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The Journal: Letters from our readers - Issue 110
Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
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Letters from our readers

We all need therapy

Brian Knowles has more than once in his commentaries spoken of "meeting people at their real point of need." This seems to be his way of saying, "Do unto others as you would have others to do unto you."

He has also written of a weight problem, asthma and his dear wife's migraines.

I have experienced similar health problems. I thought some might be interested in some things I have found helpful with such problems.

If someone tells me that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God--of course always by their interpretation--trying to reason with such people gives me migraine headaches and anxiety attacks and causes me to go somewhat bipolar.

Also, eating disorders and other bad habits as well as depression have resulted.

I have also experienced similar symptoms when I listen to people explain that my real point of need is their calendar days, ceremonies, rituals and other advice or criticism.

I find that the more I avoid such people the better I feel. I also end up with more money in my pocket.

I am commenting on Brian's writing because he is in my opinion the only contributor to The Journal who believes as I do that we all need therapy.

I look at our environment somewhat like a cosmic insane asylum, and we are all supposed to be in group therapy.

Most seem to think everyone but himself is deranged, and some think themselves able to run the place.

In my opinion, you are likely all as crazy as I am, only most are in denial.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

Thinking is good

The April 30 Journal contains Brian Knowles' final editorial. His decision to stop writing Journal articles began when he received a letter critical of his column.

That letter alone was not the only reason Brian decided to quit, but it made him wonder why he writes.

Brian does not identify the writer of that letter but I understand it was from a minister in the United Church of God.

I have been a news reporter and writer for The Journal for most of its nine years of publication. I have written only two editorials, as is also the case for publisher Dixon Cartwright. My last editorial was in the Oct. 31, 2004, issue of The Journal and was titled "The Journal Is Divisive; Cancel My Subscription."

I get upset about ministers trying to control what information people are allowed to receive. This is the same thing dictatorships do and is a means of control.

But submitting to mind control can open you up to all kinds of trouble, and churches are not supposed to be doing that. That was the essence of that article.

Stuart Segall, a minister in the United Church of God, responded to my article, and his response was printed in the Nov. 30, 2004, Journal. He strongly disagreed that the UCG is falling into that trap.

How did I feel when I read his letter? I loved it--even though I did feel the UCG was indeed falling into the trap I had written about!

I like it when people are stirred to think about an editorial. To me it is a good sign that people can write and think freely about issues. Your have to have a thick skin if you are a writer in a free press, which is something the Churches of God have never been used to.

I wish Brian would reconsider his decision. Thinking should always be encouraged.

Bill Stough
Lonedell, Mo

Missing Brian

I just wanted to say I will really miss Brian Knowles' articles in The Journal. [See "I'm Sorry. Over and Out," by Mr. Knowles, The Journal, April 30.]

I always look forward to them, and he always makes me think for myself. I will try to find his articles on the ACD Web site now.

With all the other "phony junk" from writers in the paper, I will really miss Mr. Knowles' words. Thanks from a child of God, Mr. Knowles.

James D. Camp
Via the Internet


I appreciated the article explaining that the Cincinnati COG was helping send volunteers to Thailand ["Cincinnati Church to Send Three Volunteers to Thailand," The Journal, April 30].

However, one mistake in the article keeps appearing in The Journal and causes us problems. Gloria and I do not maintain two residences.

We sold our home in Rowlett, Texas, near Dallas, about five years ago and moved to Thailand to serve God full time in Asia. We presently live in a rented two-room apartment. Saying that we maintain a residence in Thailand and a residence in Texas gives people the impression that we are not what we claim to be and damages our reputation, since we say that we sold everything and moved to Thailand.

In the future please instruct your editing staff to strike any reference to a "residence in Dallas" or something to the effect. I appreciate your consideration about this error.

Leon Sexton
President, Legacy Institute
Via the Internet

Beyond reality

I just read your article wherein Gerald Flurry made it clear there could be no association with former PCG members, including close relatives and friends ["PCG Clarifies Disfellowship Policy, Gives Main Purpose of Church: The Need to Expose Satan," The Journal, Jan. 31].

The article is so shocking and beyond reality that it would be funny if it were not such a serious matter.

Years ago I read numerous booklets from Mr. Flurry. He made it his job to interpret each of the prophetic Old Testament books. With whatever book he was interpreting, he always said the message was related to current events specifically going on in the Churches of God groups at that very time.

The Laodicean apostasy and these few years we are living in now were always the topics he said these OT books were talking about.

Mr. Flurry was a narrow-minded one-track Charlie who said everything in all these OT books was about the current breakup of the "church" and the march of many to their everlasting Laodicean destruction.

Mr. Flurry is unbalanced. He is incapable of understanding the incalculable harm he is causing. Many, unfortunately, are deceived by the irrational thinking of this man.

Greg Jandrt
Weston, Wis.

Is it time to flee?

Oh, my! I'm so repulsed by what I just read about Gerald Flurry and the PCG, about cutting contact with friends, family members, etc., who have been disfellowshipped! [The Journal, "PCG Clarifies Disfellowship Policy, Gives Main Purpose of Church: The Need to Expose Satan," Jan. 31].

What a lesson in twisting scriptures and spiritual minutiae! If this and that, then you can see this and that, but, if we fail at this and that, that puts us in this category, where we have to consider this and that.

Come on! Can you say cult? I believe this man believes that he is God.

I am so turned off by the Church of God shenanigans, it makes me happy to know that I am doing the right thing by worshiping in my own home. No man is going to mind-control me, buddy. I can read my Bible for myself. I answer to God the Father and Jesus Christ and the laws of the land.

My advice to PCG members is to get out, flee! Think for yourself and do not be mind-controlled. You don't need this man to get into heaven. Believe me, he needs you for his power trip and financial gain! Scary!

Jen G.
Via the Internet

The mechanics of Jesus' sacrifice

I recently read Ken Westby's ad on the one God "controversy" [The Journal, March 31, page 15]. I have to object to his erroneous comparison of animal blood and sacrifice and Christ's blood and sacrifice.

Ken stated God "accepted" the animal sacrifices not because of their "worth" but because of the people's obedience and submission to His will.

We, of course, know the animal sacrifices pointed to Christ's sacrifice, but there was no spiritual value to ancient Israel as Ken seems to suggest.

Christ's sacrifice and blood were of far more value than the blood of bulls and goats, which did nothing to change those people. There may have been submission and obedience, but was this "in spirit and truth" or just carnally saving their butts?

The New Testament tells us clearly that those sacrifices did nothing but were just reminding Israel of sin and the penalty, death.

Christ's sacrifice, on the other hand, actually did something that nothing else and no one else could do.

The Father certainly could have designed another way to get people to "submit and obey," but this misses the whole point. Christ, the only being in the universe who could have done what He did, had to pay our penalty with His blood to open the way to the Father.

A created being could not do what God alone could do. This would mean that any being created like Christ supposedly was (Ken assumes Christ was created) could have also paid this penalty, making the "only son" a moot point and begging the question: Why didn't God create all of us as He did Christ and save Christ from death and prevent this world's evils?

I think some are forgetting the extended plan of God and how God is molding and shaping us, and by whom Christ's (God's) nature is being formed in us.

Jeff Maehr
Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Simple statement

Re the article by Ken Westby on James Tabor's book, titled The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity [The Journal, March 31]:

It is literally beyond belief! I will (as much as I would like to) keep from lambasting Mr. Tabor for his outrageous remarks and Mr. Westby for so eloquently lauding Mr. Tabor's book.

I will contain and limit myself to simply stating my viewpoint.

To begin with, I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I pretend to know very much of biblical history. My understanding of God and our Lord Jesus the Christ is very basic and elementary.

Another great scholar of the Christian church, Dr. Baron, an Englishman, once called certain church members "simpleminded Christians."

I am a simpleminded Christian in my belief in God our Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnated.

If scholars and theologians believe otherwise, so be it. If I'm ignorant and I'm wrong, I'd rather God judge me on that because I know I can count on His love, mercy and grace for forgiveness.

On the other hand, if you deny Jesus as our resurrected Savior and Son of God, whom do you turn to for salvation? You have cut off yourself from the vine and from forgiveness.

I pray for you. One thing I do know for certain is that God is for real, and He loves you.

Paul R. Zepeda
Houston, Texas

Change of address

I am truly thankful to God for the help you and The Journal have given to me in making it possible for me to help people in now 15 different countries on four continents.

I truly do believe that God also appreciates the help you have provided.

Thank you for the wonderful job you did on my latest article on "expectations" ["Your Expectations Will Affect Your Future," March 31 issue].

Could I ask that you correct your files regarding my E-mail address. My address for the last two or more years has been

Bill Glover
Eugene, Ore.

Suit yourself

I am disgusted and dismayed at how readily the ministry of God's true church accepts the ongoing situation of division, strife, etc. This seems to rest on ministers' shoulders as comfortably as a well-fitting jacket.

Perhaps the ministry has not yet grasped that true religion is not about personal power. Nor is it about ignoring the brethren. God's ministers have a responsibility to listen to others and to read and act upon the Holy Scriptures.

Quite clearly, with 300 or more [Church of God] groups, something is sadly wrong. One such error is the obsession of some to come out with new dates for holy days. My advice to these people, who are only adding to the existing division, is to read Colossians 2:16-17.

The shocking state of the church poses a far bigger problem for the brethren that needs to be addressed, not only by themselves but by the ministry.

In Matthew 24:10 we read that many will be offended, will betray one another and will hate one another. Why will this happen? Why will brethren be offended?

A Bible commentary says: "Verses 10-12 list most of the spiritual disasters which can come on the Christian community; apostasy, treachery, internal hatred, heresy, lovelessness."

Brethren, do you recognize some of these warning signs? These are the result of a Laodicean attitude. Are you still not convinced? Read on.

The Laodicean condition describes the spiritual lukewarmness and worldliness that will prevail in the professing church of Christ at the end of the age. This church will have become so self-satisfied and worldly as to have ostracized Christ completely.

In Revelation 3:20 He is represented prophetically as standing on the outside knocking for admission. No longer is He admitted by the corporate body, but stands outside extending an invitation to individuals.

Brethren, this is happening now before your eyes. Put your trust in Jesus Christ and not in man.

I request that my mailing address be included with this letter: 4 St. Oswins Place; Blackhill; Consett; Co. Durham DH8 8NA; England.

George E. Padgett
Blackhill, England

Think positively on these things

Can the Churches of God ever get along if they refuse to speak the same things? Does the Scripture tell us to do this that we may be acceptable in the sight of God?

My suggestion: Whenever brethren get together, be it in home groups or church services, they will be sure to speak only positively about the situations they face concerning the state of the Churches of God.

When we do that we speak the same thing and inspire our view of the future role the church faces as a force for good in the world.

If we take a negative view of things, we run the risk of upsetting the apple cart that we already face. If we accept the responsibility that our words influence our actions and outlooks, we will not take the dim view that is extant in the many voices heard in The Journal.

I particularly point to the disunity that currently plagues the brethren and their tendencies to voice it over and over again--to their shame, I might add.

Let us talk sense to the situation and inspire our loving Father to want to help us sort out the mess we have got ourselves in by our negative talk. This is the most important thing we can do, and we need the brethren to get that message loud and clear.

Paul Christophy
London, England.

Be perfect

The Father is in the process of creating many more children to be born into His family as spiritual beings.

God put every one of us on this earth as a human being for a very special purpose, and that purpose is to learn to live His perfect way of life. He not only gave us the instruction book that tells us how to live His perfect way, but Jesus lived His entire life as an example for us.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, "Be [become] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

All will have to learn to live God's perfect way of life before they will be born into His family as spiritual beings.

I certainly hope and pray that I will be chosen by Jesus to be one of the 144,000.

Harold Koth
Tomahawk, Wis.

God probably casts lots

Acts 4:12 clearly states that there is only one name given under heaven whereby anyone can be saved: the name Jesus (the Messiah).

Jesus said that no one could claim or accept Him as the Savior unless the Father calls him (John 6:44). Here are three reasons the Father might call us:

o Because in the past we have been good boys and girls.

o Because we are presently "good" (we keep all the rules and regulations of our church).

o Though we have done none of the first two, God hopes and senses that we (for whatever reason) will do right things in the future.

None of the above three reasons is correct because all of them say that salvation is by "works." And salvation by works is not true. Salvation is by grace, "for by grace we are saved" (Ephesians 2:8).

So how does God select those whom He will call?

He has prearranged things by a just and equitable method: probably by means of casting "lots." Not that some will be called by grace to salvation and all others condemned, but that everyone is called according to God's perfect schedule. See 1 Corinthians 15:23.

John 5:28-29 says that all who are in the grave will be resurrected, some at the beginning of the Millennium and some at the end of it.

Did you ever think about this?

Paul J. Herrmann
Metairie, La.

'The End-Time Elijah'

Here is a new song about Herbert W. Armstrong on the 81st prophetic anniversary of his calling (sung to the tune of "Lord, Teach Me That I May Know," by Dwight Armstrong, No. 110 in the 1974 hardcover WCG hymnal). These new lyrics are by Geoffrey R. Neilson.

God sent the end-time Elijah,

As promised to Israel's Tribes,

After He identified

Where they'd all gone worldwide.

Elijah was the first to grasp

That the end time had begun;

He restored the first Truth and last

And every other one.

Elijah sowed God's end-time crop,

Reached more hearts than all the prophets,

Proclaiming the Kingdom of God;

His disciples still haven't stopped.

After Elijah's Restoration

Came the great Falling Away.

Hold fast, Philadelphians,

Never let God's Truth slip again.

July 10, 2006 (day 29,160), is 9 times 9 prophetic years, inclusive to the day, from Trumpets, 9-9-1926 (day one of the idealistic date of Herbert W. Armstrong's calling to be the end-time Elijah). See "Why Only Herbert W. Armstrong Can Be the Endtime Elijah,"

Geoffrey R. Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa

Peer pressure

Many will continue to believe that the resurrection was on Sunday mainly because that is supposedly the only nonworldly reason to continue rejecting the Sabbath.

Most Protestants would not want to conform to a Roman tradition originated by the Emperor Constantine. But a belief in a Sunday resurrection is held onto even though the Scriptures offer no proof.

There is another issue to consider. Christ commanded that His death be celebrated (Luke 22:17-19).

"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).

There is still another issue to consider. Many will continue in man's traditions due to peer pressure. Even though it is impossible to jam three days and three nights in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, many will continue in the belief because of peer pressure.

Wily Elder
North Miami, Fla.

Dan Cafourek and all the others

Dixon, when I noticed your byline on the Journal article ["Disfellowshippers Should Take a Break," April 30 issue], I immediately read it. I knew it must be important if you were motivated to write it.

I wasn't disappointed. Thank you for your candid description of the damage church leaders can do through the guise of disfellowshipment.

It reminds me of what a former member said about the subject. I'm paraphrasing: "If they really believe what they say they do about disfellowshipping and marking members, how can they do it to people so lightly, sometimes even joking about it?"

My friend is not a member of the WCG or any affiliate of same. I tried to talk him into visiting church, but it was a no-go. It's not difficult to understand why.

I commiserate with Dan Cafourek and all the others whose lives and reputations have been besmirched because they had the audacity to believe they could have a difference of opinion with the powers that be.

No one wants a troublemaker in church, but, from what I've read from him and from you, Dan doesn't merit that description.

I hope you don't lose any subscribers over this. Those who are shortsighted enough to cancel their subscriptions might want you championing their cause some day.

Sheila Graham
Lake Kiowa, Texas

Frozen frames of mind

The April 30 issue is one of the best Journals that has come out in some time. It covers significant items revolving around Dan Cafourek, the United Church of God and your [Dixon Cartwright's] editorial on disfellowshipping.

I especially liked your description of the council as having a "mob mentality" mind-set. It is so true.

In my years in business I've seen people act very differently when they think they are representing a company. They would not act that way if it were simply one person dealing with another.

Pure greed seems to be the approach, which is what they assume their company wants. "Groupthink" or "corporate mentality" seems to transform people.

I've also thought much about the frame of mind of the audience of ministers on the day we [Bill Stough and Dixon Cartwright] were ejected from the general conference that we were covering ["Two Journal Writers Removed," The Journal, March 30, 1998].

When council-of-elders chairman Bob Dick (who was leading the discussion from the stage) called for our ejection, the hundreds of ministers in the audience sat there paralyzed. Most lost their capacity to think as individuals. It's like something descended on them and they were now just a "group." A new "company authority" mind-set had descended on them.

It's a rare person who has the guts to think for himself when faced with authority figures, even if he wonders if the leader is acting properly or even lawfully.

On that day, as I walked around with my camera and tape recorder waiting for hotel security to come and eject us, I was in awe of what had descended on all those ministers in the audience. They were frozen.

But I was concerned that if Bob Dick called for it they might have turned violent and attacked us. Don't think it couldn't happen. Groupthink can get crowds to do what people might never do otherwise.

On that day I felt we had seen the end of any hope for the UCG as being a church that would not be a sick church like the WCG had become.

Incidentally, you, Dixon, are a UCG member. Don't you think the UCG might disfellowship you as one who "spreads discord"?

Bill Stough
Lonedell, Mo.

The nerve

D–––it, or should I say d––– Dixon?

How dare you imply that members (and especially leaders) of the COGs should have discernment and show intelligence in their actions?

I just downloaded the latest issue of The Journal [April 30 issue], expecting it to be bland pabulum for the church masses.

Instead I found many articles and editorials of real spiritual meat. Dave's and Brian's are among them, but your editorial reigns supreme.

Even though I don't regularly contribute to The Journal these days (but do sometimes), I am proud to be associated with you.

Mac Overton

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