Giving & Sharing Newsletter 52, August 1999
In This Issue:
The Man Nobody Knows | Gambling: A Popular Sin | Daniel 7:25 | Story of an Old Missouri Mule | Keeping the Sabbath; Breaking the Sabbath | George Mueller, Apostle of Faith | What in the World is Happening with our Kids Today? | Preparing for a Disaster | Do You Know the Great Creator? | Wisdom from Daniel Webster | Do You Have a Right to Be Offended? | Review: The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel -- Found! | The War Against Circumcision | Don't Reject God Because of Human Failure
Originally published in 1925, The Man Nobody Knows, by Bruce Barton, is a Christian classic, with over 600,000 copies sold. Founder and later Chairman of the Board of one of the world's largest advertising agencies, Barton paints a picture of the real Jesus, the Messiah. One of the favorite books of Herbert W. Armstrong, The Man Nobody Knows set the tone, the attitude, for the Church of God in recent times. It's a renewable resource, which can be mined time and again for spiritual insights. This is one book I go back to, time and again.
The real Jesus is not like the sissified, pale, sad, young man pictured on Sunday-school walls. He was not a physical weakling, but a strong carpenter who slept outdoors with muscles so strong that when He drove the moneychangers out, nobody dared to oppose Him! He was the most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem and enjoyed a hearty laugh and good wine. Jesus would never have been able to inspire mankind if He were not the dynamic leader He was.
Honestly, yet reverently, Barton paints a picture of the real Yahshua of the Bible as a leader, an outdoor man, a sociable man, whose method worked, who spoke uplifting words of wisdom, was a servant of all, and was indeed the Master worthy of worship.
The parables, major teachings of Jesus, are condensed and to the point, entirely unlike the drivel and nonsense you often find on Internet forums today. His language was marvelously simple, usually using one and two-syllable words. There is hardly a sentence in His teaching, which a child cannot understand. Sincerity illuminates strongly every word, and repetition in different ways drove home His points. His stories are unforgettable and timeless, eternal.
Deserted by His hometown, His relatives, the crowd, and finally the eleven, the Savior nevertheless triumphed gloriously. Bloody and beaten, dying on a stake, Jesus still performed one last miracle. One of the robbers crucified next to Him said painfully, "Jesus, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom!"
Barton concludes: "Read that, my friends, and bow your heads. You, who have let yourself picture Him as weak, as [only] a man of sorrows, uninspiring, glad to die. There have been many leaders who could call forth enthusiasm when their fortunes ran high. But He, when His enemies had done their worst, so bore Himself that a crucified felon looked into His dying eyes and saluted Him as king."
The Man Nobody Knows, by Bruce Barton, is available from: Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849. Or, you may order a copy online The Man Nobody Knows.
Legalized gambling has exploded in America. A decade ago, casinos were legal in only two states. Now they operate in more than half the states, and some form of gambling is legal in every state but Utah and Hawaii. In my native Oregon, the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde is the most popular tourist attraction, surpassing Multnomah Falls. When I attended high school on the Oregon coast, Roads End was a wild stretch of beach I often treked to during a howling winter ocean storm, to hear the crashing of the untamed surf. Now, it is a tourist trap dominated by the Chinook Winds Casino, run by the local Siletz Indians. This is a sad example of the downgrading of our quality of life.
Gambling has become one of the leading growth industries in the 1990s as more and more Americans try their luck at lotteries, casinos, racetracks and the like. Still, gambling interests spend tens of millions of advertising dollars annually in their relentless efforts to expand even further.
Proponents tout gambling as harmless fun, and as a powerful stimulus of economic development, jobs and tourism. What they fail to mention is that legalized gambling comes with significant costs. New gambling locales have experienced substantial increases in addiction, bankruptcies, crime, divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse, among other social ills.
Alarmed by this fact, concerned citizens and members of Congress, led by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), succeeded in creating a federal commission to assess the costs and benefits of legalized gambling. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) began its work in June 1997; it issued a final report to the President and Congress in June 1999. Focus on the Family president Dr. James Dobson was one of nine members who have been appointed to serve on the commission. He is to be commended for his courageous, outspoken opposition to gambling. Some of the data in this article are condensed from Focus on the Family material. I encourage you to write Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado, for additional information.
The NGISC visited numerous locales in 1998 to assess the impacts of various forms of gambling, including Atlantic City, N.J. (casinos); Boston (lotteries); Chicago (riverboat casinos); San Diego/Tempe, Ariz. (Indian gambling, parimutuel betting); Biloxi, Miss./New Orleans (casinos); Las Vegas (sports betting, casinos and other forms of casino-style gambling).
Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries. But, Americans lag behind other countries such as Britain in the proliferation of gambling. More than $600 billion is wagered legally in the United States annually. Nearly one in five homeless people admit that gambling contributed to their poverty. Five to eight percent of American adolescents are already addicted to gambling. More money is spent on gambling in the State of Mississippi than on all retail sales combined!
Clearly, "gambling fever" has engulfed the nation and has penetrated every age group from the very young to the very old. It now threatens the work ethic and the very foundation of the family. Thirty years ago, gambling was widely understood in the culture to be addictive, progressive, and dangerous. Parents taught their children about its evils, and some families would not even permit playing cards in the home. More recently, however, betting has been given a facelift by the industry - even changing the name from gambling to "gaming." The effect of this relentless propaganda has been dramatic. Most Americans now think of gambling, not as a vice or an unsavory habit, but as harmless "entertainment." Our best national park, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, has in recent years suffered a significant drop in tourists, as families are lured into taking the whole family to Nevada's gambling meccas, Las Vegas and Reno, instead of enjoying God's great creation in Yellowstone.
And where is the Church of God in all of this? You guessed it - too often they are also at the gaming tables! In 1975, my friend, Worldwide Church of God Pastor James Doak, of Modesto, California, put on a trench coat and a fake beard to do a little private investigation at a gambling casino in Nevada. He observed at arms length Evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong and his Church buddies gambling for high stakes. For years, Worldwide Church of God members attending the Feast of Tabernacles in Squaw Valley, California, hopped over the border into Reno and gambled with their second tithe.
It is high time to reign in the unbridled lust and covetousness created and enhanced by our wide-open gambling society.
When state lotteries are proposed, for example, the public is assured that enormous funds will be generated for education, despite studies showing that after states legalize lotteries, they actually reduce spending for education. Internet gambling seems to be the most unregulated, pervasive, and potentially destructive form of all.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote last year, "The first thing you notice when you walk in [a casino] is that nobody is smiling. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of faces, and not a happy one in the crowd. The people could be automatons, or the not quite perfect replicas of human beings in 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.' They sit there in front of their machines, going through the motions by rote as though hypnotized, trapped in quiet desperation, vacant expressions on their faces, looking for all the world like the victims of a sweat shop in a union organizing film. These mind-numbed, slack-jawed people sitting at the machines aren't assembly line workers turning out an endless supply of widgets. They are playing slot machines, allegedly having fun, although you'd never guess it by looking at them."
But what about the glitz and glamour of Nevada? If one scratches beneath the veneer of its gambling-induced prosperity, it becomes apparent that a culture sown on greed and the exploitation of human weakness invariably reaps the social whirlwind. Consider these documented facts: When compared with the other 49 states, Nevada ranks first in the nation in suicide, first in divorce, first in high school dropouts, first in homicide against women, at the top in gambling addictions, third in bankruptcies, third in abortion, fourth in rape, fourth in out-of wedlock births, fourth in alcohol-related deaths, fifth in crime, and sixth in the number of prisoners locked up. It ranks in the top one-third of the nation in child abuse. One-tenth of all Southern Nevadans are alcoholics. And as for the moral climate, the Yellow Pages in Las Vegas lists 136 pages of advertisements for prostitution by its various names. No wonder they call it "Sin City." Las Vegas is held to be "One of the 10 Most Corrupt Cities in America." This is the legacy of the decision made in 1931 to build Nevada's economy on greed and "get rich quick" schemes. What you sow, you reap. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition," I Timothy 6:9.
The Church of God has said precious little about the evil practice of gambling. One exception is the United Church of God. In their excellent booklet, The Ten Commandments, page 67, they speak of the world-wide plague of covetousness prophesied to occur in the last days. "One glaring example of the almost universal acceptance of covetousness is the burgeoning popularity of government-run lotteries. Millions of people surrender part of their paychecks each week hoping to win a fantasy life of ease and luxury. Likewise, the gambling meccas of the world are hugely popular vacation resorts, specializing in entertainment appealing to our baser instincts."
Gambling is opposed to Biblical principles. Please read "Is Gambling a Sin?" Study No. 98, available on our website, www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/098.gambling.html, or a free reprint from our bookstore in Missouri.
Someone asked my friend, Sydney Davis, how he arrived at the conclusion that "times" in Daniel 7:25 means "sacred feasts and holy days" or has any relation to "God's appointed feasts." Here is Sydney's answer:
The word "times" in Daniel 7:25 is from the Aramaic word "zeman," Strong's #2166, which literally means "appointed or set time" - with specific reference to the Hebrew liturgical calendar.
The word zeman is a synonym for another word in Hebrew that means "appointed time." That word is moed, Strong's #4025. Moed is also the Hebrew word for "feast" in Leviticus 23. Both zeman and moed mean the same thing except that zeman is an Aramaic term, and moed is an Hebrew term.
There are various Bible translations that verify the usage of zeman to mean "feast." Because it is understood that whenever the term "appointed time" is used with reference to the Hebrew calendar, it always means "feasts" or "holy day." I specifically used the Amplified Bible in my article to prove this because it is widely recognized by both Bible students and Biblical scholars alike to be a reputable translation whose "purpose is to reveal, together with the single word English equivalent to each key Hebrew and Greek word, any other clarifying shades of meaning that may be concealed by the traditional word-for-word method of translation," Amplified Bible, Publisher's Foreword.
"And he shall speak words against the Most High [God], and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times [of sacred feasts and holy days] and the law." The Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Bible Publishers) 1965. All brackets belong to the quoted text.
Here are some other translations of Daniel 7:25: "He shall speak words against the Most High; he shall plan to change the sacred seasons and the law," Modern Language Bible, from the Parallel Bible (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Bible Publishers) 1977.
"He will defy the Most High and wear down the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws," Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.
"He shall speak words against the Most High, shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High, and shall attempt to change the sacred seasons and the law," The New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989.
"He will speak against the supreme God and oppress God's people. He will try to change their religious laws and festivals," Good News Bible, from Holy History by Elder John VanDenburgh (Terra Bella, CA: Bible Explorations), p. 16.
"He shall vaunt himself against the Most High, and harass the saints of the Most High: he shall plan to alter the sacred seasons and the law..." Moffatt Bible.
"Boastfully he shall challenge the Most High, and do His servants despite; calendar and ordinance he shall think to set aside," Knox Bible.
"And he shall speak against the Most High, thinking to change the feast days and the law," New American Bible.
The footnote for Daniel 7:25 in the Jerusalem Bible says that it refers to "the observance of the Sabbath and the feast days." (See Jerusalem Bible, New York, Doubleday & Co., Inc.) 1968.
The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on Daniel 7:25 says that he shall think to appoint "feasts and fasts."
All these translations are helpful in understanding what is readily understood or assumed by the Hebrew mind when reading these texts in their original language.
A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule "braying" - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened . . . and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back . . . a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back . . . HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow.
Shake it off and step up . . . shake it off and step up . . . shake if off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!
You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him . . . all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
THAT'S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity . . . THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US! REMEMBER THAT FORGIVENESS, FAITH, PRAYER, PRAISE, and HOPE . . . all are excellent ways to "SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP" out of the wells in which we find ourselves! (article provided by Earl Lewis).
How did the Worldwide Church of God get to its present position, that the seventh- day Sabbath is no longer a requirement for Christians? In the Twentieth Century, Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God promoted the Sabbath in a powerful way, throughout the world. After Armstrong's death in 1986, his successor Joseph Tkach led an assault on all of Armstrong's teachings. This attack resulted in an abandonment of teaching that the Sabbath is a commandment of God, acceptance of the Trinity, Christmas and Easter, and in short, a wholesale departure from nearly every one of Armstrong's distinctive teachings. Some Worldwide Church of God congregations today meet on Sunday, or other days of the week. They now believe that no day of the week is holy time, and have disfellowshipped those who insist the Sabbath is holy time.
How did this change come about? It did not start after 1986. It began decades earlier. Paul Royer, one of the leading ministers in Pasadena for many years, left the Worldwide Church of God in 1975 and currently heads The Church of God, Sonoma in California. In a 1976 sermon tape entitled "Keeping the Sabbath," Royer claims that breaking the Sabbath was the beginning of the downfall of the Worldwide Church of God. Royer maintains that one of the major ways we show our respect for God is how we keep the Sabbath.
In the late 1960s, Royer noticed students jogging at Ambassador College just before sundown on Friday evening, and others shopping at El Rancho supermarket on Sabbath afternoon. He remarked to his friend Rod Meredith, "Give us 15-20 years, and this Church will not even know the Sabbath." Meredith thought it would take 40 years.
Garner Ted Armstrong hunted on the Sabbath, and at one time even commandeered the Church pilot to fly him in to hunt on the Sabbath. According to Royer, both Garner Ted and Herbert Armstrong broke the Sabbath for years. HWA watched the Lakers play basketball on the Sabbath. Workers for the "House for God" auditorium in Pasadena worked on the Sabbath. When the workers were behind schedule, Herbert Armstrong commissioned Sabbath overtime work at overtime pay, in order to have the building finished in time. When I worked in Big Sandy in 1972, construction workers were laboring as we entered the building for Sabbath services. When I questioned the ministers about this practice, they said that the Church had a contract with the construction company, and the Church could not dictate their working hours. Years later, when I personally had some major repair work done on my house, I had no problem enforcing the rule that workers quit at 4:00 PM on Friday. After all, I was paying the bill! The ministers had lied to me.
Paul Royer asks the question: "Can you keep the knowledge and fear of God without keeping the Sabbath?" His answer is "NO!" Israel went into captivity for breaking the Sabbath, Ezekiel 20. The first thing God revealed to Israel when they came out of Egypt was the Sabbath, Exodus 16. Breaking the Sabbath was the beginning of the downfall of the Worldwide Church of God.
Paul Royer's tape, "Keeping the Sabbath," describes many practical ways to make the Sabbath an enjoyable spiritual experience. It is available from The Bible Sabbath Association.
Another excellent sermon tape was given by Dean Blackwell in 1978, which I have entitled, "Defense of the Sabbath." Blackwell demonstrates keen logic in showing that the Sabbath is found throughout the Bible. It is no coincidence that many of Jesus' activities were centered around Sabbaths and Holy Days. The Sermon on the Mount was given on a Sabbath. The Gospel of John, the whole book, is about the Sabbaths and Holy Days observed by Christ. There was no "Palm Sunday," it was really "Palm Sabbath." Dean Blackwell's humor, and practical, down-to-earth east Texas drawl make this tape one of my all-time favorites.
Paul Royer's audio tape, "Keeping the Sabbath," C205, and Dean Blackwell's tape, "Defense of the Sabbath," C206, are available for $2.50 each (or $3.50 for both tapes), from: The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718. Toll-free phone, 888-687-5191.
More needs to be said about improper Sabbath observance and the downfall of the Worldwide Church of God. There was certainly Sabbath-breaking extant, from the top leadership down to the membership. But an opposite problem was also a significant factor. Some parents in the Church made the Sabbath a burden of restrictive do's and don'ts, thus turning off their children to the joys of true Sabbath-keeping. It is said that Joe Tkach, Jr., resented his childhood experiences of the Sabbath, which he viewed as restrictive. When he got the chance, he threw out the baby with the bath water. The Sabbath is not a day to watch the Lakers play basketball or hire workers to labor for you, but it is, and can be, a day of joy for the whole family.
Perhaps the best book Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi has written is one that has received the least attention. It is entitled, Divine Rest for Human Restlessness. This masterpiece shows the beauty of the Sabbath, which truly is "good news," and not "bad news" as Tkach was led to believe. Bacchiocchi's three best books, Divine Rest for Human Restlessness, From Sabbath to Sunday, and his newest book, The Sabbath Under Crossfire, are available from The Bible Sabbath Association for a $12.50 donation each (or, any two for $20, and all three for $30). Please add postage.
What is going to be for you? Are you going to make the Sabbath a harsh, mean, restrictive, burdensome day, that any thinking young person would automatically reject? Are you going to throw out the Sabbath, and "do you own thing" on God's Holy Day? Or, are you going to call, and make, the Sabbath a delight, and honor the Creator, speaking His words and doing His spiritual work on the day of divine rest that pictures the Kingdom of God? You are either going to be keeping the Sabbath, or breaking the Sabbath. Which one will it be for you?
God does not PROMISE healing, or anything else, unless We BELIEVE. "According to your FAITH be it unto you," said Jesus, Matthew 9:29.
George Mueller (or Muller), was "probably the greatest modern apostle of FAITH. He founded five great orphanages and other charitable institutions in Bristol, England. He started out, as FAITH always does, with a very small work, without any financial backing, and absolutely NO means of support, except to get down on his knees, and send up a BELIEVING PRAYER TO GOD. For nearly seventy years George Mueller continued that great work, and it grew into a tremendous institution until it housed THOUSANDS. Every dime for feeding, clothing, sheltering, and schooling those thousands of orphans came in only one way - as a result of BELIEVING prayer. George Mueller never sent out a plea for money. He never begged for money. No, he didn't NEED to, and no true servant of God EVER needs to!
"Altogether he received more than a million four hundred thousand POUNDS - that is about SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS - that was SENT to him, in answer to his prayers!
"And so when George Mueller gives us his definition of FAITH, we may well listen, for he spoke from a rich experience, and his definition is a practical one, because it WORKED, to the extent of $7,000,000 - all used in a ministration of LOVE and MERCY. And here is his definition of faith . . . 'FAITH is the ASSURANCE that the things which God said in His Word are TRUE! And that God WILL ACT according to what He has said IN HIS WORD. This assurance, this RELIANCE ON GOD'S WORD, this confidence, is FAITH!' That's George Mueller's definition! And it is a true Bible definition. Romans 4:21 - 'And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform'." (The preceding comes from the booklet, "What is Faith?" by Herbert W. Armstrong.)
The life of George Mueller is an inspiring example of faith for us today. When Mueller was asked to pastor a Church, he refused to receive a salary. Instead, he placed a collection box at the entrance to the Church. That was the limit of his "marketing strategy." His whole life was based on faith. He refused to accept any donations from unbelievers. He refused to inform anybody regarding his needs, mentioning them only to God, in private, on his knees. Would to God the Church today followed Mueller's faithful example!
We are pleased to make available a 55-minute VHS video (NTSC, American format), "Obstacle to Comfort, The Life of George Muller," produced by Dr. Ken Connolly, $15 donation from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849. Be advised that watching this video may expose the shallowness of your faith. But, be encouraged, that the narrator's conclusions are that Mueller was not a special person; we all may exercise the great faith that Mueller had.
Let's see.... I think it started when Madalyn Murray O'Hare complained that she didn't want prayer in schools, and we said, OK.
Then someone said you can't read the Bible in school - the Bible that says you shouldn't kill, you shouldn't steal, and you should love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK. Then Dr. Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their personalities would be warped and their self-esteem might be damaged. And we said, OK.
Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And administrators said no one had better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued. And we said, OK.
Then someone said let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, OK. Then someone else said, let's give our sons and daughters all the condoms they want so they can have all the "fun" they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents. And we said, OK.
And then some of our top officials said that it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And we said, OK. As long as I have a job and the economy is good, it doesn't matter what anyone does in private - it's nobody's business.
So now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill someone. If we think about it long and hard enough, we probably can figure it out. Could it have something to do with "reaping what we have sown"? Whoa! What a concept!
· author unknown, from the Internet
Last winter, the electric power went out one evening. We immediately lit numerous candles, which gave the house a warm and glowing effect. The problem which caused the outage was not fixed for several hours, much longer than I expected. I realized how dependant we are on utilities. As time goes on, natural disasters and other problems may come our way. How prepared are we for such situations? Whether or not the "Y2K" computer problem becomes merely a "bump in the road," or a great catastrophe, it is prudent for the believer in the Messiah to make some physical, and spiritual, preparations for disasters. The Bible says, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished," Proverbs 22:3. What are some basic things we should do to prepare in advance for disasters which may come our way?
The American Red Cross has some reliable information that is very helpful to people. They assist people in the aftermath of natural disasters. Here a few helpful points: (1) Water is one of our basic needs. Storing some water for emergencies is a good idea. Our ancestors knew that silver or copper coins in a barrel will keep stored water pure. Another way to keep water good is to add a few drops of common household bleach (such as Chlorox Bleach, which is 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite). Depending on the water quality, 8-16 drops per gallon is the proper amount to add before sealing the water container. (2) Foods stored can be a lifesaver in an emergency. It always has been a good idea to have a six months' supply of food in case of hard times. Boxed powdered milk, dried fruits, dry crackers and potatoes should be used within six months. Canned soups, fruits, and vegetables, instant cereals, peanut butter, and jelly, should be used within one year. Wheat, vegetable oils, dried corn, soybeans, tea, salt, rice, dry pasta, and nitrogen packed cans of powdered milk may be stored indefinitely. An excellent source for storage foods at reasonable prices is Alison's Pantry, 580 West State, PO Box 499, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062, (801) 785-3400. Call them for a catalog and the nearest local representative. (3) You should have basic supplies on hand. Examples are: medical and hygiene items, portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries, shovels and tools, some money, matches (in a dry container), fire extinguisher, blankets, tents, warm clothing, hand-operated stone grinder to grind grains into flour, manual can opener, etc. Most items used for camping would also be handy in case of a disaster. I bought an American Red Cross emergency radio for about $35, operates from batteries, solar power, or a self-contained hand crank generator.
You may never need these disaster supplies, but perhaps you can use them to help your neighbors and others, which is certainly an example of what Christians should do. As long as we do not depend on physical things to protect us, there is no harm in taking prudent precautions and preparations for hard times. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest," Proverbs 6:6-8. The ant prepares for the winter. Do we?
But, what about spiritual preparation for a disaster? You do not spiritually prepare for the coming Great Tribulation by throwing away truths you have learned and practiced for years. However, that is exactly what many in the Sabbath-keeping community are doing as this moment, especially in smaller independent groups which have left the Worldwide Church of God. Doctrinal departure is going to lead you into tribulation and anguish! Firming up your beliefs by getting your nose in the Bible is the best way, the only way, to effectively prepare for the coming spiritual hard times
Gary Kah, in his concise and easy-to-understand book, En Route to Global Occupation, lists three ways to spiritually prepare for hard times. (1) Be an informed and educated Christian. Instead of being a Bible illiterate, you should be prepared to defend your faith, I Peter 3:15, by taking on the full armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-13. Today we have un-Biblical arguments from many leading Sabbatarian preachers, who are not against coming under military authority, who oppose tithing, who believe that marriage is not for life, who espouse an un-Scriptural fifteenth "Passover," and who are basically Protestants in Sabbatarian clothing. Are you prepared to defend the Truth, and contend for the faith once delivered?
Kah's second point is crucial: (2) Draw near to Christ. Have we truly surrendered every aspect of our life to Christ? If we do not have a close relationship with Christ today, it may be too late tomorrow in hard times to start up a relationship with Him. Read these important verses: Galatians 2:20, 5:16, 24; Colossians 2:20, 3:1-3, 5-8; I Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:7-8. There is a price to pay to have a close relationship with God! That price is total commitment, now, when times are good. Then, when tribulation or disaster come, you can "harvest" that relationship with God.
Finally, (3) Keep life in its proper perspective. This physical world is not all there is. God is infinitely more important than our material possessions, or physical lives, and this world. There is no reason to fret over what may happen to our physical bodies. As Kah says, "let us seek God wholeheartedly and submit our lives to Him on a daily basis. As we do so, we will grow closer to Him; and His Holy Spirit will empower us with a boldness to do things, even in the midst of persecution, which we never thought were possible before. By keeping our lives focused on Jesus Christ and the eternity that He has planned for us, we will be able to persevere under pressure, while maintaining His peace and joy," page 159. See I John 2:15-17; James 4:14; Philippians 1:27-28, 3:18-21, 4:4-7; John 10:28.
Remember Matthew 16:25, "Whosoever will save his life [in the future] shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake [now] shall find it." Live for God now, and prudently prepare physically and spiritually for the coming disastrous hard times ahead.
Denise Volmer, a South Dakota rancher's wife, writes and sings her own songs, and plays the guitar to boot. Mostly her songs are country/western, sung with her clear and cheerful voice, and always with a good theme and purpose. Her religious songs are great spiritual treasures. Denise is a member of the Church of God in the Rapid City, SD, area. Her deep religious faith shows in her unique and authentic songs.
My favorite song of Denise's is "Do You Know the Great Creator?" You should hear her lovely voice, and join with her in song: "Do you know the great Creator? Have you heard of His great plan? Do you know He plans to change us, from simple, mortal, man, to a spirit-born family, rising up into the air? Brethren gone before, will join us. I can't wait 'til we're all there." Several verses continue, including this one: "Do you know the great Creator? Have you heard of His great plan? Do you know He plans a Kingdom, spreading all across the land, to a hurt and torn people, needing peace and tender care? Brethren, we'll be there to guide them. I can't wait 'til we're all there."
"Do You Know the Great Creator?" plus nine country/western songs, are on Denise's audio tape, "Somewhere Inside of You." Another tape, "Until I See You Again," has ten more gems, including "Tell Me Why," which explores why Jesus had to die. All of her songs, whether secular or religious, have great meaning and warmth. You may order either of these audio cassette tapes for $8.00 each from: Denise Volmer, 17630 Baseline Road, Wasta, SD 57791. Please include $1.50 per tape for postage.
One of America's great statesmen, Daniel Webster wrote, "If religious literature is not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If Truth is not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end."
- written by Richard C. Nickels