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Through the ages preachers have deliver-ed thousands, possibly millions of sermons based on the Psalms, simply because the Psalms contain some of the most beautiful spiritual concepts on which the human mind can dwell. The Psalms are the Hymn Book of Scripture: a collection of spiritual songs, which were set to music and sung by the choirs of Israel. Many of Christianity’s best-loved hymns are based on the Psalms.
The Psalms cover many subjects: history, war, peace, leadership, sickness, happiness, sorrow, wealth, poverty, health, good advice, etc. The Psalms also contain some of the most profoundpropheciesin Scripture. All this means that the Psalms are as relevant today as they were over two thousand years ago. They tell of the Savior’s life, His work, and death, even the very words He would speak as He hung on the cross. They tell of His second coming, and subsequent rule over all nations.
Like Psalm 1, which has only six verses, Psalm 119 with its 176 verses is all about the Almighty’s law, and the blessings that flow from obedience. In a world where Church leaders consider it clever to set aside the laws of the Creator, preaching sermon after sermon about how irrelevant, obsolete, or even bar-baric it is, Psalm 119 shines forth like a beacon on a hill. Together with the Messiah’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Psalm 119 is the finest testimony for Yahweh’s law you will find in all Scripture. Let us take a brief look at this magnificent Psalm today.
Psalm 119 is acrostic in its structure in that each of its twenty-two sections begins with a different letter of the twenty-two letter Hebrew alphabet. Moreover the eight verses in each section start with that same letter and so we have 22 x 8 = 176 verses in all. In other words, all eight verses in the first section begin with the Hebrew character Aleph (equivalent to our A), and in the next section all eight verses begin with Beth (equivalent to our B), and so on. This alphabetical pattern of A followed by B is lost when translating to English simply because the English alphabet not only has twenty-six characters, but in Hebrew the equivalent letter to B is not followed by C. Nor is it possible to translate each verse into English with the same alphabetical character and still maintain the correct meaning. Nevertheless, do remember that the original acrostic pattern did help the Hebrew reader, or singer, to memorize the verses and words of this lengthy Psalm.
To begin you will notice that virtually every verse in Psalm 119 contains one or more of the following keywords: law, commandments, precepts, testimonies, judgments, words, statutes, ways, or name. This is significant, because it tells us that composer of Psalm 119 poured over the Torah, the law of God, and understood its various divisions as few others do. He knew that God’s law represented His Name, His character and His will; that it was a transcript of the Almighty’s own soul and an everlasting fountain of blessing. To obey Yahweh’s law was the psalmist’s one goal, the all-consuming passion of his life. Never a day or night passed, but found him pondering the mysteries of the Almighty’s words, laws, commandments, statutes, precepts, and judgments.
We will now examine this Psalm under various key words, which tell of certain spiritual concepts and realities. Because of its length, I will simply mention the keyword and then the verse numbers or phrases which explain it.
To be blessed by the Almighty is by far the greatest privilege any human can have. Wealth, possessions, good health, and famecount for nothing if the Almighty’s blessing is absent in one’s life. This Psalm begins with the secret of blessing.
Verse 1: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.”
Verse 2: “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.”
The world is in turmoil. People are in turmoil. Peace is a dream to countless millions. Men talk about peace, pray for peace, march for peace, attend peace conferences, and sign peace treaties. But the way of peace they know not. Why not? It’s because they have rejected the Prince of Peace, and His formula for peace. What’s the formula for peace?
Verse 165: “Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them.”
In other words, only those who love and obey the Almighty’s perfect law will know real peace, peace within.
All others will live in silent turmoil.
It goes without saying that no one learns anything without wanting to learn. Before we can learn from the Almighty His most valuable lessons, we must want to learn. We must ask Him to teach us.
Verse 12: “Blessed art Thou, O LORD: teach me Thy statutes.”
Verse 18: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”
Verse 135: “Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; and teach me Thy statutes.”
Verse 144:“…give me understanding, and I shall live.”
The world spends billions of dollars, pounds, marks, yen, etc. on education; filling the minds of adults and children with facts and theories. Knowledge in virtually every branch of learning is on the increase. But, alas! True understanding as to what life is all about is sadly lacking.
Why were we created? How are we supposed to live? What is right and what is wrong? Who decides?
What happens to us after we die?
These questions are seldom answered in the popular institutions of learning. But they are answered in Yahweh’s law. Indeed, those who study, and live by the Almighty’s commandments, will excel in understanding.
Verse 104: “Through Thy precepts I get understanding.”
Verse 99: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation.”
Verse 100: “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.”
Protection is big business these days. The
armed forces, the police, fire services, insurance companies, and even the makers of protective clothing are all aware of the ever-present need for protection. But what about protection from sin, that deadly virus which can rob a person of present happiness, and eventually of eternal life? In a world obsessed with protecting temporal goods, I offer you the Word of God as the best protection against sin.
Verse 11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”
The Scriptures abound with evidence that the laws of the Almighty are eternal,that they will outlast the present universe and go on and on for all time. Yahweh’s laws are as eternal as Himself, simply because they are transcripts of His own character. The Al-mighty is immortal. He will live for all time. Therefore His laws, which describe Him, are also eternal. They will endure as long as He does.
Verse 44: “So shall I keep Thy law continually forever and ever.”
Verse 144: “The righteousness of Thy testimonies is everlasting.”
Verse 152: “Concerning Thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them forever.”
Psalm 111:7-8: “…all His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.”
Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Verse 18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Nobody likes to be afflicted or punished. But there are times when affliction is necessary. Affliction is a vital part of discipline and it will only cease when perfection is reached.
Psalm 119:67:“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word.”
Verse 71: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.”
Are you eager to learn about the Almighty and His Word? Do you really want to understand His will for mankind and how He reacts to human behavior? To be sure all Christians want to be holy, just and true. But do we yearn for these things? Do we want them with all our heart and soul? No one, be they musician, singer, sportsman, artist, poet, writer, or inventor, ever accomplished any-thing of worth without total dedication, absolute commitment and maximum effort. It is exactly the same with the things of the Spirit. To arrive at your goal you must give it all you’ve got. Nothing less will do.
Verse 10: “With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments.”
Verse 20: “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments.”
Verse 131: “I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for Thy commandments.”
Verse 145: “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep Thy statutes.”
Most sensible people want to be saved, to live forever and ever. But is salvation possible for the folks who deliberately break and reject the Almighty’s statutes? Will the persistent sinner somehow gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven? The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the wicked will not be saved if they persist in their sins. This Psalm says the same thing.
Verse 155: “Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not Thy statutes.”
10. The Lost Sheep:
But can a backslider, a repentant sinner, echo the words of Psalm 119? Sure he can. A backslider may stray from the pathway of truth and become entangled in sin. He may break one or more of the commandments of the Most High. But as long as he repents, asks forgiveness, and then turns back to the path-way of obedience, salvation is possible. Mil-lions of backsliders have found salvation again. They were lost, but somehow they never forgot the law of the Most High. Yahweh is eager to save them. He is searching for His lost sheep!
Verse 176: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant; for I do not forget Thy commandments.”
Psalm 119 is a spiritual gold mine.
— from the Internet
From the Editor…
Near the Passover this year, I came upon the subject of betrayal. That, of course, recalls the treachery of Judas. Mark 14:44, “And he that betrayed Him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; take Him, and lead Himaway safely.” Betrayal implies a confidence and loyalty once shared with someone, perhaps a friend, who, at least at one time, loved you, then has turned on you and delivered you to your enemies. Persecution is not a new thing. It is said that brutality is born of insecurity or fear of loss of control.
This leads me to the words of Jesus, spoken shortly before His death. Luke 21:12-15,“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you,delivering youup to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle ittherefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth, and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”
There is a lot of information here. First, we see that the persecution was to precede the horrific events previously described. Second-ly, the “they” refers to those in verse 8, who come in His name saying, “He is the Christ.” And, thirdly, don’t worry about it; it will be your testimony.
The story unfolds as we continue, and it sounds like we will suffer betrayal from friends, just as Jesus did. Verses 16-19, “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and someof you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all menfor My name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.”
Coincidentally, I picked up a bit of history on the great fire of Rome in 64 AD. Christians were blamed and killed, not for setting Nero’s fire, but for hate crimes against humanity. Does that sound familiar? More startlingly, other Christians betrayed the first victims. There’s nothing new under the sun.
Now we can understand our enemies’ hatred and persecution, but it is harder to accept familiar persecution.
The Bible is, to a great degree, a record or story of opposition to God and His truth recorded in the persecution of His people. It began with Cain, Israel in Egypt, the death of the saints as recorded in scripture and in Foxes Book of Martyrs. Persecution comes via an adversary seeking control, power, and wealth. Persecution from a friend, or “friendly fire,” is the result of jealousy, envy, greed, or revenge.
Here’s one more reason for persecution, especially by brothers or others close to you. Matthew 23:31, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”
Why did they kill prophets? Because they didn’t like to be told they were in error, or what to do. Typical Israelites, “Nobody is going to tell me what I can or can’t do,” so they all did that which was right in their own eyes. And Christ was killed, partly, for the same reason.
Lesson #1: Let’s not be like those Jews. If we refuse correction from a prophet, God, or maybe even a brother, we may be guilty of crucifying Christ anew.
What are we to do?
Matthew 5:3-12, “Blessed arethe poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed arethey that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed arethe meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed arethey which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed arethe merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed arethe pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed arethe peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed arethey which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when menshall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Lesson #2: Whatever happens, don’t you be the one guilty of betrayal.
— by Steven J. Kieler
An elderly Florida lady did her shopping, and upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!” The four men didn’t wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran like mad.
The lady, somewhat shaken, then loaded her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver’s seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why. A few minutes later she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down. She loaded her bags into her car and then drove to the police station. The sergeant to whom she told the story nearly tore himself in two with laughter. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale men were reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun. No charges were filed. Brings new meaning to a senior moment!
— author unknown
The Churches of God Outreach Ministries held its annual meeting March 28-30, 2003 at Tulsa, OK. The Tulsa Church of God hosted the conference with true southern hospitality.
CGOM is people working together to proclaim the Gospel and has a seven-year history of service. They provide leadership, information, and Biblical teaching in ways of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a voluntary association of independent local assemblies who co-operate with one another on various agreed evangelistic programs. It is not a “denomination” or a “Church.” CGOM does not legislate doctrine or local practice. As a commonly held foundation, all agree to accept the basic “Statement of Beliefs” passed down over the years. Each local assembly answers only to Jesus Christ. No individual speaks for CGOM on doctrine. Any assembly, which in general shares these fundamental beliefs, is welcome to be a part of CGOM in its Gospel mission.
Friday evening was a combination get- acquainted gathering and a welcome by Lawrence Gregory, pastor of the Tulsa Church. Julian Cruz, pastor of the Church of God, San Antonio, Texas, reviewed the agenda topics for the conference and then presided over a meeting of the committee chairpersons.
Janice and Lawrence Gregory
A 7:30 A.M. continental breakfast began the busy and informative day of presentations. At 8:30 Julian Cruz gave opening remarks. “We can accomplish more by working together than trying to do things individually,” he told the audience. “Another advantage of working with others is that if you fall, there is someone there to pick you up.” “Jesus Christ came to seek those which were lost.” We can also seek those who are lost by spreading the gospel in any way we can. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” John 3:16. We must also feed the flock so they won’t become lost.
Julian and Ofelia Cruz
At this point, everyone was given the opportunity to introduce himself or herself, and make a statement, or ask a question about CGOM.
Next, Pat Dennis, Coffeyville, KS, went over the “Statement of Purpose” and the “CGOM In Perspective” describing both the goals and means to accomplish its purpose. A complete description of the CGOM’s objectives is at www.cgom.org, Church of God Outreach Ministries, PO Box 54621, Tulsa, OK 74011-0621, or by calling 800-611-8080.
Pat and Aletha Dennis
Projects and Resources of the organization include:
· Free telephone number for counseling, information, and other inquiries and services (see above.)
· Provide literature, booklets, magazines, and various publications.
· Host an annual conference in Tulsa, OK.
· Promote the Feast of tabernacles at various sites.
· Provide anointing, anointed cloths, and personal ministerial visits.
· Provide contacts to local congregations.
· CGOM offers opportunities to assist in large outreach programs.
Sabbath afternoon, Jeff Henderson gave a motivational sermon, “Are you part of a working Church?” We all must be diligent to:
· Be involved in evangelism. Liberate those in bondage. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” Matthew 9:37.
· Serve each other. Look for opportunities.
· Our job is the work of serving the lost world. The way we treat people is how we treat Christ. Be a committee of one, pray for the Church, do charity, and do good deeds. The door is open. What kind of servant are you? Will He say to you, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” Matthew 25:21?
Jeff and Cathy Henderson
Dr. David Antion, Guardian Ministries, Pasadena, CA, gave a sermon on the graciousness of God. Grace encompasses all of His mercy and gifts. We are to be like Christ and grow in graciousness. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:16. “That I might finish my course…to testify the gospel of the grace of God,” Acts 20:24. It is not about us. It is about God.
Julian Cruz and Dr. David Antion
Later in the afternoon, Dr. Antion facilitated a Leadership Development Session on marriage entitled, “Strengthening the Family.” Marriage is a never-ending series of compromise, of asking and responding, what he referred to as bids and turns. Criticism and a negative attitude are destructive. Spouses must learn to communicate and listen to their partner, usually without giving advice. This seminar contained excellent material and would be highly recommended for everyone who has an opportunity to hear it.
The Outreach Ministries, consisting of five committees, met to review and coordinate their various functions. Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Lawrence Gregory, gave a financial report, answered questions, and took recommendations for future projects.
Chairperson of the Research Committee, James McBride of England, did not attend due to health reasons. Steven Kieler reported on research projects: papers on Leadership, Conducting a Baptism, Appointment of Elders, Conducting a Funeral, and Teaching Techniques are completed and available. Studies on Conducting Weddings and Ethics/Pastoral Care are now in draft form. A future project would include the Omega On Line Bible Study Course, which would lead an individual to various Bible subjects. It would be divided into three parts: Bible Basics, Leadership Guidelines, and Outreach.
Chairperson of the Outreach Committee, Jeff Henderson, presented some ways to spread the seeds for Christ: 1. He made us “business cards” for everyone to distribute in any way they can which only say “CGOM www.cgom.org,” 2. He is in the process of making audiotapes of short messages design-ed to spark the interest of non-believers for a project called “Reaching the Commuters of America.” A discussion on distribution of these materials followed.
Member Services Committee Chairperson, Steve Andrews, reported on the uses of various media to enhance the services provided to cooperating Churches and individuals. The committee will work on a more comprehensive list of Churches of God, enabling members to find a local Church when traveling or for correspondence.
Steve Andrews and granddaughter, Alesha Ellis
Mathew Steel of the Marketing Commit-tee went over the enhancements to the CGOM Website. They have updated and revised it to make it more complete and user friendly.
The Sunday morning session was opened with a San Antonio Feast of Tabernacles report given by Julian Cruz. Attendance for the 2002 FOT was around 225. Steve Kieler gave a report on the FOT at Lake Texoma, OK where about eighty were registered.
Lawrence Gregory presented “Procedures on Conducting a Funeral.” He went over many of the procedures, from visiting with the family to visiting with the funeral director. There was also discussion on cremation in the United States.
“Suggestions on Conducting a Wedding” was presented by Pat Dennis and Lawrence Gregory.
The 2003 session was closed with comments from Julian Cruz. “We should grow tall in character for we will take character into the kingdom.”
Maxine Kappel, Gloria and Mike Anderson, Steve Kieler
Eugene and Eunice Lamb
Thelma and Tom Justus
Natalie and Keith Mackey
Rick and Sherry Gawith
Lucile Smith and Sharon See
Marcie Arnold (Mrs. Jim Arnold)
and daughter Vicky
The Tulsa Choir
— by Suzanne Kieler
In February, I wrote about ordinary and extraordinary “heroes” such as everyday people who jump in to help others and people who were willing to risk their lives such as astronauts, military men and women, firemen, and policemen. The heroic act of those who were in that plane crash in Pennsylvania and the many heroes of September 11, 2001, demonstrated that ordinary men and women sometimes risk their lives for a greater cause. Then there was another national tragedy on February 1, 2003, when seven astronauts were killed on re-entry back to earth. These men and women also were willing to risk their lives in the pursuit of their mission, knowing that there is always a risk to their job. At the national memorial service for these astronauts, the Navy Chaplain gave the closing prayer. In it, he asked God “to raise up some boy or girl to go forth again” in fulfilling America’s space missions. We celebrated our dead “heroes” as a nation and a bell was rung seven times, one ring for each astronaut. Even now, our young men and women in the armed services are fighting a battle in a foreign land, for us and for our way of life. Regardless of how you feel about the war, pray for these young people. Some of them are only eighteen or nineteen years of age, frightened, and bewildered, but when the occasion arises, most of them are able to pursue their mission and put other’s lives ahead of their own; becoming heroic in their actions and continuing on in attaining the goal that has been set for them.
We should teach our children about these heroes, and use them as role models. The Bible also has stories of heroes that God used. Their stories are written down for us to use as role models and are examples of faith, courage, commitment, and love for God and man. Everyone has heard of Abraham’s faithfulness to be led anywhere by God, and of his faith and courage in offering up his son as a sacrifice. We’ve read of the courage and faith of David, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Samson, John the Baptist, and many others. The Bible relates many stories where God chose a child or young person to carry out His Plan.
Joseph was a young boy when his brothers sold him into slavery, but God used Joseph to help save Israel from starvation. He must have wondered about his future, but he must have had faith that God would take care of him. He later became a great person in the land of Egypt, next in power to Pharaoh. In Genesis 37 and 41, Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice by his father, Abraham. Isaac was obedient and must have also had faith and courage in order to let himself be put on the altar. Do you ever wonder what he must have been thinking about when he realized that he was to be the sacrifice? See Genesis 22.
God had a plan for Moses from the time he was conceived in his mother’s womb. He was chosen to lead Israel out of Egypt. We know the story of how he was put into a basket as a baby, and placed in the river. The Egyptian princess saw him and decided to raise him as her own. Moses’ sister, Miriam, was following the basket, keeping watch over him. She was instrumental in leading the princess to hire Moses’ own mother to take care and nurse him. Miriam was an obedient daughter to her mother and she showed much courage in following the baby and making sure Moses was safe. It must have taken courage for her to go to the princess and ask if she needed a nurse for the baby, Exodus 2:1-10.
Then there is David, who, from a very young boy, served and loved God with all his heart. He knew God was on his side and he defeated all his enemies, including a lion, a bear, and a giant of a man called Goliath, I Samuel 17. Daniel is another example of a young person being used by God. God blessed and protected Daniel in captivity, and Daniel became a prophet during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Daniel 1 and 2. How about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their faith and courage was tested greatly when King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone fall down and worship a golden statute. But these three young boys would not, and they were thrown in the fiery furnace. When the King saw there were four persons in the furnace, he called for them to come out. The ropes had been burned off of them, but they were not burned, neither were their clothes scorched, Daniel 3.
Many times a mother prayed to have a child and God heard her prayers and blessed her with a child. Among those children whose mothers had prayed for a child were Isaac, Joseph, Samson and John the Baptist.God used these children as prophets, teachers, leaders, and as examples for us. All of these young people demonstrated great examples for us in faith, courage, and obedience. They were ready to die for their faith, even if they thought God might not deliver them.
We have many “heroes” and “role models” in the Bible for us to use to teach our children God’s ways. Of course Jesus is the perfect role model and showed all of us how we should behave. He was obedient to His parents as a child and set the example for all of us how we are to treat each other and how to respect and love our Heavenly Father. Like-wise, we should rear our children to be faithful, obedient, and loving toward God, and pray that God will give them courage and boldness as they confront choices in their lives. Perhaps even now God is raising up special children to do His will, to be another Joseph, David, Moses, or Daniel. May God bless all our children. And may He bless the parents and teachers, and help them in “Establishing the Children.”
— by Shelby Faith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Political Correctness (Nonsense) For Kids
Your bedroom isn’t cluttered; it’s “passage-restrictive.”
Kids don’t get in trouble anymore. They merely hit “social speed bumps.”
You’re not having a bad hair day; you’re suffering from “rebellious follicle syndrome.”
You’re not shy. You’re “conversationally selective.”
You don’t talk a lot. You’re just “abundantly verbal.”
It’s not called gossip anymore. It’s “transmission of near-factual information.”
The food at the school cafeteria isn’t awful. It’s “digestively challenged.”
Your homework isn’t missing; it’s just having an “out-of-notebook experience.”
You’re not sleeping in class; you’re “rationing consciousness.”
You don’t have smelly gym socks; you have “odor-retentive athletic footwear.”
You weren’t passing notes in class. You were “participating in the discreet exchange of penned meditations.”
You are not being sent to the principal’s office. You’re “going on a mandatory field trip to the administrative building.”
— author unknown
He came and sat down with the others
One day as they gathered to pray
And to worship the Lord.
He joined in the singing and praying and Giving, but none seemed to notice
The clothes that he wore.
So who was the stranger and why did he Come there and how did he differ
From others that day?
And why didn’t those who were
Gathered to worship
See why he was different,
Why he couldn’t stay?
The stranger had dressed up in clothes of His choosing
His pride would not let him
Accept the free gift.
He thought his attire an acceptable garment
But when judgment came
It was sure and was swift.
The garments the Master
Desires to give us
Are perfect and woven
With wonderful grace.
We need only accept what He offers
His gift to us nothing on earth can replace.
When often I’ve pondered
The point of this story
The answer is clear and
In front of my face.
We can’t be a part of God’s children in glory
When trusting our goodness
Instead of His grace.
— by John Girdley, Fort Dodge, IA
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brother-hood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence. You cannot help him permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
— by Abraham Lincoln
Jesus Christ blended in with the crowd, yet Christians today seem to want to stand out. The question in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Saw ye the weird sisters?” could well have been asked about Christians.
Many Christians, not you of course, believe they have to stand out in any crowd. Indeed some, in their desire to stand out, are almost as weird as Macbeth’s three witches. But are Christians supposed to be weird?
Jesus denounced the Pharisees for competing with each other in the size of their phylacteries and the width of the trim on their garments, Matthew 23:5. Their reason, of course, was to make them stand out, as if to say, “I’m holier than thou.”
But are Christians, today, any better? They wear T-shirts with inscriptions such as “Choose Life,” John 3:16, “The fruits of the spirit are...” with an arrow directing the reader to the back where the fruits are listed. There seems to be a competition to see who can wear the most outlandish T-shirt proclaiming, “Look at me. I’m a Christian. I’m holier than thou.”
It’s always been my belief that Christians should take their cue from Jesus Christ. Yet, nowhere in the Bible do we read about Jesus wearing a T-shirt, or whatever was the equivalent in His day, proclaiming, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Nor can I imagine He had a bumper sticker on His donkey saying, “Honk if you love Jesus.”
Jesus Christ looked so much like other Jews of His day He could blend right in with the crowd, John 8:59. There certainly was nothing different about our Lord’s attire. Many young Christians at school, carrying their books from class to class, make sure their Bible is on top, in full view. “I’m holier than thou. I read my Bible.”
But it’s not just the young people who appear weird in their Christianity. A fad several years ago, was to write a letter in English, then sign it “Shalom” at the end. It seemed to be a response to the hippie-era greeting of making a “V” with the index and second finger, and proclaiming, “Peace.”
More recently the fad has taken on a life of its own, with people writing in English until they come to the word God. Whoops! Make that G-d. Some go further and write Yeshua, or Yehovah, or JHVH, or is it YHVH instead of Lord. It seems to be another holier-than-thou competition.
Why bounce back and forth between English and Hebrew. Either write and speak English, or write and speak Hebrew. If you do the second, people on the outside will likely think you’re a Jew. But if you mix the languages the outsiders will think you’re a kook. Not wanting to appear weird, they may be turned off from becoming a Christian, believing if they are converted, they may have to be weird too.
Ministers often wear a special robe, or a backward collar, to preach in. Priests especially, of various Christian religions, even wear their robes and collars on the street. Is all this necessary, or do they wear such garb for vanity’s sake, to make them stand out like the Pharisees? Their clothing shouts loudly, “Look at me. I’m holier than thou. I’m a man of the cloth.”
Like Jesus, Christians should blend in with the crowd. Yet, like Jesus, we should stand out. He left us an example that we should follow in his perfect way of life, I Peter 2:21. It’s in our lives, not in our oddities, that we Christians must stand out.
— by Leslie A. Turvey
by Karl Moore and David Lewis
UCG member, Dr. David Lewis, PhD is co-author of this book. He has also co-authored the book, Foundations of Corporate Empire, which may be viewed online by a search of “Foundations of Corporate Empire Karl Moore.” Dr. Lewis also presented an excellent lecture series on the lost tribes of Israel with Melvin Rhodes a few years ago.
Birth of the Multinational covers an impressive expanse of history, so far, over-looked in the long history of the multinational and the world economy, from 2000 B.C. (Ashur) to 100 A.D. (Augustus). It starts with the story of the first known multinational enterprise in the times of the Assyrian Empire and traces the history of the rise and fall of the multinational enterprise through the four great empires of the ancient world, Assyrian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman.
The authors, one from Oxford University Management College, and the other, a historian, use the lens of the eclectic paradigm, the leading theory of international business academics, which renders varied and highly interesting analyses and insights.
The doyen of international business studies, Professor John Dunning, sets the stage with his foreword.
“The ancient world gave us international currencies and the standardized shipping container. In Dr. Moore and Dr. Lewis’s work, we see much else with which we are familiar, and perhaps thought belonged only to modern times. This is fascinating scholarship.” Lord Sterling of Plaistow, Chairman P&O.
“It is of great interest to two groups of people, those who are involved in international business and those historians who will add to their understanding of the societies they study through the clear analysis of the many and varied forms of commercial structures found in the different empires.” Paul Vatter, Professor, Harvard Business School.
“This book is a truly impressive feat of scholarship. It has certainly enlarged the boundaries of my thinking on the subject.” Bruce Mazlish, Professor of History, MIT.
“A must read for anyone interested in the evolution and future of multinationals.” Vijay Govindarajan, Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business, The Amos Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.
“Fascinating insights provided on the emergence of multinational enterprise. Puts the whole issue of globalization in new perspective.” Gareth Morgan, Distinguished Research Professor, Schulich School of Business, York University.
“Moore and Lewis use modern theory of international business to analyse Ancient Multinationals. The result is a major contribution to scholarship.” Alan Rugman, Thames Water Fellow in Strategic Management, Templeton College, Oxford University.
“A fascinating book, not least because some of the things, which we think, are modern are not so new after all!” Eric Nicoli, Chairman, EMI.
“This book opens up a new and intriguing line of enquiry into the relevance of ancient history for the modern corporation.” Colin Mayer, Peter Moores, Professor of Management Studies, Said Business School, University of Oxford.
“This book shows that business globalization is as old as the Pyramids. Modern readers can gain a broader perspective on how to deal with today’s opportunities and challenges.” George Yip, Beckwith Professor of Management Studies, Cambridge University.
“There could be no better time than the start of the next millennium to be reminded that ‘globalization’ had its origins long ago. It provides a stimulating and fascinating reminder of the enterprise of our ancestors.” Sir David Rowland, Chairman NatWest Group.
— from the Internet
If you should die today, what would people remember about you? What would you want them to say about you? What would God be saying? These questions have come to mind for me and I just wanted to share with you, because I think so many times we get wrapped up in the here and now, wrapped up in the world around us, that we don’t stop to ponder this question. Maybe if we really gave it some thought. Maybe, if we were to inquire of others (those who we know will give us an honest answer, not just what they think we would want to hear) we might be very surprised. Many times I think we would save ourselves, and others, a lot of pain and heart-ache, if we would not be down on ourselves thinking we are not doing anything to help others. What I am trying to say is that we touch peoples’ lives every day, either in a positive way or a negative way, but we touch them. We touch our relatives, neighbors, Church brethren, and co-workers, people where we eat, bank, and shop. We can have a positive or negative effect on everyone we meet.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 says “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” A good name IS important to God. It is wonderful to have a family, to have children and watch them grow, and teach them God’s way. We watch them take their first steps and see them fall down. When they do, we pick them back up, just as our Father in heaven does to us. We correct them because we love them. He corrects us because He loves us. He wants us to have that right kind of legacy. He wants us to be known by our good fruit (the fruit of the Spirit), Galatians 5:22, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. What would you give for that legacy? What would you give to be known as a man or a woman that had all of these, to be known as someone who was approachable, always willing to take the time to sit and listen to you? What would it take for you to give all that up? Think about it? If you died today would any or all of these things be said of you? Would God be saying, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”? Or would their be tears in heaven because one who had all this had given it up for a little time “in the world” and their time ran out before they could find the time to repent?
Paul who walked, talked, and was personally taught by our Savior and brother Jesus Christ, knew it was possible for him to fall away. How much greater is the chance that we could fall, since we haven’t had Him beside us in person as did His disciples. It could happen to any of us. We are getting nearer to the end everyday. Whether it be the end of the age or the end for us an individual, time is getting short. Satan is busily trying to get to God’s people. Some are becoming weary of well doing. Some are looking for something in their life to make them happy, or to fill an emptiness, and maybe, just maybe, they are looking in the wrong places.
I don’t know about you, but as for me, I want my legacy to be that I was someone who was full of God’s Holy Spirit. To be remembered by those fruits, and to have my family and friends rejoicing, knowing that I would be in God’s Kingdom. This life and all that is in it is only temporary, a training ground for the wonderful life to come. Lets live it by God’s laws that one day it can be said to us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
— by Maxine Kappel
Doesn’t “expecting the unexpected” make the unexpected expected?
A Bit of History…
Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But, do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamiameans between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The name Iraq means “country with deep roots.” Indeed, Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible.
The book of Revelation has prophecies against Babylon, which was the old name for the nation of Iraq, Revelation 17 and 18. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated with it than Iraq.
— by Earl Barlow
Joy is happiness in any circumstance.
— author unknown
The United Church of God sponsored family weekend on May 17 and 18, with the focus on “Unsinkable Faith.” There were activities for children, and teens, as well as adults. Three hundred sixteen were registered.
Sabbath services began at 12:00 with a interesting sermon from Roy Holladay, president of UCG from Cincinnati, OH, about our judgment. He presented it in the context of a court trial, containing the preliminaries, the trial, and the verdict.
Roy Holladay and Ron Peterson
An afternoon and evening seminar were presented by Arnold Mendez, Sr. a Chemistry Lab Instructor and Coordinator at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. The subjects were “Noah’s Ark” and “How the Fossil Record Supports Genesis.” Topics covered were:
· The Flood of Noah — can we believe the Bible?
· What did the ark look like?
· Will the animals fit in the ark?
· Geological evidence for the Flood.
· Fossils and the Flood.
· The Flood’s implications for the theory of Evolution
· Fossil men such as Neanderthal
Cross-section of Ark Concept
If you would like more information, visit: www.amendez.com. This seminar would be an excellent tool for any group. Mr. Mendez makes the pages of the Bible come alive.
Arnold and Janie Mendez
Between sessions, the local congregations served a delicious potluck.
A picnic in the park was held Sunday. All enjoyed good food, softball, and music.
A special thanks to David and Stephanie Morker for their hospitality. They were kind enough to offer Steven and I their guest room on Saturday night. It is always a pleasure to meet with the people of God.
David and Stephanie Morker
Additional Family Weekend Pictures
Pam Ward, Seeing Eye dog “Donny”, girls
Bob Petty and Craig Malwitz
Gary and Dagmar Howe
Arrangements for this family weekend were made by Mitch and Linda Knapp, and Jim and Judy Servidio.
— by Suzanne Kieler
You Need to Know…
Your personal credit information goes public Starting July 1st, 2003, the four major credit bureaus in the US (Equifax, etc.) will be allowed to release credit info, mailing ad-dresses, phone numbers, etc., to ANYONE who requests it. If you do not want to be included in this release of your personal in-formation, you can call 1-888-567-8688. Once the message starts you will want option #2 (even though option #1 refers to this E-mail, push #2) and then option #3. Be sure to listen closely, the first option is only for a two-year period. Make sure you wait until they prompt for the third option, which opts you out FOREVER. You should receive their paperwork in the mail confirming the “opting out” in less than one week after making the call.
Tuesday, May 6, 2003, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chairman Clyde Kilough called the first meeting of the Council of Elders to order. Mr. Roy Holladay, president of the UCG, then discussed a wide range of topics including:
· Continuing development of the Web site,
· The E-learning Bible study course to be offered on the Web site,
· Developments for serving the Church in the Portuguese language,
· Plans for Youth United magazine,
· A proposal to expand funding for media operations in the upcoming fiscal year. Since the Church’s redesigned Web site came on line a few weeks ago, the average number of visits has grown from approximately 4,000 per day to 5,200. The average viewer time on the site has increased from six to eight and one half minutes.
The new E-learning program, based on the Bible Study Course, is nearly complete and may be ready to introduce by early summer.
Mr. Holladay described a recent visit to Portugal by Jorge de Campos. An elder from Johannesburg, South Africa, de Campos traveled to Portugal during the Days of Unleavened Bread to visit his mother. He learned that four people from Portugal had shown interest in the Church. The de Campos’ stopped by for a “chat” one Sabbath morning, which turned into a nine-hour interactive Bible study. He learned that four adults and two children had been meeting regularly at one of the homes on Sabbath using Spanish language sermon tapes. Mr. de Campos hopes to record a sermon each month in Portuguese for use in both Portugal and Brazil.
The President reported that plans to begin the printed version of Youth United magazine would proceed. The Us Teens publication, produced by Pastor Jim O’Brien and his Cincinnati North congregation, will be merged into Youth United and the first quarterly issue will be ready in this fall
Highlights of the “Council Mandates for the President” for 2002-2005 are:
Circulation for The Good News is expected to reach 475,000 with individual subscriptions an estimated 365,000.
On Wednesday, Carmelo Anastasi, an Elder and Director of the National Council of the UCG in Italy said the UCG has a total of 36 baptized, 21 prospective members, and 14 children with congregations in Milan and Catania. There are also Bible study groups in Naples, Padova, Florence, and Rome. There are two elders in Italy: Mr. Anastasi and Angelo Di Vita. The Council consists of five men, including the two elders and Enzo Alfieri (secretary), Giacomo Pizzuto, and Salvatore Anastasi. They intend to work in unity with the UCG-AIA. Mr. Anastasi expressed that the Church in Italy wants very much to strengthen its ties to the UCG, IA.
Although there is religious freedom in Italy, the nation is 97%+ Roman Catholic. There are roughly one million non-Catholics (out of a population of over 57 million) and of those about 25,000 are Sabbath-keepers.
Since 1996, La Buona Notizia (the Italian-language Good News magazine) circulation has increased from 900 to nearly 5,000. Plans are to reach a subscription level of 15,000 copies by the end of 2003.
The focus shifted to defining the term “evangelism,” the Church’s target audience and the voice, tone, and personality of the media efforts. Mr. Kilough quoted from a memo by Mr. Walker, which repeated questions posed in the summary of the brainstorming session: “Do we know who we are trying to communicate to?” and “Are we reaching the right audience…?” Those questions evoked the following comments:
Peter Eddington commented that our primary target audience are those forty-five years and older.
Scott Ashley agreed, saying that the Church has tested hundreds of approaches. The best results come from conservative people, homeowners, gardeners, rural or small city dwellers, and those who home school.
Mr. Eddington stated the Youth United magazine should be helpful in reaching teens and young adults and that a Web site appeals to youth because it has a lot of information with many options that change daily.
Les McCullough asked if it would help to survey a younger audience. Doug Horchak responded that Randy Stiver, pastor in Eugene OR, had done such a survey. He concluded that the appeal to youth hinges on a “catchy” title or article and a younger reader’s attention span is shorter.
Dick Thompson suggested including a message with a practical application, how to make the most of life, solve problems, or make life worthwhile. Or, as Mr. Kilough put it, something that stirs to action.
Several commented on what it was about the Church’s literature that attracted them when they were younger:
· Mr. Walker said Mr. Armstrong was good at challenging people and their beliefs.
· Tony Wasilkoff recalled it was Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography and the Bible Stories because they were real-life and had action and human interest.
· Mr. Dick said that the ministers actually had worthwhile and meaningful messages.
· Mario Seiglie commented on the strengths and weaknesses of the past approaches.
· Mr. Kubik remembered challenging and intriguing questions such as: “Did you know that Christmas was celebrated 2000 years before Jesus Christ was born?”
Mr. Horchak said that, when United first started, we were in the mode of defending our beliefs. We had a great deal of substance, but we lacked the emotional appeal. We need to maintain substance, but add more emotion. Mr. Ashley agreed, adding that our style is to reach the head; we need to also reach the heart.
Mr. Kilough said that we’re good at what we do, but our writing style needs to be more compelling. We need to add to it. Jesus used stories, news events, and turned them into lessons.
Joel Meeker pointed out that the Council can provide guidelines and policy; but creativity is up to the writer. Those who write for our publications should continue their professional development. Mr. Ashley suggested that biannually a day could be set aside for editorial training at the annual GCE meetings.
Mr. McCullough asked when we’re going to see the first-contact literature aimed at the younger audience that the Council has been talking about for two years. Mr. Eddington said that he and Mr. Stiver have nearly finished some mock-ups of three samples of “first contact” literature. Samples are to be provided for Council review at the August meetings.
Mr. Franks led the Council through a final doctrinal review of a study paper titled “The Resurrections” maintaining the traditional teachings of the Church on the subject of the three resurrections.
Five doctrinal projects have been completed and will be presented to the Council for review in August:
1. Nature of God and Christ
3. Is Balloting Biblical in the Church?
4. Role of Women in the Church
5. Music in the Bible
Five more study papers will be completed later this year:
1. Voting and Running for Political Office
2. Middle East in Prophecy
3. Who is Assyria?
4. Hebrew Calendar and Postponements
5. The Sacred Name
Robert Dick was named provisional chairman of the Ethics, Roles and Rules Committee. Richard Pinelli gave the Council an update on progress of the supplemental hymnal project. Steve Myers was selected to oversee the development of the hymnal. Janel Johnson, Dr. David Hoover, Jim Brandenburg, Mark Graham, and Dan Anderson will assist him. Legal counsel, Larry Darden, will work on copyright issues. The project should be completed for the Feast of Tabernacles, 2003.
Mr. Kilough thanked Mr. Antion, a member of the Council of Elders since January 1996, for his dedicated work. He concluded that, “We will continue to use you as a reference and advisor. We genuinely thank you for the service you’ve rendered.”
— by Don Henson
On March 8, 2003, a retirement party was held in honor of Mr. George Meeker, who has retired from the active ministry. The United Church of God, AIA, in St. Louis, MO honored Mr. and Mrs. Meeker for their forty-eight years of service in the ministry. Approximately 115 people attended the Sabbath service and potluck dinner that followed. Gregory Sargent, local UCG pastor, gave the sermon and near the end, referred to the official retirement of Mr. Meeker and his many long years of service.
George and Karen Meeker
George attended Ambassador College in the early l950s. He was baptized in 1951, and ordained to the ministry in 1955. He met his wife Karen at the college, and they were married in 1960. They have served in many Church areas during those forty-eight years including Bricketwood in England, Milwaukee, WI, Minneapolis, MN, South Bend, IN, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids, MI. In the 1970s they served the Churches in Columbia, Lake of the Ozarks, and Springfield, MO. In 1988 he was pastor of the Churches in the St. Louis and Wentzville, MO areas. After leaving the Worldwide Church of God, he served as the Midwest Regional Director for the Global Church of God, and was pastor of the St. Peter, MO Church. When the Global Church of God split, he continued as pastor for the Churches in Wentzville, and Columbia with the Christian Fellowship Church of God. In 2001, the Christian Fellowship COG merged with the United Church of God, AIA, and they continued to serve in the St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City, MO Churches of the UCG, AIA.
The Meekers were honored for their many years of service with a beautiful plaque from the UCG, and a monetary gift from the local St. Louis, and Columbia, MO Churches.
Many testimonies came in from past associates, friends, and brethren, and a book containing those letters was presented to them. George and Karen are well loved among the brethren they have served, and are described as “humble servants.” They have two daughters and one son, Joel, who also serves in the UCG ministry. Even though they have officially retired, the brethren will still benefit from their love and their example of humble servants, as they continue serving in the Church. Surely God is saying, “Well done, good and faithful servants,” in regard to George and Karen Meeker. All best wishes to them both, and may God continue to bless them with happiness, good health, peace, and much love for many more years to come as they continue in the path they started over forty-eight years ago!
— by Shelby Faith
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