September 5th, 2019
Greetings from Charlotte,
The big news in the Caribbean and Southeastern United States this week was Hurricane Dorian. The destruction the category 5 monster produced by sitting on top of the Bahamas for two days was immense. The fear and uncertainty experienced by its residents from howling winds and rising waters tearing structures apart must have been horrific. I’m sure many cried out to God hour after terrifying hour. But, the people of the Bahamas are not the only ones to experience such storms. The Philippines experiences an average of eight or nine typhoons (cyclones) a year, and it seems that every part of the world has some natural phenomenon to deal with: earthquakes, tornados, blizzards and freezing temperatures, or scorching heat. As pointed out in the booklet Acts of God, Why Natural Disasters?, God allows these things to remind us of our need for Him, and the time is coming when He will protect His obedient children from such disasters. However, even at the beginning of the Millennium, He will use the weather to grab the attention of nations that refuse to come up to Jerusalem to worship Him and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Meanwhile, we held a worldwide online ministerial conference this past Wednesday, in which Mr. Ames, Dr. Winnail, and I updated the ministry on a number of administrative matters. Tomorrow’s World Presentations are scheduled this Sabbath for Montreal, Quebec; Birmingham, United Kingdom; Lansing, Michigan; and Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m scheduled to be in Wisconsin for a Regional Conference. Your prayers for those impacted by these catastrophic weather events and for our efforts to preach the Gospel are much appreciated.—Gerald Weston
U.S. Requests for Feast Sermon CDs—Deadline Approaching
Attention U.S. Pastors: Wednesday, September 18 is the deadline to request Feast sermons for members who will not be able to attend the Feast. Please send the Church Administration Department at [email protected] the names of those in your congregation(s) who will not be able to attend the Feast, who do not have access to Feast sermons online, and who wish to receive a set of the Feast of Tabernacles sermons on CD. (Sermons are available in English, French or Spanish.) Note: Feast sermons in English will be uploaded (one per day) during the Feast at www.lcg.org for those who have Internet access. French sermons will be uploaded to www.eglisedieuvivant.org and Spanish sermons to youtube.com/IDVsermones.
Why Get Pre-Engagement Counseling?—Repeat Announcement
The Bible tells us that good counsel is critical for making good decisions (Proverbs 1:5; 11:14; 12:15). Marriage is one of the most important decisions of one’s life (second only to baptism). The ministry must never become a “blessing factory,” just putting the Church’s stamp of approval on a marriage, no matter what. Rather, the ministry is here to help couples seeking marriage discern God’s will as they consider making a covenant with each other before God.
While the Church has historically suggested premarital counseling for all couples considering marriage, it makes much more sense to seek pre-engagement counseling. The intended purpose of counseling has always been to help couples themselves better determine if they are “right for each other” in God’s sight and to increase their opportunity for success in a potential marriage. Regrettably, in all too many cases, once a couple is engaged, the couple’s focus is no longer on evaluating their relationship and whether or not they are right for each other. When their main concern is planning the wedding, they are far less evaluative of their relationship. Counseling can become simply an afterthought.
Pre-engagement counseling makes far more sense. The couple may be dating seriously, but they have not yet publicly committed to marriage in an engagement, and they are much more open to honestly evaluating themselves as potential marriage partners. This, in turn, gives much more opportunity for God to guide their decision-making. To better serve our membership in these critical decisions, the Church requests that all couples considering marriage seek pre-engagement counseling from the ministry before any formal engagement.
Caution on Internet Fund Requests—Repeat Announcement
More and more often we see friends, relatives, church members, and total strangers requesting financial assistance over the Internet through various funding sites, such as “GoFundMe” and others. By way of examples, some requests are for medical emergencies, disaster relief, or family tragedies. Other requests are made to help fund honeymoons, business ventures, vacations, personal desires, or trips to the Feast. Members should exercise caution, using their heads as well as their hearts. Why is the request being made? Are the requests true needs or emergencies? If the request is coming from a member, it might be a good idea to seek advice from one’s minister. As in many situations involving online activities, please exercise caution when considering a donation to a funding site.—Church Administration Department
If you are a person who loves maps, we have a treat for you. Our latest unit, “Acts of the Apostles,” features “Learn More” options with illustrations that help to shed light on the world of the apostles. In addition, you’ll find a map of all the cities mentioned in the book of Acts, with clickable links describing each city and how it is referenced in Acts. For a sneak peek at this “Learn More” feature without actually logging into the course, go to lcgeducation.org. Just click on “Cities of the Book of Acts” under the Resources heading and enjoy!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
“Know Before You Go”: Feast Information for You!
We encourage everyone to read the “Know Before You Go” FOT 2019 Digest. It has vital information, such as dress code at the Feast, children’s conduct and safety, and how shut-ins can connect with their assigned Feast site from home. You can download it by logging on to the MyLCG website, and clicking the link “Know Before You Go: FOT Info Digest” under the Feast of Tabernacles 2019 tab. Festival Advisors: Please download and print the FOT Digest for any brethren in your congregation who do not have Internet access.
September 25: Deadline for Paying for Feast Activities
To sign up for Feast activities, please go online to the lcg.org website, click on “Feast of Tabernacles,” and follow the links. To pay for activities, please read and follow carefully the written instructions provided by your Festival Site Coordinator (and, of course, never send cash in the mail). Please note: Deadline for paying online for Feast activities is Wednesday, September 25. Please check with your Festival Coordinator if you have any other questions about paying for activities at your particular site.
Titles for Feast Speaking Assignments
All those who will be giving sermons or sermonettes are asked to submit their titles to their Festival Coordinator in the next few days. Your message isn’t finalized? Don’t worry—just pass on a tentative title, if that’s all you have. Festival Coordinators: Please send a compilation of your site’s message titles to CAD by September 9.
Day of Atonement and the Weekly Sabbath Before the Feast
Pastors: If you have not sent in your information about services to be conducted on the Day of Atonement and the weekly Sabbath before the Feast, please do so right away!
Sabbath Services Before the Feast (but not after) in Williamsburg, Virginia
Sabbath services will be provided in Williamsburg on October 12 at 2:00 p.m. We will meet in the Auditorium of the Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center where services will be held throughout the Feast. The address is 50 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185. Sabbath services will not be held in Williamsburg on the Sabbath after the Feast, October 26.
Williamsburg, Virginia, Attractions of Interest—Repeat Announcement
There are three main historical attractions in Williamsburg—Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. You may purchase a “Triangle Ticket” online (not through the Church or the Feast microsite) should you wish to attend all three. If you wish to visit just one or two of these attractions during the Feast, we have scheduled group attendance options to secure a group rate for those interested. The schedule is: Colonial Williamsburg on Wednesday, October 16; Yorktown on Friday, October 17; and Jamestown on Sunday, October 20. If you are interested in being in those groups, you will need to meet our representative at the main gate of the attraction at 1:30 p.m., and you will pay there. Also, please note that Busch Gardens (which is next door to the Doubletree) will be open on Friday and Sunday afternoons, should you wish to take your friends and family to this attraction. Most people will take advantage of this on Friday afternoon, October 18.—Sheldon Monson, Festival Site Coordinator
Our Challenge to Grow: We are admonished in the Scriptures to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). One reason is so that we will not be led astray by false teachers. The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to diligently study the Scriptures in order to be able to correctly explain the Truth and to be a more effective teacher and minister (2 Timothy 2:15–16; 1 Timothy 4:12–15). We are told that the “work of the ministry” is to help God’s people grow in “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:12–14). Another reason for studying the Scriptures is to prepare for the future. The Scriptures state that real Christians are called to become kings and priests and teachers who will have the exciting and rewarding challenge of pointing all human beings to the Truth in the coming millennial reign of Christ (Revelation 5:10; Isaiah 30:20–21). With this in mind, let’s take advantage of every opportunity to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures so that we can prepare to teach God’s way of life to the peoples of this world.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 5, 2019
Holy Land Heats Up! Just over a week ago, Israel attacked Iranian forces based in Syria. An Israeli military statement following the attack noted, “The strike targeted Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days” (Reuters, August 24, 2019). The Israeli government has also hinted at its involvement in the destruction of weapons storage facilities north of Baghdad over the last several weeks. Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, also accused Israel of drone attacks in Beirut two weeks ago—attacks that would be considered a breach of the agreement that ended the month-long Israel-Lebanon war in 2006 (Reuters, August 25, 2019).
Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “ordered his top defense aides to brief [his] chief political rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party on security developments, an extremely rare move reflecting threats of war on multiple fronts” (Times of Israel, August 26, 2019). The Prime Minister of Israel frequently updates his opponents on different issues of state; however, the decision to provide his opponent with secret military information is unprecedented. Some have criticized the move as a political stunt, while many view it as an action made necessary by the increased threat of war in the region, or as an action intended to let Israel’s enemies know that Israel is willing to go to war, if necessary.
Instability continues to increase in the volatile Middle East as tempers fly, tensions grow, and more military might is moved into the region. While Israel is seen by many of its neighbors as a Zionist invader and proxy of the United States, many in Israel feel the need to defend their country against being “pushed into the sea,” as a former Iranian leader once threatened to do. Bible prophecy reveals that the Holy Land, and Jerusalem in particular, will be the focus of ever-increasing violence and provocation as we draw closer to the end of the age. This is one of many reasons Jesus advised His disciples to “watch” world events in light of Bible prophecies as His return approaches. For more insight into how end-time events will impact the Holy Land, be sure to watch “Can Jerusalem Survive?”
There Is NO “Gay Gene”! Research just published in the highly respected journal Science contains findings that will be shocking to many. In a genome-association study of nearly 500,000 people in the U.S., U.K., and Sweden, researchers concluded, “No individual gene alone makes a person gay, lesbian or bisexual; instead, thousands of genes likely influence sexual orientation” (Live Science, August 29, 2019). The report continues (emphasis added throughout), “The biological factors that contribute to sexual orientation are largely unknown, but many scientists suspect that genetics plays a role”—meaning scientists still do not know why some humans have homosexual tendencies. The researchers also noted, “Instead, the predisposition to same-sex sexual behavior appeared influenced by a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences.” One of the study’s co-authors stated, “It’s effectively impossible to predict an individual’s sexual behavior from their genome,” demonstrating that the “gay gene” is, in the words of Live Science, “a total myth.”
This cutting-edge study was roughly 100 times larger than any previous study, carrying with it a tremendous amount of weight and a high degree of credibility. The study relied on data collected through the U.S.-based 23andME and the U.K. BioBank, as well as survey questions.
It is surprising that this study was published and relayed by the press, when its findings contradict popular public opinions. However, the findings support the assertion that homosexuality is not something fixed and determined from birth, as well as the fact that “God does not make people homosexual.” With that in mind, it makes more sense when we read biblical injunctions that homosexual behavior is wrong (Romans 1:26–28)! A loving God would never condemn a behavior if people had no choice but to engage in it. For more on this topic, be sure to read “The Plain Truth About Homosexuality.”—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, Chris Sookdeo, Richard Franz, and John Wheeler