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!
December 12, 2012
Beyond Today Television Results
Since the inception of the United Church of God’s Beyond Today television program, we have received more than 145,00 direct responses asking for the literature offered. This figure does not include the many website visitors that go online immediately upon viewing the program to read more about the topic.
The chart below shows results for each year since 2006. We are experiencing a very encouraging increase year-to-year. In addition, we are pleased to report that dozens of baptisms and new attendees have resulted from those who first found out about the gospel of the Kingdom of God from our television effort.
Please see the rise in responses year-to-year from 2006 through 2012 in the following chart:
- Beyond Today television airs nationwide on WGN America and the WORD Network. (We end our contract with World Harvest Network, METV and FETV on December 31 due to budget cuts.) We are on an additional two dozen cable-access stations sponsored by members. Please visit our station listing page for times and channels that include the United States, Canada and Australia.
- In addition, Beyond Today has it’s own YouTube channel and we have had 2.4 million views of our programs and video blogs.
- We are now in the process of creating a public Roku channel for Beyond Today.
The top response program so far this fiscal year is “Middle East Family Feud” by Darris McNeely that aired the week of November 11-17; followed by “You Are What You Eat” by Steve Myers that aired the week of September 16-12.
In years past, the Church of God always capitalized on the emerging media of the time—whether it was the printed word, radio or television. Today it is no different, and so areas that we are tapping into more effectively include television and streaming and on-demand video.
Television is an important part of our three-fold media mix that includes our printed literature and our website. Please continue to remember the work of preaching the gospel of God’s Kingdom in your daily prayers.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
November 29, 2012
Beyond Today television program “Middle East Family Feud” hosted by Darris McNeely, which aired the week of November 11-17, attracted the highest response (1,249) and the lowest cost per response ($13.13) out of all 19 programs aired so far this fiscal year.
The effective explanation of the underlying reasons for the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East appears to have struck a chord with our viewers. The idea of a longstanding family feud, going back thousands of years, was beforehand a total mystery to most. Our television program provided a fresh and biblical perspective on the geopolitical and religious underpinnings of the Mideast crisis. The unique understanding presented in this program was strongly recognized by the audience and as a result they responded in kind.
Please continue to pray that our presenters and production team will find ways to be as effective as possible in preaching the good news 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
[The following letter by Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, was sent to Church membership September 19.}
September 19, 2012
As we in the home office busily finish up final details for the much anticipated Feast of Tabernacles, tensions mount amidst fears of fresh war in the Middle East, even while this letter is being prepared for you. What a contrast! Just as we read and hear anew the biblical words and passages about soon-coming peace and prosperity in the Kingdom of God, the news is filled with fears of regional conflict, perhaps even the beginnings of global conflict. While many intently follow what the British newspaper The Telegraph calls an “armada of international naval power massing” in the Persian Gulf, we are urged to redouble our efforts in spiritual preparation, being alert and avoiding being caught up in “the anxieties of life” (Luke 21:34-36, New International Version).
Unlike what God gives us, the world does not yet have the serene strength that comes from the truth. Millions, perhaps billions, of people toss and turn at night, worried about what the next day may bring. At the same time we in the Church have these powerful and comforting words: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). What a blessing! Ours is the sure knowledge and unbreakable promise that God’s plan is to deliver us. Our soon-to-come inheritance is a never ending time of unprecedented splendor, all focused on an eternal relationship of service with our Elder Brother and soon coming King. To continue our journey toward this Kingdom, we have but to continually yield and turn our lives over to God, following the leadership of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
As we watch world events unfold during this annual biblical season, we know that “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). This is the time of revealing when God will complete the incomprehensible and wondrous task of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). How deep and profound is this? The apostle Paul tells us that even now the physical world “groans and labors with birth pangs,” awaiting the time when it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:22, 21).
I am personally grateful that this year’s Feast season comes at a time when we are finishing up our year-long round of Kingdom of God Bible Seminars. Many have told me how these seminars serve as an excellent jump-start in helping us refocus, deeply recalling why we were called in the first place: to preach the gospel and prepare a people!
The vision for the Church comes alive in activities like these, with “the whole body [of the Church] joined and knit together…working by which every part does its share” (Ephesians 4:16). While ministers may have provided the heavy lifting on the main presentation, members had the equally critical role of “being witnesses” of God’s way of life (Luke 21:13; 1 Peter 3:15). I had the privilege of speaking at the New York City Kingdom of God Bible Seminar, one of the more than 160 separate seminars being conducted in this public series. When unseasonal heavy weather came and even a rare tornado touched down near the site where the seminar was being held, it wasn’t difficult to think that opposing spiritual forces were not pleased that the gospel of the Kingdom was being carried to New York!
Despite any physical and spiritual opposition, the seminars are indeed bearing fruit. Just like in the earlier days of the Church, new people are now coming to services in many areas, and some baptisms are taking place. The total attendance and impact will be compiled in November after all of the seminars have taken place across the world. As one minister said, “People now know where we live!” God’s Church—His “called out ones”—is out in the open!
As we participate in the Feast of Tabernacles, heralding through our observance the future coming Kingdom, let us truly refresh and renew ourselves spiritually, drinking deeply of the biblical truths we will again hear and read. For some it will be the first Feast, a time of the joyous enthusiasm of the spiritual “first love” (Revelation 2:4). For others it may be the 10th, 20th, even 50th or more observance of this festival season.
Whatever milestone it is for you and wherever you observe it, keep the Feast with joy and purpose! As history records, there have been times when the early Christians were openly condemned for keeping God’s Holy Days. At least one religious leader (John Chrysostom) listed the biblical Feasts by name as late as the fourth century A.D., wrongly calling their observance by Christians some 300 years after Christ’s death a “perverse custom.” Many in this current election year have warned of the possible erosion of religious freedom in the United States, which leads us to recall the words of Christ: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
We still presently have the wonderful ability to meet together in peace, worship God and demonstrate His way of life, so let us seize every opportunity! Let us embrace a renewed sense of urgency and let this Feast be a time of great renewal.
In closing, please remember to ask for God’s blessing both on the speaking and the hearing during this festival. Please pray both for the inspiration of speakers and for a special blessing for those receiving the word. I also want to thank you in advance for your special offerings on the Holy Days—there remains much work to be done, and your fervent prayers and your generous offerings directly impact the scope of that work. Let us humbly remember to give cheerfully, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
May we all be greatly blessed during the Feast and the days ahead. We are called to a life of service and this time affords us a special opportunity to demonstrate that. Let us truly become that spiritual lamp that “gives light to all” (Matthew 5:15).
In Christ’s service,
September 15, 2011
When I first started reading the Church’s literature in 1966, the geopolitical emphasis focused on three areas: the Middle East, which is the epicenter of Bible prophecy; Europe and developments leading to the “ten kings” prophesied at the end time; and the continuing decline of the English-speaking nations.
Forty-five years later, after natural disasters, it seems that the news is still dominated by these three.
Relations between Israel and its neighbors are worse now than they have been at any time since the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. The Israeli Embassy in Cairo was stormed last week, and the Ambassador and his family had to flee. Even “moderate” Turkey has talked of war, with their prime minister saying that an incident last year justified conflict with Israel.
In addition, there is to be an attempt at the United Nations later this month to recognize an independent Palestinian state. Although the U.S. would veto such a move in the Security Council, a vote in the General Assembly is a foregone conclusion against Israel.
Such a vote would also highlight increasing divisions between the United States and its European allies, as most European countries are likely to vote for an independent nation of Palestine.
Even without the Middle East, Europe itself is facing its own problems as fiscal disaster looms daily. As I write this on Tuesday, September 13, there are rumors again of Greece defaulting financially. An interviewee on BBC News last night put the likelihood of a default at 98 percent! A headline in London’s Daily Telegraph (August 24) read: “Market crash ‘could hit within weeks’, warn bankers.” September and October, historically, are the most likely months for a big financial upheaval. Any bad economic news in Europe, or even a default by tiny and seemingly insignificant Greece, will have a negative ripple effect around the world, including the United States. As a number of financial publications have observed in recent weeks, the prospect of a “double dip recession” is now more likely.
The worst-case scenario for Europe is of a possible total economic collapse. If this happens, we could see a repeat of the 1930s when, out of the rubble of democratic Europe and the Great Depression, the era of the great nationalistic dictators emerged that led to World War II. An article on today’s Stratfor website highlights the danger:
“European nationalism has always had a deeper engine than simply love of one’s own. It is also rooted in resentment of others. Europe is not necessarily unique in this, but it has experienced some of the greatest catastrophes in history because of it. Historically, the Europeans have hated well. We are very early in the process of accumulating grievances and remembering how to hate, but we have entered the process. How this is played out, how the politicians, financiers and media interpret these grievances, will have great implications for Europe. Out of it may come a broader sense of national betrayal, which was just what the European Union was supposed to prevent” (“The Crisis of Europe and European Nationalism,” George Friedman, Stratfor, September 13.)
The very future of the European Union is at stake right now. If the EU’s internal contradictions lead to it falling apart, watch for dramatic changes in Europe that will eventually lead to the resurrected Roman Empire prophesied in Scripture.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how we get from the Eurozone’s present fiscal challenges to the prophesied “ten kings . . . who give their power and authority to the Beast” (Revelation 17:12-13), but students of Bible prophecy know that this assuredly lies ahead.
Europe’s problems do not give the English-speaking countries any excuse to gloat. Both London and Washington are faced with horrendous mountains of debt and are unsure how to move forward. In the United Kingdom austerity measures (cut-backs in government expenditure) contributed to the recent inner-city riots. Take away freebies, and people will riot! But the economic crisis requires freebies to be taken away. This is a dilemma in the U.S. as well. In my own state of Michigan, welfare is being cut back, along with other expenditures, as the state tries to balance its budget. It remains to be seen what the consequences will be.
The federal government is also looking at serious cuts, though most politicians don’t seem to be looking too seriously. They will no doubt wait until the crisis worsens, as it almost certainly will.
Faced with all these uncertainties, what can the average person do? Jesus Christ said that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). We all realize that no government and no economic system can provide us with guaranteed security. The only real security lies in our relationship with God. “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).
At this time of the year our thoughts should be on the coming Kingdom of God as we celebrate the annual Holy Days that look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom.
A new best-seller by writer Mark Steyn is titled “After America.” Beneath the title is the following sub-title: “Get Ready for Armageddon.” There are many people who realize fully the perilous times we live in, but, sadly, do not share in the knowledge and the hope of the Kingdom.
We have that hope, and we should all have a burning desire to share it with the world.
That’s why we recently hosted the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars, which were attended by more than a thousand new people who were warmly welcomed by members of the United Church of God, eager to participate in sharing their hope of the Kingdom with others.
That hope inspires us to pray daily: “Your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). While we enjoy the physical blessings of the Feast of Tabernacles, let us also remember that these days look forward to a time when all the problems of this present world will be left behind.
Diane and I wish you all a truly uplifting and inspiring Feast of Tabernacles.
Sincerely, your brother in Jesus Christ,
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders
May 1, 2011
May-June Good News: What’s Behind the Unrest Sweeping the Middle East?
The May-June Good News has been printed and should be in your mailbox shortly. It addresses a crucial question: What’s behind the turmoil in the Middle East?
A more basic question is this: Why is the Middle East so often in the news?
The answer is simple—the Middle East is the ground zero of Bible prophecy. Yes, Bible prophecy is global in its scale and reach. But it begins in and is centered on the Middle East—the Holy Land and its nearby neighbors.
The Bible story begins with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden somewhere in today’s Middle East. The stories of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Israelites, David, Solomon, the biblical prophets and Jesus of Nazareth are set there. Prophetically, the events that lead to the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God are set in motion by events triggered in the Middle East. So it’s vitally important that we understand what’s taking place there, and what is foretold to happen in the future!
As is obvious from the news, a major trend is sweeping the Middle East. The leaders of Tunisia and Egypt have been swept from office in popular uprisings. Libya is engulfed in civil war. Yemen and Syria are approaching or are on the brink. A swath of unrest stretches across North Africa and the Middle East from the Atlantic Ocean to Afghanistan, affecting virtually every country in an arc extending some 3,000 miles.
The big question is, as these governments and leaders fall, what will replace them?
At this point it’s too early to tell, as elections are still some time off. But it’s obvious that the region is seeing a resurgence of Islamic militancy, with its leaders demanding the establishment of a revived Islamic empire destined, in their thinking, to eventually dominate the entire world.
Does this sound far-fetched? Not to students of Bible prophecy. They understand that the Hebrew prophet Daniel foretold a new end-time power that will arise from the Arab world, leading to a clash of civilizations between East and West.
As these Arab strongmen are toppled in the Middle East, what will replace them? Will we see the region swept by a new wave of Islamic fundamentalism leading to the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy? You need to read this issue!
Several eye-opening articles will help you understand what is happening now in the Middle East, where it might be leading, and what Bible prophecy foretells for this region. We deeply appreciate the faithfulness of those whose generosity and dedication to the good news of the coming Kingdom of God make it possible to share these truths, and we hope you’ll join us in praying that many others will have their eyes opened and to see the seriousness of the times in which we find ourselves.
Scott Ashley—managing editor, The Good News
March 30, 2011
On Monday, March 21, the United Church of God in the United Kingdom ran a newspaper advertisement in The Daily Telegraph. Of particular interest is that the theme of our ad, “Why Is the Middle East Such a Perpetual Hot Spot?”, coincided perfectly with the newspaper’s lead story for the day about military action against Libya.
Bricket Wood, England, pastor Gerhard Marx forwarded a copy of the ad to the UCG home office in Cincinnati. You can see it attached to this blog post. God indeed blessed this advertising effort in both the timing and front-page placement in The Daily Telegraph at a very reasonable cost.
Please pray for a very good response to our UK office’s advertising effort in this regard. They are offering a free subscription to the Good News magazine, and copies of two of our booklets, “The Middle East in Bible Prophecy” and “Are We Living in the Time of the End?“
Peter Eddington and Gerhard Marx—Media and Communications Services