January 31, 2014
This week the United Church of God passed another major milestone when we printed our 9 millionth English-language booklet!
With a second printing of the new booklet Tools for Spiritual Growth (reprinted much earlier than usual due to very high demand), we passed the 9 million mark.
To put this number in perspective, if all 9 million booklets (at our current size) were laid end to end, they would stretch almost 1,200 miles—the approximate distance from Cincinnati to Denver, Miami or San Antonio.
If put into a single stack, it would reach almost 60 miles high and weigh about 675 tons!
Our most-printed booklet at the moment is The Book of Revelation Unveiled (461,000 copies). The remainder of the top 10 booklets published are Are We Living in the Time of the End? (420,000 copies), You Can Understand Bible Prophecy (410,000 copies), What Happens After Death? and What Is Your Destiny? (405,000 each), The Middle East in Bible Prophecy (400,000 copies), Jesus Christ: The Real Story and The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy (370,000 each), The Ten Commandments (360,000 copies) and Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? (350,000).
In most years we have printed or reprinted 500,000 to 700,000 booklets in response to reader requests. This averages about 42,000 booklet requests per month (not counting Internet downloads).
While the Internet, TV, The Good News and other forms of media are good at introducing people to God’s truth, booklets play a major role in helping people gain a deeper understanding of what the Bible teaches about various subjects. Thus our booklets play a crucial role in bringing people to greater understanding of the Bible and God’s plan and purpose for them.
We deeply appreciate the generosity and faithfulness of our members, coworkers and donors who make it possible to share God’s wonderful truths in this way!
Scott Ashley—Booklets managing editor
October 17, 2013
Wednesday and Thursday of this week our Beyond Today presenters recorded three new programs for airing in the coming weeks:
- Living Beyond Today (offering “Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People: This Is the United Church of God“) by Darris McNeely.
- Am I Missing Something in My Life? (offering “You Can Have Living Faith“) by Steve Myers.
- The Strange Tale of Simon the Magician (offering “The Church Jesus Built) by Gary Petty.
In addition, all-day Tuesday was spent in a focused and very profitable planning meeting with 18 of our Beyond Today production staff and management. Some excellent ideas were cemented that will help our internationally televised program move forward even more effectively. Your prayer for God’s ongoing blessing and direction in our work is much appreciated.
Please enjoy this one-minute, HD time-lapse snapshot of our Wednesday, October 16, recording day! It was shot and edited by Jamie Schreiber on his GoPro camera. http://youtu.be/Q6lqdaN9RzI
Peter Eddington—Producer, Beyond Today
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
May 17, 2013
This is my first communication as President of the United Church of God. I am humbled by this new role and pray daily for God to give me wisdom, humility and courage to carry out the duties of this office.
We have been so blessed by the leadership of Denny Luker. As President, he stressed love, faith in Jesus Christ as the living Head of His Church and created an environment of peace in the Church. His leadership was exactly what we needed when we needed it. He brought much-needed healing to the Church and leaves an indelible legacy.
Now, my desire and plan is to build on what God built through Denny Luker and go forward with the mission to proclaim the coming Kingdom of God to the world and to care for those whom God has called. I will not be a caretaker president, but will immerse my life completely into this role. I will seek to understand God’s will and to effectively direct the affairs of the Church in this momentous time in the history of mankind.
We live in a very dangerous world. Yet, it’s an exciting world to which I look with godly optimism because of what’s ahead. Throughout history, prophecy has always reassured Christians of how things will end. It encourages us to carry on because we know that God will not allow the world to destroy itself. God will ultimately usher in His Kingdom of peace. His Kingdom will be eternal and will never end. Our lives will never end. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Since the age of 16, when I first heard this message preached, I have been emboldened with this truth. The Bible made sense to me by explaining who we are, how we got to where we are and our destiny. We MUST continue to share this message as the early church did. I would like to duplicate the excitement of Paul as he evangelized throughout Asia Minor and Greece and the result was that “many people were added to the Lord.” It can happen now, too, when people hear this message of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as King as well as personal Savior.
This past Monday morning, I spoke to our home office employees about the challenges for the United Church of God. Here are a few items that I emphasized:
1. Public Proclamation. We need to be more relevant with key messages that bring results in changed lives and added numbers. I would like to collaboratively examine all venues through which we preach the gospel and critically ask what’s working and what is not. The 21st century is dramatically different than before, as billions of people use smartphones as their primary means of receiving and transmitting information.
2. Peace and Unity. It is essential that we preserve the peace and unity currently within the Church and follow Christ’s lead in seizing the moment for developing the Church.
3. Ministry and Congregations. We must continually staff our congregations around the world with competent trained elders. We need to identify new leaders and provide the training necessary through educational programs such as the online training for our ministry that we started this past year. We need to engage our ministry and membership in the mission of the Church and make everyone feel a part of the vibrant United Church of God.
4. Church Growth. It is not wrong to question what we can do better to allow God to add to our numbers. We will be asking this question a lot and will find answers to achieve results.
5. Youth and Young Adults. This is a priority because this is where our future leaders and pillars lie.
6. Women’s Services. We have made great progress in this area and want to continue the momentum established in the past two years.
7. Relationships with other groups. I would like to keep an open door to those of like faith in the greater Church that God is working with. We welcome constructive and relevant discussion and interaction.
8. International. We must be keenly aware of our brethren on all other continents and not neglect them in pastoral support and, where needed, with financial subsidy to viably operate. With about 6.3 billion people living outside the United States, reaching these people with the gospel message and making disciples represents one of our biggest challenges.
These are just some of the challenges that we are faced with. Again, I will not be a caretaker president and plan to actively work with all of our managers to move forward.
My wife Beverly has been a key helper and advisor to me. Please pray for both of us to do what we need to do.
With love in Christ’s service,
March 27, 2013
WORD Network Expansion to Increase Global Reach of Beyond Today
The United Church of God has aired the Beyond Today television program on the Word Network since December 2011. This network reaches millions of households in the United States on cable and satellite (please check local listings for channels in your area). The Word Network has also been accessible via satellite to viewers in 200 countries throughout the world on DirecTV, channel 373.
We are pleased to announce that the Word Network is now available on two additional satellites which will help increase the global reach of Beyond Today. These include EB2 (Arabsat) which reaches over 50 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa and the Optus D2 satellite which can be accessed by over 4 million viewers in Australia and New Zealand.
Channel and transponder information for these satellites will be available in the near future. However, if you are technically inclined and would like data to manually tune your satellite dish to receive the new feeds, please contact Peter Eddington at the United Church of God home office.
Between the Word Network and WGN America, Internet response to Beyond Today has reached 10,415 from 84 countries and territories so far this fiscal year. Additionally, overall response (telephone and Internet) continues on a positive trend. For example, Beyond Today program “How Christian is Easter?” which aired March 17-23, 2013, generated 1,087 responses. This episode placed 9th in overall response out of 37 programs aired this fiscal year. On the Word Network alone this episode placed 4th in terms of response.
We wish to thank you for your unceasing support and prayers for the Church and its vital work around the globe to preach the Gospel of God’s Kingdom. We will certainly keep you updated on further media developments.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
February 28, 2013
Focus on God’s Work
The home office has released a second monthly Focus on God’s Work video—this one by Jorge de Campos about our Portuguese-language efforts.
As earlier announced, the plan is for various managers and employees of the United Church of God to give a report about their area of responsibility that may be of particular interest to our congregations. Pastors are asked to make the video links available to our membership, and most videos will be suitable to play in the sermonette timeslot at Sabbath services.
Focus on God’s Work has it’s own menu selection on the member’s website under the “resources” tab at members.ucg.org/content/focus-gods-work. This is where a new video will be posted each month, and we’ll also endeavor to announce them here at Inside United: Realtime.
Jorge de Campos, coordinator of our Portuguese-language areas, gives an inspiring report about these areas in the video below.
Please feel free to download this and future presentations to get a monthly update on the work being done by various departments in the Church to preach the gospel and prepare a people.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
December 17, 2012
KINGDOM OF GOD BIBLE SEMINARS
FIRST SERIES REPORT
A report on the first series of our Kingdom of God Bible Seminars was delivered to the Council of Elders on December 12. Peter Eddington gave the Council a handout that showed a total of 5,680 seminar guests were in attendance at more than 200 locations around the globe.
Here is a breakdown on guest attendance for each round of the series:
|September 2011||Round 1||176 Locations||1,514|
|January 2012||Round 2||190 Locations||1,653|
|May 2012||Round 3||206 Locations||1,258|
|September 2012||Round 4||181 Locations||1,255|
Below is a listing of cities with the top five guest attendance figures for each round. As you will note, the developing areas of the world most often showed the highest interest in the gospel of the Kingdom of God:
- 52 San Antonio, TX
- 50 Santiago, Chile
- 35 Davao City, Philippines
- 33 Got Kachola, Kenya
- 33 Ogembo-Rianyamwamu, Kenya
- 110 Manila, Philippines
- 57 Davao City, Philippines
- 42 Bacolod, Philippines
- 42 Melbourne, Australia
- 40 Sydney, Australia
- 117 Manila, Philippines
- 58 Bacolod City, Philippines
- 43 Mexico City, Mexico
- 34 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 32 Bolivia
- 125 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 108 Johannesburg, South Africa
- 96 Manila, Philippines
- 76 Capetown, South Africa
- 49 Davao City, Philippines
We have people now regularly attending Sabbath services with us as a result of the seminars, and a number of baptisms have stemmed from the seminars too. It can be considered a success if even just one or two guests graced our congregation’s doorstep who otherwise would not have attended. We were successful in getting them out of their homes to come and hear the gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus Christ, as the Head of His Church, has a plan for each person. While numbers are not everything, results do help us measure our efforts. And, while God’s Church will be a small flock (Luke 12:32), there was a very encouraging number of guests in many cities.
Recommendations for Next Series
Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, an International Association, gave his support to the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars program moving forward. The Council of Elders agreed with the approach put forth. Here are a few details on the next series:
- We will keep the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars” brand and theme, but offer a specific topic under the title. For example: “The Sabbath: A Key to the Kingdom of God.”
- Rather than produce a detailed script for each new seminar, we may choose a relevant UCG booklet to use as core material. For example, Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest. The presenters can choose which section or chapter of the booklet they’d like to focus on. The ucg.org website also provides a valuable resource for presenters to use in developing their presentations.
- Have two seminars per year, instead of three.
- Choose the months of June and November each year for seminars, with pastors having the flexibility to work as they see best within this timeline.
- Due to budget constraints, use regular Sabbath service halls to avoid additional hall rental. And use local funding for seminar advertising (letters, postcards, etc.) that is not part of the home office budget subsidy.
- Proposed Topics:
- June 2013
- November 2013
- Opening Prayer
- 1 Seminar (60 min.)
- Closing Prayer
- If desired, abbreviated 60-minute Sabbath service either before or afterwards with hymns, prayers and one sermon or split sermon.
We are looking forward very much to our next round of seminars and are asking pastors to choose their seminar dates as soon as possible and get them listed on our website. A number of our readers and viewers are already looking for the next seminar to be held in their city—and they check our website regularly hoping to sign up to attend. So the sooner our presenters get their seminar dates listed the better.
Thank you for your prayers for the ongoing success and God’s blessing on this part of our work to preach the gospel of God’s Kingdom.
Peter Eddington—Operation 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 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
June 5, 2012
Can We Know When Jesus Will Return?
By Dennis Luker
Serious students of the Bible know full well that the return of Jesus Christ and the establishing of His Kingdom represent the culmination of this human age. We eagerly desire and anticipate this! As Christians we are urged to maintain a sense of spiritual urgency, constantly overcoming and focusing on daily, continuous transformation in becoming more like God our Father and His Son, our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ.
With such an intense focus on the return of Jesus Christ to this earth—this time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)—it can be tempting and even easy to begin to speculate when exactly Jesus might initiate this long-awaited event. This is especially true when the Bible itself provides many prophetic markers and trends that will presage the end of this age (not the “end of the world”) and the coming of Christ.
But My Father Only
But even as Jesus emphatically instructed His disciples to “watch”—to prepare themselves as a spiritual Bride to be collectively bonded to Christ for all eternity—He also immediately said “you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). Earlier, after outlining specific trends that would be obvious before His return, Jesus noted concerning the actual date of His return, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (verse 36).
These and other Bible verses make plain that not even Jesus Himself knows the precise day and time when Jesus will return. Asked one final time by His disciples about the divine timetable for prophetic events, Jesus declared: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:8).
We Don’t Set Dates
Accordingly, as directed by Jesus, the living Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23), the United Church of God does not set prophetic dates or times for future events. This has been a hard lesson for some, as during the past 2,000 years a number have violated this teaching of Jesus. They have unfortunately set both specific dates and times for the return of Christ, reaping a whirlwind of contempt and ridicule when these dates passed with no prophetic results.
Consider this historic example: In 2011, Harold Camping, a religious figure in California, attracted international attention with his unequivocal prediction that Jesus would return on May 21 of that year. Of course, nothing prophetically significant happened on that date, earning Camping and his failed prophecies a considerable amount of public scorn.
This leads us to an interesting question: why did God send prophets with a message about the Kingdom of God if we can’t know the date upfront when it will come? As the Bible clearly shows, prophetic outcomes are the result of either obeying or disobeying the word of God. God reveals that many blessings will come to humanity if it yields itself to God’s way of life. God also reveals that many prophetic curses will come if humanity rejects this way of life, particularly if it is laid out in front of them in advance. That is why God declared first to the ancient Israelites and today to us: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19, emphasis added).
Because prophesied tragedies reflect a willful spirit of disobedience to God, the United Church of God recognizes that it is the duty of the Church to make plain the consequences of this continued willful disobedience. God and Jesus are quite clear: if you keep God’s commandments and produce spiritual fruit that reflects the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, then you are promised many good things, both in this life and in the life to come. If not, then you come under a curse of your own doing.
One of the major roles of the Church that Jesus founded is to demonstrate—in this present life—a taste of the coming Kingdom. God’s way of life works! This is why Jesus thus commanded His disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Seeing people quietly but effectively live God’s way of life strengthens the prophetic message of the Bible.
Let No Man Take Your Crown
So what if you find yourself in one of these groups that unfortunately likes to set dates? The Bible is plain: God is a God of mercy and love. If such a person humbly recognizes that they may have fallen under a deception, well-intentioned or not, and want to move on, then the path opens for them to receive mercy, be pardoned, and restore their relationship with the living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ and His Father, God Almighty. We are all called to repent—even daily as a continuous act of spiritual transformation—to change, receive mercy and grace, and to advance toward the future Kingdom of God (Acts 2:38; Romans 12:1-2).
Don’t allow a man or an organization to “steal your crown” (Revelation 3:11) by violating the teachings of Jesus. If you’d like more information about what the Bible really says is the exciting and vibrant future for humanity, write for or download our free booklet, God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.