Inside United: Realtime

Exciting News & Updates from UCGIA

Video: Dennis Luker Gives Update on Trip to Caribbean

March 29, 2012

President Dennis Luker and his wife, LeeAnn, made a visit to see the United Church of God brethren in Trinidad and Tobago during the weekend of March 24 through 25.

View this five-minute video update by Mr. Luker about this very encouraging trip. See photos of some of the brethren and learn about an ordination that took place while there.

From time-to-time we plan to provide these short video updates about visits with our brethren in various areas.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Home Office, President's Office | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Pre-Passover Letter From Dennis Luker

March 21, 2012

Dear Brethren,

An early spring has engulfed the home office area in the northern hemisphere, bringing with it the anticipation of the biblical spring Holy Day season and the beginning of the annual observance of God’s plan for humanity.

It is very interesting that during this time three high-profile ancient Middle Eastern artifacts have made big news in the archeological world. A long, multi-year trial in Jerusalem ended earlier this month, clearing professionals of forgery charges related to three important finds: an ancient piece of sculpture that some experts believe comes directly from Solomon’s Temple, a tablet fragment from the 9th century B.C. that also could have been associated with Solomon’s Temple, and finally an ossuary (bone burial box) that many believe is directly associated with James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ and the author of the book of James.

The James Ossuary. Source: Paradiso Images

The first two are significant and exciting because if they are indeed authentic, they may serve as additional extra-biblical proof of the events described in the Old Testament during Solomon’s time. The third, the James ossuary (dated from the time of Christ), had attracted the most attention, in part, because it includes an inscription in Hebrew stating, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Over the past few years this news of a possible direct physical connection to Jesus has served to raise considerable fresh interest in both the book of James and in James’ role in the early New Testament Church.

As we in the Church know, the book of James emphasizes the “royal law” (James 2:8) and the “law of liberty” (verse 12). In the book, as James clearly teaches, and just as his older Brother Jesus taught, Christians are expected to obey God and produce good fruits, which James refers to as “works” (James 2:14-18, 26). The apostle Paul singled out James, confirming him as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). Paul also notes that Jesus appeared to James privately after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7).

While we do not seek to venerate ancient artifacts (Exodus 20:3-6), they can be useful to reinforce the biblical message and raise awareness of the accuracy of its teachings. With that in mind, consider this: In referencing the “royal law,” James cites Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus, the Son of God and the living Head of the Church today, stated that this was the second of the two greatest commandments, the first of course being: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37; Deuteronomy 6:5).

Now, as we approach the spring Holy Days and the Christian Passover, you have probably already begun the process of preparing for these days. As Paul taught, to properly fulfill the potential for spiritual growth during this time, “Let a man examine himself and so [prepared] let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). The biblical message is clear. Lest we wrongly come before God in “an unworthy manner” (verse 27), we are to diligently and humbly prepare in advance, renewing our commitment to God and rededicating ourselves to His Son, Jesus Christ, and His way of life (2 Corinthians 13:5).

So how do we prepare and “examine ourselves”? Clearly we know that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that were it not for receiving God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus—the very event we are to remember during the Passover service—we could not be heirs with Christ in the family of God.

As we prepare for the Passover and continue to grow in our Christian life, are we more concerned about the welfare of others over ourselves? Do we have self-centered thoughts that need to be replaced by the thoughts of God? Has our speech improved? Has unwarranted criticism, foul-speaking, gossip and harsh talk vanished from our lives? If not, James warned, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26, emphasis added).

Are we learning how to love one another, as Jesus directly instructed just prior to His crucifixion? Can people see this growing love in us for our fellow brethren (John 13:34-35)? Are we more forgiving and less judgmental? As James emphasized: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Reflecting on what He said, James wrote, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). Those words are rich with meaning, as that peace comes from receiving wisdom from God (verse 17), which is pure, gentle, willing to yield and full of mercy and good fruits.

Today, many good things are happening in the church, and I sincerely thank you for your prayers. As you can read in United News and elsewhere, many new opportunities are opening to us as we continue to grow spiritually and please God. Please pray that God will open the minds and hearts of many others as His Word goes forth in an ever more powerful way, and that they will help in supporting God’s work.

In conclusion, as James wrote, those of us who yield to God and become doers of the work will be blessed in what we do. May we all yield to the authority and guidance of the true Leader of this Church, Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, and seek to know and do the will of our living God!

You brethren are in my prayers as we approach the Passover. I pray that your preparation for and observance of the spring Holy Day season will be rich and spiritually rewarding.

In Christ’s service,

Dennis Luker—President

March 21, 2012 Posted by | President's Office | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

UPDATE: Good News Brochure Distribution

March 20, 2012

Brethren enthusiastically respond to newly expanded program

Just 30 days ago we announced that several new Good News tri-fold brochures were available for distribution by United Church of God brethren and congregations in the United States. We are pleased to report that since that announcement, brethren have enthusiastically responded by requesting nearly 5,000 brochures for distribution!

If you have not yet taken the opportunity to participate in the program we encourage you to do so. Many distribution opportunities are available today to reach potential Good News readers. You can place brochures at various locations in a display or leave a few on a table or countertop for pick-up. Potential distribution places include hospital and clinic lobbies, car and truck repair shops, restaurants, supermarkets, motels, colleges and universities, libraries, convenience stores, hairdressers, senior centers and many other locations.

Additionally, you can use brochures to introduce the Church’s literature to interested relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers. When new subscribers mail in their reply card (or respond via our GNmagazine.org website) they receive a free, year-long, six-issue subscription to The Good News and one of our foundational booklets as advertised on the following brochure covers:

As our fourteenth brochure distribution year begins, we invite you to get involved in this newly expanded effort. It is a program in which everyone—young and old—can participate! Please contact John LaBissoniere at john_labissoniere@ucg.org or call (423) 562-9400 or toll-free (888) 369-9940 for your supply of brochures and displays.

For additional information, please visit our new Brochure Distribution Program webpage.

John LaBissoniere—Print Advertising Manager, Media and Communications Services

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book of John: Live Bible Study Webcast

March 20, 2012

The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, March 21. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT and is available live via webcast.

The series on the Gospel of John will cover chapters 5 and 6. These chapters deal with several miracles done by Jesus, and give us some very good pre-Passover lessons about the Bread of Life. Presenters will be Peter Eddington and Darris McNeely.

Plan to attend in person, or you can listen online with hundreds of brethren from around the world. Also, please note that we have a mobile option. You can view the Bible study using your smartphone!

Steve Myers—Pastor, United Church of God Cincinnati East

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Ambassador Bible Center, Ministerial Services, UCGIA on the Web | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UCG’s “Good Works” Program

March 15, 2012

The United Church of God’sGood Works” arm has a couple of projects taking place in the coming months that you may be interested in knowing about, and praying for.

Hydroponic Organic Gardening

From left: Sarah Bizic, Milan Bizic and Jonathan Magee. An anonymous donor made a generous donation of white shirts which will be delivered for use in school uniforms in Guatemala.

From May 13 to May 22, 2012, Jonathan Magee, Milan Bizic and Sarah Bizic will travel to Guatemala to assist local brethren in a joint Good Works and Youth Corps project. The main goal of the project will be to establish hydroponic and organic farming infrastructure to produce food for personal use and to sell. We will be providing an update to introduce the volunteers shortly.

More information on this project will be given at Good Works and at LifeNets.

The United Church of God is providing the three Youth Corps workers. The Good Works program is providing the air travel to Guatemala. LifeNets is providing the supplies.

You may be interested in more of the details of the project as outlined on the Good Works website.

Good Works, Youth Corp and the Legacy Institute

The Legacy Institute is a non-profit organization that “seeks to improve the quality of life of people everywhere, both spiritually and physically.”

One aspect of the Legacy Institute is the Legacy Foundation. The Foundation sponsors a number of projects in Thailand—including the Legacy Leadership Training Center. Located in Chiang Mai, the purpose of the center is to improve the quality of life of the underprivileged. The students are generally from the hill areas of Thailand and Burma.

In the past, the United Church of God, through United Youth Corp has partnered with the Legacy Institute to provide volunteer opportunities for young adults. These volunteers have served as teachers at the Legacy Leadership Training Center. We are happy to once again be rekindling this partnership. Good Works has agreed to sponsor a volunteer to travel to Thailand this summer. We will update shortly with more specifics.

Further details about upcoming projects are available on our Good Works website.

United Church of God—Good Works

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Ministerial Services, President's Office | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

VIDEO: How to Make Simple Unleavened Bread

March 14, 2012

A new United Church of God short film on how to make simple unleavened bread was shot and made available this week—very timely as we approach the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.

For more leaven-free recipes that you can enjoy during the Days of Unleavened Bread, visit www.ucg.org/recipes/category/unleavened-recipes.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Media and Communications, UCGIA on the Web | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“Beyond Today” Television: Top 15 Programs as of March 7, 2012

March 9, 2012

Beyond Today program, “The Church Jesus Built” hosted by Steve Myers, currently holds the top position in terms of response for programs that have aired during this fiscal year. This episode, which aired the week of January 22-28, 2012, logged an excellent 1,227 responses. Please see the chart below, which shows the current top 15 programs and responses from each.

The chart also shows that of the highest-responding programs, eight are “repeat” episodes. This strongly suggests that brand new viewers are regularly tuning in to Beyond Today. In terms of program themes, you will further notice that prophecy and Christianity-themed episodes generally draw the highest viewership. Other program themes we track include: After Death, Family, Holidays, Your Destiny and Spirit World.

Finally, we want to let you know that as of this coming Sunday, March 11, our contract on the ION Network television station in Chicago will conclude. A study of the seven-month airing period on this station has shown that our cost per response is greater than we can afford at this time. In the meantime however, our efforts on the WORD Network, which is bearing good results in Chicago and throughout the entire country, will continue.

As always, we are very appreciative of your continual prayers, support and encouragement for this and all United Church of God efforts to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom.

Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Beyond Today, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kingdom of God Bible Seminar Held in Kingston, Jamaica

March 8, 2012

The first Kingdom of God Bible Seminar in Jamaica was held on March 3 in Kingston. Invitations were sent to approximately 200 Good News subscribers in the Kingston and Spanish Town areas.

A total of 36 people attended—which happened to be the maximum capacity of the meeting room. Of the 36, 10 were regular attendees of the Kingston congregation, 4 came over from the Ocho Rios congregation and 22 were guests. Three of these guests were not Good News subscribers themselves, but found out about the seminar from someone else. All three requested Good News subscriptions. At least 14 of the guests had no prior Church of God affiliation.

Several United Church of God booklets, Good News magazines, and other UCG literature was made available and eagerly snapped up.

The seminar, presented by Chuck Smith, was titled “Are We There Yet?” It was a look at the end-time prophecies in the Bible as they relate to current world events and the coming Kingdom of God. After the presentation there was a lively question and answer session, followed by refreshments and fellowship. Several guests requested information about the weekly Sabbath service location and time.

The next KOG Bible Seminars will be held during the spring Holy Days in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Invitations are being sent to around 300 Good News subscribers in those areas.

The seeds are being planted, and we are praying God will grant the increase as He sees fit.

Chuck Smith—Chuck and his wife, Mary, serve in the Ft. Lauderdale and Vero Beach, Florida, congregations as well as in the Caribbean.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Media and Communications, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Live Bible Study Webcast: Book of John

March 6, 2012

The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, March 7. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and is available live via webcast.

The series on the Gospel of John will cover chapters 3 and 4. Presenters will be Gary Antion and Randy Stiver.

Plan to attend in person, or you can listen online with hundreds of brethren from around the world. Also, please note that we have a mobile option. You can view the Bible study using your smartphone!

Steve Myers—Pastor, United Church of God Cincinnati East

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Ambassador Bible Center, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Silent Scientific Revolution

March 6, 2012

A revolution is taking place in several scientific fields right now. But it’s a silent revolution, and you won’t hear or read much about it unless you search diligently for it. It’s silent because a lot of people don’t want you to know about it!

What’s this revolution all about?

It’s really pretty simple. When astrophysicists look into the farthest reaches of the vast universe around us, and into the mysteries of our Milky Way galaxy and the intricacies of our solar system, everywhere they look they see laws that have fine-tuned our planet for life.

So many things had to be just right, or none of us would be here! And the odds of this arising by random chance are so infinitesimally small as to be mathematically impossible!

On the other end of the size scale, going from solar systems to cells, microbiologists are finding things that just shouldn’t be (at least if one accepts the evolutionary viewpoint). They’re finding that cells, rather than being simple structures as long assumed, are actually incredibly sophisticated microscopic machines with multiple intricate parts carrying out complex and complicated tasks.

And DNA discoveries are even more amazing. Scientists are now coming to understand that DNA is an extraordinarily complex code of instructions for how to assemble every protein and molecule in every living thing. How did such sophisticated information evolve from nonliving matter—or before that, from nothing? Science offers no answers.

These astounding discoveries about DNA not long ago led one of the world’s most noted atheists, Oxford University professor Antony Flew, to state: “What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”

He went on to conclude: “The laws of nature . . . and the existence of the universe—can only be explained in the light of an Intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world. Such a discovery of the divine does not come through experiments and equations” (There Is a God, 2008, p. 75, 155).

What did he see that made him change his mind and conclude that the only logical, rational answer behind these discoveries is a divine intelligence far greater than ours?

We give you a taste in the March-April issue of The Good News, which should be arriving in your mailbox any day now (if you haven’t already received it). You need to see some of the evidence yourself. You need to see what some outstanding scientific minds are admitting, that the only answer is that a Creator God is behind the astounding perfection they see!

And there’s lots more to this issue as well—more food for thought to help you better understand your Bible and what’s going on in the world around you. We’re privileged to share this wonderful Good News with you!

Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Good News Magazine, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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