Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: November 2010


By my friend, Ben

Matilda Martin had to be about the most cantankerous, stubborn woman what were ever born. She were. Whenever she showed up on the sidewalks of Hickory Ridge kids of all ages ducked outta sight. She were a big woman. She were. It weren’t that she were fat, she were just stout in a big way. Her voice were a mixture of garglin’ with gravel an’ a hammer strikin’ a train track. Cats ran under anything they could find an’ dogs knowed better’n to bark at Matilda Martin. They did.

Matilda lived about three miles outta town back in a holler on property what her pa’d left her. She never married and that were understandable bein’ the way she were an’ all.

Folks round about avoided Matilda at all costs an’ that were alright with her. It were. Fact is, anybody what found a need to make their way to Matilda’s place ended up starin’ down the barrel of a twelve gage shotgun. They did. A tax assessor said she also had a deer rifle, cause he ended up on the business end of it when he went to reassess her property. He did.

There were all kinds a rumors about Matilda. There were. Some folks said they knowed she were operatin’ a still in her barn. They did. Most folks said that were right silly cause as mean as she were, who’d even dare get close enough to buy any moon shine from her. They did. So Matilda Martin were somethin’ of a mystery what most folks seemed happy not to pry into. She were.

That changed a bit when ma noticed she hadn’t seen Matilda in town for two Saturdays. Ma always bid Matilda a good day whenever they passed. She did. Matilda made some kinda noise that I couldn’t tell iffen it were good or bad cause I were always out in the street to give Matilda plenty of room. I were.

Well, ma told pa she wanted him to take her out to Matilda’s place on Sunday after church. She did. Pa weren’t too happy about meetin’ up with Matilda an’ her guns. He weren’t. But ma insisted an’ told pa iffen he took her to the ridge leadin’ to the house, she’d walk the rest of the way. She did. Pa said iffen she were gonna die he’d die right along with her. He did. I don’t remember why, but I went along. I did.

When we reached the crest of the ridge, about a hundred yards from Matilda’s house, her hound dog started barkin’. He did. Next thing we knowed, a shot rang out from the house an’ dirt flew up in front of pa’s truck. It did. Pa started to put the truck in reverse an’ get outta there, but ma stopped him. She did. Before he could say a word ma were outta that truck an’ walkin’ toward Matilda’s house. She were. Next thing we knowed Matilda’s boomin’ voice hollered out, “Ain’t you Preacher Franklin’s kid?” Ma said she were. Matilda yelled back, “I knowed yer pa. He were a good man. What you wont?” Ma said she were worried about her since she hadn’t seen her in town. She did. It were then Matilda hobbled out on the porch with a coal shovel for a crutch. A dirty lookin’ bandage were wrapped around one of her legs. It were. Ma told pa to wait for her an’ started toward the house. I got outta the truck cause it were hot that day. Then I heard Matilda say, “ Is that yer boy?” Ma nodded. “Well bring him on up here with ya.” I shook my head, but ma put out her hand an’ I went. I did.

Ma asked Matilda what happened to her leg.  She pointed to a hole in the porch an’ said, “I fell through the dang porch. Scraped myself up good! This were the first week I were able to walk! I been crawlin’ fer nigh on to a week!” Ma asked iffen she could look at the wound and Matilda sat in a chair what were on the porch. She did. Well that wound looked worse than anything I’d ever seen. It did. I had to look away. I heard ma take in her breath an’ she told Matilda she needed to have a doctor look at her leg. Matilda were havin’ none of that. No fancy doctor were gonna fool around with her leg. She’d get by just fine. Ma asked iffen she’d let her bathe it an’ put on a clean bandage. She said she would an ma told her she’d be back as soon as she could get some medicine from home. She did.

She told pa to stop at Pauley’s Drug  Store an she told doc Pauley, the druggist what had happened to Matilda She did. Doc Pauley gave her some salve, bandages and something to clean the wound. He did. After goin’ home to get a wash pan we headed back to Matilda’s. We did. This time pa drove right up to the house. He did. I asked iffen I could stay outside an play with Matilda’s dog, an ma said I could She did.

Every day for the next week an’ a half ma went to make sure Matilda were mendin’. She did. Once or twice Matilda insisted that I come in, She did. The house were filled with all kinds of old things. There were an old pistol what caught my eye an I asked iffen I could look at it. Matilda said I could do more than that, I could have it iffen I wanted it. Ma said it weren’t necessary, but Matilda insisted, iffen I promised not to try to shoot it. She said it were so old the barrel might explode. Besides, she doubted they even made bullets for it any more. She did. With that ma said I could have it. She did.

Well, by an’ by, sure enough, Matilda gotta walkin’ again, good as new. Perty soon she were drivin’ her ol’ broken down Ford truck back to town. She were. An’ she were still as contrary as ever, cept to ma. Whenever she came upon me’n ma in town, she’d smile a little an’ her mumble were a low, “Howdy.” An’ ma, seemin’ to respect’ her privacy, would smile an’ say a hello back at her. She would.

I asked ma iffen it bothered her that after all she done for Matilda that she weren’t no different than before. Ma said, “Benny, first of all, I didn’t do for Miss Matilda to change her. I did it because she needed me. Besides, Miss Matilda has changed, more’n folks know. But unless we hear someone runnin’ her down, it’s not up to us to expose the Miss Matilda we know. She’ll do that when she’s ready.”

One Saturday Matilda pulled her truck up close to ma an’ said, “Iffen I’d ever go to church it’ll be because of you an’ yer pa.” She never did. But I reckon Matilda Martin had seen the Lord in what ma’d done for her. She did. An’ I reckon that’s the way it ought to be. I do.

CONCERNS: Polly Altice was taken from the hospital to Berkshire Health Care Center in Vinton on Clearview Dr. She had to return to the hospital last Sunday evening, but on Tuesday she was returned to Berkshire. Her recovery may be slower than expected. Sheila Robertson has returned from California where her mother is dealing with health problems. Ron and Joyce Matney have had recent health problems and have asked for prayers. Mary Smith was able to see her Dr. last week and may be able to be with us after suffering with back problems. The Smiths also have a neighbor who is in bad health and needs our prayers. Judy and T. J. Hall have a neighbor with cancer. The customer of Judy McWhorter’s whose 8 month old nephew who has cancer is responding very well to treatments. Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Connie Crites father is also doing pretty well. They are there for Thanksgiving. Zona Fisher’s niece is also being treated for cancer. Mike Breeding (heart problems), James Altice, and Helen Nicklas. Trisha, the Bolin’s friend  . Both Wayne and Susan Phlegar had falls this past week. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida (caner) Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder. Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World

Monday: Psalm 139:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 8:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 12:1-14
Thursday: Colossians 2:8-19
Friday: Revelation 2:1-11
Saturday; Matthew 16:13-28

Monday: Exodus 1-15
Tuesday: Matthew 9:14-34
Wednesday: Eccleasties 12:1-14
Thursday: II Corinthians 5:11-21
Friday: II Samuel 11:1-27
Saturday: Psalm 121:1-8

Judy Hall is asking anyone who would like to knit scarves again this year to see her. The ones last year were greatly appreciated by the organizations they were given to.

Rich Crites has talked to the folks at the Samaritan Inn about their needs. They have enough coats at this time but can use shirts, blue jeans and such. Rich will go to a local thrift store and buy some of these things. Shoes are also needed.

Today (11/21) is Super Sunday. It looks to be a pretty day and the warm fire should add to the wonderful food. Plan to stay.

Many of you have approved the new directory sheets. They are on the foyer table. If you haven’t checked on yours, please do so as soon as possible.

The steering committee will meet after today’s fellowship meal.

The special collection for Haitian relief will be the first two Sunday’s in December. What funds we give will be added to the money raised by the young folks and then a decided amount from the treasury will added to that.

December 18 will be the adult Christmas party. This year’s theme will be, “Be Merry”. A request has been made that the gifts for the gift exchange be “local” as in not made in China. More details in the next bulletin.

The new Chronicles of Narnia movie will be out in Dec. The young folks are going and anyone else is invited to attend on Saturday, Dec. 11. Erma Williams needs to know in advance so she can arrange the tickets. This is a 3D movie, so it will cost more. See her for more details.

Sunday, Dec. 12, the young people will have lunch together then visit the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center for a Christmas tree tour. Parents are welcome to attend. More details later.


The famed Crystal Cathedral has filed bankruptcy. Who will be next?

Robert H. Shuller started the church by buying an abandoned drive-in theater and turning it into a drive-in church. Quite novel. You could go, sit in your car, listen to the sermon and drop your money on the way out, or in, I don’t know which. Out of that came the one-of-a-kind Crystal Cathedral, a landmark and tourist attraction.

I remember a family telling me they had attended the Easter pageant at the Cathedral and they were sure it was even better than the real thing.

Robert Shuller was a mixture of Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie. His sermons were all filled with the power of God and positive thinking. His success attracted preacher after preacher to try to emulate him.

When he preached, he was high above the audience, almost as if in heaven itself. Live birds flew here and there and fruit-bearing tress grew in the natural greenhouse light of the Cathedral. It was the Garden of Eden all over again, if not better. After all, the Cathedral was air conditioned and heated.

When Robert H. died, his son, Robert  A. received the mantel. Things seemed to have gone well enough until there was a family feud between he and his sister, Sheila. Robert resigned in 2008. Sheila Shuller Coleman is now the head pastor of the church.

She believes they can pull out of the  over 40 million they are in debt by scaling down. But what if the scaled down version is too disappointing to those who go there? What if it doesn’t attract new attendees?  Any sign of failure today is a death sentence. If the parking lot is not full, it matters not what is taught inside, the sign “failure” is hanging on the building. It’s been that way for a long time and it’s not about to change. What has happened is that the institution of church has become something other than that with which many of us grew up.

Several years ago Carroll Osburn said to me, “Doctrine doesn’t matter anymore.”  I heard the same thing while listening to a church historian who was in town recently. He said that membership in churches today can be as fragile as the smile or lack thereof on the minister’s face. The laughter from ministers of several different denominations backed up his claim. He went on to say that people of his age (he looked to be in his seventies) inherited their religious affiliation from their parents, but that is no longer true. Today it is about what a particular group can do for them. That was not new to me. But then he said that the question is no longer, “What does the Bible say?” It is “How can I know God?” “How can I have a relationship with God?” The particular church or church doctrine does not matter, at least among what we would call Protestant churches. We of the Churches of Christ are not immune. More and more, people who have grown up in the Church of Christ, graduated from one of our universities or colleges, are becoming part of some other group. To deny the change is like the woman with the broom trying to sweep the flood waters away from her door.

If the modern searcher is looking for a relationship with God as a first priority, I think that’s a good thing. I’ve been preaching that for about thirty years. However, if everyone who heard me say it’s all about relationship had gone out and told everyone that’s what we were about, that should have made this the largest church in Roanoke. So I don’t think that’s all of it. That’s where the Crystal Cathedral comes in, as well as other mega-churches.

I don’t want to criticize success, but neither do I think bigness necessarily validates God. So I would ask the question: What concept of God does the person have who believes the big, entertaining church is the best place to find and have relationship with God? The answer to that seems obvious; relationship with God is about being big and successful. Of course, the opposite of that could also be true.

All churches have a doctrine, a  view of what scripture says. A person can find relationship with God in a large or small church. But relationship means being related to something, to God. It means whatever we do and say as God’s relatives, it will reflect the teachings and actions of Jesus. That alone identifies the one, or the thing, with which we have relationship.

CONCERNS: Sheila Robertson’s mother has not been well, but is doing better. Sheila has gone to California to spend some time with her. Mary Smith is having back pain that is keeping her unable to get out. The Smiths also have a neighbor who is very ill, as does Judy and T. J. Hall. Joanne Elder, Erma Williams are looking for jobs. Zona Fisher’s brother, Tim’s cancer is getting worse. Her niece also is being treated for cancer. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Connie Crites father, Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer). Helen Nicklas fell again, but didn’t do any damage other than some bruises. Mike Breeding (heart problems). Polly Altice is still having breathing problems due to scar tissue on her lungs. Her son, James’ cancer is about the same. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s still needs prayer. Wayne Phlegar is still having circulation problems in his leg, but they hope to take a trip to Texas soon. They will see their friend Julie, who is slowly recovering from a stroke. Those with continuing problems, or shut in are Barbara McCauley, and Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Remember also Tim Elder, the work of Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World.
Three families were helped from the food pantry recently. It will be restocked soon.
Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday: II Thessalonians 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 16:19-31
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48
Since many of you receive the bulletin before the date on the back, it might be a good time to remind you that Daylight Saving Time ends early on Sunday morning, Nov. 7. So set your clocks back an hour before going to bed on Saturday.
Following is the translation of a letter from one of the children we sponsor with our ABC work via Health Talents Int.
Dear Sponsors,
I write you this letter hoping you are enjoying of good health next to your dear family. After my brief greeting I want to say the following, the reason for this letter is to let you know I am very grateful for all you have done for me. I wish the best in everything you do daily. God bless you
Luis Alexander Perez Nicolas
The card is on the downstairs bulletin board.
With summer vacations we have not yet decide on a Sunday to have a special collection for the ongoing work in Haiti. We have several hundred dollars the young people raised and we want to add to that this month. Set aside what you plan to give now for when the time comes.
This is also the time of year the budget for next year is developed. We have had a good year and have been able to make several costly improvements and repairs. All this is due to your generosity and commitment to the work we do here.
Next week the “up date” sheets will be on the cry room window for you to check. We will also start taking pictures in the near future, perhaps starting on Super Sunday. We hope to have the directory ready in December.
It seems early, but it is only about a month before the available dates for the adult Christmas Party roll around. Take a look at the first three Saturdays in December and be ready to let the best date for you to attend to be known. The children’s party will be on Super Sunday in December.
Be thinking about anyone you would like to receive a fruit basket from the church.