Greetings from Charlotte,
This has been a “short” week! We had six inches of snow on Monday, followed by two days of icy roads that limited travel. Wednesday the ice began to melt, and we finally got back to work! Mr. Meredith has conducted several meetings and written a letter about the upcoming Church fast scheduled for January 29. Mr. Ames has finished a co-worker letter that will be mailed out next week. We held a profitable phone meeting for the Council of Elders to discuss conditions in the “greater Church of God.” Mr. Wayne Pyle reports that the last two Tomorrow’s World programs, Mr. Meredith’s program on “How to Overcome Satan” and Mr. King’s program on “Seven Proofs God Exists,” both received more than 4,000 responses. Mr. King offered the booklet, The Real God: Proofs and Promises, for the first time in nearly six years, and it drew the highest number of responses we have ever had for that booklet—which indicates that the interest in God “is not dead” in our modern society! Mr. Ames and the brethren in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida are busily preparing for the first Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations of 2011. So far the response to the invitations has been very positive. Please pray for the success of these presentations on January 22 and 23, and for Mr. Mario Hernandez who is conducting a number of visits in Mexico, and for Dr. Scott Winnail who will be in Trinidad this weekend for services and to conduct a Regional Leadership Conference. Please remember in your prayers the people of Queensland, Australia, who have experienced “the most devastating natural disaster in Queensland’s history” and for the people of Haiti who are still living in difficult conditions a year after the disastrous earthquake that rocked that country.—DSW
Note of Appreciation from the Apartian Family
The Apartian family would like to express their appreciation for the hundreds of cards and letters sent during this sad period of Mr. Apartian’s illness and death. Since there are too many to answer personally, we would like to thank you in this way. They have meant a great deal to us all—a genuine outpouring of love.—Shirley Apartian
Update on the Queensland and Brisbane Flood Situation
The flooding that has affected 75% of Queensland has been described by the State Premier Mrs. Anna Bligh as “The worst natural disaster to ever hit Queensland.” We are grateful to God that all of our brethren are safe, despite two families experiencing some degree of flooding to their homes. The economy in Brisbane and surrounding areas has been massively impacted, and is at a virtual standstill, as we wait for the near-record flooding of the Brisbane River and other rivers to subside, so that roads can be reopened to allow the cleanup to commence, and for daily activities to return to normal. Some of our brethren are unable to go to their workplaces due to the closure of roads and their places of business, caused by the flooding. The muddy mess will take months to totally clean up, and the repair bill will be enormous. “The estimated cost of the widespread flooding across Queensland has ballooned to $20 Billion (pounds 12bn) after rising waters inundated the state capital Brisbane, and engulfed entire towns” (Telegraph, January 13, 2011). Another report said, “Full recovery will take months, and that assumes rains stop, despite another two to three months of the wet season to go.” We will have to wait and see if this is all over yet. We thank everyone for their prayers on our behalf. God controls the weather, and the awesome power at His disposal reminds us of exactly how helpless and puny we are without His favor. Here is a link to some photos of the devastating floods. The photos on this link tell the heartbreaking story: news.ninemsn.com.au/slideshowajax/139318/floods-ravage-queensland.slideshow.
Grateful for God’s Protection
Mr. Wallace Smith reports: Early on Sunday, January 9, sometime before noon, the Wayne family home [of the Cincinnati, Ohio, congregation] caught on fire. As best we can tell, it began in the upper part of their chimney and spread very quickly. The entire family is safe. Three of their children were out of the house with friends at the time… Mr. Randy Wayne had just left the house for a brief time, with only Mrs. Lyndee Wayne and their four youngest children—Matthew, Samantha, John, and Leah—at home. The moment they detected the fire, they all left the house—some, such as little John, with no shoes on. Randy returned very quickly after a call from his daughter.
The fire was difficult to control…. Beginning in the top of the chimney as it did, meant that the fire would have begun and have been at its hottest on the other side of the wall from Matt’s bed. Thankfully, he did not want to sleep in his bed that night and had actually slept downstairs in the living room, so he was not there when the conflagration began…. They are thankful for God’s intervention, in particular concerning Matt’s sleeping location, and for the fact that their entire family is safe and sound. While rattled, they are doing better than you would expect…. Please keep the family in your prayers.
Mr. Scott Fulford (Lansing, Michigan congregation) and his father Ed (Kingston, Ontario congregation) performed a courageous act and were “Good Samaritans” (Luke 10:25-37) when they rescued a couple who were trapped in their car on the railroad tracks, from an oncoming train collision, and saved their lives. The full story can be read at www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=13777672&. “Scott Fulford dismisses any talk of anyone calling him a hero. ‘It’s nice to see that somebody bigger than us is taking care of us,’ he said.’”
Upstate South Carolina Spring Holy Day Weekend
The Anderson, South Carolina, congregation is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the fourth annual Upstate South Carolina Spring Holy Day Weekend, which is scheduled for the weekend of Friday, April 22 to Monday, April 25. Planned events include: a captain’s choice golf tournament on Friday; a Friday evening Bible Study; Sabbath services on Saturday afternoon; the Magnolia Blossom Banquet and Ball on Saturday night; a 5K road race, softball game, and picnic on Sunday; and two services on Monday, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Services and the Banquet and Ball will be held at the Greenville Hyatt Regency, the premier convention hotel in downtown Greenville, SC. The Hyatt is offering weekend participants a discounted room rate of $72 (plus taxes) per night. Details about the event are posted online at: www.lcg-anderson.org (not an official Church website). For further information, contact Manuel Burdette at 864-638-7719 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
North Florida Family Weekend
The Living Church of God congregations of North Florida and South Georgia would like to invite you to join us for the third annual North Florida Family Weekend held in Dowling Park, Florida, on the historic Suwannee River. Plan to spend the Sabbath through the Last Day of Unleavened Bread with us in this millennial setting, with Mr. Davy Crockett as our guest minister. Our theme this year is “Building God’s Family,” and our focus will be on growing closer in love and unity. Events begin Friday evening, April 22 and continue through Monday, April 25. Activities include, Social Mixer, Hymn Sing, Sabbath Services, Leisurely Canoe Trip, Shared Meals, Biblical seminars and ample opportunities to fellowship. Limited housing is available on-site, as well as with local brethren. Please visit www.LCGNorthFlorida.com (not an official Church website) for pricing and more information.
Feast of Tabernacles 2011
Selecting Festival Advisors
Attention Pastors: If you have not yet responded to the e-mail asking you to select or confirm the Festival Advisors for each congregation you serve, please do so by Monday, January 17. Thank you for your help!
International Feast Sites
This week we are adding Hyères, France to the list of International Feast sites (others will follow, as the details are finalized). Below is the updated list of 2011 International Feast sites finalized as of this writing. Stay tuned for more Festival Office updates!
Papua New Guinea
Trinidad and Tobago—Crown Point
Internet Update: 2010 A Year of Increase
In many ways, 2010 was an outstanding year for reach and response through our various websites around the world. Our flagship website (www.TomorrowsWorld.org) had 1,178,865 unique visitors in 2010. This was a 15% increase over the number of people visiting our website in 2009. God has greatly blessed our efforts on the Internet and as He continues to open doors and guide us forward, our reach and impact will continue to grow. – J. Charles Ogwyn
What Does God Require? What is God looking for in those He calls? What has God always looked for? God instructed Abraham, “walk before Me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1)—and Abraham was blessed for keeping God’s commandments (Genesis 26:5). God told the Israelites that He wanted them to fear Him, love Him, walk in all His ways and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Solomon wrote that God looks for kindness in people (Proverbs 19:22), and Isaiah states that God looks for a humble and repentant spirit in people who “tremble at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). Micah reveals that God requires us to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly” before Him (Micah 6:8). Jesus continued this same theme urging His disciples to “be perfect [become spiritually mature and blameless], just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus also taught His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The commandments of God show us how to love God and how to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40)—and we are told those commandments “are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3). The book of Revelation reveals that at the end of the age, God’s people will still “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17)—because that is what God requires and this is the way to a better life!
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 13, 2011
Court Rulings vs. Common Sense. “An Austrian court has recently fined a citizen for yodeling while mowing his lawn, according to a report in The Kronen Zeitung newspaper. The citizen, 63-year-old Helmut G., was told by the court that his yodeling offended his next-door Muslim neighbors, who accused him of trying to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin [person who calls Muslims to prayer].” The judge ruled that the man may have been trying to offend his neighbors who were in the middle of prayer, and fined him 800 euros. The man stated that he was in a good mood, so he yodeled a few tunes—something his countrymen and women have done for hundreds of years (IsraelNationalNews.com, December 15, 2010). In Western “Christian” nations that purportedly believe in individual liberty, justice and common sense, these qualities appear to be increasingly uncommon! However, for students of the Bible, this is not surprising. The Apostle Paul wrote, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…” (1 Corinthians 3:19), and that educated people, “Professing themselves to be wise… became fools” (Romans 1:22). The prophet Isaiah foretold that at the end of the age, when nations would turn away from God, “the wisdom of their wise men shall perish” (Isaiah 29:14). This is becoming more common today!
Coptic Church Bombed in Egypt. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, a bomb blast outside the Coptic Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, Egypt killed 21 people and injured 80. Some suggest a car bomb, while Egyptian officials believe it was a suicide attack perpetrated by Al Qaeda forces from outside the country. Egypt is currently looking for a successor for the current president Hosni Mubarak (age 82), and factions within the government are seeking to identify a stable leader. Some analysts suggest the bomb blast was designed to put pressure on the process of choosing a successor. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim nation and quite intolerant of Christians (Stratfor, January 1, 2011). Bible prophecy warns that, at the end of the age, a king of the South (a Muslim block) will push against a king of the North (a European power). Eventually the king of the North will come against the territories of the king of the South, and Egypt will not escape his wrath (Daniel 11:40-42). With Muslims showing increasing hostility towards Christians and some European nations taking a “harder line” against the growing Muslim presence in their own nations, the stage is being set for the fulfillment of these prophecies. The latest bombing in Egypt is another indicator that prophecy is marching on!
Syria and Hizballah Reach Aerial Supremacy Over Israel. Thanks to the introduction of missile guidance systems from Iran, Hizballah’s 1,500 missiles can now hit specific targets in Israel. Israeli defense experts state, “The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having aircraft… Iran’s fully-guided Fateh-110 rocket would enable Hizballah and Syria to strike critical Israeli facilities with dozens… of rockets… Hizballah has [also] dismantled its missile bases and scattered the warheads widely apart in underground bunkers and natural caverns, from which they can be launched.” Experts project that a future missile confrontation between Hizballah and Israel will result in an attack on densely populated Tel-Aviv (Debka.com, November 22, 2010). How might Israel respond if faced with a major missile attack from Syria? Will Israel resort to its nuclear arsenal? Would a devastating missile attack fulfill the prophecy about Judah’s “wound” (Hosea 5:13)? The Bible refers to Judah as a “lion” (Genesis 49:8-9), and a cornered lion can react suddenly and violently. What will Israel do if “backed into a corner” militarily? Bible prophecies indicate there is trouble ahead in the Middle East. Jesus said that just before His return, Jerusalem will be “surrounded by armies” (Luke 21:20), and the prophet Zechariah states “half of the city shall go into captivity” (Zechariah 14:1-2)—because God’s people have “rebelled against My judgments… and they have not walked in My statutes” (Ezekiel 5:5-6). Time may be running out for Israel and Jerusalem.—Floyd Spencer, Annette Wright, Scott Winnail