Letters from our Readers - Part 2

The main focus

Any church that exists is not perfect. The leadership, the ministry, the members are all flesh and blood, imperfect (Romans 3:23).

Daily we are to be renewed, overcoming every day, becoming spiritually stronger every day. We are to help each other, edify one another. Iron doessharpen iron.

We don't need worldly psychology. We don't need support groups. We do need each other.

We do need healthy church groups. We do need healthy congregations. A dysfunctional spiritual family will not accomplish the good growth we all needand desire.

It seems more importance is put on doing a work. Doing a work is important, but should that be the main focus? Isn't being a work needed badly withinthe Body of Christ today? How about being godly communities and lights?

These have been preached and taught for many years; they are common knowledge. We need to be doers and not just hearers. Head knowledge will not gainus salvation (1 Corinthians 13).

Dennis Whited

Lewiston, Idaho

Constructive criticism

Why have the WCG split-offs failed so miserably? They all practice the one thing that absolutely guarantees failure: criticism. They criticize thebrethren outrageously.

Criticism guarantees failure because it is not God's way. God does not tell us to make the rules; He made them long ago when He gave the TenCommandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But He does tell us to obey Him.

I perceive that The Journal does not show partiality in selecting the material to be published. You do not criticize. That is the reason The Journalhas succeeded when the groups have failed.

Margaret K. Raines

Madison, Tenn.

Ordeal After the Feast

This letter is a witness of the mercy of our awesome God that I cannot keep silent about or I will burst.

I had the best Feast I have ever had in my nine years as a believer in the Savior of the world, my Elder Brother, my King, my Redeemer, my betrothedHusband. The fellowship, the love that was felt, the learning that we experienced (not church doctrine), the diversity of the group, the degree of service that was given unselfishly with nohidden agenda or a call for money, were so wonderful and exciting.

Our trial of faith started just outside of West Memphis, Ark., on the way home from the Feast.

We were on our way up to Ohio to see my brother, recently widowed, and to help him do a few things around the house.

About 11 p.m. we changed drivers on our side of Little Rock. I got into the back to settle in for the night. Little did I know that my night was goingto be short as far as sleep was concerned.

About 1:45 a.m. I began to feel uncomfortable in my upper back. The more I tried to wiggle and get straight, the worse I felt. By this time it feltlike a small elephant was sitting on the left side of my chest and going up into my neck. I started to feel nauseous and sat up and told Ron I needed a rest room now.

We went into a little store, and in the rest room I began to feel really nauseous. My left arm and left leg tingled, and I broke out in a coldsweat.

I went out and grabbed Ron by his jacket and asked him what were the symptoms of a heart attack. He said he was not sure. We decided I should go to ahospital.

Little did I know this was to start our great adventure. We were only five or six minutes away from a small hospital in West Memphis. This is where westarted the first minutes of the rest of our lives.

A doctor tested. He took X rays and did blood work and an EKG. Within minutes he was telling us that, as we were speaking, I was having a heartattack.

He said a fairly new drug, called a "clot buster," might help. I took it, along with some other medicines. Within an hour I was stable. Praise ourFather in heaven and the good doctor in the emergency room!

I transferred to a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., just across the Mississippi.

Little did we know that our Father was guiding us to the best place I could be, a teaching cardiac hospital, one of the finest around. A doctor gaveme a CAT scan, did more blood work and took more X rays. I knew in my heart that the Father was going to heal me, so I had no problem with a heart-catheter test that Tuesdaymorning.

I knew I was going to be healed, so I was shocked when I heard I needed open-heart surgery. I was going to be healed, all right, but not the way Iwanted to be.

The trial would have been a great deal harder if not for my darlin' of 31 years. The Father has given me two of the most important men in my life, mySavior and betrothed heavenly Husband and my wonderful earthly husband.

The surgery was to be Wednesday, Oct. 6. Before going into surgery I was at peace and I was calm. I knew my Father was in charge. The surgery wentgreat. It was over by 3:30 p.m. By midnight I was eating ice, and by 2 a.m. I could drink water. By 7 I was ready for breakfast.

By the next Tuesday morning the doctor came in and said, "I think you need to get out of my hospital." I told him if he was waiting on me he wasbacking up. Praise the Eternal, I was released three days early!

The Eternal did not cause my heart attack, nor did He choose to stop it. But His hand was there guiding us every step of the way. He had us in theright place at the right time with the right people.

Today is Dec. 28. I have had my two-month check-up, and I am doing extremely well. I am up to walking two miles a day. I am back to my normalhousehold chores. I've been doing a little plowing, cutting wood with my chain saw and doing some canning. I am back to going to the nursing home once a week, and for the last two weeks Iam back to driving my cancer patients to their treatments.

As you can see, our Father has healed me as He said He would.

It is almost three months since my surgery. I feel good. I feel blessed beyond measure. After the first of the year I plan to go back to work ironingfor the public.

I still don't know all I am supposed to be learning, but I know patience is one thing. Like most of us, I ask the Father for patience, and I want itnow.

I feel the Lord has given me a second chance at living life as He wants me to live it, not as I see it should be.

I want to thank all of our close friends and relatives, our new friends and family from the Feast and all the extended family of the Church of God forthe love, concern and encouragements you have given to Ron and me during this time of trial.

Most of all I want to thank our heavenly Father. I pray that all who read this will be sure to get on their knees and give praise, honor and glory toour Father for all He has done for us as one in the Body of Messiah.

Till I see you at a feast or family gathering, may the shalom of the Lord be with each of you.

Donna McKown

Lorena, Texas

Feast planners' burnout

Quality Feasts of Tabernacles pursued by associations of volunteers are the vision of Christian Educational Ministries' Ron Dart of Tyler, Texas. TheFestival Association (FA) was born from the idea that, if volunteers would work together with a vision and focus, quality Feasts could be produced while precluding anyone from gettingoverwhelmed or burned out.

The first Festival Association meeting took place this year at the Feast of Tabernacles in Niceville, Fla., sponsored by CEM. Mr. Dart addressed thegroup of around 65 volunteers, noting that limited staffs and few volunteers carrying out the large workload and responsibility of producing a quality Feast site year after year areresulting in "burnout."

Mr. Dart explained that the FA is an arm of CEM and accountable to the board of CEM. Mr. Dart also made it clear that the same financial principleswould apply. All holy-day offerings would be dedicated to the Feast of Tabernacles only.

Mr. Dart announced that Wayne Hinton of McKinney, Texas, will serve as the first chairman of the FA. Mr. Hinton has volunteered with the Red Cross andUnited Way and serves in his community.

Mr. Hinton informed the volunteers that the FA will be built on the time-tested model of volunteer organizations, such as United Way, with adjustmentsfor our unique needs.

"Certainly we will also build on the positive aspects of others' unselfish past work," he said.

An FA board of directors will be in place. The board will have three officers: a chairman, vice chairman and secretary. Seven additional board memberswill serve, each of whom will lead a team of volunteers.

The teams include site and program; membership and nominating; communications; YEA [a programs for youths]; music; activities; logistics; travel andhousing; seminars; and synergism.

Terms for the officers are one year, to encourage ideas and enthusiasm. Some of the first ideas implemented by Mr. Dart were to eliminate thesermonettes, schedule more music and specify "shorter, forward-looking messages."

Another idea that took effect immediately was a daily bulletin in lieu of numerous announcements during the services.

Seminars and workshops, well attended from the start, will continue to be an important part of a CEM Feast site.

It is the hope of all involved in the Festival Association that sharing with other organizations will be a large part of the process in making thefestivals of God inspiring and ever-improving.

The FA envisions the participation of all organizations that desire to improve the quality of the Feast. They can share the things that are workingwell and those things that perhaps didn't work so well.

It is this writer's hope that this collaboration will be a catalyst to healing in the Churches of God.

Kaleta Johnson

Lakewood, Colo.

Mystery boy identified

We were surprised to see our son, Brian Earl Russell Taylor, pictured as the "mystery boy" on the front page of The Journal of Dec. 13. We live inAlabama and had transferred to Escondido, Calif., to observe the Feast, where the picture was taken. Brian is 15 months old in the picture, and we did not even know he had beenphotographed.

Our nickname for him is Beetle. Grandparents are Brian and Alison Taylor, Cornwall, England, and Loren and Jan Weinbrenner, Big Sandy,Texas.

Stephen and Melissa Taylor

Montevallo, Ala.

Will we ever learn?

This is to be sung to the tune of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Where have all my old friends gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all my old friends gone?

Long time ago.

Where have all my old friends gone?

Gone to churches every one.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the churches gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all the churches gone?

Long time ago.

Where have all the churches gone?

Broke to splinters every one.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the splinters gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all the splinters gone?

Long time ago.

Where have all the splinters gone?

Gone their own way every one.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all my old friends gone?

Long time passing.

Where have all my old friends gone?

Long time ago.

Where have all my old friends gone?

I still miss them--every one.

When will we ever learn?

When will we ever learn?

Diane Garland

Miami, Fla.

$85,000 a day

It appears that the Big Sandy property of the Worldwide Church of God is headed to the auction block early this year, unless of course a last-minutebuyer can be found. The WCG still claims it has 70,000 members and 900 congregations in 100 nations.

Huh? At its high point the WCG's income was nearly $800,000 per day. It is down to about $85,000 a day and continuing to fall on a month-to-monthbasis. As reported in the December Worldwide News: "One of the primary traditional sources of donation income has been our annual festival offerings. And once again members have respondedgenerously to those special offerings."

Since the WCG has basically done away with the Sabbath and holy days, including the Feast, and is almost completely Protestant with Christmas andEaster, how much longer will it continue to receive so-called generous offerings during the "annual festival"? How much longer will the WCG be able to financially survive as anorganization?

We received the following E-mail from a member in South Africa the last part of October. Here is part of what was said, which pertains to theWCG:

"The Worldwide Church of God's departure from what its founder Herbert Armstrong taught has been described by Protestant historian Ruth Tucker as 'thelargest reversal of doctrine in the history of Christianity.' While Tucker meant this as a compliment to Armstrong's successors, her words paradoxically condemn them. No greater fallingaway has ever taken place in the history of Christianity, by her own admission."

The great falling away could not have happened unless there had first been a restoration of some kind in the Church of God. Since this is the endtime, what has happened in the WCG must therefore constitute the great falling away prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2.

The revealing of the man of lawlessness cannot be far off.

Notice how world events are steadily moving toward the prophesied climax of this age.

On May 30, 1997, WCG Pasadena held its first "Resurrection Sunday." Then on Sept. 5, 1997, the WCG was accepted as a member of the largest U.S.Protestant association.

The WCG, by becoming Protestant, is spiritually if not yet literally united with the Catholic Church and can no longer be considered a chaste virginin God's eyes. The WCG's apostasy and falling away from the faith once delivered are almost total. The end of the age cannot be far off. Those still in the WCG assembly are warned by God tocome out of Babylon the Great lest they partake of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).

We hope all who are still God's people and true to Him and the faith once delivered will continue to look to our Father and our elder brother, JesusChrist, for everything. Men and their organizations will not save us. Our God is our only true safety net.

Please continue to pray for one another and all our brethren worldwide for the help, encouragement and strength we need and which only the true Godcan provide.

Rick and Eileen Beltz

Middletown, Conn.

Block power

Regarding "WCG's Former Ambassador College Campus Could Hit the Auction Block Early in 2000": Not that anyone would dare make light of the situation,but, instead of referring to the auction block should The Journal not have said that the Ambassador campus was headed for the "chopping block"?

David Bonaroti

Via the Internet

Online university

Soon we will be able to start work on an online university for the benefit of God's people in the various churches and for the public at large to getmuch precious information to people.

We will initially conduct the university through our new private Destiny Worldwide Associates Foundation. Eventually the college and RestorationMinistries will each have its own foundation, but we plan to use the first foundation to do everything at this time.

Destiny Worldwide is an outreach ministry to the world. Initial contact with the public is made in a nonthreatening, nonreligious, success-orientedmode. But, of course, people are eventually led to realize that there is no success in life without Jesus Christ and that only through Him can lasting, eternal success beattained.

It has become clear to me that one of the most important aspects of God's work in this century has been that of God's college, which prepared youngpeople to confront a sinful world in the way that God would like. This world lies to us and attempts to pull Satan's wool over the eyes of all. But he especially targets the young, becausethey are naive and vulnerable.

The list of lies and misinformation goes on and on. While the Seventh-day Adventist and other churches have a high retention rate for the young peoplein their groups, by and large the Churches of God have a poor retention rate. In fact, well more than 50 percent of our young people leave the church for the world.

This is because of a wrong attitude and the neglect of the past, but it is a legacy that must be changed if we are to survive. Not only are ourcongregations getting older by the moment, but the ministry is getting terribly old.

With the closure of Ambassador, the handwriting is on the wall for the death of this church movement. I believe that the founding of a broad-basededucational program is in dire need by God's people. It is also in dire need by the world at large. A physical university can have only so many students enrolled, depending on physicalcapacity. At its height with three campuses, only about 1,500 people could have attended AC because of the 500-student-per-campus cap.

Destiny University will start on the Internet. At Destiny University we believe we must teach the world the incredible truth about our destiny asmembers of the God family. We will strive to present the truth to a world that has been lied to for far too long, as well as train God's people, in great numbers, to know facts fromfiction.

The curriculum will be a broad-based, liberal-arts regime covering many subjects. I hope that all courses in the department of theology will be eitherfree of charge or at low cost. Other courses in other subject areas will be charged at reasonable rates, because faculty members will need to be paid a fair amount for their courses, andthe school will need working capital for expansion and eventual introduction of a physical campus.

Lessons will be dispensed primarily over the Internet in RealAudio format, and most printed material will be dispensed on the Web.

Students will be given a password to access fee-based classes during the time of the lessons. Interaction with the instructors will be by both E-mailand online chat forums.

We also plan to offer the same courses via cassette tape and print, which will be mailed to students.

As soon as we get the basic Web site up and running, we hope to begin recruiting the faculty, with the hope of offering the first lessons in four tosix months or less.

We need your prayers that we can find a satisfactory banking relationship in the meantime and that we can get the site up and running in a short time.The banking industry in Costa Rica is not adequate to meet our needs, but we believe we have found a couple of good alternatives.

We will also continue to pursue Restoration Ministries, but for the foreseeable future we will have to emphasize the university.

However, you may find regular updates at our present Restoration Web site, at

We are making a public appeal to those who would like to join the faculty to contact us immediately with their ideas. The faculty search is in earnestin this new year. Let's pray for God's guidance, support and wisdom that this may go forward.

M. John Allen

Box 504-2120, Costa Rica

Let everyone agree

Your publication does an excellent job of psychological maneuvering of what is an important subject: church government and who runs it. We humanbeings can stomach only so much before we get sick, and Imean spiritually. The churches of this world put us to shame when it comes to peace in the congregations, even though they don'thave as much truth as we do. I know, because I've attended them.

You know what the problem is? We seem to have forgotten what being Christians is all about: living in peace, love and joy in the Holy spirit. We havetried to be so doctrinally nearly perfect in the wake of the changes instituted by the WCG that we have got ourselves carried away by a spirit of confusion. We have been seduced by thesubtlety of Satan, just like Eve.

We don't need much knowledge. The knowledge we had was enough, and we were not satisfied with it.

I suggest we all form a coalition to stop the scattering. Let everyone agree on doctrine; the basics are all we need. Appoint a committee of leadersfrom the offshoots willing to work part of the time with this new church in addition to their own. Organize our congregations on the basis of the new organization, but without a leaderheading it except for Jesus Christ. Eventually, let the fruits determine who is best able to serve as pastor general.

Everything boils down to becoming united, sharing the same beliefs, proclaiming the gospel to the world and letting the Holy Spirit have its way inour affairs. It will take faith, drive, determination, the seven laws of success. If we really want it, we can have it. Isn't it about time?

Paul Christophy


No. 19

Charles C. Smith's poignant paean to the amazing life-changing powers of the late Herbert W. Armstrong ("Dead Wrong About HWA," Nov. 30, page 5) nodoubt warmed many a heart and brought a tear to many an eye.

In his touching testimony Mr. Smith rhapsodizes: "Wonderful changes . . . took place in my life after HWA came on the scene"; "HWA made ourlife better"; and several similar statements.

In fact, he praises the name of Armstrong no fewer than 12 times, which is three more times than he mentions the word God and 12 more times than hementions the Messiah.

Although of course I enjoy hearing about how HWA "came into his life," this interests me even more: Did the Father and Son ever manage to squeeze inthere too? Did They ever bring about any kind of change in his life? Or was it all done by the power of Armstrong?

Mr. Smith also says he has a picture of HWA on the wall, "right between a large poster copy of the Ten Commandments and the 18 Restored Truths. . ." It probably wouldn't hurt him (and the many others with similar feelings) to take a good, long look at commandments No. 1 and No. 2 once or twice a day and meditate on themfor a while.

Perhaps then he might discover one of the truths that HWA forgot to restore.

David Harrell

Flossmoor, Ill.

Active countdown

There's an interesting sign that few have noticed that indicates the beast power is close to taking the leading role on the world's stage.

"... A symbolic meeting of the 28 nations, which may form a European Union of some 500 million citizens" early in the new millennium was held duringthe EU's final summit of the century Dec. 10-11, the Reuters news agency reported in the Cape Town Sunday Argus of that weekend.

Ambassador College, Bricket Wood, England, graduate George Jacobs has for years pointed out that Mussolini's sixth resurrection of the unholy RomanEmpire was supported by the Phalangists, who took their name from the phalanges, the 28 bones in the fingers of both hands.

There are also 28 bones in the left and right feet of humans. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon dreamed of a large statue of a man that represented thesuccessive gentile nations, of which he was the head of gold (see Daniel 2, 7, 8). The final, the seventh resurrection, of the Roman Empire is represented by the 10 toes of the imageNebuchadnezzar dreamed of, which Christ will smash at His second coming (Daniel 2:34-35).

Herbert W Armstrong--the end-time Elijah--showed that the central government of the beast power would be a Satan-empowered world-ruler beast (oranimal), assisted by a miracle-working false prophet whom 10 rulers in a European state-church would support.

That 28 (or 10 plus [6 plus 6 plus 6]) nations are poised to form that beast power, which will have 10 toes with 28 phalanges, is significant and isfurther evidence that the overall timeline given at the Where Are We In Prophecy Now? Web site is worth examining:

Please note the new feature there: an active countdown clock that gives the daily estimated number of days left before the start and end of the 1,335days.

Geoffrey R. Neilson

Cape Town, South Africa

Rebuilding a chapel

After hearing Alex Jones, an Austin-based radio host, talk about the rebuilding project that is underway on the location of the former Branch DavidianChurch, I and a fellow Sabbath-keeper (Neil Saul) decided to travel down to Mount Carmel and donate a Sunday of labor to help rebuild the chapel that was burned to the ground in1993.

Volunteering yesterday was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Yesterday was also the first time I had been all the way to the MountCarmel site and got out and looked around.

The site is spiritually haunting. You feel weird at first as you walk around and look closely at the place we all saw on television.

After our arrival, it was not long before Mike Hanson, the man coordinating the rebuilding effort, arrived.

Mike, along with Scott, Neil and me, begin to hang siding on the small chapel so that the Branch Davidians can someday have Sabbath servicesagain.

Scott is a man who sleeps in a tent on the construction site to keep people from stealing the donated supplies. He also is awakened almost nightly aslocal teenagers yell abusive language as they drive in circles on the gravel road at the site.

After meeting a couple of the survivors of the holocaust, no Sabbath-keeper can help but want to do something to help. Knowing that the BranchDavidians also keeps God's holy days and dietary laws only makes the connection that much stronger. Hearing Clive Doyle talk about his experiences in person will chill you to thebone.

Almost all of the work is being done on Sunday since the volunteers work elsewhere during the week, and, of course, the surviving Branch Davidians donot want anybody working on the Sabbath.

Originally the plan was that the chapel would be complete by the end of February, although at the current pace that may be cutting it a bit close. Iplan to go back every Sunday until the chapel is finished. I think it is a shame that, with all of the people who live within 90 minutes of Waco, it has taken this long to rebuild at leastthe chapel. They have received no help from any churches, not even the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God.

I realize the circumstances that surrounded the Branch Davidian Church turn a lot off people off, but that is only because they believe the propagandathey hear on television. It is not the fault of the surviving Sabbath-keepers, and they should not be shunned.

If any Sabbath-keepers are in need of spiritual fulfillment, they should do something to help. If they cannot afford to donate money, than they can godown next Sunday (or the next, etc.) and donate time like I did. You do not have to be a skilled carpenter to help.

If you cannot donate money or time, then maybe you can pray for the rebuilding of the chapel.

Someday in the not-too-distant future maybe The Journal can do a story of the reopening of the Branch Davidian chapel for Sabbath services.

Jim McKee

Fort Worth, Texas

The goodness of men

Regarding "A Decaying Feast Site Speaks," Dec. 13, by Bill Stough: I have been a member of God's church since August 1989. Unfortunately, Mr. Stoughechoes my sentiments exactly. I have experienced similar encounters with, and observations of, ministers and others.

I lived thousands of miles from the Pasadena headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God, but the pride and lack of true Christianity in theleadership were clear and there for anyone to see. But, as Mr. Stough says, woe to the person so bold as to point out a misdeed or attitude re the leadership; woe to the truly dedicated whoquestioned abominable behavior among the "leading men."

Kissing and fondling other men's wives was not uncommon with some in the ministry. Visiting a member's home and listening to heartfelt and sincerecomments only to have them repeated in perverted, usually mocking, form the next Sabbath was not unusual.

Being marked as someone to watch because you dared behave as though you believed the Scriptures or the church's teachings on love was notuncommon.

I could go on and on, but I think these comments suffice. I have only one reason for writing: because I see such attitudes again in the Churches ofGod groups and people over the past few years. I despair because I no longer believe that many desire the truth but are tired of the battle to maintain it that is never-ending.

We see the Armstrong-appealers using Herbert Armstrong's name as a foundation for their private little money-making organizations. This type usuallyproduces brethren intolerant of others.

We see the politically correct type who are more interested in not offending the radically injected women who may inhabit their congregations. Theyapparently believe that by standing for little they will grow. Perhaps they will numerically, but I doubt they will spiritually.

Other groups spend a great deal of time comparing their growth with Mr. Armstrong's at a similar stage of development, knowing full well that thecomparison is little more than lying. Today's groups began with much of what Mr. Armstrong had already built.

Recent history is repeating itself in so many of those who profess to be "continuing the work . . ." I, like Mr. Stough, am saddened at whatwas, what might have been and what is.

I am saddened too by the realization that what I have written here will be dismissed instead of being pondered by many who still believe in thegoodness of men. I hope I'm wrong. I hope God's people will not be misled again. If we refuse to learn from the past, then blame ourselves, not God, the ministry or one another. I think Godwill not accept such excuses for neglecting His clear instructions to take heed and be on guard.

But I know in whom I have believed, and He is not a human being with all our frailties. Therefore, hope abounds.

J. Howard

Via the Internet

Old Covenant not obsolete

Steven Collins in his article "Mandatory Tithes Are Pharisaic Tradition," Nov. 30, 1999, crystallized for me a number of important issues, includingthe issue of church government, for which I thank him. However, one of the central arguments in that article is, I believe, quite wrong.

I am constantly amazed when people arbitrarily divide the law that God gave to Israel through Moses into "permanent" and "temporary," "moral" and"ritual" and then proceed to say, as did Steven Collins, that the "temporary" or "ritual" laws of the Old Covenant were abolished at Christ's death when the New Covenant wasratified.

Could someone please offer some clear and unambiguous proof from Scripture to support such a proposition rather than just personal opinion andbiblical metaphors? To suggest that Hebrews 8:13 supports such a proposition is to totally misread what this scripture is actually saying.

The translation of Hebrews 8:13 is made unnecessarily complex in some Bible versions, and the perfect tense of the verb palaioo (to make or declare tobe old; to treat as obsolete) has caused some translators and commentaries to imply something that the verb with its associated present-tense participles does not actually say in the NewTestament Greek text.

The clearest and most correct overall sense of this verse is, I believe, given in the Jerusalem Bible, which says, "By speaking of a new covenant, heimplies that the first one is already old. Now anything old only gets more antiquated until in the end it disappears."

It is saying, in essence, that the Old Covenant was declared to be "old" a long time ago, at least as early as 600 B.C., when Jeremiah prophesiedabout the giving of the future New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), so today it is still old and getting even older until at the end of the Millennium it will become totally redundant and sofinally pass away and disappear.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:11 supported the currency of the Old Covenant in his day when he talked about "what is fading away . . ." Noticethat katargoumenon is a present participle in the passive voice of the verb katargeo and has the sense of "is being nullified/abolished" or "is passing/fading away," with all the actionsbeing in the present tense.

Paul, therefore, saw the Old Covenant as being current in his day rather than having, at some previous time, passed away or been abolished.

There is absolutely no scriptural basis for the suggestion that the Old Covenant was done away with or made obsolete at the time of Christ's death, atthe time of the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 or at any other time in history.

If it had been, then the WCG was right in 1995, when it began to teach that the Ten Commandments (the "permanent" or "moral" law) had been done awaywith (along with the Sabbath and holy days), because we have a number of clear and unambiguous scriptures that tell us that the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant or are, at the veryleast, representative of the Old Covenant (for example, Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13; 1 Kings 8:9, 21; Hebrews 9:14.)

Although some of the Old Covenant laws given by God through Moses were written on stone and kept inside the Ark of the Covenant and others were laterwritten on less-permanent media and were kept outside of the ark, they all formed part of an undivided whole, so they must stand or fall together (Exodus 19:8).

We therefore need to understand how it is that the physical changed to the spiritual and how it is that we can accept baptism in place of physicalcircumcision, and bread and wine in place of the flesh of animals; how our physical lives become the spiritual sacrifices that replace the morning and evening burnt animal offerings; why wedo not need to travel to Jerusalem to keep the Feast; etc.; etc.

A good starting point for this understanding is, I suggest, Romans 7:6, where Paul tells us that those who have been freed by Christ from thecondemnation that the law held over us can now "serve in newness of spirit, and not the oldness of the letter." For those who may misunderstand what I am saying here, let me say clearlythat I am not suggesting that we spiritualize away the law of God or decide for ourselves how or when to obey God, as the WCG currently seems to be teaching.

It would be profitable, therefore, for Steven Collins and others who may believe that the Old Covenant has been partly or wholly done away with andmade obsolete to go back and reassess their arguments on the basis that neither the "immutable law" nor the "temporary physical laws" have yet been finally and completely done away with,nor will they be done away with till after the end of the Millennium, when they will only then finally become redundant and the animal sacrifices and holy-day observances that will existduring the Millennium will finally cease to apply to those who have become spirit beings.

In Steven Collins' case, the overall conclusion of his thesis on tithing will not necessarily change, but at least some of the arguments leading tohis conclusion will not be based on what I understand to be biblical fiction.

Mike Baran

Sydney, Australia

A good man is hard to find

I appreciate Guy Swenson's well-wishing for the Milwaukee church and most of his comments concerning the split ["What Went Wrong in Milwaukee?," Dec.13]. He wondered what went wrong--especially, it seemed, with such a good guy as he remembered the pastor being.

Good men have fallen before. With King David it was adultery. With some today the sins are idolatry and covetousness, promulgated by years ofdependence on a hierarchical system of government.

When corporate word is placed before God's Word, that's idolatry. When support is given to antibiblical corporate policy that punishes elders whospeak to other parts of Christ's Body on the Sabbath, that's idolatry.

When blind loyalty is shown to a corporate body that punishes elders who attend the Feast with other believers not belonging to that particularname-brand corporation, that's idolatry.

Believers everywhere should be outraged at such policies (made by those who would have dominion over you and your faith), but most are probably noteven aware of them. With the passage of the UCG-AIA's rules of association, however, it's only a matter of time before these same ungodly restrictions will come to roost at theirdoor.

Thank God that many will continue to leave or be thrown out of such organizations. The brethren will continue to take on more individualresponsibility: a trait recognized as positive growth anywhere, it seems, except in our corporate churches.

Ironically, we desperately want our children to develop this trait. It prepares them for life and marriage. Being personally responsible for our ownsalvation prepares the spiritual bride for marriage to Christ. In spite of the spiritual growth that has been stifled, the bride will make herself ready.

Through the din of men's voices, our Good Shepherd's voice can be clearly heard by those who are willing to hear and respond to it. God will developthe maturity He requires as we look to Him for our shepherding.

What happened in Milwaukee and many other churches that have and will continue to be split? God speaks to that in Ezekiel 34:2-11: ". . .With force and hardhearted harshness, you have ruled them . . . I am against the shepherds . . . I will rescue My sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food forthem . . . I, I Myself will search for My sheep, and will seek them out."

Scarlet Geiger

Helenville, Wis.

God's way and the highway

Are you willing to give up preconceived notions? Before you say yes, think about it. Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true." This applies toall of us. Is it possible for someone with God's Spirit to be deceived?

Sadly, the answer is yes. Often as we read the Bible we laugh at the folly of the nation of Israel. But often we forget that we suffer from the samefoibles the Israelites did, and we commit the same errors. They're a part of being human.

It's true we have God's Spirit, but human nature can override that and lead us into stupidity and error. Ideas can be idolatry if we put them ahead ofthe truth of God.

Jim O'Brien, our local pastor, once told me that we need to separate what we know to be true from what we think we know to be true.

There are a lot of really different ideas floating around out there among those who broke away from the WCG, and some of them are wrong. Someone hasto be wrong, because Christ is not divided. There are two ways and only two ways: God's way and man's way. It is more essential now than ever that we as servants and disciples of Christlook at ourselves in the light of God's Word and be as the Bereans.

Are you willing to accept that something you think to be true is not true? Are you humble enough?

Don't be so quick to say yes. If all of us with God's Spirit were humble enough, there would be unity. Whose way is right? Search the Scriptures andearnestly pray for God's own interpretation, not your own. Do not be easily led, even into truth, or you can be easily led away and blown about by every wind of doctrine.

Stephen Carroll

Richmond, Ky.

'God's Holy Days'

God's holy days portray for us

All that is yet to come:

A time when men will live at peace

In God's glorious kingdom.

For now let's praise His holy name--

Give honor to the King.

Prepare to meet your God, it says--

A new song we will sing.

The weekly Sabbath gives to man

A special day to rest,

To learn God's way and do His will,

No matter what the test.

A Savior to this world has come,

Redeemed us for His own.

He died for all that we might live--

Great love our God has shown.

Sincerely looking for the truth,

We search our soul to find

A daily sacrifice; we are

Leaving the past behind.

Out of this world of sin we've come,

We walk by faith, not sight.

It is the Christ who leads the way

From darkness into light.

Our walk with Christ exemplifies

This hope we have within

Unspotted from the world, we'll be

Forever free from sin.

Each one of us must count the cost

And reap the harvest now.

Examples to the world we are;

God's Spirit shows us how.

A warrior to this world, Christ comes;

As saints we'll fight with Him.

The trumpet blast will sound its call--

Ten thousand years begin.

Someday all things will be restored,

A purging of the old,

When all will be at one with God--

Forever in His fold.

Let those who thirst come to the Christ,

Where living waters flow.

Not all will want to follow Him;

The fate of these we know.

To all the ones who never knew

The promises of God,

He will reveal to them in time

His righteous, holy Word.

Rebecca Whited

Lewiston, Idaho

Wal-Mart bans abortion drug

Wal-Mart has taken a brave stand. Let Wal-Mart officials know we care. Let your friends know. For those of you who have not heard, Planned Parenthoodis planning a boycott of Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart will not sell Preven.

Preven is being called the day-after contraceptive. It is not a contraceptive. The egg will have already been fertilized. This is an abortion device,and Wal-Mart refuses to sell it. Planned Parenthood is asking all women and the men who agree with a woman's right to choose (to kill) to boycott Wal-Mart and to tell the company to let itknow why it is being boycotted.

Wal-Mart officials gave an E-mail address for us to write to. Please let them know we appreciate their stand. We mustn't let them down. They arestanding up for what is right.

This information originated from Paul R. Henderson, , systems administration of the Cardiac Rhythm Management Laboratory of the University of Alabama,Birmingham.

Tim Hall

Bono, Ark.

To try to determine if the above information from Mr. Henderson is accurate (since much information disseminated on the Internet is bogus), TheJournal telephoned the corporate headquarters of Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Ark., and asked a public-relations employee if the information is valid.

The PR spokesman was not familiar with Mr. Henderson, but she did confirm that Wal-Mart has decided not to sell Preven. The Journal asked her if thecompany decided not to sell Preven because the drug is an abortion device.

"No," she replied. "It was not a moral decision. It was a business decision."

Letters from our Readers - Part 1

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