The first church service was conducted on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 14. There were two church services on the first day and only one church service through the rest of the week. The speakers and the topics this year in chronological order were as follows:
- Stan West of Big Sandy spoke about "A Measure of Fine Flour for a Shekel."
- Ron Feaker of Hawkins spoke on "The Joy of Keeping the Feast."
- Ed Mitchell of Tupelo, Miss., presented "A Letter to the Thessalonians."
- James Moran of Tyler spoke about "Signs of the Times."
- Bert Moers of Hockley, Texas, presented "Don't Give Up."
- Dave Havir, pastor of the local congregation, spoke about "Helping People See the Kingdom."
- Reg Killingley of Big Sandy spoke about "Peace."
- My sermon was titled "The Feast: Past, Present and Future."
- Mr. Mitchell gave "A New Beginning."
My wife and I greatly appreciate the help that was provided by members of the local congregation and by guests who came to worship with us. We know that God will not forget your labor of love (Hebrews 6:10). J.L. Roden, Hawkins, Texas.
Celebrating God's reign
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines--The Church of the Living God in Christ Jesus celebrated this year's Feast of Booths from Oct. 16 to 23 and the Eighth Day on Oct. 24 in Baguio City, at Inn Rocio. The area is known among the international brethren as the Squaw Valley of the Philippines.
This year's theme was "Celebrating God's Reign" and was about having God in our lives, being visible and manifesting in the lives of truly converted Christians the way of God in these stressful times.
Messages centered on this vital aspect of conversion, which is part of the whole package of the gospel. Forty-four attended this Feast including one attendee from Illinois, U.S.A.
Prudencio Prado took on the theme of God's law and the reason God had to repeat several times to Israel the laws because of His love for them.
Mr. Prado also spoke of the importance of possessing ourselves as a vessel of glory and righteousness and that God has called upon us to live under His reign and rule.
Pocholo M. Gabuyo handled well the topic about the youth. According to Scripture, the youth, though young and carefree, must learn even in the early stage of life that godliness and respect toward God are important to achieving success.
He also reminded us that God will truly judge all our works in this life.
Marlon Hacinas, on the other hand, commented on family life and that God and His laws must be the center and foundation to create a model Christian family in which the children are its beneficiary.
In turn, God can see and expect from Christians godly seeds.
Enrique M. Gabuyo discussed the life of Jacob and showed that among the patriarchs he was the real sojourner of them all.
He pointed out in his three-part series God's promise that He would not leave or forsake Jacob when he left the Promised Land, the same promise given to Christians today.
The lesson is crystal clear that God led us to live in this wilderness to learn and develop the focus and trust for God before we can enter the Kingdom. His reign in our lives must take precedence!
Mr. Gabuyo also expounded on the importance of passing through the wilderness before entering the Promised Land, or the Kingdom of God.
It was learned that the wilderness is not really a bad place, but in proper perspective we find in the Scripture that it is the place of refuge for God's people, a place of revelation of the laws of God and a place of protection and sustenance solely in the hand of God.
It is a place to learn faith in preparation for a bigger responsibility in God's Kingdom.
It was also mentioned that we are like Abraham, who is sojourning in Canaan as a pilgrim while knowing that Canaan is the land promised to him, while Christians live on this earth as sojourners realizing that the earth is promised to Christians to inherit.
The messages were uplifting and gave courage and hope to remind us that we must live under God's reign and rule and hold onto His promises as we live in this "wilderness." To fully live under God's reign, the pinnacle question to answer is "What's inside your heart?"
It is a message showing that God designed the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem and that the "heart" of these two structures was the Holy of Holies, where we find the Ark of the Covenant, where God's presence resides.
Inside the Ark are the tablets of the law, the manna and the rod of Aaron.
Christians were called the temple of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual temple in the New Testament. Just like the temple and the tabernacle, what is inside the Christian's heart? Is it covetousness or the Torah (tables of the law), the Word of God (manna) and the zeal of teaching the truth of God (rod of Aaron, symbol of the priesthood)?
God will truly stay with Christians in these difficult times, provided that covetousness is not inside our heart as exemplified by Jacob and not covetousness as Israel's downfall in the wilderness (Hebrews 13:5).
The Torah Kids, ages 4-12, sang three special songs for the congregation ("It Won't Be Long Now," "Remember Your Creator" and a medley of scriptural passages in a Yahweh song).
The Torah Teens had a special Bible session with Melanie Chua teaching about honoring parents and living with God.
Moreover there were two newly baptized members who were baptized before the Day of Joyful Shoutings (Yom Teruah) and who had attended for the first time this festival.
A Bibleympics was also initiated. It is more or less a team-building activity to help church members appreciate the Scriptures and better learn biblical principles.
And who would ever miss the Baguio tour of new places, which even the old-timers could appreciate while enjoying history and geography?
The tour visited the Tamawan Village, which exhibits the way of life of the Baguio natives such as the Ifugaos, Igorots and Kalingas, who lived in booth-type houses in the mountainous region of the Philippines.
Overall the Feast was the best Feast ever for the group that celebrated its 10th year of existence as an organization. Lewy T. Gabuyo.
Abundance of Quality Music
BRANSON, Mo.--The Church of God Big Sandy hosted the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles for the fourth year in Branson.
(The Church of God Big Sandy hosted four other Feast sites, from Monday evening, Oct. 13, until Thursday afternoon, Oct. 21. The other sites were in Big Sandy, Texas, Destin, Fla., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Pastor Dave Havir asked my husband, Neil McIver, and me to be the coordinators at the Branson site this year. We were happy to serve there.
Instead of having a church service on the opening night (Monday, Oct. 13, this year), our congregation traditionally has refreshments during a time for fellowship. We hosted brethren in our condominium on that first evening.
When people come to a Feast sponsored by our congregation, they will be treated to good sermons, good music and opportunities for good fellowship.
Although we realize that the sermons and the music at the church service are the higher priorities at the Feast, we took advantage of our opportunity for fellowship.
Many of the attendees spent time together. We intermingled in the hall, our beautiful housing accommodations and many fine restaurants.
On Sunday we had a lunch with 50 people at Grand Country Buffet. After eating, many of the teenagers enjoyed the race cars and the miniature golf.
Neil and I have a teenage son, so we look for ways to enjoy life with the teenagers at a Feast site.
One of the special benefits we had this year was that one of the brethren who lives in Branson could help us get discount tickets to various shows. (He even helped us to get free admission in some instances.)
I heard that there are 153 shows in Branson. The shows we saw included comedian Yakov Smirnoff, the music group Pierce-Arrow, the Grand Jubilee musical performance, a ride of the Branson Belle (a paddle-driven showboat) and an afternoon at Silver Dollar City (one of the two amusement parks in town).
On Sunday night we had our Family Fun Show with about 30 musical entries. The musical acts were very good and the comedy was quite amusing.
Speaking of music, we were blessed to have at least three selections of special music every day at the Feast. We appreciate that so many talented musicians could attend with us. I wish you all could have been in Branson this year to hear the many quality musicians who served God and the brethren.
One of the musicians helped us get the first service started. Rick Marks, an accomplished pianist from York, Pa., began playing the selection "Majesty" as people were getting to their seats. As he played, people had smiles on their faces and some were heard to say, "Wow, what a way to start the Feast!"
My husband made some opening comments during which he read a story about "keep[ing] your fork." He asked us that each time we use our fork while eating at the Feast to remember the phrase "Keep your fork." The reason people keep their fork at a restaurant is that "the best is yet to come."
The first church service was conducted on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 14. There were two church services on the first day and only one church service daily through the rest of the week.
The speakers and the topics this year in chronological order:
- Tom Justus of Springdale, Ark., spoke about "Looking for Something Better."
- On Tuesday afternoon Mr. Marks and my husband gave a joint presentation. Neil read scriptures and Mr. Marks played six piano selections throughout the sermon. The title of their presentation was "God's Plan of Salvation."
- Bill Harkins of Tampa, Fla., spoke about "The Good News."
- My husband gave a sermon titled "God Puts on a Light Show: Dust to Diamonds."
- Joe Kirkpatrick of Portales, N.M., spoke about becoming "More Righteous Than the Scribes and Pharisees."
- Dennis DeJarnette of Hollister, Mo., gave "You Can't Sit in the Spirit."
- Mr. Justus presented "There Will Be Peace."
- Rex Jamerson of Overland Park, Kan., talked about "What the World Needs Now."
- George Crow of Katy, Texas, presented "Why Are We Here?"
With its good fellowship, excellent music and inspiring sermons, this Feast helped us look forward to being with Christ.
We hope that this Feast motivates us to live godly lives in the present. Martha McIver, White Oak, Texas.
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn.--We and our wives had the pleasure of attending the Feast of Tabernacles with United Christian Ministries in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, where the weather was perfect for the whole week.
It was more than just attending the Feast. It was a Feast experience! Ray and Peggy Wooten, UCM founders, provided a loving atmosphere for worship, praise, instruction and fellowship. The theme of this year's Feast was "Beyond the Praise."
Earl Timmons of the Church of God Worldwide Ministries provided the facility for us to meet in. Brethren came from as far away as California, Arizona, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Texas and Canada.
There were many types of music provided at the Feast. We were treated to a range of songs, from traditional to contemporary.
Each day's service had at least three presentations of special music. The Saturday-evening family fun show also exhibited many types of vocalists, instrumentalists, comedians and even gymnasts. It included talent from all age-groups.
One of the many inspiring features of this Feast site was the preservices prayer, during which anyone who would be a part of that day's worship services assembled as a group. God's guidance was asked for in this short prayer session.
Each service also had an intercessory prayer for those who had submitted prayer requests.
There was a "blessing of the children" prayer for infants as well as for any child who had not gone through this ceremony previously.
Buckaroo Bob's Neighborhood was presented on three days for kids both young and old.
In addition to all these wonderful features, we had great sermons for the whole eight-day festival period.
In his sermon that harked back to previous years, Dennis Mouland stated that, for him, this was "the best Feast ever."
Mr. Wooten is already planning for next year's Feast of Tabernacles.
He has announced that UCM will have a site at the same location in Sevierville, and he is also looking for a site at Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.
"In 2009," he said, "we are going to work harder to serve the teens and young adults who attend our two Feast sites."
For more information go to the United Christian Ministries Web site at www.4ucm.org. Wayne Weese, Big Sandy, Texas, and Wynn Skelton, White Oak, Texas.
Sun River Feast
SUN RIVER, Ore.--If you like snowcapped mountains, deer in your yard every night and a warm fire in the lodge meeting hall, you would have loved the ambiance of the Sun River Feast of Tabernacles.
This independent site has been open to Feast attendees of all persuasions for more than 20 years.
Its organizers, Bruce Barrett, Steve Moyer, George Banks, Jim Woods and Pete Cruz, with their fine team of volunteers, have consistently produced a warm and welcoming Feast experience.
We met at the rustic Thousand Trails campground lodge, which has a robust kitchen staffed by volunteers who each day greeted us with a continental breakfast before morning services, followed by lunch at noon.
Unhurried fellowship is natural amid such comforts. Daily attendance averaged slightly more than 100 people.
The list of speakers is eclectic and varies from year to year. This year we heard well-presented and positive messages from Gil Goethals, Merle Vines, Lee Lisman, Jim Woods, Gary Servidio and Steve Moyer.
I gave the opening message and the weekly-Sabbath message.
I last spoke here in the early 1990s, and it was a delight to return again with my entire family--which has greatly increased since then (see the photo on this page).
Most Feastgoers rented homes in the nearby Sun River Resort community, which is heavily wooded and is home to more big mule deer than people. The beautiful Deschutes River flows through it.
Maybe a visit to Central Oregon at Feast time needs to be on your calendar for 2009. Ken Westby, Seattle, Wash.