September 7th, 2017
Greetings from Charlotte,
Tomorrow's World Presentations are scheduled this Sabbath for St. Louis, Missouri and Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Feast fever is in the air and we are waking up to how rapidly these special days are approaching. We are thankful that, while the planned Festival venue at Lake of the Ozarks will not be ready for us, God has at the last minute opened two new doors. Messrs. James Meredith and Richard Franz made a quick trip to the area to see which of the two venues will work best and will report on that shortly.
The news that is on everyone's mind here in the United States is hurricanes (cyclones in other parts of the world). There are at least two major ones this season to hit the U.S.: one that devastated its fourth largest city and the other massive one scheduled to hit Florida this Sabbath or Sunday. Still others are forming far out in the Atlantic. What is often forgotten is the lasting damage done to the Caribbean islands that act as protection for the U.S. While people in Florida can get into a car and drive to higher and safer ground, those living on the various Caribbean islands have to hunker down and ride out these terrifying monstrous storms. Even the mountains are not safe on these islands, as torrential rains cause mud slides that kill many. The same is true for many South Pacific islands. Let us remember all of our brethren, wherever they are in the world, as we face threats from so-called natural disasters, terrorist attacks, pestilences, and a variety of other dangers.—Gerald Weston
When Natural Disasters Strike
As prophesied, natural disasters are increasing around the world, affecting our brethren as well as their communities. Hurricane Irma is right now causing serious damage in the Caribbean and is expected to hit the continent later. Hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes—the ultimate solution to these and all of the world's problems is the return of Jesus Christ, and we pray for all who go through these events. We are thankful for the protection God has given His people affected by these disasters. When our members do suffer damage, we work through the local ministers to provide counseling, support, and assistance as we are able. The Church has a Disaster Relief Fund set aside for this purpose, especially for situations where other assistance (state/federal funds or insurance) is not available. Members in disaster areas are encouraged to keep their local ministry aware of their situation as best as they can, and we appreciate the work of our ministers who do their best to serve them and to communicate to us the situation in those areas. We appreciate your prayers and concern, not only for our brethren, but for all who suffer in these events.—Douglas Winnail
Feast of Tabernacles
Just Four Weeks Away!
The Feast of Tabernacles is just four weeks away! Excitement is building for this year's Feast of Tabernacles, which will be conducted at 53 different sites around the world! We hope that your Festival preparations are coming along well in anticipation of this highlight of the year. Even as excitement builds, please take care of your health leading up to the Feast (see announcement below). Many brethren have registered and already signed up and paid for activities. Please note the PayPal deadline below. And be watching for e-mail communications from your Festival Site Coordinator. He will most likely send by e-mail any important information as the Feast draws near, and he may have already done so.
Volunteering at the Feast
Thank you to all our brethren who have volunteered or will volunteer for the many necessary functions at the Feast. Volunteering for service is a crucial function that enables the Feast to run smoothly—and it's fun, too! If you have any questions about what service area you signed up for during registration, or what area you will be assigned to, please contact your Festival Site Coordinator. You can find his contact information by going to the Festival website (go to www.lcg.org, click on "Feast of Tabernacles," and follow the links).
Shut-ins Receiving Cards
Pastors: A number of Feast sites organize volunteers to send cards to shut-ins who are not able to go to the Feast. If any of the shut-ins in your congregations would like to receive cards from the Feast, please send in their names and addresses to [email protected]. The Festival Office will pass on this information to the Feast coordinators at each local Feast site.
Day of Atonement and the Sabbath after the Feast
Pastors: Thank you for sending in your information about services on the Day of Atonement and the Sabbath after the Feast. We are tabulating this information now. If you haven't sent in this information, please do so right away.
Feast Speaking Titles—Send to Festival Site Coordinator by September 10
If you are speaking at the Feast this year, please prepare now to give "meat in due season" that is uplifting and encouraging. And remember the most important element of speaking at the Feast—asking God to speak through you, by asking Him, on your knees in prayer, to guide you! Please send your Festival Coordinator your title(s) by Sunday, September 10. Thank you, ahead of time, for the effort and preparation you put into your messages.
PayPal Payments Deadline September 25
Our Feast coordinators are trying to finalize numbers for the planned activities. Online PayPal pre-payments for Festival activities for U.S. sites must be made by Monday, September 25. This will give the Accounting Department at Headquarters time to disburse funds to the U.S. sites. After September 25, brethren attending U.S. sites should wait until the Feast to pay for any additional activities. Please check with your Festival Site Coordinator for details of payment methods accepted at the Feast. For international sites, please check with your Festival Site Coordinator for more information.
Panama City Beach, Florida—Feast T-Shirts
Brethren attending the Panama City Beach, Florida Feast Site should visit the Festival website and check the "More Info" tab for updated information. Feast T-Shirts are being offered for sale by a third party vendor (i.e. not sold by the Church) and can be purchased at the following link, which is also listed on the "More Information" tab: https://www.customink.com/g/pbe0-00b2-rnt1. These T-shirts must be purchased and paid for by September 18 in order to receive delivery by Feast time. You will receive your purchased T-shirt(s) at the Feast site.
Health and Feast Travel
As we prepare to depart for the Feast of Tabernacles, it is not uncommon for many of us to push ourselves and compromise on our sleep and diet. Then, when we finally get in the car, on the train, on the bus, or on an airplane, our bodies slow down and we get sick. In past years, this has resulted in some bringing the flu or a cold to the Feast site and spreading it to other Church members. If we do arrive at the Feast feeling ill, for the benefit of our brethren, it is important to avoid fellowshipping and attending services until all our symptoms are gone. In taking measures to stay healthy and improve health before the Feast, not only will we be more likely to arrive at the Feast "healthy" and not be temporarily detained by the local health officials (if you are traveling abroad), but we will also be physically and mentally prepared to partake of the powerful spiritual food and fellowship that God is preparing for us.
Expectant Mothers Going to the Feast as Their Due Date Draws Near
We rejoice to see more and more children added to our Church family each year! It is one of the great joys in life for a father and a mother to welcome a brand new life into the world. However, women going to the Feast in the late stages of pregnancy can face unforeseen complications. If you are pregnant and will be due around Feast time, please exercise caution and discretion when making your decision about attending the Feast. The long-standing tradition of the Church is to recommend that you stay home from the Feast if your due date is around Feast-time, for your and your unborn child's sakes. As in all matters of health, it is a personal decision, which must be weighed carefully and prayerfully, and with the advice of your physician or midwife. The Church provides pre-recorded sermons on CD or posted online for shut-ins, and you can certainly avail yourself of those. (Some Feast sites will also provide livestream or call-in service for members assigned to that site—check with your Festival Site Coordinator for more information for your assigned site.)
Chemical Sensitivities and Love for the Brethren
We want to remind everyone to be aware while at the Feast of the sensitivities to perfumes and colognes that some of our brethren have. For some of our brethren, because of serious allergies, walking by someone with a lot of perfume or cologne is not just uncomfortable but can send them to the Emergency Room. Let's use extra care to show love to others in this way at the Feast—please use moderation.
Living Youth Program
LYP South Africa Teen Camp 2017
It is with great excitement that we announce that this year's South African LYP Teen Camp is open for registration. We will use a new location: Jubaweni's camp facilities in Limpopo (www.jubaweni.co.za). The camp is situated on a large game farm and surrounded by unspoilt nature, activity courses and authentic bushveld sports fields.
Camp will officially start on Saturday evening, 23 December, and all activities will end on Monday morning, 1 January 2018. There will be Sabbath services at camp on the Sabbaths of 23 and 30 December. All parents and local members are welcome to attend these two special youth-themed Sabbath services.
Some of the camp activities will include daily Christian Living classes, Bible Studies, abseiling, volleyball, netball, soccer, an obstacle course, evening ultimate frisbee, trust-building challenges, swimming, water polo, riflery, dance, arts and crafts, a game drive, and much more!
The cost for the youth camp is R2 000 ($150) per person. If you would like to attend the camp or be part of the staff, please contact Mr. Lawdi Ferreira at [email protected] to obtain a camper or staff application form.
Holy Day Envelopes (U.S. Only)
Pre-addressed green Holy Day envelopes for the fall Festivals were mailed in the U.S. the week of August 15. If you have not received yours by now, please contact us at [email protected] or call the office at 704-844-1970 and we will send you a new set. Please include your PIN (the 11-digit number above your name on mailings from Headquarters) on any correspondence. Using the pre-labeled green envelopes for your offerings speeds up the processing and saves the Work money. We also suggest that you place your envelopes with the things you take to Sabbath services so you do not forget to bring them with you on the Holy Days.—Jerry Ruddlesden
Beware of Misguided Ideas: The Apostle Paul warned, "in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1-4) and that many will not listen to sound doctrine but will prefer to follow their own ideas (2 Timothy 3:1-6; 4:1-4). Paul also warned that critics from within and from outside the Church will try to divide congregations to gain a following (Acts 20:29-31). He pointed out that Satan will try various ways to mislead well-meaning people (2 Corinthians 2:11) who latch onto and begin to spread an idea—that has already been examined and rejected by the Church—in an attempt to influence others (2 Corinthians 11:4-15). While numerous ideas created problems among brethren in the early Church, Paul's advice was to "Guard what was committed to your trust" (1 Timothy 6:20), "hold fast" to what you have been "taught" (Titus 1:9-11) and "avoid foolish disputes" (Titus 3:9; 1 Timothy 6:3-5). When questions arise over doctrine, the biblical example is to take the issue to the leaders of the Church for a decision (Acts 15:1-31). Nowhere do the Scriptures encourage individuals to take it on themselves to correct or "save" the Church. That is something that Jesus Christ will take care of in His time as He "builds" His Church (Matthew 16:18).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 7, 2017
Imagine… No Religion: Decades ago, John Lennon imagined a world with no religion. Today, that world is becoming a reality in his own country! The British Social Attitudes survey reports that those in Britain without religion (53%) now outnumber those with religion (47%) (The Times, September 5, 2017). The percentage is even higher among young people ages 18-24. More than 40 percent of people brought up in "Christian" homes have no faith by the time they reach adulthood. Since 2000, the percentage of Britons considering themselves Anglican has been cut in half (now just 15%). Yet it is worth noting that not all those claiming "no religion" are atheists—many profess some sort of spirituality, but want no part in organized religion. One reason is that "many religious leaders in Britain no longer believe in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity… the faithful are being led by the faithless" (The Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown, p.188). The Apostle Paul warned that in the last days people would have "a form of godliness" while "denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). God also warned through the prophets, "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture" (Jeremiah 23:1-2), and "the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed" (Isaiah 9:16). To gain a better understanding of the troubled state of modern Christianity, read or listen to Satan's Counterfeit Christianity.
More Nuclear Brinkmanship: Last week, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan in an event North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called a "meaningful prelude to containing" Guam. He also promised more missile tests in the future (The Guardian, August 30, 2017). "Japan has in the past vowed to shoot down North Korean missiles or rockets that threaten to hit its territory" (The Guardian, August 29, 2017). The missile launch has made both the Japanese and South Koreans nervous. Not long after the test, "the UN security council unanimously condemned the launch and repeated demands that Pyongyang halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes." The security council also noted that the missile launch threatened not only the stability of the region, but of all UN member nations. Russian President Putin has warned that all the sabre rattling about North Korea could lead to a "global catastrophe" (nbcnews.com, September 5, 2017). Although wars have always been part of history, Jesus Christ prophesied that "wars and rumors of wars" would be one of the prominent signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7). The clear implication of these and other prophecies is that we should watch for ever-increasing wars and rumors of wars on a global scale just before the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. For more on this important topic, read Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return.
Gender Confusion in First Grade: Last year a male kindergarten student in California was "reintroduced" to classmates at the end of the year as a girl, with a new, feminine name. As school started back after the summer vacation, a young girl was sent to the principal's office (typically seen as punishment in the U.S. educational system) for referring to the child as "him" instead of "her" and using the child's former name—apparently with no intent to malign the child (Washington Times, August 23, 2017). Although some policy experts advocate for "gender education" as early as kindergarten, the Family Policy Institute of Washington policy director Chris Plante observed, "We don't allow our kids to cross the street unattended at this age because they can't understand the concept of a car, never mind gender expression." With the political correctness movement increasingly running amuck, it is easier to understand the prophet Isaiah's description of society at the end of the age, as he observed, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints" (Isaiah 1:5). In an attempt to protect those on the fringes of societal norms, an increasing number of societal leaders apparently fail to consider the confusion their decisions create in the minds of children. For more insights into modern social trends, read our brief article, "Is It Good or Evil?"—Scott Winnail, Sue Bennett, and Francine Prater