, and even believe that a slave was not actually a complete human being? Yes. There are sad records of those who believed that the African slaves were not completely human. In fact, I have heard that in my lifetime, since moving to Roanoke. A youth minister who was a resource person at camp one year told me while he was working in a southern state (I’d rather not blemish that state by saying which one) was told by an elder, when he began to reach out to young blacks, not to worry about them because he wasn’t sure they had souls.

Well, how did slavery become unchristian? By observation. Christian people began to see and know black people and when they did their observation trumped the scriptures for slavery. Is that permissible? Of course! It happened all the time in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses said death to adulterers. While that meant only with another Hebrew man’s wife, even before the time of David, who was both adulterer and murder-for-hire king, the observation of the people said that law needed to be amended. Was it done officially? No. It was done because either the original law was outdated, or it was seen as unjust. Did they need a chapter and verse, or a word from a prophet to reach that conclusion? If there is one, we don’t have it. But the answer is “No.”

In our own history we had no chapter and verse to release women from the “weaker vessel” status. In fact there was (and still is) much quoting of verses to the contrary. What happened? Observation. The “facts” where not really the facts.

So when someone sees women serving God along with the men and says, “What about ‘Let the women keep silent in the church”, or some other such scripture, I don’t waste my time serving my scripture back into their court, (which can be done) unless they express a sincere desire to discuss the subject. Why?  Observation tells me those “facts” are not the real ones.

There will always be something that  challenges us to question the “facts”

CONCERNS: Jeff Bland’s friend’s father died just over a week ago. Remember the Major family as you pray. Bud McWhorter’s sister is slowly improving. Helen Nicklas had a CAT scan last week. Jeff Bland’s friend, Thomas Major’s father has died from cancer. The Smiths have a neighbor who needs our prayers, as does two of T. J. And Judy Halls. Remember also Trisha, a friend of the Bolins. The little boy Judy McWhorter mentioned with cancer is the nephew of a customer, not the son. Judy has set up a “fund jar” at her business. If you’d like to help, give it to her. Joanne Elder (needs a job), Martha Foy’s dad is still dealing with his back problem. Zona Fisher’s niece has cancer, as does her brother, Tim. Polly Altice reports that she is some better. Her son James is dealing with cancer. Isabelle Simmons is responding to treatment for leukemia. The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas is slowly recovering from a severe stroke, She is not yet walking. Wayne’s aunt is recovering from a serious fall. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 15:1-21
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:16-14
Friday: I Thess. 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 22:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
Roger Fisher’s oldest brother, Atley, died last week. The funeral and interment was near Union WV on Tuesday. ALSO: Zona Fisher’s brother, Roger Wade, died Sunday night after a short battle with cancer. The funeral was Wednesday. Keep these families in your prayers as they deal with their loss.
Today, September 19, is Super Sunday. It looks to be a beautiful day to stay and enjoy the fellowship of food and friends after the morning service. If you are a visitor, consider yourself our guest.
Martha and Bill Albert have invited us to their home on the lake this afternoon. This is a great time of the year to enjoy the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.

The food will be hot dogs on the grill, so bring some buns, some drinks, chips and maybe some potato salad and enjoy their hospitality. Martha really needs to know how many plan on coming, so see her after church. And, Thank you Martha and Bill for the invitation.

The Fort Ave congregation in Lynchburg started a monthly hymn sing last month. We missed getting it announced. The one for this month is on Saturday, the 25th at 6 PM. There will be a time of fellowship and refreshments following the singing.

The address is 1132 Sandusky Ave. You can check their web site @

Next month on Super Sunday, we will have our annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. Erma Williams has already put a sign-up list on the foyer table. If you remember last year it was a beautiful day with warm weather that turned comfortably crisp for the picnic. It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors and the picnic. More about that in the next bulletin.
If you shop at Kroger or Food Lion you can put money on a gift card from either store and as you use it 5% will go to the Rescue Mission to help those in need. For the Kroger card you have to pick it up at the mission.


Anne Rice is a successful and popular writer of such best sellers as “Interview With A Vampire” and “The Vampire Chronicles.” You may have also seen that she has recently announced that she is no longer a Christian. As I remember, she was raised Catholic, and for a number of years said she was an atheist. Then she began to seek out her Catholic faith again and even wrote some things about her search. So, what happened? In her own words she said she could no longer be part of that “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and infamous group.” She also said, “Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian.” And, “Following Christ does not mean following His followers.”

Is she right? Yes. Christians who are hostile and disputatious seem to be growing in numbers.  Is she wrong? Yes. She is wrong the same way the people are who say all Muslims are terrorists. She has lumped all Christians into one pot. That is not fair, any more than any kind of bigotry about anyone is fair. She has been hurt. I can understand. It has been said that the Christian army is the only one that shoots its own troops.

However, I do think she has touched on a serious problem. The polls taken indicate that the late teens and twenty-somethings are rejecting organized religion in record numbers. When asked why, the most common answer is the self-righteous, judgmental, critical attitude of Christians. Are they right? Yes. Are they wrong? Yes. Both they and Anne Rice have narrowed their view. They, like so many of us, see only the things that are upsetting about Christianity, and there are many. What they don’t see, because it is not as vocal and not always visible, are the countless Christians who live to help and serve others in their needs in this country and around the world.

From what I read (and remember about myself) young people want a reason to live that is more than making money and buying things. If the church does not offer that, but instead is only interested in a certain doctrine which separates them from all the so-called Christians who are wrong, they will, and are, looking elsewhere.

In recent articles in the local paper, there was featured a local church that had plowed up its yard and planted a vegetable garden. The young people tended it and were able to deliver thirty some bags of fresh produce to the Rescue Mission. In case you’re wondering, our property is too shaded for a garden. In another story, a mother of five lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. The story is too long to recount, but someone gave her a car that needed a transmission. A local dealer who was a member of her church had a transmission put in at no cost. The whole story was how her friends, nearly all of them  Christians, have helped her to remain solvent in these hard times. That’s how Jesus said you could tell who was one of his followers, by their fruit.

Anyone who has any kind of doctrine based on a claim to Christ can call themselves Christian. What Anne Rice sees are those I’d call “the ugly Christians.” I might not even call them Christian at all, based on what they teach and how they treat those around them. I don’t want to wear out an old adage, but just because you sit in a garage doesn’t make you a car. Likewise, just sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian.
I know that sounds judgmental, and, of course, it is. But it is said without assuming that any of our lives are a true reflection of Jesus in what we say and do. Much of the time we are a poor reflection.

Jesus talked about the “light” in us, verses the darkness. He said he was the “light of the world.” Light and darkness are the two determinations of how much Christ is reflected in the Christian’s life. So rather than assume everyone who uses the name Christian is, or is not one, we need to look at how much of the teachings and nature of Jesus can be seen in their lives.

We are all a little dim. None of us is “fullness and light” That’s not the problem. The problem is how much darkness fills our lives by our lack of love for each other and shirking the ethical teachings of Jesus concerning those around us.

The gas that runs the Christian is, “Love each other (everyone) as I have loved you.”

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy’s sister-in-law is having surgery in Nashville, also, her cousin, the one they visit often, is having serious back surgery in the same hospital. The McRoys are in Tenn. this week. Jim White’s grandmother Kerner fell. Thomas Major, a friend of Jeff Bland’s has asked for prayers for his father. The Smiths have a neighbor with health problems, as does the Halls. A friend of the Bolin’s. Trisha, needs prayers. The little boy with cancer whose mother is one of Judy McWhorters customers. Joanne Elder, Martha Foy’s dad is about the same. Joni Beach’s mother’s condition is worsening. Connie Crites father. Zona Fisher and her brothers Roger and Tim who have cancer. Roger’s daughter also has cancer. Mike Breeding, Isabelle Simmons, Helen Nicklas, and the Phlegar’s friend, Julie. Polly Altice spent a few days in the hospital but is home now. She says the doctors say her kidney is improving, but she still has heart problems. Her son James (cancer), Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: John 5:19-30
Tuesday: Phil. 1:19-30
Wednesday: Genesis 7:1-24
Thursday: Lam. 1:8-16
Friday: Romans 8:12-25
Saturday: Psalm 133&134
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 66:1-20
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1=4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
Even though the bulletin is being written before the Labor Day Weekend Bar B Que, we already know, because of what may be a record number who have signed up that it was great! The meat was slow cooked to perfection. We started at 3:00 AM. Chef Jeff out did himself with the rub. Plus it was a beautiful day.

This is the twenty-first year for the Bar B Que and it gets better all the time. If there is food left over we may enjoy it again after the morning service.

Since most of you get this bulletin before Saturday, remember there will be a special presentation about an hour or so before we eat on Saturday. This will be a wrap-up of VBS and will include a film and an introduction to the new film soon to be released in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This will take place in the annex.
What a joy it was to hear the reports from those who went to Guatemala to work with Clinica Cristiana. AC Branch was one of the most talked about workers at the end of the week. It was such a life-changing experience for her that she not only wants to go back, but has decided medicine will be her career. You can’t do what Jesus would do without becoming a new person in the process.
Brice Reid’s soccer team must help raise support for various things and they are having a yard sale in the church parking lot next month on Oct. 17. They are asking for donated items they can sell. If you have some things, see Susan Jordan.
Remember, if you get a Kroger gift card from the Rescue Mission or a Food Lion card, either at the store or @ 5% of all you spend there will go to aid the Rescue Mission. The Kroger card will cost $5 at the Mission, and that money is added to your card when you add money at Kroger.

The money you add to the Kroger card applies to the discount you receive if you buy gas at a Kroger gas station, so it’s really a good deal all around, and those are helped who need the kind of help the Mission provides.