Newsletter 55, March, 2000
Church History Special Issue | Lux Lucet in Tinebris | The Church and the Homosexual | Sunday-Worshipping Sabbath-Keepers? | Hebrew Roots? | Modern Good Samaritan | Are You a Hireling? | Fulfilling Your Life's Purpose | Anti-Perspirant and Breast Cancer | Giving & Sharing Financial Statement | Edersheim's Book, The Temple | Sabbath Roots: The African Connection | Church History Resources | Disfellowshipping and Marking | The King of the Jews | Cancer Book Critiqued | Are YOU a Follower of Christ? | Right Makes Might
Church History Special Issue
At the close of the Twentieth Century, we need to know where we have been, and where we are going. There has never been a time when knowledge of Church History has been more critical.
It is difficult for us to fathom the tribulations that early Christians endured. We need to be aware of the sacrifices believers made in the past, to be steeled for the possibility of future trials and tribulations on us.
Ages Software has prepared a remarkable computer CD ROM entitled "Reformation History Library, Version 2." In addition to the standard works of Protestant reformers such as Luther, Calvin, Latimer, Knox, Tyndale, and Fox, the CD contains Church Histories of interest to Sabbath-keepers: Benjamin Wilkinson's incomparable book, Truth Triumphant; Writings of St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland; J.N. Andrews' History of the Sabbath; Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Piedmont and the Albigenses; Henry Arnaud, The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois of Their Valleys; George Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses & Albigenses; Jean Paul Perrin History of the Ancient Christians (Perrin, a Waldensian pastor, gives a personal account of the Church of the valleys of the Alps); Samuel Smiles' Huguenots in England and Ireland; William Jones' History of the Christian Church; D'Aubigne's History of the Sixteenth Century Reformation; Ante-Nicean Fathers; and much more.
The CD ROM retails for $99.95. You may order it for $48.00 postpaid. System requirements: IBM Compatible 386, Windows 3.1, 4mb RAM, 5mb disk, or better; Macintosh 68020, System 7.0.1, 8mb RAM, 5mb disk, or better.
Lux Lucet in Tinebris
"The Scripture saith, and it is evident, That if any man love those who are good, he must needs love God, and Jesus Christ. Such an one will neither curse, swear, nor lie, He will neither commit Adultery, nor kill; he will neither defraud his Neighbour, Nor avenge himself of his Enemies, Now such an one is termed a Waldensian, and worthy to be punished, And they find occasion by lies and by Deceit, To take from him that which he has gotten by his just labour. However, he that's thus persecuted for the fear of the Lord, strengthens himself greatly, By this consideration, that the Kingdom of Heaven shall be given him at the end of the World. Then he shall have a weight of glory in recompence for all such dishonour." (From "The Noble Lesson," a Waldensian tract written in A.D. 1100. The entire text is atwww.giveshare.org/churchhistory/waldenses/noblelesson.html.) The motto of the Waldensians was "Lux Lucet in Tinebris," Latin for "light shines in darkness." Truly the Waldensians were a light in the Dark Ages.
Did the Waldensians keep the Sabbath? Over their long history, many were Sabbath-keepers. B.G. Wilkinson, in his book, Truth Triumphant, pages 255-264, shows that Sabbath-keeping was an integral part of Waldensian history. When Waldensians capitulated and joined the Protestant Reformation in the early Seventeenth Century, they had given up distinctive beliefs held by Waldensians for many centuries. We urge you to read Truth Triumphant, available on the Internet atwww.giveshare.org/churchhistory/truthtriumphant, or for a donation of $12.95 from Giving & Sharing.
Someone said that a mark of bestial tyranny is to excise the facts of history from the minds of our youth, so that the past can be erased, and tyrants can re-create an amoral, godless society. A study of Sabbatarian history is vital to our spiritual survival. Please read the lead article in this Newsletter, "Sabbath Roots," and use the Church History Resources we provide to preserve and restore the inspiring legacy of Sabbath-keepers.
The Church and the Homosexual
"We need to recognize the existence of homosexually-oriented believers in our churches," says Joe Dallas, President of Exodus International. How the Church responds to the homosexual seeking to be freed from this sin, in large part determines whether or not he will keep fighting. Written to the homosexual, and to those who love them, Dallas' book, Desires in Conflict, Answering the Struggle for Sexual Identity, was an eye-opener to me. What are the roots of homosexuality? How does one, with God's help, change one's sexual orientation? How should parents react when their son or daughter tells them they are homosexual? Is your Church group composed of warm, and loving brethren, so that someone with homosexual tendencies could openly talk about their feelings, and be met, not with rejection and hostility, but with concern and compassion? From a thoroughly Biblical viewpoint, Dallas helps us understand the number one social and moral issue of our time: homosexuality. As a Church, we have fallen far short of perfection in dealing with this problem. The Church, lamentably, has been part of the problem.
Every Church Pastor, every parent, every young person, needs the information contained in Desires in Conflict. Joe Dallas shows us how to deal with many problems, homosexuality, or whatever kind of sin. "When we [the Church] function as a body - a group of believers who acknowledge their need for each other, who take time to know each other, and who commit themselves to each other's welfare - we create a godly environment where healing of all kinds can take place" (Dallas, p. 263). God created man to need personal, close relationships with others, of the same sex, and the opposite sex. Homosexuality is a wrong expression of man's need for relationships, and the healing of this sin comes from establishing right relationships, with God and with others. This book is NOT psychology; it describes how to put into practice the love of God. In the Church, we all too often play games while the men and women around us are tormented by sin, too timid to bare their bosoms, too ashamed to ask our help. If we are to ever grow into spiritual maturity and the love of Christ, we must implement the solutions Dallas so eloquently expresses in Desires in Conflict. This 288-page book is available for purchase online atwww.giveshare.org/amazon/youth.html, or for a donation of $14 postpaid from Giving & Sharing.
Some may say that the problem of homosexuality is not a problem in the Sabbatarian community. They are wrong. The "Rainbow 7th Day Sabbatarians" have a web page which claims support from gay and gay friendly people of the Worldwide Church of God, Seventh-day Adventists, Sabbatarian Anabaptists, Church of God (7th Day), Church of God International, Philadelphia Church of God, Global Church of God, United Church of God, and Seventh Day Baptists.
The site has a guest book. Here are two representative comments in the guest book: (1) "I am a gay married man in UCG. I am in the closet and plan to stay that way for awhile. I could tell you many things about gay life in the Worldwide Church of God. I am a graduate of Ambassador College. I have even had sex with a minister when I was in college. But I can't/won't come out yet. I do approve of your web pages and your club. Please keep up the good work." (2) "I was surprised to find this web site for gay Sabbatarians. I am a SDA and live in Florida. I am in the closet still, as my parents are paying for my college education and I'm afraid that if they knew I was gay, they would stop helping me. Thanks for this site and your links to the SDA Kinship."
According to this Seventh Day Gay web site, the various Scriptures used to show homosexuality is a sin have all been "mistranslated and/or misused." Seventh day gays had considered setting up their own Feast site for this just past Tabernacles in Dallas, which they called the "Festal Autumn Gathering (FAG)." However, at the last minute, everyone decided to go to the Feast Sites in their respective areas. According to gay webmaster Stephen, "We are thinking of having one in the future, though. . . . The reason to have a gay FOT is not to separate ourselves, but to be somewhere we are accepted and are still able to practice our beliefs. We don't want to be separate from others of the Churches of God." Gays are coming to a congregation near you.
Gay Seventh Dayers declare that David and Jonathon were lovers, and therewith imply, since David is a man after God's own heart, that God Himself is homosexual. The webmaster of this site, a baptized former member of the Worldwide Church of God who left in the late 1970s, claims he was told by the ministers who baptized him that baptism would cure him of his homosexuality. It did not. Later, he was anointed for his sin, yet he was not cured. He says he always believed that homosexual "marriage" is morally right. It is plainly obvious that the scriptural position on homosexuality has been missed on this individual, and that ministers who dealt with him had a total lack of understanding of the homosexual problem.
If the facts presented above do not stir you to love and good works, then nothing will. The Sabbatarian community is basically at fault for not dealing with the issue of homosexuality. Unless we build an atmosphere of love and positive Bible teaching, the aberrant theology of homosexuals and development of pro-homosexual groups will continue to proliferate. Freedom and liberation from sins such as homosexuality can only come in a Church empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Almighty. Put yourself in the shoes of a closet Sabbatarian homosexual. Would your Church be a loving community in which he or she could confide in, and seek help from? Homosexuality, according to experts such as Joe Dallas, results from defective relationships. What kind of relationships exist in your Sabbatarian congregation? Do your actions lead to the solution, or instead the continuation, of the homosexual problem?
Does this sound like an oxymoron or not? A professed Sabbath-keeper regularly worships on Sunday, and rests on the Sabbath. This is not a "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" story. Recently, we received an E-mail from a man in Missouri, stating, "You claim that if I keep Sunday as my day of worship that is a terrible thing or something. I do not worship on the Sabbath because my Church does not worship that day. I DO REST and study on the Sabbath though. I am a former 'Worldwider,' and now am in Anthony Buzzard's Church, the Church of GOD General Conference (Abraham Faith). I also worship in AF family homes nearer to myself. (Sir Anthony Buzzard left Worldwide in the 1970s). . . I believe that GOD's law does not change, I feel that I only agree with the Abrahamic folks, so I worship on Sunday in order to be fed Spiritually, again I STILL 'KEEP' THE SABBATH, just not how you do."
This sentiment is probably more common than you may think. My wife Shirley, BSA Office Manager, received a phone call the other day from someone who said that there is no command in the Bible to worship on the Sabbath. The person said that after an exhaustive study of the entire Bible, he and others concluded that the Sabbath is only a day of rest, not of worship, and hence the Mark of the Beast could have nothing to do with the Sabbath. This is becoming quite a movement. Also, some Seventh-day Adventists and others are embracing so-called "New Covenant" theology, and giving up the Sabbath altogether.
My friend from Missouri may not realize that my fellowship opportunities are as scarce as hen's teeth. Yet not once have I been tempted to consider regularly attending Sunday services. I suppose the last time I attended Sunday services was when my Baptist minister lambasted an article against the Trinity in the Plain Truth magazine which I had given him. That was back in the early 1960s. That was the last time I ever darkened his door.
What about the Sabbath? Does the Bible say it is a day of worship, as well as a day of rest (no work)? When the Fourth Commandment was given, we are told, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," Exodus 20:8. God's resting on the seventh day of Creation Week did not make it holy. The Sabbath became holy when God "blessed" and "sanctified" (hallowed) the seventh day, Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:11. Likewise, our resting on the seventh day is not all there is to keeping it holy. Leviticus 23:3 makes it very clear, "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings." Without a holy convocation with the Almighty, and His people (if possible), you are not keeping the Sabbath! Our Savior set us an example. He did not merely rest by Himself on the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 says, "as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read." Every Sabbath, Jesus worshipped and met with God's people, and communed with God by reading His Word. He did NOT go to Sunday services! Are we going to follow His example of keeping the Sabbath holy, I Peter 2:21, or invent our own system of worship? "He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked," I John 2:6.
The so-called "Hebrew Roots" movement is a curious phenomenon among Sabbath-keepers and Sunday-keepers. The core of the belief is that Jewish traditions are of superlative value in bringing us closer to God. For one, "Hebrew Roots" is a real misnomer. All Jews are Israelites, and all Israelites are Hebrews. But, not all Israelites are Jews, and not all Hebrews are Israelites. To be honest, if we really wish to get back to Hebrew roots, we would be not limiting ourselves to Jewish roots, but Israelite roots (such as Celtic Patrick and Colomba of Ireland), and Hebrew roots such as the Jordanians and many other peoples. Modern Jordanians come from Moab and Ammon, sons of Lot, nephew of Abraham (Genesis 19:36-38). Eber, father of the Hebrews, was the great grandson of Shem. There were many peoples descended from Eber. It shows lack of Bible knowledge to term this Jewish roots movement, "Hebrew Roots."
Not only that, but it is often very simple to disprove some Jewish traditions by the Bible. Here is an example. David Wiseman, a Jew of Dallas, Texas, tried his best to sell me and others in the Church of God the "four species," the lulav and esrog (etrog). He urged me to send him about $40 for the traditional Jewish palm branch (lulav), myrtle (hadas), willow (arava), and citron (esrog). This would supposedly help me better observe the Feast of Tabernacles (succot).
Leviticus 23:40 says, "And ye shall take you on the first day [of Tabernacles] the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days." Now, what were these boughs (branches) of four trees to be used for? Were they to be made into a twisted ornament and carried around during the Feast like the Jewish custom? No, they were to be used to build the roof of the booths of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths), Nehemiah 8:14-16. Was one of the "four species" a citron (a fruit like a small lime)? Not according to the Bible. The branches from a "goodly tree" are shown in Nehemiah 8 to be olive branches, not a citrus fruit (esrog).
Now, where did the Jews get the idea to walk with a woven bundle of myrtle, willow, and palm branches, and carry an esrog fruit, during the Feast of Tabernacles? On page eighteen of his book, Tabernacles - Succot, When the Messiah Feasts With Jews and Gentiles, Wiseman admits, "The Torah is not explicit in stating the identity of the Four Species. . . ." He goes on to show that the origin of the modern "four species," the lulav and esrog, was from "oral tradition," the Midrash. Are you going to follow Jewish tradition, or the Bible?
Jesus was against false Jewish traditions which did not then, and do not now, truly honor God. "Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men . . . . Making the Word of God of none effect through your traditions," Mark 7:7, 13. Some of the strange customs Jesus was countering here, making a fetish out of washing the hands, probably came from Egypt. Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the Fifth Century, B.C., said that Egyptians would not eat out of an uncovered pot, bathed twice a day, shunned foreigners (especially Greeks), and would destroy a utensil touched by Greeks (istHH
History, Bk. II, pp. 37-41). Palestinian Jews were under Egyptian control from 301-198 B.C. They picked up lots of Egyptian traditions. Let's follow the Bible, and not Jewish traditions. The Bible should be our Hebrew roots.
Modern Good Samaritan
A certain man, Mr. United, went down from St. Louis to Cincinnati. His car stalled in East St. Louis, and he fell among thieves. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and took his car, leaving him half dead in the ditch. And by chance there came down a certain man, Mr. Living, who saw him, and thought, "he's too liberal; he is not part of our group (they meet a short distance from where our Church meets)," and so passed by on the other side of the road. Likewise, Mr. Philadelphia, when he saw the scene, sniffed, "he doesn't believe Herbert Armstrong was the end-time Elijah," and passed by on the other side. But a certain man, Mr. Independent, was also traveling on the same route, and discovered the poor man, who was now near death. "This guy is part of an hierarchical organization. I want nothing to do with him," and Independent too left the scene without helping poor United. The day was drawing to a close, and all hope for United seemed to be gone, when it happened that Mr. Worldwide came by. When Worldwide saw United, his heart was filled with compassion, and he went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him in his own automobile, and brought him to a nearby hospital, and took care of him. In the morning, Worldwide left United in their care, wrote a large check to the head nurse, and said, "Take care of United, and whatsoever you spend more, when I come again, I will repay you."
Now, which of these four, do you think, was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves (see Luke 10:29-37)?
Since my youthful days as a Sunday school student in the Baptist Church, the story of the Good Samaritan has continued to impress me. The main point of the story is that we should show kindness to anyone in need, even our enemies. In the time of Jesus, the Samaritans were "black sheep," looked down on by the Jews as corrupters of God's way of life. "The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans," the woman of Samaria told Jesus, John 4:9. Due to their worship on the Holy Days at Mt. Gerizim, instead of Jerusalem, Jews and Samaritans were enemies (John 4:20; Luke 9:51-56). The history of the Samaritans is given in II Kings 17:24-41. When the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity about 700 B.C., the King of Assyria placed a mixed people in the land of Israel (Samaria). A captive priest was summoned to teach them the ways of the Lord, but their religion became a mixture of Truth and error, "So these nations [the Samaritans] feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day," verse 41.
So, to really understand what the story of the Good Samaritan was about, we see that the one who helped the wounded man was a follower of a corrupt religion. Yet, those who kept the "true religion" failed the basic duty to serve their fellowman. There is more to learn from this story than I was able to comprehend in Sunday school.
One lesson is that there are good and bad people in all groups. You cannot categorize all people in Group "X" as being worthless scum; nor are all folks in Group "Y" holy saints. As you were reading my modern Good Samaritan story, you may have thought that the Independent would have helped the wounded man. Were you surprised that Worldwide would help, because they have corrupted the Sabbath and much of God's Truth? Jesus' story probably surprised his First Century audience as well. He was not saying that all priests and Levites were uncaring, bad persons. He was not telling us that all Samaritans were kind and helping individuals. He was encouraging us to love our enemies, and do good to those who despitefully use us. He was saying that we may be surprised at the bad things "good" people sometimes do, and the good things "bad" people do.
Recently, I received an E-mail that shocked me to the core. I had recommended a friend read the excellent United Church of God booklet, "The Church Jesus Built." My friend replied that he will read nothing produced by a hierarchical group. The bitter attitudes of many, both in large organizations, as well as independents, makes me wonder if they would help a brother in need who did not conform exactly to their religious standards. This brings me to another lesson from this story:
You can expect kindness from some people, in spite of the fact that they are off base doctrinally. In grade school, I learned this lesson when I purposely befriended a "bad" boy who served time in juvenile detention. All he really needed was someone to take an interest him as a person, and he responded to my kindness with kindness. In spite of the fact that some in the Worldwide Church of God have a bitter attitude against God's Truth from their unsavory past experiences, I do believe many of them have a kind heart and would be the type of persons likely to help others in need. Some others, who are more "right" in doctrine, may be in such a sour attitude that it makes me wonder if they would stoop to help others.
Another lesson from the Good Samaritan is a bitter pill to swallow, and some will hate me for saying it: many in God's Church are not Good Samaritans. Jesus did not thoroughly condemn ALL scribes and Pharisees, but He did condemn hypocrisy and uncaring. Many people in the Church and the World today, are like the poor wounded man on the road to Jericho (or Cincinnati). They need a helping hand of friendship to bind up their wounds. But, too many pass by, indulging in their own selfish pursuits, rather than helping God's people, and not helping to spread the Word to the unconverted. The Samaritan had a mixed-up religion, but he did have one thing right: if you love and help your neighbor, you are showing love to God, the Father of us all.
The Samaritans and Jews had no dealings with each other. You can just hear the Jews saying, "You cannot trust a Samaritan," while the Samaritans criticized the Jews for their traditions not found in the Torah. There was a lot of Truth on both sides, and a lot of error. Sounds like things we hear today from Sabbatarians about each other.
You will notice that Jesus did not say that the Samaritan was headed toward eternal life because of his good deed. Good deeds done without the Spirit of God do not lead to salvation; the Spirit of God without good deeds does not lead to salvation either. Jesus was not whitewashing the Samaritan's false religion; He pointed out the sins of the priest and Levite who knew God's Truth, but did not put it to practice. Samaritan or Jew, Independent, "X" Church of God, Adventist, Baptist, or Worldwide: except we repent, we all perish. Jesus tells us, "Go, and do thou likewise," Luke 10:37.
Are You a Hireling?
If someone called you a hireling, would you consider it a compliment? Hardly. The dictionary definition of the word, "hireling," includes "one who is hired." Yet, in popular usage, a hireling is more likely to be considered "one whose motives and interests in serving another are chiefly gainful; mercenary" (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary). A hireling is only in the work for the money and recognition, and is greedy of filthy lucre.
Are all servants of God's people today hirelings? In a recent sermon tape, a well-known Sabbatarian preacher referred to the story of the Good Shepherd in John 10. He said, "Everybody else who works in the flocks and among the flock, except Jesus Christ Himself, are really hirelings. It doesn't matter whether they are getting a salary, getting money, or not getting money. There is only one good shepherd of the sheep, and that's Jesus. . . . I am not the shepherd. He is. Everybody else is in the category of a hireling, who might very well flee because he is a hireling, and the sheep don't belong to him." This speaker told the congregation, "You are not my sheep," admitting that they might not be able to depend on him to die for them. "You can depend on only one to die for you: the one good shepherd, Jesus Christ."
There are two types of Church elders, (1) those who try to bring everybody down to their level, and (2) those who try to bring themselves and their flock up to the higher level of God. Here, a preacher admits he is a hireling (preaching only for gain), and he claims all others who labor among God's flock are hirelings as well. It is truly a wonder that the entire congregation who heard him utter this bald approval of sin, did not get up and leave at once. Whose sheep are these?
In a brief financial statement in his newsletter, we see that this preacher makes a $69,000 annual salary, plus 33% benefits (a very generous provision), plus other unstated perks, which brings his yearly compensation package to about $100,000 or better. This is on the high side of salaries earned by Sabbatarian ministers. I do not argue with him that he is a hireling. It is legal for him, in a nonprofit organization, to receive this kind of remuneration, and more. However, it is immoral for him to do so. As he says, you should not depend on him to lay his life down for the flock. However, you can depend on him to take people's money, and live well off of it, because, as he admits, he is a hireling.
As we have pointed out previously (see "False Ministers, False Brethren," Study No. 158), there are many hirelings and false ministers today in the Church, as has been the case for thousands of years. However, there have also been, and are today, faithful stewards, faithful shepherds, loyal servants of the Messiah and His people. If ALL who serve God's people are untrustworthy, mercenary, hirelings, then Jesus Christ is a liar. John 10 disproves this man's wicked degrading of true ministers of God. Verses 2 and 7, "But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. . . . I am the door of the sheep." Yes, there are faithful shepherds, who enter in by the door (Christ) to serve and feed God's sheep. God "gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," Ephesians 4:11-12. The Greek word translated "pastor," is poimen, which means shepherd. Has God given His flock today, as well as in the past, faithful shepherds? He said He would, and inspired Paul to warn shepherds to be faithful, Acts 20:28-35.
The lesson of the sheep and the Good Shepherd is that pastors and their sheep must go through the door (the Messiah). Robbers and thieves sneak in on the side, or enter before Him. Christ set the example of being the Good Shepherd by faithfully teaching His flock, and laying down His life for their salvation. He also has human shepherds, whose function is vital to feed the flock. Likewise, pastors are to lay down their lives in service to God's people. In times of persecution, pastors are the first ones singled out for martyrdom. Any minister of God's flock today should be laying down his life in faithful service to the brethren, and willingly be a target when persecution comes. How ironic that Jesus said "I am the door," while in the end-time, He is forced to stand outside His own Church, knocking to get inside, Revelation 3:20, as corrupt, hireling ministers openly admit that they cannot be trusted to lay down their lives for their flocks.
Is Jesus the only Good Shepherd? In I Peter 5:1-4, Peter, a faithful shepherd of the past, says that elders are to faithfully feed the flock of God, and not be hirelings greedy of financial gain. They are not to be lords (robbers) of God's flock, but sterling examples. They are told, "And when the chief Shepherd [arch poimen] shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," verse 4. If there is a chief Shepherd (Christ), then there are also lesser shepherds who live and follow His example of sacrificial service. They go through the "door," which is Christ, and serve His people faithfully. But, hirelings go before Him, instead of by Him, John 10:2, 7-9. Just as Nimrod was a mighty hunter before [against] the Lord, Genesis 10:9, so hirelings go against Christ and "serve" the people only for gain.
Now, why did I say that it is immoral for a Church leader to receive a handsome salary and benefits that enable him to have a lifestyle above the average member of his congregation or following? Because the servants of the Almighty are to be humble, sacrificial, examples to the flock. A high ministerial salary is plain evidence that such is not a humble shepherd, but is actually a hireling. Because of the substantial and longstanding financial abuse in the Worldwide Church of God, those who have come out of such a morally and financially corrupt system, should take extra care to avoid all appearance of evil. They should bend over backwards to lay down their lives for God's people. I saw poor fund money spent on lavish carpet and drapes for mansions of high-ranking "ministers" when I worked for the Church in Pasadena. Money and power oozed through the ranks of Church leaders, from top to bottom. And yet, there were cases of humble, sincere, hard-working servants of the Almighty and His people. These were not all hirelings, but the high rollers were.
The February 1, 2000, issue of The Wall Street Journal, notes that in 1991, the average American religious professional worker earned $26,780 per year. By 1999, although inflation had risen 22.3% from 1991, the religious workers' average salary had dropped to $24,180, a reduction of their earning power of more than 30%. Do you agree that it is obscene for a Sabbatarian minister to be making three or four times the average salary for this profession?
For a prominent preacher to receive a high salary, admit that he is a hireling, claim that all others are as bad as he is, and, nevertheless, still receive support, shows the utter depravity into which many have fallen. May the Eternal guide us all to find, and follow, faithful shepherds who lead us to the Chief Shepherd. These faithful shepherds daily lay down their lives in humble service to the brethren. May the Almighty deliver us from hirelings!
Fulfilling Your Life's Purpose
Does your life have a purpose and a meaning? Does this purpose give you satisfaction and joy each day? Briefly, the purpose in human life is to build righteous character and live forever as a Spirit Being in the Family of God. Or, as Samuel Rutherford, author of the Westminster Shorter Catechism in 1647 wrote, "What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Having this purpose helps me get out of bed and go to work each day.
But, if you depend on the New International Version as the main staple of your spiritual diet, you can forget about having a purpose to your life. The NIV renders Ecclessiastes 1:2, as follows, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." Something that is without meaning has no purpose. This is how the vast majority of people, even in the Western world, live their daily lives. They believe that life is meaningless. They do not have a great hope, which motivates and gives them thrilling joy.
What did King Solomon actually write? The King James Version states, "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The word translated "vanity" is Strong's #1892, habel or havel, which means "something transitory and unsatisfactory." It is, as the philosopher said, "Our hearts are restless, until we find our rest in Thee." There is an empty hole in our heart, which only Yahweh can fill.
In Proverbs 31:30, we see that "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain [havel]: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." It is interesting to note that the NIV in this verse did a better job, using the word, "fleeting."
In Job 7:15-16, we see that afflicted Job despairs of living, "So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loathe it: I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity [havel]." Here, the NIV reverts back to its corrupted translation, "my days have no meaning."
There is a far cry from life being "vanity" to "life has no meaning." Life is short, it is transitory, it does not satisfy us no matter how much material wealth we may have. But, the servant of the Almighty knows that life has purpose and meaning, and is working toward that purpose, every day. This life is not all there is. There is a life after death, and a purpose for the toil and suffering that we endure in this life: to build lasting character and become like our Heavenly Father. Perhaps the best explanation of the meaning of life is given in Herbert Armstrong's article, "Why Were You Born?" Tom Justus has reprinted this booklet for free distribution. You may order a copy from Giving & Sharing, or bulk copies for distribution from Church of God, Sabbath Day, PO Box 1645, Springdale, AR 72765-1645, Phone: 479-751-9535, E-Mail: Justus4779 @aol.com.
Anti-Perspirant and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is becoming frighteningly common. According to a nurse, the leading cause of breast cancer is the use of anti-perspirant. Cancers result from a concentration of toxins that leads to cell mutations. Deodorants are usually fine, but anti-perspirants, as their name suggests, prevent the body from perspiring under the arms. The human body has a few areas that it uses to purge toxins, behind the knees, behind the ears, the groin area, and the armpits. Toxins are expelled by the body by perspiration, or sweat.
When you prevent natural perspiration, the body deposits toxins in the lymph nodes below the arms, since it cannot sweat them out. Nearly all breast cancer tumors occur in the upper outside quadrant of the breast area, where the lymph nodes are located, near the arm pit. Men can get breast cancer too. However, women usually apply anti-perspirant after shaving under their arms, thus giving the chemicals entrance into the body through little nicks in the skin from shaving. The body needs to breathe, and expel toxins through normal perspiration. Those who use anti-perspirants should consider changing their habits, to properly care for their body, the Temple of God's Spirit.
Giving & Sharing Financial Statement
United States contributors to Giving & Sharing during 1999 received a summary financial statement with their annual donation receipt. A detailed financial statement is available on the Internet atwww.giveshare.org/gsfs.html. You may also write us for a free copy, and ask questions about our finances.
Edersheim's Book, The Temple
The life of Jesus Christ was intimately associated with the Second Temple, built by Herod the Great. Jesus was brought to the Temple when a babe. At twelve years of age, He confounded the learned scribes in the Temple. As a preacher of righteousness, He taught publicly in the Temple. At His death, the Veil in the Temple was rent.
The reader of the New Testament cannot fully appreciate the facts of the Gospels, nor the great number of illustrations in the Epistles, and especially the imagery of Hebrews and Revelation, unless he understands the significance of the services of the Temple. Alfred Edersheim's classic book, The Temple, its Ministry and Services as they were at the time of Christ, is a standard reference. This fascinating book describes in detail how the Jews sacrificed in the Temple, how they observed the festivals, and what Jerusalem was like during the days of the Messiah. Giving & Sharing has recommended this book for many years. If you do not already have a copy, you may order the hardcover edition online atwww.giveshare.org/amazon/biblehelps.html. Or, order it from the Giving & Sharing bookstore, for a suggested donation of $17.50 plus postage. In addition, we have the entire text of Edersheim's The Temple online on our website at www.giveshare.org/library/edersheim/temple/.
Many today are doting on every Jewish practice as the key to understanding the Bible and true spirituality. If that is your modus operandi, you should not read The Temple. Jewish practices during Jesus' day were not perfectly in harmony with the Bible. The office of the High Priest was bought and sold. The Shekinah glory had departed well before the time of Christ. Edersheim, a Jew converted to nominal Christianity, did not have perfect understanding of the Bible and history. For example, he supports a Nisan 15 Passover, and a Sivan 6 Pentecost. However, there is much to learn from his scholarship, as you sift the wheat from the chaff. Truly, the rites and ceremonies of the Temple ritual had great significance in their fulfillment in the sacrificial death of Jesus.
Got a problem? Need some help from a brother in the faith?Call Steve Kieler at Help Line, 515-576-5743, E-Mail Steve.Kieler@giveshare.org, or write him at 2193 Shekar Drive, Fort Dodge, IA 50501-8707.
Cancer Book Critiqued
"I get the impression that Mr. Packo [author of Coping With Cancer] thinks it is in his God’s glory that we have sickness . . . Nothing could be further from the truth. . . . God can and has purposely sent disease upon man, example Egypt, but I do not see that as His will upon all at all times. In my understanding, God created us in His image, set in motion rules and laws to live by, and told us that if we ignored and violated His statutes (sinned), we would suffer the consequences of the violations (diseases, etc.) and that the consequences could be passed through generations. Speaking of my cancer, I have sinned grieviously throughout my life. . . . I made an initial choice . . . of taking chemotherapy. A disaster. The ‘cure’ was worse than the disease. Three treatments were enough. The doctor insisted that I continue but I quit and have not returned . . . . I, and many others, have prayed for my healing, but God has not chosen to heal me. . . . I have determined (chosen) to take pycnogenol, a pine bark extract, and grapeseed extract as aids to arrest my cancer. It has not progressed, at least visibly, in the last year and one-half. . . . I ask God to forgive me and to watch after my family." J.G., Oklahoma.
Are YOU a Follower of Christ?
Ghandi was once asked by a friend, "If you are so intrigued with Jesus Christ, why don’t you become a Christian?" Reportedly, Ghandi replied, "When I meet a Christian who is a follower of Christ, I might consider it." Does the watching world see in Christianity something less than Christ? While we have been content to call ourselves Christians, Christ has not always been the center of our lives. Careers, accumulation of wealth, friends, security, comfort, power, and other things have often occupied the center of our lives. — Paul Woods in the December, 1999, "Herald of Truth Newsletter."
Right Makes Might
"While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." — Samuel Adams, American patriot.