August 27, 2010
The word ”aloha” can have two meanings—“hello” and “good-bye.” On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 22, “aloha” meant hello and welcome to Ambassador Bible Center to the class of 2011. Thanks to the imagination and creativity of Ina McLemore and her staff, our welcoming picnic for the new students became an aloha picnic with a Hawaiian luau. The event began at 1 p.m. with the ABC alumni hosting the new students with games intended to help everyone get to know one another. The events were well-planned and fun. Then it was time for an early dinner with a Hawaiian flare.
The meal consisted of smoked turkey Hawaiian hoagies, cubes of various tropical fruit and cheese on skewers, side salads, Hawaiian Punch drinks and tropical smoothies. The dining hall was transformed with the addition of a Polynesian hut (by covering a center table and umbrella with long strands of dried grass) and murals on the walls. All the students were invited to wear Hawaiian shirts to the event.
David Johnson selected Taylor and Erin Tootle to organize the alumni and the events. All told, about 80 students, alumni and faculty enjoyed the welcoming picnic.
The luau concluded at 6 p.m. Our gratitude goes to all who helped to make this aloha picnic a great success.
Monday morning, the students arrived for the orientation activities. These included talks from Ralph Levy, Ina McLemore, David Johnson, Chris Stewart, Gary Antion and Dennis Luker. The students were given a packet of information to keep, as well as an ABC calendar to help them stay informed of the year‘s activities. The presenters each explained their roles at ABC and how ABC may run smoothly and effectively.
Dennis Luker capped off the morning with a speech motivating the students to have a right attitude. He used the acronym ABC to mean Attitude Before Character. He read scriptures about attitude and concluded with a story about a man who was a quadriplegic and yet maintained a wonderful attitude about life. He urged the students to have an attitude of humility and yieldedness so that they might make the most of their ABC experience.
There was a break for lunch for the students and faculty, who were joined by the home office staff for finger desserts and fellowship.
Tours of the building were conducted by home office staff employee Janet Treadway and ABC coordinator Gary Antion. Ken Shoemaker, the ABC chorale director, conducted a brief meeting with those interested in the chorale.
The orientation ended at 4:20 p.m. with the students having a better understanding of Ambassador Bible Center. Special thanks go to Ina McLemore and to Kathy de Campos, ABC administrative assistant, for their efforts to make the entire weekend a success. Tuesday morning, classes began with Richard Thompson teaching Gospels!
The class of 2011 is now on the road for a successful nine months of studying the most important textbook in the world—the Holy Bible.
Please join us in praying for the success of our 12th year of ABC.
Gary Antion, ABC Coordinator
August 26, 2010
An early Feast of Tabernacles is upon us. We wish you and all our brethren a rewarding time to rejoice and “learn to fear the LORD your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23). Feast schedules are in place for speakers and speakers have been sharing their sermon content with one another in teleconferences.
Our Leadership Workshop is all set, as Richard and Mary Pinelli plan a 4-1/2-day program again here at the home office over Labor Day weekend. All of us are looking forward to being with the 15 couples from all over the United States who will be here for this program.
Our youth camp season ended its 16th season with Camp Heritage in Pennsylvania. Ken Treybig, United Youth Camps coordinator, tells us that, like all of the other camps this summer, it went exceptionally well. He was very grateful for the dedicated staff members who volunteer their time each year to focus on our campers and establish a zone of peace and safety at each of our camps. He also appreciates the prayers and support of many who are unable to attend, but recognize the wonderful blessing our camp program is to our Church youth. Remember to also pray for Winter Camp, which runs at the end of December.
While we are still focusing on the Feast of Tabernacles, I thought I‘d mention the Winter Family Weekend, one of the Church‘s energizing events that draws more than 2,000 people each year in Louisville, Kentucky. This year the events run from Friday evening, Dec. 24, through late Tuesday night, Dec. 28. We plan to have World News and Prophecy seminars on Sunday, Dec. 26, and Ambassador Bible Center continuing education classes on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 27 and 28. Much more information will be coming after the Feast. Mark Winner has done a superb job in coordinating this fun and educational event for the Church.
On an international note, Dennis Luker has decided to bring all our Portuguese language work under the coordination of Jorge de Campos, a UCG elder currently working at the home office in the international mail area. Jorge has been coordinating the Portuguese efforts, including translation of booklets, the Portuguese Good News supplement, personal correspondence and the Feast in Portugal. Jorge has also been pastoring the brethren in Portugal and Portuguese Autonomous Regions. He will now also care for the Brazilian brethren.
I have been greatly encouraged working with our president, Dennis Luker. The recent transition has not been easy, but we are optimistic about the future. We know that Christ is the Living Head of His Church. He continually tests our minds and attitudes. Christ knows everyone‘s heart and is working His plan through all of us, no matter where we think we stand on various matters. In our ministerial careers we have seen Christ‘s direction and intervention in His Church again and again. Denny Luker and I pray together often on our knees, asking God to help us with the challenges that we are now encountering. I am confident that as we yield and trust our Savior, He will once again bring us deliverance, but in His way.
Again, from Ministerial Services we wish you a wonderful Fall Festival season. May God bring you back safely.
Beverly and I are leaving for Malawi and Zambia on Sunday after the Feast of Trumpets and look forward to being with the brethren in those two countries, to whom we‘ve become quite attached over the past 14 years.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
In Christ‘s service,
Victor Kubik—Operation Manager, Ministerial Services
August 25, 2010
Recently we made available Beyond Today “personal advertisements” which can be used as a tool to help advertise Beyond Today on WGN America to family members, neighbors, friends, fellow employees and others. Due to requests we have also designed a larger version (containing two 8″ x 5″ cards) that can be placed on public bulletin boards and in other locations where permissible. Please take a look at them.
Additionally, here is the newest Beyond Today airing schedule, including the title of each program and a brief synopsis of the subject to be covered. We trust this will be a helpful reminder to watch (or record for later viewing) the programs on WGN America on Sunday mornings, and also a reminder to pray for God’s blessings.
WGN America Responses
We have been very pleased so far with viewer response and Internet traffic generated from our efforts on WGN America. Response for the first six week’s programming of Beyond Today on WGN America, Vision TV in Canada and on US cable-access stations has reached 3,789. Of those responses 2,829 (75%) are directly attributed to WGN and we are seeing a very good initial average WGN America cost per response as a result.
The most popular programs to date have had prophetic themes. These include “The Rapture: Fact or Fiction” and “Europe: A New Superpower on the Rise.” These two programs alone have generated 1,450 responses at an excellent CPR for the WGN portion—and all during the less-favorable summer months for TV viewing.
Once again, thank you greatly for your vital support and prayers as we move ahead in our efforts to preach the Gospel.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
August 22, 2010
We’ve now sent the September-October Good News to our three printing plants (in the United States, South Africa and Australia) and approved the proofs for printing. For several years we’ve been printing the magazine in three different regions of the world, which allows us to save a considerable amount of money on postage and shipping costs for distributing The Good News around the world.
The September-October cover theme is “A World Held Captive: Soon to Be Set Free!” As we normally do in the September-October issue, it focuses on the themes of the fall Holy Days. This lead article summarizes the saga of human history—that mankind has been deceived and taken captive by Satan the devil, leading to enormous suffering and problems, but that the human race will soon be delivered by Jesus Christ at His return.
Two other articles in this issue are “Coming Soon: The Magnificent Millennium” and “Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones: What Does It Mean?” The first, of course, covers the prophesied return of Jesus Christ and establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth, while the second explains the meaning of the White Throne Judgment period after the Millennium.
We certainly hope you’ll read these articles before the upcoming Holy Days as an encouraging reminder of the wonderful events they picture for us and the entire human race!
Another article, “The ‘American Century’: What Was Really Behind It?” describes America’s startling ascent to superpower status in the 20th century and what Bible prophecy reveals about the nation’s rise and coming fall. Another addresses the question, “Could Jesus Christ Return Tomorrow?” (hint: No, and here’s why).
Meanwhile, our “God, Science and the Bible” feature discusses significant discoveries this summer at the site of the ancient Philistine city of Gath that support the biblical account of Samson’s death in a Philistine temple and confirm the occurrence of an earthquake mentioned by the biblical prophets Amos and Zechariah.
This issue will be mailed to 362,000 subscribers, with many thousands more reading or downloading it online. We appreciate the faithfulness and generosity of our members who make it possible to share this wonderful good news with a world that truly is held captive to suffering and spiritual darkness. Please join us in praying that this message of hope and God’s coming Kingdom will fall on fertile ground!
Scott Ashley—managing editor, The Good News
[This message was sent to all elders on Friday, August 20, 2010]
To All Elders,
Last week, we sent out an announcement expressing the results of the recent Council of Elders meeting with Mr. Leon Walker. This announcement had been unanimously approved by the Council. Due to concerns raised the original announcement was withdrawn till further review.
After further discussion, the Council has chosen to maintain the original statement that was first issued.
If you recall, that Statement is as follows:
“On August 11, 2010, at the home office in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Council of Elders met with Leon Walker to discuss the situation in Latin America with the express hope of calming the unrest among elders and members throughout the world. Although no decisions were made, we are pleased to report that a cordial discussion ensued. In the future, the Council hopes to arrange similar discussions with other ministers in Latin America.
“It is the Council’s sincere desire that this process will lead to reconciliation. As this process continues, the Council will strive to be respectful of all parties—ministers and members alike. Plans, however, for the newly organized weekly services and Feast sites in Latin America will continue. The leading parties in this process request that everyone refrain from inflammatory statements on the Internet and in private that would undermine our efforts.
“This statement was unanimously agreed upon by all members of the Council of Elders.”
This Statement is to be read this Sabbath to any congregations who have not already heard it.
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders
August 20, 2010
Dear Fellow Elders and All Brethren,
As chairman and president, we want to write to you today regarding our Church-wide fast on Aug. 21 or 22, for the purpose of seeking God’s will in our lives and in His Church.
Romans 12:1-2 presents a strong framework for seeking the will of God. Let’s review how the New International Version renders this passage:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In His great mercy, God sent His only begotten Son as payment once and for all for our many sins and shortcomings. In the hours leading up to Christ’s suffering and death, He possessed the power to endure the agony He was about to face. He yielded in obedience to God’s plan for us, praying “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, emphasis added throughout).
Christ set us the example, which is reflected in Paul’s urgent direction. Just as Christ did, we are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices.” To sacrifice means to completely give over and give up something of great value. In this case, our living sacrifice represents our minds, our hearts and our actions. Do we do this daily? Do we bring our thoughts and wills into the subjection of God?
Our thoughts are the place of origin for all of our words and deeds. What do we think about? In offering ourselves as “living sacrifices,” are our thoughts without blemish, free of resentment, fear and self-centeredness? That leads us to the next point.
Paul writes under inspiration that we are to “be transformed” (verse 2). The Greek word used here is the same verb that is used in describing Christ’s awe-inspiring transfiguration in Matthew 17:2. There Jesus was “transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light.” The Greek word here for transfigured is transliterated as “metamorphoo,” which is a root word for our modern word metamorphosis.
By using the same verb, the Bible dramatically illustrates just how complete our transformation is to be. The bar is obviously very high and unattainable except through God’s mercy and strength.
Yet a complete and utter commitment to this level of transformation is exactly what is required to “test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2, NIV).
We are to utterly reject the patterns of thought and behavior of this present world, which happens as a result of the daily “renewing” of our minds. This occurs through focused Bible study, meditation and reflection on what God shows us in His Word, putting into action what we hear in sermons and sermonettes, and, of course, intense prayer for the strength, commitment and wisdom to achieve real change.
We know from the Bible “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Through the physical and somewhat unpleasant weakness resulting from fasting, we are directly reminded of just how dependent we are on God. Just as we must have daily physical nourishment and refreshment to continue to live our physical lives, so must we have spiritual nourishment and refreshment to achieve our ultimate goal of entering the Kingdom of God.
In using fasting as a way to discern and act on God’s will, we have virtually an entire chapter in Isaiah to help us. In chapter 58 of Isaiah, we learn what an acceptable fast is and why some fasts seem to have no effect on our daily lives, while others do.
Jesus Himself warned of the dangers of fasting to appear self-righteous, and the prophet Isaiah was inspired to warn that if we are fasting to “get our way” or somehow convince God to act in a certain manner, physical fasting is of little or no value (Isaiah 58:4-5). A fast that is focused on seeking God and yielding to His will has the opposite effect: We find new ways to serve, to individually reflect God’s love through action and to express real love one for another (Isaiah 58:6-7). As verse 9 points out, a fast that results in us changing our behavior is a fast that produces good fruit.
A real and lasting change in our behavior and a change in how we think represent the key goals of any spiritual fast. Paul makes these goals clear in Ephesians 4:22-24. He tells us to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind…that you put on the new man which was created according to God.” A true spiritual fast will result in us “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (verse 32).
The more we in the Church are attuned to God—the more we are aligned with His will—the more we will be blessed and the more we will personally experience the awe-inspiring miraculous power of God.
In Revelation 2 and 3 we read accounts of seven churches that existed in western Turkey during the first century. There were, of course, many other congregations of the true Church of God scattered around the Mediterranean and in the Roman Empire at the time, but God chose to profile the good and bad points of these seven churches. We understand that the attitudes, achievements and challenges faced by these congregations present messages to the Church throughout the years and centuries leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. According to these accounts, which will make for good reading in this current fast, many lessons—even stretching from Old Testament times in the form of the sin of Balaam (Revelation 2:14)—have yet to be fully learned throughout the present human age.
But there is supreme hope for us as we read these passages. We are directed to overcome our human nature and our challenges through the direct help available through Jesus Christ, our soon-coming King and Elder Brother. Through the reconciling sacrifice of Christ, who as Head of this Church is responsible for seeing to our spiritual needs, we have direct access to God the Father and the energizing power of the Holy Spirit.
As we fast, do we realize that through overcoming—surrendering our wills to God’s—we are actively engaged in preparing ourselves to serve and rule under Christ for all eternity?
During this—or any—spiritual fast, we do so that we may “seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). As this familiar passage goes on in chapter 55, God reminds us that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (verse 8). Through transformation and the renewing of our minds, a miracle can happen. We can become more like God, and we can begin to think God’s thoughts instead of ours. When we actively forsake the ways of the world and thoughts stemming from unrighteousness, returning to the principles that we know from the Bible, then we see that we will again receive mercy, and through Christ’s sacrifice, God “will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Romans 12 warns us that the knowledge of God’s will can be obscured if we begin to think of ourselves too highly (verse 3), that we can begin—even after years within the Church of God—to become filled with pride. As Paul states in verses 6 to 8, we all have gifts from God, and we are all expected to use those gifts to achieve the will and purpose of God.
The physical weakness of fasting helps us adopt and sustain a spirit of godly humility. Being filled with a spirit of humility doesn’t mean that we rip ourselves to shreds emotionally. It means that we are “right-sized,” even as Job realized his physical and spiritual position in Job 38. He was nothing in comparison to God, and God used an unrelenting trial to smash the harmful attitude of self-righteousness that compromised Job’s relationship with God. Fasting can help us achieve a right attitude and a spiritual readjustment without going through a serious physical or mental trial. We will likely feel deep remorse, even revulsion, once we better understand the magnitude of our sins, but that is soon replaced by serenity, then joy, when the eyes of our understanding are enlightened and opened to know God better (Ephesians 1:18).
As Galatians 5:16-26 shows, our spiritual state is openly reflected in how we act. If we truly transform our minds and hearts and give ourselves daily as living sacrifices, then that transformation will be reflected throughout the Church.
As Paul writes in Romans 12, each of us has a role to play in the Church. Each of us has a role to play in preaching the gospel and preparing a people. When we embrace those roles in a renewed spiritual relationship—evidenced by real change in the form of active love and good deeds—then the Church as a collective body can be healed and filled anew with God’s precious Spirit. It is then that strife and anguish can be overcome with love and a transformed godly focus will dominate each and every thing that we do. We do not seek to “fix” an organization through fasting. We seek to restore and improve our personal relationship with God. If we do that, other things will take care of themselves.
We are to look to God through Christ for healing and restoration. The opportunity for our personal reconciliation with God is before us.
Through this and every fast, through daily prayer and yielding to God, may you individually and the Church collectively be blessed as we seek God’s will and His Kingdom first in our lives!
Melvin Rhodes, chairman — Dennis Luker, president
August 17, 2010
The media department announced in early June that UCG.org was to be updated and revamped. So far the project has a slated completion date of May 1, 2011. This includes server transitions, programming changes and content conversion into the new format. To ensure that new users won’t get confused with new functionality, beta testing and debugging are also included in this estimated timeframe.
The Web team, with the help of the managing editors of various publications, has identified more than 120 topics that all of our content falls into. The topics cover a very broad spectrum. Some topics are lighter, such as entertainment and personal appearance. Some topics are heavier—sin, addictions, death and various other things that a Christian needs to face in his lifetime. When you go to a topic page you will be able to see all of our material on a certain subject—videos, commentaries, sermons, articles, FAQs and booklets.
Diligently adding archives
We have 5 part-time contract workers helping to categorize and optimize the estimated 15,000 items of content the Church has produced in the past 15 years. This is a tedious process that cannot be automated in any way—requiring converted people at the helm to determine if an article is better tagged with “Gospel” or “the Kingdom,” for example. The efforts of the team are extremely helpful in making the topic pages correct and useful for people trying to learn more about God’s way.
Finalizing Technology Decisions
Decisions on server technology are being finalized very soon. When this is completewe will be able to contract a server from a reliable hosting company that should fit our needs in the short and long term.
The entire team would like to thank you for your current prayers and ask for your continued prayers on the success of this project.
Senior Web Developer
E 5 de agosto grabé un sermón para que lo puedan escuchar cuando sea conveniente para ustedes. El título es: “La soberanía de Dios sobre la Iglesia y sobre nuestras vidas personales”
El mensaje es de 46 minutos y esta disponible en nuestra página www.ucg.org/sermons/2010/Gods-sovereignty-in-the-church.htm para que lo puedan descargar a su computador o verlo directamente ahí con traducción simultánea en español. Simplemente descárguenlo o escúchenlo en la misma página web.
Espero que este mensaje les ayude y los anime.
Gracias por su fiel servicio.
Dennis Luker, Presidente
August 16, 2010
United Church of God president, Dennis Luker, has made his Monday, August 9, presentation to the Council of Elders now available for all to view. It’s on the Council of Elders Web site in both video and audio formats and is 26 minutes long.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services.
August 13, 2010
UCG Media and Communications Services video editor Jamie Schreiber put together this short clip aimed at our younger viewers. It lists the Ten Commandment in a unique and fresh way very familiar to our teenagers. The 10 Commandments are read from Exodus 20. The video uses the motion graphics technique of kinetic typography.
We trust you will appreciate this approach!
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services