“Speaking of 2012”: Member Letter from Dennis Luker
January 3, 2012
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,
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!