Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: December 2011


By my friend, Ben

It were Christmas Eve an’ I were headin’ home after the service at the church, but I had one more stop to make. I did. On the seat beside me were a special cake I’d baked. It were a secret recipe passed on to ma by her ma, an’ accordin’ to ma, her ma’s ma before her. That cake were one a the things that made Christmas special as far back as I could remember. It were.

Why I had that cake with me were because I’d remembered ma’d baked one for ol’ John William Jackson the Christmas before she died. She did. Ol’ John were known as the Scrooge of Hickory Ridge. He were. He were even known to yell at folks what were carolin’ on the street. T’ tell the truth, he even looked like the pictures of Scrooge I’d seen. So I were a bit surprised when ma told pa to drive her out to ol’ John’s place so she could give him one a her special cakes. I were. Fact were, it seemed a bit of a waste to me. It did.

Just like I’d heard he’d do, ol’ John came out on the porch with his shotgun raised slightly. That is, until he saw it were ma. It were perty much agreed on that anybody what would hurt Lizzy Harrison would go straight to hell, right on the spot. So ol’ John lowered his gun an’ come out to the truck. He did. Ma got out an’ handed him that there cake. She said, “Merry Christmas, John.” Well, ol’ John looked a little like he’d seen Marley’s ghost. He did. Then he said he didn’t believe in Christmas an’ didn’t need no
present. Ma said her cake weren’t no present, it were a gift. An’ a gift were somethin’ what were more important to the giver than the one what were the receiver. She did. She told ol’ John she knowed he were a gentleman an’ he wouldn’t want to hurt a lady’s feelin’s. She did. Well, ol’ John looked at her an’ never said a word. He just took the cake an’ went in the house. He did

I don’t know why, but after all these years I had the notion that ma wanted ol’ John to have another cake. I did. So there I were headin’ down Stinkin’ Creek Road takin’ ol’ John ma’s Christmas cake.

It were nigh on to eight o’clock an as dark as could be when I drove up to the house. Ol’ John’s dog told him I were out there, but I made it to the porch before he got the door open. I did. He looked right upset. He did. The gun was a little higher than I were comfortable with. Fact were, it were right about my chest. I told him my ma sent him one of her Christmas cakes. I did. He said, “Yer, ma’s been dead for ten years!” I told him I knowed that, but I reckoned ma thought it were about time for him to have another one. I did. As he took the cake I told him Merry Christmas. He told me to “git” an’ slammed the door.

On Christmas mornin’ before I could head out with some presents for Sara Jane an’ Billy Joe’s kids, ol’ Blue let out a string of howls. He did. I looked out an’ saw ol’ John Williams’ truck passin’ the barn an’ headin’ for the house. It were. When I stepped out on the porch he were getting’ outta the truck with a little box in his hands. He were. I were relieved that he didn’t have no gun with him. I were. He come right up on the porch an’ said, “Boy, I’m here to tell you a story.” I invited him to come on in, but he said the porch would be fine. He did. He said, “Boy, you see this box?” He opened it an’ inside there were a watch case. Inside that were a wristwatch. Ol’ John said, “That there’s a Hamilton. They made ‘em up in Pennsylvania, but they don’t make ‘em no more. I heard they’re gettin’ to be collector’s items. My pa only wore it on weekends an’ special occasions.” He held it out to me an’ said, “I want you to have it. Your ma an’ pa were good folks. An’ I ain’t got no kin worth havin’ no how. When I die they’ll show up like vultures. So I want you to have this ol’ watch. It ain’t been wound in years, so be careful iffen you decide to wear it.”

Almost before I could thank him he shoved it into my hands an’ were headin’ to his truck. He were. I said “Merry Christmas John William!” I did. He didn’t look back an’ just waved his hand as if to dismiss the whole idea. He did. But I knowed ol’ John William had softened up just a tad. I did.

CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s cousin, Donna Brutto is being treated for stage four bladder cancer. Judy Hall is able to travel a little and was with us last Sunday. Charlie Green, Sam’s (from VBS) father, is recovering from heart problems and has diabetes, as well as being unemployed at the time. Jenn McCready, who works in Del Bolin’s office, has a severe eye infection that may blind her. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams suffered eye damage in an accident and they hope to restore his sight in the damaged eye. Ron Matney has been having health problems lately that have kept him away. It was really good to see Helen Nicklas at church last Sunday. Eleanor Crush remains about the same as does Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Continue to remember Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, The Kincannons in Russia, Randy Conner, and Tim Elder, as well as the various works we support.

Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5

Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-15
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18

We were saddened to Learn of the death of Brad Hager’s father, Earl. After 102 years, most of which was lived in both the political sector and education, he died at home in Logan, WV. Brad was with him. Earl had also studied with a local minister and was baptized into Christ recently. The funeral was in West Virginia.

We received a thank-you note from the Samaritan Inn downtown. The Steering Committee, at Rich Crites suggestion, agreed to buy clothes from Goodwill take them to the Inn. Along with the clothing was peanut butter, jelly, coffee creamer. It is on the downstairs bulletin board.
Also, this from Tess Anderson, who Alan Beach put us in contact with: “Alan Beach delivered a fruit and candy basket to me yesterday. You’ve been so kind to remember me for several years now. Alan said there was a check attached and I thought, “How sweet, a few dollars for Christmas dinner.” But when I opened it I could not believe it-$500.00! What an answer to prayer, a blessing from God and His people. Thank you SO much. Words do not convey how grateful I am.” This card is also on the bulletin board. Also on the bulletin board is a thank-you note from Debbie Quick Conner with Carillion Hospice. They use the annex each year so those who have lost loved ones can make memorial ornaments for their Christmas trees

The Steering Committee has worked on the 2012 budget and Rich Crites will soon be reporting on our work here in 2011, as well as some things we hope to do in 2012.

At one time we collected peanut butter for the regional food bank. Now we would like to have a peanut butter drive for the Samaritan Inn. The food bank gives food to the needy. The Samaritan Inn makes peanut butter sandwiches to feed those who live primarily on the street. Next time you shop get a jar and place it on the table downstairs and they will be delivered.


The title has nothing to do with the line from the song that goes, “From here to the Great Unknown.”

To explain the title, go back in time with me to the sermons you’ve heard. My guess is that you heard about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, John the baptizer, Jesus, Peter, Paul and a few others. Probably at some point in each of those sermons the preacher held one or two of these folks up as examples of how we should be. We left church wondering when it would be our time to build an ark, or kill a Goliath, or be crucified like Jesus, and go into all the world like Paul. Anything less seems to fall short of what is a “real” Christian. In other words, we were always “falling short of the glory of God.” That is until we get our act together and became like the people the preacher held up before us.

There is also that hairy problem of the Holy Spirit. If we were taught that the Holy Spirit was the Bible, problem solved, almost. Now all we had to do was duplicate the instructions in the New Testament and we would be safe. We would be lead by the Spirit of the Word, as it were. Among the problems with that is the person who could quote the most scripture would be considered the most “full of the Spirit”. (“Which version of the Holy Spirit do you want? KJV, ASV NKJV or some other? We have it in hardback and soft leather?”) We would also become literalists, which to the thinking student of scripture is impossible. So we need to find a way to decide which passages to follow and which to not. This, of course, is true even if we are not among those who believe the Spirit is the Bible.

I said the Holy Spirit is a hairy problem because when we see the passages that speak of the “indwelling Spirit” we also have to deal with them. That’s where the rub comes in for most of us. We are told that the Spirit gives us “spiritual gifts”. So we look around and we don’t see anything. If someone asks what our gift is, we are stuck. Those who try to display what they feel is theirs, seem to ruin it, if indeed they have it right. Which I think in most cases of self-recognition, they don’t. All I can say here is I think the gifts of the Spirit are best seen in us by others, and accepted by us in faith.

However, as a reading of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians indicates, the concept of the Spirit giving gifts can be a problem. As seen in the first letter, the “visible” gifts were the most sought after. But as time passed and they seemed to fade in and out of church life, so some explanation needed to be made. At some point it was decided by some that those “visible” gifts were only for a certain time and place. Therefore, they no longer existed, hence the Bible itself became the Holy Spirit. Regardless the excitement about that view and the scriptures used to defend it, it didn’t and won’t hold water, more less the Holy Spirit.

Left without a “The end!” from God, some set out to find the treasures of the lost Spirit. Meaning they wanted visible proof of the Spirit in their life. In
some cases visibility became the test as to if the person had the Holy Spirit or not. This led to some faking and hypocrisy. It also leads to frustration and disappointment as well as constant questioning of oneself.

In the New Testament there is never any doubt that the confessing person (Christian) does not receive God’s Spirit in their life. I’m not going to list the scriptures that would confirm that. My interest is in what a “spiritual” person is supposed to look and act like.

What does a spiritual person look like? Are there some “Christians” in any church who lack the presence of God’s Spirit in them? Don’t we look for the Moses’ and the Abrahams, and the Pauls? How many do we find that we can put our finger on and say it? On any given Sunday all across the world, churches are filled with believers who come, involve themselves in worship, and leave. If they were told to list their particular Holy Spirit gift at the door, how many could? How many would feel very accepted if they couldn’t? Why we feel that way is because those who preach and need to keep the wheels of the church turning, as well as being driven by the need to convert the world to Christ, need more wheel turners and converters. In other words, more people like Paul are needed. In fact, if you’re not aspiring to be like Paul you’re not very spiritual. “Why haven’t you been beaten or shipwrecked!?”

Now, let’s look at the actual picture in the New Testament, at least as we have it. We know about Peter and Paul and a few other “evangelists”. We are told that on the day of Pentecost three thousand folks were converted and “added” to the church. What happened to all of them? Did they all go off preaching? Some did. But behind those who did, were the great unknown. Those who never went beyond the edge of the town or city in which they lived. They assembled to worship and praise God and went out and loved their neighbors. We can imagine (because we still see it) that they did deeds of goodness and kindness. Hopefully they never wondered if they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Hopefully they were never made to feel unspiritual because they didn’t feel the need to express visible proof of the indwelling Spirit by displaying their gift (talent).

Are there unspiritual people who say they are Christians? Yes. What’s the test? For Paul it was the result, the “fruit” of the Spirit’s presence. In Galatians 5:22ff Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Strange, but there’s no “speaking in tongues” or “prophesying” there. Neither is there a “Be a giant for Christ”, though any one of those might cause someone to be, but not everyone.

Most of us are part of the great unknown, except to God who lives in us and makes God visible in the above (yes, visible) attributes. Do we have to be good at all of them equally to have the Spirit? No. Salvation is not by gifts,
but grace
. Keith

CONCERNS: Judy Hall is still recovering from back surgery, but hopes to be able to be out soon. Both she and T. J. have had health problems lately. Garrett Lee Williams’s friend who suffered an eye injury is still being treated in hope of restoring his vision. Jenn McCready, a therapist that works with Del Bolin has a serious eye infection that may cost her to lose her sight. Eleanor Crush remains about the same, as does Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Helen Nicklas has recovered from pneumonia and is feeling better. Remember the Kincannons as they teach in Russia. Also Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Ron Matney, and Tim Elder.

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: Matthew 2: 1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13-23
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19b-31
Friday: Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13

Our thanks to the young people for doing an excellent job directing the worship service last Sunday. It was impressive to say the least. Brice Reid did a very good job presenting the story of the Prodigal son, and all those who read and made announcements spoke clearly and distinctly. Apologies to AC Branch who was overlooked and we missed her prayer. Soon, AC!

A special thanks from Keith to all of you who stayed after last Sunday’s service for a reception in recognition of his 50 years of preaching. Also to Brice Reid and the other young people who decided to do it.

Another nice thing about last Sunday was the visitors who came. It was really great to see Diane and Lewis Sturm, who came from Ohio. Jessica and Perry Downing (Megan Beaver Downing’s in-laws) from here in Roanoke, and Harriette and Ralph Shivers just happened to be in town for a business meeting. It was almost a homecoming weekend.

Even though this is being written before the adult Christmas party, there is no doubt everyone enjoyed themselves. A thanks to Del Bolin who served as this year’s MC. Also to Erma Williams for decorating and Judy McWhorter who arranged the menu, and to those who took on special things such as providing the appetizers and desserts.

We will have a Christmas Eve service. We will meet at 6:00 PM and read the story and sing the songs. Afterwards some go out to eat afterwards and everyone is invited.

Because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, we will only have a 10:30 worship service. There will be no Sunday School. This will give more time for the children (Christmas is for children of all ages) to have some time before church, as well as families getting together for the enjoyment of this special day.

As the year ends let’s remember we have been there for each other in both joy and in sorrow. That’s family.


by my friend, Ben
Thanksgivin’ bein’ over an’ all, I still had me a long weekend ahead. I did. So on Friday me’n ol’ Blue got in my truck an’ headed into Hickory Ridge. We did

After eatin’ at the Mountain Lion, we walked around town talkin’ to folks about did they have a nice Thanksgivin’ an all. It were right warm for late November an’ folks were real thankful for that. They were.

It were nigh on to three o’clock when we headed back to the farm. Ol’ Blue jumped up in the truck an’ took his seat next to me. Since there were just the two of us, he perty much claimed that seat for himself. He did.

We was on the straight stretch before Shively’s corner when ol’ Blue sat up tall an’ his tail thumped the seat like he knowed the feller standin’ on the road up ahead. He did. Far as I could tell, he were a total stranger to me. He were. But ol’ Blue seemed to take a fancy to him. He did. Now that were a tad strange, ‘cause ol’ Blue didn’t take to strangers right off. He liked to sniff ‘em out first. He did.

As we got to the feller, I looked to see iffen he raised his thumb wantin’ a lift. I did. He just looked at us an’ smiled. Ol’ Blue’s tail were goin’ crazy. It were. An’ it were right then somethin’ struck me. I weren’t sure what it were, but I stopped the truck an’ backed up. I did. As I pulled up next to him I asked iffen he needed a
ride. He said not particularly, but did I want to give him one.

Now it weren’t my habit to pick up strangers unless they seemed to be needin’ some help. But since I were a sight bigger’n him, unless he were armed, I reckoned I could be neighborly. I did. An’ there were ol’ Blue. Iffen there were ever a good judge of people, it were ol’ Blue. An’ ol’ Blue sure took to this feller. He did.

When I asked where he were headin’ he smiled an’ said nowhere an’ everywhere. Well, I gave him an invite to have supper with me’n ol’ Blue. I did. With that he got in next to ol’ Blue as iffen they were old friends. He did.

I asked him iffen he were from around these parts, an’ he said he were an’ he weren’t. Then he asked me iffen I weren’t Ben Harrison. That took me back a tad, but I told him I were. He said he knowed my ma an’ pa. I told him I reckoned I knowed everyone my ma an’ pa knowed, an’ I didn’t know him. He smiled an’ said it were one day when I were in school that ma an’ pa’d offered to help him out.

When we got to the house I asked him what his name were. He smiled an’ said folks put too much stock in names. That seemed a might strange to me, but I were taught to respect a person’s privacy. I were.

I fixed some of the leftovers from Thanksgivin’. I did. He didn’t say nothin’ as he ate. It were afterwards that he told me about his meetin’ ma an’ pa. He said he’d come to town to deliver a message to a feller, but a storm had caused the road to flood leadin’ up to where he lived. So he were sittin’ at the post office waitin’ for the storm to pass when ma an’ pa come in. They did. He said ma offered to take him home with ‘em till the storm passed. He did.

Ol’ Blue come over an’ put his head on that fellers lap. He did. The stranger rubbed his head an’ said, “You know, a dog can read the character of a person. Ol’ Blue here loved your ma a lot. He knew she was a good person, just like I did when she invited me out here years ago.”

He looked at me an’ said. “Ben, don’t ever forget how blessed you are. I know you lost your ma an’ pa when you were just a boy, but with the raisin’ your ma an’ pa gave you, an’ the other folks here an’ about, you’re a better person than you think you are. Always be thankful for that. In fact, that’s the message I came here to tell you.” With that he got up an’ stepped out the door. By the time I got to the porch he were nowheres in sight. He weren’t

The warm sun woke me up an’ it were Friday mornin’. That feller were just a dream. He were. But I had me this real warm feelin’ about ma as I fixed me’n ol’ Blue breakfast. I did. An’ I reckoned me’n ol’ Blue’d head to town. I did.

CONCERNS: Judy Hall had back surgery last week. She is home, but will be laid up for awhile. Eleanor Crush is about the same. Helen Nicklas is recovering from pneumonia. Martha Foy’s friend, Sharon Breeding, whose son died recently. Jenn McCready, (serious eye problems) she works with Dr. Bolin. Margaret and Tom Kincannon as they teach the gospel in Russia. Remember Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner and Tim Elder. Ron Matney has been dealing with stomach problems. His nephew, Mike Breeding and his wife need our prayers.

Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 13:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15

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

Next Sunday the service will be lead by the young people. They will do everything but lead the singing and give the communion devotion. None of them were quite prepared to take either of those two actions yet. Del Bolin will lead the singing and Wayne Flora will do the communion. Brice Reid will be delivering the message.
One box of goodies for those serving in Afghanistan has been sent. Another will be sent soon and in it will be the cards we signed as well as Santa hats, Christmas lights and other things. If you haven’t picked up a few hot wheels cars, the children love getting them from the soldiers.

Martha Foy delivered Sharon Breeding’s thanks for the help we were able to give her to bury her son.

The Adult Christmas Party for this year will be Saturday, December 17, I the Annex. In the next week or so there will be recipes passed out for us to bring. The main course has not been set yet. A sign-up sheet is one the table in the foyer. Please let it be known if you are attending as soon as possible.

Every year or so we update the bulletin mailing list. With more and more people using e-mail, we want to encourage you to receive it via that method if you can. You can send your e-mail address to Keith @ and you will be added to the list. However, for those of you out of town who still want a hard copy, we are glad to send one to you.

We will also be checking the list to see if there are those no longer interested in receiving the bulletin.

Christmas fall on Sunday this year. In past years when this has happened we have omitted Sunday school and only had a worship service. This enables families with children to enjoy some time together before coming to church. We will decide if a later time for the worship service would be better. By the way, we will still have the Christmas Eve service as always.