Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: July 2021

REFLECTING

New Life Bulletin ~ 7/18/21

Every once in a while something happens that causes me to reflect on an article I wrote in November 1990. It was entitled “Christian Paranoia.” The article caused me to be challenged to a debate, as well as be ”written up” by a guy over in West Virginia.

Among the things that upset them was my comparison of certain belief systems which mirror one of the definitions of paranoia, i.e., “A tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.” Boy, I could have a political heyday with that! But I’m interested in how that continues to control some churchgoers.

In the original article, I referred to the kind of teaching I heard as a boy. The kind of teaching that is sadly still going on. It was a view of God as a God of lists and rules. If you crossed the line it was curtains for you. Strict obedience to the rules was required. Noah and his “gopher” wood ark was one great example. If Noah had decided to use one board that wasn’t “gopher”, then all would have been lost. It would be years later that I learned that gopher wood was an ambiguous term that might mean any of three woods, fir, cypress, or cedar. Others said the best definition is “pitched wood”, which would make sense since the wood would need to be sealed.  Along with the ark was the story of Nadab and Abihu and their “strange fire.” Every time a preacher did something different and shook some other preacher up, he was accused of introducing “strange fire.” It was my denial of such a view of God that raised the hackles of a couple of area preachers.

In the nearly thirty years since I wrote that article, little has changed among those who hold that kind of fear over people’s heads. Sadly, there are those who find comfort in deluding themselves into believing they can actually be pleasing to God by simply keeping a list of rules.

Before getting to the heart of all this, let me clarify something. Christians do things that God wants done. Could those things be called “rules”? Yes, I suppose. However, it is the motivation behind the doing that is of the most importance. Christians do things because they have been saved by the love and the grace of God. They do not do those things to receive the love, the grace, and the salvation of God. There’s the rub.

It may be a little too harsh to say that such people who live under that kind of belief system are in an abusive relationship, but the similarities are there. In both cases the person stays where they live in constant fear because they have been made more afraid of what will happen to them if they leave. It is one thing to know what abuse to expect. It’s quite another to be faced with the possibility of something worse. Eternal damnation, for one.

It is also important to keep such people from going “outside” the safe area. They will be told anything they see, read, or hear “out there” will hurt them more than they can imagine. Fear is the constant method of restraint.

Of those I have met who broke free from such confinement, I find that it usually came from peeking over the wall or hearing something that told them there was a whole new world of faith out there. Or it can be just “having it up to here” with being afraid and controlled. In other cases, it might be a divorce or witnessing the prejudice that can be rampant in some religious circles.

I also find that the younger generation is asking questions and demanding answers that once were (and in some places still are) considered taboo. As long as the “sheltered” are kept at home and in a controlled religious atmosphere, they are content. But when they reach the outside world (a good thing) they are confronted with a world view much larger than they imagined. For some, this can begin in high school. For others when they start to college. It is there they find questions that were either refused to be discussed, or answers that do not answer but cast dispersions on those who ask. Say the word “evolution” in a group of Christians and see how many are thinking, “Oh yes, the evolution of a species,” versus those who are thinking, “That stuff is a denial of God.”

Mike Branch once asked the Sunday morning adult class to express our views of heaven and hell.  At least one person used the word “up”. Of course, that person knows there is no “up” but rather an “out”. At one time “up” was all we knew. Today we know there is an unimaginable “out” out there in what, for the lack of a better word, we call “space”.

Each day we are faced with more and more challenges to what we believed yesterday. I think this is good. As I’ve said before, we will not grow as we should if we stop at one point and say, “This is all there is.”

As a Christian, what concerns me is the way people are held captive by those who see God as a God who demands exactness in all we do. In worship they wi1l say there is an exact pattern that must be followed. In life the only way to live pleasing to God is to do exactly what they tell you, and of course, they back it up with scripture.  Are they sincere? I want to be careful here. I believe some are. It has been for them a safe haven. However, far too many times it has been a position of abusive power. It has been a way of controlling the thinking of the people and thus assuring their position of power. On one hand it may be all the person in control knows. That does not excuse it, in my opinion. What it does is allow me to understand they are sincere, even if they are sincerely wrong. On the other hand, it is the refusal to allow anyone to question their authority (?) and power.

In some ways they are as afraid as those they control by fear. What if all those years of using their power was not the right way? How would it look for them to admit (little to no chance) that they were wrong? Their power would be taken away and given to someone else.

On the other hand, I’ve seen the transition in those lives that, by the grace of God, somehow began to think more openly, lovingly, and more grace filled. All of them express it in terms of being released from bondage. I’m thankful to be one of them.

Keith

THOSE TO SERVE IN JULY

Announcements:

Joanne Elder

Ushers:

Holly Wagner

Singing:

18-Del Bolin

25-Karen Branch

Scripture:

Mark McRoy

Communion:

18- Wayne Flora

25- Mike Branch

JULY BIRTHDAYS

 17- Andressa Mileti 19- Jim Hunter

 21-Brock McRoy 25-Oliver Hogan 

 26- John Bolin

CONCERNS: Judy McWhorter had knee surgery on Tuesday and is recovering. Last week’s visitors Bill & Melinda Crigger are at UVA, Bill has a cancerous tumor. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, is in a nursing home doing PT twice daily and gaining strength. She is looking forward to going home in a week or two.  Please continue to keep Erma Williams’ family in your prayers.  Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has a serious six-month oncology treatment plan. Please continue to pray for Alisa Flora’s nephew, Ethan Gentry, and her sister, Melanie Gentry. Wayne Flora’s parents, Sylvus and Martha Flora, and sister, Jan. Teryn Gaynor’s mother Brenda Windham has cancer that metastasized into her colon (again) and her liver. She is doing chemo and will get another scan in a couple of months. Leena Bolin’s brother, Steve (Covid lung scarring), Steve’s ex-wife (possible ALS) and son (bi-polar).  Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s sister, Jan, and brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet. Gary is now in the hospital.  Megan Downing’s aunt, Stacey Smith, will be checked monthly for a while. Megan’s grandmother Bonnie Beaver has 1 more week of Chemo.  Jim Hunter has been diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency and will be going to UVA in September. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.

ALSO REMEMBER: Martha Albert, Cory (medical student of Del Bolin), Calesta Saunders, Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Nick Hodges, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jo-Ellen Griffith, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, and Tim Elder.

MINISTER’S REPORT:

*Movie Night:

We will be showing A Bugs Life July 16th

at 6:30 in the Annex. Please pray about and get

the word out on this weekly summer event.

*Sunday Evening:

We have started evening services at 6:30pm for those who are unable

to attend Sunday Mornings.

SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS

Del Bolin is back, please come join us for the Study of “The Acts of God in the Book of Acts” at 9:30am, in person or online with YouTube.

ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS

We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNYzpUNlXl5tCx3Mest5kA

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

Join the Zoom Meeting on the study of Matthew at 7pm.

Meeting ID:873 6718 6931

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87367186931

THURSDAY NIGHT

We are continuing to gather at the Miletis’ on Thursday nights at 6:00pm to pray and work through the church vision statement. This has also been a great time for fellowship, come join us.  Please RSVP to let the Miletis know if you plan on coming.

LOOKING FOR A ROOM TO RENT

Angela Cavalier is looking for a room to rent; she needs to be out of her current location before July 31st.  Please let Joanne know.

“I CAN’T”

New Life Bulletin 7/4/21

Whenever we Christians talk about prayer, most of us admit we have our struggles with it. Why are some prayers answered, while others just as worthy, and nearly identical, are not?

Of course, we have also been taught to say things like, “All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is ‘No.’”

Another part of any discussion on prayer has to do with God’s will.  What is God’s will? Is it anything that happens which we may or may not like or may or may not understand? In other words, is everything God’s will?  There are those who say so. But for me, that would make Jesus’ instructional prayer to disciples somewhat empty. Jesus said to pray that God’s will would be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. That can’t mean that since everything that happens on earth is as well.  Why would we pray for something to happen that can’t be changed? To do so would be mouthing an empty, phony, phrase.  

Rather than starting with all the questions about what the will of God is, perhaps we should start with what Jesus and the other New Testament writers actually say God’s will is?

As stated, God wants his will done on earth, and he wants us to be involved in doing it. That’s the “May your will be done.” But what is God’s will?  In my trusty concordance I couldn’t find very many places where it said, “God’s will is so and so”. There are lots of places that talk about doing God’s will, but not specifically what God’s will is. Of course, doing good and all that is God’s will. I’m talking about what does God do, or has done, which is what the New Testament calls God’s will.  The most directly worded scripture is II Peter 3:9, at least in the KJV.  There it says, “God is not willing that any should perish”. The NIV says God does “not want”. By the way, I Timothy 2:4 says basically the same thing.  So, if God doesn’t “want” it, then it’s not his will.  When it says God is not willing (i.e., it is not God’s will) that any should perish, does that mean no one will perish? No. Is it God’s will then that they do? No. So, in this case, and I believe in nearly all others, God’s will being done also involves the person who is willing for God’s will to happen. Are there exceptions? Perhaps. But, if it is God’s will that no one perish, and that requires our “willingness”, how does that relate to God’s will as we pray?

When Jesus prayed in the garden that God’s will that he dies be changed, was Jesus helpless to change it himself? No. He could have walked out of the garden and back to Galilee before Judas and the soldiers got there.  Why didn’t he? Because he was committed in his life and heart to do what needed to be done. But God’s will being done rested on Jesus’ willingness to do it as well. 

For example, is it God’s will that humans sin? I hope you say no. If we pray that God will stop all sin and God doesn’t, should we conclude that sin is God’s will? No. How would that prayer be answered? Is it with a “No”, or “I can’t”? Sin is stopped when humans bring their will into God’s will. 

You may say that God could stop sin. You could say that, but how would you know it? Sin is recognized as sin by contrasting it with good. There has to be an up to have a down, and an in to have an out, sin to have virtue.

When I pray that the texting, blue toothing, drinking driver misses me or my loved one, am I asking that they hit the person behind or in front of me?  Sadly, in a way, yes. But more to the point, I am asking that I or my loved one be alerted, sharpened even, by God’s presence, and that the “terror” be spotted by me (them) or by the police, or that they are somehow awakened to their stupidity (sin) so that no one is killed. If I don’t get the answer, I asked for, was it God’s will? Did God answer, but say “No”? Or “I can’t because of sin”?  

If I, or a loved one has a deadly disease, and I pray for a cure and not get it. What’s God’s part in that?

Let me put it this way, and I don’t want to simplify a complex problem, but what if God would try to explain it to me? Would he say, “From the very beginning I gave you life and the world.  I told you to take care of what I gave you. We’re in this together. If you want to throw it away, I can’t and won’t stop you.  

“As we continue on this journey there will be things you want that you can’t have, at least not when you want them. But because you have asked, together we will seek to make it happen. If I, did it all for you, you would never grow. There would be no future if I gave you the future now. There would be no discovery if there was nothing to discover.  Life would have little or no meaning. This is your time, and in your time you and I will take the steps of future discovery together. What we discover now will be the knowledge those who come after you will use to continue with doing my will. 

“You will find the answers because you asked the questions. It is when you ask me “why” that together we move deeper into finding an answer.  But remember this, sin, the evil humankind does, has, and always will, stop my will. When you refuse to accept the ignorance of today, that becomes tomorrow’s progress and discovery.  Each step is based on the one below it. Without that lower step there are no more. 

“Some of your disappointment in what you ask me for will be because of what, for a better term, I call ‘Foolishness’. These are not so much sin, but carelessness, the things you call ‘accidents.’ 

“If your son or daughter goes on a hike and slips and falls to their death, and you had asked me to keep them safe, was it my will? No. It may have been because your child took a foolish risk. It may have been because someone who was to provide safety measures failed at their job. It may even have been a loose rock. It’s the things like loose rocks, lightning, floods, falling trees, and other such natural disasters that really cause you to ask questions. I understand, but there is a randomness about the whole of creation. So, in order for my will to be done on earth by both of us, sometimes I just can’t. If I, did you would stop learning and doing the things that give you growth, value, and dignity, and I won’t destroy that.”

            Keith 

THOSE TO SERVE IN JULY

Announcements: Joanne Elder  

Ushers: Holly Wagner

Singing: 

4-Wayne Flora 11-Karen Branch 

18-Del Bolin 25-Karen Branch

Scripture: Mark McRoy 

Communion:

 4 – Keith Wagner 11- Mike Branch

 18- Wayne Flora  25- Mike Branch

JULY BIRTHDAYS         

9-Nathan Flora 13-Samuel Blessing

15-Lauren Mileti 16- Zona Fisher 

17-Andressa Mileti 19- Jim Hunter  
21-Brock McRoy 25-Oliver Hogan

26- John Bolin   

  JULY ANNIVERSARIES

2- Jake & Ann Claris “AC” Fuller

4- Wayne & Susan Phlegar                        

CONCERNS: Please keep Erma Williams’ family in your prayers – her father, Bill Breazeale passed away last week.  The funeral was Monday, June 28th in Maryland. Burial will be in Missouri. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has a serious six-month oncology treatment plan.

Please continue to pray for Alisa Flora’s nephew, Ethan Gentry, and her sister, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Flora’s parents, Sylvus and Martha Flora, and sister, Jan. Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Brenda Windham, has cancer that metastasized into her colon (again) and her liver. She is doing chemo and will get another scan in a couple of months. Leena Bolin’s brother, Steve (Covid lung scarring), Steve’s ex-wife (possible ALS) and son (bi-polar) would also appreciate your prayers.  Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s sister, Jan, and brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet. Gary is now home.

Megan Downing’s aunt, Stacey Smith, will be checked monthly for a while. Megan’s grandmother Bonnie Beaver has 3 more weeks of chemo treatments. Jim Hunter has been diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency and will be going to UVA on September 29th.  Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, has health issues.  Please pray for Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole and Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.  

ALSO REMEMBER: Medical student of Del Bolin, Cory.  Calesta Saunders, Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Nick Hodges, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jo-Ellen Griffith, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, and Tim Elder.

 MINISTER’S REPORT:

  * Movie Night – We will be showing TOY STORY on July 9th at 6:30 in the Annex. Please pray and get the word out on this weekly event.      

   *SUNDAY EVENING:  

  We have started holding evening services at 6:30 pm for those who are unable to attend Sunday Mornings. However, due to the 4th of July holiday, there will be no evening service on July 4th.                                                        

 SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS 

  Del Bolin will be out of town for the next two weeks. We are putting a hold on the study of Acts.  Keith Wagner will be teaching for the next two Sundays; topic will be determined. Please come join us.        

   ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS *

          We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link is below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNYzpUNlXl5tCx3Mest5kA

  *We anticipate not having YouTube service this week, but will start back on Sunday, July 11th.       

  WEDNESDAY NIGHT

        Join the Zoom Meeting on the study of Matthew at 7pm.

Meeting ID:873 6718 6931

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87367186931

  THURSDAY NIGHT 

             We are continuing to gather at the Mileti’s home on Thursday nights at 6:00pm to pray and work through the church vision statement. This has also been a great time for fellowship. Come join us.  Please RSVP to let the Miletis know if you plan on coming. 

  FOOD PANTRY 

         Items needed: grape jelly, any kind of cereal, canned pineapple, kids’ fruit snacks, Rice A Roni (chicken flavor).