Number 49, November, 1998
A Leader You Can Trust
††††††††††† In 1974, President Richard Nixon was under fire for his role in the Watergate incident. Bill Clinton, running for Congress, said, "If a President of the United States ever lied to the American people, he should resign." Nixon was caught in a web of lies, and was forced to resign. Twenty-four years later, when Clinton himself lied to the American people about the Monica Lewinsky affair, he refused to resign, and even joked about his defiant "apology." He and many others agreed that his sexual improprieties were strictly a matter of his personal, private life.
††††††††††† Today in the Church of God, we are so polluted from the worldís deviant behavior, that we do not expect our Church leaders to always tell the Truth, nor set examples for us to follow. We believers are somewhat like the gullible American people, who like the job Clinton is doing (because the economy is good), but donít want their children to follow his lewd example. Even worse ó and this is tragic ó most Sabbath-keepers do not know, or care to know, the public sins of their own Church leaders.
††††††††††† My desk calendar has a very timely admonition for August 26, "Donít work for a company led by someone of questionable character." This also applies to the Church. Twice now, in my working career, I have been told to do something illegal. In both cases, I risked my job by standing firm and emphatically saying "No!" And in each case, our own company lawyers supported me, and management had to rescind the order. Most people want to do the right thing. The trouble is, very few are willing to stick their neck out and "just say no" to lies and temptation toward wrongdoing.
††††††††††† Today in the Churches of God, we have leaders guilty of setting false prophetic dates, engaging in illicit sexual acts which made the "Geraldo" television show, being arrested more than once for drunk driving, and being convicted of libel (costing the Church many hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlement and legal costs). Yet, these men still have a large following. In fact, they are doing quite well. Sometimes, their supporters know of the public sins of their leaders and nevertheless excuse or minimize this blameworthy conduct. Other lay people do not know of these public sins and ignorantly continue to support leaders unqualified by I Timothy 3 to be in any office of leadership at all. Someone has said that we get the leaders we deserve. That must be so in the Church of God, today!
††††††††††† In I Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul might have said, "Donít investigate your leaders. Gloss over the sins of your leaders and donít hold them accountable for setting a good example, for their public and private sins are between them and God. The only responsibility you have is to pay and pray." Is this a proper rendition of Scripture? This sounds like the "Bible" of all too many Sabbath-keepers today. This passage really says, "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you: And to esteem them very highly in love for their workís sake. And be at peace among yourselves."
††††††††††† A few years back, a noted Sabbatarian leader claimed to be a World War II hero. This was supposed to demonstrate his good character and qualifications to succeed a previous long-lived leader who had died and turned over the reigns to him. Since I lived in the St. Louis, Missouri, area at the time, it was a simple matter to check at the National Military Records center in St. Louis, to see if his claim was true. Under the Freedom of Information Act, citizens have open access to military records. I discovered that this "great" leader was lying. He did not serve in the Navy in the heroic capacity he claimed. When this information was published, not a single minister or member, to my knowledge, confronted this "Pastor General" with the fact that he was a liar. After all, they thought, it was "Godís Church," and, "God will correct our leaders if they are wrong." Letís not be dumb sheep!
††††††††††† On the positive side, you cannot really "know" the good qualities of your Church leader by only seeing him in the rather artificial environment of Sabbath services. What does his unbelieving neighbor say about him? What does his secular employer say about him? The only way we can follow this command to positively "know them which labour among you," is for the Church leader to be part of the community, to work and serve others besides the congregation. Legend has it that Jesus and His human father Joseph made wonderful wooden ploughs, which continued to be used for many years after the crucifixion. You can be sure that the "Joseph and Sons" carpentry business had a reputation for quality and honesty!
††††††††††† The reason why the Church today has such a lack of leaders who can be trusted, can partly be traced to a central governmental structure, which has made many of them hirelings, rather than servants. Members should not support liars or hirelings. There has never been a time when honest leaders have been more needed. The way to misery is to ignore Godís command to "know them which labour among you." Only by following Godís Way, can we have leaders we can trust. If God continues to give gifts to men, and He does, Ephesians 4:8, then He will give us leaders we can trust. These leaders will continue to challenge their followers, as Paul did, to "check me out!" See I Corinthians 9:27, II Corinthians 13:1-7.
††††††††††† Brethren who are trustworthy will also have trustworthy leaders. As a general rule, brethren in most Sabbatarian groups today are more spiritual, more dedicated, more honest, than their leaders, at least on the surface. However, such an imbalance cannot be forever maintained. Let me be perfectly clear: President Clinton should resign because he has lied to the American people. He has sullied the office of the Presidency of the United States. Likewise, several Sabbatarian leaders today should also resign their offices of leadership, because they fail to match the qualifications of I Timothy 3 and have lied to the people of God. A free society, and a Godly society, needs leaders they can trust. In reality, like it says on our money, it is ONLY "in God [that] we[ can] trust."
††††††††††† It is not enough for me to be a vocal opponent of the prevalent practice of wide- open divorce and remarriage in the Church today. I want to nip divorce in the bud, before it starts. Modern dating practices are a breeding ground for divorce. According to Joshua Harris in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah Books, Sisters, Oregon: 1997), defective dating creates seven destructive habits, which can lead to increased divorce: (1) dating leads to intimacy, but not necessarily to commitment, (2) dating tends to skip the "friendship" stage of a relationship, (3) dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love, (4) dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships, (5) dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future, (6) dating can cause discontentment with Godís gift of singleness, (7) dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another personís character.
††††††††††† Twenty-three years old and good-looking, Joshua Harris has renounced the common practice of dating. Instead, he engages in group activities with youth and adults, until he is later going to seriously contemplate marriage. He relates his trials and struggles with his own hormones, and his firm reliance on God to help him discover the one woman he should marry for life. I am amazed at Joshuaís wisdom and sound principles. In practical, down-to-earth terms, Harris holds up Godís Truth that young people should have fun now, but maintain their sexual purity in deed and thought, until marriage. All too many today, as with President Clinton, define an improper relationship as "going all the way." However, the emotional trauma involved in modern steady dating, dumping, and dating someone else seriously again, is not sexual purity, it is mental and emotional rape.
††††††††††† This is an important book that you should strongly encourage a teenager or young adult to read. Youth today need this Biblically-based advice and help.
††††††††††† Even more, married adults need to learn vital principles of godly relationships. Improper "dating" goes on today in the Churches of God, and by this I mean destructive relationships between brethren, and between brethren and Church leaders. I am not referring to sexual relationships per se, but human relationships. The type of relationships fostered in many Church organizations leads to division, dissention, and spiritual divorce. I have been "dumped" several times by Churches, and the trauma still hurts myself and my family. It was 140 miles over the mountains to the nearest Church group with beliefs similar to ours. Our two cars are 12 and 13 years old, and we just paid tens of thousands of dollars to send our oldest daughter to college, and were facing college bills for our second daughter. We could not afford to make this trip very often. When we did, were we welcomed by the congregation? The young people taunted my youngest daughter with the sneering question: "What are you doing here?" In a question and answer session with the visiting regional director, a person asked the question, "Should we allow someone to attend Church who doesnít come almost every Sabbath?" Shortly thereafter, this group decided to change affiliation, because they believed their former headquarters was not doing enough to preach the Gospel to the world. I was informed, when I called the pastor, that our family would not be welcome unless he was assured that all of our beliefs were in sync with his. Previous to this phone conversation, to my knowledge, we had never discussed any doctrinal differences with him, nor with anyone in the congregation.
††††††††††† If this group does attract new people as the result of mass media television and radio programs, what would happen when these new people started attending services? Would the newcomers be treated with the same contempt as we were? If so, why bother "preaching the Gospel"? To date, not a single member of this congregation has contacted us to extend a right hand of fellowship and friendship. I can relate other stories about my experiences and otherís along this line. If the Church of God has the Truth of God, it will demonstrate John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
††††††††††† Relationships between the brethren are important, and we are doing a terrible job in enhancing spiritual fellowship. Todayís Sabbatarian churches are often breeding grounds for spiritual divorce, broken friendships, broken associations. If we are in the same spiritual family, then we need to make it priority number one to improve our relationships with the brethren. The principles of Godly relationships given in Joshua Harrisí book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye can benefit young people in their relationships with the opposite sex, and adults in their relationships with others in the Church. Donít read this book only once. Read it again and again, and put its Godly principles into practice. I Kissed Dating Goodby, (retail $9.99) is available from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849 for a suggested donation of $8.50. Every teenager, young adult, and Church member needs this book!
Grow a Vegetable Garden
††††††††††† You have no doubt read about the Year 2000, or Y2K, computer problem. No human knows for sure the coming effects of this problem caused by man. It is NOT a punishment from the Eternal. One of the lessons we should heed is that this potential crisis should stir us to be doing some things that we should have been doing anyway, but were often too lazy to put into practice. In any year, we, as believers, should be working to live healthier, more productive, lives, serving our employers, our families, and our Creator.
††††††††††† One of the most basic of things is to grow a garden. Growing some of our own food provides heathy recreation for the entire family, ensures high quality food, and provides a safety store for emergency situations. Even if you live in an apartment, if you try hard enough, you can find community gardens or a little space to grow some of your own food. Do it. Do it now. Keep on doing it.
††††††††††† Believe me, in Wyoming, we understand the curse God pronounced because of Adamís sin, "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," Genesis 3:17-19. In Wyoming, to raise a decent garden takes a lot of hard work, gardening skill, and Godís blessing of good weather during our very short growing season. We normally have seven to eight months of winter.
††††††††††† One year, I had a good stand of tomatoes in our backyard garden, and was looking forward to eating them. However, a blistering hailstorm struck our property, leaving only naked stalks totally stripped of leaves. Such a ruin of hard work could make a grown man cry! This past growing season, we had an unusually early spring. By April, I was able to work the ground, and plant some early crops, when usually I did not dare plant anything before May 15. Young and tender plants were up and doing well by the end of May. But then, on June 2, we got hit with a snowstorm and freezing temperatures. I frantically covered most of the plants with plastic sheeting and straw. After some losses, I replanted, and had a better than normal garden.
††††††††††† My productive garden attracted some unwanted company: hordes of grasshoppers. I fought them off in hand-to-hand combat. Maybe I should quit raising vegetables and harvest grasshoppers instead. After all, they are supposed to be clean. Iíll let you try this idea first! Where you live, you may not have to worry about frost, grasshoppers, and drought. If so, what is your excuse for not having a garden? Growing a garden puts you in tune with nature and closer to your Creator. I need His help, and I am most grateful for the delicious produce He provides.
††††††††††† What should you plant? That depends on your climate and soil. We have a harsh climate, and sandy or clay soil. It is difficult to grow anything. I generally stick to the basics, and once in a while try something new. I keep notes from year to year so I can learn from experience what does well, and which gardening methods work best in our location. Garlic, onions, parsley, radishes, potatoes, several varieties of squash, cucumbers, and sunflowers do well in Wyoming. Tomatoes and corn are tough to raise here. This year I tried celery, and got a little, after the grasshoppers had their share. New Zealand spinach did not do too well, but I will try again.
††††††††††† Where do you get your seeds? Mail order catalogs or local nurseries are good choices. Nicholís Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, Oregon 97321-4580, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Telephone: (541) 928-9280, has mail-order vegetables and herbs, and mild giant-sized elephant garlic. Other mail order sources we use are Gurney's Seed & Nursery Co., 110 Capital Street, Yankton, SD 57079; and Henry Field's Seed & Nursery Co., 415 North Burnett, Shennandoah, IA 51602.
††††††††††† When do you prepare to plant? Garden preparation starts in the fall, but is actually a year-round job. Work up the soil with a shovel or tiller. Plant a cover crop of clover or vetch (you can get seed very inexpensively at a local feed store), or cover the soil with straw and leaves. In early spring, work up the soil again, by turning over your cover crop, or straw and leaves. Before planting, work in your compost. You do have a compost pile, donít you? It is a gardening basic. Here in Gillette, the city gives you free a large plastic garbage dumpster on wheels with aeration holes drilled in it. We throw in our kitchen vegetable scraps throughout the year, and work in lawn clippings, leaves, and dirt. I empty our compost bin on our garden several times a year, and the compost is crawling with red earthworms, those wonderful engineers that keep my garden healthy.
††††††††††† What do you do with the produce? Eat it as it ripens. If you have more than you can eat, preserve it by canning, freezing, or drying. Give some of it away to friends and neighbors. In early spring, we eat green garlic and onions and parsley. By August, when our yellow squash and zucchini squash are in abundance, we discover new ways to eat squash. By September we are harvesting grapes and sunflower seeds. Yes, we can raise grapes in Wyoming, a North Dakota variety that withstands our harsh winters. You would be surprised what you can raise!
††††††††††† Expand your garden. When we first moved here, there was a very small plot that we began to garden. Each year, I try to dig a little more to expand our garden. This year, I added a 50-foot long section 3 feet wide along the back fence. Shirley wanted to put rocks along the border, so we lugged pink granite rocks down from the mountains. The new section is easy to tend and water, and is very productive.
††††††††††† What is a good recipe for vegetables? I enjoy a vegetable stir-fry, and like to cook it myself. As the summer progresses, I throw into each stir-fry what is ripe in the garden. I do not measure anything. So far, every stir-fry has tasted great! Hereís how I make a stir-fry: I dice and cut up into small pieces whatever vegetables I have on hand, often mixing store-bought and garden-grown vegetables together. Carrots and celery are the base vegetables I use. Other tasty types, depending upon availability, include kale, potatoes, onions (including stalks and seed tops), garlic (the whole stalk), zucchini, yellow summer squash, and parsley. I use a stir-fry pan with a wooden handle. It has sloping sides and is about five inches deep. I put a little canola oil in the bottom of the pan and turn the heat on medium high. After a couple of minutes, I add the vegetables and turn down the heat to medium or medium low. I add several squirts of rice vinegar. Then I throw in spices: onion salt, garlic powder, chives, cayenne pepper, rosemary, etc. I cover the pan and turn the heat to low, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. In 10-15 minutes, dinner is served!
††††††††††† I encourage you to grow a vegetable garden this year, and every year. Your hard work, and Godís blessings, will produce a wonderful harvest.
Digging for Fish
††††††††††† Most folks grab a fishing pole, some bait, and head for a river, a lake, or the ocean, to catch fish. If you have a marine biologist for a daughter, however, you dig for fish fossils. Barbara was home for a few weeks this summer and she wanted to "catch" some fish fossils. Since I had never done this kind of "fishing," I decided to give it a try. We drove to Kemmerer, in western Wyoming. After driving through many miles of tortuous, deep rutted mountain roads, we arrived at the Warfield Fossil Quarry in the middle of nowhere. We proceeded to dig for an entire day in these limestone beds, excavating numerous specimens of fossilized fish. The hot summer sun did not deter her enthusiasm, and at the end of the day, I almost had to drag her away, along with boxes of fossil specimens.
††††††††††† Now, I am not a scientist, but we found evidence that these fossils were not deposited gradually over eons of time. For one, some of the fossilized fish had smaller fish in their mouths! For another, the deposit has schools of fish, many of which are all pointed in the same direction. A sudden catastrophe apparently caused these fish to be covered quickly. In many cases, we noted that the fish scales were scattered around the carcasses. And, the fossils were only in one narrow layer of limestone. Two species of fish were prevalent, called knightia (which looks like a modern herring), and diplomystus. In addition, sting rays and crocodiles had been uncovered in this same deposit. A few feet from our digging site was a guarded area where the tip of a fossilized crocodile had been discovered. Scientists were scheduled to carefully uncover this prize, which could be worth $10,000 or more. Said to be deposited 50 million years ago in the Eocene Period, the fossils we dug and those we viewed at the nearby museum at Fossil Butte National Monument, demonstrated to us the proof of the Creator, not the validity of mindless evolution.
††††††††††† We recommend The Collapse of Evolution by Scott M. Huse, $11.99 retail, $10.00 postpaid from Giving & Sharing. This interesting book presents scientific facts that prove evolution is impossible, facts conveniently left out of your textbook. For example, this book shows that the geologic column does not exist, that radioactive dating (long offered as proof of evolution) is so inaccurate that living animals have been dated as thousands of years old, and much more.
††††††††††† Another source is the colorful Creation Magazine, published in Australia by the Creation Science Foundation. Write to Creation Science Ministries, PO Box 6330, Florence, KY 41022 (or, in the USA, call 800-778-3390). Ask for their "Answers in Genesis" catalog with many books and materials on creation science.
††††††††††† Fred and Carol Brauer of Junction City, Oregon (telephone, 541-998-1682), are Church of God (Seventh Day) members who have a portable "Creation Science Display" and present videos and lectures to groups on Creation vs. Evolution.
††††††††††† God exists. The flood was real. We dug for fish and saw proof of God.
††††††††††† How did we get the name, "Giving & Sharing"? Lesson 27 of the original Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, page 5, states, "God is love (I John 4:8). And the way of Godís love is GIVING & SHARING. As our loving Friend and Father, God wants to share with us the glory and riches of His kingdom ó His divine family."
††††††††††† Some in the Church of God today are death on Church government. For them, the correct form of Church government is the most important doctrine. Many are against the hierarchal Church government structure. While the Bible does not support Church hierarchies, it is a fact that most of us learned the Truth of the Almighty through a hierarchial government. Given a ministry and membership generally led by the Holy Spirit, it matters little who is "in charge," because all are servants. However, when many do not have the Spirit of the Eternal, the group really needs a dictatorial government to keep order. Here is some wise advice:
††††††††††† "Evil does not result because of organization, but because of making organization everything, and vital godliness of little moment. When form and machinery take the pre-eminence, and a laborious task is made of carrying on the work that should be done with simplicity, evil will result and little will be accomplished in proportion to the effort put forth" (Ellen G. White). I have observed rotten attitudes, heresy, and sin, in tightly-structured groups, and independent groups as well.
††††††††††† You can be zealous for spreading the Almightyís Truth in a large hierarchial group, as well as in small fellowship. You can also be lazy in either situation. B. G. Wilkinson, in his book, Truth Triumphant, describes the historical Church of the East as being endowed with both vigorous evangelistic activities, and sound doctrine. Wilkinson states, "It is difficult to say which is more dangerous ó sound doctrines without evangelism, or evangelism without sound doctrine. The first leads to coldness in religion; the second produces vaudeville in preaching" (page 300). (This monumental book on Church History is available from The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718, for a suggested donation of $15 postpaid.)
††††††††††† We should carefully look at the fruits, or results, of Church history, and learn the lesson of history, or we are doomed to repeat its failures. Roderick C. Meredith of the Global Church of God, in a sermon of May 17, 1997, referred to the decade of the 1970s as the "sick 70s." In seven years of the 70s, the Worldwide Church of God suffered negative growth in finances and membership. Two notable events in the Church during that time were the change in Pentecost from Monday to Sunday, and acceptance of wide-open divorce and remarriage for any, all, or no, reasons. I have been against these un-Biblical changes for the past twenty-five years. Meredith stated, "What if we did observe the day of Pentecost, technically, on the wrong day [sic.] for a few years? Did God punish the Church for that? No! Frankly, we had our greatest growth, in numbers of people, in money, in healings, divine healings, and other things before we changed Pentecost, in May of 1974. Because you look at the record from May 1974 on, it was very bad news, for the next five or six years. But, we were technically right [in changing to Sunday]." Meredith correctly observed the bad fruits of these doctrinal changes, yet he blamed the bad fruits on the attitudes of the people, not the change in doctrine. (Actually, Pentecost was changed via a January 31, 1974 letter from H.W. Armstrong, and divorce and remarriage was changed at the dedication of the auditorium, May 6, 1974.)
††††††††††† There have been some exciting developments in the work of The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718.
††††††††††† Sabbath-keeping young people need help and encouragement. If we are not youth-oriented, we are doomed to extinction. At the 1998 Feast of Tabernacles site the Nickels family attended in Panama City, Florida, a poll was taken which showed that the average length of time in the Church of the attendees was over twenty years. Very few were attending their first Feast. This is not a good sign!
††††††††††† To promote Sabbath-keeping among youth, the Bible Sabbath Association is initiating a modest BSA Scholarship Program. With your support, it may grow, and be offered year after year. Any Sabbath-keeping person, up to age 25, is eligible. International students are encouraged to apply. Scholarships will be paid directly to accredited colleges, universities, or trade schools. Part of the application process is a short essay. There is no application fee for subscribers to The Sabbath Sentinel magazine (published six times a year in color, free in US, $10 Canada, $20 International). For an application, see www.biblesabbath.org. †USA tax-deducible contributions to the BSA Scholarship Fund are welcome. Let us encourage our youth!† The BSAís Sabbath Sentinel magazine is worth reading.†
Tom Justus Expands Tract Program
††††††††††† Tom Justus, Pastor of the Church of God, Sabbath Day, PO Box 1645, Springdale, AR 72765, publishes basic doctrine tracts. A number of local Churches are using these tracts in evangelistic outreach programs. The fourteen titles currently available are: Born Again, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Key to the Book of Revelation, Kingdom of God, Lazarus and the Rich Man, Lordís Supper, Predestination, Resurrection Not On Sunday, Salvation, Why Do You Observe Sunday? Where Are Enoch and Elijah? Why Were You Born? These are timeless classics from the Worldwide Church of God, when they were preaching the straight Bible Truth. These tracts have space for your local church address, and are available FREE in any quantity. Also ask Tom Justus for the booklet, "You Can Preach the Gospel," which shows how to use the basic doctrine tracts in personal evangelism.
Satanís Great Deception
††††††††††† Dr. C. Paul Meredith (uncle of Roderick C. Meredith of the Global Church of God) wrote an excellent paper, Satanís Great Deception. (He also directed the original Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course.) Recently, I discovered Satanís Great Deception on the Internet. However, someone did a very sloppy job transcribing this book. Many words were misspelled or inaccurate, and whole sentences from the original work are missing. We have fixed many of these problems, and can now provide you a better, more accurate, edition.
††††††††††† Do you know that long before Jesus Christ was born, there were other "Saviors" worshipped as sons of God, other Madonnas, other Christ-childs, and the symbol of the cross? Meredith traces the history of false religion, and how it affects us today. Published in eleven installments from November, 1959, through September, 1960, in The Plain Truth magazine, this vital book was long ago discarded from Worldwide Church of God literature. It was not readily available in the early 1970s. Perhaps because of its suppression, the Church was destined to forget the lesson of history, and follow the downward path to false religion. As shocking as it sounds, the Church today followed a similar route of descending to paganism that occurred in the first few centuries of Christianity. Dr. C. Paul Meredithís book, Satanís Great Deception, is available on the Internet for download at www.giveshare.com, on computer disk (Disk 10, which also includes The Seven Epistles of Christ by Taylor Bunch, and other articles on Church history) for a donation of $2.50, or on paper for $7.50.
Download it now: Satan's Great Deception, by Dr. C. Paul Meredith, 74kb