Weekly Update


Weekly Update

January 10th, 2019

Greetings from Charlotte,

The year 2018 is now history and 2019 will no doubt pass just as quickly. We started this year with 75 guests and 168 members attending Tomorrow’s World Presentations in Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas. Follow-up presentations will be conducted by Mr. Phil West over the next few weeks. Summer camp has begun in New Zealand (see further details below). The second semester of Living Education is underway. Messrs. Ciesielka, Strain, and Sweat are working hard to transition to their new assignments. Our telecast “2019 in Bible Prophecy” was referred to by a British journalist writing for the Express. He picked it up on YouTube and used it to show a contrasting view to ministries that claim, because of a “blood moon” this year, that Christ may return in 2019. Overall the article, which quotes extensively from the program, was reasonably accurate and favorable.—Gerald Weston

Church Administration

Ministerial Visit to Hinterlands of Guyana and Brazil

Caribbean Regional Director Rick Stafford and Area Pastor Paul Shumway made a profitable trip to Guyana and Brazil from November 29 to December 12. Their travels included a four-hour trek across the savannah to reach remote brethren in Guyana. Throughout the trip, they gave sermons and Bible Studies on the two Sabbaths, and three more Bible Studies on weekdays. They also spent time with the brethren, held leadership meetings, provided continuing training for speakers and song-leaders, and checked out potential Feast sites.

Mr. Shumway reported, “A number of our Brethren [in Guyana] lost their crops because of flooding…. While rainfall has not adversely affected our Brethren [in Brazil], the wild pigs have. Hundreds of pigs have descended on some of the farms, destroying much of the cassava crop. If this continues, there will be little food left for our members…. The members are praying for deliverance and looking for a way to protect their crops. It is remarkable to see the dedication of our members in these remote areas—especially considering the infrequency of ministerial visits. Your prayers are deeply appreciated!” He also mentioned that they were able to provide some food staples as well as some needed items to help the brethren make a living, thanks to the generous tithes and offerings of brethren in more prosperous parts of the region.

Passover 2019—Repeat Announcement

Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2019, the Passover Service will be observed on Thursday evening, April 18. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays and/or wine trays or glasses) or a copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French, and Spanish). To ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs, we need this information before February 19 for international congregations and by March 19 for U.S. congregations.

Also, please let us know of any scattered members who are unable to keep the Passover with a congregation and who need to receive the Passover Service recording and letter instructions for observing it at home. International requests should be received before February 19 and U.S. requests before March 19. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Living Education

As we enter the heart of winter, it’s time to begin thinking about the Spring Holy Days! This year, Living Education will host a three-day activity at Blowing Rock, North Carolina, as the Spring Holy Days begin, focusing on the lessons that God’s Holy Days teach us. We’ll begin by observing the Passover together on Thursday, April 18. Friday will be filled with learning activities, with a special focus on the nuts and bolts of how our next generation of leaders in the Church can come out of Egypt and move forward into the future. The First Day of Unleavened Bread will continue that emphasis, followed by concluding activities on Sunday, April 21. Our “under 40” generation, both married and unmarried, face a barrage of negative messages and pressures. Yet they are needed to carry this Work forward into the most challenging time in human history! The Holy Days are a great time to work to strengthen them and their young families. If you are in this category, this activity is for you. If you would like to be part of mentoring and encouraging our next generation, then this activity is for you as well. Stay tuned for more details next week!—Jonathan McNair

Reading to Your Children

Parents! Reading with your children is a proven way to make lifelong connections with them. Children love to be read stories—especially by their parents! And what better material to use than the Bible, which contains not mere “stories” but rather the real history of man? Each week the Living Church of God posts new lessons for you to use to connect with your children. At the end of a long week, after dinner on Friday night, what better way to start the Sabbath than by reading to your children—and talking about—the lives and lessons of God’s people in past generations?

Check out this week’s posting—you can find it at the lcgeducation.org website under “Children’s Bible Lessons” (where you can also access past lessons):

Level 1 (ages 6–7): “Cain and Abel Offer Sacrifices to God”

Level 2 (ages 8–9): “Noah and His Family Are Delivered”

Level 3 (ages 10–11): “From Abram to Abraham: The Circumcision Covenant”

Feast of Tabernacles

United States Feast Sites in 2019

We are pleased to announce the 2019 Feast sites and coordinators for the United States:

The international list is not yet complete—more information will be forthcoming as plans are firmed up. Please stay tuned to The World Ahead for more information about the Feast of Tabernacles 2019!

Living Youth Program

Living Youth Friday Evening Bible Study

The online Friday evening Teen Bible Study on January 18 will cover Matthew 24:1–20, and will be given by Mr. Sheldon Monson. Join us at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The chatroom will be open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the study.

To join, just visit livingyouth.org, and follow the links to “Friday Evening Bible Study.” If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. For those who are unable to make it to the study, archives of previous Living Youth Bible Studies, including last evening’s covering Matthew 22:15 through chapter 23, can be found on the Living Youth website.—Josh Penman

Living Youth Camp in New Zealand

Underneath the snow-capped mountain of Mt. Taranaki, the summer camp in Eltham, New Zealand has begun! This year, 32 excited campers and 28 staff have come from New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Vanuatu, and the U.S. for ten days of physical activities and spiritual edification. Activities this year include riflery, volleyball, archery, communication, dance, daily Bible Studies, Sabbath bonfire and fellowship, and much more. Campers are already building strong bonds of friendship and are shining their light in the local community. Our camp theme is based on Joshua 1:7: “Be strong and very courageous,” a theme which is already inspiring each camper to recognise his or her potential and the blessings which come from living God’s way of life. Thank you for your prayers for a blessed and successful camp. Don’t forget to check us out on the Living Youth Camp Facebook page.—Rob Tyler

Comments

The Importance of Mercy: One of the fundamental qualities we need to develop as Christians, if we hope to become like God and reign with Jesus Christ, is mercy. Showing mercy involves patience, understanding, compassion, and a willingness to forgive. The Scriptures reveal that God is full of mercy and compassion (Exodus 34:6–7) and that He requires us to develop these same qualities (Micah 6:8; Hosea 6:6). Solomon stated that when we show mercy to others, we honor God (Proverbs 14:31). Jesus taught that if we show mercy, we will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7) and that God values mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9:13; cf. Hosea 6:6). Jesus also taught that mercy is an important key for promoting better human relationships, and that individuals who have received mercy, but do not show mercy, will face serious consequences (Matthew 18:21–35). In human relationships, we often want to judge people guilty before the law, yet the Apostle James states that “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). As we strive to develop the mind of God, we will come to understand the importance of showing mercy to everyone we deal with—and we will be preparing to rule with Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God.

Have a profitable Sabbath,

Douglas S. Winnail

News and Prophecy—January 10, 2019

Europeans Plan an Army: The website German Foreign Policy reported that the recent Berlin Security Conference had some informative moments. “Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen used the platform to launch a debate on steps toward limiting parliamentary reservations concerning an ‘army of the Europeans’” (November 29, 2018). German defense spending in five years is forecast to surpass the current level of Russian military spending. Wolfgang Ischinger, the chairman of the Munich Security Council, which met earlier in the year, believes that a European army is inevitable (AlJazeera, December 21, 2018).

Participants at the conference discussed the need to create an “army of the Europeans” that functions completely separately from the United States military. While they discussed the need for advanced military technologies and artificial intelligence, as well as cyber warfare capabilities, they also discussed the need for this army to have nuclear weapons and the need for Germany to take a lead in all of these efforts. A German Defense Ministry official observed that “a common European narrative” is needed, to infuse the idea of a “European Defense Union” deeply into European society. As German Foreign Policy noted, such a narrative could “help to counteract potential opposition to the EU’s future wars.”

Bible prophecy proclaims that, just before the end of the age, a European army will arise and function under the auspices of the “king of the North” or “beast” power (Daniel 11:40–45). This European power will carry out a military response to provocation by a king of the South (from the Arab-Muslim world). The pressures building from the influx of Muslim immigrants and these plans for a European army that we are witnessing appear to fit well with the prophesied future of the German-led Europeans. For greater insights into this subject, read “Growth of a Strongman: Germany Rising Again.”

Church Attendance and Divorce Rates: Between 1990 and 2010, divorce rates among middle-aged couples doubled! However, “new research, gathered from a 14-year study from the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, shows that regular religious service attendance is associated with 50 percent lower divorce rates in later life” (PublishedPR.com, December 3, 2018). Researchers believe that church attendance may be part of the “glue” that holds marriages together. Church attendance was also associated with higher rates of remarriage among widowed attendees.

Data was collected as part of the national Nurses’ Health Study of over 65,000 participants, where most participants reported being “Christian” (either Catholic or Protestant). The study revealed that church attendance was protective against divorce among those who attended religious services regularly—one or more times per week (Plos One, December 3, 2018). Study authors suggested that church attendance may provide “communities” of support for married couples, leading to longer marriages and less divorce. One potential factor that was not discussed in the report was that regular church attendance would likely provide greater exposure to biblical teachings against divorce and in favor of remaining married.

The Bible reveals that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16) and that He also commands a weekly gathering on the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3). When husbands and wives in a Bible-following church attend services regularly, they are encouraged to keep God’s laws related to marriage and are reminded that marriage is a God-ordained institution that did not originate in the imagination of human beings. Regular instruction also provides tools for creating successful and lasting marriages, and couples experience positive peer-pressure to work on their marriages to make them last. For more biblical insights on how to have a successful marriage, be sure to view “Does Marriage Matter?—Scott Winnail, Winston Gosse, and Francine Prater