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Pre-Sabbath Letter to Brethren from Roy Holladay

April 30, 2010

Dear Fellow Brethren,

Preparations for the annual General Conference of Elders this weekend are peaking, and we’re all excited to see our ministers and their wives begin to gather here for three important days. As we prepare for this series of meetings and the upcoming year in the work of the Church, I’d like to invite you to consider a few things.

A video segment that I’ve recorded twice now is called “About our Father’s Business,” a reference to Christ’s statement who, even as a 12-year-old, appeared in the Jerusalem Temple and displayed knowledge and wisdom well beyond His years.  Now, I’d like to ask you, how are we in the United Church of God being about our Father’s business?

Did you know that there are presently more than 16 million people in the United States and around the globe who keep the seventh day Sabbath? Did you know that these people consider themselves Christian and keep the Sabbath as they understand how Jesus and the apostles kept the Sabbath? The vast number of these Sabbath keepers don’t observe the Holy Days because they don’t understand the significance of them. They don’t have the precious understanding of God’s plan of salvation that we are blessed to have. They come close to a more complete knowledge of the truth in many instances, but then they fall short. God has not yet opened their eyes.

Considering all of that, here’s an important point. Many of these Sabbath-keepers know much about us and the entire Church of God movement. What do you think they see? Do they see God’s spirit in action in a highly inviting way? As a result of seeing that way in action, are they drawn to consider a deeper understanding of God’s word and truth?

As we approach the weekly Sabbath and, in a few weeks the Day of Pentecost, I’d like to offer some thoughts from perhaps an unusual source.

When Jesus was asked for a confirming sign of who He was and what He was doing, He replied in a highly remarkable way: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” We read that in Matthew chapter 12, verse 39, and we in the Church of God are well familiar with how Jesus said that He would be in the grave for three full days and three full nights, just as “Jonah was in three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish” (verse 40).

We usually read this around the Passover time, so why am I bringing this up here?

The book of Jonah is very short compared to other books of the Bible. It is also one of the most controversial. Many scholars dismiss it as allegorical or metaphorical. Many don’t believe any of it happened.

Given that scholarly view, did Christ say something like “based on the children’s fairy tale about Jonah, I will be in the grave just as Jonah imagined he was in the legendary fish”?

No brethren, of course He did not.

What he did do was to completely validate the book of Jonah and its content. He confirmed that it all happened.

So here’s my point today and my question to you. What did happen in the book of Jonah and how might that be relevant for us today in the United Church of God? It’s a much bigger lesson than one about a fish.

As I mentioned, it’s a short book. You can quickly read it in one setting. But here’s its main theme, which our soon coming King and Elder Brother completely validated.

The book is about a message that God directly gave to one of His servants and how that servant tried to dodge his responsibility for delivering it. God didn’t destroy him for not following what God said to do, but God did go to great lengths to get Jonah’s attention. Jonah was to deliver a message of warning to the city of Nineveh, which the Bible calls “an exceedingly great city” (Jonah 3:3).

After God got Jonah’s attention, this time he obeyed. And a very surprising thing happened. After Jonah delivered the message, the people of Nineveh, whom God said numbered more than one hundred and twenty thousand, saw the profound error of their ways and repented. The King of Nineveh declared a fast.

How did God respond? “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). It was a totally unexpected outcome from Jonah’s human point of view.

Brethren, let me ask you this question: do we ever doubt the power of the message that we have today all been called to deliver?  When Jonah got focused and aligned himself with God’s will, powerful things happened.

We are, as the Bible says, “a small flock.” But make no mistake. God in these last days has given us a voice.

As we test and refine that voice on commercial television, as we continue to tap into the unparalleled opportunities on the Internet that know no national boundaries, as we publish God’s truth in multiple languages, we are exercising that voice. Just as Jonah didn’t know, we don’t know in many cases how our message will be received. But we, like Jonah, have the direct command to proclaim that message.

As I have written to you recently, we proclaim a message that involves an invisible God. While God is presently invisible to mortal man, our Church and you members are not. When the Church proclaims a way of love, of give versus get, of the power that results when one embraces the truth of the Bible, do people in the world fully see that in action? Do our thoughts, our words and our actions reflect what we say? Can people in the world—including the more than 16 million Sabbath keepers who know of us and watch us—truly see Christ living in us? Do they want what we have?

These are important questions. They concern all of us. They reflect our responsibility.

I spoke recently about the strengths of the United Church of God. Those strengths are appealing. They are inviting. And they are true. God is working in His Church today, and He is the source of those strengths. If you have not seen it yet, it is available for viewing on the Church’s Web site (www.ucg.org/sermons).

In closing, let us consider the words of Paul, who wrote to the 1st century Christians in Philippi: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Our responsibility is before us and we have the very power of God to help us achieve it. Let us set the bar high as we approach Pentecost to rededicate ourselves to the standards of God.

And in doing so, let us all be about our Father’s business.

In Christian Love,

Roy Holladay

Interim President/Chairman, Council of Elders

April 30, 2010 - Posted by | Council of Elders, Home Office, President's Office |

11 Comments »

  1. Thank you, Mr. Holladay! Everything you’ve written and said since you took over as president has been inspiring and has pointed us toward the real business of being God’s church. Thank you for making certain we’re focused on preaching the gospel and preparing ourselves and others.

    Comment by Susan Durnil | April 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I agree with you Susan. We must be very thankful to God for these reminders of what we should be focusing on.

      Comment by doris phelps | May 1, 2010 | Reply

      • You are so right Susan and Doris. We should keep our focus on the things that are most important and be careful not to look too closely at any of the things they don’t want us to pay attention to. I am so thankful for this campaign effort to make sure we are aware of how wonderful the church leadership is.

        Comment by Barbara Renata | May 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you Mr. Holladay, my prayers are with you all this weekend.

    Comment by Peggy Bromfield Wentz | April 30, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thank you for the inspiring letter. We are all in the process of learning, and should be about our Father’s business. Our prayers go with you all at the upcoming conference.

    Comment by Gloria Williamson | May 1, 2010 | Reply

  4. You make an excellent point about the book of Jonah. God’s motive in making sure Nineveh had a warning was love towards the people of Nineveh, as shown in the last verse of the book. Likewise we should be motivated by love towards our neighbors who need to hear a warning, and we should go all out to get the message of the gospel and the Ezekiel warning out to our neighbors.

    Comment by Penman | May 1, 2010 | Reply

  5. I am so humbly proud to be a part of THIS GREAT WORK that the SON OF MAN and our FATHER is doing through us – they have given to us those whom they have chosen to be responsible leaders in the governance of their Church and other dedicated ministers to the service of the Church and the proclaiming of the Good News of the Kingdom of God – our Father’s earnest fruits of the Spirit and His Christ are significantly measurable by the inspired quality of His and our High Priest’s words which emanates from the many articles which have been written in our various publications. As you know, our Head and High Priest, knows everything within His Father’s Church, and He will provide us with the necessary means, especially spiritually and then financially to FORWARD THE COMMAND WHICH WAS GIVEN TO US, HIS CHURCH, IN PREACHING THE GOOD NEWS OF THE COMING AGES TO THIS WORLD – MUCH DEPENDS UPON OUR FATHER’S SUCCESS THROUGH US AS HE HAS CALLED US FOR THIS PURPOSE – AND WE WILL FAITHFULLY PROSECUTE HIS WILL IN US TO THAT END – WE HAVE MUCH WORK YET TO ACCOMPLISH, YET, HE, IN US, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, WHICH HE HAS PURPOSED IN US, TO HIS GLORY AND PRAISE. FORWARD TO THE KINGDOM – THE KINGDOM WHICH HAS BEEN PROCLAIMED BY THE PROPHETS OF OLD, THE PSALMS AND THE LAW OF MOSES, AND CHRIST HIMSELF, THE CHIEF APOSTLE AND HIGH PRIEST, THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS OF THE NEW COVENANT.

    Comment by dwight stanley stewart | May 2, 2010 | Reply

  6. HOW COULD I FORGET? THE “BEYOND TODAY TELECASTS” ARE ABSOLUTLELY GREAT IN SPIRITUAL CONTENT – AS THE PRESENTERS ARE MOTIVIATED BY OUR FATHER’S SPIRIT WITH THE FREEDOM OF LIBERTY, WTH ZEAL, IN PROCLAIMING TO THE WORLD HUMANITY’S DESTINY – THEIR ONE DAY FULLY REALIZED ROAD TO ETERNAL SALVATION ACCORDING TO OUR FATHER’S HIGH CALLING IN HIS APPOINTED TIMES.

    Comment by dwight stanley stewart | May 2, 2010 | Reply

    • You can give it a rest now Dwight. You’re posting this same totally over-the-top thing on every page. It’s annoying.

      Comment by Anthony Bergstrom | May 3, 2010 | Reply

  7. Considering how non-Holyday observing Sabbath Keepers view us do we really know? By virtue of keeping the Sabbath only it is a sure thing that they too have assorted dirty laundry. Any follower of Christ will normally catch flack. Early martyers{Foxes Book of Martyers] who had little head knowledge died in the faith and it is presumed that someone was displeased with them for following what they knew.Some of these Sabbath keepers who don’t heep the Holydays may see our flaws and understand that “All Who Live Godly in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution. Often wounds are self inflicted as a body among themselves.I know of people present and passed on who lived Godly lives with the trials of Employment, Marriage and Child rearing.One does not have to be an elder,or a Decon to have trials.Brethren in the Church are comming to realize that “What Someone Thinks Is None of My Business”.People are entitled to their thoughts and free moral agency to stiffle any bad actions is Character.In conclusion their are brethren in the Church currently unsung and little respected who have worked with their prodigle children and others of the state as foster parents who are little respected except by God Almighty.What praise to they need other than that? What is True Religion? These are the actions to be seen as the Church is “We The People”. God has called Brethren we are the least of the brethren denoted as nothings so it will be said by them “We Have Need of Nothing”. This happened 42 years algo and their are still Brethren who answer the roll call every Passover. The impression we make on others I believe on the personal level is good. The Nuts and Bolts of Christainity is always repenting and showing and having mercy.My advice is don’t be bothered by what others think. This is all vainity.

    Jim on the Hill

    Comment by Jim Lapp | May 2, 2010 | Reply

  8. Hello Sir,
    Thank you for the message.May the good God enhance you more oportunities,humility and wisdom to give more of the same{like}
    Thank you and God bless.

    Comment by benson o. kouko | June 14, 2010 | Reply


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