Letters from our Readers - Part 2 of 4
The sound of silence
I read your articles on the David Hulme firing [Jan. 30 issue] with much interest and fascination. Not too long ago the UCG sent some of their high-echelon minions (Mr. Hulme, Roy Holladay, Burk McNair and Steve Andrews, to mention a few) to Nashville to deal with several problems that had developed with the Church of God Tennessee (COGT).
The COGT was formed before the UCG. However, it found itself being subverted from within by UCG officials. After a period of unethical and immoral acts (as perceived by many of the brethren) by UCG officials, the UCG wrested control of 200-plus members from the COGT.
The one point that is remembered by many is the UCG's statements to the Nashville brethren that possible lawsuits from members were signs of a lack of faith and a lack of God's Spirit. Such threats of lawsuits were un-Christian in character, as seen by the UCG.
Yet now UCG officials are implying that the threat of lawsuits from Mr. Hulme and Mr. Andrews exists and is the reason for their not being able to discuss Mr. Hulme's firing.
A logical inference that can be made from the UCG's statements is that both Mr. Hulme and Mr. Andrews lack faith and are un-Christian in their actions or threats. This is a major indictment of the very men who were providing the "last hope" of many who left the WCG.
By the lack of any substantive statements and the expression of their lawsuit concerns, UCG officials have revealed more than they realize. May God help us!
Hearing about the situation involving the Church of God Victoria's status from Bob Etheridge ["Parable of the Sheep," page 10, Jan. 30], I was not only saddened but disappointed that yet another group of people has been cast out of an "organization" like unwanted garbage!
I know that many will join me in cheering those who report these kinds of things to the world. It's not gossip, as some would have us believe, but simply keeping informed about the truth of what has been happening in the last year or so. Could it finally be coming to pass that more and more people are starting to use their God-given minds and not just checking their brains at the door, so to speak?
Some form of organization is usually required to achieve desired results. Even small groups have to have some guidelines and rules of order, but organization should not mean dominance.
Credit where due
United Church of God president David Hulme deposed. President Clinton accused of sex scandal. Terrible events. But I'm glad they occurred.
Please allow me to explain.
Mark Tabladillo's Web page (www.quango.net/Tabladillo/wcgweb.html) carries a tongue-in-cheek piece asserting the United Church of God has no future due to the governmental turmoil and ousting of David Hulme. It suggests their ministers read job-search materials and prepare to lower their standards of living.
Others have suggested that the media frenzy surrounding President Clinton's alleged improprieties has made the United States the laughing stock of the world.
I disagree. I believe these are examples of the wonderful process of democracy and demonstrate the messiness involved when we take responsibility and leaders do not possess total control. I am proud to live in a country where even powerful people are held accountable.
I lived for 10 months in a country that was not a democracy. Periodically the leader would dissolve parliament and start over when he was not happy with its direction. There were occasional rumors of those who spoke out against the government and what supposedly became of them. Protests against an increase in gas prices were met with armed tanks.
This is not to say that it wasn't a nice place to visit or that the leader wasn't well respected. But it is to say that we would have never heard of Monica Lewinsky. In such countries such a person would have been in "an unfortunate automobile accident"--end of story. No press coverage. No secret tapes. And certainly no talk of resignation or, God forbid, impeachment.
These incidents inspired me to write the following letter to the United Church of God. I know there have been many encouragements, including from myself, for the Worldwide Church of God's positive moves away from Armstrongism doctrine. However, I have not been consistent in that I have not applauded United's moves away from Armstrongism government. I do so now.
"Dear board of directors:
"I would like to encourage you in your mission at this time of new direction. And I want to apologize.
"Some have seen your recent administrative changes as proof of the United Church of God's impending collapse. I disagree. I believe your conviction to follow a Spirit-led consensus is excellent, and, while it may be difficult at times, I believe your fellowship will reap the rewards.
"I must confess that I wondered when you first began your association whether your efforts to include accountability of leadership would amount to more than superficial words on paper.
"However, you openly developed your bylaws, and your president was elected by pastors. And I view your recent change of president as evidence of your willingness to pursue these principles as practice and not simply as ideals to be touted.
"This no doubt must be very difficult for your fellowship, and please understand we care, and you are in our prayers.
"I also applaud your decision to move your headquarters facility to Cincinnati. I believe that sends a clear message to your membership of your desire to minister to their needs. It shows you care and want to be near them to serve.
"I was a Worldwide Church of God pastor in the summer of 1995 when the United Church of God was formed. I must confess that I am sorry for the approach that I took.
"Looking back, I can see the courage that many of you exhibited in standing up for your beliefs and doing your best to first maintain those beliefs within your church home and, failing that, to establish your own fellowship.
"I spoke out strongly against your organization and hinted that your approach was unethical. I told myself that I did so because of your doctrine, but in hindsight I realize that I was still strongly influenced by corporate mentality. Nonetheless, that is not an excuse. I was wrong.
"It is my hope that your organization will continue to evaluate some of your teachings on the Trinity and grace. At the same time I realize you would probably like me to reconsider my position on the Sabbath, holy days or other issues.
"But, if either of us is to alter our beliefs, let it be because we were convicted of it in our own hearts and minds as we studied it for ourselves. Let it be because we were open to the lead of the Holy Spirit to each of us personally, not because we were manipulated or arm-twisted or compelled to 'accept.'
"And, while I refused to make some of the stronger judgments other WCG pastors were making, I was also wrong in not speaking out against the accusations toward United congregations 'stealing' 'WCG' equipment and church funds. I personally believe that when the campuses in Pasadena and Big Sandy are sold a fair percentage of the proceeds should go to your association.
"Again, I want to commend you. I wrote a resignation letter from the WCG in May 1996 asking for accountability and a financial approach that served the membership, not the ministry. I realize now many of you were fighting for those same things a year earlier. Keep up the good work."
Sabbath schools for all ages
In the Jan. 30 issue of The Journal, Leven Rieger of Eureka, S.D., said that the United Church of God has Sabbath schools. [Mr. Rieger, in "The UCG's Sabbath Schools?," page 5, commented on an interview with Richard Nickels in the Oct. 31 issue in which Mr. Nickels decried the shortage of Sabbath schools in United and Global congregations].
I telephoned Mr. Rieger to verify his statement and found that he attends the Bismarck, N.D., church. He told me that these "Sabbath schools" are only for children.
When I told him that my position is that Sabbath Schools should be for all age-groups, he said that Sabbath schools are "Protestant." Apparently he did not read all of a previous issue of TJ [Oct. 31] where I showed that history proves Sabbath schools originated among Sabbatarians before Protestants began Sunday schools.
So Sabbath schools are okay for children but not for adults?
I asked Mr. Rieger if he knew that Herbert Armstrong conducted adult Sabbath schools in the early days of the Radio Church of God and that Mr. Armstrong wrote Sabbath-school material.
Mr. Rieger said that this was "lies" and angrily hung up the phone. He was apparently mad that I had said that United doesn't have Sabbath schools, mad that I said Herbert Armstrong conducted Sabbath schools for adults and mad that I wanted Sabbath schools for all ages.
For those who want to read Mr. Armstrong's "Quarterly Sabbath School Lessons" (he used the term "Bible class," which was the same thing, verified by witnesses who attended them), these lessons are contained in the book Early Writings of Herbert W. Armstrong, available from Giving & Sharing, Box 100, Neck City, Mo. 64849, for $9, or free on the Internet at www.ozemail.com.au/~davhill/hwa.htm.
In discussing the issue of Sabbath schools, I was struck with several observations: (1) There is a decided lack of interest in the facts of church history; (2) too many brethren have an angry, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude and cannot even entertain the possibility that they could be wrong and self-contradictory; and (3) some are oblivious to basic teaching principles that interaction between the teacher and the student is an effective mode of learning.
There is more than one way to teach, and any and all effective methods, even Sabbath schools for all ages, should be employed.
I would be surprised if I were the only person who finds some sermons boring. I have seen brethren fight to stay awake during services. If we were honest, most of us would admit that this sometimes happens to us.
However, I have not had this problem during interactive Sabbath schools. The opposition to Sabbath schools seems to come from those who do not want to learn and share biblical knowledge with their brethren. It is a lazy, Laodicean attitude.
Reconciliation before Passover
We are one of the families suspended in June 1997 from the UCG in Minneapolis for writing a private letter to pastor Jim Servidio and the other elders. The letter requested Mr. Servidio and the elders to step in and apply Matthew 18 to the congregation, which was dividing, and requested that he stop siding with the ultraconservative group, which was creating more division and judging.
The letter also requested that sermons be given on love and Christian living to help stop all the judging in the church area. It also tried to express the fact that ministers are to be shepherds keeping the flock together, not pushing some off the cliff.
Since the suspension the church group of 35 people meets every week in a community center [see The Journal, Sept. 25, 1997]. We are doing quite well. Each family takes a week and directs the services--songs, a special children's session in front of the group--and picks the topic from tapes, video or interactive.
We have our own independent church but have tried to keep ties with all other Church of God members. This is so important as we get closer to the end time. We need to bond with everyone to help encourage and get through the hard times ahead. There should be no boundaries of organizations. God's people should not separate themselves or allow church government to separate us behind boundaries of church organizations.
We have tried to visit the UCG on three occasions. The first time was in October for a blessing of one of our closest friend's baby girl on the blessing-of-little-children Sabbath.
Steve called Mr. Servidio at the request of the baby's father so there wouldn't be any commotion at church. Mr. Servidio refused to allow us to attend, stating "there are more important issues to resolve than going to a blessing of a child."
Steve asked politely three to four times, in the conversation over the phone, to let us attend as visitors, and Mr. Servidio's reply was the same each time.
In December our parents, from Florida, visited us. They went to United, and we wanted to visit the UCG with them, and again Mr. Servidio stated, "Possibly in the halls afterwards, but not for services."
We met with Mr. Servidio and Mr. Gjesvald (one of the local elders) in our home to discuss the issues and to find resolution and move forward. Mr. Servidio stated we were suspended because of a letter we wrote, not for division in church.
We wanted to know why we need to separate ourselves and be divided over minor differences about church organization and church government when most Churches of God beliefs are so similar.
Mr. Servidio stated that "the minor differences, as you put it, are the core of Christianity."
What? We thought Christ was!
He then proceeded to tell us that, if we wanted to drop the appeal [to the UCG council of elders] and officially become non-United members, then we can visit whenever we would like.
We didn't realize we were official "United members." We thought we were God's people, Church of God members, bought with Christ's blood. We belong to God, not an organization. Actually, weren't we the ones paying for their jobs?
We now wanted to visit United on Feb. 7, after eight months of not seeing the brethren there. Mr. Servidio wanted to know why and what would be said. Is this control or what?
We told him we wanted to visit and keep the bonds of our friends and brethren, whom we miss greatly.
He told us the church isn't stopping friendships. It isn't, but it has made some hesitant because of the false rumors.
Mr. Servidio decided to discuss the matter with the elders and get back to us, which he did, stating he didn't think it would be beneficial to visit yet because there is still a lot of sensitivity and ill feelings. He also stated that if we started to visit it would confuse the congregation by giving the impression that there was resolution according to Mr. Servidio's requests.
If Matthew 18--which has been neglected by the ministry and elders time and time again in the past year--was applied there wouldn't be the divisions, sensitivities and ill feelings.
We recently heard a tape applying Matthew 5:22-24: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
How are we to reconcile our differences when the organization stops us? Aren't we especially supposed to reconcile before Passover? We are all taking the symbols of Christ's blood and Body, portraying being bonded and United in Spirit, but are we?
Seen a lot
It's been about 40 years since I began to hear the good news of the Kingdom of God. In the last 23 years or so I've fellowshipped with various Churches of God, including the Worldwide Church of God, the Biblical Church of God, the Church of God International, the Global Church of God, the United Church of God, various independent Churches of God and other Sabbatarian congregations.
During that time I have tried to be a fair and honest, God-fearing man. I've seen shameful oppression, idolatry and suppression of the truth and the denial and trampling of God-given rights.
The Journal is one of the most hopeful, helpful and encouraging developments I've seen. I thank God for it and for all who contribute to it.
Glory and honor and praise to the great God "who brought you out . . . of the land of slavery," whose purpose for us is that we might truly be free!
A tale of two churches
Several years ago God looked down on a sincere but sincerely deceived church by the name of the Worldwide Church of God and decided to have mercy on it. It had spent its 60-odd years of existence immersed in the depths of legalism that likely hadn't been seen since the time of the Pharisees.
Seldom had there been seen a group that held to the law of the Old Covenant as the basis of their righteousness as did this group. They were not going to be fooled by the "Protestant" view of grace and the New Covenant.
And those verses in Galatians and Hebrews that gave some members heartburn could be explained. God would never have done away with any law He had established, even those the world considered ceremonial and shadows of things to come. They knew better. Law was where it was at. Keep the law to the letter and you had it made (as any good Pharisee could have told you).
Of course, now you had to keep it even more vigorously, since "the Spirit" was now available to help you keep it perfectly. Grace plus works was the formula that God was prescribing these days. It was all on your own back, qualifying for salvation. It was all so obvious in the Bible, except no one else could see it. This was even further proof that they were right.
But God, in His mercy, decided the time for loving correction had arrived. He selected a two-by-four of soft pine, no knotholes and no nails. A gentle swing caught the WCG membership squarely between the eyes, and down they went--heads spinning. Now that He had their attention (or at least of some of them), a strange thing occurred. Many of the members, upon arising and dusting themselves off, saw for the first time a brilliant light that had been shining all along but had not been noticed or maybe had just been ignored. That light was Christ.
These members found that for some strange reason reading the Bible in this new light brought more joy and understanding than they had ever known before--much greater than they had ever experienced when they had read in the flickering light from the "candle of the law." They felt a love and peace and an acceptance of God and Christ and a unity with mankind that they had never experienced before. They found that their focus was now no longer on themselves, but on Christ.
But other members, upon getting up off the floor, saw no light, but did see a purple lump rising in the center of their foreheads. They immediately laid hands on those who saw this new light and accused them of swinging the beam or whatever it was that had floored them.
These innocent members attempted to get the second group to see the light also, but to no avail. They thought the others had lost their minds (Satan at work, no doubt). This second group of WCG members insisted that there couldn't possibly be any better light to read by than "the candle of the law," for God's law was the perfect light; just check it out in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament).
As these two groups could not agree, the second group decided it was time to split off and start their own church so that they could be faithful to the "candlelight" once delivered, as it was obvious that the first group had totally lost it. They decided that they must all pull together and be "United" at all costs. Hey! What a wonderful name! Surely it must have been inspired by God! God was surely leading them into great things. They were so pleased and proud to have such an inspired name!
But God was not pleased. Apparently a two-by-four of soft pine applied between the eyes is not adequate in all cases to get one's attention. So this time God selected a four-by-four of hard wood, with a few choice knots protruding here and there. This he applied a bit more firmly, but lovingly, once again just slightly north of the eyes, to this group that was "united" (or so it thought).
A strange thing occurred once they had arisen and dusted themselves off, trying to act (unsuccessfully) as though nothing had happened. As their minds cleared and they began to converse with each other, they quickly discovered that they were not nearly as united as they had thought. Their name--a past source of pride and strength--was now their weakness and source of embarrassment. In fact, the ideas and plans of the others often seemed like just so much babel to them (as in "tower of"). This was so disruptive that a number of groups were formed and broke off to start their own churches. And still this "united" church could not (or would not) see the error of its ways to acknowledge "the light."
God was not pleased. Apparently an even stronger attention-getter was going to be needed.
(To be continued--if necessary.)
Planning for celebration of the year 2000 was interrupted when it was found that 2,000 years wouldn't be complete until Jan. 1, 2001. Some planned to have celebrations in 1996 because they believed Jesus was born in March, 4 B.C., but these seem to have wilted after the discovery that because there was no year 0 A.D. or B.C. the celebrations should really be held in 1997.
It seems the strongest evidence is that Jesus was born or tabernacled with us in September of 3 B.C., which makes the Feast of Tabernacles '98 the really 2,000th year.
Apparently the world was expected to end with the year A.D. 1000, and it seems people expect much the same with A.D. 2000.
But, while we are waiting, you are invited to attend Sabbath services with us here in Sydney at 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month. We will try to provide the latest GTA video or an older one for those interested.
We are currently meeting at the Quakers Meeting Hall, 119 Devonshire St., Sydney, N.S.W., Australia.
Up in Queensland the meetings are held in Toowoomba.
P.S.: On page 18 of the November issue of The Journal, Gloria Neely mentions the May 1995 issue of Prove All Things. I would like to read this if anyone can help me locate a copy. Also, Jack Finegan mentions on page 288 in his book that the Didascalia says that Jesus held the last supper on a Tuesday evening. I have read the Didascalia about three times but haven't been able to locate it. Can anyone give me chapter and verse?
What's right about United?
There seems to have been lately a lot of discussion concerning government in the church, specifically in the United Church of God.
I think that we who are the lay members should let the ministers and those at the home office get on with their job, praying for them always so that God can work with them and that their own carnalities will not get in the way of achieving God's will. I am happy to be in a UCG congregation where we can meet in peace and that the UCG teaches God's truth and keeps the Sabbath and holy days.
Some church members seem to think that they could do a better job of running the UCG home office. If they cannot do a better job (if they could, then God would put them there), then why do they appear to be accusing or putting down those ministers who do run the home office? To accuse or condemn is the work of the devil (Revelation 12:9-10), and we should not be a party to evil works.
Whether a council of elders or a pastor general or some other system is best, I do not care which one UCG chooses, so long as it continues to preach the truth and allows me and other UCG members to meet on the Sabbath in peace and learn God's truth. If the ministers or any other people make mistakes, we should forgive them.
Will we allow the UCG home office to get on with its tasks in peace, getting on with our own tasks that God wants us to do, allowing Him to work in our lives to produce some godly fruit? God is not going to give each one of us individually a solution to the UCG home-office problems. Could it be a self-righteous attitude to think that we can do better than those God has placed in positions of leadership?
In the WCG we had to leave because our beliefs were under serious attack from the leadership itself; in the UCG we can believe the Bible without persecution from the ministry.
God is doing marvelous things with His church (in whatever organizations form parts of it), and He has called thousands in faraway places such as Ukraine, central Africa and India to associate with United, and we should be building attitudes of love and forgiveness (as we allow God to work in us) so that when these Christians from far away visit us they will find God's church rather than what would appear to them as a bunch of carnal-minded, self-righteous people lacking unity and love.
"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Two things to watch
I would like to add an important point to Melvin Rhodes' article "What Part Should Prophecy Play in the Church of God of Today?" [Dec. 18]. I found the article interesting, but I felt it lacked one thing. The problem with the Church of God in the present and that of the 1960s and the Jews of Christ's time is that all failed to do one thing: Watch the signs of the times accurately.
As it states in Matthew 16:3, "you know the signs of the times." There is a reason Jesus also stated in Mark 13:5-37 to take heed or watch seven times because the church of today is too busy elsewhere. Signs of the times are as follows:
The Church of God should be aware of what's going on around it, especially now that it is in the Laodicean era. Two key factors to watch now are, first, the economy, and, second, the future battle for a Palestinian state.
Thanks to Mr. Fakhoury
Thank you for the essay by Gary Fakhoury in the Oct. 1 issue "Grace, Law and the Covenants: A Biblical Review." I have been studying this article for at least a month now, and I feel I have a better understanding of law and grace than I ever had before.
I have been a member of the Worldwide Church of God since 1963, and this is the best article I have ever read on the subject.
If Jesus was born c. 4 B.C., as most authorities seem to agree, a little relatively simple arithmetic will show that the sixth millennium of human folly is due to end in less than four years. I was wondering, therefore, if the COG organizations, independent fellowships and various other factions might back off from their jockeying and infighting long enough to consider that time may be running out on us.
If any of the churches are aware of this fact, what do they propose that their memberships do about it? Will their constituent members awake to find themselves among those Christians whom Jesus counsels to buy of Him gold refined in the fire because they had not been taught to acquire it beforehand when it was readily available?
Perhaps it is high time that we get our heads out of the sand and get a bit more serious about our high calling.
A fundamental doctrines of the Churches of God is the profound truth that our destiny as Christians is to reign with Jesus Christ on earth as kings and priests, and we have always been taught that we do not go to heaven. But do we go to heaven?
After God has resurrected us from the dead and we are spirit beings born into the family of God, is there any reason whatsoever that we should not be able to go to heaven to meet our Father, just as Christ did after His resurrection? Surely our Father in heaven would want to see His own children and would want to be at the marriage of His Son and His bride.
Compare Ephesians 2:6 with Ephesians 1:20 (and many other scriptures). We are to sit together in heavenly places with Christ, who is siting at God's right hand--in heaven.
Am I right or wrong? I'd really appreciate some discussion about this subject. What do others have to say?
The Elijah to come
I wish to reply to the article by Wade Cox, on page 6 of the December issue. He says that Herbert W. Armstrong was not the end-time Elijah. He lists 14 points, saying they prove Mr. Armstrong was not the Elijah. To me they do not such thing.
Mr. Armstrong came to "prepare a people, ready for the Lord! [Jesus Christ], a group that will rule with and under Him at His [Christ's] return, and to each the 'World Tomorrow.' HWA's death was the end of his physical work of teaching the flock; now it's exam time for us; i.e., do we understand what we were taught? HWA had seven years of plenty--1979-1986--and it is literature from this time that we should concentrate on.
Here are my answers to Mr. Cox's objections point by point:
Sorry, nothing personal, but you are wrong again, Mr. Cox.
Either HWA was God's Elijah, and we follow everything he taught, or he wasn't, and we ignore what he taught! Obey God, or disobey God (1 Kings 18:21). God will allow you to disbelieve, but it won't change God's truth one bit--only our destiny.
Who's to decide
Regarding the Elijah to come, John the Baptist and even the two witnesses [see articles in the Sept. 25, Oct. 31, Nov. 21 and Dec. 18 issues, along with letters in several issues], would it not be far better to simply believe Scripture for what it says (Malachi 4:5) and the plain words of our Savior--"Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things" (Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12)--rather than the speculations of men?
Herbert Armstrong will probably have been dead for nearly a generation when Christ returns, and in lifestyle and example I couldn't think of two people more opposite. John the Baptist was too humble to take any credit for himself (John 1:21; 3:30; Matthew 3:4). And "but what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses" (Matthew 11:8).
Also, where the two witnesses are concerned, would it perhaps not be better to compare the experiences of those we know to be prophets with the actions of the witnesses in Revelation 11?
And consider their prominence throughout the Gospels, like Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4.
Perhaps it's time for us to realize that we are not the great Philadelphians we thought we were. Anyway, that's not for us to decide. Maybe we get to appreciate yet the lesson of the parable in Luke 14:7-14, where we are admonished to take the lowly place, and "for whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
May the Almighty help us to learn that lesson.
I have wanted to write for some time that The Journal is doing a wonderful job in even teaching the scattered brethren. I am so thankful to see the tones change and hurt and anger subside as we all grow in grace and knowledge.
Also, we are "watching" more and becoming more aware of the Satanic conspiracies as the "new world order" and "one world religion" come about. We are living in the last days. May we all wake up, please, dear God. May we learn to love one another and forgive one another.
Silence The Journal
The United Church of God, an International Association, is being persecuted. That's the good news; Christ promised persecution.
I challenge all "brethren" to do a simple task. Take a piece of paper and over a seven-day period write down how much time you spend in the mall, watching TV, on the Internet and "out to lunch."
Take another piece of paper and write down how much time you spend studying God's Word, praying, serving others and even fasting. See which paper comes up short!
We must be partaking of three spiritual meals a day or we will be starving spiritually. "Man shall not live by bread along but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
Regarding Ellis Stewart's article written in The Journal ("New Beginnings Article Misses the Mark"), did Mr. Stewart first go to his brother privately, or did he just throw out Matthew 18 and go directly to the press?
Before we submit anything for publication, we must ask ourselves a simple question: Does this glorify God?
If each of us individually takes responsibility to get closer to God by spending time with Him, all the opinions of men, expressed so freely in The Journal, will be silenced.
In the meantime, take comfort, true ministers of God, in these words: "If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you."
We've been done right
When it was apparent that there had to be more to life than what we were living, we set out to find an answer. A local Bible-study group spent many hours attempting to provide an answer. Yet when it was completed we still yearned for more.
One member of this group offered us a couple of booklets. The booklets seemed to answer some of those nagging questions. Yes, they were from the WCG. Now, with our appetite whetted, we couldn't seem to get enough.
Soon we reached the point where we were ready; ready for baptism, that is. We made contact and were counseled by a local minister, but we were not offered baptism. We were not even invited to come to services.
At this point we found that the WCG had had a split and that the Church of God International had formed from that split. Not wanting to be put off, we contacted the CGI minister. He was not only willing to baptize us, but invited us to attend services.
It has been several years now, but it seems there is no end to the study it takes to understand the Bible. But the real point is not that. These men, warts and all, have been instrumental in helping us get started; pointing us in a direction, toward a sure foundation. These men (teachers) were instruments, just as we were. Do we supposed God does not test us?
When we find out that these teachers are like us, is this cause to turn away from God and Jesus Christ?
I sometimes feel that when we put a man on a pedestal we expect that man to become divine, that when he turns out to be a man, just like us, we are disappointed.
Should it be any surprise when we look into ourselves and see, in this man, ourselves? We need to ask: If not for these teachers, would we have found any answers at all?
Maybe our focus is on finding, among us, a saint (a hero) and not on God our Father and Jesus Christ our Savior. Maybe, by being a respecter of persons, we are looking for a carnal way out. Maybe our respect of persons has left us disappointed in ourselves. And maybe, by respecting a person, we are guilty of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to.
This is not an attempt to excuse bad behavior. The real point has nothing to do with forgiveness, but everything to do with qualifications of a minister.
Would the ministry approve lying and cover-ups from the least among the membership? The phrase "of good report" says it all. How can anyone engaged in such activities consider himself to be of "good report"?
As I read The Journal, it appears to me that the theme everyone writes about is "I've been done wrong." We need to remind ourselves of the "I've been done right" part. Before we ever came to this realization, we never opened the Bible. At least now we are reading and studying.
David and Goliath
I came to the church mainly through the efforts of Herbert W. Armstrong. So I will not personally judge him, since Christ forbade such judgment, except to say that I admired what I knew of him and how he led me to see my need for repentance.
Furthermore, he gave us a distinctive sense of belonging to a church that was "rare" in this world, particular to the holy days. All fine! Nothing wrong with that. So far so good.
But the truth remains that Satan has his agents--tares--and whether they are in Worldwide or in any number of the offshoots that came out of the WCG doesn't matter. They are still tares and still mislead God's true servants. They may be excellent writers, able to convince and persuade others to their viewpoints and to get them to accept and agree on those viewpoints--without our positively checking them out.
And God will judge us as to whether we will recognize this, to see whether we love Him enough. You see, these tares could just as well be dreaming, deceiving prophets.
Are we watching, brethren? Do we know as much of God's will as we think we do, or are we sleepily going along with the propaganda to discredit God's truth? For the truth is that the Worldwide Church of God is the only church to be in. That's where God began His work in us, and that is where, I believe, He should finish it.
What do I mean:? Well, we should all return to the WCG, under a new leader, God helping through our prayers. I want to hear no negative sob story that the WCG is beyond repair (that is Satan's story) and beyond restoring to its former glory.
Why? Because I get my pleasure in giving my offering to the WCG and the WCG only. All the other offshoots don't compare, brethren, and the truth is that God agrees. His work began there, and if we have the faith He will finish there. If!
Let's not listen to Satan anymore, and he is cunning. Let's have the vision to restore the WCG! Where is our shame? God is watching. HWA should be restored as the rightful founder, his name memorialized, Ambassador College restored, booklets restored and improved upon, teachers trained in the tradition of HWA's Ambassador College.
People should be given the chance to be part of a truly historic church movement that has survived. Let's pool together to rebuild the House of God. Let's bring back former ministers to train young ministers in His church history.
The scattering is not the end. God regathers! So let's all roll up our sleeves, wipe the dust off our clothing, repent and do the first works. Let's forget what is behind, as far as propaganda is concerned, as far as gossip, slandering, backbiting, accusing are concerned. We have spent enough of our lifetime in doing the will of the gentiles. It's time we esteemed one another better than ourselves, forging one another! Or else God will not forgive us.
If you agree with me, chances are you are genuine. If you don't, chances are you are a tare in God's church to deceive others, and you will not have a place in God's Kingdom.
Whose side are you on? Brethren, don't believe everything you hear or read. Satan is around. He is using false brethren to deceive you. Perhaps The Journal is God's tool to test His people, to see whether they love Him or not. And Satan is broadcasting in it, as well as in every other publication, if he can. The truth must be made known and the giant Goliath (Joe Tkach) knocked down. It's up to us to change history, and it's up to us to begin right where we are to share this truth. God help us all! Amen.
Journey of discovery
Please keep The Journal coming! Enclosed is my renewal for two years.
My mother and I left United last year just before the Feast of Tabernacles. We attended the Feast in Gatlinburg, Tenn., with United Christian Ministries, and we met several individuals and families who had gone through similar trials in United but were from different parts of the country.
We know God is leading us, and we must go in the direction He says. We are still learning and seeking the truth. The Journal is the instrument we are using along our journey of discovery.
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