The Witness

Volume 41, Issue 18

May 3, 2023

Union with God

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not gentile sinners, yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. . . . For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:15-16, 19-20).

What was your New Year’s resolution? Do you remember? According to the statistics, only about 40% of the US population makes one; however, 60% of those who do are between the ages of 18-34. The most common resolutions focus on physical fitness—exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight. The other most familiar include improved mental health and better finances—reduce debt and save more. While all of these goals are admirable, the reality is that by this point in the year less than 10% of those who made these resolutions are still working to achieve them. Over 90% have given up even though we are not even half-way through the year.

What is the problem? Whether we made a New Year’s resolution or not, why is it so difficult to make positive changes in our lives? Why do the vast majority of us usually fall back into old patterns of behavior no matter how earnest our desire and effort to change our ways? At the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Merton, one of the most influential Christian spiritual leaders of our time, described this conundrum in his book Entering the Silence. He wrote:

"If I were to make any resolutions, it would be the same old ones—no need to make them—they have been made. No need to reflect on them—it doesn’t take much concentration to see how I keep them. I struggle along. It is useless to break your head over the same old details week after week and year after year, pruning the same ten twigs off the top of the tree. Get at the root: union with God. On these days of recollection drop everything and hide yourself to find Him in the silence where He is hidden within you, and listen to what He has to say."

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Galatia, his instructions had a similar emphasis as Merton’s words. Rather than focusing on their relationship with Christ, the Galatians were focused on the law. Rather than getting to the root of their brokenness—a failure to remain in loving union with Christ—they kept trimming twigs by focusing mostly on changing their behaviors and rituals. Their union with Christ had become functional rather than relational. Instead of their behaviors emerging from their relationship with Christ, their obedience to the law had become a distorted form of works-righteousness that sought to earn God’s favor and conform themselves to the image of Christ.

In response, Paul reminded them of the root of Christian faith: Christ. We cannot conform ourselves into the image of Christ; only Christ can accomplish that within us. We cannot earn our way into God’s favor; it is only by the grace of God through Christ that we have found favor with God. If we want our lives to change; if we want to find healing and wholeness amidst the brokenness and fragmentation of this life; if we want to experience a similar transformation as the biblical figures in scripture; we must stop focusing so much of our attention on cosmetic changes and behavioral modifications. We must stop trimming twigs and get to the root: an active, consistent, loving relationship with Christ.

This month, may we stop trying so hard to change ourselves. Instead, let us focus our attention on living and being in relationship with Christ. Sin management through behavior modifications will only get us so far. Improving our physical fitness and finances are important, but success in those areas will always be temporary. Let us get to the root of transformation by staying close to the source of life, the light of all people, so that like Paul we too may declare, it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.


This Sunday, May 7th: Children's Sunday!

This Sunday our children will be leading each aspect of worship in both services (8:45 & 11:00 AM). You won't want to miss it! We will also have a Parent/Child Dedication at each service, the First Graders will be presented with their Bibles, the Music Makers Choir will sing, and we'll observe the Lord's Supper. It's going to be a wonderful day!

Travis' sermon this week is "A Dreamer," and the scripture is Jeremiah 29:10-14. If you cannot join us in person, tune in through our website or Facebook group page. All usual Sunday afternoon and evening activities are scheduled, as well.

Wednesday Nights

Tonight Wally Mayo will present the third and final installment of his Creation Study during Adult Bible Study, which begins at 6:15 PM. Dinner begins at 5:30 PM for those who signed up. After dinner we will also have Youth Missions Group at 6:00 PM and Children's Choirs and Praise Team rehearsal at 6:15 PM. Chancel Choir rehearsal is at 7:30 PM.

Next Wednesday's dinner (May 10th) is chicken salad on croissant, pickled beets, BLT pasta salad, and dessert. Travis will finish his study in the Psalms of Praise during Adult Bible Study.

Ministry Matters

We will have a Ministry Matters meeting Wednesday, May 17th at 6:15 PM in lieu of our regularly scheduled quarterly business meeting in June. Dinner will begin at 5:30 PM, and our menu is meatloaf, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, bread, and dessert. Please make your dinner reservations with the church office by 5 PM Monday, May 15th. The usual prices apply. All other usual Wednesday evening activities will also take place. This will be our last Wednesday of regularly scheduled events for this school year.

JOY Seniors

If you plan to join us for this Saturday's day trip to explore downtown Roanoke, please sign up ASAP. We will leave VBC at 9:30 AM and depart downtown at 2:30 PM.

If you have signed up for our Christmas in July outing to Wohlfahrt Haus Thursday, July 13th to see the matinee play "A Sanders Family Christmas," please also make sure that you have paid the $60 fee. Your payment is your reservation. A wait list is now available. Checks can be made to VBC JOY Seniors.

The next JOY Senior Luncheon is May 23rd at noon in the gym. Our menu is chicken salad croissant, pasta salad, tossed salad, dessert, and water. Cost for lunch is $10/person. Our program is First Aid & Fall Prevention by Brian Clingenpeel. Please sign up at the JOY Senior table.

Sign-ups are ongoing for our October 17th - 20th trip to Kentucky to visit the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, as well as enjoy a riverboat dinner cruise on the Ohio River. You can set up a payment plan if needed (see Mary Kendrick).

Thrive Youth Ministry

We are planning on a regular schedule this Sunday, including supper and Extreme. This will be our last Extreme of the 22-23 school year.

PGA Youth Camp has been scheduled at Camp Alta Mons for July 28th - 30th. The cost is $90 for the weekend. Registration forms will be available soon.

Preteens Event

Preteens, mark your calendars for Sunday, May 21st, when we'll take an excursion to Treetop Quest. More details to come soon!

Looking Ahead

Please note that on Sunday, June 4th there will be no morning worship services or Sunday School due to the road closures and traffic/congestion associated with the Ironman competition here in our area. Instead, we will worship together at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, May 31st. Everyone is welcome to join us in the sanctuary that evening if you are able. While we will worship in person May 31st, we will record that service and broadcast it via our website on Sunday morning, June 4th.

Geneva Dillon

PO Box 24

Daleville VA 24083

Happy 96th Birthday!

Congratulations to Frances Obenchain as she celebrates her 96th birthday today! Frances resides at Woodhaven Nursing Home, PO Box 168, Montvale VA 24122 if you'd like to send her a card.

April 30, 2023:

  • 10:30 AM In Person - 228
  • 10:30 AM Online - 263
  • Sunday School - 177

Thank you to the Esther Sunday School class for their donation to Vacation Bible School.

Thank you to the Pete Creasy Sunday School class for their donation to Vacation Bible School.

Blessing Box

The following items are needed for the Blessing Box: pancake mix (any kind), syrup, and liquid dish soap. Donations can be dropped off in the appropriate bin at the Missions Tables. Thank you!

Christian sympathy is extended to Carolyn & Tom Philpott and family in the death of her mother, Ocelia Pollard, Sunday, April 30th; to Deborah & Keith Bohon and Tiffaney & Matt Barrette and family in the death of mother and grandmother Evelyn Shelor April 30th; and to Mark & Mitzi Johnson and family in the death of his mother, Collie Johnson, last week.

Graduate Bibles

Bibles for our high school seniors are available in the Welcome Center so that you may mark your favorite verse, include words of encouragement, and direct our graduates in their path. Please take a few moments to write in these Bibles and support our graduates through this tradition.

Other Graduate Info

Graduate Recognition Sunday is May 21st. If you or someone in your family is graduating from high school or college this year, please email or call the church office at 540-343-7685 to let us know the following: name of graduate, school, any special honors, type of degree, future plans (for example, if/where they will attend college or military service, or what career they are pursuing), and whether they will be able to attend worship May 21st (and which service.) Even if your graduate cannot attend May 21st, we would still like their information so that we can recognize them in The Witness.

Please also note that Vinton Baptist will host the WBHS Baccalaureate at 6:00 PM on May 21st.

Bible Reading Plan

It's May, and we're officially in Joshua on our Bible reading plan! The Israelites have finally made it to the Promised Land. If you're not there yet, just keep reading. It doesn't matter where you're at on our plan - just don't stop! Here are some insights from Fee & Stuart's How to Read the Bible Book by Book:

We've finished the Pentateuch and are now beginning what's alternately termed the Former Prophets and the Deuteronomic History. "This section of the Old Testament is intended to be prophetic, in the sense that it records Israel's history with the purpose of instructing and explaining from the divine perspective how and why things went the way they did." It is also reflective of themes and language found in Deuteronomy.

There are some specific themes to look for throughout Joshua:

1) God's holy war - "This is God's holy war, not just to give Israel the land, but especially to rid the land of idolatry (false gods) - all of this so that Yahweh will dwell as King among a people who are to reflect his likeness and follow his ways."

2) The fulfillment of God's promise to give the Israelites the Promised Land SO THAT they could live out God's promise to be a blessing to the nations.

3) The theme of obedience - if the Israelites want God's blessings, they are expected to exhibit "covenant faithfulness to the one true God."

A few other notes: Joshua was written in a later time period, so the narrative is told from the perspective of the future. Fee & Stuart suggest using maps of Canaan to help keep track of the action. And they also point out that the land of Canaan consisted of numerous city-states that could be engaged one by one, instead of a single "superpower" that would have made the Israelites' conquest of the land that much more difficult.

Happy reading! Click here for a printable copy of our Bible reading plan.

Thank you for the beautiful plant and for all the prayers, gifts, and cards that Joan received over the years.

Joan St. Clair Family

May 2023 Calendar