Church of God News
Positive News of the Churches of God
July, 2003, No. 6
Taking God’s Name in Vain
You wouldn’t use God’s name as a curse word, would you? But many Christians unknowingly use God’s name in vain.
After this manner, pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,” Matthew 6:9. When His disciples wanted to know how to pray, Jesus told them to hallow (keep sacred) the name of God. When the one we know as Jesus Christ gave the Ten Commandments, He decreed, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11.
It’s reasonable to believe most Christians won’t associate God’s name with damn, yet many think nothing of slurring it into gosh darn. Look in your dictionary. You will learn it is a euphemism for the real thing.
But using God’s name in vain doesn’t only mean using it in a cursing manner. The words “in vain” mean “for no good purpose.”
One of today’s favorite expressions is, “Oh my God.” For a while it became mod to say it five times in rapid succession once someone introduced the craze on television. My question to people who use God’s name this way is, “Who is your god?”
Writers often scribe, “My gawd.” Do they really think God is so stupid He doesn’t realize this is just another way to write “My God?” Other throwaway expressions include, “Thank God” (as in, “Thank God it wasn’t broken,” when a toddler knocked the vase off the table); “So help me God” (as in, “So help me God, you’re going to get it when we get home.”); and “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord” as an expression for nearly any reason.
Another ungodly expression is, “As God is my witness.” The person using this expression tends to use God as a talisman. When the apostle Paul used the expression in Romans 1:9, he used it in a meaningful way. Our prayers are to be private (Matthew 6:6), so only God could witness that Paul was truthful when he said, “...without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”
Some entertainers, who wouldn’t know God if He joined them at the microphone, would record an album of gospel music to attract the Christian market. This is another way of using God’s name in vain.
Another way to use God’s name in vain is to use it hastily, or without thinking. A Life Lines reader was on a tour bus in Israel when it began raining. Barry told me a woman on the bus stood and said, “I rebuke this rain in the name of Jesus.” The tour guide faced the lady and said, “Lady, what do you think you are doing? We have been praying for rain for the last two months.”
I had a severe throat infection, but wanted to check out something in a Bible bookstore. When I suggested the staff keep their distance a man said, “I rebuke that in Jesus’ name.” I thought he was sincere, but was unprepared for what happened next. He snickered!
The word reverend occurs only once in the Bible, and there it refers to the name of God, Psalm 111:9. Yet many ministers, who should know better, attach the adjective reverend to their name. What an affront to our heavenly Father, for a human to adopt what is rightfully God’s. Some even go further and call themselves “The Very Reverend” or “The Most Holy Reverend so-and-so,” as though they are greater than God. This is a despicable example of using of God’s name in vain.
Jesus said many people would use His name in vain. Read it in Matthew 24:5, “...many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” We have them today in self-styled prophets who say, “God spoke to me,” then they proceed to tell their own version of events in the book of Revelation. They’re in religious types who pray in Jesus name without truly knowing Him. And we have them in preachers who deceive their congregations about God’s law being abolished. One of those laws is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and it’s every bit as valid today as it was when Israel was camping in the wilderness.
— by Leslie A. Turvey
From the Editor…
Those Pesky Murmuring — Gentiles???
We recall in scripture the murmurings of the Israelites in the exodus:
Exodus 15:24 “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”
Exodus 16:2-3 “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
They lacked faith in God. Do you think they really thought that God would let them starve after bringing them through the plagues and delivering them from Pharaoh through the sea?
Now lets consider those murmuring Gentiles. I’ll bet you didn’t know Gentiles murmured.
Acts 6:1 “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.”
This reminds me of a song by Gordon Lightfoot, sung many years ago, titled The House You Live In. It has many lyrics of good advice and all are followed by the refrain:
“And the house you live in shall never fall down if you pity the stranger who stands at your gate.” The lyrics may be found at: www.lightfoot.ca/lyrics.htm.
The scriptures agree. Pity the stranger. Zechariah 7:9-14 says “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words, which the LORD of hosts hath sent in His spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as He cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.”
Note that the Israelites murmured to gain food and water for themselves while the Gentiles murmured to gain pity and compassion on the needy. They murmured so much that seven deacons were appointed. But look what followed in Acts 6:7-8, just because of some Gentile malcontents.
· The word of God increased.
· The number of disciples multiplied greatly.
· Many priests became obedient to the faith.
· There were great miracles and wonders.
Maybe what this Church needs is a lot fewer grumbling Israelites and more pesky Gentiles.
— by Steven J. Kieler
About the Author
Before talking about our recent trip to Kenya, and by way of introduction, I was born in New Jersey. I was raised Catholic until I joined the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong in 1982. I stayed in the WCG until 1994, when the Church leaders changed most of the central doctrines such as observance of the Ten Commandments including the seventh-day Sabbath and the biblical holy days of Leviticus 23.
I joined the United Church of God in 1995 and was ordained an elder while I was a member of United. I have since left the United Church of God and have an independent ministry in more than thirty countries.
Besides Israel, our travels take us to interesting places that include Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Jamaica, and China. Our Congregation of YHWH in Jerusalem is a nondenominational organization to expose people of all backgrounds to the roots of the Church. We also lead pilgrimages and study tours to Israel and Sinai in collaboration with Micha Ashkenazi of Jerusalem. Mr. Ashkenazi has been a leader in archaeological work in Israel for more than forty-three years. He holds a Ph.D. in history and archaeology and was the finder of the Pontius Pilate stone in 1974.
Church of God History in Kenya
I mention this information as a prelude to reporting our recent trip to Kenya. We just returned from that African country and enjoyed much success there. Several thousand Church of God members live there, as a result of a congregation of the Church of God Seventh Day started by Elder A.N. Dugger in 1971.
Mr. Dugger died in 1975. Since then Mr. Dugger’s son-in-law, Gordon Fauth, has taken over the work that Elder Dugger was doing in Jerusalem. Since the initial contact of Andrew Dugger with Kenya in 1971, Mr. Dugger sent a minister there named Shoemaker for a baptism tour. At that time Mr. Shoemaker also ordained sixteen elders and pastors. The congregations there have stayed steadfast to the original doctrines of the Church of God throughout the ages.
Most members have and hold dearly a copy of Elder Dugger’s History of the True Church. (The book is available from G&S for a suggested donation of $7.50). The only major split in Kenya that has occurred has been over the use of the sacred name, Yahweh.
Poor but Cheerful
Our trip to Kenya was eye opening in many ways. The brethren down there are extremely poor, but they have such high spirits it is amazing. Most do not have even the simple conveniences such as electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing, but none of them complained in the least. The trip also brought home to us that material blessings are not always an accurate indication of one’s spiritual condition.
In the chaotic, fast-paced world we live in, simplicity of life is more of a blessing than most realize. Our trip was such a testimony to us.
We drove to a different congregation almost daily using small public-transportation minivans called Mutatos. They are supposed to hold ten passengers, but often, twenty-two to twenty-five people are usually crammed into them.
On one trip our car broke down and we were almost six hours late. The man waiting for us near a bus stop to take us to the Church was not angry in the least. It amazed us that after waiting there for six hours he was still joyful and just so happy to see us. I have never in my life seen such patience.
It was the same with the congregation when we got there. The members had waited all day and were singing and praising when we finally arrived. One young girl had waited six months just to thank us for a dress she had received in an earlier aid package.
These people’s humility won’t be forgotten. The women especially are extremely hard workers. At the house of the main pastor, Edward, the women have to travel uphill about a third of a mile about four times daily to bring sixty pound water jugs wrapped around their heads. They are happy to be wives and mothers and never complain.
We were also blessed to witness the baptism of fifteen new members while there.
The Church buildings are simple wood structures with dirt floors and wood benches. They look like old cow barns with holes in the roofs and cracks in the walls. We were blessed to be able to donate money to them to fix the roof of the sleeping building so the brethren will not have to get soaking wet at feast times.
They also keep the Feast of Tabernacles at these places. They sleep on dirt floors with straw and lie side by side, without even room to turn. Most places do not have running water and have outhouses rather than toilets. The kitchens are simple, with open fires. The members do not cook on the Sabbath. They separate the men from the women during services, as happened in many Jewish congregations. Women are not teachers, according to Scripture, and it would also be offensive to them if a woman wore pants. My wife, Petra, and I felt it was the most Biblical service we have ever attended. The pastors truly try to protect their flocks from Western perversions.
Main problem: Unemployment
We are determined to continue to work with the brethren in Kenya to help them with their main problems of eighty percent unemployment and the extremely poor education of their children.
We are trying to start a project to help them obtain a school property they can work from to create jobs and income and also educate not only their children in the ways of Yahweh but other Kenyan children.
The school, if purchased, could also be privatized, so not only would they be able to properly educate their children in the ways of Yahweh; but they could produce income to assist the starving African brethren.
This would also put the Church in Kenya on a safe ground with the government. Although freedom of religion is the official policy of Kenya, Sabbath-keepers are frowned upon and not legitimized. A school as a headquarters could protect them from persecution but, most important, teach their children how to read so they can read the Bible. We are setting a goal of $10,000 to $15,000 to purchase property and build a school building, which could also be used to house brethren fleeing from Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda.
The other project we are helping the Kenyan brethren with is the sale of all-natural herbs. Kenya has some of the world’s best herbs, and some of the brethren there are herbal doctors. They grow all the herbs themselves with no pesticides or fertilizers. Kenya is one of the most fertile countries I have ever seen. These herbs can treat the cause of an illness, not just the effect. The brethren have natural herbs to cure asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and most other ailments.
We are not benefiting one penny by promoting these herbs for the Kenyan brethren. The herbs can be ordered directly from them, and the brethren will send them directly to those who order them. We are, however, trying to connect them to other brethren because we truly believe in herbs for healing and want to help the Kenyan brethren.
We also will be sending the Kenyan brethren aid to help them evangelize in other areas. They have started congregations in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Sudan. We met one of the ordained elders from Sudan, who shared with us the dire need of the brethren there. The Sudanese are dying of diarrhea, starvation, and many other maladies.
Brethren as Refugees
As poor as the Kenyan brethren are, each Kenyan congregation took up an offering for the Ethiopian brethren. Our ministry also gave a sizable offering for the brethren there. Between civil war and drought, the situation in both Ethiopia and Sudan is desperate. Many have fled these countries and are living in refugee camps under United Nations control. You can read in our newsletter of some of the horrific stories happening in Uganda and Sudan. Muslims are killing our brethren almost daily. Sharia (strict Muslim law) is in effect in Sudan. According to Sharia law, anyone not converting to Islam is an infidel and should be killed.
We are calling our project in Kenya Project Africa. Our goal is to make the Kenya operation self-sustaining in twelve months. These people are hard workers; they don’t want handouts. All they need is a little jump-start from the brethren around the world who have been blessed to be able to help them. If we could accomplish the school-building project and the herbal project in the next twelve months, then, from the income of these projects, the Kenyan brethren would fund all the other needy brethren from the other African countries. We truly have the opportunity not just to help one needy brother but to literally change the lives of thousands of African brethren.
If anyone would like to contribute to this project over the next twelve months, please specify the Kenya project on your offering. Petra and I are committed to help in any way possible. The love and dedication of the brethren in Kenya truly touched us in a way words cannot express. We thank you all for your prayers and support of the African brethren.
— by Don Esposito
28 Swarthmore Dr.
Carteret, N.J. 07008, U.S.A.
Are you riding a dead horse? Maybe we all need to re-evaluate our horses?!
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to the next, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Nevertheless, in modern business, education, government, and Churches, other strategies are often tried with dead horses, including the following:.
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Threatening the horse with termination.
4. Appointing a large committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
7. Reclassifying the dead horse as “living-impaired.”
8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
12. Declaring that the dead horse carries lower overhead and therefore contributes more to the bottom line than some other horses.
13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
14. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
— by Cindy Manz
Some 35 brethren enjoyed the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the beautiful foothills of Mountain View, Arkansas hosted by Mountain View Church of God Fellowship. Attendance on a daily basis was between 15 and 35. A few camped out in tents and campers for the entire Feast. The weather was beautiful the entire week with temperatures averaging 70 degrees and little rain.
Daily services preceded lots of food and fellowship.
Thursday was a beautiful start to the spring Feast with a covered dish lunch following services.
We enjoyed a special time Friday evening with food and singing. We feasted on finger foods provided by the Mountain View congregation. Ken Tate then led us in a sing-a-long. Volunteers read assigned scriptures and the congregation followed with a matching hymn written by Dwight Armstrong. There were many positive responses to the evening. It was truly an uplifting and inspirational event for everyone.
We observed the first service in our newly acquired building the Sabbath during the Feast. Several men in the congregation led in prayers of dedication for the building.
The last holy day ended the Feast with two services and a covered dish lunch. We were also blessed the last day with special music by Ken Tate accompanied on lead guitar by Cory Mathis, on bass by Ben Holmes, and on rhythm guitar by Don Ross.
We enjoyed messages from a variety of five different speakers during the Feast: Lee Davis, Tim Hall, Wayne Holmes, Ken Tate, and George White all gave inspiring Sermons and Bible studies.
— by Rhonda Holmes
As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on Interstate 77. Please be careful!”
“Wow,” said Herman, “It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!”
Dear Elder Richard Nickels,
Greetings to you and all your family members of God in U.S.A. We hope you are moving on well in the grace of our Lord as we do here in Kenya.
Kenya is blessed as we have been experiencing heavy rains and this has lead to floods in many places thus even affecting crop production especially cash crops. Due to this problem, there is famine in most parts of the country.
The Church and I are onset spreading the gospel in our communities and our country as well as here in East Africa. Since I saw my name appear in the Newsletter, I have been receiving calls for Church services in various places. I thank you all. Now the work of the Lord is increasing daily. Pray for the Church and me at large.
When I am on this Church mission field, there are a lot of things I do encounter. Some of the problems require spiritual help while others physical and material helps. Sometimes I go out, leaving my family for about two to three weeks at one time, for teachings, preaching, and to encourage most of the congregations. For these services, we need classes for adults, youths, and gender ministries, and sometimes, family problems (counseling), and seminars for Elders and Deacons in Kenya.
Andrew K. Koech and family
We are preparing for camp meetings for adults to be held in August 2003, for twelve to sixteen days. The camp meeting will take place in various regions of the country. We request for assistance financially for these Church events and activities to succeed. We also request for your prayers, that the will of the Father be done in spreading the good news of our Lord. We require many things, which include a public address system.
I cannot cease to thank the publication department for the pamphlet. It has supported a lot in the gospel spreading. I also thank Evangelist Team and Musicians for their activities in Christ.
For Evangelical Team brothers Thomas Soi, Joseph Sitienei (Too), Edwin Nyolei, and others have done great deals in Church work. I also thank brothers who have remembered to assist Chebonei Church building in Kenya. The members or Christians of this Church have settled a plan that after the Church completion there should be a house in the Church compound where visitors will stay in (guesthouse).
We have seen it valid and good for pastors, deacons, and missionaries to have their hostel near Church building. In that way, we can have more visitors or preachers with us often. Even you, when you visit us, you will have a place to rest your mind. The hostel will act as a library for the time being, where learners will visit for gospel study. When all this will succeed we will see great improvement in our Church. May God bless you all.
— by Elder Andrew K. Koech, Giving and Sharing Representative, PO Box 61, Chebunyo, c/o Sotik, 20401, Kenya, Africa
Periodic transfers and/or re-assignments are considered part of the job description of a salaried elder in the United Church of God. There are a variety of reasons why this policy was developed and approved by the Council of Elders. In short, the overall growth of the congregation and the pastor, as well as how to best use available personnel are considered when making these decisions.
Though it is the desire to keep transfers to a minimum, relocation will be an ongoing process that affects a certain number of pastors and wives each year. Ministerial services would like to announce the following summer transfers that directly affect this congregation and/or region.
Mr. Herb Teitgen will be transferring to North Dakota to pastor the Churches of Bismark, Fargo, and Rugby, North Dakota as well as Winnipeg, Manitoba. He will be replacing Mr. Paul Luecke who will move from his assignment in North Dakota and become the pastor of Bethlehem, Harrisburg and Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Replacing Mr. Teitgen will be Mr. Mitch Knapp who will pastor Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; along with Sioux Falls and Watertown, South Dakota. Mr. Gary Black from Beloit was recently hired full-time by the United Church of God and will pastor the Eau Claire, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota Churches. Transfers can often be disquieting for both the congregation and the pastoral family. Each of the individuals and wives mentioned above has served many years in their present locations.
The bond between shepherds and flock is God-ordained and thus these transitions present a degree of discomfort. Your prayers for a safe and smooth changeover are very much appreciated. UCG members having questions or concerns relating to these moves are encouraged to discuss them with your pastor or contact regional pastors Jim Servidio or Larry Neff.
— by Jim Servidio, Regional Pastor
Wonderful World Tomorrow
This may be interesting to some of you. I was quite encouraged by it. This week on www.wonderfulworldtomorrow.org by Saturday, April 12, 2003, European time, we had over 10,000 visitors (unique sessions) to the site for the week. This was in response to our running of an article about the pagan origins of Easter.
We have had over fifty requests by Saturday morning for Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet, US & Britain in Prophecy this week and an unknown number of downloads. (758 visitors to our Free Publications page). In addition to this we have had a high rate of visitors to the Bible Study page, over 100 on one day, which allows you to download a Bible study on the Passover. Finally, another religious online publication has asked permission to republish the article on Easter’s origins for its readers.
Of course we are a very small group, but such results are very encouraging to us, maybe also to you.
— by Nathan O’Malley
One mark of a deteriorating society is when people cannot discern between truth and lies. Another is that they don’t care and will believe whatever their itching ears want to hear.
— by Cal Thomas
Take Time For Your Children
Summer is upon us and where has the time gone? In most parts of the country, school is out and our children are already bored staying home. My granddaughter usually spends some of the summer with us, and she is constantly asking, “Grandma, what are we going to do today?” Have you heard that from your children lately? If you haven’t, you will probably hear that question sometime this summer before they go back to school.
Do you dread that time when the kids are out of school and you know you’ll have your hands full keeping them busy? Sometimes we can’t wait for school to start again so that we’ll once again have some time for ourselves. If you have never felt this way, congratulations! You are a great parent and must be doing some things right. However, most of us know that feeling as summer drags on. It’s too hot and the kids don’t want to go outside, or they want to go somewhere everyday, like swimming or to the movies, etc. These are great things to do, but it takes time to get ready, load up, and there may be some expense involved.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay home with your children, this is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with them. You have their attention, as well as they have your attention. During the school year, everyone is so rushed with all the homework and after school activities, it seems as though there is never enough time for anything. If both parents work outside the home, there is even less time to spend with each other. If you are a single parent, then the workload doubles, and you wonder how you can have any time to do anything.
Over the years, I have found that it’s not so much what you do with your children, but how you spend the time that you do have with them. Our children like to have our attention when they’re young. They crave our attention and will relish the time we spend with them. When they become teens, of course that’s another story. They don’t always seek our attention then, but they like to know that you’re there for them when everyday problems arise.
I learned that the best way to spend time with children is to make time for them. It’s not so important that our homes have to be spic and span all the time. I realized that I could do the laundry early in the morning or later on in the evening. I even worked out deals with my children. If they would help me dust, pick up, or fold laundry, the chores went faster. Then we would have more time to do fun things. But even while we were taking care of household duties, we were spending time with each other. Even small children can understand this, and love the compliments on a job “well done.”
We did get around to going swimming or to the movies; but most days we just enjoyed the day together. We had backyard picnics, inviting other neighborhood children. We worked on simple crafts, wrote and performed plays, went to the Zoo and nearby parks, had water balloon fights, and played games including card and board games. One summer, when my children were young, they shared a motor scooter. They couldn’t wait until they tried to teach me how to ride that scooter. Alas, I never could co-ordinate my one hand to brake and the other one to squeeze the handle for gas. I wound up in my flowerbed, not hurt, but a little embarrassed. To this day, those boys have not let me forget that incident.
When my husband was home, we often went camping and fishing. Sometimes we would set up the tent in our yard and the boys camped out there. Other friends and cousins would stay over, and we would have a campfire, roast hotdogs, etc. Almost every morning we would wake up with a bunch of kids in our family room, not scared you know, it just got a little cold during the night and they had to come in from camping. My children and I remember those days well. It wasn’t so much what we did, but we were doing things together. I seldom missed an opportunity to teach my children about God and His Son, Jesus. If it were a beautiful cloudless day, blue sky, grass growing, flowers blooming, I would ask my children who made this day so perfect. If it were rainy, I would ask them who sent the rain. We gave thanks for what we had and what we were able to do together.
It is very difficult to make time for your children, especially those of you who are working and not able to take much time off. Perhaps, there are some summer day camps around, or maybe your preteens and teenagers can go to summer camp. Try to plan some activities for the whole family when you can get a day off. Remember, it’s not how much time you have with your children, but it’s how you spend that time that is important. Make sure that your children know that you have time for them, and make sure that you make time for them. The rewards are so great, and your children will be so happy to have your undivided attention. Also, these times together will create great memories for all of you. May God bless all of you in your efforts.
— by Shelby Faith
(Two craft activity sheets are included elsewhere in this newsletter for your children to make: The Beatitudes Scroll and Jesus Is The Light.)
I grew up in the forties and fifties with very practical parents; a mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, long before they had a name for it. My father was happier when he got his old shoes fixed rather than buying a new pair.
Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, dad in trousers, tee shirt, and a hat, and mom in a housedress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other.
It was the time for fixing things; a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress, things we keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, and renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant great affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any “more.” Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.
So, while we have it, it’s best that we love it, care for it, and fix it when it’s broken, and heal it when it’s sick. This is true for marriage, and old cars, and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents, and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away, or a classmate with whom we grew up. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special. So, we should keep them close!
— author unknown
Advice to Teens
Rule 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it.
Rule 2: The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasite of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades, and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND yourself. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one!
— by Bill Gates
Church News continued…
The fire marshal finally approved the office remodeling in Charlotte, NC, so in April most of LCG’s senior employees were able to use their new regular offices for the first time. Although there have been some bumps, the transition of LCG’s headquarters from San Diego, CA to Charlotte has gone reasonably well.
LCG believes that the money it saves on facilities will enable it to be more effective in proclaiming the Gospel. Roger Bardo reported that 159,960 copies of the Jan/Feb 2003 issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine were printed. This is up 43% over the Jan/Feb 2002 edition! Similarly, responses to the Tomorrow’s World telecast in the US and Canada were up 41.8% in 2002 (88,627 responses) compared to 2001 (62,507 responses).
Gerald Weston reports that Church attendance rose by 13% in Canada, while income rose by 18% there. The biggest growth took place in Manitoba and Quebec.
LCG in Asia
Finally, Bruce Tyler sends good news from his recent Asia trip, “I just returned from our successful thirteen day visiting trip to some of our Asian brethren. I was able to visit with new people in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and was accompanied throughout most of the trip by Rajan Moses, our elder in Islamic Malaysia.
“We spent several days in Sri Lanka and kept the Sabbath (March 22) in Colombo with the fifty-five people who attend there regularly. I was able to visit with ten new people who are seeking baptism and although we did not baptize anyone this time, I believe most will be baptized during our next trip. We also visited a new potential Feast site up in a secluded area in the mountains near Kandy. This promises to be a wonderful spot for our members and any visitors. We kept the following Sabbath in Mae Sot, Thailand, in the west, up on the Burma border. Like Sri Lanka, Thailand is mostly Buddhist. Our attendance in Mae Sot is now 35. The people, though, are all from Myanmar and are Burmese speaking. Mehm Pho Saw, our deacon here, is doing a wonderful job of guiding all these people in the Truth. Mehm has just finished translating his first booklet, Restoring Apostolic Christianity, into Burmese. Mehm is a well-educated man, trained as a lawyer, but now, because of political circumstances, is a refugee in Thailand. Once again, several people are seeking baptism and will be baptized on our next visit. We also organized the 2003 Feast site for the Thailand members whle we were in Mae Sot, another quite secluded ‘resort’ run by a German and his Thai wife.”
“I began my return home last Monday, leaving Rajan Moses in Thailand to visit the rest of our members who live in Chomthong. It was encouraging to witness the enthusiasm of all these people for God’s Truth and to see their zeal to help proclaim the gospel. We do no commercial advertising in these areas, yet almost all who attend are the result of the example our members have set in their respective communities. These people truly appreciate every crumb of Truth and are anxiously awaiting God’s Kingdom.”
LCG has 1,200 people who attend at our weekly services in the Asian, Australasian, and Philippines Regions (this includes 96 people in India who consider themselves members of the Living Church of God).
— by Robert Thiel
The Glory of the Garden
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You will find the tool and potting sheds, which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.
And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.
Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: “Oh, how beautiful” and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel paths with broken dinner knives.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, not yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth everyone.
Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden, you will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!
— by Rudyard Kipling
Recently, several individuals had left a certain Church group for personal reasons and started to attend every Sabbath at one person’s home. The former pastor made a comment that they should meet at a “real Church” instead of a home such as a home fellowship. This event made me realize that many Christians only think of Churches as a large congregation that meet in Church buildings. But would this be the definition of the “real Church” in the New Testament? Let’s see what the Bible calls a real Church.
To help us understand the answer to this question, I plan to use various Bible references on the Church from my library as well as the Bible. The question will involve the history of the Church in the Apostolic times and various commentaries on several verses.
First, we need to define the word “Church” as it is used in the Greek. This will provide us a foundation on which to begin our study on this topic.
The Greek word for Church is “ecclesia” which means “assembly or popular meeting.” This word does not note a place or number, but just that it is a meeting. But the Bible does show us a few examples of where first century Christians met for Church services.
In Romans 16:3-5, Paul states in the personal greeting portion of this letter, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus…likewise greet the Church that is in their house…”
The Ryrie Study Bible has the following comments: “earlier congregations met in homes, I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2. The several house Churches in one city would constitute the Church in that city.”
The Abingdon Bible Commentary, 1929, on page 1167, states about Romans 16:3-16, “The mention of ‘the Church in their house’ reminds us that not before the end of the second century do we find clear evidence of buildings specially set apart for Christian worship. Doubtless they came into use before we have evidence of their existence; but there was a long period during which Christians were dependent upon the hospitality of those of their number who had houses large enough to accommodate them.”
From these commentaries alone, we can see that the early Church met in homes, or at least many did at the time.
It would be worth our time to look at some other commentaries to improve our understanding on this topic to see where the Churches met later in the first century.
Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary, 1967, page 170, states about the Church, “This twofold usage [individual assembly and world wide community] is also seen in Paul. He addresses his epistles to specific Churches, e.g. Corinth (I Corinthians 1:2) or Thessalonica (I Thessalonians 1:1). Indeed, he seems sometimes to localize further by referring to specific groups within the local community as Churches, as though sending greetings to congregations within the one city (Romans 16:5.)”
H.H. Rowley and J.J. Von Allmen, in The Companion to the Bible, 1958, page 53, under the article “Church”, write, “Like the book of Acts, Pauline epistles use Church both as for the whole people of God and also for the concrete manifestations of this people in a particular place. Paul used the plural ‘the Churches’ or ‘Churches of God’ (I Thessalonians 2:14; Galatians 1:22; I Corinthians 16:1; II Corinthians 8:1), which does not appear in Acts. He speaks of the Churches in particular places or provinces and even of ‘house-Churches’ (I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2).”
Paul writes in Philemon 2, “And to our beloved Apphia and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the CHURCH IN YOUR HOUSE…”
Abingdon Bible Commentary on this verse says, “With Philemon as recipient are associated Apphia, whom we may confidently assume to have been his wife, and Archippus, possibly a brother or son, but in any case doubtless a leading member of the Church in his house. That phrase probably meant originally the Christian members of the familia (the family, slaves, and dependents); but, at a very early date, Christian brothers who met for worship and fellowship at the house of a wealthy fellow-Christian were regarded as members of his household, and so of the ecclesia (Church or congregation)…”
In A History of the Christian Church, 1928, page 23, Mr. Walker writes, “The early Jerusalem Company were faithful in attendance at the temple…but, in addition, they had their own special services among themselves, with prayer, mutual exhortation, and ‘breaking of bread’ daily in private houses…”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1956, page 1438, under “household”, comments, “…the household [in NT times] became the nuclei for the earlier life of the Church, e.g. the house of Prisca and Aquila at Rome (Romans 16:5), of Stephanas (I Corinthians 16:15), of Onesiphorus (II Timothy 1:16), etc. No wonder that the earlier Church made so much of the family life…”
Jesus did say in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Also in John 4:21-23, Jesus did say to a Samarian woman, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seek such to worship Him.” The key is to worship in spirit and in truth.
So we see that many of the first Christians did meet in a home or houses for services. This was acceptable practice of the time. Almost all Christians during this period met in homes.
Whether you meet in a house Church or in a large building is not really the issue. It is whether you and your Church are able to come together to worship God, to love God, and each other. I John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love Godwhom he hath not seen?”
I hope this article has helped you understand what the first century Christian would have called a Church and a few of the places that they would have met.
— by Doyle J. Carter
A Bit of History…
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilization has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.”
— by Scots Historian
Professor Alexander Tyler
circa 1787, re: the fall of the
God answers kneemail.
(Excerpts taken from (TLI) The Legacy Institute Newsletter.)
TCOGN: Do you think you are accomplishing what you set out to do through this organization?
TLI: Far more was accomplished than we ever dreamed. And we are just beginning. The fields of Asia and other parts of the “Gentile” world are ripe for the harvest. In Thailand, we began helping two Karen families with spiritual and physical food. Now, this year (2002) at the Feast we had forty-eight Karen attending. We have twenty more waiting in the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border wanting to talk to me about baptism. I just baptized four more people in Burma at Atonement. One Karen man was a former lay pastor for thirty years in his Protestant Church. He returned to Central Burma to keep the Feast and evangelize his own congregation. The COG7 congregation in Rangoon has fully accepted the Annual Holy Days. A True Jesus Church congregation in Kalaymyo, Burma, after reading literature sent by Church of God evangelist Lazum Brang, accepted the Holy Days and other COG doctrines, tore down their Church sign, and nailed up a “Church of God” sign. At the Feast in India, we had over twenty Hindus show up to keep the Feast and learn about the True God. It is like starting at the foot of a mountain with the top obscured by mist. We cannot see the top. We have no idea how high the mountain is. But we must keep climbing in the direction God guides us!
TCOGN: What are you doing in that part of the world relative to spreading God’s truth? You have mentioned a number of times in your co-worker letters about various house Churches. Are any other Church groups working in SE Asia?
TLI: Of course there have been many missionaries from various Catholic and Protestant groups working in Asia for many years. So a form of Christianity is not new to Asia. As far as Sabbatarian groups and COG organizations in particular are concerned, the SDAs have been very active in Thailand and Burma, and the 7th Day Baptists in the late 19th century, and COG7th Day in the early to mid 20th century have done some missionary activities here. There are also some Sabbatarian and various COG groups active in border areas. The True Jesus Church, a Sabbatarian organization, has various small Church groups numbering into the millions in China, northwestern India, and northeastern Burma. Lazum Brang estimates that there were over 15,000 Sabbath keepers in Burma and Kachinland. I just recently heard about a group calling themselves the COG Israel in Mizuram, northeast India, who have 400-500 members and keep Sabbath and Holy Days.
WCG had a very strong presence in Sri Lanka in the 1980s and 90s because of the Ambassador Foundation Project, The Plain Truth Magazine, the television show, and at one time, a growing Church congregation of over 100 persons. India had small, scattered congregations north and south. Thailand and Malaysia had small but developing WCG Church congregations. Singapore and Hong Kong were small but growing. The Philippines had, by far, the largest WCG group with active and growing congregations. Of course, that all changed within ten to twelve years of the death of Herbert Armstrong. The doctrinal apostasy brought with it almost total disintegration of these fledgling Churches.
Today PCG and LCG have a few members in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. The COG An International Community has a few members here and there. The UCG has a very strong and growing presence in the Philippines. Yet, in most places, the people are scattered and there are very few ministers to feed them on a regular, consistent basis. We cannot plant a tree and just walk away. We must continue to water and nurture if we expect fruit to be born. It is apparent that the seeds of the True Gospel have been scattered throughout Asia. It is now time for us to actively water those seeds.
The single, most important need now in Asia is workers for God’s fields and financial support to sustain the activities of His servants to water and nurture those He is calling.
TCOGN: How do you feel about the status of the corporate Churches of God? Someone recently stated he felt the Churches were “dying of old age.” What is your opinion?
TLI: Our Church of God experience covers, at best, only approximately the last seventy years. But Jesus founded the Church almost 2,000 years ago. Over the course of the centuries, there has been a constant ebb and flow of Church of God activities. Sometimes the preaching of the Gospel has been very loud with thousands coming to conversion. At other times it has been only a whisper with a few hundred hanging on to the Truth. Our Church of God experience is only a small part of the entire puzzle. Take, for instance, the Celtic Church of God which flourished in the non-Roman parts of England, Ireland and Scotland from approximately 35 AD until well into the 600s AD. One of their chief evangelists was a man named Patrick. Pay no attention to the stories a large apostate Church claims about him. He preached the Sabbath and Holy Days. Church of God communities had a married priesthood, observed Passover and not Easter, and ate no pork. The Church of God communities in these areas numbered in the thousands, but today are gone. One can find only a few persons on secluded islands off the coast of Scotland that still keep the Sabbath and trace their roots back to the Celtic Church. This is only one example. There are many more historical examples such as these in far-off places such as India, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. All of the human Church of God organizations created today are OUR inventions. None of them are the sum total of God’s Church, historically or otherwise. Jesus founded ONE Church, and it is a SPIRITUAL creation. The splits and divisions among us are nothing new. They started very early the first century (read Paul, Peter and John), and have been going on throughout the history of the Church of God. They are not from God but are the result of human nature and a lack of seeing what God has been doing historically, and now doing today, in our present age.
— by Leon Sexton
Lake Texoma, OK
Contact: Steve Kieler
San Antonio, TX
Contact: Julian Cruz
Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Contact: Duke Schneider
Mountain Home, AR.
Contact: Wayne Holmes