From Darwin and Laura
Your article "Disfellowshippers Should Take a Break" [The Journal, April 30] was very good. Thank you for speaking out.
We were disfellowshipped by the UCGIA [United Church of God an International Association] back in October 2000, so, although we very much empathize with Dan Cafourek's plight, please tell him not to hold his breath on the apology he wants from UCGIA because it probably won't happen in this age.
We have a Web site at http://darwinlauralee.com, and if Dan Cafourek or others are interested we would certainly post their "disfellowshipment" stories on our Web site if they send them to mail them to Darwin and Laura Lee, P.O. Box 2333, Bismarck, N.D. 58502, U.S.A.
If you have been disfellowshipped and are not documented as some disfellowships are, then E-mail anyway, giving your name, letting us know who disfellowshipped you and giving us a brief summery of what happened (hows and whys) if you know them.
If we get enough response to this, we will create a whole section on our Web site just for this purpose.
Let's hold these people accountable for the way in which they use the doctrine of disfellowshipment to cause harm to many.
To date we carry the following disfellowshipment stories on our Web site: Ned Dancuo, David Ben-Ariel and our own.
Also, on another subject, Steve Collins' article "Just What Kind of Captivity Will Babylon the Great Bring?" was excellent. We have an article posted on our Web site at http://darwinlauralee.com/a2006-033-03.htm titled "What Is the Mark of the Beast?" that could possibly help to add to what Steve has already said.
On http://darwinlauralee.com we have some new things, one being a "God's Holy Days" section that will expand with time and include many things for people to use in their study of the holy days of God.
We also have a new section called "Study Your Bible" where you can not read articles but you can leave your comments, agreements and disagreements on any given article.
We have changed the way we do our E-mail lists. They now run off of our Web site and include the following unmoderated lists:
"Advertising List" (to advertise your church events or related items), "Archeology Exchange," "Humor & Poetry," "Prayer Requests & Updates," "World & Local News" and one moderated list, "Questions Section," for the purpose of asking and answering biblical questions.
To subscribe to any or all of these lists go to http://darwinlauralee.com/data/05-17-06.htm.
We also post ads and Web links on our site, as well as print them in our 24-page newsletter.
Darwin and Laura Lee
I would like to congratulate Dan Cafourek for his articles in last month's [the April 30] Journal, both parts 1 and 2. While Dan is no more perfect than you or I, he exposes the faults of large religious corporations and the control their officers exert to protect their power, position and incomes.
Dan experienced what I and many others experienced much earlier in the Worldwide Church of God, even while Herbert W. Armstrong was still alive, where I saw in Australia whole families escorted from Sabbath services by policemen wearing guns.
Of course many such members are still around and have formed other Churches of God, though others were so disheartened and embittered that they never recovered and went back into the world.
But the sad fact is that some of the churches so formed, while temporarily recognizing those failings and determining to remove them, returned, like the UCG, to the same methods that still cause much suffering today (2 Peter 2:22).
When will we learn that it is possible to have quite independent churches and still be part of a larger body that can act together for special purposes while permitting its associates freedom to make their own decisions on such topics as the calendar?
As pastor of one such quite independent church, the North West Church of God in Chester, England, I am part of a group whose members remain part of the Churches of God Outreach Ministries (CGOM) even though years ago we learned that the present "Hebrew" calendar was not the one kept and sanctified by Jesus Christ.
At that time we went to Israel and learned how to recognize the aviv barley [see "Church of God Members Embark on a Barley Hunt in Israel," The Journal, March 25, 2002, and "Barley Hunt Dictates 13-Month Festival Year," The Journal, March 31, 2003].
For some years we worked closely with the Karaites [Jews who adhere to a doctrine originating in Baghdad in the eighth century that rejects rabbinism and talmudism and bases its tenets on only the Old Testament] until it transpired that they were often too hasty in proclaiming the new year based upon supposed aviv barley they had found (we suspected in order to be different from the rabbinate calendar).
Finally we, as members of various Churches of God who had decided to determine God's feast days exactly as the priests did at the time of Christ, established our own much wider search over Israel at the end of the 12th month each year to decide if the next month could be Abib (Aviv).
Therefore we were not surprised when the Karaites proclaimed the new year (in 2005), after a couple of hours searching near Jerusalem, and found aviv barley in a canyon and a bend in the road.
You can find such advanced stalks of barley in many extreme microclimates, but they are not a true indication of the month of the barley harvest, which God's Word demands should be the first month of the year (Leviticus 23:10).
Such information can be gathered only by a much wider search over Israel, looking at "wild barley" (the kind that was harvested at the time of Christ), which grows like a weed everywhere, but looking especially where it grows in areas that could be harvested--in order to fulfill the biblical requirement in Leviticus 23.
We were in Israel again this year, establishing the true month of "the aviv" based upon the barley and the visible new moon alone, without any reference to the "Hebrew calendar" (see the article "Abib of God" on our Web site, www.nwchurch-of-god.org.uk.
Orchids and garlic
How wonderful to hear words of truth and sanity in issue No. 110 of The Journal. Apparently Reg Killingley of Big Sandy placed an advert in The Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal to correct errors concerning the Sabbath in a previous advert by the New Life Church, Gladewater.
The errors of the New Life Church advert were properly and truthfully corrected by Reg Killingley (and his friends) of the Church of God Big Sandy.
What a shame that the Church of God Big Sandy is unable to apply the same standard of truth and honesty to their study and teaching of the biblical calendar, which begins with the month Aviv (Abib) (Exodus 9:31; 12:2).
(In the original scripture, the expression "in the ear" should read "Aviv." That's how the first month got its name!)
John E. Veal
Take a break
Sometimes it seems like a good idea to take a break from the seriousness of the discussions among the many COGs. Thus I offer the following two examples:
1) First a funny story from Reader's Digest: "St. Peter greets a man at the Pearly Gates. 'What have you done to deserve entry into heaven?' he asks.
"'Well, on my trip to the Black Hills, I came upon a gang of tough bikers threatening a young woman,' says the man. 'So I went up to the biggest, meanest biker and punched him in the nose. Then I kicked over his bike, yanked his ponytail and ripped out his nose ring. When I finished with him, Iturned to the rest of the gang and said, "Leave this woman alone or you'll have to answer to me!"'
"St. Peter was impressed. 'When did this happen?'
"'Just a couple of minutes ago.'"
2) The following is the first paragraph of an obituary of a young woman who died far too early in life that appeared in the May 28 issue of The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune. Read carefully it carries a really tremendous gospel message.
"Life is not a journey to the grave, with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly worn out and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"
Ray E. Daly
Tithes can be taxing
Brian Knowles would say this much better, but I'll try: We all know the apostle Paul said ministers who actually evangelize the true gospel have a right to financial support from the church: voluntary support given freely!
Also, since 1973 the Church of God has known (just ask Ken Westby) the real plain truth about tithing.
Ministers in the 21st century are without excuse when they demand a compulsory "God tax" called a tithe of one's monetary income based on Hebrews 7:12, etc.
They are at best biblically uneducated or at worst lazy, covetous men who have made a god out of money and give false testimony in order to steal.
Such lukewarm and dead-head ministers lack faith that God will support their "work." Such men rarely get a job and work and pay a tithe to a church themselves. They would rather take others' hard-earned income.
It is a cowardly thing to lack faith that Christ will support His own work. These men have placed burdens on others they refuse to put on themselves. It is the height of Laodicean hypocrisy and Sardian dead religion to instill fear in their Christian brethren.
When you break the Tenth, First, Ninth and Eighth Commandments daily, you are either very lukewarm or dead from the neck up.
I only wish Brian had written these thoughts in a proper, scholarly way.
John R. Whalen
Orchard Park, N.Y.
Somebody please help
For a while now I have been thinking and investigating the matter of selection of deacons in (most if not all of) the Church(es) of God.
Considering scriptures like Deuteronomy 1:13 and 16:18 and Acts 6:3, it appears to me that there is no basis for the method being employed, namely that the ministry selects the deacons.
As far as I can establish, it seems as though even in the Catholic Church (after A.D. 325) deacons were chosen by the membership.
I have not yet found when this was changed to the practice where the ministry does the selection. Could you or any of your readers help?
I think this has its origin in Catholicism, was then adopted by Protestantism and has found its way into the "church."
Thank you for providing a platform from whence questions can be raised. I hope to receive some feedback. I tried this once before but had no response from you or any of your readers. Will someone please help?
The tent at the Penticton Feast
Can anyone accurately tell me the first year the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated under the "Big Tent" in Penticton, B.C., Canada?
I would like to gather anecdotal stories, copies of news articles and especially old photos of the tent and people from the late '60s right up to the present day.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated. I hope it spurs discussion and fond memories of the "family of God" that once was and should still be.
Many thanks and continued blessings for the good works you do.
101-171 Van Horne St.
Penticton, B.C. V2A 4K1, Canada
Darlene Warren's mention of Bay St. Louis, Miss., and mosquitoes in the same paragraph in her Connections editorial [April 30 issue] prompts me to write you about an experience I had back in the late '70s or early '80s involving the same two things.
It was summer, just like in your story, and I flew via commercial airline to B.S.L. (Bay St. Louis) for the Senior National (or maybe World) Powerlifting Championship, my being a certified international powerlifting referee.
I rented a car at the airport and proceeded to the meet.
I remember judging a friend of mine who performed a "squat" (deep knee bend) with 950 pounds, which was a world record.
The meet was over the afternoon of the second day, but my return flight wasn't until the next morning. Being the frugal person that I am (meaning either too poor or too cheap to pay for an extra day's motel or car rental), I came up with a (not so) bright idea.
Since B.S.L. was a small city with a small airport on the outskirts of town, I decided to walk a mile or so down the country road next to the airport and just lie down and sleep under the stars till morning.
I found a slight depression (ditch) next to the road in front of a house that appeared empty and proceeded with my plan. I recall a police car driving by once, and I shrunk down behind some scrub brush that was next to me and the officers didn't see me.
I don't remember how well I slept (or didn't sleep), but in the morning I made it back to the airport and caught my flight home, along with 50-70 mosquito bites on my chest and belly and probably as many on my back. That was quite an experience.
Oh, well, thank Yahweh at least it didn't rain that night.
Via the Internet