Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: May 2013


From the time I began to pay attention to preachers, teachers and the Bible, I have struggled with the difference between the concept of God in the Old Testament compared to the teaching of Jesus in the New. The God of the Old Testament had no qualms about destroying men, women, children and herds of animals.
I also found it easy for some folks to approach this difference by simply saying that God can do whatever God wants, whenever and to whomever and use whatever means available. There are places in the Old Testament that would seem to support that. But let’s leave God for a moment and approach this from another angle, i.e., the human body.
At some point in time (“In the beginning”) a flesh and blood thing was called “human.” Well, that wasn’t the word, but a distinction was made between this creature and the others. What did the first humans know about what made existence (life) possible? My journey down this road may be a little rocky, but bare with me. They knew without breath there was no life, so it was called “the breath of life.” At some point they realized if the blood ran out due to injury, life was gone. So blood was now added to life. Then, that strange sound in the chest told them when it was silent, life was gone. So now what we call the heart was part of life. How long did this understanding take? We don’t know. What we do know is that the human body did not change in what produced life. It was the same body, but it was being understood better. Each step in understanding produced the next step on which a continuing knowledge was built.
Think about those throughout history who would fall into the “doctor” category. Step by step they learned by observation and trial and error what treatments for pain and sickness would work. Imagine the moment when the actual process of human reproduction was discovered. Centuries of believing the “seed” was all that was needed gave way to a better understanding of reproduction. And, not without those who refused to believe it at the time. Same body, different understanding. At some point the brain was discovered as an important part of life. In recent years the term “brain dead” has become the final determination of life’s end. You may have been taught in school about the great controversy when a doctor said there were germs and the hands needed to be washed before treating the person.
The basic human body did not change, but the understanding of how it functioned did. Where would we be if we still understood the body as it was in ancient times? The history of medicine tells us that those who dared to discard the accepted ways were nearly always seen as wicked and dangerous. Imagine the first time someone cut into a body to perform surgery? Now we have genes, DNA and the genome. As long as human beings exist, the body will not fundamentally change. What changes is our understanding of it.
Is that not also true with God? The book of Job challenges the centuries old belief that bad things do not happen to good people. That was how God was understood. It can be seen in the Old Testament writings as well as in the New. (See Luke 13:1-5) All acts of nature were seen as God.
God’s “voice” was also heard through the ears of how God was understood at the time. Just as the early doctors understood the human body one development at a time, so also those who “heard” the voice God continued to grow in their knowledge of God.
So does that mean the Bible is outdated? No. The foundation of the Bible from the beginning to the end is based on the great and eternal principle of loving God and one’s neighbor as oneself. In Jesus we have the highest standard of moral and ethical teaching and behavior. And, just as the original principle has not changed, the understanding of it has. Therefore Jesus could say, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, (by teachers of God) but I say to you.”
Maybe that’s why Jesus is called “The Great Physician.”
CONCERNS: Rich Crites is still having therapy and is regaining his strength each day: The radiation treatments are almost over. Leena’s brother, Nick Nicklas, is now gaining weight and will resume cancer treatment. Wayne Phlegar is dealing with almost constant pain. Keep the following people in your prayers as they deal with, or are recovering from cancer: Deana McRoy, Jim Hunter, (Jim is having some tough back pain) Philip Pierce’s mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Joni Beach’s mother, The ten year old boy who had brain cancer, and a school friend of Garrett Lee Williams who has leukemia. Remember as well Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, Ron Matney and Melisha, who is still seeking work.

Monday: Ezekiel 16:1-22
Tuesday: I Corinthians 14:1-12
Wednesday: Philippians 3:2-21
Thursday: Luke 9:46-50
Friday: Luke 6:17-26
Saturday: Psalm 124:1-8
Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-10
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-10
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18

After several unforseen delays we are now ready to have the new sound system installed. The new speakers will be almost invisible. For that to happen we will need to have the size of the speakers so we can prepare the place for the installation. As soon as that is done you will see things happen.

For those of you who knitted the scarves for the school children in the more needy areas of Roanoke, there is yarn on the pew in the nursery. Starting to knit them now will make them ready for delivery when the cold weather arrives. If you need any information, see Judy Hall.
Wednesday, June 5, the teen-agers will be assisting in preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House.

For those interested in summer Bible camp there’s information on the downstairs bulletin board concerning High Rock Bible Camp. Or you can check it out on

Since so many of you have cell phones that also have internet connections, we are moving toward having the church directory on our web page. It will be password protected so only members can access it.
As you can tell, the work the city has been doing on the sewer system is almost done. The parking lot will soon be back to normal. However, you may also notice the tree nearest the entrance is now almost completely dead. Be aware of that when you park. We are hoping the city will remove it as they did the one farther down the street.

A work day on the Saturday before Super Sunday would be a good time to deal with the foliage and vines taking over the bank behind the annex. The crew that cleaned it off last year did such a good job we don’t want to lose what was done.
That date is not set in stone, as they say, so we will check and see if that is not a good time due to vacations and other things that start after school is out.


As I’ve stated before, I grew up in a fellowship where Jesus was second to Paul when it came to what Christianity was about. Of course, Paul hadn’t died for the sins of the world, but that was basically all Jesus did-die for the world’s sins. What was important was getting the church right in structure and in the “acts of worship.” Next was to avoid all the sins that the Epistles listed that would harm the church and its mission to “save souls.” Believe it or not, but there was a critical catch phrase for those who called people to Jesus. They were said to “Preach the man and not the plan.” And I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t still out there.

“Saving souls” was my first sticking point. How do you save a soul without saving the whole person? Well, if you were interested in the whole person that might distract you from saving the important part, the “immortal” part. The problem is that “immortal” and “soul” are never linked in the Bible. And, Jesus said the soul could be destroyed, (Matt.10:28) even though there are those who say it doesn’t mean to “destroy.” Well, that’s another subject. But there was the idea formed that if you were interested in the whole person you were missing the point, and you were somehow a “liberal.”

I don’t remember when in my adult life I decided to try to find Jesus. I don’t mean to “accept the Lord.” I mean to find out what he thought was important and how to bring that about in life.

In the sixties I heard about Harvey Cox, a Baptist preacher who, along with others, refused to move out of a Boston neighborhood that was deteriorating into a rough place to live. He was stabbed, mugged and I’m not sure what else, but they stayed and made a difference. How long that difference lasted I don’t know. Then I read his “The Secular City” and found a view of Jesus that was daring and exciting. I began to see on the pages of the New Testament, not a carefully crafted Jesus, but something of a rebel. He didn’t look like the preachers I knew who wore grey suits and drove gray or black cars so as to not look too “worldly.” Yes, that was advice given to preachers. They were told to look like conservative banker-types. In fact, do you remember the Nehru jackets? Inspired by India they came to the US in the 60’s. (A bad styling choice, along with the leisure suit!) I heard of at least one preacher who was fired on the spot when he wore one to church. In other words, preachers were to be boring.

I think the problem with finding Jesus is that we find the Jesus we are looking for. In other words, we make Jesus in our own image. I’m not sure it can be helped, because we were not there and living in Jesus’ type of world. Therefore, we transfigure him into ours. Like a little book called “The Man Nobody Knows,” where the author has Jesus return home to Nazareth and go upstairs to his old room and look around, as if he lived in a modern house.

In more recent years books like “Joshua” came along. Joshua is another name for Jesus and it was about a kind woodworker who came into a small town and upset the religious establishment until (I don’t remember how) they got rid of him. It was a popular and worthy attempt, but those who were moved by it probably didn’t start living like that.

I’m not sure any movie about Jesus has captured who he was. Why? Because no one alive was there to see and hear him. What we do have is the record left by those who knew him or knew someone who knew him. Of course, added to that is inspiration. However, even with that we don’t know the conditions or circumstances involved in what Jesus said and did. What did he really mean when he said, in contrast to the “Eye for an eye” response, “Do not resist the evil person?” What did he believe about nonviolence? Would he (as the protesters for racial equality were taught) step in when someone was being beaten and tell the beater to beat him instead? Do we see any connection between Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and others who used nonviolence, and Jesus? In fact, there are many Christians who do not like Ghandi, King, Tutu and others who worked for equal human rights to be mentioned in the same sentence or context with Jesus.

Perhaps it is not so much that we don’t really know Jesus (we weren’t there with him) as it is we shape his teaching to fit our desired understanding. Jesus can become Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, bringing justice upon the wicked with his guns. It’s not that we’d actually make Jesus act like the Pale Rider. We would just say Jesus thinks it’s all right for us to act like the Pale Rider. We use his words to justify our actions, whether it’s the use of force or the use of nonviolence. He becomes the underwriter of our lives, even though we say he’s the model.

So can Jesus’ teaching become a guide for our lives? I think so. But in any discussion about the “hard” things he said concerning how we are to treat others you will get a multitude of answers. When the “issues” of today’s world arise, Jesus’ teaching and that of the Bible “become all things to all men.” The results are geared to make what he said more palatable to our personal and social views. The hardest things and the harshest things he said were about how others are treated.

It might be better just to do what we want and leave Jesus out of it, rather than do it and say he approves. (We pretty much do it that way anyway) Then if we get to live long enough we could test it by the passing of time and see if how we’d lived had made a more caring and loving world. Or we could look back in time and see what kind of person(s) made the world a better place for all kinds of people, regardless of any social, racial or ethnic differences. Who was it that put themselves on the line for equality and justice? Who was it that spoke up for the disenfranchised? Since I have not seen Jesus or talked to him, the best I can do when I read his words is to look around and see those who are also trying to be like him and start with being like them.

I guess it comes down to what view of Jesus we want to be our legacy.

CONCERNS: It was good to see Rich Crites at church last Sunday. He is exercising daily to get his strength back after his surgery. He has a few weeks of treatments left. Nick Nicklas, Leena’s brother is gaining weight and will soon be able to restart the cancer treatments. T. J. Hall has been shut in due to a waiting period to be sure his blood was ok after heart surgery before giving him some needed medicine. Wayne Phlegar is having pretty much constant pain issues. Keep the following people in prayer as they deal with or are recovering from cancer: Jim Hunter, Deana McRoy, Philip Pierces’ mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood , Joni Beach’s mother, Regan, the ten year old boy who had brain surgery
for cancer. Also Helen Nicklas, Martha Foy’s parents, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, and Melisha, who is still seeking work.

Monday: I Samuel 16:1-13
Tuesday: Mark 15:1-20
Wednesday: Luke 12:1-12
Thursday: I John 2:11-24
Friday: I Peter 4:1-19
Saturday: Psalm 11:1-7
Monday: Psalm 119:57-72
Tuesday: Matthew 12:38-50
Wednesday: James 1:19-27
Thursday: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Friday: Romans 6:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 113:1-9

Several of our women are away today. Some are enjoying the weekend together at Lake Norman, NC and Judy McWhorter is at a quilting convention.

Today (May 19) is Super Sunday. It looks like it will be a nice day, so plan to stay and eat together after the service.

There will be a steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.

This evening is when we are preparing the meal for those with children in Roanoke Memorial Hospital who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. If you can help, see Martha Albert. The next date is June 5.

Stephanie Dixon has a new phone number. It is 354-2010. Make the change in your directory.
Most of you know that Rich Crites did the shrubbery and ivy trimming around the building, as well as being sure the sidewalk is swept on Sunday. Since he is unable to do that now, we need to plan to do it. The trimming will only need to be done occasionally. If you do it, please trim, not cut back too far. We can announce when this maintenance needs to be done and get together and do it. Maybe Rich will feel like supervising at times.

Judy Hall is calling all the knitters to take part in knitting the scarves that are given to the school children in needy areas of Roanoke. She has the yarn, so see her.

If you are interested in going to a Christian summer camp, information is posted on the downstairs bulletin board. The camp is High Rock Bible Camp and former member Kevin SIgman is a part of it. You can get all the information by going to The cost is very reasonable at $100.00 for the week. Check it out.

If the inside page of the bulletin looks a little crisper it is because we now have WordPerfect as the main word processor. It does a better job formatting, but it’s still a work in progress.


Let me start with a confession. I am watching Dancing With The Stars. I’ve watched it in times past, but quit when it became “Dancing With Who?”, and when they brought back past contestants. The same with Survivor. Boston Rob ended it for me. But with “Dancing” there was something in me that remembers Gene Kelly and the likes of Danny Kaye and Donald O’Conner. When I watched them as a kid I thought it would be great to move like that.

I also loved ice skating and tried to skate (without skates) on anything frozen. I dreamed of skating on the canals of Holland. When I was in High School I got a pair of skates and the Cincinnati Gardens became a familiar place on a Friday night.

So this season when they announced the contestants on DWTS I saw Dorothy Hamill was to be a contestant. Who doesn’t love Dorothy Hamill? Then there was Kellie Pickler. I like Kellie because she’s a survivor. She was raised by her grandfather because her mother abandoned her at age two and her father was in and out of prison. As a teenager she worked as a roller-skating car hop and loved to sing. At nineteen she was on American Idol. She didn’t win but has worked hard and has become a successful and popular Country Singer. She’s the one I want to win and she’s at the top. She is always “up” for the task at hand. By the way, a sixteen year old girl named Zendaya from the Disney Channel is as sweet as can be and is an amazing dancer who could also win.

The one who almost made me give up on even watching was Andy Dick. I remember Andy from a little TV show called (I think) “News Radio”. He was funny. Then as the years passed he turned vulgar and deeply troubled. I couldn’t imagine watching him on DWTS. But I did and I am glad. Andy has gone through recovery and therapy. He is a changed man. He is gracious, kind, self-deprecating and openly honest about his past. He is grateful to be doing better and to have been invited to the show. He has a daughter he shows deep love towards and she returns it. He is one of the most loved performers on the show by the other dancers, the audience and the judges alike. He was eliminated last Tuesday after seven weeks. Not bad. He has shown that a person deeply troubled who accepts help can change. I hope it lasts and that he finds a place to use his talent.

Second chances make for good sermon material. But in the Bible there are those who got them and those who didn’t. Adam and Eve didn’t, well they didn’t die on the spot, but out into the cruel world they went. Paradise was lost, as they say. King David got one when it came to Bathsheba, but Moses didn’t when it came to that water in the rock incident. Israel got one when they were able to come back from captivity, but lost it when Rome took over. Uzzah never even got a chance to say “Oops” when he touched the Ark of Covenant. Samson got one when his hair grew back. But even with all that, “maybe you get one, maybe you don’t”, the story of the Bible is that God doesn’t give up.

For the Christian, God is best understood through Jesus. In Jesus it’s not about God maybe or maybe not giving second chances, but about God giving as many as the person needs in life. In Jesus the person doesn’t even have to ask. The woman caught in adultery didn’t ask for anything, but she was told by Jesus that he did not condemn.

Perhaps one of the best ways God’s nature can be seen in human beings is in our love of the second chance. There is something in the truly human person that wants others not to take the downward spiral into self destructive behavior. Such troubled people can be seen in any city or town. They may live under bridges or in cardboard boxes in an ally. They all have a story. All of their stories are sad and sometimes violent. Some are damaged by others and others have damaged themselves. Some are dangerous to themselves and others due to their mental state. The number of what we call “lost souls” is staggering, and we know it.

Maybe that’s why we love the stories of those who somehow got turned around. Not so they can become something we want them to be. But so they can find self-love and the human dignity everyone deserves.

The church should always be a place where that is possible.

CONCERNS: Richard Crites is in Lewis Gale Medical Center room 409. He is having physical therapy after back surgery for a tumor. He is also having treatments for prostate cancer. He will be in the hospital for a few more weeks. Stephanie Dixon had out patient surgery this week. Nick Nicklas (Leena Bolin’s brother) will have to have more cancer surgery as soon as his strength returns. T.J. Hall is recovering from heart surgery. Those dealing with or recovering from cancer are: Deana McRoy, Jim Hunter, Philip Pierce’s mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Walter Wagner (Keith’s brother) Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, and Marge Greenwood who are relatives of the Beach’s. Also, Joni Beach’s mother; Sharon and Billy and Regan, the ten year old boy who had brain surgery for brain cancer. Remember also Helen Nicklas, Martha Foy’s parents, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, Jenni Cullum and Ron Matney. Melisha is still seeking work.

Monday: Psalm 119:25-48
Tuesday: Matthew 4:1-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 1:10-31
Thursday: Galatians 5:1-25
Friday: Daniel 3:13-30
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
Monday: Genesis 2:15-3:7
Tuesday: Exodus 4:1-17
Wednesday: Hebrews 11:1-18
Thursday: Ephesians 4:17-32
Friday: II Corinthians 4:7-18
Saturday: Psalm 47:1-9

The banquet for those graduating from any school or training will have a banquet this evening in the annex. There will be eats and good times as those who have reached one goal and reach for another will be honored. A special thanks to Erma Williams for making the arrangements and doing the work. Come and enjoy this time together.

If you are interested in going to camp. High Rock Bible Camp, in the southwestern part of the state is a good place to go. Former member Kevin Sigmon is one of the founders and directors. The cost is $100. which is very reasonable. A flyer is on the downstairs bulletin board, or you can fond information on line at and print out an application.

The folks at the Ronald McDonald House have sent us a card thanking us for those who have cooked evening meals in the last few weeks. ALSO: the dates have

been set for the next event. On Sunday evening, May 19, adults will be preparing the meal. On Wednesday evening, June 5 the teenagers and adults will be doing it. Set these times and dates aside and go. You will enjoy it.

If you haven’t seen the latest “Mission Moments”, the newsletter from Health Talents International, it is posted on the downstairs bulletin board. It’s full of really wonderful articles about the work at the Ezell Clinic as well as the ABC program. In fact, one of the ABC children is now grown and will become one of the doctors there in 2014

The annex is no longer being used on a regular basis on Sunday evenings, so it is available for any activity you may be planning…

On Wednesday evenings Wayne Phlegar will be teaching and the adult class on Sunday morning is studying the gospel of John.