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Letters from our readers - Issue 106
Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
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Letters from our readers

Remembering J.R.

The first thing I saw when I opened my Journal [November-December issue] was the death of John Robinson.

I was shocked. I considered him to be in the prime of his life.

I didn't know him well and he didn't know me well, but I have two personal impressions of him. Back in college in the early '70s he impressed me for having and expecting high professional, intellectual standards in his journalism class.

I was impressed by his humility and sincere good intentions. I think he did a lot of good in life.

John Sash
Eldon, Mo.

Quality, not quantity

John Robinson taught a lot of people about journalism, and I'll always remember one sermonette he gave. He'd spoken the week before in Big Sandy and put his Bible in the trunk of his car and left it there all week. He indicated that he hadn't read it at all that week. This was during the time of half-hour-per-day Bible study and half hour per day of prayer plus whatever else. During the course of his short sermonette he said: "A little is better than nothing. Read for five minutes. It's okay."

I've been using this story with some of my piano students ever since!

Bill Bartholomew
Fresno, Calif.

Kids in their 20s

It seems that through deaths and funerals our generation keeps up with each other until ours, too, joins all the silent generations since Adam. I still remember John and Alice as I saw them last: young kids in their 20s. My prayers are for his family.

Kenneth Westby
Auburn, Wash.

To John's family and friends

I miss John. Even though he and I had only occasional contact over the past 25 years, we always felt close. We had shared intense experiences during our Ambassador years so that, no matter how much time had passed and no matter how many other things each of us subsequently did, those experiences united us in an instant so that whenever we met, spoke or E-mailed we were immediately connected.

I admired John. His forthright style, focused energy, clear ways of thinking and instinctive good humor combined to generate an attractive personal magnetism. His was an intelligence that was at the same time sharply analytic, insightful of issues and sensitive to people. He was a first-rate human being, and everyone who came to know him came to learn from him.

I appreciated working with John. We had much in common during those compelling and often tense years, primarily belief, commitment and intensity.

Age too, I suppose, since most of our peers were also our elders, and, although John and I at times had our disagreements (only during the Ambassador years, I should note), I always respected his opinions and weighed his arguments.

I mean this as high compliment: There was no one with whom I more enjoyed disagreeing. John's later success in the business world was, in retrospect, entirely predictable.

I recently wrote to John when I had heard he was ill. We reflected on our times together, and, although our expressed hope that there may yet be things we could do together would not come about, our mutual reflections did, I think, bring about a kind of closure.

Several times I told him that I am just unable to process the fact that he was a grandfather; my mental imprint is forever, I said: that bright, creative, dynamic, high-energy 30-year-old in Big Sandy.

I cannot be with you at the funeral but my heartfelt feelings are.

Robert Kuhn
Pasadena, Calif.

In transition

John is unforgettable. I considered him both a friend and mentor, and some of the major life lessons I learned were from him. He had an incalculable effect on my life and that of the Church of God as well. He was generous and helpful, always there when I needed a friend I could consult and confide in.

It was a privilege to serve with John when he took up the sword to battle Pasadena during the heresies that manifested in 1995. I realized--after Dixon Cartwright, Linda Moll Smith, Scott Moss, Scott Ashley and I were reunited at John's funeral--that, while many were involved in In Transition, the five of us were his "shock troops" when he took on Pasadena.

It was said of John at his funeral that he recruited the best people and allowed them to do their best in their jobs. Nowhere was that better shown than in the group he assembled at In Transition.

Perhaps the greatest lesson he taught me was that you could be a Christian and be a thinking person too.

Mac Overton
Gilmer, Texas

Special memory

Regarding John Robinson: The man was such a major figure in the lives of so many of us who worked with him, and such a loyal friend. As sharp and acerbic and insightful as just about anyone I knew, but surprisingly nonjudgmental, ultimately. In fact, John reveled in opposing viewpoints--even on things theological.

At one time, he and I shared certain perspectives, and walked side by side, I guess you could say. Later, our perspectives differed. Rather than dismissing one another's views, we preferred to continue walking side by side. I'm glad.

I remember when John launched In Transition. I was still working at Ambassador. He called me once or twice to try to squeeze a comment out of me. Teacher was egging on student, and I wouldn't bite. He got irritated at me, but that happened all the time when I worked for him in college, so it was nothing new. Years later it was all water under the bridge, and we ended up working together [with a company called DRG] again. I'm glad.

His death came so suddenly that it was hard to process. I do, however, have a special memory--a really great photo of him between DRG photographer Scott Campbell and me, arms unashamedly around our shoulders, face beaming with the broadest of smiles.

It was taken in late November, just weeks before he died. I remember thinking at the time the photo was taken how unusual it was for him to be that unabashedly affectionate. Later, when I learned that he knew even then how the cancer had spread, it occurred to me that maybe he had decided to toss aside decorum and take every opportunity to let people know how he felt.

He's gone now, but I have this wonderful picture. And I'm glad.

John was just a great guy. His foibles were as legendary as his gifts, and that's what made him seem larger than life at times. My heart goes out to Alice and the family. I will miss him dearly.

Tom Delamater
North Canton, Ohio

Back to tithing

I wonder how many members of the Church of God realize how subtle the devil is in causing the work of God to go under. He is the master deceiver and uses a trick called diversion to get members unaware of the truer cause of curses. And that cause is stealing from God.

He gets us distracted by opening debates about the Old vs. New Covenants and then undermines the work of God by abandoning the tithe law. That is why the curse came.

Remember how well it went when everyone tithed? So why not put God to the test and prove Him whether He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing we cannot contain?

Paul Christophy
London, England

Catholic-COG parallel

In the November-December 2005 issue of The Journal, a column by Dave Havir ("Archbishop Excommunicates Parish") describes how Archbishop Raymond Burke, recently transferred into St. Louis to become the head of the St. Louis archdiocese, excommunicated the St. Stanislaus parish for not turning its church-property deed over to him.

St. Stanislaus has been governed by a local board since 1891, or 114 years. That church was formed by Polish immigrants, and the congregation of today is primarily people descended from those immigrants.

The struggle for St. Stanislaus is a big story for St. Louis television and newspapers. Reporters regularly interview people on both sides of the story. It has become such a publicized saga that virtually everyone in the St. Louis area, where I live, knows about it. More than three million people live here.

Most recently Archbishop Burke opened a new "Polish congregation" to draw people away from St. Stanislaus. This has attracted heavy television coverage. Apparently the archbishop's latest ploy has not worked because only a few people joined that congregation. Most stayed with St. Stanislaus.

Archbishop Burke has closed one congregation after another and consolidated them into larger churches. He can't afford to operate "unprofitable" churches with the bills he must pay for settlements made with people who were sexually abused as children by pedophile priests. Religion is indeed a business for some.

The Catholic Church in St. Louis has received quite a black eye from the archbishop's actions. Surveys taken by St. Louis media show that most non-Catholics view his actions as a manifestation of a desire to exercise raw power on his part and the view that he looks at St. Stanislaus in terms of dollar signs.

I've talked to people about this. Each views the archbishop's actions with disgust. People view him as a man who cares about the hierarchy and the church organization but doesn't care about the people.

Certainly the members of St. Stanislaus know that, if they turn their deed over to the archbishop and dissolve their board, then their church will probably be closed and the property sold as soon as media attention abates.

So what does any of this have to do with the Churches of God?

Have you not seen many of the same things happening there? Consider the situation in Big Sandy, Texas. That congregation formed and set up a governing board before the United Church of God an International Association was formed. In the early days of the UCG, local boards were encouraged. Later they were not wanted.

In Big Sandy it became necessary to erect a building because few rental places were available. This later became a problem in the eyes of UCG headquarters. Rules have since been set up that if a local church owns its own building the deed must be turned over to the UCGIA corporation.

In Big Sandy the congregation was split, a competing one established, and much ill will was fostered [see "Largest UCG Church Splits Over Governance," The Journal, May 31, 1998].

In Terre Haute, Ind., a similar situation played out [see "Terre Haute Suspends Itself for Three Months," The Journal, Jan. 31, 2003].

Should churches that honor and follow Christ be playing power games and act just like another business?

Bill Stough
Lonedell, Mo.

The 288,000

After the seventh trumpet blows

And the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are resurrected,

The 144,000 of Revelation 7 need to be protected

From the Seven Last Plagues--which shows

There are two groups of 144,000. Argument closed.

Geoffrey R. Neilson
Fish Hoek, South Africa

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