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“Speaking of 2012”: Member Letter from Dennis Luker

January 3, 2012

Dear Brethren,

Here at the home office we are still elated from the exciting experiences of the recent Winter Family Weekend and the fact that our Beyond Today television program just set a new record out of the 24 programs aired since July 10, 2011. It attracted 1,198 responses. It is interesting that during the time many of our brethren get together to fellowship and give their children and families a respite from the year-end holiday furor, our television program sets a record while profiling the pagan origins of the Christmas season. It is certainly encouraging to be a part of God’s Church and work!

The 15th consecutive Winter Family Weekend was held for the first time this year at the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinnati. The four-day event represented a great success with 1,100 members in a standing-room-only Sabbath service and 712 attending the Friday night Bible study. To accommodate the large attendance, the staff at the Great Wolf Lodge pulled in every available seat they could find in the conference center.

The extensive Great Wolf Lodge water park and traditional church athletic activities were a major hit with families, and many people attended the Bible and Christian living seminars held each day for both teens and adults. These seminars, a number of which were also standing-room-only, ranged from an open question and answer session with four members of the Council of Elders, including Melvin Rhodes, chairman of the Council, to an in-depth look at the meaning of Galatians 2 and 3. Members also enjoyed taking part in the live production of three new Beyond Today television programs featuring each of our presenters, and a large group relished a formal tour of the church’s home office about 20 miles away. Needless to say, plans are already underway for a return to Great Wolf Lodge for our Winter Family Weekend in 2012.

Speaking of 2012 and the new secular year before us, light snow dusted the region around the home office as the Winter Family Weekend ended, reminding us that we must gird ourselves to persevere through the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) between the festival seasons, and even now begin to think about and prepare ourselves spiritually for the Passover. It is through this commitment to constant improvement that we progress forward in our spiritual lives.

Of course, 2012 has been tagged as the year when the now-extinct Mayan civilization supposedly “predicted” a global apocalypse, with a whole host of purported cataclysms to accompany it. We in the Church know that a specific sequence of events and prophetic fulfillments must occur before the final catastrophes engulf this planet, and even then we are warned that “false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Matthew 24:24 New International Version).

Brethren, we are God’s “elect” as we are grounded in the faith, and Jesus Himself tells us that as we collectively hear the rumblings of prophecy fulfilled drawing closer, we are to “see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:6 NIV).

Rather than become fearful and anxious about whether we shall escape some future cataclysm, we are to direct our energies into overcoming—seeking to be transformed by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2). We are told by Jesus, the living Head of the Church, that we are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). This light must “so shine”—it must be seen—“before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (verse 16). That applies to every one of us.

As we think about this and about beginning to prepare for the Passover, I would like to remind you of what Jesus said later in His famous Olivet Prophecy. Continuing what He began in the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus used a parable as a teaching tool in the 25th chapter regarding 10 virgins. Christ noted that “while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5, emphasis added). Half of the 10 virgins had been wise in securing oil—a spiritual metaphor for God’s Holy Spirit—while the others were not. Half were prepared, even when the others neglected to do what was right and necessary. Christ’s point? Emphasizing what He had said earlier in Matthew 24:44, He declared, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).

Jesus used the action verb “watch” to underscore our need to be alert and fully engaged in God’s plan. It includes the need to discern the times we live in, but it also encourages us to take a look at our own spiritual condition. This word watch echoes the command given to us by Paul in preparing ourselves spiritually before the Passover, where we are to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). The parable of the 10 virgins reveals how easy it is for us to know the right thing, but then to fall short and not do it. We are instructed by James, the human brother of Christ: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22, NIV, emphasis added).

While we have the encouraging knowledge that the world will not end in 2012, we also have this sobering message: “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). This is worth giving some thought to as Christ proclaimed that a major identifying mark of a Christian would be the fact that others could openly see the godly love that Christians have for one another (John 13:35). Is this spiritual love apparent in the observable light that is supposed to shine forth from us? In addition to those in the Church, Jesus told us that we are to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

These are not easy things to do, but they give us a framework to begin preparing for the upcoming Passover in about three months. Let us renew our commitment to seek God with fresh intensity, understanding that it is not by our human power that we overcome, but literally it is “God who works in you” (Philippians 2:13). Through the mighty power of God we can overcome our human nature and be changed day by day in our hearts and minds, filled eventually to the full with God’s transforming Holy Spirit!

Thank you for remaining faithful to God and for helping in the work of His Church. Your love, prayers, service and financial support are sincerely and deeply appreciated!

In Christ’s service,

Dennis Luker

PS—As the second round of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars will be coming up shortly, please remember to pray for their continued success in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

January 3, 2012 - Posted by | Beyond Today, Council of Elders, Home Office, Ministerial Services, President's Office | , , , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. Thankyou.

    Comment by Mavis Stucci | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. I will make a copy of Mr. Luker’s letter to serve as an inspiration for me to review and to remind of the necessity to be watchfull and to be ready always for the coming of our Lord. Thank you Mr. Luker for such an inspiring letter.

    Comment by Mrs. Imelda T. Talain | January 4, 2012 | Reply

    • so do i. I do the same .

      Comment by Howard Warren | January 13, 2012 | Reply

  3. Denny says:
    “While we have the encouraging knowledge that the world will not end in 2012,…”

    ***************
    Jesus Christ taught: (Lu 12:45-48)
    “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
    And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. ”

    ****************************
    With this in mind, why should anyone who is a Christian find it “encouraging” that the world would not end in 2012? This is Satan’s world and Jesus Christ taught that we are to seek God’s Kingdom first above all else. (Matt 6:33)

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

    Comment by Tim McCaulley | January 7, 2012 | Reply

    • Tim, Amos 5:18 warns us, “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light.”

      We have to be cautious about wishing the destruction of the world. It will be a terrible time for all. However, that being said, we look forward to the time beyond the darkness and pray for God’s Kingdom to come.

      You must read Mr. Luker’s message in it’s entirety, and the passage you quoted must be considered in context. As Mr. Luker wrote: “Brethren, we are God’s ‘elect’ as we are grounded in the faith, and Jesus Himself tells us that as we collectively hear the rumblings of prophecy fulfilled drawing closer, we are to ‘see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come’ (Matthew 24:6 NIV).”

      He then writes about what manner of lives we should be living in the meantime, as we watch and pray for God’s Kingdom. That’s what is most important. How is your relationship with God? How powerfully is God working in each of us. That’s the point of the letter.

      Comment by United Church of God | January 7, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi Tim,

      You might be confusing “the end of the world” with “the end of the age”. People often make this mistake when talking about Christ’s second coming, especially as discussed in Revelation.

      When people talk about 2012, they’re talking about the popular “end of the world” concepts in Western culture, in which the planet is destroyed and all humanity is wiped out–not a great tribulation followed by the millennial reign of Christ. Don’t forget that “the world” is not only “Satan’s world [kingdom]”, but also a place filled with many future sons of God who will be brought to glory. I as a Christian believe God expects me to have confidence that His great plan will not be thwarted by some random planetary catastrophe.

      Comment by Clint | January 7, 2012 | Reply

  4. Thank you Clint for your distinction. I fully understand that “the end of the world” biblically speaking does not mean the cessation of all life on planet earth. What I do not understand is why anyone who is called a Christian would find it “encouraging” that the world will not end in 2012 without explaining the distinction as you have so as to avoid the ambiguity such a statement in promotes among the brethren to whom it was sent.
    Further, Biblical prophecy does indicate that the time preceding Christ’s return will be so awful that to all of humanity then alive it will seem like all life could be wiped out. Non-mystical professionals of many persuasions from scientists, to diplomats, to economists, to historians have and continue to give serious fact-based warnings that the capacity for such utter destruction of all life by any number of means is a distinct possibility. All people (including Christians!) need a greater hope to sustain them through such very clearly life-threatening times and beyond than the assurance that “it won’t happen in 2012”.

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL
    Tim McCaulley

    Comment by Tim McCaulley | January 8, 2012 | Reply

    • Tim, were you looking for something to be critical about? You took that out of context, he was plainly refering to the 2012 Mayan Calender that have some people concerned and do not understand about Christ’s return and that we have another year to preach the Gospel .

      Comment by Linda Keeney | January 11, 2012 | Reply

  5. Hello Linda,
    Thank you for your response. I understand your point but think you fail to grasp mine, So let me try to explain what I think you are overlooking.
    Although the controversial and unfortunate phrase has been removed from the letter published electronically above, as it originally appeared it used the phrase that I indicated in my original remark (which leads me to belileve that on reconsideration someone in the adminstration realized the faux pas inferred by the unfortunate choice of words and made the deletion of that phrase–for which I applaud both their prudence and sensitivity to how their words are perceived by thjose who read them).
    As far as looking for something about which to be critical, my original comment asked why such a choice of words was used in a letter addressed, not to the general public, but to Church of God brethren whom it is assumed want to see God’s Kingdom come to this earth just as soon as possible and I made no assumption of motive( which was the point of asking the questions I did and using with scriptural references in my original comment).
    I appologize to you or anyone else who took offense at my comments and assure you that what would encourage me the most is to see the Kingdom of God arrive just as soon as possible to this earth which hope I assume you share.

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

    Comment by Tim McCaulley | January 11, 2012 | Reply

    • Sorry Tim. You are mistaken. No edits have been made to Dennis Luker’s letter at all. It is exactly the same as originally published and as sent to the ministry and brethren. It seems that you misread it to begin with.

      Comment by United Church of God | January 12, 2012 | Reply

      • The letter doesn’t appear to have been edited, nor does it appear to have been misquoted in Tim McCaulley’s comment.

        “While we have the encouraging knowledge that the world will not end in 2012,…”

        And judging by the comments, it would appear that this particular comment thread is not accomplishing anything, other than causing everyone to feel obligated to defend their positions. In fact, I expect my own comment to accomplish nothing. Nevertheless, consider this an official request to all parties to “drop it.”

        Comment by Devon McCaulley | January 12, 2012 | Reply


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