July 5, 2013
In almost every letter that the apostle Paul wrote to either churches or individuals, he greeted the brethren with “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This was far more than a formality and pleasantry; this was God’s assurance of His grace (gifts) and His peace to His people. My desire to the entirety of the Church is the same: May God continue to give us His spiritual gifts and grant us respite and freedom from distracting conflict and disharmony.
In the United Church of God we have peace. Now we must protect it and build on it. It’s only in that environment of peace that we can do a meaningful work with the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
Paul also wrote in his letters that he prayed constantly for the congregations, giving thanks for their faith. Their faith translated into love for the brethren because of the hope they had from messages given by the ministry. Paul was always so encouraged when people’s lives changed.
Paul prayed that God would fill the new Christians with wisdom, spiritual understanding and knowledge so that they could do good works, be strong and full of joy (Colossians 1:4-5). I am devoting more time in prayer for you, as I think of our spiritual journey together. It’s a journey that has its moments of trial, but one in which I am confident that we will successfully reach our goal and destination if we stay together and prevail. God has called all of us for a great purpose—and if we make up our mind to achieve it without distractions, we will get there. We look to the Living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ—who knows our every thought and motive—to help us to stay on that highway. I believe the greatest days for the United Church of God are just ahead.
I am very encouraged by letters and e-mails that come to us from those who visit our websites and read our literature and start to make changes in their lives. Let me share just a few letters we have recently received from, in some cases, first-time readers:
“My husband and I have been watching Beyond Today and donating to Beyond Today for a couple of years. We are not actual members of your church, but we would like to attend some of your services in the Detroit area. Are we allowed to just show up and attend your Sabbath services? Thank-you.”
“Bless you all! I have come across the booklet title Jesus Christ: the Real Story. After reading it I find it very interesting and decided to further inquire about the United Church of God. I do hope to hear from you soon and really appreciate the work you are all doing to spread the Good News/Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks.”
“This was my first time on your site and thank you thank you. I really need this. I have lost my way from my Father and I want my relationship back.”
“I am writing for the 12 lesson Bible Study Course in paper subscription, if you can. I just like the hard copy so much better. Thank you for very much in advance. I hope to see you all in the first resurrection. God bless you all!”
“I have downloaded your recommended booklets and am in the process of reading them. I realize that reading and understanding God’s word is a lifetime commitment. Your Beyond Today and BT Daily programs are very helpful. Thanks again for your help.”
“I would like to have the booklets on God’s Holy Days. Can they be mailed to me? I don’t have any money now, but I really want to learn about those days. Thank you and may God bless you.”
“Your May-June issue of The Good News was very informative. Especially about abortion. I was always pro-choice until I read this article. Now I’m totally against abortion. I was very surprised at the extent of abortions worldwide. Other features are great as well, such as Exploring God’s word, The Bible and You, Follow Me, and my favorite, Beyond Today program, “Change Your Life Story.” Keep up the Good Work, as always.”
These letters really give us a great deal of encouragement. As God’s people we are able to pass along to others the hope we have in eternal life and a positive future for mankind!
At the home office we are preparing the sermon video for the Feast of Tabernacles, which comes early this year on the Roman calendar. This past week I gave a message to our home office staff at our weekly Monday morning staff meeting that will be used in part for the festival video. This year’s theme is Philippians 2:5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. In the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37), we are told to love God with all our heart and mind.
We will highlight how education is the heart and core of the gospel message, since one needs to know and understand the requirements for salvation. Conversion and salvation require education. Being a Christian goes far beyond just absorbing knowledge and information.
As we pray for you, please pray for us so that we can accomplish our part in God’s will—unimpeded with grace and peace. We need your prayers daily. May God bless you all!
In Christian love and service,
Victor Kubik—President, United Church of God, an International Association
July 2, 2013
Marriage has been in the news a lot lately, as it should be. In two decisions last week, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially tossed out the definition of marriage as it’s been understood and practiced for centuries, including long before the United States existed as a nation.
In one decision the court declared unconstitutional the core of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, in which the U.S. Congress defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. As one analyst described the absurdity of the situation, the U.S. Congress now can, will and does write laws about marriage, but it can no longer define what marriage is or what it means!
In a second decision, the court concluded that citizens of California—who by popular vote had approved marriage as being between one man and one woman—had voted incorrectly and had no legal standing to object when a judge overruled the voters and declared that homosexuals could marry there after all.
By the reasoning of the Supreme Court, if marriage cannot be defined as being between one man and one woman, then it can be whatever people choose it to be—man and man, woman and woman, brother and sister, parent and child, one man and two women, two men and one woman, two men and two women, or any other combination enough people can convince others is their “right.”
And make no mistake, already people are advocating for these and other combinations to be legalized as their right—and the Supreme Court ruling eliminates grounds for disallowing these kinds of relationships as marriages.
These are merely the latest in a long string of assaults on marriage, but they are likely the most far-reaching to date.
Why do we see marriage under attack as we do?
Marriage is the building block of families. Families are the building blocks of communities. Communities are the building blocks of societies. And societies are the building blocks of civilizations. Once those building blocks start to crumble, everything starts to fall apart—which is exactly what we’re seeing around us today.
What’s behind the assault on marriage, and why? What can you do to reverse the trend and strengthen your own marriage? You need to read the latest issue of The Good News, especially the articles Five Keys to a Happy Marriage and The Ultimate Purpose of Marriage to understand why marriage is important and why God gave us this wonderful gift!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor
PS—Never has it been more important for you and your family to understand where the world is headed and why. You need to understand the crucial biblical perspective you’ll find only in The Good News. Download or read the July-August issue today!
April 22, 2013
Prior to his ruling a woman had to be at least 17 to legally get the drug. If his ruling stands, a girl as young as 12 or 13—or her male partner—can buy a pill that will cause her body to spontaneously abort her “problem,” ending that unborn life.
This follows on the heels of a 2012 decision by the New York Department of Education to make morning-after pills available to schoolgirls as young as 14 without parental consent.
Ironically, if that same 14-year-old were to go her school nurse to get an aspirin for a headache, the nurse would have to get parental permission to do so. But courtesy of this education department, children can be given abortion-inducing drugs without their parents ever knowing.
What a horrifying message to send to girls who are little more than children themselves—that destroying an unborn human life is of such little consequence, or none at all.
What does it say about a society when, on the grounds of protecting citizens’ health, a city bans the sale of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces (a third larger than the most common size), but it allows, and even pays for, abortion-inducing drugs for its schoolchildren?
In what kind of twisted universe does that make sense?
This is the kind of blind and perverse reasoning we see when a people and their leaders increasingly turn their backs on God. As our Creator, He gave us an instruction manual in the form of His Word, the Bible. But rejecting its revelation for how we should live and what makes for a peaceful, purposeful, well-ordered society, we’ve increasingly decided to create our own rules and ignore the lessons of history—bringing curses on ourselves in the process.
But you don’t have to go that way. You can learn from God’s Word the awesome purpose of human life, and why abortion is so wrong in His sight. You can know why you are here and why you were born, as described in the cover article of the latest issue of the United Church of God’s Good News magazine, arriving in your mailbox shortly.
We hope you’ll carefully read the articles in this issue to learn about the future God has in store for you. Understanding that, you’ll then understand how God views one of the most divisive and controversial issues affecting our society today—that of abortion.
PS—To really understand where the world is headed and why, you need to understand what’s going on from a biblical perspective. Get the real story you won’t read anywhere else. Download or read the May-June issue today!
March 5, 2013
Setting the Stage for Bible Prophecy
For more than a year our news headlines have been chronicling the so-called “Arab Spring”—a supposed flowering of democracy in Mideast nations long ruled by dictators. Western journalists, commentators and politicians hailed the popular uprisings that ousted such leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
But the Western media have overwhelmingly overlooked the two most important factors in this movement that’s transforming the region before our eyes.
The first key factor they’ve overlooked is what’s filling the vacuum left by the ouster of these strongmen. Most of those driven from power—or struggling to hold on—are secular nationalists motivated by personal and national interests. But it’s increasingly evident that they are being replaced primarily by religious fanatics determined to set up Islamic theocracies.
They’re essentially following in the footsteps of Osama bin Laden, whose ultimate goal was to see the establishment of a worldwide Islamic superpower, transcending national borders, comprised of all Muslim believers. But because so many of our Western media and political leaders don’t understand the teachings of Islam, they are blind to the significance of these world-transforming developments.
The second key factor they’ve overlooked is how these developments relate to Bible prophecy. Scripture reveals that at the time of the end, a new leader from the Arab world will light the match that ignites a new world war, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will lead directly to Armageddon and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
This is why the subtitle of The Good News is “a Magazine of Understanding.” We at the United Church of God analyze the world from the perspective of the Bible and Bible prophecy, helping you understand where major world events and trends are ultimately heading. And no region is more important to understand than the Middle East, where so much is foretold to happen in the coming years.
You need to understand what’s going on as revealed in the articles “Winter Advisory: The Arab Spring That Wasn’t,” “Will the World See a New Caliphate?” and “Israel: A Nation in Constant Peril,” all in the latest issue of The Good News, arriving in your mailbox soon.
Managing editor, The Good News
PS—The world is being reshaped before our eyes. You need to understand the real story that you won’t read anywhere else. Download or read the March-April issue today!
January 9, 2013
In August we reported that between July 2012 and March 2013 the United Church of God would mail Good News subscription advertisements to 13.2 million households in the United States at a cost of under 2¢ each. We are fully on track to accomplish this goal.
To date we have mailed 6.1 million advertisements to households in all 50 states. Subscriber reaction is fully on target with 25,913 cards and electronic responses having been received and processed so far. Each new reader is being sent a subscription to The Good News and one or more of our foundational booklets.
Of the ten booklets currently being offered the following are the top five most requested so far:
- Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?
- How to Understand the Bible
- Are We Living in the Time of the End?
- The Book of Revelation Unveiled
- The Middle East in Bible Prophecy
Thank you so much for your steady support and careful prayers as the Church continues its global mission to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15).
John LaBissoniere—Print Advertising Manager, Media and Communications Services
4 Million Visits for 2012!
December 11, 2012
The United Church of God, an International Association’s, primary website at www.ucg.org is on track to complete the calendar year with an average of 1 million unique visitors per quarter, for a total of 4 million visits in 2012.
As the above graph shows, since the combining of our websites under ucg.org in May of 2011, we are seeing a very dramatic and continual climb in visitors to our site. The month of November, 2012, saw the highest number of visitors on record! (December 2012 visitors are projected into the 4Q figure above.)
As we continue to enhance the online visit experience for our users, we expect to see this positive trend continue into 2013. Thank you for your support and prayers for this very important aspect of our work in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
November 16, 2012
The Beyond Today Programs this Weekend:
Where are the voices crying out against dishonesty, injustice and moral evil? And where are people who will heed the warnings?
GN, Road to Eternal Life
When facing death, the idea of heaven seems comforting. But does that make it true? The Bible’s answer may astonish you.
GN, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Please continue to pray for the success of our Beyond Today program on Channel 4ME. Currently the prophecy programs such as Middle East Family Feud and Bracing for the Beast are bringing in the biggest responses—even when they are repeated.
As the fighting escalates in the Middle East the interest in our ads for The Middle East in Bible Prophecy makes up over 30% of all requests from our Google booklet ads. Following is the link to our landing page for this ad: www.ucg.org.au/?offer/the-middle-east-in-prophecy
New Auto-Responder Advertising Campaign
For the last two months or so UCG-A has been offering The Good News magazine on Internet survey sites. This campaign has had such good results (39% open rate and 15% click rate) for an auto-responder program that even the company we advertise with was surprised. I think they thought no one would be interested in a Christian magazine!
As a result of the campaign we have collected 3,983 email addresses of people who had received the introductory GN e-letter and wanted to be notified when the November/December Good News came out. We notified these people of the lastest issue this last week. So far 1,022 people have opened the email and at least 60 of these people have ordered the GN or literature hard copy. Click here to see the current newsletter.
By the time we send an e-letter for the Jan/Feb edition of The Good News, we will have over 5,000 people on this list. We are thanking God for the wonderful response to this campaign.
Ruth Root—United Church of God, Australia
November 7, 2012
Marriage is the building block of families. Families are the building blocks of communities. Communities are the building blocks of society. When marriages and families break down, so do communities and ultimately society and civilization as a whole. We’ve seen this pattern before, and we’re witnessing it again as this bedrock of society increasingly crumbles.
Consider the costs when marriage is debased and discarded. A landmark 2008 study titled The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing concluded that breakdown of the family costs U.S. taxpayers a minimum of at least $112 billion each year, or more than $1 trillion in a decade.
That figure includes major costs for “higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty . . . more welfare expenditure; increased remedial and special education expenses . . . increased Medicaid and Medicare costs; [and] increasingly expensive and harsh crime-control measures,” among other things.
The National Fatherhood Initiative website cites a number of studies showing that:
- “Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.”
- “Children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.”
- “Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.”
- “A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39 percent of jail inmates lived in mother-only households.”
- “There is significantly more drug use among children who do not live with their mother and father.”
- “A poor parental bond with one’s father was highly predictive of depression, a well-known predictor of alcohol abuse and related problems for both females and males.”
- “Youth who have experienced divorce, separation, or a nonunion birth have significantly higher levels of behavioral problems in school than do youth who have always lived with both biological parents.”
These depressing findings make it all the more disturbing that different groups, movements and even political parties wish to redefine marriage and family. Do fruits like the sad conclusions stated above not demonstrate the folly of tampering with an institution the Creator of human beings designed?
As Jesus Christ Himself said: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6; quoting Genesis 1:27; 2:24).
This is how God designed marriage. As we show in the articles in the November-December issue of The Good News, now available online or arriving in your mailbox soon, when we reject or redefine this pattern, we reap the tragic consequences. Never let yourself be lulled into thinking that marriage doesn’t matter!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
May 3, 2012
Iran’s former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, predecessor of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was considered a moderate leader. But regarding nuclear weapons and Israel, he said: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, . . . the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
Rafsanjani was saying that if the Islamic world acquired nuclear weapons, leading to a nuclear confrontation, just one nuclear detonation inside Israel would destroy the nation. But it would be worth it, he noted, because an Israeli nuclear strike, although it might kill many millions of Muslims, would only “harm” the Islamic world and not destroy it. Israel, however, would no longer exist. Thus, in his mathematical equation, a nuclear war would be worth because while it would cost the lives of millions of Muslims, Israel would be exterminated. He concludes, “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
What about his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is stringing the entire world along as he pursues nuclear weapons? He’s made no secret of his hatred for Israel. Since assuming office in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has made repeated threats to eliminate the Jewish state. Notice a few:
- “Israel must be wiped off the map” (2005).
- “The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime [Israel], and the Islamic world and the region must mobilize to remove this problem” (2006).
- “The United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives” (2007).
- “The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast” (2008).
- “This regime [Israel] will not last long . . . This regime has no future. Its life has come to an end” (2009).
- “Israel is the most hated regime in the world . . . With Allah’s grace, this regime will be annihilated, and Palestinians and other regional nations will be rid of its bad omen” (2010).
- “I am telling you that a new and greater Middle East will be established without the existence of the U.S. and the Zionist regime [Israel]” (2011).
Ahmadinejad regularly refers to Israel as the “little Satan,” and to the United States as the “great Satan.” To them, a “Satan” is two things. It is an adversary as well as an evil spiritual entity. Ahmadinejad views the United States in both ways. In his mind America is evil because its values and morals and support of Israel are absolutely corrupt. And it is an adversary because the United States is the major obstacle in the world that prevents Islam from achieving its true destiny as the religion that is supposed to rule over the entire world. Therefore the two “satans”—United States and Israel—must be eliminated.
Does Ahmadinejad really believe this? At a 2005 Iranian conference with the theme “The World Without Zionism,” he said: “Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? You had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
At that conference Ahmadinejad spoke onstage in front of a large banner showing an hourglass with grains of sand falling to the bottom, depicting time running out. Clearly visible in the hourglass was a large falling grain painted with a star of David, symbol of Israel, showing that its time is over.
At the bottom of the hourglass was a grain that had already fallen and been broken. It was painted with a U.S. flag. The unmistakable symbolism of the entire banner was that the United States has to be brought down before Israel can be brought down. The “great Satan” must fall first, then the “little satan” will be no problem. (You can do an Internet image search for “The World Without Zionism” and see the images for yourself.)
The concept of dawah is a little-known teaching of some branches of Islam. In practice, it means that a Muslim leader must invite his enemies to convert to Islam before waging jihad against them. In several speeches to the UN general assembly, Ahmadinejad has done exactly this—openly urged the gathered world leaders to convert to Islam. But because Western news reporters and government officials are oblivious to the concept of dawah, they had no idea what Ahmadinejad was doing and that he was carrying out an obligation for Muslims before they initiate warfare against enemies.
Here’s part of what he said in his 2009 speech to the UN general assembly: “We emphasize that the only path to remain safe is to return to monotheism [Islam] and justice, and this is the greatest hope and opportunity in all ages and generations. Without belief in Allah and commitment to the cause of justice and fight against injustice and discrimination [in other words, accepting Islam], the world structure cannot be put right.”
Lest you think that’s an aberration, he said essentially the same thing in his UN addresses in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well. So in his mind, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fulfilled this obligation to invite enemies to convert to Islam before waging jihad against them. So if Iran does successfully develop nuclear weapons, he has already warned the entire world—through his UN addresses—by repeatedly inviting them to convert to Islam and submit to Allah.
We also need to realize that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adheres to an unusual strain of Shiite Muslim theology that believes in the imminent appearance of an Islamic messiah, called al-Mahdi, who will lead Islam to its rightful place as the dominant religion in the world. Al-Mahdi’s followers believe that it’s their duty to bring chaos to the world, and out of this chaos will come a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.
So how does this belief play out in the real world? It means that Ahmadinejad will never voluntarily enter into any meaningful agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. It means that any agreements are only to be used to play for time, which is exactly what we’ve seen for a number of years now, until Iran becomes a full-blown nuclear power.
Does Ahmadinejad really believe this? Let me quote from his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011, just a matter of months ago. These were his opening words:
“In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure household, and his noble companions and on all divine messengers. Oh, Allah, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness.”
He said this to the United Nations general assembly, including a prayer for the quick arrival of al-Mahdi and his “victory.” What victory? Victory in leading Islam to be the dominant religion over the world.
Sadly, our government officials and world news agencies are blind to what he was really saying, so you haven’t heard this reported in the news. But that’s exactly what he meant. You can be sure that all the representatives of the Muslim nations sitting there, who understand Islamic theology, knew exactly what he was saying.
“Through international cooperation, diligence and efforts by committed world leaders and governments and through insisting on the realization of justice and the support of all other nations, we can expedite the building of a common bright future.
“This movement is certainly on its rightful path of creation, ensuring a promising future for humanity. A future that will be built when humanity initiates to trend the path of the divine prophets and the righteous under the leadership of Imam al-Mahdi, the Ultimate Savior of mankind and the inheritor to all divine messengers and leaders and to the pure generation of our great Prophet [Muhammad].
“The creation of a supreme and ideal society with the arrival of a perfect human being who is a true and sincere lover of all human beings, is the guaranteed promise of Allah. He will come . . . to lead the freedom and justice lovers to eradicate tyranny and discrimination, and promote knowledge, peace, justice freedom and love across the world . . .
“Today nations have been awakened. With the increase in public awareness, they no longer succumb to oppressions and discriminations. The world is now witnessing more than ever, the widespread awakening in Islamic lands, in Asia, Europe, and America. These movements are ever expanding their spirit everyday and influence the pursuit of the realization of justice, freedom and the creation of a better tomorrow.
“Our great nation stands ready to join hands with other nations to march on this beautiful path in harmony and in line with the shared aspirations of mankind. Let us salute love, freedom, justice, wisdom, and the bright future that awaits humankind.”
Ahmadinejad is here stating exactly what he believes: That al-Mahdi will appear soon, that he is the ultimate savior of mankind, that he is the successor and descendent of Muhammad, and that he will establish peace on earth through Islam becoming the supreme religion on earth. He also notes that Iran stands ready to lead the march on this path toward a very different world united under Islamic rule.
He lays out his beliefs for the world to see. But without an understanding of the background of Islam and his beliefs, non-Muslims have no idea what he’s really saying.
So what will happen if or when Iran finally successfully develops nuclear weapons? He’s told us. He’s given the world the invitation to convert to Islam. He’s told us his intentions, which are to pave the way for al-Mahdi to come and lead Islam to victory over the entire world.
These are Ahmadinejad’s aims for Iran. You need to read The Good News to understand the forces that are transforming our world around us and understand the wonderful and magnificent age that Jesus Christ says really lies ahead for the whole world. Learn much more in the May-June issue of The Good News, now available online and arriving in your mailbox soon!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
April 30, 2012
About six months ago, German chess historian Gerhard Josten, author of several books on the history of chess and chess strategies, asked for permission to reprint the German translation of Mario Seiglie’s Good News article “Our Amazing Spaceship Earth” (“Unser erstaunliches Raumschiff Erde”).
The article was published as the lead article in the March-April 2007 issue of the Gute Nachrichten magazine and was to be included in a new science book with other contributions of well-known scientists to refute the Big Bang theory. While working on his book, Mr. Josten had found Mario Seiglie’s article on the gutenachrichten.org website and expressed his deepest respect for the thorough research and the quality of publication.
The permission for the reprint was granted by the United Church of God, provided the author would put a link to the source of our article and also publish it in its entirety.
Today the German office received two signed, advance copies of Gerhard Josten’s book “Ein All ohne Knall” (“A Universe without a Bang”). The soft cover book contains 269 pages and features Mr. Seiglie as a co-author. It was published on April 20 and is already listed on Amazon.de.
It is very encouraging to see that the quality of the Good News publication and the work of the Gute Nachrichten magazine is noticed and appreciated by the international academic world.
Congratulations to Mario Seiglie for his great authorship!
Jesmina Allaoua—German office