Roanoke Church of Christ



by my friend, Ben

I were haulin’ a load of timber outta Shelby Holler when I saw Miss Bonnie Pauley’s house. I did. It’d been years since I’d been up that way an’ I nigh’d forgotten Miss Bonnie. I did.

Miss Bonnie weren’t no “Miss”. We country folks just about call all women-folk “Miss.” Fact is, Miss Bonnie were married to Frank Pauley for most of her life before he died with what they said was tuberculosis of the bone. Most folks today say it were cancer, but back then they had their reasons for callin’ it tuberculosis. They did.

Years ago, Morgan County had one of them there TB sanatoriums. They did. They put it out on top of Tyler Mountain cause they said the air were all fresh-like and it were away from folks an’ the dirty big city air. They did. Then they brung folks from all around what had TB to Morgan County. They did. I’d heard Ma say lots of folks back then felt they was bringin’ big city diseases to the country, an’ they didn’t like it none.. They didn’t.

Miss Bonnie and Frank came along with the sanatorium. They did. They said Miss Bonnie were a special kinda nurse what understood how to care for them folks what had TB. They did. An’ I reckon Miss Bonnie were about the best there were, ceptin’ I never knowed her myself. She died long before I were born. She did. But her’n Frank’s ol’ house were still standin’ like some kinda fallin’ down monument. It were.

Trouble were, the way Ma told it, folks here an’ about saw Miss Bonnie as dangerous. They did. TB were killing lots of folks in the cities an’ folks here an’ about didn’t want to catch it. They didn’t. An’ they reckoned Miss Bonnie, workin’ with them folks what they brought out here what had TB would bring it to them. They did.

Mosta them doctors and nurses what worked at the TB hospital lived on the other side of the mountain, in Stanleyville. They did. So folks in Hickory Ridge didn’t see ‘em much cause they were Stanleyville’s problem. An’ back then ten miles or more were a long ways. It were.

But Miss Bonnie an’ Frank decided to live up Shelby Holler, a few miles outside a Hickory Ridge. They did. That bein’ so, they shopped for all their needs in town. They did.

Bein’s that Miss Bonnie and Frank were long gone before I were born, I learned Miss Bonnie’s story form Ma. I did. Pa’d taken her an’ me up Shelby Holler to see Maudy Pete, who were down in her back. She were. An’ on the way home I spotted this big ol’ house almost buried in Kudzu. When I asked whose it were, Ma told me about Miss Bonnie. She did.

Ma said whenever Miss Bonnie would come into town folks would move to the other side of the street an’ wouldn’t get within breathin’ distance of her. They did.

Ma said Miss Bonnie never had her hair done down at Lou Ann’s Beauty Shop like lots of other women did. An’ she cut Franks hair herself to keep him from bein’ told Jess Larson wouldn’t cut his hair in his barber shop. She did. Ma said they didn’t go to church, just to make things easier on folks. She did.

Frank worked at the sanatorium too. He were the head of maintenance, what meant he kept all the heat an’ plumbing in workin’ order. It did.

Now at this point in the story Pa filled in the things Ma were too humble to tell. He did. He said bein’s that we lived out aways, Ma didn’t know about Miss Bonnie until the Pauley’s had been there a few months. She didn’t. She mighta learned sooner, but Ma weren’t one to stand around an’ listen to the gossip when she were in town. She weren’t. But one day she saw folks crossin’ the street as this woman walked toward them. Mother’s pushed their kids to cross the street. They did. Ma wanted to know more about what was goin’ on. She did. So she asked. When she were told Bonnie might be one of them “carriers”, she went right to Doc Martin’s office and waited to see him. He told her there were no real danger of gettin’ TB from Miss Bonnie, cause she wore a mask at work, an’ they were learnin’ more an’ more about TB all the time. He said it were just that folks were scared. He did.

According to Pa, the next Sunday at the close of church, Ma stood up an’ said she had somethin’ to say. For a woman to talk out in church was perty unheard of. It were. She said that in the Bible it says that Jesus touched the lepers an weren’t afraid of helpin’ them. She did. She reckoned iffen Jesus could touch lepers an’ still have folks come around him, why were folks treatin’ Bonnie Pauley the way they were. She also told ‘em what Doc Martin said, She did. Then she said she were going out to see Frank an’ Miss Connie an invite them to church. She did. Even though Pa weren’t there, he said he were sure that church were as quiet as a tomb. He were..

Well, Ma did what she said, an’ the Pauley’s seemed real grateful. They did. But they declined her invitation to come to church. They did.

Knowin’ Ma it didn’t surprise me none when Pa said the next time she saw Miss Bonnie in town she went right up to her and walked with her. She did. Well, perty soon most of the folks in town found out what was goin’ on. They did. Pa said some even said bad things about Ma. They did. But she kept right on walkin’ with Miss Bonnie. She did.

Nothin’ changed much, but Ma made sure every time she saw Miss Bonnie she walked with her. One day she went in a store an’ asked iffen they were afraid of her since she was within breathin’ distance of Miss Bonnie. No one said a word, but they sold her what she wanted without backin’ away. They did.

It took Ma doin’ that for about a month or so an’ gradually folks opened up an’ found Frank an’ Miss Connie to be real good folks. They did.

I reckon fear of the unknown is about the most powerful thing on earth next to love. I do. Ma proved that over an’ over in the way she treated people an’ things. She did. An’ I reckon the world would be a whole lot better off iffen everyone did the same. I do.

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy’s great-niece, Jewell Manhold, is having surgery on July 6. Her son, Ian has a friend, Michelle Yates, who has terminal cancer. Martha Foy’s dad is making slow progress. Also, a dear friend of the Foy’s has terminal cancer. Hospice has been suggested for Connie Crite’s father. She and Rich are there for Father’s Day. Pam Pierce is improving day by day. Joni Beach’s mother is about the same. Zona Fisher’s doctors are still working to regulate her blood pressure. Her brothers, Roger and Tim have cancer. Jen Wagner’s dad went home from the hospital. Melanie Almeder (cancer) Mike Breeding (heart problems) Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabell Simmons, Helen Nicklas, Julie (stroke) Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida is still about the same. Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

THE FOOD PANTRY: The food pantry has been restocked and already several families have benefited from it.

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 2:1-10
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18

Today (June 20) is Super Sunday. It is also Father’s Day. Where could dad get a better meal than right here after this morning’s service? Plan to stay.

High Seas Adventure Vacation Bible School will be July 26-30. As far as we know it will have nothing to do with BP and the oil spill, but just good fun mixed with learning about God and Jesus.

As you can see, Pam and Tom Kirchner have transformed the foyer into a port of call, with ship and other nautical items.

Erma will be asking for barrels (adopted ones) as well as other items needed.
Registration can be done on the church web site,

About the web site: We are not sure if we were “hacked” or if there was a glitch in our server. It seems to be straightened out now, but if you have any trouble, let Keith know. Also, if you are not getting your bulletin via the web page and you were on the e-mailing list, let Keith know.

Thanks to Erma Williams, Wayne and Nathan Flora and Wayne Phlegar for taking the young folks to Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, NC last week. The young folks had worked on several projects to raise money for the trip, as well as raising money we will be soon sending to a group in Haiti who is rebuilding after the earthquake.

We are getting closer to making the building comfortable on the extra hot days. A plan to cover the large front windows with see-through reflective covering is one possibility. The other is mini-blinds which could be opened or raised and lowered as needed. The temperature in the foyer is about ten degrees hotter than the auditorium. If you have input, see one of the steering committee. We are also getting closer to finding the right speed controls for the fans.


Jesus said those who follow his teaching will be known by their fruits. Also that a bad tree can’t bear good fruit, or vice versa. (Matt.7:16ff)

Christianity certainly has good roots. It is rooted in Jesus Christ. However, like the parable of the evil sower who came to the field at night and sowed bad seeds, its fruit became corrupted.

When? The fact is, the corruption  has always been a factor. If you read the book of James it was going on then. It had to do with who was of first priority in the congregation, and who was not. So James has to say, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

We spent a lot of time preaching on that “keeping oneself from being polluted by the world” without keeping it in the whole context of the letter. The world’s pollution is that which makes us arrogant, selfish, loose-tongued, prejudiced and willing to “murder” someone who isn’t like us. What this produced then and now, are church-goers who cause pain by their words and actions.

History records vividly the words and actions of those who called themselves Christians. We can’t escape the images of the inquisition, the killings and burnings of the Protestant Reformation, nor the persecution that drove people to America, and then the witch hunts in the New World. We could add the way we treated the African slaves, and all the things “Christians” opposed (and still do) that stood for equality and justice.

That legacy is unescapable. It stands before us every day. The word “Christian” sends a chill down most non-Christian’s backs. The bad roots and the bad fruit taints the very word “Christian”. If the “world” used the word “Pharisee” it would be next word to come to mind. “Pompous, judgmental, arrogant and self-righteous” are the words they use. This is compounded by the way most Christian efforts try to do what they believe they are to do to “save” the world.

The world knows our agenda. Our job is to convert them. Of course it is for their own good to “save” them. It’s a “Be baptized or I’ll drown you” attitude. So the world (the sinner) knows we are only interested in them so we cane save them. We are not interested in them just because they are a human being. They know we only see value in them if they convert. They know that all the good we may do and offer is hinged on if they will become like us. They know the attention we pay to them is not free. It is not a gift, given unconditionally. It has a price. Knowing that, why should we be surprised they don’t want anything to do with us? They know we will really only “love the sinner” if the sinner becomes a saint.

I asked Sunday why the notorious sinners in Jesus’ day were drawn to him and not to us. Neither were they drawn to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Why? Because they knew they only had value if they measured up to the accepted standards of what was considered right living. They knew they had to do something, to change, before they would be accepted. That’s where Jesus was different and somehow he got it across by the way he acted and treated them. He “welcomed” them to eat with him. He had only one agenda, to make sure they knew they were accepted and loved, without any conditions. He was not there to convert, but to show love. (Is love not the power that changes?) To show that he found their company not repulsive, but enjoyable. Making a convert was the last thing on his mind. The first thing was to give his unconditional acceptance as a friend. The most important thing is to know we are worth finding, just as lost as we are. “He’s the friend of sinners!”

Until we can do what Jesus did in the spirit of grace that Jesus gave, freely, with no condition of return, we will find the world wanting little to do with us. They will not become part of something that counts heads and has no heart. Something that leaves a rotten taste in their mouth.

When Christians are known as the people who go about doing good, (Acts 14:17) who paint and build houses, clean up after storms and work for all kind of good, without asking for anything, anything, in return, then Jesus will be seen in us and that will be all that is needed.

Martha Foy’s dad, Larry, is having some problems with pain in his muscles that is nearly immobilizing him. He is having tests. Connie Crites’ father’s condition is somewhat worse. A dear friend of Martha Foy’s has terminal cancer. Pam Pierce is still gaining strength for upcoming surgery. Joni Beach’s mother is doing as well as can be expected. Zona Fisher is still having blood pressure problems. Her brothers, Roger and Tim are dealing with cancer. Jen Wagner’s father is improving each day. Continue to pray for Melanie Almeder (treated for cancer) Mike Breeding (Ron Matney’s nephew) heart problems. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabell Simmons. Helen Nicklas, Julie (stroke) Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer), Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int., Bread For A Hungry World and the relief efforts going on in all the countries damaged by earthquakes and storms.

Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9

Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-21

Our sympathy is extended to Joann Wagner and all her family in the death of her mother, Jewell Racer. She died on Sunday, May 23, in Victoria, TX. She was 98 years old.

The funeral was held in Barbersville, WVA on Saturday, May 29.

Jo and all the family thank the congregation for the cards, kind words and the flowers which helped ease the pain of her death .

Former member Cozetta Mays died suddenly at her home in Cross Lanes WVA on Memorial Day, May 31. The funeral was in Charleston. Keith Wagner and Mike Ross officiated. There will be no official grave-side service here in Roanoke. However, the interment will be at 1:00 on Friday, June 4 at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens and the family would welcome those who want to drop by.

We can add a little award on our web site. We were “hacked”! We don’t know who or how, but it has been fixed, at least until we can acquire more security. In the mean time we can only imagine who might have decided we needed to be invaded

By the way, the mass e-mail mailing of the bulletin seems to be working well now. Check the web site on google at

Thanks to Erma Williams for teaching the training class for VBS High Seas Expedition Saturday, May 29. And thanks to those of you who came for the training.

We did not have camp this year due to several conflicts that left us with such a small number that we decided to regroup and do some other things. However, Camp Bethel has invited us to come back anytime we want. Perhaps next year we will be able to do it again. In the mean time we are planning a couple of things that will involve former campers. They will be announced.

Congratulations to Alice Blessing in coming in third in the Roanoke Star singing competition over the Memorial Day weekend. This was Alice’s first competition and she’s going to try again next year.


Bill Cosby says that the reason grandparents are so different than parents is because they are old people trying to get into heaven. That may be true and it may be why I find myself more outspoken on issues I have avoided.

In a recent article by Ray McGovern, he sited a Pew Research Center survey. The survey polled white non-Hispanic Catholics, white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants. A majority (54%) who attended church regularly said torture could be “justified.” The irony is that among occasional church attenders said torture is rarely or never justified.

Ray McGovern is qualified to write on the subject. He is a retired CIA officer who served under seven presidents for over 27 years. He presented the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of those presidents. He is a member Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. and speaks to churches around the country. The article had to do with either the acceptance of torture among Christians, or the refusal of Christian ministers to speak out against it.

In his article he refers to “Blank Presbyterians”, “Deaf Methodists” and “Clueless Catholics.” He does say there are segments within each group that have spoken out against torture. He didn’t say anything about the Baptists or the Church of Christ, but I’m sure he would find the same among us and the Baptists.

I remember a woman who was a member of the Church of Christ saying about the Abu Ghraib prison torture, “Well, they’d do the same to our boys if not worse.” But she agreed it was not a Christian attitude.

That’s the problem, how did we Christians reach the point torture became circumstantially acceptable? And, it is not a political party issue. Both sides of the “isle” have condemned it. John McCain, a Republican and a tortured war veteran, has spoken out against it, even though the Chaney/Bush administration advocated it, Chaney being more outspoken than the president. A Baptist senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, in a senate hearing about such interrogation techniques said, “One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work.”

One of the startling things in McGovern’s article was (I remembered hearing this) that Hitler made sure there was a pastor in each Lutheran and Catholic parish in Germany. The reason? To be a force for the stability of his regime.

Torture has been around for as long as humans have lived together. We’ve all heard of the torture chambers of ancient times and have seen the tools of the torture trade. We also know that in most of those cases the torture had nothing to do with gaining information. It had to do with revenge and inflicting pain and death. When the crusaders caught pregnant Muslim women who were about to give birth and striped them down so the dogs could eat their children as they were born, it had nothing to do with gaining intelligence. It was about ethnic cleansing. The same could be said of the atrocities of Hitler. But torture used to gain what is thought to be useful information is another matter. But is it?

Christians will say “God is in control.” Amen! They will say,”Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” Amen! They will say, “Jesus said fear not.” Amen! And then say torture is the right way to be in control, bring justice and the end of fear.

At this point I need to explain the title of this article. The “WWJT” stands for “Who Would Jesus Torture?” When I ask myself that question the answer to the torture question is easy.

John Yoo, one of the chief torture lawyers for the Bush administration said it was appropriate to crush the testicles of a child in front of it’s parents to get vital information. And Jesus said, “Amen!” I can only guess what Yoo would suggest if the parents only had daughters.

Of course, the question is always asked, “If your loved one was about to die a horrible death, and the person who had information to stop it was sitting in front of you, what would you do?” Under such circumstances I have no idea how desperate and brutal I might be. That’s the reason we struggle with criticizing torture. We are led to believe that since threats to our security happen almost every day, torture is the only way to stop it. We also believe our enemies think and act as we do. They don’t. If I believe I will be rewarded as a martyr if I die for my cause, why would I tell the truth under torture? We read of people who walk into a business with a gun and kill out of anger and revenge, and then either kill themselves, or die willingly by what is called, “Death by cop.”

It should be noted that many high ranking military officers believe torture is not only wrong and against what America should stand for, but that it is not an effective way to get worthwhile information. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been reported as “appalled” and “disgusted” after viewing some of the abuse photos being kept under wraps by the Obama administration. He warned senior military officers on July 10, 2009, “We haven’t all absorbed or applied all the lessons of Abu Ghrab.” He has ordered that more be done to halt detainee abuse, saying, “We are better than this and now we have to show it.”

The Christian may say, “I wouldn’t do it, but the government has the right to.” If that’s true, the government also has the right not to torture. So if the present administration said it would no longer practice any form of torture, all Christians would be happy. Right? Hardly. Most of those who feel torture is necessary claim some form of Christianity or belief in God.

As for me, I can’t believe Jesus would tell me to brutalize a child to get information. So I intend to keep asking myself, “Who would Jesus torture?” Or perhaps, “Who would Jesus authorize to be tortured?” And while I ponder that, I might also think about what Augustine said, “Hope has two children. The first is anger at the way things are. The second is courage to do something about it.”

CONCERNS: Pray for Connie Crites’ father and family. He has been found to have two aneurysms at the end of stents previously placed in the arteries of his heart. At 91, he is dealing with a decision about the surgery. Philip Pierce’s mother, Pam, has been sent home to gain strength from a ruptured appendix as she awaits heart surgery. Zona Fisher’s older brothers, Tim and Roger, both have cancer. Mike Bartkiewicz, Jennifer Wagner’s father, is slowly recovering from cancer surgery and a ruptured colon. He still has a way to go. He is in the VA Hospital. Chad Plaster had tests at Johns Hopkins to see if they can better treat a syndrome he has that causes his limbs to shake. Joni Plaster only sustained a bad sprained ankle, not a break. Continue in prayer for Melanie Almeder (cancer), Mike Breeding (Ron Matney’s nephew) is home but still needs prayers. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabel Simpson (leukemia), Helen Nicklas, Evelyn Hammer, Julie in Texas (stroke), Mrs Kelly, a recent widow, Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer) Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder, Jewell Racer, Wilma and Jeni Cullum, Del Bolin, who is in Honduras doing medical work. The work of Heath Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-8
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 13:1-8

Monday: Job 38:1-18
Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-5
Wednesday: Psalm 37:1-17
Thursday: Luke 18:35-19:10
Friday: John 18:1-14
Saturday: Hebrews 13:1-21

By now most of those who are attending Sweet Life Cafe’, the women’s retreat have registered. But there may still be time. See Erma Williams. The time is the weekend of the 23rd and 24th.

Erma took several pictures last Sunday for the new directory. However, there are more needed, so if she asked, say “Peaches!” Since we have a new copier with the ability to do booklets, we hope to start as soon as the updates information is passed out and turned in. The information sheets will be available next week.

Once again Life Line Screening, a group that offers stroke screening, heart rhythm screening, aortic screening, peripheral arterial screening and osteoporosis screening, will be using our annex on Monday, May 3. If you need such a service information is available for the asking.

The dates for camp this year are June 13-19 at Camp Bethel. The cost remains the same as last year, $150.00. The church will pay $30.00 of the cost for each camper from the congregation. Other help is usually available. See Keith.

The young people will be hosting a spaghetti dinner in the annex on May 8 at 5:00 P. M. The meal will consist of spaghetti, a salad, garlic bread, a drink and dessert, all for $5.00. This will take some donations from the congregation. Erma will let us know. The funds raised will go to Haitian relief and youth activities. Plan to come and invite some friends.

Today, April 18th is Super Sunday. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal following the morning service..All guests, April birthdays and anniversaries will be served first.

The steering committee will meet following the Super Sunday meal. Among the things discussed will be the Sunday date when the collection for Haitian relief will take place.


The question about what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is has a long history. Most agree that it is a state of mind, rather than a few words or even a few sentences. If we look at the context we can see that.

In Matthew 12 Jesus had healed a man and was accused by the Pharisees of doing it by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Jesus says Satan can’t cast out Satan, and then said anyone who was not with him was against him. It was at this point, in this situation, that Jesus said, “And so (referring back to what had just happened) I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit will not be forgiven.: vs.31.

“Every sin and blasphemy”, except what? What had they criticized Jesus for doing? Keep in mind that Jesus said if it was against him it could be forgiven. If it wasn’t against Jesus, who, or what was it against? (Trinitarians would have a problem with this.) It was against the very nature of God. It was against who God is and what God does. Jesus is offended that they have witnessed a man set free from a terrible problem and they refuse to give the credit to the Spirit, the goodness, the essence, of who and what God is. Why have they done that? The only contextual reason is their refusal to see the act as meeting their requirements. They do not deny that it was a good thing. You will notice in the text that Jesus asked if he casts out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do they cast them out? vs. 27.

When Jesus said Satan can not cast out Satan, and that a house divided against itself can not stand, he was saying evil can not do what is against evil. Good is always against evil. Good is what evil isn’t. Good, when it is done, no matter who does it, always reflects the nature, the Spirit, of God. So to see a good work and then call it something other than good, and to attribute it, not so much to evil, but to something not like God, is essentially to blaspheme the nature of God, to blaspheme God’s Spirit.

As I said, it’s not a one time thing. It is not to be angry with God and say something foolish. It is an attitude of the heart. It is a teaching that refuses to recognize any good work accept that which meets that individual, or group’s criteria. To put it bluntly, anything not done by them and those like them is tainted, even when it shows the true nature of God.

Tragically, something of that attitude is taught in churches every day. “We can’t do anything for anybody, even if it is good, if others are helping with whom we don’t agree. If a hurricane destroys a place, we will only send money as long as it is to those we agree with on all points of doctrine. If a child’s family needs help with staggering medical bills, we will not give if there are others giving with whom we do not agree on points of doctrine.”

Sadly, the last sentence of the above paragraph happened in the case of the fund raiser for Isabelle Simmons, the little two-year old with leukemia. Two local congregations refused to have any participation because some other churches not like them were also involved. The elders of at least one of those congregations instructed their members not to be involved. Some women from that same church went so far as to go to a nursing home and tell the great-grandmother of the little girl that she could not give, nor attend the fund raiser. The grandfather and grandmother of Isabelle was with us last Sunday and told that story. He added that if his mother had been able she would have been there. He also added that as long as she was in the nursing home, when they visited her they would no longer darken the door of that congregation.

Remember, this is not about the individual’s right not to be involved. The issue is an attitude that condemns a good work done by the wrong people.

Am I saying those who refused to help because it didn’t meet their criteria of “sound” have blasphemed the Spirit? Well, I can’t help but see the very close proximity to the situation with Jesus and the Pharisees. A proximity that distorts the nature of God’s goodness and love.

Remember, Jesus said it was not about him. It was not about the deed itself. Even the Pharisees and their disciples cast out demons. So, what was it about? Fear and blindness. The Pharisees knew Jesus was not like them. He didn’t do the things they believed made a person righteous before God. If Jesus could do such things as casting out demons as they did, where did that leave them? Was all their hard work to be righteous in vain? He couldn’t be righteous, because they were, and he wasn’t like them. What to do? Discredit him. Say the Godlike things he did were not really Godlike because he didn’t belong to God, but to Satan. How could they say that? Because he didn’t meet their standards of what was acceptable to God, which meant God couldn’t be behind it. They were blinded by a legalistic doctrine based on a false idea of righteousness.

I know about those who Jesus said would speak of driving out demons and performing miracles in his name, and yet will be called by Jesus, “evil doers“.Now this is a slippery slope! But notice Jesus never denied that the casting out of demons by the Pharisees in Matt 12 was in itself, evil. Does the fact that they did good make them good? No. Does the fact that Jesus says he will call some who have done powerful works in his name, “evil doers”, make the good they did evil? No. Jesus said Satan can not cast out Satan. Some commentators say in Matt. 7, these were only “claims” and that the prophesy and miracles never happened. However, there are a number of places where the less than accepted by God did such things. Can an evil person do good for evil reasons? Yes. But the wrong reason does not erase the good that was done. It is all about the attitude of the heart.

What the attitude was of those in Matt 7 is anyone’s guess. All we know is that it was not the attitude of Jesus. In Matt 12 the attitude of the Pharisees is quite clear. It is an attitude that rejects anything good that does not meet their standards of righteousness. It is an attitude of blindness and fear that kills you spiritually.

CONCERNS: Martha Albert has been having trouble with what is residual effects of childhood polio. Melanie Almeder, (Melanie Beaver’s teacher) Ron Matney’s nephew, Mike Breeding, heart attack. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabelle, who is being treated for leukemia, It’s been good to see Helen Niklas able to be out some. Evelyn Hammer, The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas. (stroke) Mrs. Kelly, a recent widow and neighbor of Alice Blessing’s. Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. Barbara McCauley, Chris Phlegar and Tim Elder. Those shut-in: Jewel Racer, Wilma and Jenni Cullum and those involved in helping those in need all around the world.

Monday: John 8:21-47
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:32-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9:110:1-5
Monday: Hebrews 4:1-5:10
Tuesday Matthew 5:17-48
Wednesday: Genesis 1:1-31
Thursday: II Samuel 12:1-15
Friday: Ephesians 6:10-20
Saturday: Psalm 104:1-35

Last Sunday we welcomed the Bolin family as part of our church family. They have been with us for several months and have become deeply involved in the work here.

They consist of Dell, Leena, Nick and Jon, as well as Leena’s mother, Helen Niklas.

Dell is a physician, Leena is a busy mom, and Nick and Jon are teenaged students. We are thrilled to have them with us to share the gifts God has given them.

They live at 5933 Blackhorse Ln., Roanoke, 24018. Phone 769-5127

Our sympathy is extended to Martha Foy and her family in the sudden death of Martha’s nephew, who died of a heart attack last week.

Today, March 21, is Super Sunday. This is always a day of good food and fellowship. Be sure to plan to stay after the service and enjoy this time together.

The teenage class will have a lock-in here on Friday night and Saturday morning of April 9-10.

There will be a city-wide training session conducted here on Saturday, April 17. Erma Williams will be doing that and she always needs a few extra hands if you can help.

The women’s retreat, Sweet Life Cafe’, will be April 23&24. All activities will be at the building, starting on Friday evening, April 23, and conclude mid-afternoon on Saturday, April 24. An optional “sleep over” is at Leena Bolin’s home on Friday evening. Information and registration forms are on the table in the foyer. The cost is $25.

Erma Williams needs the names of any women beyond the congregation that might be interested so they can be sent a personal invitation.

The amount collected for Isabelle from the congregation was $500.00. This did not include tickets bought for the fund raiser and things purchased at the action, as well as other individual gifts. ALSO: $650 was the amount collected for Gideon Bibles.


Just about the time our granddaughter, Megan, was to get married, she and I were talking about wedding vows. I said (with tongue in cheek) sometimes I was tempted to have the couple about to be married take an oath of office. She said it might not be a bad idea.

Before going on, let me say, and I’ve probably said it before, the very act of marriage is something of a mystery. It has very few constants. It seems to be as much biological (hormones) as it is emotional (love). In some societies it can be an arranged marriage. In that case, love, whatever that means, can come later, if it does. In those situations duty is more important than feelings.

In “romantic” marriages it can be both of the mind and the heart. By “mind” I mean the two people get to know each other as well as they can over time, while also having emotional (hormonal) feelings toward each other. Both are important.

There is also the “blindness” of love, as in “Love is blind.” That’s when the emotional part of the relationship blinds one or both of the parties to the possible dangers ahead in the relationship.

There is also dependency, or maybe co-dependency. (I’m not an expert on marriage) I’m talking about the case that is something like adopting a dog from the pound. Once you get involved there is a sense of responsibility. The dog may bite you but you feel a sense of responsibility for its care since you brought it home. After all, if you don’t take care for it, it may be put down.

Or the dog may convince you that you deserve to be bit and that you’re lucky to have found a dog that would go home with you. While we’re at it, the dog may not even like you that much but you are offering it food, shelter and security. In a relationship that’s bad news.

There’s also unexpected surprises. There are things that can be so deeply hidden they don’t come out until after a number of months or years. That’s one of the reasons some folks say it’s better to live together before taking the final step. However, as far as the record goes, those marriages fail at the same rate as the others.

So there I am, looking at two people about to enter into marriage. All the bases may have been covered as far as I know, and yet I have no idea how it will work out. Of course, many do, and I’m happy about that. On the other hand I also know for some, the words are just words that have to be said in order to satisfy some tradition. They may be saying what they’d like to see happen, but don’t really care if it does or not. What to do?

That’s where the oath of office comes in. Would it make marriages work? Hardly, but it might make it more serious. So I humbly offer my “Oath of the Office of Marriage.”

“Irwin Chase Mason, place your hand on the Bible and repeat after me. (I’ll leave out the response, but you get the picture) I Irwin Chase Mason–do solemnly swear–that I will faithfully execute the office of husband–in the state of marriage–and that to the best of my ability–preserve, protect and defend–the vows, promises and principles of marriage–so help me God.”

“Virginia Mae Browning, place your hand on the Bible and repeat after me, I, Virginia Mae Browning–do solemnly swear–that I will faithfully execute the office of Bride–in the state of marriage–and that to the best of my ability, protect and defend–the vows, promises and principles of marriage– so help me God.” I thought about saying, “In the holy estate of marriage” but the Bible never calls it that.

Do I believe such an oath would make marriages better? I doubt it, but it might make me feel better. But it’s not about my feelings, it’s about what the couple feels about the union we call marriage.

I don’t have the figures, but I’ll bet that marital and relationship problems are the leading cause of death and violence in the United States. That being true, it shows the deep potential for both the good and the bad to happen in marriage.

In the traditional marriage ceremony there is a line that says about marriage, “It should not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly.” Not bad. But as far as I’m concerned, that needs to be taken care of well before the ceremony.

CONCERNS: Jenni Cullum’s cataract surgery has been postponed. Melanie Almeder, Melanie Beaver’s teacher, is being treated for cancer. Leena Bolin’s mother, Helen Niklas was able to be out Sunday. Isabelle the little girl who has leukemia. Ron Matney’s nephew, Mike Breeding had a heart attack. Julie, the Phlegar’s friend in Texas who has had a stroke. Also Polly Altice and her son, James, Evelyn Hammer, Chris Phlegar, Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixi Long, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Roger Fisher’s nephew (cancer) Tim Elder, those in Haiti and Chile who have endured earthquakes, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Hosea 11:1-9
Tuesday: Matthew 10:24-39
Wednesday: Exodus 16:1-15
Thursday: Luke 7:36-50
Friday: John 13:31-38
Saturday: Psalm 103:1-22

Monday: Matthew 6:1-18
Tuesday: Psalm 96:1-13
Wednesday: Matthew 6:19-34
Thursday: Luke 23:26-43
Friday: James 1:5-18
Saturday: Romans 8:26-39

From Erma Williams: Sweet Life Cafe’: A retreat for ladies who want to retreat from it all. Sweet Life Cafe’ will begin Friday evening, April 23 and conclude mid afternoon on Saturday, April 24. All main activities will take place at the church annex. A “sleep over” is an optional activity to take place at Leena Bolin’s home on Friday Evening. Erma Williams needs email addresses of any ladies outside of the Roanoke family that might be interested in taking part in this activity, to ensure she receives a personal invitation. The cost is $25 for pre-registration by April.

If you’ve noticed that Erma Williams’ name is on for nursery duty each Sunday, it is because she is starting a new class for the nursery children during the worship service. The description is as follows. Play n Worship for Toddlers, Two’s and Preschool: They’ll toss bouncy balls in the air to make rain for Noah’s Ark. They’ll clang building blocks together to make thunder-and learn how God calms a storm. They’ll hug and hold baby dolls-and hear about God’s great care for them! Each Play -n-Worship lesson uses objects from toddlers and twos’ everyday world-plus play, fun, stories and songs. This will start right away.

On April 17th there will be a city-wide training seminar for Vacation Bible School. It will be here in the annex. See Erma about details.

If you like Gospel Music, Janet Paschal and The Collingsworth Family (both of which are artists with Gaither Homecoming) will perform at the Jefferson Center on March 26. A flyer is on the downstairs bulletin board.

The family and friends of little Isabelle, the two year old being treated for leukemia is having a fund raising spaghetti dinner at the Roanoke Moose Lodge on Catawba Road, March 13, at 5 PM. There will be a silent action, a Christian comedian, and Christian music. See the bulletin board.


I said in a resent sermon that just because something is found in the Bible does not make it a reality. I went on to explain that while the sailors on the ship on which Jonah was fleeing was being assailed by the gods of the sea, that does not mean there are sea gods. I spoke of that because in Ephesians 2:2 Paul says at one time they “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Just because Paul refers to such a spirit does not mean that is a reality, a real entity. It means some of the Ephesian converts where still hanging on to their old beliefs in the gods of Rome and Greece. While commentaries will often refer to this as part of Satan’s world, Paul does not call this Satanic, or refer to the “disobedient” as servants of Satan. It probably had to do with the ancient belief that the stars and other heavenly bodies controlled life on earth, which, in the broad sense of the word could be called Satan’s world..

We need remember that Paul, in First Corinthians, talked about the “many gods”, but then went on to say they were not real. He called them, “so called gods.” There is only one God, not many. There is only one ruler of all creation, not many. The plurality of gods was an ancient way to explain life and why the unpredictable and unexplainable things happened.

When Paul was in Athens he saw what he called their “objects of worship.” (Acts 17:23) These were the gods and goddesses they worshiped and believed controlled their lives. They were very real to them. They even named them. Paul knows that. He tells them he can see that they are “very religious.” (Vs.22) It is telling that the KJV says, “superstitious.” The root words are the same in this case. So the question is, were these gods real? The answer is “yes” to the Greeks, but “no” in reality. Did they shape their lives? Yes. But was Mars, Neptune and the others real? No.

However, quite often the old beliefs (superstitions) came back to haunt and rule those who had converted to Christianity. They were much like the Jews who kept finding themselves drawn to the gods of Egypt and their neighbors. Israel rarely if ever, turned completely away from God. They just thought it was safer if they covered all the bases by adding all the gods they could. This was especially true when their pagan neighbors had better crops and bigger sons than did they. “If it worked for the pagans, it should really work for God’s people.”

We don’t live in the same world as did those of the Bible. However, there are millions upon millions of people on the earth who still believe in the “fates” or whatever. Superstition still has a strong hold on people, even Christians. Many of the Haitian people believe God caused the earthquake that has devastated their country. Probably an equal amount of Christians believe the same thing. When the Christian wakes up in the morning and believes they are surrounded by all kinds of evil spirits, turned loose on them by God, (after all, if God created everything, then these spirits are God’s creation) they have fallen victim to superstition.

Simply put, there are only two worlds, the physical and the spiritual, the seen and the unseen. It’s more complicated than that, but that will do for now. Any force that is unseen is spiritual. It’s either good spiritual or bad spiritual. That’s why the Bible speaks of an “evil spirit” and “unclean spirits.” They represent those things that can’t be explained physically, even though the results can be seen physically through the person’s actions. Anything of the mind (heart in the Bible) is spiritual. So Jesus will say it’s what comes out of a man that will condemn him, not the food that goes in.

Paul, in Eph. 6:12 (In the letter written for those who were sliding back into their pagan beliefs) says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. But against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” When he said that he did not mean these things had some kind of personality or form. He meant the battle was for the minds of people who were caught up in a false view of life. Did they believe the heavens were filled with all kinds of entities? Yes. Did Paul? I don’t think so, but he did know the enslaving grip these beliefs had on the people. The whole armor of God Paul says to use is all about combating teachings, superstitions and ideas. The belt of truth. No greater weapon against ignorance can be found. The breastplate of righteousness. The integrity of someone who lives right can’t be overcome. The footwear of the gospel of peace. Peace, no greater power for changing lives. The shield of faith. The conviction of the unseen that is seen in the results of faith. The helmet of salvation. The confidence of one’s understanding of God’s grace toward all. The sword of the Spirit i.e., the word of God. To speak with the authority of one who knows and serves God. It should be noted, that when Paul speaks of “the flaming arrows of the evil one”, it does not mean the “evil one” has personality or form, any more than it means there will be actual flaming arrows shot at the Christian.

Is the warfare spiritual? Yes. It is a battle against every ungodly idea and belief that manifests itself in the enslavement and harm to the individual. Poverty is a spiritual battle. Mental illness is a spiritual battle. Prejudice is a spiritual battle. Greed is a spiritual battle. We even have an idol to greed. It’s Wall Street. That does not mean the stock market is evil, just that we associate greed and avarice with that name. Ignorance is a spiritual battle. And yet, like Paul, we need to understand how deeply ingrained ignorance can be. It can even be the “truth” of that time. The world was never flat. But the “truth” for centuries was that it was. Ancient people were not stupid, but they, like us, were ignorant of a yet undiscovered truth. That’s why truth is the first weapon against ignorance.

We need to spend less time trying to imagine a battle in heaven going on among some kind of spiritual beings, and get on with the real battles here on earth that need our attention to be won.
Keith kswrev

CONCERNS: Melanie Beaver’s faculty advisor and favorite teacher, Dr. Melanie Almeder, is being treated for cancer. Helen Niklas, Laena Bolin’s mother, is unable to be out and about right now. Remember Isabel, the daughter of friends of the Bolins who has leukemia. Ron Matney was able to be at church last Sunday. Martha Albert’s grand nephew has grown enough to be home. Tamala Beach finished her radiation treatments. The Phlegar’s friend in Texas, Julie, is making slow recovery from a stroke. Polly Altice has made some progress. Her son, James still deals with cancer. Also Evelyn Hammer. Chris Phlegar has returned to a war zone. Continue to remember Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixi Long, Barbara McCauley, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Roger Fisher’s nephew, (cancer) Tim Elder, those in Haiti who are recovering slowly from the earthquake, Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World and all those who are working to relieve suffering around the world.

Monday: Matthew !8:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday: II Thess. 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 10:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 105:1-45

Monday: John 17:1-26
Tuesday: Revelation 19:1-16
Wednesday: Luke 16:19-13
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48

We are very close to opening our new Internet web site. James Downing has been working on it for us and has sent a Trial page so we can make changes and recommendations. One of the things that will be posted every two weeks is the bulletin. However, that does not mean the bulletin will no longer be e-mailed to those who want it sent.

The site will also allow us to display relevant pictures and events, as well as the various ministries in which we are involved. In other words, it will be a place those looking for a church will be able to see who we are before coming. Any ideas you have about what should go on it are welcome.

The Shivers have let us know that former member, Jerry Sumney, has been selected as Alumnus of the year in the field of Bible. More news of that will probably arrive via The Christian Chronicle. Jerry is still at Lexington Theological Seminary.

This Sunday, February 21, is Super Sunday. Even though there will still be piles of snow, it will be warm an toasty inside with lots of good food and fellowship. Plan to be there.

This is Winterfest weekend in Gatlinburg. Several of our young folks will be attending. Pray for their trip and safe journey. They plan to be home on Sunday in time to eat with us.

Ebenezer Baptist Church, at 7049 Thirlane Rd. Is having a panel discussion concerning Race, Religion & Roanoke. The date and time is Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6:00 PM. Certainly a needed thing, too bad it is on Wednesday. However, if someone goes they can report back to us.

A women’s retreat is planned for April 23-24. The theme will be Sweet Life Cafe’. It will be here at the building. More details later, but you can talk to Erma Williams, Susan Jordan and Laena Bolin about it.

Also in April, on the 17th, there will be a city-wide VBS training seminar here at the annex. You can see Erma about that.


IMAGINE The title of the beautiful and probing John Lennon song. Of course, the Christian community isn’t too keen on imagining there is no heaven or hell. On the other hand it is a call for peace and loving one’s neighbor as oneself. That is Christian. However, I wonder if we as Christians can imagine a world where the teachings of Jesus, and the rest of the ethical principles of the Bible are lived out? Or, secretly do we see Jesus as a hopeless romantic on the same level as Lennon?

Perhaps we see Jesus as one who knew it would never happen, but wanted to get the world as close as possible so the “Many are called but the few are chosen” could be saved. By the way, that passage in Matthew 22:14 must mean something other than what it seems to say. Jesus has just told a parable about a king who had a wedding feast and no one came. So all kinds of people, both the good and the bad were invited. In fact, Many are called (chosen) and get to stay, it is the one man, the “few” who is thrown out.

But the question is, “How do we really feel about the ethical teaching of Jesus”? For example, how do we feel about what we sometimes call “the golden rule”? Do we dare ask what would happen in the halls of congress, business, and around the world, if people began to practice that principle? Do we come and praise the Lord, while all of the time we think he was a little naive.

When we read the words, “Love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, do we smile and say it’s a nice thought but it won’t work? If we were asked what approach to life was the best, of course we would say the Christian life. But if we were asked which way of life was the most powerful, would we say the same thing? Do we worship an all powerful God and then live in such a way as to say God’s power is less powerful than whatever other power stands against the ideals and life of Jesus? Are we so “other worldly” that we have given up hope on the “God so loved the world that he gave his only son to die” for?

Am I looking for a utopia? No. But can I hope for and even imagine a world without conflict? By that I mean a world that is without war. Not a world where everyone will always agree or even get along. Just a world that has learned to settle differences without killing. A world where we have finally come to realize that we are all one family.

I can almost hear (because I’ve heard it over and over in my life) someone quoting Jesus’ saying, “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” That’s a good example of “pull and paste.” In context, in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Those with him have asked how they will know when it’s coming, so he tells them.

Are we hopeless romantics when we sing “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”? Are we just going through the motions when we say the words of the commonly called “Lord’s Prayer” when we say, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Is that a prayer we expect to be answered? Thankfully we have stopped saying the prayer is invalid because the kingdom has already come as the church. The prayer plainly calls for us to ask that God’s will will be done on earth. The question is if we think that is a valid request? If it isn’t, why would Jesus think it was?

So much of the Christian’s life is going to church, keeping some commandments, singing the songs and feeling good. Along with that we read, or hear read, the scriptures and nod our heads in agreement. But when asked what we really believe in about the power of God and the teachings of Jesus, we get a little uneasy. And I can understand it because I do too. I have to dig deep to find those in history who practiced the principles of Jesus. When I do I am then threatened as to if I really want to be like them. It seems all of their work was only recognized after they had either died or been killed.

I can bring whatever peace and good I can to my own little world, but that’s not the question. The question is whether I believe I’m just doing it to satisfy God, or because it really makes a difference in a future that can go on longer than I can imagine. I want to imagine it does.
Keith kswrev

CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering well from knee surgery. Ron Matney also had surgery on his leg and is doing well. He will have to stay in for a few weeks, especially during slippery weather. Martha Albert’s new grand nephew is growing stronger each day. Remember little Isabel, the daughter of friends of the Bolins who has leukemia. Tamala Beach will soon be finished with radiation treatments. Julie, a friend of the Phlegars in Texas, is recovering slowly from a stoke. Polly Altice is about the same. Her son. James, is not doing as well as before, as he deals with cancer. Chris Phlegar has returned to a war zone, and we will know more about where later on. Continue to remember Jo Wagner’s mother, Jewell Racer, Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida who has cancer. Barbara McCauley, Lureline Ferguson, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and the work of Health Talents Int. And Bread For A Hungry World and those suffering in Haiti and those who are trying to alleviate that suffering.

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
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-14
Wednesday: I Corinthians 5:1-8
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:11
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12

Because of the weather we have not been able to set a Sunday when we will take up a special collection for the earthquake victims in Haiti. We are also looking at which organization to send the funds to. From what we have received it seems most of the funds have been going to Helping Hands in Nashville. More on that when we are able to have services again. We may have another winter storm this weekend so watch either channel 10 or 7 for updates.

In December folks from Blue Ridge Behavioral’s Project Link used our annex for a Christmas party for some of their clients. We have received two cards from several of the women who were here. About nine women signed the cards and commented on the lasting impression they have from our kindness. The cards are on the downstairs bulletin board.

As we’ve been announcing, the troops we have been sending goodies and other things to in Iraq are being sent to Afghanistan. So until we find a contact, either with the chaplain, or if and when Chris Phlegar arrives, we are going to hold up on what we’ve been sending. However, when we do resume we will have perhaps an even deeper commitment with some donated things we will have to prepare for shipping. The fact that a single idea given to us by Wayne and Susan has grown to this point is a wonderful thing and an example as to what God can do when we do good things ourselves.

Several of our young folks will be attending Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN on the weekend of February 20,21. This “happening” gives them a chance to see other friends from around the area, as well as from farther away in an atmosphere of learning and song. Keep them in your prayers as they travel.

One of the new opportunities we have been given is helping settle immigrants in our area with such things as household goods, etc.. A list of those things is on the table in the foyer. Also remember the Samaritan Inn and the Rescue Mission.