John Warren update
This is to update readers on John Warren's condition. (See "East Texas Man Injured in Freak Accident With Tree," page 13, in the last issue.)
John was transferred on June 15 to the Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, where he will undergo therapy for the next few months. At this time it is not known how much control of movement John will be able to gain in his legs.
His family appreciates your prayers for a complete recovery. His address is Rt. 3, Box 523, Big Sandy, Texas 75755. John's friends have established a fund for the family: John Warren Special Fund, Austin Bank, P.O. Box 748, Big Sandy, Texas 75755.
Big Sandy, Texas
Thank you for issue No. 4 [May 30]. The cover story by Molly Antion was especially good. The portrait of her father was very interesting. As a Christian, Mr. Roy Hammer set a good example.
I am also impressed by Molly's quote in the paper: "I have often been asked if I feel angry or bitter over the past. I do not."
Here's a wonderful attitude of a person who has achieved closure of a bad experience. The Antions went through a whole lot more than many of us have gone through, yet many of us have not let go. Thanks, Molly, for your example! You have learned lessons from your father quite well.
I also like the church-history articles and the calendar articles. Your paper provides excellent value for those who want to be informed. As a forum, it is well balanced. Every issue so far has been well worth the subscription price. Your article on WCG leaders on the radio talk show with Hank Hanegraaff [April 26] was informative. The editorial comments were well researched and germane to the story.
I wasn't at the last graduation at AC, but you provided coverage and pictures. I appreciated it.
The problem was the apostasy
It is getting increasingly clear that certain authors appear to have an antigovernance bias (and play loose with the facts) who have been published in THE JOURNAL. The latest example is an article by Melvin Rhodes ["Church Groups Confusing Government With Doctrine," May 30].
In it he states: "The WCG, GCG, PCG and UCG are all experiencing the same basic problem: a continual financial crisis that inhibits their ability to grow and limits their effectiveness in serving their own members, thereby resulting in member losses, exacerbating their financial problems. It's a vicious downward cycle."
Similar misstatements were made. I will not try to speak for the other groups, but as a member in the GCG [Global Church of God] I would like to set the record straight. Even though it has had some problems to deal with, the GCG has grown in income and membership every year since it started. This includes 1997.
The overwhelming majority of GCG members willingly and happily send their tithes (actually God's tithes) to San Diego. The GCG is not now, nor has it ever been, seriously suffering from doctrinal disputes, leadership questions or constitutional issues. Global is not suffering "from a major lack of confidence."
We get the gospel out (including the Ezekiel warning) on about 80 television stations in North America, plus radio in Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the South Pacific. Over 42 percent of our income is spent doing the work.
I would like to add that, unlike some groups, our local congregations work with our headquarters to do the work. Most of the television and radio stations we are on are the result of this type of cooperation. In our area we were able to arrange local public access of The World Ahead on television, as well as develop our own local-church Web site (members.aol.com/
GCGArroyo/Global.htm), which contains articles to support our message to the world as well as to our scattered brethren.
I would like to add that Mr. Rhodes did correctly imply that GCG doctrines should have been acceptable to brethren who claimed to believe what the WCG used to teach. We are faithfully doing what we believe we were taught.
I have some brief thoughts for those of you authors who have had personal problems regarding governance issues. I have gotten food poisoning a few times in my life. Does that mean I should no longer eat?
Just because some in WCG leadership made mistakes does not mean that the problem was with the governing structure. The WCG did not collapse because of governance; it collapsed because of a Satan-inspired apostasy.
Herbert W. Armstrong taught that, if you ever found him not being true to the Word of God, do not follow the nonbiblical teaching. In the GCG we are taught that we are not to follow the government of the GCG if it teaches contrary to the Bible.
The apostasy in WCG lingered, not because of a proper understanding of governance, but because many in the ministry went along with the changes so they would not lose their jobs (see also Ezekiel 34:2). This type of situation happens in organizations of all structures. Even the antigovernance authors should recognize this.
Robert J. Thiel
Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Astronomical servic e
I found the Judaic fantasy of the "Pimpernel Project" of last issue [in "Letters"] as amusing as the nom de plume might suggest. The writer seems to be under the absurd fixation that Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office (HMNAO) is a set of books and not an office of the Crown as the name so clearly implies.
For the lesser informed of the readers, HMNAO performs a valuable service in the provision of astronomical data for all areas of civil, defense and commercial operations of the U.K. It works in conjunction with departments or offices of other countries such as our Mount Stromlo observatory. We find their services and those of Mount Stromlo of inestimable value in the provision of scientific data over long periods.
No doubt the U.S. brethren find the service of the U.S. Naval Observatory as valuable, and we have used them for research data also over time.
Wade Cox, Coordinator
Christian Churches of God
Services for the dea f
We would like to announce a new service for the deaf within the Church of God. Most of us don't realize how difficult these last several years have been for our deaf brethren. Not being able to hear the sermons, all they have are the written materials offered by the various groups.
We in the Sabbath Assembly of God in Morgantown, W.Va., saw the need for transcripts of sermons for the deaf. So, instead of waiting until someone else provided them, we decided we would do what we could.
We have nine sermons by Ron Dart (Christian Educational Ministries) transcribed.
We in the Sabbath Assembly of God do not believe in denominationalism, so we are not trying to push one group over another. We feel we are free to fellowship with all who keep the commands of God. Organizational boundaries do not exist in our eyes.
Although the transcripts we provide consist mainly of CEM's sermons, we intend to transcribe sermons from other ministries as well. If you would like to receive an order form for the transcripts, please write Sabbath Assembly of God, P.O. Box 748, Dellslow, W.Va. 26531, or E-mail us at email@example.com.
We ask that only those who are deaf request these transcripts. If you know of anyone who is deaf and would like to receive transcripts, please let him know.
You gotta have hear t
If there is suffering, then, effectively, it is God who gives it, and it is we who share it with Him. The reasons for this may or may not be visible to us. Our job is to hold onto faith and effectively, it not actually, praise God during suffering and for it!
Are we such wimps and faithless children that we cannot hang onto the truth that has carried us so far? God does not give scorpions, snakes and stones when His children ask for eggs, fish and bread. We may not yet have eyes to recognize all of His blessings for us, but we must have heart to recognize them, otherwise bitterness and the deceiving anguish of the accuser and destroyer of our souls will become our meat.
This is the path that many readers of THE JOURNAL (and many who remain silent) are apparently on. Please consider your own and others' spiritual welfare in this regard. All will get what's coming to them. Whether we care to judge them or not, we will all be in God's judgment.
It is time to quit the fault-finding condemnations and become objective, analytical, compassionate and forgiving. God's purpose is served in His sovereignty and not in ours.
Gary F. DuBois
The call has gone ou t
God sends us ministers to serve His people. We need a ministry that is Spirit-led, not mammon-fed. God's ministers will not beat us and become drunk on the power of a false system. We need to pray that God would send us laborers who truly represent His will, not that of a man-made organization.
Proverbs 6:6 gives us the example of the ants as a way to wake us up out of foolish indulgence. They are busy working for the common good without anyone lording over them. We have a Sovereign, we have a Mediator, and He is even our elder brother. He is coming soon. This is why we were taught to pray to our Father by our elder brother.
As a believer in the faith once delivered to the saints, I can no longer recognize a church organization that has as its head a corporate image. The head of the Body is Christ, who is to be our goal.
When every thought is brought into captivity to Christ, our head is aligned for the Kingdom of God. The stone uncut by human hands (or man-made organizations) is coming to smash all those real rebels and the image they trust in, the image of the beast. I pray for all of us to be awake and ready because the call has gone out.
Public domai n
Do you remember the short Bible questions and answers that appeared in the old Good News magazine every month? The World Ahead magazine also has this in each issue.
What is the possibility of your starting a column with this feature written by guest writers such as Dave Havir or Melvin Rhodes? These articles would be stated as being public domain and then could be used for local evangelism in the church areas in local newspapers, etc.
Well wis h
I am one who always looks forward to THE JOURNAL. May it be published for many years!
Wake Forest, N.C.
The example of Roy Hamme r
One of the most basic, fundamental principles of the Bible is that we individually are accountable to the Almighty. The church, the ministry, does not save us and must not judge us. We shall stand by ourselves before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10).
In looking back on their former association, some are blaming their unhappy experiences on "the church." An Associated Press story on June 14 lauds the changes of the Worldwide Church of God. John and Shirley Damore, the article states, "did everything Herbert W. Armstrong told them to: They tithed up to 30 percent of their income, followed Old Testament dietary laws," and so on.
Now the Damores feel liberated, even attending Sunday services with their children, though still meeting with their old friends in Worldwide.
These people seem oblivious to their open admission that they slavishly followed a man and an organization. They did what the church told them to do.
This makes me wonder if the Protestant doctrines the Damores currently follow are the result of serious, personal Bible study or that once again the church made them do it.
Human beings, when happy, seem to feel they are doing what is right because of their efforts. If things go sour for them, they are quick to blame someone else for their unhappiness.
Molly Hammer Antion wrote an interesting article on the early days of the Worldwide Church of God in the May 30 issue of THE JOURNAL. The sacrifice and dedication of the Hammer family are inspiring for us all.
Molly regrets that her father, Roy Hammer (whose son Buck donated the land upon which Ambassador College, Big Sandy, was built), died "needlessly" at age 64 because "church doctrine at that time did not allow us to go to doctors, and we never knew what my father died of."
Her hindsight is not very clear. Herbert W. Armstrong's important article "Does God Heal Today?," published in the 1940s and republished in 1952, actually encourages one to seek counsel from natural health practitioners, while reminding us that healing is God's prerogative.
Now, granted, some ministers became little Hitlers who browbeat the little sheep into a distortion of church teaching. But, if you just took the written literature of the church at face value, you would never come to Mrs. Antion's conclusion.
I suspect that Mr. Hammer's personal decisions related to his health care were made by himself and his family and not by the church. To state otherwise would be to denigrate this man of faith.
Again, Mrs. Antion regrets that her sister, Norma Davis, "was never allowed to remarry, though she was married only a short time and divorced before coming into the church."
The church at that time tried to rule people's lives by deciding "D&R" cases. That was wrong and totally unnecessary if anyone had read the official church teaching of the 1953 booklet of HWA, Divorce and Remarriage, which authorizes no such thing as a church court to decide the validity of one's marriage.
I was acquainted with Norma Davis and cringe at Mrs. Antion's implication that Norma did not think for herself. The Norma Davis I knew was personally convicted that she was bound to her first husband and not eligible to remarry. I do not believe she would blame the church for her single condition.
If faithful pioneers such as the Hammer family did only what the church told them to do, then where does that leave the rest of us who are not such sterling examples of dedication and sacrifice? Individually, we must all stand before the Eternal. We can never resort to the weak excuse that the church made me do it.
Today's liberal thinking revises the past to be more palatable to present-day practices and beliefs. More-accurate recollections of what the church was like 40 and 50 years ago paint a far different picture, one of individuals who were personally convicted through much prayer, fasting and personal Bible study (not just to studying the church's literature).
Let us follow the example of pioneers such as Roy Hammer.
Richard C. Nickels
Open letter to The Associated Pres s
I would like THE JOURNAL to print my letter [to The Associated Press and AP religion editor David Briggs] to offset some of the lies and distortions that Mr. Briggs printed. Here is my letter:
Dear Mr. Briggs:
This letter is regarding the article you wrote for The Associated Press. I read it yesterday on the front page of The Arizona Daily Star under the title "Founder's Passing Splintered His Church."
Who or what was the catalyst of this compilation of fact and fiction? What do you know of the personalities or teachings of the Church of God?
Obviously, you know only what you are told by those you interviewed. I would have, as the saying goes, given my right arm to have been one of the persons interviewed. I loved Loma and Herbert Armstrong. Not blindly or because I found them infallible, but because, in the course of 21 years living in Pasadena, Calif., my life was transformed because of their submission to God's truth.
My husband and I moved from Phoenix to attend Ambassador College in 1965 when I was 24 years old. We had three children under the age of 4. My husband had a degree in business law and had run a successful rose business for many years. He was 33.
But, after having listened to Herbert Armstrong for a number of years before my husband and I married and then hearing about the message of hope when I was at a low point in my life, we decided that there was something far more important that we could do with our lives.
Now here I am in 1997 and Herbert and Loma are dead. Their efforts of humanitarianism are being dragged through the mud. The front-page article states in the insert, "The church formally declared its founder had been fundamentally wrong all along."
Such a distortion of the truth. For one thing, "the church" is not the leaders but the members, and the members did not "declare its founder had been fundamentally wrong all along."
The leader or leaders, or specifically Joseph Tkach Sr., Mike Feazell, Joseph Tkach Jr. and others, made this declaration.
If, Mr. Briggs, you knew the personal background and baggage that this group of men carries, I believe you would have printed a totally different story for your readers across the United States.
Herbert and Loma Armstrong were a husband and wife of the highest moral standards, and they taught me and my family (I have five children and nine grandchildren) to obey the laws of the land and the precious laws of God.
I am 57 years old and have in some cases survived the afflictions of the damned. But from the pages of the Bible I have been taught the purpose of life and, yes, the purpose of death. I know, thankfully, of the promise of life eternal, and it is not to float around heaven all day. I have experienced one of the most exciting lives possible.
You may think this is a grandiose statement, but you do not know me or my husband or anything about the work we did at Herbert Armstrong's side for many, many years before his death on Jan. 16, 1986.
There was a journalist in Pasadena, Hal Hubbard, who upon the death of Mr. Armstrong printed an article in tribute to this man. He spoke about his accomplishments and the nature of his humanitarian service. He spoke the truth.
Since you are a journalist, I would think that you would want to follow in Mr. Hubbard's footsteps and write stories that uplift, not tear down; the truth, not lies or distortions.
Did you read Herbert Armstrong's autobiography to find out who these two people, Herbert and Loma, were? I would send you one of the two copies I own if that would mean you would print a retraction.
I thank God for the Armstrongs' bravery, courage and dedication to God's truth in the face of criticism when they were alive and, now, even after they are dead and awaiting the resurrection.
Yes, the resurrection. You have heard of the resurrection, haven't you? If not, blow the dust off of your Bible and look it up. It may surprise you what it says about your promised eternity.
Gwen La Ravia
Tucson, Ariz .
The Associated Press article, on the Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots, ran in many U.S. newspapers Sunday, June 14. Mr. Nickels' letter, immediately above Mrs. La Ravia's, also comments on the AP release. See also THE JOURNAL of May 30, page 7, for a brief article about Mr. Briggs.
Promise Keepers critique d
America, like other Israelite nations, needs desperately to return to God before she is punished by captivity for her many sins, including false religion.
What needs to be realized however, is that the current religious revival in the United States, the call for prayer and repentance and seeking God's face, is all part of the current worldwide revival taking place within many churches and groups, including the charismatics and the Promise Keepers.
The praying and fasting for revival is all part of a counterfeit religious movement, often associated with the Toronto Blessing, as many Protestants are led even deeper into the customs of Babylon.
The current call for fasting and repentance originated from Dr. Bill Bright, who during a 40-day fast received "a revelation" that revival would be conditional upon people fasting and praying for revival. Below is a brief background of what happened.
"On July 5, 1994, Dr. Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, answered what he knew to be God's call for him to begin a 40-day fast to humble himself and pray for a great spiritual awakening in America and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission throughout the world.
"He writes, 'Early one morning on the 29th day [of his 40-day fast], I received the assurance from God that He would visit America in transforming, revival power.' The visitation was so great that Bill Bright went on to write a book about the experience entitled The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray, and 'Seek God's Face.'
"In the prologue, he states that 'America and much of the world will, before the end of the year 2000, experience a great spiritual awakening.
"'This divine visit of the Holy Spirit from heaven will kindle the greatest spiritual harvest in the history of the church. But before God comes in revival power, the Holy Spirit will call millions of God's people to repent, fast, and pray in the Spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'
"Shortly before Dr. Bright reached the 40th day of his fast the Holy Spirit spoke to him in another tone. This time he writes, 'It seemed that God was now saying that His promise of revival was conditional . . .'
"As a result of this revelation Bill Bright called for a national symposium on prayer, fasting, and revival and called many of America's leading evangelicals to gather and pray as to how they could be channels of revival for America and the world. Bright invited 68 of some of the most influential Christian leaders in America and Canada to form an invitation committee with him and his wife . . .
"Over 600 leaders attended the prayer and fasting event ... These leaders, along with Dr. Bright, are now praying for and working to mobilize two million North Americans who will fast and pray for 40 days for an awakening in America and the world . . . (November 1996)."
It is of note that one of the men who attended this prayer-and-fasting meeting to mobilize Americans to fast and pray for an awakening in America and the world was Bill McCartney, the founder of the Promise Keepers, a charismatic in a church affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Also on the board of Promise Keepers is Vineyard's pastor James Ryle, who claims personal revelations from Christ.
"Bill McCartney started out small in 1991 by gathering 4,200 men to attend the first Boulder, Colo., Conference. By 1992 this grew to 22,000, and by 1993 more than 55,000 men all across the nation gathered in Colorado to celebrate their commitment to the Promise Keepers.
"Bill McCartney, the founder and head coach of Colorado University's football team, is himself by theology a charismatic Christian who is a member in a local church affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, a fast-growing denomination founded by hypercharismatic 'signs and wonders' healer John Wimber. In addition to Bill McCartney, the Promise Keepers have on its board of directorship McCartney's Vineyard pastor, James Ryle.
"What is of great spiritual concern to those who trust the Bible is the close association of the Promise Keepers with the radical fringe of the charismatic movement. James Ryle, one of the Board of Directors, has declared himself to be a modern prophet who has had personal revelations from Jesus Christ.
"For example, in 1990 at a Vineyard Harvest Conference in Denver, Ryle asserted that God had personally instructed him to reveal to the church that the '60-'70s rock stars the Beatles and their music were the direct result of a special anointing of the Holy Spirit and that God was looking for others upon whom to place that anointing, supposedly to bring about a worldwide revival through such music" (Probing the Promise Keepers, by Dennis Finnan).
As can be seen, Promise Keepers is led by charismatics and has the same goals of worldwide revival-awakening.
Let us be careful not to be caught up in any movement, doctrines or practices simply because they have a religious sound or appearance. And let us be careful not to defend or praise movements or practices that God Himself finds abominable and unacceptable in His honor.
Cape Town, South Africa
Scattered on purpos e
All of us were called right where we are. We don't need to consolidate. The lights are scattered throughout the world for a purpose. A light on a hill can be seen all around. We are much more visible now than we ever were before. Think about it!
It's time to leave fear behind and move forward, individually and as an assembly. If God is with us, who can be against us?
Raymond G. Kaping
Shell Knob, Mo.
Emperor's new clothe s
Melvin Rhodes' piece on church government in the May 30 issue of THE JOURNAL is right on target. Church government, as taught and practiced by the original WCG and now by some of its spin-offs, is the mother of most of the problems the church has had for decades. It is the main reason it is so difficult to "process" doctrinal issues within these organizations.
Put another way, it is the mother of most false doctrine within the WCG universe. It eliminates the checks and balances of critical thinking. It stops iron from sharpening iron. It is the source of all the natural abuses of authoritarianism. It represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the church as portrayed in the New Testament.
Arbitrary, high-handed, top-down government, as practiced in the old WCG, produced a fool's paradise in which the major game was The Emperor's New Clothes. This militaristic mentality produced the odious rank system of the ministerial pecking order. It produced the centralized, monolithic control of money, and therefore power, from HQ.
It created a climate of fear and intimidation in which all new or critical thought was stifled (unless it originated with the top dog). It created indefensible sacred-cow doctrines that could not be viewed any other way than the official one.
It created a situation in which all who dissented were demonized and viewed as tools of the devil. For decades it arrested the doctrinal, philosophical and intellectual progress of the WCG. It now continues to do so for some of the spin-offs.
There is a place for legitimate, Spirit-produced authority within the Body, but there is no place for the kind of high-handed authoritarianism that has long characterized certain segments of the church. It is this mentality, not constructive critical thinking, that is the real enemy of truth.
What's in a name ?
I enjoyed the May 12 May New Beginnings [a United Church of God newsletter] and the article by David Hulme, "What's In a Name?" But there were some things that I feel should be addressed:
nHe emphasizes too much being an example at the expense of verbally spreading the gospel (this impacts upon and undermines personal evangelism).
nHe states that 95-99 percent of the 50 percent of persons who came into the WCG via personal evangelism were family members. But he just does not get the point: If we were to have personal-evangelism training, then many more would come in. In the past, members did almost no personal evangelism outside of their families because of restrictions placed upon them.
nThe comment about there being one organization and one body (rather than a spiritual body encompassing many administrations) gives the very real impression to any reader that the UCG is the only true church.
nHis statement about the body and the corporation coinciding so that "the majority of the membership is in one place" assumes that the majority of persons with the Holy Spirit are in the UCG. What of the 500,000 other members of various scattered Churches of God (estimate, including home churches)? The UCG has only 17,000 members, down 2,000.
n"A collection of denominations within the Church does not represent the unity that will be in the kingdom of God." But that is something that will not be reached until the resurrection, so why bring it up? In the meantime, the True Church has many branches.
A few days after that article appeared the council of elders' discussion indicated clearly that we will not descend back into isolationism, and it was obvious that bridge-building will eventuate.
Feast at Ocean Shore s
To the best of our knowledge the Feast site at Ocean Shores, Wash., will be the first of its kind. We are providing a site where people, who traditionally have celebrated separately, can gather together and learn from one another (both Messianic and Christian). We are doing our best to bring special speakers in who should inspire and educate all of those who attend.
This year's speakers include Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Eddie Chumney, Ken Westby, Doug Dolly and more.
Ocean Shores is located on the Washington coast, heading west from Olympia. Since this is the first year for this site we can only project what size it will be. We hope to attract around 500 (the site will accommodate 1,000).
We have prepared a housing packet that we can send you. Call us at (800) 333-5208 and let us know the address you would like us to send it to and we will send it right out.
Via the Internet
Prayer reques t
Josh Stevens fell asleep at the wheel while driving home on Sunday morning, May 25. He was only about a mile from home in Houston, Texas. His vehicle left the road and struck a tree. Josh suffered a severe head injury, and it wasn't clear that he would even live.
He is now out of the woods as far as living or dying is concerned, but he is still in a semiconscious state. The doctors aren't sure how much brain damage may have been incurred. So it is still up and down in this regard.
So far there has been little response. He can open his eyes, but he hasn't spoken (although with a tracheotomy he would be unable), and he is still on life support.
Yesterday the Stevenses received the first real bit of good news. The neurologist who will be working with the rehabilitation of Josh gave them hope that he can fully recover. Since he is so young and healthy, the doctor held out hope for a full recovery.
Josh is a 19-year-old son of a member, and he just completed his freshman year at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos.
I suspect there will be a number of hills and valleys before this is over, but at least the prognosis is now encouraging.
More than one true searc h
Today I found your main Web site and am happy that you chose to link me. I have given you a link on my WCG links page, because it is rare that any publication would dare to say something negative about the WCG.
Please change my link on your Web page (which has moved): www.quango.net/Tabladillo/wcgweb.html.
If you have not done so, I would also suggest your adding your site to the various Web engines, such as Alta Vista, Yahoo, Infoseek and Excite. I want more people to find you.
Just browsin g
I was browsing on the Internet and came across your Web site and found THE JOURNAL to be an excellent publication for Sabbath-keepers. I would also, if possible, like to receive the issues that you have published.
East Carbon, Utah
Where are they now ?
I've been in "the church" for 32 years, starting from the time I was 9 years old. My husband and I attended AC in Big Sandy and myself also in Pasadena for my freshman year. We've lost track of most of our old church friends and college buddies and would be terribly excited to contact as many as possible.
I'd like to see a section of your newspaper perhaps titled "Where Are You?" and let people send in their names, addresses, etc., so old friendships could be rekindled.
Pleas e consider this. There are many dear friends I think and wonder about and have no way of contacting or finding out about.
Mount Berry, Ga.
Request for request s
After reading Mrs. Anne Young's letter about her ailing husband in Scotland and Mr. [Gerald] Waterhouse's prayer request, I wondered if you could create a page for prayer requests. It would also be nice to have articles from time to time that tell how God has intervened in someone's life. The prayers on behalf of others will get the readers actively involved in each other's lives. The articles on Gods' personal intervention may build faith and give encouragement. I hope to see such articles and features in the future.
Take a Laodicean to lunc h
Shouldn't we have love for one another, who came out of the apostasy and joined different groups? Didn't we wash one another's feet at Passover? Don't we realize we are one lump spiritually? (1 Corinthians 5:7). Maybe we need to warn the Laodiceans, but in love, and we should be friendly to them.
Several forms of church government have been presented. All seem to me to have some validity in the Bible because of the various scriptures quoted. Most of the time we should follow the Spirit. That is our main church government.
House Springs, Mo.
Scripture questio n
Regarding Vance Stinson's article on the Passover and "Lord's Supper" in THE JOURNAL, March 26, I feel Mr. Stinson's articles are incomplete in that he does not give a scriptural reference where we might find a command or even a suggestion that authorizes an observance called the Lord's Supper.
Mr. Stinson states: "When I say Passover I am not speaking of the annual commemoration of Christ's death that we often call the Lord's Supper," and, "Of course, we have traditionally referred to the Lord's Supper as Passover and will likely continue to do so."
Where did the "Lord's Supper" come from if it didn't come from "mere tradition"? Where are the scriptures to support an event called the Lord's Supper?
I was taught early in the WCG that Paul was saying that the people were not assembling to eat supper; they were supposed to assemble to follow Christ's specific instructions concerning washing one another's feet and taking the symbols of the bread and wine. And, if they were hungry, they were told they should eat at home.
In 1 Corinthians 11:20-22, when Paul said that they did not come together to eat the Lord's supper, it appears that the Passover service, in that period, had been preceded by a meal that had been transformed by some into a gluttonous party. He asks: "What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in?"
In the only direct reference to the Lord's supper I can find where both words appear together in the King James Version, Paul's instruction was that the event to be observed was not the Lord's supper. How is it that any major significance can be attached to the meal itself, considering that Christ's first instructions to His disciples to follow His examples came after the supper was ended?
When Christ instituted the bread and wine symbols, wasn't that the Passover He instructed His disciples to prepare? Wasn't it obviously necessary for Him to be the Passover that year? How would it be possible for Christ to eat the Passover and be the Passover at the same time?
The primary issue here is whether the Lord's Supper is a legitimate observance instituted by Christ and whether Christ instructed His church to observe it in any way, shape or form today or if it's a practice based on mere tradition. It will take at least one scriptural reference authorizing a Lord's supper to convince me that it should be observed.
No discouraging words allowe d
I like THE JOURNAL, but it would serve God's people better if it truly were a newspaper, not a vehicle for United's doctrinal opinions or any other group's. I see that it's your policy not to print anything that makes United look bad-others okay, but not United. Is this fair to other groups?
We want to hear from God's people, no matter how tough it gets.
Minister's wife speaks ou t
I would like to thank Mr. Lisman for his article in the April 26 JOURNAL. I am in agreement with what he wrote.
I have been in the Church of God for many, many years. My husband is a minister of God, a servant, although not with any large church organization. He has a full-time job, plus he pastors a church. He does not receive a salary like ministers from Global and United, and I guess this is what is bothering me at the moment.
My husband volunteers his time, and most of the time he sacrifices his job to serve God and His people. This is not a complaint; this is just a fact.
As I hear more and more of people becoming unhappy with church organizations, I often wonder if we will ever get it. With human beings as imperfect as we are, I believe the pyramid style of church structure just cannot work.
Under this system, ministers are paid high salaries (as they were accustomed to in the WCG), though this money could be used to do a great work in this end time, to get the Word of God out and to proclaim the second coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I realize that many of these men do not know any other occupation other than a full-time salaried minister, and I guess I really do not have any answers!
Being in the church for so many years, I have seen a lot. We had ministers in the Worldwide Church who expected us to bow at their feet. We had to baby-sit their children, clean their big, fancy homes, carry their briefcases, open their car doors, give them the best seat-all in the service of God. Many of us were taken advantage of, but I guess back then we didn't know any better.
Yet I also have good memories of the Worldwide Church of God. There I learned how important the Sabbath and the holy days were. We didn't have a choice then whether we would attend these days or not. They were to be kept!
Our lives were changed as a result, in spite of many wrongs that were done. Since then I believe that God has given or is giving His people discernment, to be able to think for ourselves.
Being in the service of the ministry (and I do include myself, because I do stand beside my husband to support him as best I can) is no piece of cake. Sometimes the brethren criticize: The sermon was too strong (God's Word cuts like a two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12), too short, didn't say the right thing, didn't give the advice the person wanted to hear.
Ministers are human too, with the same weaknesses and struggles as anyone else. They make mistakes. They become discouraged, depressed, grieve and shed tears for the pain and struggles of their fellowman.
Not all ministers are hard, controlling and callous. Not all kept silent while injustices were going on. My husband was one of the ones who spoke up and warned his flock, even when the brethren did not want to hear the truth. Even when things got verbally abusive (and all of this from our brethren), he stood firm and strong, because he knew that he was doing the right thing in warning the flock of the wolves.
After all, in the end we will stand before Jesus Christ.
My husband is a compassionate and loving minister. He is always there, day or night, for the brethren whom we serve. He is doing his very best to teach us the Word of God and how we are to live our Christian life. His priority in this life is serving God and His people.
You may think that, being his wife, I am prejudiced. But I see the time that he devotes to serving: the long hours that he spends studying God's Word to prepare sermons (after coming home from putting in a hard day's work), talking to and encouraging us (even me), anointing, visiting, many times to the point of neglecting himself and his needs. Yet I know that he would have it no other way.
He truly is an example to me, and I know that his reward will be great, because our reward comes from God Almighty and not man. He sheds tears when others are hurting. I often wonder why we do not practice what Scripture says in 1 Timothy 5:17. Why we do not appreciate and have more respect for our ministers who are striving ("by their fruit you shall know them") to teach us God's Word?
With all the confusion as to how to pronounce God's name, on which day do we keep the Passover and Pentecost, our ministers have a tough job. Brethren are sometimes becoming more interested in proving someone wrong and many times becoming downright unchristian in the process.
My concern is not trying to prove how to accurately pronounce God's name (how can this be done, anyway?). Many prayers were answered in our lives in the name of Jesus Christ. Neither am I concerned about which day to keep the Passover or Pentecost.
My concern is changing myself and my life, not trying to prove someone else wrong or even in changing someone else. My concern is how I can become a better wife, mother (teaching my children about God and teaching them to love, honor and respect others), how to become a better human being, a better Christian, how to love my fellowman, setting the right example in dress (my appearance), speech (the things I say)-all to be done for the glory of God.
My concern is getting myself ready to meet my Savior, Jesus Christ, to hear Him say the words found in Matthew 25:21: "Well done, good and faithful servant" and to receive my crown. So, until Jesus Christ returns I will strive to change myself, to grow and overcome!
Name and location withheld
Check it twic e
I find THE JOURNAL interesting and informative, and I'm glad you included the letters section. They're entertaining.
Perhaps the person who has opinions about how to facilitate the moving of the headquarters office would like to rename the rest of us "George"; it's so easy to say, "Let George do it."
And it would be helpful if the letter writer who wanted a report of all the wonderful things the WCG is doing would list some of them.
The nature of God and Chris t
There is still confusion and misconception in the Churches of God about the nature of God and where Jesus came from. We need to be patient and tolerant with each other. We also need to know the God we serve and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you can print the following statements:
nIn the beginning there was one and only one God. He is the One we call God the Father. He is the One who led Israel out of Egypt. He is the Word that was in the beginning and the One who created all things. He did not sub out the job to another God being who later became His Son.
nGod the Highest created all things "on account of" His Son, Jesus Christ. The preposition in the Greek has been translated "by" or "through," which implies another person, which is misleading. God made the entire universe for His family, and Jesus is His firstborn Son. Jesus is involved in creation of the new heavens and earth. He went to "prepare a place for us."
nJesus Christ is God's very begotten Son and has been born into His family by His resurrection from the dead. The "power" of the Highest from His Holy Spirit placed His "eternal life" in the womb of Mary. That is how He is the Son of God. His life came from the Father. He was not another coexisting "God being" who shrunk Himself down to a sperm cell.
nGod the Father said to His Son, "You are my Son, this day have I begotten you" (Hebrews 1:5). Jesus was prophesied to come and was born into existence at a certain time. He is the Word of God, because He came from God and speaks God's Word. He is the firstborn Son of God.
nAll the scriptures that seem to imply that there were more than one God in the beginning are mistranslations caused by preconceived ideas of men. However, we are not bound by them or what some minister said or says. The plain statements of the Bible make it clear that to us there is but one God, the Father. He is also the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, "we are all of one," and "He is not ashamed to call us brethren" (Hebrews 2:11).
nJesus' past eternity is "in His Father," and He inherited His name from Him. He is just like His Father and is in the Father and the Father in Him. If you have "seen" Him, you have seen the Father. Both are the Rock and the Word. Jesus is the "brightness of His glory and the express image of His person."
nWhen the apostles use the word God, they are referring to God the Father. When Jesus is called "God," it is because He is the Son of God. He is not the "Highest" God. The word God is a title, not a name. To us there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord and mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
I hope we can read the Scriptures once more with an open mind, not contradicting the plain statements in the Bible with impossible theories. A friend could not become the son of another. A son comes from his father. Jesus Christ came from God, His Father.
I fear that, when someone proves the truth about there being only one God, he is in danger of jumping to the conclusion that the Trinity doctrine is correct or that Jesus is a "created being." That is simply not true! Jesus is God's very Son!
Duane F. Giles
New frien d
The staff of In Transition did an excellent job of keeping God's people abreast of the activities in the Churches of God. I must admit that I was somewhat subdued when the last issue came, because it was almost like losing an old friend. However, after reading the first three issues of THE JOURNAL I feel sure that I have found a new friend.
I realize that articles and papers authored by many people of divergent backgrounds with different views on many subjects will cross your desk. The wide range of subjects covered in the articles selected for THE JOURNAL during the first three months shows that you do not take sides.
This I appreciate and thank you for. The brethren can all take heart in the knowledge that whatever they may choose to send you will be read with an open mind and an understanding, compassionate heart.
May God richly bless you and your staff as you embark on your new endeavor and great your success as you continue to serve the brethren in the Churches of God around the world.
Mrs. Margaret K. Raines
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God