December 17, 2012
KINGDOM OF GOD BIBLE SEMINARS
FIRST SERIES REPORT
A report on the first series of our Kingdom of God Bible Seminars was delivered to the Council of Elders on December 12. Peter Eddington gave the Council a handout that showed a total of 5,680 seminar guests were in attendance at more than 200 locations around the globe.
Here is a breakdown on guest attendance for each round of the series:
|September 2011||Round 1||176 Locations||1,514|
|January 2012||Round 2||190 Locations||1,653|
|May 2012||Round 3||206 Locations||1,258|
|September 2012||Round 4||181 Locations||1,255|
Below is a listing of cities with the top five guest attendance figures for each round. As you will note, the developing areas of the world most often showed the highest interest in the gospel of the Kingdom of God:
- 52 San Antonio, TX
- 50 Santiago, Chile
- 35 Davao City, Philippines
- 33 Got Kachola, Kenya
- 33 Ogembo-Rianyamwamu, Kenya
- 110 Manila, Philippines
- 57 Davao City, Philippines
- 42 Bacolod, Philippines
- 42 Melbourne, Australia
- 40 Sydney, Australia
- 117 Manila, Philippines
- 58 Bacolod City, Philippines
- 43 Mexico City, Mexico
- 34 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 32 Bolivia
- 125 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 108 Johannesburg, South Africa
- 96 Manila, Philippines
- 76 Capetown, South Africa
- 49 Davao City, Philippines
We have people now regularly attending Sabbath services with us as a result of the seminars, and a number of baptisms have stemmed from the seminars too. It can be considered a success if even just one or two guests graced our congregation’s doorstep who otherwise would not have attended. We were successful in getting them out of their homes to come and hear the gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus Christ, as the Head of His Church, has a plan for each person. While numbers are not everything, results do help us measure our efforts. And, while God’s Church will be a small flock (Luke 12:32), there was a very encouraging number of guests in many cities.
Recommendations for Next Series
Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, an International Association, gave his support to the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars program moving forward. The Council of Elders agreed with the approach put forth. Here are a few details on the next series:
- We will keep the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars” brand and theme, but offer a specific topic under the title. For example: “The Sabbath: A Key to the Kingdom of God.”
- Rather than produce a detailed script for each new seminar, we may choose a relevant UCG booklet to use as core material. For example, Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest. The presenters can choose which section or chapter of the booklet they’d like to focus on. The ucg.org website also provides a valuable resource for presenters to use in developing their presentations.
- Have two seminars per year, instead of three.
- Choose the months of June and November each year for seminars, with pastors having the flexibility to work as they see best within this timeline.
- Due to budget constraints, use regular Sabbath service halls to avoid additional hall rental. And use local funding for seminar advertising (letters, postcards, etc.) that is not part of the home office budget subsidy.
- Proposed Topics:
- June 2013
- November 2013
- Opening Prayer
- 1 Seminar (60 min.)
- Closing Prayer
- If desired, abbreviated 60-minute Sabbath service either before or afterwards with hymns, prayers and one sermon or split sermon.
We are looking forward very much to our next round of seminars and are asking pastors to choose their seminar dates as soon as possible and get them listed on our website. A number of our readers and viewers are already looking for the next seminar to be held in their city—and they check our website regularly hoping to sign up to attend. So the sooner our presenters get their seminar dates listed the better.
Thank you for your prayers for the ongoing success and God’s blessing on this part of our work to preach the gospel of God’s Kingdom.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
June 5, 2012
Can We Know When Jesus Will Return?
By Dennis Luker
Serious students of the Bible know full well that the return of Jesus Christ and the establishing of His Kingdom represent the culmination of this human age. We eagerly desire and anticipate this! As Christians we are urged to maintain a sense of spiritual urgency, constantly overcoming and focusing on daily, continuous transformation in becoming more like God our Father and His Son, our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ.
With such an intense focus on the return of Jesus Christ to this earth—this time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)—it can be tempting and even easy to begin to speculate when exactly Jesus might initiate this long-awaited event. This is especially true when the Bible itself provides many prophetic markers and trends that will presage the end of this age (not the “end of the world”) and the coming of Christ.
But My Father Only
But even as Jesus emphatically instructed His disciples to “watch”—to prepare themselves as a spiritual Bride to be collectively bonded to Christ for all eternity—He also immediately said “you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). Earlier, after outlining specific trends that would be obvious before His return, Jesus noted concerning the actual date of His return, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (verse 36).
These and other Bible verses make plain that not even Jesus Himself knows the precise day and time when Jesus will return. Asked one final time by His disciples about the divine timetable for prophetic events, Jesus declared: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:8).
We Don’t Set Dates
Accordingly, as directed by Jesus, the living Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23), the United Church of God does not set prophetic dates or times for future events. This has been a hard lesson for some, as during the past 2,000 years a number have violated this teaching of Jesus. They have unfortunately set both specific dates and times for the return of Christ, reaping a whirlwind of contempt and ridicule when these dates passed with no prophetic results.
Consider this historic example: In 2011, Harold Camping, a religious figure in California, attracted international attention with his unequivocal prediction that Jesus would return on May 21 of that year. Of course, nothing prophetically significant happened on that date, earning Camping and his failed prophecies a considerable amount of public scorn.
This leads us to an interesting question: why did God send prophets with a message about the Kingdom of God if we can’t know the date upfront when it will come? As the Bible clearly shows, prophetic outcomes are the result of either obeying or disobeying the word of God. God reveals that many blessings will come to humanity if it yields itself to God’s way of life. God also reveals that many prophetic curses will come if humanity rejects this way of life, particularly if it is laid out in front of them in advance. That is why God declared first to the ancient Israelites and today to us: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19, emphasis added).
Because prophesied tragedies reflect a willful spirit of disobedience to God, the United Church of God recognizes that it is the duty of the Church to make plain the consequences of this continued willful disobedience. God and Jesus are quite clear: if you keep God’s commandments and produce spiritual fruit that reflects the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, then you are promised many good things, both in this life and in the life to come. If not, then you come under a curse of your own doing.
One of the major roles of the Church that Jesus founded is to demonstrate—in this present life—a taste of the coming Kingdom. God’s way of life works! This is why Jesus thus commanded His disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Seeing people quietly but effectively live God’s way of life strengthens the prophetic message of the Bible.
Let No Man Take Your Crown
So what if you find yourself in one of these groups that unfortunately likes to set dates? The Bible is plain: God is a God of mercy and love. If such a person humbly recognizes that they may have fallen under a deception, well-intentioned or not, and want to move on, then the path opens for them to receive mercy, be pardoned, and restore their relationship with the living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ and His Father, God Almighty. We are all called to repent—even daily as a continuous act of spiritual transformation—to change, receive mercy and grace, and to advance toward the future Kingdom of God (Acts 2:38; Romans 12:1-2).
Don’t allow a man or an organization to “steal your crown” (Revelation 3:11) by violating the teachings of Jesus. If you’d like more information about what the Bible really says is the exciting and vibrant future for humanity, write for or download our free booklet, God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.
August 9, 2011
Good News Meetings an Inspiring Success
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. and we had 96 people from our Good News readership in attendance (including 17 of our UCG members), and our audience kept asking questions after my 50-minute address until 9 p.m. After the meeting I was surrounded by individuals thanking us and asking many questions until after 10 p.m.
So many of them told me and our other Sri Lankan brethren that they can hardly wait to come again tomorrow night to hear more information about end-time prophecies and how to prepare for Jesus Christ’s return to establish God’s Government on this earth.
Quite a few of the attendees are leading people in Sri Lanka and a few of them want me to go to their churches and groups to teach their people about the “true God” of the Bible and God’s plan of salvation for all of mankind.
We had a cross-section mixture of Sri Lankan society, with attendees from Budhist, Catholic, Hindu, Moslem, and Evangelical viewpoints—many who moved from the back to the edge of their chairs, being so intent on hearing our message as it progressed.
Second “Good News Meeting”
It is now just 10 hours before we have our second “Good News Meeting” tonight (Tuesday, August 9), building upon the foundation of our first meeting. We will be covering in more depth the major end-time prophecies leading up to Jesus Christ’s return and establishment of God’s Government on this earth and how we can prepare.
Visiting our Good News Readers
The brethren and myself feel that God is beginning to move our readership here in Sri Lanka and open amazing doors. Because I was prevented from going into India, I have been able to spend over a week here continually visiting our Good News readers, especially those who said they would love to come to our two meetings but couldn’t come because of distance or lack of resources. Hence, I have been able to travel with some of our accompanying brethren to cities such as Mannar (seven hours north), Kandy (three hours east), Kalutura (two hours south), Negombo and other places—visiting many people who are keen to learn God’s truth.
I went to St. Lawrence Catholic Church here in Colombo to visit one of our GN readers and he introduced me to his priest, Bob Rodrigo, who is the main priest in that major church in Colombo. As I entered Mr. Rodrigo’s office I noticed a small stack of well-worn Good News magazines on his desk. He smiled at me and said that he was so pleased to meet me. In our discussion he said that he loves the Good News magazine and uses our biblical in-depth information in his sermons. Also, he gives our magazine to other priests who also value and use the information in their messages as well.
Three hours from Colombo, Jerome Pereira (a member in UCG) and I visited a young married couple at Kandy, who serve and teach in the Kandy City Mission. They told us how they use our booklet on Marriage and Family in counseling people to have happier marriages.
Seven hours north of Colombo, at Mannar on the Northwest coast, we visited an elderly couple who had told me they could not make it to our meetings. They also invited a leading town council leader, their daughter who is a much loved doctor in Mannar, and other notable people—six in all—along with four of my fellow travelling brethren: Frank, Tina, Jerome and Annette. We had a really lively talk with them as they sat on the edge of their seats listening to Scripture about the coming of Jesus and God’s plan of salvation for them and all mankind. I was able to anoint his wife for a serious avian virus that had left he disabled in a wheel chair.
The Good News Gets Through
Two months previously a Mr. Jesuthason had e-mailed me to tell me he wasn’t getting his Good News magazines, so I contacted Alec Surratt in our home office correspondence section and he personally made sure that he was on the mailing list. However, when we first arrived to Mr. Jesuthason’s home in Mannar, I asked him if he had received his GN in the mail yet and I was surprised to hear that he hadn’t. Anyway, just as we had finished our visit and were having warm hugs with them all, who should turn up to the house but the postman. And guess what? The postman handed me Mr. Jesuthason’s envelope with the GN as mailed to him from our Belgium mailing contractor. What a pleasure is was to be able to hand him his magazine personally in front of his wife and daughter and other invited friends. Needless to say, they said they were all going to request their own subscription to The Good News.
Thoughout my stay I have been able to begin counseling four people for baptism. At Sabbath services we had an attendance of 21 members including myself at our new meeting room at Sasakawa Hall, Colombo.
On Sunday a small evangelical church pastor near Kalutura (two hours south), who is a GN subscriber, invited me to speak about God’s plan of salvation for all mankind to his more than 30 members. They received the message very keenly as it was translated by two interpreters standing beside me into Singhala and Tamil languages. At the end of the 45-minute message they asked me to pray for them so we all kneeled together in a big huddle as I asked God’s blessing upon them, to call them and to guide them through the gift of repentance and baptism to receive God’s Holy Spirit and to begin their spiritual journey of conversion to the mind and conduct of Jesus Christ. Their pastor has since travelled all the way up to Colombo to hear last night’s Good News Meeting message, as well as telling me after our meeting that he is keen to come again, tonight.
There are way too many other amazing and wonderful things that God is doing here for me to be able to effectively tell you about. I feel overwhelmed by how God is opening the minds of people and removing the veil of philosophical confusion.
Will try to keep you informed.
Ken Murray—UCG Minister—Australia, India, Sri Lanka