Letters from our readers

Town square

I have been blessed to read THE JOURNAL the last three years and write this first-time letter to tell you what a great service it performs for our Christian community (mainly from the Church of God traditions).
It is like an old-fashioned community bulletin board, town crier and lively debate at the town square or forum all wrapped in one.
It is a shame that some church leaders treat their members (or flock) as if they have to park their brains at the church door before they go in and be spoon-fed everything without thinking. There isn't any question we can ask of God or about the universe that will cause God to fall off His throne.

Let's get real, folks, and search the Scriptures daily as the Bereans did, have an intimate prayer life and let Christ live His life through us, which will then produce the fruits of love, forgiveness and reconciliation and understanding.

When was the last time we thought about an ex-friend or enemy rather than thinking or speaking negatively about them? When have we actually prayed for them? The more we do, the more our life will be revolutionized.
After all, our Lord and Savior and Master, Jesus Christ, shortly before He died, asked the Father to forgive His tormentors, before they ever repented or changed.

Last month's articles by Jack Demirgian, "Can We Ever Be United in Our Disunity?," and Brian Knowles, "I Can't Take It Anymore," really had some right-on positive things to say to me, and so did the letters to the editor, as usual.

So keep up the good work, JOURNAL staff, and a heartfelt thank-you and may God continue to bless your work.

Herman Fickewirt

Carmel, Calif.

Thanks for the subheads

I just wanted to thank you for printing my editorial ["Can We Ever Be United in Our Disunity?," Feb. 28]. It was a real thrill for me, and I hope that it helps people and gets some good comments.

Thanks also for the subtitles. They make it much easier to read.
THE JOURNAL is the only publication that allows members, as opposed to the power structure, to present their views. Keep up the good work.

Jack Demirgian

Downers Grove, Ill.

Honestly said

Pathetic. Can you honestly say that this article ["United Church of God Picks New President; Roy Holladay Set to Assume Office in May," Feb. 28, page 1] is not written to incite divisions and split people into camps? For example, you refer to Mr. McCullough "and his supporters."

Lee Dolby

Via the Internet

The answer to Mr. Dolby's question: Yes.

Bring the shovel

It's the morning of the first Day of Unleavened Bread as I write this. I finally have time to write to thank you for publishing my article in your divorce-and-remarriage series in the Feb. 28 issue of THE JOURNAL ["The Anguish of a Broken Marriage Can Teach Valuable Lessons"].

The feedback I have been receiving about that article from family and friends and my Christian writers' group has been positive.

I was also pleased with several other articles in the February issue that had points that tied in with things I wanted to present in my own article.

For example, Dixon Cartwright had an article on page 1 reporting on the call for a reconciliation of the break in relationships that sadly occurred in the United Church of God Big Sandy congregation four years ago.

I was so unhappy when I learned of it then because Dave Havir (of the group that broke away from the UCG at that time) was a guest speaker at the first United Church of God worship service that I attended on June 10, 1995, three days after making my decision to leave the fellowship of the Worldwide Church of God. Dave later preached to us at my first UCG Feast of Tabernacles in Lexington, Ky.

So if UCG minister Frank McCrady is now saying we should "bury the hatchet," then I want to ask him, "Can I come down to Big Sandy and bring the shovel?"

Mr. Havir spoke in his article in the same issue ["Few Are Called, Even Fewer Are Chosen"] of the attitudes in the old WCG that were not what they should have been and told of the approach we in the Church of God should use in our relationships with those whom I feel should be described as "not baptized members yet."

Then Brian Knowles had "I Can't Take It Anymore," in the same issue, about an "authoritarian system."

Finally, there was the article by Janet Treadway ["You Were Born to Win, So Be Comforted"] about the girl who committed suicide after ending up convinced that "she was not worthy to be cared for by friends around her."

Happily, Sheri Auciello and I are back together again, and it is a good thing because Mrs. Treadway, in her own article, would have broken my heart again with her description of Gladys Aylward: 4 feet 10, black hair (Sheri's description when we broke up in 1983).

Michael Brandenburg

Dayton, Ky.

What's up?

Bummer about the retraction in Gilmer ["Apology for Remarks Takes Some by Surprise," March 25]. What gives?

W.E. Cartwright

San Antonio, Texas

New family members

I had the great pleasure of going to the Hightower prison unit on the Sabbath and baptizing a total of seven men. I have asked for prayer from time to time for prisoners, and this is the fruit of those prayers and the working of the Holy Spirit through a small group of volunteers who hold weekly services for the prisoners.

We do not always hear about prayer that is successful. I thought this might be a good opportunity for people who read this to just offer a word of thanks for these new brothers.

Beyond that I request if possible that everyone send a card or note of encouragement to these men. Their lives are difficult, and they need to know that they truly are members of the family of God and that we are pleased to welcome them.

When sending a card, if you do not want to give your home address, feel free to use as a return address my ministry address: Fellowship Church of God, P.O. Box 1381, Hewitt, Texas 76655. Another option is to just sign the card and give no return address.

The names and Texas Department of Criminal Justice numbers for the men are as follows:

Joe M. Nabors, No. 579608; James T. Hawkins, No. 605306; Conception Davis, No. 664404; Ed Sheets, No. 326682; Edward "Levi" King, No. 754177; Jason Razor, No. 835754; Raymond Panaqua, No. 778966; and Joseph Holcomb, No. 834351.

To write one of these men, just include his name and TDCJ number on the envelope and mail to Rt. 3, Box 9800, Dayton Texas 77535, U.S.A.

I also want to offer my thanks to those who in the past have helped support our ministry with prayer and offerings. We continue to do our best to serve the prisoners who write to us. We are also trying to persuade more prisons to allow weekly services for believers. We ask for continued prayers on our behalf as we deal with the bureaucratic red tape and resistance to letting Sabbath-keepers worship and fellowship together.

We were able to send unleavened bread to two groups of prisoners this year, but other chaplains refuse to let us send matzos to the men in their units.

Pray that, as we and other ministries try to reach the men in prisons, the Eternal will open doors where there seems to be only walls and stir the hearts of wardens, chaplains and guards to show favor toward men making the effort to obey the laws of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Ronel McKown

Lorena, Texas

Already a member

To the ministers of the Churches of God Outreach Ministries:
When I read Dixon Cartwright's article about the 2002 CGOM conference ["CGOM Discusses Change in Donations Policy," March 25] and caught one of the subheadings, "What about Dianne?" [on page 5], I was amazed that I was being discussed as if I were not a member of the CGOM.

The idea for the CGOM was born in our church during a gathering of Church of God International (CGI) ministers. At that time many were realizing that they would have to leave the CGI and wanted to form an association with each other.

I watched that entire meeting there in my hometown church in Arlington, Texas, the same church I now pastor, the Church of God, Dallas–Fort Worth. My husband, Gary, and I also went to an early CGOM conference in Oklahoma City; I think that was 1997, and I believe it was the second conference.

In March 1998 I was a deacon representing our church at the CGOM conference in Wagoner, Okla. John Currier came for the first time that year and was equally a deacon representing our church.

At the third CGOM conference that my husband and I attended, in 1999, John and I jointly represented our church, but this time he had been ordained an elder and I was serving our church as deacon and assistant minister. In my capacity as a deacon I voted on several of the issues being decided and offered several comments and suggestions during the proceedings.

This year I received an invitation to come to the CGOM conference but declined because our church had outreach efforts planned for that period and I needed to be here to lead them. We have many new prospects and a new member because of that decision.

So, gentlemen, with all this background can you imagine how I felt when I read that you guys were acting like we were nonmembers who might--gasp! wheeze!--"apply" for membership? We are already members of very long standing, although we have chosen not to attend the last three conferences. We regularly receive CGOM materials and have, as a church, long considered ourselves members of the CGOM.

To read the words "If she were to come and want to be associated," when we are already members, leaves me shaking my head.

To read "We may not recognize her as a pastor" leaves me bowing my head in prayer to my Boss. Amazing stuff.

Only God has to recognize me as a pastor; I work for Him, not you guys! If the church I serve recognizes me as a servant (diakonos) minister, what right does anyone at the CGOM have to say anything about it one way or the other?

As Paul said in Romans 14:4, who are you to judge the servant of another? Are you guys going to resurrect me when I die? Are any of you going to give me great rewards for teaching God's commandments and truths as promised in Matthew 5:19?

Will any of you fellows heal the people I anoint, as God has done? If not, then you need to stop thinking you can decree or vote on whether I am a minister.

God decides who is to be a minister: before one is ordained, not after. It isn't up to me to tell God who His ministers are. Nor is it up to any of you. Gentlemen, let's have less arguing and more fruit!

Dianne D. McDonnell

Arlington, Texas

Day of fasting: June 8

In this world of ever-increasing violence, mayhem and disaster, we need to take a hard look at what is the goal of God's church, the very Body of Jesus Christ and His bride-to-be.

It seems as though we in God's church have become complacent even in the light of the Sept. 11 bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. We get caught up in day-to-day living.

What does God expect of us in these troubled times as His body of believers? God gives us help by giving us His power, the Holy Spirit, which is the ultimate power. He also gives us four instruments (prayer, study, meditation and fasting) to help us rightly divide the word of truth. He wants us to use these instruments to stay in tune with Him. We cannot neglect any one of these facets.

I am sure we have been praying for this world, studying to show ourselves approved unto God, and I hope we have taken time to meditate on the overwhelming disaster these recent events have caused and what it means in the scope of the end time.

Last but not least, we have instructions to fast. God expects it of us (Luke 5:35). Ask yourself if you have fasted as much as you should have (or at all) in an effort to get closer to God.

Unprecedented suffering is going on worldwide. People are ignorant of God's way of life. That ignorance denies them happiness. We need God's Kingdom to rid the world of pain and ignorance.

America is at war. It is going to get much worse before it gets much better, so let us unitedly plead with God to bring this horrendous suffering to a halt and send our Savior back with power and glory to stop short the destruction of mankind.

You are invited to join with brethren of the Church of God in a day of fasting that has been set aside on the Sabbath of June 8, 2002.
Let us beseech God as never before. May God bless all of us.

G.A. Davis

Deacon, Church of God International

Nashville, Tenn.

Four new books

In the March 25 issue of THE JOURNAL, an article covering my viewpoints on prophecy [beginning on page 1] mentioned that I will "soon publish four new books on prophecy."

The four new books will be released as a set, and they will contain considerable new information about the history and migrations of the 10 tribes of Israel.

They will also feature photographs, illustrations and indexes not contained in my first book, The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel . . . Found!
The books are currently scheduled for a June release, and THE JOURNAL's readers will be among the first to know about their content and prices.
Copies of the four books will be given to THE JOURNAL's staff so they can preview the books for their readers.

Steven Collins

Sioux Falls, S.D.

Test yourself

Greetings in the matchless name of YahShua. The new issue of THE JOURNAL just arrived, and Dave Havir's article heading caught my eye ("Is the Feast Calendar God's Litmus Test?," March 25).

Test yourself! By this shall all know that ye are My disciples:
A.If ye have agreement on use of the Hebrew names one to another.
B.If ye have similar mannerisms and styles of dress one to another.
C.If ye have spiritual manifestations amongst you one to another.
D.If ye have praise and worship in the same way one to another.
E.If ye have agreement on calendar issues one to another.
F.If ye have agreement in doctrine one to another.
G.If ye have love one to another.

Answer key: John 13:35

Chris Barr

Little Children of Jesus Christ

Pocahontas, Ark.

Here's all we need

There is a simple solution to the calendar problem:
Simply throw out all of people's reasons and opinions and keep only actual scriptures about the feasts of the Lord. Meanings of words can be found in Strong's. Commentaries are simply opinions. Examples:

o Leviticus 23:3: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."

o Leviticus 23:4: "These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times."

o Deuteronomy 16:1: "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night."

o Genesis 1:14: "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.'"

o James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

Loren Edelbach

Big Sandy, Texas

I'll still love you

It was the idea of Wayne (on the Likeminds Internet forum) that maybe the reason we aren't growing as a religion is that we somewhat despise each other because of different doctrines, etc.

I thought this was a valid point so I did try to reach out to different branches of God's church.

I contacted a member of a local group that had disfellowshiped me over the Passover issue but was unable to get through to him.

I was able to contact a member of the Intercontinental Church of God while I was in New Jersey. It was fun indeed for me to meet with this group because so many of them were familiar to me from my old Church of God International days, and some may have seen me when I was baptized during Pentecost some seven or eight years ago.

I would say this is a group of Christians not substantially different from any others in God's church. One man formerly in the Philadelphia COG group gave a sermon on his quest to find a wife and Christ's desire for a wife: probably Mary, since she was the first woman He appeared to. It was an emotionally given sermon and moved everyone there.

One man of Intercontinental recited that he was shunned by a United COG member while walking down the road, and he feels that others shun Intercontinental.

During what I call the Lord's Supper this year, one man came who had never come to any annual holy day (I realize that the Last Supper is not a holy day) before but came this time.

Arriving late for some reason, he decided to take off only one shoe to be washed. I said, "Well, it's up to you."

Others may see this as new knowledge and may want to write a booklet about it: One Foot in the Kingdom. Others may feel that only the right foot should be washed and may start the Right Foot Washed Church of God. If you read those booklets and join that church, I'll understand, and I'll still love you.

I will keep trying to contact the church member who disfellowshiped me. We, all of us, are subject to what teaching we have previously read. We are told to love one another throughout the new Testament. We should not disassociate.

Rod Koozmin

Reston, Va.

Beware of views

God's people should beware of those who promote their own personal views in THE JOURNAL on Passover and the calendar while dismissing the validity of the right to reply from the words of God.

It takes no great scholarship to actually believe our Savior's four-times-repeated statement in Luke 22 that His last meal took place on the night of the Passover or to understand that Numbers 28:16 means what it says.

Only when they are asked do such writers have to admit that, to them, the traditions of the Jews are what they prefer to believe.

The Bible warns us that the greatest threat to God's end-time church is idolatry, taking the form of oligarchies or hierarchies that lead many to forsake the words of God in favor of their personal views, which sound quite innocent but subtly lead astray.

Gerald Kirby

Pastor, North West Church of God

Chester, England

Pam's cogent point

THE JOURNAL of March 25 went a long way toward shedding much-needed light on the calendar issue. Of special significance was the article Pam Dewey wrote focusing on why we come together on the holy days ["Why I Use the Standard Calendar to Determine Yearly Feast Days"].

Pam's cogent point--that we have access to God 24-7-365 (366 on leap years) but that we aren't able to come together to worship God as His body except on the holy days--is important.

It behooves us to try to love one another enough for people to recognize us as those we claim to be. It occurs to me that that may be one of the reasons God did not specifically spell out the sacred calendar in no uncertain terms. God could have made the actual year exactly 360 days long, with 12 months of exactly 30 days, requiring no adjustments.
He didn't do that, and that is why we have a calendar question. What better way for us to show love one for another than to be tolerant and patient with each other and allow for conscience in understanding other than our own? Using the calendar as a litmus test for spirituality is simply not useful.

A remark was made in one of the other articles on the calendar in the same issue that, "since the instructions for keeping the Sabbath are clear, why do the vast majority of 'Christians' keep Sunday?"
Any "Christian" who will read the Fourth Commandment and look at the calendar on the wall will have no problem understanding which day is the seventh, or Sabbath, day.

In fact, most "Christians" are not concerned with the Sabbath day. They are keeping the "Lord's day." The argument about the instructions for keeping the Sabbath being clear are not germane to the question of which holy-day calendar should be used.

Many thanks to Dixon and the JOURNAL staff for providing this forum that helps us all reason together.

Patrick Dennis

Coffeyville, Kan.

Mr. Herrmann's conclusion

HalleluYAH, finally we are making some progress, and people are starting to think outside the box. I refer to the essay by Paul Herrmann ["Let's Keep the Proper Holy Days of Unleavened Bread," Feb. 28].

Paul is correct that most people "have taken the word of others and never proven it for themselves," and he articulates the problem. It makes no sense to observe the Passover with unleavened bread (Exodus 12:18) and then go back to eating leaven for another 24 hours until the Days of Unleavened Bread start on the 15th (Leviticus 23:6).

It is nice to see that there are other open minds out there who are starting to prove all things from the Scriptures and will no longer be cowed into submission by ministers who refuse to answer difficult questions.

Mr. Herrmann's conclusion, however is flawed. He states that the seven days we are to eat unleavened bread are the "14th through the 20th," which is an easy conclusion to come to. It results from studying the subject through the lens of Jewish myths and fables (Titus 1:14). I originally did so myself.

The problem here is the generic or all-inclusive meanings that have become attached to the term Passover. What will come as a surprise to most people is that Mr. Herrmann is correct that the 14th is the first holy day. That is corroborated by Deuteronomy 16:4, which defines "first day" as "the day on which the Lamb was slain," obviously the 14th.
People fail to realize that there are two "first days" referenced in the relevant scriptures. Passover is a stand-alone holy day beginning the holy-day season, just as the Last Great day is a stand-alone day closing out the holy-day season in the fall, immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles.

The key, then, is that Exodus 12:18 is a special instruction applying only to the "memorial meal" on the stand-alone holy day (Passover) on the 14th. This is not included in the seven-day designation for Unleavened Bread, which is a separate feast that immediately follows from the 15th to the 21st.

What few people have yet come to realize is that the first day of Unleavened Bread (the 15th) is not a holy day by biblical definition. Proof: The requisite Hebrew words for "holy convocation" (quodesh and miqra, Strong's 4744) do not appear in Leviticus 23:6, establishing the 15th as the first day of Unleavened Bread!

The events of the original Passover also prove it. The Israelites were not to leave their houses Passover night, (Night to Be Much Observed, or Night of Watching; Exodus 12:41-43). Indeed, all the events of the Passover occurred on the 14th as a 24-hour cycle.

The midnight "passing over," which followed the late-afternoon slaying on the 14th, is still part of the 14th 24-hour cycle. When did the Israelites hold a holy convocation? On the 15th?

No, that was moving day, when they marched out of Egypt with all their belongings in full sight of the Egyptians, who were busy burying their dead, who were killed at midnight, before the morning beginning the 15th day (Numbers 33:3).

Myron Martin

Brampton, Ont., Canada

What if we're wrong?

Like Paul Herrmann ["Let's Keep the Proper Holy Days of Unleavened Bread," Feb. 28], I am bothered by the gap that results from observing Passover at the beginning of Nisan 14 and the first day of Unleavened Bread at the end of Nisan 14.

However, the solution to the dilemma is not to move Unleavened Bread forward by 24 hours; rather, it is to realize that the Bible does indeed indicate that the Passover was to be killed at the end of Nisan 14, not the beginning.

The scripture Mr. Herrmann overlooks in his analysis is Leviticus 23:6-7, which plainly says that the first day of Unleavened Bread, which is a holy day, is the 15th day of the first month. To reconcile this passage with Exodus 12:18, we are forced to conclude that, when this verse says to eat unleavened bread from the 14th day of the month at even, it means from the end of the 14th day, not the beginning of it.

Another example of this usage can be found in Leviticus 23 concerning the Day of Atonement. Verse 27 of that chapter says the Day of Atonement is on the 10th day of the seventh month. Yet verse 32 of the same chapter says Atonement begins on the 9th day at even. If we used Mr. Herrmann's interpretation and read verse 32 only, while ignoring verse 27, we would be forced to conclude that the Day of Atonement is on the 9th day of the seventh month, not the 10th.

Thus we are led to the conclusion that Exodus 12:6 means that the Passover was to be killed at the end of Nisan 14 and eaten on the beginning of the 15th, which begins the Days of Unleavened Bread.
That said, I think James McBride is on the right track with his article ["What's the Christian Passover? Here's a Personal View," Feb. 28]. I especially agree with his statement that "all of us, therefore, can focus on this positive aspect: We generally agree on how and when to observe this memorial of our Savior."

We need not be judgmental of our brethren whose sincere beliefs might be different from our own. I believe we will all be surprised in the resurrection to learn that some of the things about which we were absolutely sure we were correct turn out to be absolutely wrong.

Arlene Schroeder

Yorktown, Texas

No leaven to be found

John Leitch ["What Kind of Bread Did Jesus Eat?," March 25] bases his whole article on the supposed fact that artos always refers to ordinary leavened bread. If that is the case, how does he explain Luke 24:13-35?
When Jesus sat down to a meal with the disciples He met on the road to Emmaus, He broke bread (artos) with them. How could this be leavened bread since this occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread and no leavening was to be found?

It appears the artos means bread in general, whether leavened or unleavened, and not just specifically leavened bread.

Ralph Giddens

Via the Internet

Question of compatibility

Regarding a letter by Keith Stump on page 2 of the Feb. 28 issue titled "Christianity and the Supernatural are Compatible":

If Mr. Stump thinks true Christianity and the supernatural are compatible, he must be under Satan's influence.

Mr. Stump thinks the Harry Potter series is innocent and harmless, but this is how Satan starts to get his foot in the door: by putting subtle, little thoughts into a child's mind in hopes they will grow. By the time the child is an adult Satan's plan is for the person to be against God and be involved in all kinds of the paranormal (witchcraft and sorcery).
Maybe this sounds extreme, but Satan will try anything to put people against God, young and old.

I suggest Mr. Stump read Acts 13:1-12 and Galatians 5:19-21. God and evil do not mix (Isaiah 5:20-21).

Christianity and the supernatural definitely are not compatible.

Mrs. Gary (Joyce) Mosier

7957 W. 1200 N.

Silver Lake, In. 46982, U.S.A.

With some dismay

The United Church of God has for some years now been a significant link with our foundational beliefs, and it is with some dismay that I have learned that what should have been an administration problem here in the U.K. has become unnecessarily acrimonious.

I wish to take this opportunity, with JOURNAL readers who have been distressed by the incident, to briefly discuss the larger issues that have led to it.

The incident being referred to was initially perceived by the treasurer of the United Church of God British Isles as a minor issue of bringing to the attention of the CEO that he had exceeded budget limits on advertising.

However, this escalated into issues of "knowing one's place" and finally the disfellowshipment of the treasurer and suspension of her minister husband for not ensuring that his wife be obedient and toe the line in the matter.

Quite clearly there will be two sides to the account, and it is not my intention to present what appears to be yet another unjust disfellowshipment of two loyal members.

However, the additional issue of reelection of the CEO to the council of elders of the United Church of God IA [an International Association] should be considered and, in my opinion, postponed, pending a formal inquiry into the matter.

There is no question of dismissing the huge contribution that this minister, or indeed the treasurer (also a deaconess) and her minister husband, has made to the church in the U.K. over the last few years--but this issue has offended so many people in the locality that it really needs to be addressed at an appropriate level.

Elaine Jolly

Wiltshire, England

For an article concerning the situation in Britain to which Mrs. Jolly refers, see page 5.

The Journal: News of the Churches of God is available from P.O. Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A., and For more information write . To comment on this article or any other article or feature in The Journal or Connections, write . The preceding article or feature is from The Journal, April 15, 2002.

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