Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: December 2010


Listen! Did you hear Rome fall? I grew up living in fear that Gibbon’s reasons for the fall of Rome would be the downfall of every nation, I needed to listen for the thud. I even had a woman tell me about twenty years ago that America had to fall (a president had been elected she didn’t like) because every nation fell after two hundred years.

Who in their right mind would want a nation about the size of Florida to rule all of Europe? Or the idea that the sun never set on Great Briton’s holdings? Isn’t independence a good thing? Isn’t freedom what we all want for ourselves and others?

While I’m talking about falls, when was the last time anyone quoted J. Edgar Hoover? He was almost sanctified in the past, but finding dresses in his closet after he died kind of took the shine off his pronouncements.

I face 2011 the way I’ve faced all the coming years since I “woke up”. I’m both anxious and excited. I’m not surprised that greed and selfishness are still running the politics of the world. That makes me anxious, but not hopeless, I find that within all the corruption there are still those who fight against it, and often win. Neither does the evil in the world surprise me, but I will not let it define my world view. I am amazed at the sacrificial good people all over the world do for others. And I believe that as more and more years come and go some of the evils that plague us will pass with them.

I feel sorry for those people who believe there was some time in the past that was the best of times. They are afraid of the future because they are narrow in mind. Those days never existed, except to them and them alone. When we define the good old days by our singular definition, we make ourselves out to be fools.

I grew up in the fifties. I have fond memories of the “rock ‘n roll” age in Norwood, Ohio. My world was small. The world of southern blacks was not my world. That would come near he end of that decade. When I saw the segregated part of the country my idea of “good old days” faded. They were good for me, but not good for all Americans.

It was near the end of my “good old days” that I realized even though my mother also worked, she could not get a credit card without my father co-signing Nor could a woman buy a house without a man to co-sign the deed, no matter how much money she made and how little he did. So I was excited when the days of equal rights for women came along. My good old days faded a little more.

The technology of television brought pictures from Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta and Mississippi into our living rooms. Segregation could only be good days for the prejudiced and bigoted. When it comes to that, I suppose another generation will have to die off to remove the stain of racism. I was in Kroger just before Christmas and two elderly women were talking and blocking the isle I wanted to go up. One was on a riding cart, the other was about four feet eight and bent over. She looked to be in her late seventies. They were talking politics. As they started to move, the small one said to the other, “I vote for the one I think will do the job best.” As I stepped by them I said something about how we did need to find the right kind of people to serve. As I walked away she said her choice was Sara Palin. I didn’t realize she was coming up the same isle where I was picking up an item. I heard her say, “My grandson voted for that thing in the White House! People ought to know better than to put a d–n n—-r in the White House!” All I could do was look at her and say “O my goodness!” and walk away. It is sad that after all these years that feeling is still alive.

I remain excited about the potential of the future. I think those who are always seeing the “rapture” coming are people who don’t want to go unless they take the rest of us with them. It’s as if they can’t imagine a world without them, and the world they see isn’t worth having. The world has to end with them. It’s as if they feel since they have failed to see God’s continuing will being done on earth, that God has to do their bidding and end it all. That seems egotistical to me. The will of God is not conditioned by a person’s lack of vision for the future of the earth
As for me, in 2060 I would like for my grandchildren to say, “Granpa would be so excited to see what the world is like.” And I’d like for them to tell their children so that in 2111 they will say, “I wish great-granpa could see this.” That’s my vision and I’m sticking to it. After all, didn’t Jesus say, in Matthew 12:29, “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first tie up the strong man?” Has Satan tied up Jesus or Jesus Satan? Your answer will be part of the final.

CONCERNS: Jim Smith is doing well after cataract surgery. Mary is still having back problems. The Hall’s neighbor has cancer. Mike Breeding and his wife need pray for their heath and well-being. Trisha, a friend of the Bolins, Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still seeking employment. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer), Connie Crites’ father is also dealing with cancer as is Zona Fisher’s niece. Wayne and Susan Phlegar’s son is recovering from being struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The driver did not stop. Also, their friend, Julie, has just about reached the extent of recovery after a serious stroke. Wayne is still having circulation problems in his leg. Remember Helen Nicklas and Isabelle Simmons. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer) Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World and the recovery going on in Haiti.

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

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

The food pantry has been restocked and a few families have benefited from it.

The holiday fruit baskets have all been delivered. This year the baskets were paid for with a donation made in the memory of Polly Altice.

The poinsettias in and around the auditorium need good homes now that their job of beautifying the building for the holidays is over. If you would like one or know someone who would, please take one. Just leave any dish or coaster on which they are sitting.
Richard Crites will be giving a financial report from the steering committee today. He will also be telling us about some ideas and plans for this year.

The information sheets for the new directory have been collected. If you missed updating yours or if there are any recent changes, see Keith.

Judy Hall is once again assembling all knitters to knit scarves for children in the Roanoke schools. She has purchased the material and all she needs is your help again on this good project. She will be back in town soon if you need to talk to her.

We are having some trees cut behind the annex that were in danger of falling on the building. This will give us additional wood for the fireplace as well as make the area look better. Once the weather clears and drys out the large branch leaning toward the front of the main building will be cut off. This might also be a good time to once again warn you that the large trees along Brandon Ave. are old and limbs are dying and falling off. Be careful where you park on windy days and when there is heavy snow or ice on the trees.

A nice number of you came to the Christmas Eve service. It was especially nice to see families (some from out of town) gathered together for the service.

This year Kirsten Pierce read the story for the children (and the rest of us) and we enjoyed Karen Branch leading us in the songs of the season. Thanks to both of them and all who attended for making it a good experience. For some the evening was topped off by eating out afterwards.


I put the ol’ Farmall into “mule gear” as pa used to say, so it wouldn’t get away from me as I started down the steep hill by the big oak tree. I did.

Me’n ol’ Blue’d gone back to the north forty to get us a Christmas tree. Pa’d planted bout a hundred trees what the conservation folks had given away about ten years before he died. He did. Over the years we’d gotten all our trees from that there stand of Fraser Firs. We did. Most of them were so big now I were just cuttin’ the upper parts for my tree. Then I’d go back in the spring an’ hitch the tractor to the roots an’ pull out the stump. I would

I’d let the town folks at Hickory Ridge have a big tree for the town square for the past few years. I did. I were hopin’ to replant them trees just so the deer would have a place to bed down. I were. I reckon I’d have to see Bailey Lawson who were the extension agent an’ see iffen I could get some more. I would. Course, come July I’d have to go back an’ trim ‘em up so they’d look good to cut. I would.

As that ol’ tractor’s gears groaned against the weight, ol’ Blue were runnin’ here an’ there tryin’ to pick up a rabbit or maybe a deer scent. When he found one he’d let out that big ol’ howl of his’n to let anyone what cared know that he’d been successful. He did.

Bumpin’ along the lane I got me to thinkin’ about Christmas an’ all. I did. It were just the best time of the year for ma. It were. We didn’t have much, but ma always found some way to make it seem like a royal feast. She did. Lookin’ back I reckon she squirreled away money little by little all year long just for Christmas. She did. An I reckon her love for it were equally divided between her love for the Lord and me’n pa. I do. The very idea that the Lord would come to us as a little baby, growin’ up just like any other little boy never ceased to excite ma. It didn’t. An’ come Christmas she were all smiles as she talked about the birth of Jesus. She were.

I remembered the time when Stanley Watts came as the preacher at the church. It were when I were about seven or eight years old. Stanley weren’t with us very long. I reckon part of the reason were his attitude, which some folks called narrow minded. Fact is, Lindy Adkins once told ma Stanley were so narrow minded iffen he were a woman one earring woulda suited him fine. She did.

Stanley were all about keepin’ the rules an’ not doin’ anything what God hadn’t commanded. He were. The only Christmas I remember him bein’ around, he had this here sermon about how Christmas was based on a pagan holiday an’ how Christians had to “come out from among them pagans an’ their ways.” He did. He said there weren’t no place in the Bible what authorized havin’ no birthday party for Jesus. He did. He said iffen Jesus wanted us to have a special time to remember his birthday he’d a told us. He did. He also said that December 25 were nowheres near the time Jesus were born, an’ it were a pagan day too. He did. So as far as he were concerned the true Christian wouldn’t even put up no Christmas tree cause not only did it represent paganism, but iffen anyone drove by an’ saw it in the winder, they might do the same thing an’ maybe lose their soul to an eternal hell. He did.

I remember tellin’ ma that Donny Kirk were one of them Jehovah’s Witnesses an’ he didn’t believe in Christmas neither. So I reckoned Preacher Stanley were just like Donny. I did. Ma smiled an’ said she didn’t reckon they were, but she didn’t say why. She didn’t.

After Stanley’s sermon I were a tad troubled. I knowed how much ma loved the Lord an’ Christmas, so while she were cookin’ Sunday lunch that day I asked her about what Stanley said. I did.

She looked at me with that smile that told me she were about to take my face in her hands an’ hug me. Which is what she did. Then she told me she weren’t one to have roast preacher on Sunday, an’ how she were hopin’ Stanley would somehow catch the real meanin’ of the Lord bein’ born an’ all. She did.

She checked on the chicken in the oven an’ sat me down at the kitchen table. She did. Then she sat down an’ said, “Benny, there are rules an’ then there is the spirit of the rules. When your pa an’ me tell you what we expect of you, we leave it up to you to decide how to do those things. In other words, we want you to understand why we want you to do them. I reckon that’s what you’d call the spirit of doin’ what we ask. Just doin’ it without knowin’ why gets it done, but it don’t help you to become a good boy. Do you understand?”

I asked her iffen it were like the time she wanted me to try to like Mandy Green. Mandy were a girl at school what bothered me all the time. She did. Well, one day I saw Jeffery Stowers hit Mandy an’ knock her down. I did. She were cryin’ an’ I gotta holda Jeffery an’ told him to help her up an’ tell her he were sorry. I did. He knowed better’n to mess with me an’ he did what I told him. He did. Mandy kept right on bother’n me, but I felt good being able to help her. I did.

Ma said it were somethin’ like that. She did. Then she said, “Benny, remember all the times you’ve taken your pocket knife an cut one of my flowers an’ brought it to me an’ told me you loved me? It weren’t even no special day, cept you made it special for me. Benny, I didn’t tell you to do that, did I?. An’ I didn’t tell you those were already my flowers anyway, did I?” I told her I reckoned she hadn’t. “Well Benny, I reckon the Lord knows I know December 25 ain’t his birthday, an’ that he ain’t asked for me to remember it. But I reckon since he loves me more’n I love you, he won’t be upset with me bringin’ him some flowers outta his garden even iffen he didn’t tell me to. An’ that’s why I love Christmas so much. It gives me the chance to show my love for him comin’. It Does.”

I wished ma were here to decorate the tree, cause every time she did it were like she were givin’ the Lord some flowers outta his garden. It were. An’ I reckon he loved it just the way she loved mine. I do.

CONCERNS: Mary Smith had a set back but is slowly improving. Jim had cataract surgery last week. T. J. And Judy Hall’s neighbor (cancer). Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are still job hunting. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer). Connie Crites father, Zona Fisher’s niece, Mike Breeding, Helen Nicklas. The Bolin’s friend, Trisha. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer). Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder and the people at Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World and the work of recovery in Haiti. Also, remember those who were displaced when Polly Altice’s house burned.

Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5

Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday Psalm 66:1-20

Once again we enjoyed the Christmas Party and the good fun and fellowship. The meal was wonderful and a special thanks to our own Chef Jeff Bland for getting the meat and fixing it to perfection! Also thanks to all who brought all the other goodies that made for a great evening.

Another big thanks to Erma Williams and Judy McWhorter for decorating. Erma and Garrett Lee brought the tree over and after it was set up, fluffed out the branches. Erma worked many hours bringing the final touches and Judy gave it her own touch with the table settings. Thanks to everyone who participated it was a wonderful evening.

The funds collected for the health and rebuilding of Haiti were sent to two different places. Half was sent to Helping Hands Int. They are digging wells so good water can be had to contain the cholera epidemic. The other half went to the Southwest Church of Christ in Ada, OK to help with rebuilding houses. Thanks for you help.

Thanks to Erma and the rest of the youth teachers for arraigning the trips to see the latest Narnia movie and the Christmas tree exhibit at the Hotel Roanoke Convention Center, and of course, the lunches before the trips.

Judy Hall is asking those of you who knitted scarves last year to do it again. In case you haven’t started and you can help, she is furnishing all the material. Once they are finished they will be given to those school children in the Roanoke area who need them.

As announced last Sunday, we will soon be taking clothing (shirts, jeans, Men’s underwear size 32-36) to the Samaritan Inn. They clothe those who spend much of their time on the street. These should not be new items due to the sad fact that they can be beaten up and taken from them. Shoes, belts, socks (the socks can be new) of all sizes can also be used. Check your closets and see if there’s anything you can give there folks.


Few if any of us develop our faith and understanding of scripture in a vacuum. We are taught what to believe almost before we can read and study it for ourselves.

In the last twenty some years I have found myself seeing this more and more in the way I have applied scripture..

The change in understanding for me was helped by being around Jerry Sumney while they were here. I remember quoting some scripture and applying it in a literal sense. I looked at Jerry, as I usually did, after all, he had a Ph.D. in New Testament, and I saw him frown slightly and shake his head. Jerry was not one to counter a person’s view unless it was really bad. So I went back and looked at the scripture I’d quoted and I didn’t see anything wrong. Then I looked again, from a non literal angle and I found it was much more in harmony with the overall teaching of the New Testament. It was really liberating.

I was reading an article in a little paper that comes to the church, and in it the author was denouncing denominations. At one point he said “The Pharisees were the most prominent denomination among the Jews of the time. But even a powerful sect as was the Pharisees represented no more than blind guides leading the blind.” Of course, he gave a passage to prove Jesus said that. This guy no doubt believes all Muslims are terrorists.

My question, other than the false assumption that all Pharisees were “blind guides”, would be, “Who were the nondenominational Jews?” I’m sure he placed the Sadducees as the less prominent group. So, who were the ones doing it right? Jesus went to synagogue and the temple. There were no “independents”. You either believed in the resurrection of the dead, (Pharisee) or you did not (Sadducee). In Matthew 23:2-4 Jesus says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.” So apparently Jesus was a Pharisee by definition and was a member of that “denomination”. Which is not to say he did not understand the Sadducees who rejected the resurrection on the basis that it was not taught in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

This article is about how we look at scripture, so lets look at another one. In oft quoted Mark 10:29,30, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life.”

In my “literal” days I took that literally. After all, Jesus said it! Then it didn’t seem to be working out that way and I heard folks start to “spiritualize” it. A Christian would have a new family, lots of mothers and fathers and siblings. Houses would be open to them, they would go to many lands spreading the gospel. Fine, but that’s not what Jesus said. He said it would be houses and lands. So, what else could he mean?

The context is the one we call the “rich young ruler”. He had a money problem. Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God”. The disciples were perplexed and Peter said, “We have left everything to follow you!” Why that question? Because Peter, like all the folks of his day believed in getting a reward for doing the right thing. Rich people were rich because they were doing the right thing. If Jesus is being literal it is stark contrast to his life and his teaching about possessions. So we have to conclude he is teaching something else.

Jesus’ life was lived not to achieve any reward, but as he says, “For the sake of the gospel.” So, it fits better if we see his statement about houses, families and lands, as an exaggerated statement to call attention to the fact that such things are not to be sought as a reward for doing what is “for the sake of the gospel”. Jesus didn’t have to aim at a heavenly mansion or for eternal life. Living for the sake of the gospel guarantees them. Living from faith in eternal life for Christ’s sake is a far cry from living to gain eternal life and other possessions. That gets too close at attempting religious shrewdness, and that always fails

Mistaken identity brings about false convictions.

Polly Altice’ death before Thanksgiving ended a long battle with several illnesses. However, she was as spunky a few days before she died as she ever was.

This was Polly’s church. She probably brought more people with her than any of us. And, the people she brought were the kind of people we need to see in church. They were, for the most part, the “down-and-outs” who found at Polly’s house a place to crash for awhile.

Someone commented at her funeral that even though she lived about a block from the Rescue Mission, she had her own little mission on the hill.

She never had much and never complained about not having more. She was fiercely independent, but knew she could ask us for help when the need surpassed her ability to handle it. The money she gathered from collecting aluminum cans made up her contribution to the church, much like the widow’s two pennies. She taught us much and we will miss her strong faith and positive attitude.

December 18 will be this year’s adult Christmas Party. The theme this year is “Be Merry”. It has been suggested that the gifts for the gift exchange be from local, or at least regional merchants to help the local economy. The gifts should be in the five dollar plus range.

The appetizers will be served about 5:30 and the meal at about 6:00. Chef Jeff has arraigned for the meat dish. There will be recipes passed out. A sign-up sheet is on the table in the foyer. Let it be known as soon as possible if you plan to attend.

Zona Fisher’s other brother, Tim Wade has also died of cancer. This is just a few weeks after her other brother, Roger died. Tim was in Georgia. Grave side services were held at Mt View in Vinton on Thursday. Also, Judy McWhorter’s uncle died. The funeral was in New Hampshire.

This is the first of two Sundays we will collect for helping the folks in Haiti. It will be sent to a group that’s helping rebuild.

If you haven’t checked on your directory info, please do so today

The young folks will be attending the showing of the new Chronicles of Narna movie on Saturday, Dec.11. Everyone is invited. See Erma for advanced tickets.

On Sunday, Dec. 12, the young folks will eat together and then go to the Hotel Roanoke for a tour of the Christmas Trees. Parents are welcome.

Judy Hall is calling all knitters to help make scarves to be given to school children. She has the material and is ready to go.

CONCERNS: First the good news. Mary Smith is much improved as is their neighbor. So is Sheila Robertson’s mother as well as Ron and Joyce Matney. T. J. Hall is recovering from illness. The Hall’s neighbor has cancer, Pray for him. Both Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are unemployed. Joni Beach’s mother is dealing with cancer, as is Connie Crites father. Zona Fisher’s niece (cancer).Mike Breeding (heart problems) Helen Nicklas, Trisha, the Bolin’s friend. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida, (cancer) Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. Bread For A Hungry World and the folks we are about to help in Haiti.

Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20

Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-42
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24