Roanoke Church of Christ

Bimonthly Bulletin


In last Sunday’s sermon I was talking about the time when the king of Assyria had his army surround Dothan in an attempt to capture the prophet Elisha. You remember that Elisha’s servant woke up to find the city surrounded by the enemy army. He woke Elisha and asked what they were going to do. Elisha told him not to worry, that there was more of them then there was of the enemy. Old Testament scholar, Walter Bruggaman explains this as  looking at things as they are and understanding the facts of the situation are not always the way things must be. That’s an important concept when reading scripture.

Another example is from the temptation of Jesus. The tempter knew scripture and tossed it in Jesus’ face. A good point to remember, just because a scripture is quoted doesn’t mean that’s the way things must be. Jesus knew more than scripture. Jesus knew how to do scripture. That’s also a desperately needed lesson to learn.

Nearly everyone who has been taught the Bible has been taught to use it as a proof text. Of course, there is a need for that as we teach the Bible, as long as the proof text is also context. I’m going to go a step farther, there are times when the scripture and its context needs to be understood, not as it is, but as it should be.

A easy example is Ps. 90:10 “The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength.” How many people do you hear quote this “threescore and ten” passage as fact? Lots. Is it literally true? No. In fact, if we wanted to get into a scriptural war over it (and don’t we like to do that!) We could say, “Well, what about Isaiah 65:20, where the new earthly world ruled by the Messiah is envisioned? It says, ‘…he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.’ What about that?”
Contradictory? Only if you read the Bible as literal fact.

I can remember hearing Sunday school teachers and even preachers say that Jesus literally meant to cut off one’s hand or pluck out one’s eye because that’s what Jesus said. On the other hand, I never, and I mean never, heard anyone say that Jesus’ remark to the “rich young ruler” to sell what he had and give to the poor was to be taken literally. That is not to say no one ever did that, just that no one in my church background ever said that.

Well, why don’t we say that? We don’t because to do such a thing does not fit within the whole context of the life of Jesus. We are told in Luke 8:1-3 that Jesus was helped by several wealthy women who were followers. We also know that the message to the young man was not a message constantly repeated. But it does have a message to us about how we view money and the poor.

Here’s another little example of how scripture can be thrown around to prove a point. On one hand there are scriptures that are used to “prove” the world is getting worse, and that there was a time (it varies from person to person) when the days were good, as in “the good old days.” But, in Eccl. 7:10 it says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such a question.” I hit the ball on your side of the court and you hit it back until one of us fails to return it. Such is the life of literal interpretation.

So, how does the person arrive at one conclusion or the other? By observation. But that depends from where you are observing and how wide your depth of field. From where I stand, too many people are looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. Instead of looking at a wide open view of history, some people take the narrow view of looking only at their own time, or some vague time just before their time.

Who is right? Well, both see what they see and therefore mold their lives and view of God on their observation, be it long or short, narrow or wide. No one can argue with the “facts” of what is seen, but rather with how what is seen determines our view of God’s will and the world.

The “fact” is, slavery was never condemned in scripture. Is that fact therefore the truth about “owning” another human being? No. Did that fact allow the owners to teach, and even believe that a slave was not actually a complete human being? Yes. There are sad records of those who believed that the African slaves were not completely human. In fact, I have heard that in my lifetime, since moving to Roanoke. A youth minister who was a resource person at camp one year told me while he was working in a southern state (I’d rather not blemish that state by saying which one) was told by an elder, when he began to reach out to young blacks, not to worry about them because he wasn’t sure they had souls.

Well, how did slavery become unchristian? By observation. Christian people began to see and know black people and when they did their observation trumped the scriptures for slavery. Is that permissible? Of course! It happened all the time in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses said death to adulterers. While that meant only with another Hebrew man’s wife, even before the time of David, who was both adulterer and murder-for-hire king, the observation of the people said that law needed to be amended. Was it done officially? No. It was done because either the original law was outdated, or it was seen as unjust. Did they need a chapter and verse, or a word from a prophet to reach that conclusion? If there is one, we don’t have it. But the answer is “No.”

In our own history we had no chapter and verse to release women from the “weaker vessel” status. In fact there was (and still is) much quoting of verses to the contrary. What happened? Observation. The “facts” where not really the facts.

So when someone sees women serving God along with the men and says, “What about ‘Let the women keep silent in the church”, or some other such scripture, I don’t waste my time serving my scripture back into their court, (which can be done) unless they express a sincere desire to discuss the subject. Why?  Observation tells me those “facts” are not the real ones.

There will always be something that  challenges us to question the “facts”

CONCERNS: Jeff Bland’s friend’s father died just over a week ago. Remember the Major family as you pray. Bud McWhorter’s sister is slowly improving. Helen Nicklas had a CAT scan last week. Jeff Bland’s friend, Thomas Major’s father has died from cancer. The Smiths have a neighbor who needs our prayers, as does two of T. J. And Judy Halls. Remember also Trisha, a friend of the Bolins. The little boy Judy McWhorter mentioned with cancer is the nephew of a customer, not the son. Judy has set up a “fund jar” at her business. If you’d like to help, give it to her. Joanne Elder (needs a job), Martha Foy’s dad is still dealing with his back problem. Zona Fisher’s niece has cancer, as does her brother, Tim. Polly Altice reports that she is some better. Her son James is dealing with cancer. Isabelle Simmons is responding to treatment for leukemia. The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas is slowly recovering from a severe stroke, She is not yet walking. Wayne’s aunt is recovering from a serious fall. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 15:1-21
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:16-14
Friday: I Thess. 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 22:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
Roger Fisher’s oldest brother, Atley, died last week. The funeral and interment was near Union WV on Tuesday. ALSO: Zona Fisher’s brother, Roger Wade, died Sunday night after a short battle with cancer. The funeral was Wednesday. Keep these families in your prayers as they deal with their loss.
Today, September 19, is Super Sunday. It looks to be a beautiful day to stay and enjoy the fellowship of food and friends after the morning service. If you are a visitor, consider yourself our guest.
Martha and Bill Albert have invited us to their home on the lake this afternoon. This is a great time of the year to enjoy the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.

The food will be hot dogs on the grill, so bring some buns, some drinks, chips and maybe some potato salad and enjoy their hospitality. Martha really needs to know how many plan on coming, so see her after church. And, Thank you Martha and Bill for the invitation.

The Fort Ave congregation in Lynchburg started a monthly hymn sing last month. We missed getting it announced. The one for this month is on Saturday, the 25th at 6 PM. There will be a time of fellowship and refreshments following the singing.

The address is 1132 Sandusky Ave. You can check their web site @

Next month on Super Sunday, we will have our annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. Erma Williams has already put a sign-up list on the foyer table. If you remember last year it was a beautiful day with warm weather that turned comfortably crisp for the picnic. It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors and the picnic. More about that in the next bulletin.
If you shop at Kroger or Food Lion you can put money on a gift card from either store and as you use it 5% will go to the Rescue Mission to help those in need. For the Kroger card you have to pick it up at the mission.


Anne Rice is a successful and popular writer of such best sellers as “Interview With A Vampire” and “The Vampire Chronicles.” You may have also seen that she has recently announced that she is no longer a Christian. As I remember, she was raised Catholic, and for a number of years said she was an atheist. Then she began to seek out her Catholic faith again and even wrote some things about her search. So, what happened? In her own words she said she could no longer be part of that “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and infamous group.” She also said, “Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian.” And, “Following Christ does not mean following His followers.”

Is she right? Yes. Christians who are hostile and disputatious seem to be growing in numbers.  Is she wrong? Yes. She is wrong the same way the people are who say all Muslims are terrorists. She has lumped all Christians into one pot. That is not fair, any more than any kind of bigotry about anyone is fair. She has been hurt. I can understand. It has been said that the Christian army is the only one that shoots its own troops.

However, I do think she has touched on a serious problem. The polls taken indicate that the late teens and twenty-somethings are rejecting organized religion in record numbers. When asked why, the most common answer is the self-righteous, judgmental, critical attitude of Christians. Are they right? Yes. Are they wrong? Yes. Both they and Anne Rice have narrowed their view. They, like so many of us, see only the things that are upsetting about Christianity, and there are many. What they don’t see, because it is not as vocal and not always visible, are the countless Christians who live to help and serve others in their needs in this country and around the world.

From what I read (and remember about myself) young people want a reason to live that is more than making money and buying things. If the church does not offer that, but instead is only interested in a certain doctrine which separates them from all the so-called Christians who are wrong, they will, and are, looking elsewhere.

In recent articles in the local paper, there was featured a local church that had plowed up its yard and planted a vegetable garden. The young people tended it and were able to deliver thirty some bags of fresh produce to the Rescue Mission. In case you’re wondering, our property is too shaded for a garden. In another story, a mother of five lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. The story is too long to recount, but someone gave her a car that needed a transmission. A local dealer who was a member of her church had a transmission put in at no cost. The whole story was how her friends, nearly all of them  Christians, have helped her to remain solvent in these hard times. That’s how Jesus said you could tell who was one of his followers, by their fruit.

Anyone who has any kind of doctrine based on a claim to Christ can call themselves Christian. What Anne Rice sees are those I’d call “the ugly Christians.” I might not even call them Christian at all, based on what they teach and how they treat those around them. I don’t want to wear out an old adage, but just because you sit in a garage doesn’t make you a car. Likewise, just sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian.
I know that sounds judgmental, and, of course, it is. But it is said without assuming that any of our lives are a true reflection of Jesus in what we say and do. Much of the time we are a poor reflection.

Jesus talked about the “light” in us, verses the darkness. He said he was the “light of the world.” Light and darkness are the two determinations of how much Christ is reflected in the Christian’s life. So rather than assume everyone who uses the name Christian is, or is not one, we need to look at how much of the teachings and nature of Jesus can be seen in their lives.

We are all a little dim. None of us is “fullness and light” That’s not the problem. The problem is how much darkness fills our lives by our lack of love for each other and shirking the ethical teachings of Jesus concerning those around us.

The gas that runs the Christian is, “Love each other (everyone) as I have loved you.”

CONCERNS: Debbie McRoy’s sister-in-law is having surgery in Nashville, also, her cousin, the one they visit often, is having serious back surgery in the same hospital. The McRoys are in Tenn. this week. Jim White’s grandmother Kerner fell. Thomas Major, a friend of Jeff Bland’s has asked for prayers for his father. The Smiths have a neighbor with health problems, as does the Halls. A friend of the Bolin’s. Trisha, needs prayers. The little boy with cancer whose mother is one of Judy McWhorters customers. Joanne Elder, Martha Foy’s dad is about the same. Joni Beach’s mother’s condition is worsening. Connie Crites father. Zona Fisher and her brothers Roger and Tim who have cancer. Roger’s daughter also has cancer. Mike Breeding, Isabelle Simmons, Helen Nicklas, and the Phlegar’s friend, Julie. Polly Altice spent a few days in the hospital but is home now. She says the doctors say her kidney is improving, but she still has heart problems. Her son James (cancer), Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: John 5:19-30
Tuesday: Phil. 1:19-30
Wednesday: Genesis 7:1-24
Thursday: Lam. 1:8-16
Friday: Romans 8:12-25
Saturday: Psalm 133&134
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 66:1-20
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1=4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
Even though the bulletin is being written before the Labor Day Weekend Bar B Que, we already know, because of what may be a record number who have signed up that it was great! The meat was slow cooked to perfection. We started at 3:00 AM. Chef Jeff out did himself with the rub. Plus it was a beautiful day.

This is the twenty-first year for the Bar B Que and it gets better all the time. If there is food left over we may enjoy it again after the morning service.

Since most of you get this bulletin before Saturday, remember there will be a special presentation about an hour or so before we eat on Saturday. This will be a wrap-up of VBS and will include a film and an introduction to the new film soon to be released in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This will take place in the annex.
What a joy it was to hear the reports from those who went to Guatemala to work with Clinica Cristiana. AC Branch was one of the most talked about workers at the end of the week. It was such a life-changing experience for her that she not only wants to go back, but has decided medicine will be her career. You can’t do what Jesus would do without becoming a new person in the process.
Brice Reid’s soccer team must help raise support for various things and they are having a yard sale in the church parking lot next month on Oct. 17. They are asking for donated items they can sell. If you have some things, see Susan Jordan.
Remember, if you get a Kroger gift card from the Rescue Mission or a Food Lion card, either at the store or @ 5% of all you spend there will go to aid the Rescue Mission. The Kroger card will cost $5 at the Mission, and that money is added to your card when you add money at Kroger.

The money you add to the Kroger card applies to the discount you receive if you buy gas at a Kroger gas station, so it’s really a good deal all around, and those are helped who need the kind of help the Mission provides.


Imagine that headline after a not-to-far-in-the-future election. There are those who say this is a Christian nation. Not true, but I won’t get in to that. For now, let’s just imagine the Christian Party finally gained the White House and both House and Senate. Newly elected President Goodfellow has called elected Christians in to began to form his cabinet.

“Well gentlemen, we have finally reached the day when we can take back America for the Lord! It is our task today to establish a controlling cabinet for the future of this country. Any suggestions? Senator Armory.”

“Mr. President, I know the Christians of the great state of Texas want to be sure we have a strong military. I think we should decide national defense first. We want to be sure all them towel-head Muslims don’t take our country away from us.”

“Good idea, Dallas. Are we going to increase the military budget as well as develop new arms? It will raise taxes. Senator Truman, do you have an idea?”

“Just a question Mr. President. We ran on a Christian platform and were elected to bring the country back to Christ. I thought that meant we would use Jesus and his teachings as the foundation for our new government. Am I right?”

“Of course. What’s you point.”

“Well, in Jesus’ sermon on the mount he not to resist the evil person, and he said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. And both the apostle Paul and Peter say we are not to return evil for evil. Combine that with Jesus’ statement about blessed are the peacemakers, and I’m wondering how we can create a Christian  national defense.”

“Well…. Yes, Senator Strong.”

“Senator Truman. I know you were elected by the people of Massachusetts. I also know you’re Hawvad educated, I want to say that your Yankee ways will not go over with the real Christians that elected us, especially those from the great state of Alabama, which sent me here to bring this nation back to Gawd, and that is what I intend to do!”

“Senators! Let’s table national defense for awhile and settle down with something perhaps a little easier. Yes, Senator Truman.”

“Before we move on that I was wondering how many Catholics we have in the room? They are also Christians.”

“Mr. President, Senator Andrews from New York is catholic. Do you want him invited in to help us plan the future?”

“I would object to that Mr President.  As you may remember, when JFK was elected, many of those who put us in office were afraid the Pope would be running the country. I don’t think it would be a good idea. After all, they elected us. Senator Andrews was an incumbent.”

“Well then, what about Senator Leiberwitz?”

“Senator Leiberwitz is a Jew, and a Republican.”

“That’s what many of us were before we started the Christian Party. But nearly all those who put us in office are fundamentalist, evangelical Christians. They believe the Jews are God’s people and that we must help them get their land back so the Lord can return.”

“Senator Truman, as a former pastor, I can tell you don’t understand that position. The Jews must be in Israel, prepared for Lord’s return. That doesn’t mean the Jews in America, unless they would all go home and help prepare the way of the Lord there. Christians sympathetic to the Jews do not see them as Christians. They must accept Christ as their personal savior for that to happen.”

“Senators, lets move on something else. What about Health, Education and Welfare?”

“Senator Straight. How does Arkansas feel about that?”

“Mr. President, the Lord said the person who will not work will not eat. I can tell you this, I’m sick and tired of deadbeats havin’ all them kids an’ sittin’ on their duffs collectin’ welfare. We got to nip it in the bud. That’s why we’ve been handed this opportunity to take back the country for God just as the writers of the Constitution wanted it!”

“Senator Straight, does that mean having slaves?”

“You’re out of order Mr. Truman! And I would remind you that the New Testament does not condemn slavery!”

“Mr President. Since we are talking about the poor, not the lazy, I would remind the senators that concern for the poor is the number one subject in the whole Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 5:42, ‘Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’ How will we tell the Wall Street bankers to implement that? And Jesus also told a wealthy man to sell all he had and give to the poor. Will we encourage the wealthy to share? What if they don’t? Will we tax them to get it done? And in Acts Paul was told by the Church not to neglect the poor, and he said it was the very thing he was eager to do. Then there’s the that time in the early church when in Acts it says they sold what they had and they had all things in common. And, don’t forget the letter of James. In it he wrote that if we see a person hungry and without clothes and do not help, our religion is dead. And finally, Jesus himself said if we see the naked and hungry and feed them, we are feeding him. And, if we don’t do it we are denying him and he will deny us on the day of judgement. Is that the Christian platform for Health, Education and Welfare?”

“Senator Truman! I must warn you that such talk is insidious and causes me to believe you might be a pinko commie! Those who elected you did not really know you! I’m sure they wanted a real Christian to represent Massachusetts! We have been given the power to change this country! The people will do what we say. It is just like church. The Elders, or the Board of Deacons tell the people what to believe and who are real Christians, and they abide by it! They, as Christians know they are to obey their leaders! If you can’t agree with that, I suggest you leave! And shaking the dust off your shoes doesn’t impress me at all!”

CONCERNS: Myron Dugan had surgery on his ear last Tuesday. It was not a melanoma, but basil cell. He will have to stay in for awhile. A fellow employee of Jeff Bland, Thomas Major,  has asked for prayers for his father. The Smiths have a neighbor who is having health problems. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s is going through a divorce and needs prayer. The son of one of Judy McWhorter’s is being treated for cancer. Sylvia, one of the dentists at Health Talents is having her first child at the age of 40 and asks for prayers. Joanne Elder, as she looks for work. Martha Foy’s dad, Joni Beach’s mother, Betty Voss, (cancer) Connie Crites father is critical. Pam Pierce is able to travel a little as she strengthens for upcoming surgery. Zona Fisher (blood pressure) and her two brothers, Tim and Roger who have cancer. Polly Altice is being checked to see if she is a kidney transplant candidate. Her son James (cancer) Isabelle Simmons is responding well to treatment for leukemia. Helen Nicklas, Wayne Phlegar is having some breathing problems. The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, is slowly recovering from a stroke. Roger Fisher’s nephew, (cancer) Barbara McCauley (a long, slow recovery) Jeni and Wilma Cullum. Tim Elder and the work of all agencies that are ministering to people around the world.
Monday: Matthew 22:1-22
Tuesday: Colossians 1:21-2:7
Wednesday: John ^;52-71
Thursday: Romans 7:1-12
Friday: Matthew 23:1-22
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5
Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 23
Richard Crites has informed us of a program by which the Rescue Mission can be helped in their work. If you shop at Kroger you can go to the Rescue Mission and buy ($5) a Kroger gift card. Then at Kroger you can add whatever amount of money you want. You get the $5 back as you use the card. The Rescue Mission will get 5% of what you spend. If you shop at Food Lion, all you have to do is get on their website and register the Mission’s coda: 252263 on your MVP card. The Mission will also get 5% from Food Lion.
Richard has two starter cards he has purchased for Kroger. He is also going to pick up a few more. This is a great way to help those who really need it. So if you will, see him

By the way, if you have a credit card that gives you rewards, you can use you card to add money to he gift cards and receive something back. Either way, you can’t lose.

This Sunday (8/15) is Super Sunday.  Be sure to stay for the fellowship meal Following the morning service.
The steering committee will meet following the fellowship meal. If you have something that needs to be addressed, see one of the steering committee members.
Once again we are planning the Labor Day Weekend Bar B Que. It will be on Saturday, September 4. The time of the meal will be about 3:00PM.

As before, the meat pork, beef brisket, and chicken) will be provided. Bring all the regular fixin’s that go with a picnic. Chef Jeff has some big plans for this year. One of them is we will be starting the cooking earlier, so the brisket will be fork tender. Invite your friends.

The Refugee and Immigration Services needs all kinds of things to help settle people in the city. You may have seen that a storage shed full of items was stuck by lightening and burned. A list of their needs is on the foyer table


A minister friend of mine asked me to write a couple of paragraphs about how the Bible surprises, or surprised, me. I know when the question about the Bible surprising us comes up, there is bound to be those statements about how truthful it is, how beautiful, how strengthening and how comforting. To me, all that is a given. It is supposed to be, it’s the Bible. We are told from the beginning of our biblical learning that all these things are true about the Bible.

What surprises me, and this is something which developed over time, is how raw and earthy the Bible is. When I say that I realize the Bible covers a long period of time and changing culture. Even the idea that the Bible had cultural changes surprised me. That was denied by some of those in my early years, and still is by some today.

For example, I was surprised when I first realized that Abraham, faithful Abraham, was willing to let his wife be taken into a kings concubine to save his own life by lying about their marital status, twice! It was the first time I realized that in that culture and history, women were seen mostly as chattel. They were little more than a warm place for the man’s seed to grow and develop. They were replaceable. This started me on the journey to discard all such ideas of the different value and purpose between men and women and seek equality.

I was surprised when I found that adultery for ancient Hebrew men was limited to another Hebrew man’s wife. If a Hebrew man “took” a foreign woman or a prostitute, it was not adultery, since no Hebrew woman’s womb had been “polluted.” This also allowed for the introduction of concubines and multiple wives. It has been said that God did not approve of this, but “allowed” it. And yet, when the prophets spoke what they said was “from the Lord” they never said, “And Oh, by the way, God wants you to quit viewing women as objects of pleasure and boy babymakers.”

The Bible surprised me when I read about King Saul asking for a hundred foreskins as the price of his daughter’s hand in marriage. So David and his men killed two hundred Philistine men and brought Saul their foreskins. I Sam. 18:24-27

The brutality in the Bible is surprising. For example, read the last three chapters of Judges. A Levite has a concubine. He lets her die in a city of the tribe of Benjamin by ruthless men to save himself. Then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. They fight the tribe of Benjamin and win. Men and women are slaughtered. Virgins are captured and placed in a field so men could take the one they wanted for a wife.

In the life of David, one of his sons rapes one of his daughters by another wife. The young woman’s only plea is that if David is asked he will give her to the man. How does that stack up with the Law of Moses?

In nine places in the Old Testament the word “piss” is used in The King James Version. Men are told they will eat their own “dung” and drink their own piss. They are told that those who “pisseth against the wall will be among those who die. I don’t have the space to list all the verses, but a KJV concordance will lead you to them.

Now, at the time of the KJV translation that word was common. It is not considered the same way today in much of our culture. So offensive is the word (and it means literally “to make water”) most modern translations avoid it.

In the New Testament I was surprised to find what I would call the “direct integrity” of Paul. I remember my surprise when I read, really read, Gal. 5:12, where Paul expresses his feelings about those who would make circumcision part of Christ. He says in the NIV “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.” Pretty direct language. He also confronts Peter openly in Antioch about his hypocrisy toward eating with Gentiles.

All this makes the Bible very authentic to me. It isn’t polished up to sound pious and sanctimonious and it doesn’t have that sweet, sticky, sound of the TV evangelists. It’s more like Bible Raw!

CONCERNS: Alan Beach will be going to Mayo Clinic for some minor surgery. Dr. Melanie Almeder has been told she is cancer free, but she is still recovering from the treatment. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s needs prayer for strength. One of Judy McWhorter’s customers’ son has cancer. Sylvia, one of the dentists with Health Talents is having her first child a little later in life. She is 40. Joanne Elder, (unemployed) Martha Foy’s dad, Joni Beach’s mother. Connie Crites father is now home after a short stay in the hospital, but he is still critical. Pam Pierce is gaining strength each day. Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger. Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Polly Altice tests for a kidney will begin in September. Her son, James (cancer) Isabelle Simmons (recovering from leukemia, Helen Nicklas, the Phlegar’s friend, Julie is slowly recovering from a stroke, Teri Burks, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder. Also, the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-20
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11

Monday: Job 1:1-12
Tuesday: Jeremiah 1:1:10
Wednesday: Matthew 11:1-19
Thursday: Romans 2:1-20
Friday: Revelation 18:1-20
Saturday: Psalm 93:1-5

In about a week Mike and AC Branch, along with Susan Jordan and Brice Reid will be going to Guatemala for a week to work with the Health Talents medical and mission team there.

Because of government changes, medicine is harder to take in on short notice. However, They do need such things as tooth brushes, and small tubes of tooth paste. Small travel-sized shampoo, small bars of soap etc.. They also like to give the children that come to the clinic a toy of some kind. These can be the small items that McDonalds gives away, hot wheels, or any other small toy. Bring them as soon as possible. Keep these folks in your prayers, and we look forward to hearing from them when they return.

Once again so many pitched in with many hours of preparation and then making Vacation Bible School happen this year. With the supplies many of you provided, and help from nearly everyone else, this was certainly a congregational effort. To list each person would be to probably miss someone because there was so much that happened each day as the time neared. All we can say is thanks once again to everyone who turned the building into a High Seas Expedition that all the children enjoyed.

After a well deserved rest, we will begin to get ready for the Labor Day Bar-B-Que. It looks like it will be on Saturday, September 4. Chef Jeff is already preparing to make this one even better than last year. So mark the dates and get ready for the best fixin’s you can imagine.

After checking with the young folks it looks like the rest of the summer will be too busy to pull together a mini-camp. However, we are going to have a weekend outing sometime in September while the weather is still warm.

Thanks to Rich Crites for filling in at the last moment for Keith last Sunday. Three of the Wagners came down Saturday night with a “bug” that seems to be going around and were unable to make it to church. Keith especially thanks Rich.


In our Wednesday evening class we are discussing prayer. The will of God came up. Anyone who talks about God knows that the will of God is a complicated subject. Maybe it’s supposed to be, after all, who knows the mind of God? Except Jesus, of course. Well, there’s Paul, in 1 Cor. 2:16 , where he both says in a quote, “For who has known the mind of the Lord” and then, “But we have the mind of Christ”

I know having the mind of Christ does not make us God. And mind and will may be two close, but separate things. But God’s will, which usually means we are wondering about things we don’t understand and where God fits in it all, has a lot of different answers for lots of people.

Among the ideas about God’s will is that everything that happens is God’s will, so if prayer isn’t answered, it’s God’s will. We rarely entertain the idea that what we are praying for can’t happen under the circumstances. We believe “all things are possible with God” even though in the texts where these words are said, three of the four times deal with God’s ability to save the wealthy, and the other is about Jesus’ reassuring answer to a man whose son needed to be set free from what was seen as an “evil spirit.” Jesus never implied that God would defy the laws that order the universe. You can believe all you want, but if you jump off a building you will hit the ground, hard. Of course, if you are a hard line “god decided it all before I was born” you know, predestination, then you fell to your death or serious injury because God willed it. Bummer.

We also know and admit that there are things impossible for God. We preach and know that God can’t, can’t make anyone believe. God can’t make anyone do anything they refuse to do. It’s called free will. God’s will can not overpower the free will God has given humankind. I can almost feel the  tension of some as they read those words. There is the need to say, “Well, God could but he chooses not to.” No, God can’t.

The old guide is, “It’s always a good idea to read the manual.” In this case, the Bible, and in particular, the New Testament, where we find the teachings of Jesus. What better place to examine the will of God than the one who said he came from God?

The first thing we notice is that Jesus does not use the language we do about the will of God. When Jesus talks about the will of God he talks about doing what God wants us to do, not if God already has willed that we will or won’t do it. He say’s we should pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Which means God’s will is about what God wants, not what God makes happen, or lets not happen. He talks about those who know and practice God’s will. But he never says, “It was the will of God that a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho…”  He also teaches that it was not God’s will that towers fell on people, or the Pilate’s murdering and mixing the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices had anything to do with God’s will or punishment. Jesus says over and over that it is the will of God that we do what God knows makes for a better world, and is therefore salvation. The only place Jesus really gives a specific example of the will of God is when he said it was not God’s will that anyone perish. Now that’s one we need to remember! That being true, it would mean that God’s will  has nothing to do with those who do perish.

One more thing about Jesus and God’s will. At his death, Jesus prayed for deliverance from the cross, but said he would do whatever God’s will was. Did he know the will of God? Yes. Did he believe God could offer him a way out? Yes. Was it “foreordained” that he die? Yes. Could he himself have refused the cross? Yes. Does the preordained death of God’s one and only son, become the standard to teach that our exact method, time and place of death is set by the will of God? No.

What about Paul? Paul believed it was the will of God that he was an apostle to the Gentiles. He even believed he was born for that task. Does that also mean he believed he could not fail? No. Does it mean he believed he himself could not “fall away.” No. Quite the contrary, and he says so in several places.

So when Paul and James (4:15) speak of the will of God, neither of them say the will of God controlled or was part of everything that happened. When James says the good thing to say, rather than boast, is “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” he is not saying that if that was not done, it was also the Lord’s will.

Nearly all of what the New Testament refers to as God’s will, has to do with what God wants for humankind. What we get into is something rare to scripture, and that is if God’s will is everything that happens. The only place in the NT even close to that is in Romans 9, where Paul; is trying to show that the Jews are not lost. And it is typical that such a scripture is used to try to build a complete doctrine of the will of God.

In the text, Paul says God can do whatever God wants. Then he talks about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which we latch on to like a drowning man. If that is to be taken at face value, would it not also mean that all sinners who resist God and commit evil acts, are doing it because God has hardened their hearts? Paul never deals with that. In fact, he says “Who are you to question God?” But neither does he ever excuse sin on that basis.

While we will always have trouble with what God knows, what God does and how the events of life are related to God, we are told over and over in scripture that God is love and always does the loving thing. And we need not believe God “causes” everything that happens or even “allows” it.

However, each of us has to come to a place where we have a relationship with God. If that relationship requires that we believe everything that happens to us, both good and bad, is the will of God, that’s where we stand. However, we should not enforce our view on others. We tend to get nervous around people who have a different view of God’s will than do we. If we think about it, differing views can be a good thing. They can make us reexamine our own.

CONCERNS: Michelle Yates has died from the cancer. She was a friend of Ian McRoy’s.  Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s needs strength to deal with some things. The son of one of Judy McWhoter’s customers has cancer near his heart. Jewell Manhold had surgery. Joanne Elder is job hunting, as Erma Williams soon will be. Martha Foy’s dad is improving.  Joni Beach’s mother, Connie Crites father, Pam Pierce is getting stronger as she prepares for surgery. Zona Fisher is still undergoing tests for blood pressure, and her two brothers who have cancer, Roger and Tim, are about the same. Melanie Almeder is recovering from cancer surgery. She is one of Melanie Beaver’s teachers. Mike Breeding (heart problems), Polly Altice will began tests in September to see if she can receive a kidney. Her son, James (cancer) is about the same. Isabelle Simmons is doing well with her treatments for leukemia. Helen Nicklas , the Phlegar’s friend, Julie (stroke) Teri Burks, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Barbara McCauley Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 28:10-22
Tuesday: Matthew 18:1-14
Wednesday: Luke 5:1-11
Thursday: II Samuel 12:15-25
Friday: Acts 19:23-41
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16
Monday: Genesis 2:1-14
Tuesday: Matthew 3:1-17
Wednesday: I Thess. 3:1-13
Thursday: Matthew 28:28-44
Friday: II Peter 1:16-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 33:1-22
The food pantry has helped three families recently. A donor has given money to restock it. A couple of persons were helped with utility bills as well.
Our High Seas Expedition Vacation Bible School is just a week away. Erma needs more help. See if you can be the one. Also. Alice Blessing needs a ride to VBS for Summer. They are without a car at this time. If you know of a good Lumina for about 1,000. to 1,500. Let her know.

Also, there may still be “needs” barrels that have not been taken. If you can help, take one off the foyer wall and fill it.

The dates for VBS are July 26- 30. Please sign up today either by letting Erma know, or on the church web site.

A special thanks to Lisa Hawks for once again helping out getting things ready for VBS. Also, be sure to invite some children.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to help with the construction of Vacation Bible School materials. As always, it looks great. We will also be meeting next Saturday to actually place the decorations and sets in the auditorium.
Lights are being left on in both buildings. When you leave the main building, the only lights that should be left on is the one by the water fountain near the restrooms, and the one in the hallway at the bottom of the back stairs under the baptistry. Once again, in the annex, the newer switch has a “soft” click at the end of the dimmer. This is the one with the white knob. It must be turned all the way until that soft click is felt. Thanks.
Today we will be reading the letters from the two ABC children we educate in Guatemala. We also have pictures of them and their families. They are Luis Alexander Perez Nicolas and Nery Neo Perez Nicolas. The pictures are on the foyer table.
The air conditioner in the annex has been serviced and is doing the best it can. Our H&C man suggests an additional unit that will take care of the problem. This will not be done this summer, but perhaps by next season. As of now we are OK.


I made up the title. The “letteralists” are legalists by the “letter” of whatever law is on the floor at the time.

I discovered a long time ago I didn’t speak the same language as many of those who call themselves Christians. We read the same Bible, in the same language, but we come away with a different understanding. I don’t want to sound smug, but I think it has to do with the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I see Jesus more interested in the spirit, the intent, the meaning and purpose of the law, rather than the statement of the law itself.

I thought about this as I looked through a journal that comes my way every so often. The topic of the issue was Situation Ethics, so I knew it would have a number of examples of the barriers of spirit versus law.

In one article, the author seems concerned about Rahab. Two passages say she was justified by “faith”, Heb. 11:31, and by “works”, James 2:25. But she is saved because she lied about the Hebrew spies and hid them to save she and her family.

Let’s see how this fellow worked that out. He said that nowhere in the New Testament does it mention that she lied. That’s true, but it hardly changes the fact that she did. (By the way, she was also a traitor to her country.) The writer says this “…demonstrates that all justification before God involves both faith and works.” He then says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17. Conclusion? “We do not know how the information had been brought to Rahab, but her faith came from the truth that she had heard.” He says that Rahab was told the truth about God’s people (Josh. 2:9,10), so she had faith and acted on it. That’s a terrible use of scripture, but she still lied.

In a place where his language gets twisted, he mentions Abraham. Remember Abraham lied twice and put Sara in jeopardy to save his own life. The author says about Abraham, “More than once he thought lying was necessary to save his life. The situation demanded it. (Read that sentence again) But it was a sin…”

I have my doubts about the situation demanding it, but he did it. But how can anyone say the situation “demanded it” and then say it was wrong?

After running around more than I have room to discuss, he says, “Further, in view of all the Bible teaches about repentance and forgiveness, it has to be recognized that Rahab, Abraham, Noah, David, and all the rest did not continue in their wrongs.” So Rahab repented?

If we apply the logic (?) he used on Rahab, the Bible never says they all repented. In fact, the writers of the Bible have no trouble with any of that. Why? It seems to me that they were more interested in how the will of God as they saw it turned out, (the spirit of it) rather than finding a way to deny or to justify it.

Using his logic we could also say since faith comes by hearing from God, all the concubines and plurality of wives of the kings must have been because God said they could have them.

A close look at the Old Testament shows a different ethic applied to the enemy than to countrymen. When Moses went to Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Israelites, he said they were only going out on a three day trip to worship. Not true. He knew they were not coming back. And, the Israelites were to ask their Egyptian friends and neighbors for gold and silver and clothing. The assumption was that these items would be blessed by the God of Israel and returned. Not so. See Exodus 3ff.

When David was running from Saul, he and his men came to Nob. David told Abimelech, the priest, that they were on the King’s business. Not true. David demanded the consecrated bread to eat since they were hungry. (Another ethical dilemma) A servant of Saul’s, Doag, saw all this. Later, when Saul demands to know how David escaped, Doag tells the “truth” and gets an innocent Abimelech and some other priest’s killed by guess who? Good old, truthful, Doag. (I Sam. 21,22.)

The “letteralists” ask, “Is it right to do wrong for the right reason?” Their assumption is that because it does not fit the letter of the law it is wrong. Thinking of Doag, I would ask, “Is it ever wrong to do right?” Which is what Doag did by the letter of the law. Is there ever a time when the “letteralistic” truth is a lie? .

CONCERNS: Polly Altice has been told she will need a kidney. Tests will begin in a couple of months to see if she is strong enough for the surgery. Debbie McRoy’s great-niece, Jewell Manhold, will have surgery on the 6th. Ian McRoy has a friend, Michelle Yates, who has terminal cancer. The son of one of Judy McWhorter’s customers has a tumor removed that is affecting his heart. Tricia, a friend of the Bolins needs our prayers. Alice Blessing has a friend whose child was born with scolioses and will need surgery. A good friend of the Foys also has terminal cancer. Connie Crites dad is doing well, but hospice has been suggested. Pam Pierce (Philip’s mother) is improving as she gets ready for heart surgery. Remember also Joni Beach’s mother, Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger, who have cancer, Roger Fishers nephew, (cancer) James Altice, (cancer)
Melanie Almeder, (cancer) Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Isabell Simmons, Helen Nicklas, Julie in Texas, (stroke) Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.

Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11

Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1=10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12

That’s’ the theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School. It will take place on the days of 26-30 each evening from 6-8 PM each evening. As the dates arrive the building will become more and more transformed, which will require helpers, so be ready to volunteer mate!

Some of the needs are posted on the wall near the steps. Take a look at the barrels and see which of them you can supply. Also, if you have any nautical items you could lend, s let Erma know.

Registration can be done on the our web site @

Since we did not have camp this year we have been talking about doing a short camp on our own. It looks like August will be a good time for that. What we need is for all the young folks who go to camp to talk to their parents and to each other and find the best dates that will not conflict with vacations etc.. We will get ideas from the Lynchburg folks as well. We will also be doing our own cooking, so we will need to fix a menu of the most liked breakfast and food for other meals. Anyone who would like to go as a cook, let it be known.

Our thanks to Nathan Flora for his help in cutting up the tree that fell last Sunday behind the annex. There was just a little damage to the gutter and down spout. The tree was part of a tree that had a twin trunk, so the other half will be taken down soon.

While we are talking about trees, the two large trees along the street on either side of the entrance to the parking lot tend to be the ones that drop limbs in the summer. If you usually park there you may want to find another place. The trees belong to the city and in time they will probably replace them with new ones as they have on nearby streets.

Manna Ministries distributes groceries to over 200 local families each week. Baker Chiropractic and Wellness Center, 3260 Electric Road is helping out by being a collection center from July 5-29. A box will be in their office for non-perishable food items and paper items.


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.