Letters from our readers
We noticed in your list of festival sites [in recent issues] that you say the Intercontinental Church of God (Garner Ted Armstrong) is sponsoring a festival at Rye in England. This is not correct. The festival site this year is at Kendal in Cumbria. You can find information about it at www.gtaea.org/feastof.htm.
Anthony and Margaretha Miles
Baerums Verk, Norway
Just read the list of Feast sites in The Journal (the online version ) and noticed that you had the UCG-Canada in eastern Canada listed as Mont Orford, Que. This was where it was the past few years. However, this year it is in Mont Sainte Anne, Que., which is northeast of Quebec City and about a 30-minute drive.
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
The Aug. 31 issue of The Journal, page 14, says in an editor's note that Ivor C. Fletcher's book on church history, which he wrote in 1984, is "out of print." Please correct this misstatement.
Since 1995 Giving & Sharing, with Mr. Fletcher's permission, has distributed his book The Incredible History of God's True Church.
In 1984 Mr. Fletcher, then a member of the Worldwide Church of God in Bristol, England, wrote what is possibly the best comprehensive history of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God, covering from the first to the 20th centuries.
With Mr. Fletcher's permission we distribute this book to those who treasure church history. The book is available online at www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/. Or order a 136-page retypeset photocopy for a suggested donation of $12 from Giving & Sharing, P.O. Box 100, Neck City, Mo. 64849, U.S.A.
Here are some of the topics the book covers: Did Jesus visit Britain?; the Glastonbury story; Paul the apostle in Britain; the great conspiracy; Simon Magus and his "Christian" church; who was the first bishop of Rome?; "The Lost Century"; the legend of King Lucius; "A Light in the Dark Ages: The Church in the Wilderness"; Pergamos, an era of martyrs; the work of Peter Waldo; the amazing life of Shem Acher; the life and times of Stephen Mumford; "The Message Taken to Kings."
This is a unique time in my life and for my family. Many of you already know of the circumstances we are dealing with, and, for those of you who don't, I'll share it with you.
Two weeks ago I was informed I had an aggressive cancer of the prostate that has spread out of the prostate to the lungs, spine and other parts of the body. In looking back, I believe it started in March of this year, when I had what they called then a serious urinary-tract infection.
I have lost about 50 pounds. Since the "infection," I have not felt sick: no nausea, only some mostly minor pain in my left leg. I have been sleeping well but have really lost my appetite. I have been anointed and look to our Heavenly Father and Jesus for Their healing. We have already received many blessings from brethren sharing their love and faith with us.
When I first started sending "Sabbath Greetings" [every week by E-mail] it was to 15 or 20 people, just to keep in touch and to encourage one another. For whatever reason the list has grown to about 150 brethren in various Sabbath-keeping assemblies.
What I want to share with you this time is the great uplifting spirit of so many who have written, sent cards and E-mails and made telephone calls. I am convinced that there is great love in the Body of Christ. So many have said, "If there is anything we can do, just let us know," and this is from the heart. May God bless you all as you deal with your walk in this way of life.
Two of my favorite scriptures have repeatedly come to mind as we have been contacted by so many brethren:
Our Father has commanded the blessing of being like Him forever. That is my joy and my hope. In Him I have rest and peace.
"... His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
I trust I am healed now for eternity. What will God choose for the flesh of mine now? His will be done.
I look forward to seeing some of you at the Feast of Tabernacles in Wagoner, Okla. Till then, the Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Bill (and Jo) Fowler
532 N. Gordon
Wichita, Kan. 67203, U.S.A.
What's a widow to do?
I applaud Karen Colburn's article on the afflictions of the widow ["Visit Widows, Orphans in Their Trouble," July 31]. I have been a widow for two and a half years so I know that what she says is the way it is. I would like to add some insights of my own.
After 35 years of marriage I was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the single world again. It wasn't where I wanted to be, and I didn't feel I belonged there, but I didn't seem to belong to the married world, either.
I still felt married, but others evidently didn't see me that way. Perhaps others feel awkward having me around; perhaps they think I'll feel awkward being around couples; perhaps they don't know what to do with me. Whatever the reason, couples don't invite a new widow to join them.
My children are grown and off building lives of their own. Though they are a great support and I am important to them, they focus on their families (and that's the way it should be). Friends focus on their families. Couples focus on each other. I have no one to whom I am the most important person in the world. I don't say that to evoke sympathy but to state the facts and help others understand what we widows face.
When something needs to be repaired, I can no longer ask my husband to do it. I'm the handyman now. Usually it is something that I've never done before, and it takes weeks instead of hours and many trips to Home Depot to complete the task.
I don't mind doing these things because I like to learn new things. It does, however, get frustrating to continually run into obstacles. Then, when the task is finally conquered and I'm enjoying the feeling of triumph, there is no one there to share that joy with me.
Simple tasks like mowing the lawn suddenly become the responsibility of the widow. I live in Arizona, so this job includes 110-degree weather. The lawn mower is heavy, and the grass catcher is hard to empty. By the time I'm done I'm wringing wet and exhausted. But I still have to trim the edges and put everything away. I barely have the strength to do the final bits of that job.
Why don't you hire someone to do all this? you ask. Well, that's another problem. Usually the widow suffers a decrease or loss of income. So she simply can't afford to hire someone. Often she has to go to work if she hasn't already been working.
Handymen don't like to work after 6 p.m., either. They want to be home in their air-conditioned houses with their families. So, if the job requires the handyman to be inside, either you have to take time off work or arrange for someone else to be there to let the handyman in and pay him.
Then there are car repairs. There is something that needs to be fixed on my car. It has needed this for quite some time. I know where I can take it to be fixed, and I know I can afford it.
The problem lies in transportation. I need my car for work. To take it in for repair, I will have to arrange for someone to meet me at the mechanic's, take me to work and pick me up again. If the repair takes more than one day, someone will have to take me to work and pick me up until I get my car back.
Why not rent a car? See the above paragraph.
I didn't think about this until I became a widow. Like most others, I thought the afflictions began with the death of the spouse and ended with the burial. Maybe they would extend through the grieving period. Beyond that I didn't give it much thought.
Since then I have faced many events that have enlightened me on this subject. One day after struggling with a particular problem for three weeks I stood in my kitchen and yelled, "Why can't anything just be easy?"
Then the understanding hit me squarely between the eyes. It was as if God were saying to me: "Now that you understand how difficult it is to be a widow, tell others. Don't let this understanding end with you."
What would Jesus do?
I note from the August edition of The Journal that 138 Feast sites are listed. I believe it would have been much more helpful to list the sites that Jesus will be attending, for I cannot believe that those who betrayed God's people by failing to speak out against the apostasy would expect Jesus to attend their "Feast site."
Perhaps you should contact the organizers of the 138 sites and ask them to confirm whether Jesus will attend. This information would help those who plan to have fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ during the Feast to choose one of the sites.
Via the Internet
Resource for Feast travelers
Congratulations on a fine job in maintaining The Journal. I would like to share an informative Web-site address that is helpful for traveling and especially useful for the Feast of Tabernacles time. May I wish all of you a peaceful and blessed Feast! The address is http://cog144000.homestead.com/tourism.html.
Dr. Joseph Israel
Mississauga, Ont., Canada
I would like to give a big thank-you to the staff for sending me The Journal. I especially enjoyed the series on "Primitive Christianity" and other in-depth Bible articles.
I especially thank those who responded to my prayer request to be allowed to observe the holy days using earned time off (it's like vacation time) to listen to sermon tapes. I was denied by the warden, but the power went out on the perimeter fence and we were locked down on each of the high days of Passover and Pentecost.
I am appealing to the chief appeals board in Sacramento. In the meantime the Rutherford Institute has indicated a possible interest. Please ask all readers to pray that the institute pursues the case for all Sabbath-keepers and observers of holy days for all inmates, Jews as well as gentiles.
Take another memo, Dave
I totally agree with Eric Snow's letter ["Altruistic Paternalism," June 30, page 2, which was a response to a column by Dave Havir in the May 31 issue, "The Class System's Roots Run Deep"]. But I want to add to what he said. First, it is sad that Dave Havir will not respond to Eric's letter nor to my letter, and I know from experience he will not respond.
More than a year ago I had a "Memo to Dave" letter published in The Journal, but he didn't respond to it publicly.
Why, Dave, do you think your congregation is above the warnings of Isaiah 30:10, Romans 16:17-18, and 2 Timothy 4:3-4? Eric is right. There should be a headquarters or home office to appoint a pastor for a congregation instead of the congregation doing that like the world does.
Being raised in the church in Texas, I will say to Dave and his congregation that the Texas independent spirit won't exist in the Kingdom. How are we to rule rightly unless we can bow to God now?
Do you consider those "saints" who believe in hierarchical government as weaker "saints"? I consider you and your congregation as weaker "saints" because of their attitude toward hierarchical government and not wanting any headquarters or home office telling them what to do.
Long Beach, Calif.
In (moderate) defense of hierarchy
Not without surprise, I've discovered that my letter (June 30) defending (moderate) hierarchy in church government against Dave Havir's arguments has drawn three critics over the past two issues of The Journal (Ron Murphy, Bryn Hendrickson and David Roe).
Having but limited space and two people to reply to in defense of hierarchy in church government (for space precludes me from doing justice to Mr. Hendrickson's thought-provoking questions), it's best that I get on my way.
Taking the last letter first, Mr. Murphy's foundational mistake is to believe that having equality in God's sight eliminates all hierarchical relationships between believers through an apparent allusion to Galatians 3:28.
"Mr. Havir," wrote Mr. Murphy, "has recognized that in our faith there is neither servant, slave, master, owner, men nor women." But, as I showed in my initial letter, the New Testament authorizes with God-given authority hierarchical relationships between human beings. He does so even when those on both sides are Christians!
Hence, that a husband and a wife may both be believers doesn't cancel out the authority of the husband over the wife within the context of marriage, or Paul couldn't have written, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22).
Paul even allowed for Christian masters to rule over Christian slaves, which the letter to Philemon itself shows, but Ephesians 6:9 constitutes sufficient one-verse proof: "And, masters, do the same things to them [your servants or slaves], and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."
Naturally enough, this should make us squirm, especially given America's historical treatment of blacks in particular. But this verse exemplifies the model of altruistic paternalism described in my first letter. Masters rule in an unequal hierarchical relationship over their slaves-servants, but they're supposed to be self-sacrificing towards those under them. That God isn't partial between slaves and masters doesn't mean masters couldn't order slaves to do things they didn't want to do.
Asserting that "obey" doesn't mean "obey" in such texts as Ephesians 5:22 and verses following, but merely "make yourself accountable," simply reads in the desired watered-down definition.
Peter didn't agree with this definition when writing: "For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" (1 Peter 3:5-6).
The "military sense" appears here indeed. Does anybody seriously propose that the hierarchical relationships described and authorized by God in the New Testament, such as husband-wife, parent-child, human governmentcitizen, master-slave, aren't indeed unequal and involve someone obeying someone else?
It appears modern feminist ideology influences Mr. Murphy's interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and other texts describing the husband-wife relationship. He has to be given credit, however, for consistency, for he tries to make his model of church government congruent with the New Testament by redefining this major social relationship as (nearly) nonhierarchical, instead of pushing for egalitarian democracy in church government and leaving other human social relationships unequal and hierarchical.
But those well acquainted with the New Testament ought to know this effort won't succeed.
A classic example of eisegesis occurs when Mr. Murphy attempts to say Acts 14:23 concerned Paul and Barnabas only nominating elders for the congregation to vote or confirm. But what does the text say?
"They [Paul and Barnabas] had appointed elders for them in every church."
Where does it say the local church took any action at all in this process? Furthermore, the word translated "appoint," cheirotoveo, means "appoint, install." As Bauer (p. 881) explains, "this does not involve a choice by the group."
After all, congregationalists will attempt to evade pro-hierarchy texts by finding alternative meanings for terms that can mean "submit," "obey," "rule," etc. Any possible ambiguity here similarly eliminates this proof text for congregationalism, since the word certainly can mean "install" or "appoint," not just "choose, elect by raising hands." What's good for the goose is good for the gander!
Like Mr. Murphy, David Roe feels the need to challenge Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon as biased, etc., largely because his scholarship doesn't agree with Bauer's theology on church government. But his charge against Bauer's scholarship falls short concerning the word proistemi found in 1 Timothy 5:17.
Concerning such texts as 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and Romans 12:8, he says that this word could have the "be concerned about, care for, give aid" definition, but he then denies ("Certainly") any ambiguity for 1 Timothy 5:17's possibly not meaning "be at the head [of], rule, direct."
Given these concessions, if he had believed there was wriggle room that proistemi didn't mean rule or at least "manage, conduct" in 1 Timothy 5:17, it's hard to believe he wouldn't have admitted it. There have to be syntactical-grammatical reasons for the difference in treatment (which also appears in the NASB's translation of these three texts), not mere theological bias.
Mr. Roe's analysis of 1 Timothy 3:4-5 assumes that "ruling" and "caring for" something are mutually exclusive acts: "He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?"
Here Mr. Roe mistakenly assumes all hierarchical relationships are necessarily abusive. This idea would have surprised Paul, who believed a husband's authority over his wife coexisted with his requirement to show agape (self-sacrificing) love to her (Ephesians 5:22-29 again; see also Hebrews 12:5-11 and 1 Timothy 3:4, the latter in the RSV).
The ideal pastor should be a servant leader who is as self-sacrificing towards his congregation just as he is to his own wife and children. He is given authority over them, but he is to be unselfish and kind. He should promote the development of his congregation's God-given talents through evangelization and other congregational works of service.
The model of self-sacrificing paternalism fits the New Testament far better than the model of egalitarian democracy or congregationalism, which describes no major human social relationship found in the New Testament. Such a favorite proof text of the independents as Luke 22:24-27 and its parallels merely condemn abusive hierarchical authority, not hierarchical authority per se, or else it would contradict such texts as Romans 13:1-7 and Ephesians 5:22-29 (yet again).
So, then, why do many independents and congregationalists accept the idea of nonabusive, loving authority when it comes to family life but can't concerning church government?
Church in the round
I was glad to read in The Journal (the one with Louis Williams' picture on page 1, Aug. 31) an article including the importance of arranging the chairs in a circle ["A New Creation: Building the Next Church," by Darlene Warren, page 17].
In spite of my urging over the years, the group that I visit would rather just arrange the chairs in little rows so we have a view of the back of someone's head and the speaker up on the podium, even though it's a small group. But I would rather see the front of someone's face then his back. Do you want to drive an hour to look at the back of someone's head for two hours?
A lot of communication appears on a person's face but not much in the back of his head. Television programs are based on the expressions people have on their faces. No television program has characters running around with only the backs of heads visible.
Another idea I liked was to let everyone get his own chair from a rack near the front, much like you pick up a songbook, and put it where he feels most comfortable.
Darlene Warren, the writer from Big Sandy [and The Journal's advertising lady], says this could be thought of as a physical sampling of working out our own salvation. It was written with much wit. Thank you, Darlene.
Missing Mrs. Booher
Fay Booher, a 97-year-old widow, died Monday, Sept. 4. She was a big part of the Church of God (a spiritual organism) and of our particular congregation (the Church of God Big Sandy).
As we were beginning construction on our building in the spring of 1998, she was concerned about her health and if she would live long enough to attend a service in our new church home. Not only was she in attendance for our first service in the building in October 1998, she remained active in the congregation.
As the oldest member of the congregation, she was chosen to cut the ribbon at our official opening ceremony. She regularly sat on the front row at the church service with her daughter Marjorie and granddaughter Nancy. She was sharp-minded and full of energy. She was always on the go.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, we had a short graveside ceremony. Then we had a much longer memorial service and lunch in our building. Everyone had the opportunity to say some words. It was nice to hear family and friends reminisce about her life and her beliefs.
We miss Mrs. Booher, and we look forward to seeing her in the resurrection.
Big Sandy, Texas
Jesus didn't keep the Sabbath
In the Aug. 31 issue Louis Williams made the statement that the reason blacks stayed in the Worldwide Church of God was that they thought their identity was just to be in Jesus, but their real identity, said Mr. Williams, is to be spiritual Jews and children of the promise [see "Oklahoma Pastor Seeks Wide Support for Significant COG Gospel-Preaching Efforts," page 1].
Mr. Williams [who is black] didn't tell me how to do that or where I could find it in the Bible. I do not know how many blacks he has talked to, but he did not talk to me. I could tell him the reason I stayed in the WCG is that I read Matthew 17 about the law and the prophets disappearing and only Jesus remaining.
Someone asked Him what was the greatest commandment, and He gave only one: love--of God and man.
Somebody asked Him about the Sabbath, and He said it was made for man. The only time the Sabbath is mentioned in the New Testament is its connection with some Jewish festival. The Sabbath is never mentioned with Christianity, and Christ was not a Sabbath-keeper.
Christianity is not an extension of Jewish laws; it's a whole new game. Either Christ fulfilled the law (every jot and tittle), or He failed. When He said it (all 613 points of the law) was finished, I believe Him. I do not think He forgot the Sabbath point and finished only 612.
Mr. Williams is right that all that I am or expect to be is in Jesus Christ. He took my sins on Himself and freed me from the works of the law, so now I love everybody. I can worship with anyone whose Master is Jesus, no matter what he may call himself or what day he worships on.
New Testament Christians worshiped on the first day because that's the day their Master arose. It was also the day that Christianity was ushered in: Pentecost. So we have a real right to celebrate on the first day of the week.
I noticed in the July 31 issue Brian Harris's words on repentance, forgiveness and submission to authority ["What's Happening?," page 2].
It seems a bit of a contradiction to say one can forgive a fellow Christian but not forget his repented-of past when it comes to a position of responsibility in the church or society.
I wonder how the apostle Paul would get on since he could be labeled by critics as a "jailbird" or "con" and even "murderer" by some opponents. There's a need to read and apply all of Matthew 18.
Of course, there is no argument on submission to those God places over us--if He has placed them. If God has placed a leader in a position of service and authority, then would he not follow 1 Corinthians 11:1: Follow him as he follows Christ?
Why, then, do we continually hear the provably false claim by many who are with the Living Church of God that the board of directors "took over control" of the Global Church of God? (And that is just one of many erroneous statements that have proven to be such on close examination.)
How can a board of directors that is in control "take over" control?
Want solid proof? If you live in the United States, go to the law library at your courthouse and look up the law governing charitable corporations in the state and federal statute books.
You'll find that the board of a charitable, tax-exempt organization (church) is under control of the appointed board of directors, and the chairman or president is in turn subject to the control of the majority of directors.
The proof is there as well as in Global's member letters, Roderick Meredith's letters and unchallenged legal documents of the bylaws and board and council members, not to mention the audiotapes (also unchallenged legally) from Belgium of the board and council meetings of November 1998.
Why are so many willing to take someone's word without supporting evidence to back it up when there is so much evidence that clearly shows the majority of board members were trying to do what's right in God's sight?
The departure from the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF), by one who was so effective in detailing some of that evidence doesn't change facts of law or truth one iota ["CGCF President Resigns, Moves to Living Church," July 31]. It's sad that family and other pressures apparently prevailed over correct priorities.
But, as Aaron Dean says, this is a time of testing.
It's too bad more brethren have failed to thoroughly test those who profess to be leaders. If we did, we'd be more careful about who we follow and whether they should be followed.
Ian R. Willis
You gotta have heart
Cardiomyopathy patients usually die within five or six years after they are diagnosed. My son, Michael "Mike" Smith, at 41 years of age was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, one of many diseases that leads to congestive heart failure, in September 1994.
Mike was hospitalized Aug. 7, 1999, with blood clots. The surgeon removed 20 cc's of clots. Lawrence Gregory, our minister, came to pray for him, as we are instructed in James 5:14-15. Mike's condition deteriorated daily.
On Aug. 17 Mike's doctor called the family together and informed us that Mike had five days to two weeks to live. The news was a blow but not unexpected.
Dr. Gary Gibbs advised us that the option of a heart transplant was available. He called St. Francis Hospital Heart Transplant Center to see if Mike might be eligible for a transplant. With nothing to lose but his life, Mike decided to have the transplant.
Dr. Doug Ensley came from St. Francis to discuss the pros and cons of a heart transplant. Mike was transferred to St. Francis Aug. 18. The medical staff ran tests all day and part of the night. The tests literally exhausted him. His kidneys shut down, and he was put on a dialysis machine.
Pat Dennis, minister from Coffeyville, Kan., came to visit Mike that day. I told Pat that Mike had about two days left to live. (I had already experienced this before with my oldest son, who died after receiving the same diagnosis.) Pat prayed for Mike.
About 4 a.m. Aug. 20 Mike's heart began to fail. Dr. Ensley informed us Mike needed a balloon pump to assist his heart, but the balloon pump did not work. The other option was to use a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD).
The heart surgeon, Dr. James Spann, informed us Mike had less than a 30 percent chance of surviving the surgery.
I told Dr. Spann, "God be with you." We were led in prayer by Lawrence.
The surgery took longer than usual because Mike had been shot full of blood thinners for the clots. The doctors used platelets to slow the bleeding. He was given transfusions for a week, but the bleeding continued. The surgeon opened Mike again to see what was causing the bleeding. He removed a lot of blood clots and stopped the flow.
Mike began to improve a little when he got an infection that was going around the hospital. The infection kept recurring. Lawrence Gregory or Steve Andrews came to pray for Mike each time.
Mike was improving again when he choked on some liquid and had to go on the LVAD again.
He had a CAT scan to see if there were brain damage since he did not breathe from the time he choked until he went on the device.
Lawrence came to pray for him again. Lawrence, Derinda (my daughter-in-law) and I discussed pulling the plugs if Mike had brain damage. He was not responding well at this point, but the CAT-scan results showed no brain damage.
During this time Derinda and I discussed faith, prayer and trusting God to take care of Mike's healing. We had constant Bible studies. Our faith in God increased. I told Derinda to leave everything in God's hands. I knew God would heal Mike if it were His will.
A month after the surgery Mike became aware of his surroundings. He has no memory from Aug. 19 to Sept. 20, which is good, because he has no idea of the pain and suffering he endured. He began eating and walking on his own and improved rapidly. He was strong enough to go home Oct. 18.
Mike received a heart transplant Jan. 10, 2000. He has had no complication, no rejection. Of the five heart-transplant patients in a two-month period, Mike did better than any of the others.
The hospital staff has nicknamed Mike the Miracle Man. They did not think he would survive. The nurses told us that every night they would go home thinking Mike would die before morning. Even his cardiologist, Dr. Ensley, admits privately that it was prayer that got Mike through the hard times, but he cannot admit that professionally.
We know God heals. Mike Smith is living proof that miracles do happen.
Mike was baptized February 2000. He received two new hearts in the same year.
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