Letters from our readers
In the June 30 issue of The Journal, my name, associated with the Sunriver Feast site, was misspelled: Al Murky rather than Al Murrey. Sometimes I may be a little foggy-brained (especially early in the morning) but hopefully never murky! Thanks in advance for the spelling correction and you all keep up the good work!
A little additional information on the Sunriver Feast site for your information: The site is an unaligned site and not supported by a corporate church organization. However, the Churches of God Outreach Ministries has chosen to kind of adopt our site.
Many members and the pastor of the independent Redwood City, Calif., Church of God attended last year and plan to attend again this year. The Sunriver site is a good example of cooperating, unaligned brethren working and meeting together with brethren from various Church of God groups.
I noted the article in the June Journal concerning Rick Sherrod's trip had an error. I do not know how it crept into the article, but the Friends of the Sabbath had nothing to do with sponsoring the lecture series. It was jointly sponsored by Kevin Watson and History Research Projects.
It would be appreciated if you were to bring this to the attention of your readers.
Would it be possible to print a correction of the Web-site address [given in "Former PCG Elders Say Church in Crisis, Moving Away From Its Founding Principles," The Journal, June 30]. We have had at least six or seven calls asking for the correct address: www.tcog.org.
Heather goes ballistic
Recently I was talking to a church member who told me she had heard I was "ballistic about the lies and misquotes that The Journal printed" after interviewing me for the El Paso report ["Observers and Participants Are Divided on Church Split," April 30, page 10].
I managed to trace down the rumor to someone who can't remember who told him how ballistically angry I was. Of course, he blamed The Journal for being the yellow journalism of the Churches of God and stated that he wouldn't subscribe to it.
After further investigation as to his apparent knowledge of recent Journal articles and letters to the editor, I found that he just happens to read The Journal's Web site . What is the difference whether you read it on a piece of paper or on a computer screen? Either way you look at it, a person has to be actively seeking the information, because Web sites don't just pop up on the screen.
For the record, I would like to state that I was quite pleased with The Journal's coverage of my interpretation of the split in the El Paso area. Please print this and post it on the Net so rumors can be squelched. It is so interesting that people need to make up rumors to prove their minister to be correct in his hatred of uncensored church material.
Is God into religion?
The continuing torrent of articles that flow from the pens of contributors to The Journal might seem, at least on the surface, to indicate that a great number are about our Father's business.
Though no one would doubt the sincerity of those who project all the ideas, doctrines, etc., one does have to wonder where God is in all this confusion of differences. Has He just gone off somewhere, perhaps relaxing with a little golf, giving us time to get it together or just get tired of trying to impress Him and each other with our great righteousness?
The letter, aptly called "Enough Is Enough," published in the Feb. 26 issue, may well express the conclusions of many who have had enough of being torn this way and that over how to reach the Kingdom. The writer concludes by stating: "I hate religion."
Although I am sure a friend of mine of many years did not write that letter, it does express about what he said after discussing the same subject in a phone conversation. He suddenly remarked that he does not think that God is into religion.
We pass such folks off as being disgruntled or bitter, or we defend ourselves by labeling such statements to be blasphemous. That gets the monkey off our back, or does it? What about all those, like these who have stated opinions, whose faith has been tarnished, who have been afflicted with doubts because leadership, over the years, counseled them to look to them for all the answers?
What is happening is enough to cause some even to doubt their calling or neglect it. At one time we preached prophecy and the Kingdom, encouraging each other with the promise of His coming to set us and the world free. We were admonished that we were to be watchmen, to stand in the breach, but now we are afraid we might be said to be setting dates or crying wolf.
And we were told that we were the only ones in the role of preparing the world for the Kingdom. We were told that we are a people of faith, but I have seen greater faith in those who are not of the COG, those who not only believe in faith and works but are doing both.
About three years ago I heard about a man from Canton, Miss., who had reportedly developed a red heifer of Numbers 19 status: qualified, according to the rabbi who examined it, for the purification ritual necessary to the building of the third temple. Being a bit of a pessimist, I called his home and talked with him about what he was doing. Since then my wife and I have met and discussed the project with both him and other officers of the nonprofit organization and the rabbi who represents the Temple Institute.
The strange thing, even to him, is that the cattleman is an Apostolic minister while the rabbi, of course, is an orthodox Jew. Yet they are the closest of friends.
The rabbi visits the Apostolic churches and teaches the Sabbath and holy days, while the Apostolics teach the Jews about the Christ. In fact, if the bill before the Knesset that would prevent Christianity being preached in the state of Israel becomes law, these people will be the only ones to do so since they have the complete confidence of even the government.
It may seem strange to us, but they also call what they are doing a work of faith, and they say that it is not they but God who is doing that work. Their faith is astounding. Their desire to help bring about the Kingdom is amazing, and the events that have surrounded the project are no less.
The project is at least threefold. They are providing red heifers for the sacrifice-red cows to begin a cattle industry in the land-thus fulfilling prophecy, and they are teaching the Christ in that land.
I have concluded, with my friend, that God certainly is not into religion. I believe He couldn't care less about our futile attempts to impress Him and each other with our righteousness. I have concluded that my friend the cattleman from ol' Miss was right when he told me that God does things on time, and He uses whom He will in the way that He desires. My friend is a man of faith and has a great respect for God and His ability, not his own.
I believe that God is into people, all the people of the earth, and how He will bring redemption to all.
We of the COG have been privileged to be called by Him, to have Him make Himself and that plan known to us. It is time to remember that and to conduct ourselves accordingly. I hope we will do that before He has to decide to use others to complete the work He gave us to do.
Do it right
I do not believe that a one-time influx of money will be the answer [to the financial problems of the United Church of God, an International Association]. The people at large do not trust the leadership as they perhaps once did.
Why? Look at the cause of the doctrinal problems in Worldwide: the ministry. Look at the cause of the problems in the UCG: power struggles within the ministry. They are still expecting the people to bow in reverence to their many years of experience, then just pay and pray; don't ask questions; don't expect to do any local work; just look to the "government of God" to provide all the answers.
At the outset the UCG leaders were heard to say, "We have a chance to do it over. Let's do it right this time!" But have they? Their intentions were good, but as soon as any problems arose they reverted to the old Worldwide way of solving them; that is, sit down, be quiet and just do as you're told.
I compare this to parents whose family started out small (WCG) but grew larger and larger. The parents were not wise in handling their children and eventually became quite abusive, so much so that the authorities stepped in and allowed the children to be taken away.
After a while the parents said they'd realized how wrong they had been and would like the children back; they would do it right this time. The children by now were quite mature and no longer needed the parents in the same way as when they were small. However, they were happy to return home, with the promise from the parents that they would no longer be treated as small children but as the young adults they had become.
The parents began to panic; they were not used to having to answer for the things they did.
In their panic they quickly forgot their intentions of "doing it right this time" and once again became abusive to their children.
But this time the children were grown and no longer saw why they needed to stay in this oppressive situation. So they began to leave home, much to their parents' amazement. Some of the children set up house on their own, some went to live with other families. The parents were quite disgusted with this behavior and began to treat the few children who remained home even more harshly, hoping they could, with their fear tactics, force them to stay home.
This, of course, did not work, and eventually they were left alone in their old age.
This is a sad story and one we hope will not be played out in what is left of the UCG.
We need to trust in the Greatest Power, who as a parent allows all human beings the freedom to choose and tells us, "Come now, let us reason together"! Help us all to emulate His wisdom and not rely on our own!
Reason for the scattering
Regarding "Learn the Lessons From the Scattering of God's People," by David Roe, May 31: My feeling about the scattering is that true Philadelphia is being delivered from the mouths of the wolves and the hirelings. It is actually a blessing.
It is my feeling that we are into the Laodicean era and that all of the main organizations of God's church are Laodicea. Just before he died, Mr. Armstrong said, "The gospel has been preached to the world." Then he died and the liberals (the synagogue of Satan; Revelation 3:9) brought the Philadelphian work to a close.
I believe when Mr. Armstrong died Philadelphia's commission to preach the gospel to the world had been completed and then Christ closed Philadelphia's door to the world (verse 7).
Laodicea may yet produce a significant work to harvest those who saw the World Tomorrow telecast in the past. Those same people may recognize the beast and false prophet when they stand up, and suddenly they will be terrified and will respond to Laodicean's strong prophetic message: a message mostly of "save your skin."
I believe that the scattering is of God, that God is separating Philadelphia from Laodicea. I believe that God is moving Philadelphia into the background as Laodicea comes to the forefront. Laodicea will be the visible one out front taking the persecution. God's breaking of Philadelphia's power is a blessing to hide and protect Philadelphia.
I believe that the WCG for several decades was made up of three separate churches: Philadelphia, Laodicea and the synagogue of Satan.
Now the three churches have been separated, but there are still a few Philadelphians in the Laodicean organizations who haven't quite been able to break free of the institutionalized brainwash.
Project of the moment
God is able. Man is not willing to subjugate himself and succor the needy. Man has an "I" problem. God chooses those who are willing to complete His project of the moment.
The CCG's unpaid ministry
This letter is written in reply to Sue Macias' letter in the June 30 issue of The Journal (page 5).
As the Christian Churches of God is mentioned, it is important that we point out some facts to Sue of which she seems unaware. We agree that there is unacceptable bickering among the Churches of God.
One of the first observations Sue misses is when she first asks, "Did the ministers who left his [Herbert W. Armstrong's] organization do any better?"
Clearly she misses the major point that no elders in CCG were ever ministers in the WCG or any of its (HWA's) organization.
The next major misconception she voices is where she says, "Each seeks followers to line its own pockets and to allow its leaders to continue in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed at the expense of those who pay, pay and pay, not just pray and stay."
The CCG has no paid elders or ministers, etc. Most of our people have sacrificed a great deal in money, time and health just to accomplish what we have done to date. Our people ask for and receive no phone allowance and no mileage allowance.
Our coordinator pays his expenses from his pension, and his wife goes to work to help so that he can research and write, while his 83-year-old mother lives with them and helps as well.
Our deputy leader travels at his own expense and finances to help establish the work in the United States and overseas. His wife also works.
My wife, who is one of the secretaries, gave up gainful employment so we could work with and help the other nonpaid workers in the CCG.
The executive secretary remains at home as well so she can serve the church full time.
Truly, lifestyles have changed for all of us in the CCG, and we could not be happier about it, nor more blessed because of it.
Our translators receive pay only when not in office in the church. The leader of the Netherlands work translates with no compensation and travels at his own expense. Our affiliated people also do work at either greatly reduced prices or for nothing.
We have worked tirelessly for years in spite of obstruction from the ministry and members of the WCG system who slandered and disfellowshipped, or otherwise forced out, most of us in the first place for objecting to the heresy in the WCG of the last five years.
The Christian Churches of God organization has a constitution that is open, and all our members have the right to vote on all issues affecting their beliefs and structure. We have people in specific jobs, and we operate in an organized structure because that is the way God works: with all things done decently and in order.
So, when Sue says that it doesn't matter which group one chooses to be in, we must disagree. What we do and what we believe matters much, and in most cases we have come to learn that HWA's organization did not scratch the surface on all there is to be learned.
We travel great distances to fellowship and learn together because we genuinely love one another, as anyone who has attended one of our feasts and studies will know. We are concerned about what is said and believed because peace comes from working together in agreement under the direction of Jesus Christ. We try with all our might to fulfill the commission Christ gave to the church.
UCG-Australia a kangaroo court?
I read with interest Orest Solyma's letter concerning Big Sandy events ["Amazing Exposition," May 31, page 4]. However, he called members of the National Council of UCG-Australia a "kangaroo court."
This is both untrue and inaccurate. Proverbs 18:17-". . . the first to present his case seems right until one comes and questions him"-seems appropriate. Correcting an inaccurate impression of the UCG-Australia national council is the direction of my comments.
With respect to Orest from past friendship and parallel ministerial experiences from the WCG and UCG, plus at one time being his employer, nonetheless I believe his evaluation of events is opposite the view held by others who were there.
A kangaroo court is an illegal assembly held by strikers! Using such term suggests an unfortunate view of authority. Since the UCG-Australia's national council is the legally constituted body for the administrative affairs of the UCG in Australia, this pejorative description is quite wrong.
He is, of course, entitled to make public his version of termination experiences. As a reader, I can also submit a rejoinder. That he was "fired" on the occasions he writes of contrasts with what I would describe variously as a "redundancy cutback" and "doctrinal disagreements" with the WCG and, later, disagreement over doctrinal processes and conclusions with the UCG.
For my part, the Australian national council is composed of honorable, independent-thinking, genuine, God-fearing members of God's church who strive to do what Christ wants. I'm pleased to be their colleague and associate and to have shared (grieved) in some of the hard decisions thrust upon us these past few years.
Congratulations, Bill and Sally
In response to the article in the June 30 Journal, I would like to congratulate Bill and Sally Rollins on the way they have been witnessing to their community ["Congregation's Ideas Help Interest Prospective Members," page 11].
On joining the WCG in the late 1980s, I discovered that one did not go to the Feast of Tabernacles; one went to a "convention." This is just one example of the way we were discouraged from open witnessing. I felt then and still believe that this is a form of denying Christ and thus risks that He will deny those who are reluctant to witness.
Since being part of the workforce, I too have been open about my way of life. When I need time off for the new moons and holy days, my workmates know why I need the time off. When there is an office party, my workmates make sure I know which foods contain pork or prawns, etc.
It is our example more than anything else that will convince the nations that we do know a better way. Most people are not interested in religion, and our message falls on many deaf ears. But they will notice how we live and respect that we stand up for our convictions even though they don't understand them.
This is a time when we are not being persecuted so we must witness while we still can, not by going from house to house, but by setting the best example of God's way of life.
The current level of bickering within the Churches of God makes me cringe, and I welcomed this positive message in a paper that is to a large extent showing up a group of people who are not living up to their religion. There is nothing Christian behind the continuing splits and infighting within and among the various Churches of God. It is this attitude among the sheep that will bring down persecution on us all.
We too [in the Christian Churches of God] try to utilize the skills of every person to the best of his ability and encourage open participation and contribution. Our emphasis is a little different, nevertheless we have similar ideas.
By living their religion openly, Bill and Sally Rollins have shown their neighbors God's laws as they understand them and have the courage of their convictions. They trust God and were therefore not afraid to close their business when others were making money. May God honor their commitment to Him.
Quite an interesting article from C. Wayne Cole! [The article appears on The Journal's Web site, and is in this issue of The Journal, beginning on page 18.] It really kind of gives a perspective on attitudes within the council. It also hints that there is still a division between United council members.
Any chance that Mr. Cole, Dave Havir and others may start a separate organization: one that just oversees congregations but the congregations would remain independent? I would think that would be the best way to go about it. That way it would not be every congregation for itself. They then would become a separate organization under their own rules. All of them would be independent, but they would still attain some sort of home office. This way they could preach the gospel more effectively.
It can be really hard to go from 150,000 to 20,000 to 150 people! Besides, this is what they wanted anyway in United.
Thanks for letter
Regarding the letter by C. Wayne Cole [which first appeared on The Journal's Web site and also begins on page 18 of this issue]: Thank you [Mr. and Mrs. Cole] for your service. I know you are not compensated for what you do in dollars, but God must be pleased with having you as servants of His people. I'm sure this letter will help many see clearly.
Here is a response to Les McCullough's June 18 member letter to UCG-AIA brethren ["UCG President Asks for Special Offering, Calls for Fast for Sabbath of June 27," The Journal, June 30].
Quoting Mr. McCullough's letter: "We all need strong leadership or anarchy will rule and confusion will reign."
My comment: Does the Churches of God Outreach Ministries have strong, centralized authority? Are confusion and anarchy the "rule" there? Are they accomplishing no good work? Is God, and His Spirit, dependent on people to rule His church overall in a hierarchical, pecking-order pyramid?
Mr. McCullough: "None of us are blameless in the problems and difficulties we face."
Yes, we all sin. But does diluting the responsibility of errors in our history into a generalization shed light on the true causes?
Mr. McCullough: "It was our hope that Mr. [David] Hulme [whom the UCG council removed as president] would be willing to serve in another capacity . . ."
After what was apparently gross insubordination? Should flagrant flouting of the authority vested in the council of elders, which according to the constitution and bylaws is the superior governing body on behalf of the general conference of elders, be rewarded with further salary and another job in the corporation?
Mr. McCullough: "Have some forgotten Malachi 3:9-10?" (regarding some withholding tithes from the UCG).
I can see why some have withheld tithes (and not spent them on themselves!) or perhaps given them to other organizations. Until they see the UCG act consistently in a godly manner and acknowledge specific errors and wrong practices, it is most understandable and correct.
Mr. Mac is no doubt a fine Christian and elder. But, in light of our church history (including the Radio Church of God) to the present (during much of which he was a leading participant), I find his statements reflect a clueless understanding of what has transpired.
He, along with many others in God's true spiritual church scattered everywhere, desperately needs more sources of information such as The Journal and Servants' News.
Let me be among the first to commend and congratulate Tim McCaulley for his outstanding and most insightful article "How to Decipher the Doublespeak of Corporate Politics" [The Journal, June 30]. This is exactly what I have been saying and of late actually teaching. Mr. McCaulley's approach by substituting corporation for church where it rightfully belongs is brilliant.
As I have said before, the internal politics of a corporation more often than not serves only as excess baggage to God's sheep when the three main obstacles-Satan, this world and human nature-are sufficient challenges.
Corporate "ministers" (actually "officers" of the corporation) must finally resign themselves to the fact that more and more of God's people are learning the truth as to how God and Christ intended the New Testament church to function, and those are the people whom God will ultimately use to finish His work.
Mr. McCullough's heart
I looked in vain for some constructive criticism in Tim McCaulley's article ["How to Decipher the Doublespeak of Corporate Politics," June 30]. In spite of what he wrote, none of my fellow congregants appear to view themselves as members of a congregation ruled by a corporation.
I cannot even imagine what chaos would erupt if each one individually were to be asked to vote on salaries, hiring of personnel, strategic projects, etc.
Mr. McCaulley is missing the injunction in 1 Corinthians 14:26 by offering no specific advice: alternatives to the situation and strategy he so violently opposes. Does he no longer recognize Les McCullough as a fellow servant and feel free to "beat" him? (Luke 12:45).
COG papers these days are full of scholarly advice to become "yielded to God" by people who can offer no foolproof instructions and by people who know what is wrong with all congregations but their own and, sometimes, especially their own!
We need to read something edifying, upbeat and encouraging, if there is any such thing to be found. If there isn't, complaining and carping and fault-finding will do little to improve it.
Please! If you have never personally done any of the things Mr. McCullough has been attempting to do, get off his back! If you have the experience, offer your experience and expertise.
I believe it's still true that God looks on the heart! It seems none has considered looking on Mr. McCullough's heart recently. Could it be it's still in the right place?
I have read the article titled "Former PCG Elders Say Church in Crisis" [The Journal, June 30]. I have this question for you and anyone else who would care to answer: When is the fact that Gerald Flurry said in the 1992 September-October issue of The Philadelphia Trumpet that "Malachi's Message is an unwritten part of the book of Revelation!" going to be addressed? Isn't that adding to the Scriptures according to Revelation 22:18?
Trust God to lead
When we left the WCG, it was because of doctrine. None of us wanted a one-man rule, and all were happy with the council of elders in the UCG. Are some wishing to go back to following a man? Can we who are staying with the council rise in faith, forgetting ourselves, letting God's Spirit in us lead us, showing love and comfort to one another?
No wonder the council failed when President David Hulme wanted a one-man government: not God's way, but man's. Now is the time to put all our trust in God and let Him lead us.
May God please help us in Britain to get His work out together with the help of the council of elders. Let us remember we all have to answer to God.
We have been hit with a full frontal attack on one of our strongest fronts! Or haven't you noticed? Thousands upon thousands of our fellow "Christian soldiers" were slain when the door to the Fourth Command was left unguarded and the enemy swarmed in and trampled the Sabbath.
Yes, this was preceded by infiltration and enemy intelligence. But no general alert, no warning, was sounded. Even the conspiracy buffs missed the grandest conspiratorial coup of the modern-day church. Why? Are we afraid to call a wolf a wolf, or are we not paying attention?
Is the attack ended so we may now number the dead and say, "Too bad, but at least they didn't get me"? Maybe next time it will be only those in Oregon or Ohio or maybe only Tim or Mary or my friend Charlie or my spouse, but I escaped, so no need to raise the flag.
Let's examine our position. What shape are we in to resist the next wave (and there will be another and another)?
There are many enemy sympathizers or accomplices (wittingly or unwittingly). They are in two camps:
nOutside the gates: The likes of Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute and Joe Tkach Jr. [pastor general of the WCG] orchestrated the overthrow of the WCG. According to an interview with Richard Nickels in the Oct. 31, 1997, Journal: "Mr. Tkach seems to have embarked with gusto on a mission to meet with Sabbatarian groups, such as the Church of God (Seventh Day) and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in discussions about the Sabbath. Why would Mr. Tkach do that, since his Worldwide Church of God no longer teaches the necessity of observing the Sabbath, even though most WCG congregations still meet on the seventh day?"
Mr. Nickels continued: "The facts are that Joseph Tkach has a very warm, personal relationship with a number of people in the Church of God (Seventh Day), among them Lynn Taylor. I know Lynn. Joseph Tkach is meeting with him and other Sabbatarians, I believe, to get them to give up the Sabbath."
Notice it is the "organized" groups that are mentioned and, I believe are more vulnerable. But we are all exposed. Nehemiah gives an example of dealing with such plots:
"Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner" (Nehemiah 6:1-4).
nInside the gates: How can you be for the Sabbath and against it at the same time (wittingly or unwittingly)? I have seen many examples of this, even in articles "promoting" the Sabbath and statements by Sabbath-keepers. Let me give you an example: "The vast majority of Christians are not Sabbath keepers," Sabbath Sentinel, May-June 1995, page 11. Said another writer, on page 14 of the same issue: "I personally believe that the majority of those saved for eternity will never [emphasis mine] have been Sabbath keepers."
These and like statements are license to keep God's Sabbath on Sunday or any other day. Using this reasoning, we could then say that those who, if they haven't repented or did not believe or are not baptized or are Commandment-breakers, etc., will enter the Kingdom.
Whether it is the Fourth Commandment or the Fifth or any other, I do not have the authority to say that any person not keeping the Commandments as written will enter the Kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, "he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4) and "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27) and "if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:19).
If God wishes to make an exception, it is His prerogative. The pope may give permission to keep Sunday and sanctify it; the Muslims may keep Friday; some may say any or every day is a Sabbath. But God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
We must remember that the Sabbath is a test command, to see if we will obey Him or not. Conversely, why would God withhold such a blessing as His rest from one of His chosen ones?
God is our fortress and our high tower. He will protect us if we trust in Him. Perhaps a renewed commitment to His Sabbath will be a step forward. I propose a code of conduct:
"I understand the command [paraphrased] 'Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy'; that the seventh day was sanctified by God and was not changed by Him; that that day was given as a sign between Him and His people showing that we are different from all others. We wear that sign proudly on our forehead and in our hand. I will uphold and keep the Sabbath as a most valuable gift from my Creator."
Steven J. Kieler
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Day of fasting and prayer
This is the first dear-editor letter I've ever written my life. Let me start by saying shame! shame! shame! on us all. I address this to all those individuals who in their wildest imaginations consider themselves children of the living God.
Satan has to be laughing himself to death at our expense, folks. He has us right where he wants us: fragmented, torn asunder, splintered and scattered abroad. All of our various groups claim to represent the one true God, yet walk totally separate paths, trying to accomplish the same goal from a different angle. What an exercise in futility!
I seem to remember something about being baptized into the name of the Father and Son, not some physical organization. That makes me a member of the church of the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I recollect hearing something about being called to become a servant, a bondservant, if you will, to the living God.
God's church is a spiritual entity, and I couldn't care less what kind of moniker an individual chooses to place upon it, be it UCG-AIA, GCG, CGI, stay-at-home, living-room or the myriads of other names people seem to muster up.
We are collectively the Body and church of our Lord Jesus Christ-if we have God's Spirit. As members duly placed into that Body, we ought to be standing hand in hand, in unity, to accomplish what God has called us as servants to do.
We all know the answer to that, don't we? We are to put forth God's message to the people of planet earth. That's it, folks! We are not here to get anyone "saved"; only God can do that. Our job is just to get the message out.
Now, I ask you how can this be done by individual little groups?
God must be shaking His head in disbelief at the mess that has been created. It's time we, who call ourselves children of God, got down on our knees and cried out to God for forgiveness of our rock-headed attitudes. I'm reminded of the scripture in 2 Chronicles 7:14, where God says: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land."
Recently the UCG-AIA called for a day of fasting to seek God's will in the endeavors of the church. I think all of us collectively who consider ourselves called and chosen, no matter what banner or flag we align ourselves with and march under, need to set aside a day of fasting and prayer in supplication to God for unity and peace in His church.
God has only one way to get things accomplished: His way, not the way of some would-be leader or group of leaders who have their own ideas of who ought to be in charge. God is in charge, and we ought to remember that!
It's time the "leaders" of all the factions that call themselves Churches of God would follow the advice in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Also, there is a need to get rid of their rock-headedness (set-in-stone attitude) and come together in unity of spirit to get our work done. It's time all of us take a deep self-examining foot-washing look at how we are dealing with one another.
Our God decides what is right, and He's already written it down for us. With all this mixed-up mess that is occurring now, it's no wonder He said in Luke 18:8: "When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?"
It's pretty hard to build faith when one sees so much infighting and bickering going on in the church of the living God, such as who ought to be in charge. Can't we get it through our rock heads that God is in charge? We are only servants in training.
It's been said a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and I submit to you, brethren, there are a lot of weak links in God's church. I would ask that all of us would follow God's request and do what we are asked to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Let's get rid of our egos and collectively beseech God to heal His church and forgive all of us of bullheaded attitudes ("There's no one, including God, who's going to tell me what to do!").
It seems to me that attitude was developed somewhere in the Garden of Eden. We are all human and subject to that attitude. If we are to be overcoming, then it must be this attitude that we must overcome. Our leadership must set the example, and we in the Body of Christ must follow suit.
Let's stop being a stench in God's nostrils, and let's follow the example outlined in Romans 12:18: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you [us], live peaceably with all men."
It does depend on us, brethren, and it depends upon our getting rid of our rock-solid, bullheaded thinking. Only we as individuals can do that. Let's start at the grassroots level: we whom God has called to support His work. Who knows? Maybe we can shame our "leadership" into meeting together to get something started. Won't you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, whom I love and cherish immensely, join me in setting apart a day of fasting and prayer for the unification of the Body of Jesus the Christ, regardless of the corporate name we associate with?
God wants all of us to march under one banner: His! It can be done, brethren, if we beseech our God. The prayers of a righteous man avail much.
Rod and Fred and Gerald and Ted and David
Oh, how I wish I could raise a glass of wine and salute a true healing of division in the "Body of Christ," as Melvin Rhodes suggested in The Journal in the May 31 issue ["Columnist Offers Toast to Church's Next Generation," page 3].
I would like to suggest that the corporate lines (which are artificial) separate only those who are not truly converted.
Those brethren who do have God's Spirit still do "speak often to one another" (Malachi 3:16). They have never been divided! They have never been jaundiced with one another! These are the true brethren!
All across America and around the world, brethren still assemble together at weddings and funerals and on feast days. They even eat together at each other's homes, with several corporate churches represented, fellowshipping in love.
These brethren are not separated by corporate lines. They are simply inclined to support a part of the work they feel most comfortable with, though it may be a Church of God corporation.
They understand the really true Church of God is a spiritual temple and every part of the body fits exactly where God made it to fit and performs the function it was created to perform. Realizing this totally eliminates the attitude of playing one-upmanship with others.
Do you ever see this among the corporate church leaders? Can you picture Rod Meredith calling Fred Coulter and inviting him over for supper on Friday evening? Or could you picture Fred inviting Gerald Flurry? Could you picture either of them inviting David Hulme or Garner Ted or Ron Dart to share an evening meal and Christian fellowship?
Do you suppose these men would accept an invitation, even if it were to be given?
Are we getting the picture here? Do these corporate church leaders all think that the brethren are blind or stupid? Do they think we are unable to read them and their attitudes? Talk is cheap, conversion is real, and the walk is revealing!
Blow by gory blow
The May 31 issue was 32 pages long, and 15 pages of it (including three pages in fine print) were dedicated to giving us the gory details, blow by blow, of the Big Sandy UCG split (that's fully half of the publication).
I think you could save yourself considerable money and your readers considerable eyestrain by simply summarizing these types of articles and putting the details on your Web site, for those who are really interested in that much detail.
The only reason that I forced myself to read it all is that I paid for it and didn't want all those trees to go to waste.
Printing the entire constitution and bylaws of the UCG a few months ago is another example. In fact, it seems that about 90 percent of the news articles are about the UCG. Surely it is not the only church that is doing anything newsworthy.
On the positive side, the essay article by David Roe ["Learn the Lessons From the Scattering of God's People," May 31] was an excellent piece of work. I am grateful to him for sharing it with us and hope many people will read it.
Also, it's encouraging to see a few of the congregations coming to a fuller obedience to the Third Commandment. I refer to Dennis Larry Martin and his Congregation of YHWH in Dallas. I wish them well. I was ostracized from the group I was attending because of this same subject, as well as the observance of the new moons, which I see some of YHWH's people are starting to accept. I'm attending another small group that so far seems more tolerant of different ideas.
I would like to see more of Mr. Roe's type of articles and more on controversial subjects, like the series on the calendar you started out with [Feb. 26 and March 26, 1997]. I'm still awaiting publication of my "sacred names" article, which I sent in over six months ago. No one knows everything there is to know about the Bible, and controversial articles make us think and go to our Bibles to study deeper, resulting in an overall benefit to all of us.
I would like to share an important biblical passage with readers of The Journal. According to Joel 1:10-11: "The fields are laid waste, and the ground mourns: because the grain is destroyed, the wine fails, and the oil languishes. Be confounded, O tiller of the soil, wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; because the harvest of the field has perished."
According to this, the Roman army takes Judea in the spring. The Bible also clearly states that Jesus Christ will return in the early autumn, according to Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:15-18, "for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe."
According to these scripture passages, the beast begins to reign in the spring, and Jesus Christ returns three and one-half years later in the autumn.
Love one another
Many churches out there have split off the original Church of God Mr. Armstrong started, all claiming to be Christian and having the truth of God. They all claim that there are Christians among all these many groups, but their leaders will not come together to iron out their problems or pool their resources to have one great work that the one great, true and living God could be happy with: one that could accomplish the work of God to proclaim the gospel to the nations of the world in these end times.
My opinion is that these leaders have egos that want power, disciples and tithes and offerings so they can do the work and take credit for being the "one" God chose through whom to do His work. These were the same elders who knew the changes that were to take place [in the WCG] and kept their mouths shut so they wouldn't lose their jobs and salaries.
If any of these leaders were chosen by God, they would have love for each other and try to do a great work together! This would enable Christ to return soon to set up His Kingdom, and we would no longer have to endure this confusion the sheep are enduring.
I pray that these leaders will stand up and do the will of God.
I am writing this letter in North America on the national holiday called Father's Day. I can't help but wonder what our Father in heaven must think of His spoiled children here on earth: many "Churches of God" claiming they want to do a work for Him but spending most of their time squabbling over who gets to be in charge, seemingly forgetting that Scripture tells us Christ is the head of the church.
Also, as I was perusing The Journal's list for Feast of Tabernacles sites for 1998, I realized just how fragmented we have become in the name of religion. Never mind our splits are not over doctrinal issues. Rather, the groups, especially the larger ones (which are shrinking rapidly), seem to be falling into political camps vying for the king-of-the-mountain title. God's Word tells us there is one King of Kings. Why can't the leaders of the groups realize this?
Could it be that the Churches of God look political because they are trying to run the church like the world runs its organizations? Rather than imitating Christ, many have a president, chairman of the board, constitutions, bylaws, rules of association or self-appointed apostles and exclusive memberships.
That Christ was a leader while He was in human form is obvious from the Scriptures. Yet it was also Christ who demonstrated the greatest form of loving leadership in that He was willing to lay down His life for all mankind-even those who hated Him. Brethren, can't we see that to be a true leader means we have to be a true servant, willing to wash one another's feet, care for the sick and homeless, sit at the back of the bus, present our bodies as living sacrifices?
Why do some of us insist on having the seats up front? God says the first will be last. Remember, He has the power to set His church straight, and He just might have to do this to bring us to our senses, as King David recorded in Psalm 78:31-35.
May we who claim to be His children take to heart 1 Peter 1:16: "Be ye holy; for I am holy," and Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."