Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: June 2017


Imagine a room just off the large arena-type room in which the Roman Senate met, in say, 125 AD. The Emperor is Hadrian. He and a few hand-picked senators were discussing how to expand the Roman Empire. Hadrian was not as interested in maintaining all of his predecessor, Trajan’s acquisitions, but he did have an interest in social change and civic improvements.
Senator Lucinius was first to address the issue at hand. “Emperor Hadrian, I come to you today to speak about a sect rooted in Judaism. You are familiar with them, as they are sometimes called ‘Christians’ or followers of a Jew name Jesus. They see him as Christ, you know, a king. However, our government, after years of persecuting them, decided many years ago to treat them as we treat other Jews. As long as they pay their taxes and obey the law, they are left alone.”
“I’m aware of these Christians. So what’s the issue we need to discuss,” asked Hadrian.
“For a number of years there have been a growing number of Italians and Romans who are responding to the message of Christianity. Even a sizable group over the years from the royal palace itself. Among those have been people of means who have becoming followers of this Jesus fellow.”
“Do you think they are planning an over through?”
“No, it’s not that. They are very much citizens of the Empire. Perhaps Dionysus could explain it better. He has more contact with them than I have.”
“Emperor Hadrian, I humbly ask your indulgence as I speak about this important matter. We do not think these Christians are a danger to the Empire. In fact, we think they are an asset. For example, Brutus Maximus owns one of the largest toga manufacturing complexes in the Empire. He has factories in all the regions, all the way to Spain. He has become one of several businessmen who are Christians. It seems our system of government is good for business.”
“Of course it is. After all we are ruled by me with help from the Senate. Now, what’s that got to do with some of our citizens becoming Christians?”
The third Senator, Attianus, said, “Let me tell him! Great Emperor. Rather than appearing to be against Christians, we should incorporate them into our process of government. Especially since they seem to be growing faster than any other religion. Even Greeks have converted.
“What we were thinking is giving any Christian businessman an exemption from government taxes.”
Hadrian leaned forward in his seat and with a frown said, “Be careful what you say! Taxing the populace is what puts food on our tables and pays for our vacation homes on the Mediterranean. Our military might rests on taxes. Everything operates on taxes! Now you are proposing letting some people out of paying them!”
Attianus looked afraid to speak, so Lucinius took over. “Lord Emperor, here’s how it will work. We will raise the taxes on the workers, not the owners. With this plan more businesses will open and more people will be working and the economy will flourish.”
“How high will we tax the workers under this new plan? As you know, there is already discontent among those countries we have occupied about the tax rate.”
“Emperor, it’s about the haves and the have nots. It’s always been that way. Some are born to work and others are born to live off of the work of others. What we are doing is just expanding the field. People will work for whatever they are paid, rather than starve. The Christians will jump at the chance at being a greater part of our government.”
“I’m not excited about giving anyone, even a Roman Christian a lot of power.” Said Hadrain.”
“Not to worry. We can pass a law preventing that.”
Hadrian said, “I also hear these Christians operate by a different set of ethics than do others . What makes you think they will go for something that will denigrate others? And what if some of those who work for them become Christians? What makes you think they will take advantage of those I hear they call brothers and sisters?”
Attianus smiled and said, “That’s an interesting point. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But we know It’s all about the money. Isn’t it Emperor? It’s all about the money.”

CONCERNS: Tolly Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s cousin’s health continues to decline. Gary Overstreet is at home. Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is slowly improving. Melisha Scruggs asks pray for a co-worker named Jeanie, who has a child with multiple health issues. Remember also Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, who is doing well after heart surgery. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Due to an accident, Amber can only communicate with her eyes. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday II Thess. 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 19:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-10

Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 111:1-10

Dr, Bolin will be in Honduras with another doctor and twenty-eight medical students for a week or so. They will treat over a hundred patients a day. Keep all of them and the people they treat in your prayers.

Last Sunday Judy Hall asked that we pray for their new “rescued” pound pup who escaped from their care. Happy to announce that she is back safe and sound, and slowly adjusting to her new home.

The Salem Red Sox is having a Faith Night at the ball park on July 29th. There will be Christian music, family entertainment, and 1,000 T-shirts to the first arrivals. The gates will open at 5:00 P. M.
General admission is $6.00 and box seats are $8.00. Sorry, but the flyer didn’t come.

Many of us remember Melissa Keller who worshiped with us while she was at Roanoke Collage. Rich and Connie Crites became her away from home parents. While she was teaching at a college in Eastern Tennessee, she met and married a man who is also a member of the church. He has a daughter from a former marriage and they now have a baby boy on the way.
They have decided to give back to the church, and are now at Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Arkansas. With her PhD. in Biology, they will both increase the status of this small Church of Christ college. What a good story!

The area Roger Fisher cleaned on Carlton has grown up in weeds. Our Yard man will not mow there because it has some rocks and small stumps. If you have a day you can help, let Keith and Holly know and they will join you.


You have heard a Gideon tell stories about those who pick up a Gideon Bible while in some distress, read it and accept Christ as their personal Savior. The story proclaims the power of the Bible. Or, you may have heard a preacher talk about a shepherd who was given a Bible and read it while tending his sheep. When he was done he knew what he needed to do to become a Christian. In other words, it’s simple. Yes, as a start. However, where that start takes the person is another matter.
Many of us were told the Bible “meant what it said, and said what it meant.” No questions need be asked, just do what it said and you’d be saved. Anyone who read what it said and didn’t arrive at the same meaning as you, was wrong. There can only be one right meaning. But what if what it said was not what it meant? What if the meaning of the word in one time meant something different in another time? Even better, what if the story (parable) was understood differently by those who heard it and those who would read it centuries later?
Think of how hard it is to convince people that the “talent” as in the parable of the talents, has nothing to do with using one’s natural ability. But that the word “talent” is a translated word for a sum of money. It is about what one thinks of God, not how one uses God-given ability.
In the last few weeks, having read something, I have been looking deeper into the historical and culture meaning of things in the Bible. I am convinced, that while there is enough to start one on the journey of Christianity, help is needed to grow in wisdom and understanding. Hence the meaning of “disciple” or “learner” or more to our understanding, “student.”
It is easy to say if we just love God and our neighbor as ourselves we have fulfilled the law and the prophets. But when the lawyer asked Jesus who was his neighbor, it was illegitimate question. It was a question disgusted in the synagogue each time that scroll was read. (By the way, during the synagogue service when there was a reading of scripture, there was then a discussion about it.) All sides would be examined. They did not say it said what it meant and meant what it said.
Take for example the “neighbor” question. Certainly the law of Moses had said the neighbor should be loved. But did that mean the inhabitants of Jericho, and the other cities wiped out by the Israelites? “Neighbor,” at the time the law was given had a more narrow definition than it did after Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. (If we can believe they listened to him.) James and John had just suggested letting them call down fire on the Samaritans who had just tossed Jesus and them out of their city. (Lk 9:54)
Today, while still struggling with who the neighbor is, because of Jesus and the meaning of the gospel as seen in the life of Paul and the church, we know it means anyone, especially those in need.
Let’s look at another one. When Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17 ff, he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” What did he mean? The answer is generally that Jesus kept the Law in every way, every way. But for example, we see him not keeping it when it came touching lepers and other unclean people. So what do we do with that? We try to understand it as it was understood by those who heard Jesus say it.
To do that we have to dig into Jewish culture at the time. This can be done with the blessing of the internet. If you really want to understand Jewish thinking, go to A. J. Levine, a New Testament and Jewish scholar at Vanderbilt. You don’t have to agree with her to learn from her. She is among a number of scholars who have studied the history of Jewish though. Here’s what they say about Matthew 5:17ff. In the synagogue and other places of teaching and learning, when a participant has misrepresented the Law in some way in the eyes of another, he would say, “You are destroying (or abolishing) the Law!” When a participant said something which highlighted the intent of the Law in another’s eyes, the person would say, “What you have said fulfills the Law!”
So it would be possible for those discussing the Law to have different views as to what it meant. The word “fulfill” had nothing to do with literally keeping every aspect of the Law, but whether the listener believed it was or was not “fulfilling” the intent of the Law. Therefore, Jesus is not saying he will keep every part of the Law, but that what he does fulfills the intent of the Law.
Why is something like that important? Because in knowing what the original intent of the words were, keeps the reader from formulating a twisted understanding about how Jesus could keep the Law while seeming to break it. It also answers the question of when he fulfilled it. It was not nailed to the cross when he died. It was fulfilled in the way he lived it.
When someone says Jesus broke the law, someone hurries to say he didn’t because of the Matthew passage. What Jesus was saying, and they understood, even if they didn’t agree, was that his actions fulfilled the intent of the Law.
The Jews didn’t have one solid understanding of the Law. They read it, and then reasoned about how to apply it. Adultery and divorce were problems. They agreed on that. But they argued about what constituted a valid reason for divorce. Jesus said, “Don’t even think about it.”
The same was true of the Sabbath. They knew it was to be kept, but how? So they made a list of things that could or could not be done on the Sabbath. Those items became the Law. If we say Jesus never broke the Law, only the interpretation of the Law, we miss the point. The interpretation is the Law, i.e., the “fulfillment” of the Law.
It may always mean what it says, but for it to do that, we need help in understanding what it actually means.

CONCERNS: Tolly Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s cousin, is in rapidly failing health. Gary Overstreet is now at home. Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, suffered a broken hip and had surgery. This is a setback in her recovery from a fall and a stroke. Melisha Scruggs asks prayers for a co-worker named Jeanie, who has a child with multiple health issue. Remember also Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.

Monday: John 8:21-27
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-9
Friday: Acts 4:2–5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9, 100:1-5

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 105:1-48

Today’s service will consist of Mike Branch’s experiences while on a humanitarian mission in the Sudan. We have been looking forward to this since he returned. Some who are unable to be here have asked that it be filmed. It will be made available when they return. Thanks to James Downing for the camera work and the finished product.

On this Father’s Day we wish each father a great day with family and friends.

As always, Super Sunday falls on Father’s Day. We hope as many of you as possible will be able to stay for the Super Sunday meal following the service today. If by chance you are a visitor, please consider yourself our guest.

The local baseball team associated with the Boston Red Sox, is having a Faith Night at the ball park on July 29th.
There will be music and other family oriented entertainment. T-shirts will be given away to the first 1000 folks to arrive. The gates will open at 5:00 P. M.
General admission tickets for that night will be $6.00 and $8.00 for box seats.
A flyer will be made available next week for those who want to sign up for games tickets.

Remember the Rescue Mission is asking for donations of school items for children whose family can’t afford to buy them. The information is on the table in the foyer.


Everybody knows what a “one liner” is. It’s a condensed version of something bigger. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” That’s not an easy one for some folks, but you get the point.
When it comes to the Bible, the reviews are mixed. There are some really good ones that express something bigger in one line. I like Jesus saying, “You strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.” You get the picture. Gnat, little, camel, big. You don’t even have to know that both of them were unclean to the Jews to get the point.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has some really good ones. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” “The eye is the lamp of the body.” “No one can serve two masters.” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” You get the point.
The difference between these and other “one liners” folks pluck from the Bible is that these are directed at the individual to teach an individual lesson. However, when it comes to the plucking of scripture from its context, it is always, without exception, a reflection of the person’s preconceived theology about life and others. They provide easy answers to difficult problems, and in the process allow the person to remain aloof.
That’s one of the reasons I’d pass a law preventing any politician from quoting scripture in a public speech. First, they might get it right, which only those who already agree with them would value, while their detractors would say was misplaced. Secondly, such use is in effect saying what they are saying is underwritten by God. Again, their followers would agree, their detractors would not. A smart politician can speak to moral and Biblical principles without quoting the Bible as proof.
On the other hand, Bible people are terrible when it comes to plucking one line scripture to set a foundation for a larger belief.
I can still remember sometimes in 1964 or 65, when a very good, generous, well-healed Christian woman said, (I don’t remember the situation, but you can guess) “Well, the Lord said we’d always have the poor with us.” Jesus did indeed say that. However, I remember thinking that I was among the “poor” because of the salary I was getting. I also remember thinking she was more or less expressing her view of “them” and “us.” I don’t blame her, she only reflected the way she’d been taught to use the Bible.
Jesus did say that in three of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark and John. Neither Matthew nor Mark mention Judas’ role in the story. However, Mark (bless his heart) adds a line with real significance. He has Jesus also saying, “and you can help them (the poor) any time you want.” It is John who says Jesus was speaking to Judas.
Context! What is the context? Jesus has just been anointed with some pricey perfume by Mary. Some of the disciples, Judas in John, complains about the waste and Jesus says to Judas, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Oops, we forgot the whole line, as well as considering what Jesus said in Mark.
The passage has been used over and over to say any attempt to eradicate poverty is a pipe dream of liberals.
CONTEXT! Jesus, according to John, is responding to Judas’ complaint. Judas, John says didn’t care about the poor, but was a thief who stole from the treasury. Jesus says to Judas, “You will always have the poor, but not me.” Jesus was no doubt reflecting Deut. 15:7-11. It’s too long to quote here, but about the poor it says, in v. 10,11, “Give generously to him (the poor) and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you and all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” This also involves the idea of the jubilee year, which would certainly reduce poverty.
Poverty may always exist, but the Bible does not give that as an excuse to do nothing. In fact, quite the opposite. Neither am I so short-sighted as to think in the wonder of time and space, that the earth cannot be managed in such a way so as to be able to provide adequately for its inhabitants. Even Isaiah envisioned “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.”

CONCERNS: Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is making good progress after a stroke. Gary Overstreet is now at home. Melisha Scruggs asks prayers for a co-worker named Jeanie, who has a child with several health issues. Remember Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray & Darnel Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim & Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
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

Monday: Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Tuesday: Matthew 5:17-48
Wednesday: Genesis 1:1-31
Thursday: II Samuel 12:1-15
Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
Saturday: Psalm104:1-35
Congratulations to Dr. Del Bolin. The following was posted on Monday:
Dr Bolin has been promoted to the academic rank of Professor by the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee and the Board of Directors of VCOM. From the first time he stepped in front of a classroom of undergraduates as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Illinois in 1988, he knew teaching was in his blood. He has been recognized with several teaching awards over the years at various institutions, but this new designation of “Professor” is more than a title to him. It is the culmination of 29 years…13 of them at VCOM.. of passionate dedication to educating. Congrats, Professor Bolin.
Jokingly we were told his official title is Professor, Dr. Dr. Bolin, since he has an MD and a PhD. Del will keep his Roanoke office as well.

Dear Pastor Wagner,
I am writing as one of the advisors for our Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine Christian Medical & Dental Association Chapter. Our students are still talking about the special gift your church family gave us last month for our graduation celebration.
Mike Branch recently sent our student rep. (Andy Plaster) a list of church members who supported the event. God knows each one of them so I won’t list all 14 here…just know that we are so deeply grateful for your church’s expression of love!
Not only is Sunday, June 18th Super Sunday, but it is also the day we will get to hear about Mike Branch’s experiences while on his humanitarian trip to the Sudan. Plan to be here.

JUNE BIRTHDAYS: 13-Mike Branch 13-Susan Jordan 21- Wayne Flora 23-Betty Billings 29-Joni Beach
JUNE ANNIVERSARIES: 1-Garrett & Erma Williams 9-Wayne & Alisa Flora 25-Lyn & Susan Jordan
26-Dillon & Laura Hogan 27-Bill & Betty Branch