December 5th, 2019
Greetings from Charlotte,
A lot of what is done in our offices around the world is not always obvious. For example, here in Charlotte, we monitor how each television station is performing and drop stations with poor responses and add others that look promising. This way we keep our cost-per-response as low as possible, as faithful stewards with the tithes and offerings given to do this Work. We also have meetings to find ways to improve our Internet and social media efforts. Most members understandably think little about Internet order forms, but this past September, our Internet team made an improvement in the time it takes to submit an order. This alone has dramatically improved the number and percentage of orders being taken. This month is on pace to reach an all-time high for on-line literature orders. Our team still has much behind-the-scenes programming to do with the order forms, but this takes time. Our Facebook ads are also showing significant increases in booklet orders and Tomorrow’s World subscriptions (at a very low cost), due to carefully choosing how to put together these ads. It’s time-consuming backroom work that is not always appreciated, but it brings results. A great big thank you to all behind-the-scenes workers, both those employed by the Church and volunteers, not only here, but around the world.—Gerald Weston
2019 Charlotte Family Weekend, December 25–29: NOW Is the Time to Register!
We are now less than three weeks away from the start of the Charlotte Family Weekend! Brethren should be registering for activities and meals, as well as making hotel reservations. Those arriving at the hotel on Wednesday should consider eating at the hotel buffet for dinner; this will be Christmas night and most restaurants, including fast-food, will be closed. To see a detailed schedule of activities, and to access a link to receive the Church’s discounted rate of $99/night at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel, as well as to register for events and meals, visit the cogl.org website, log into MyLCG, and click the link for the Charlotte Family Weekend. IMPORTANT: The hotel reservation deadline to receive the discounted rate has been extended to Tuesday, December 10. The deadline for registering for all other activities and meals (including the Dinner and Dance) is December 17.
Basketball and Volleyball Team Registration: Those planning to register teams for basketball and volleyball games on Thursday, December 26, should do so immediately at the cogl.org website. Click the “Sports Registration” link in the Charlotte Family Weekend section.
Novelty Olympics: We would like everyone to join in the Novelty Olympics on Thursday, December 26! Please come to participate or just come to watch! The Olympics will consist of relay races, trivia, and team-building games. If any challenge is too strenuous for you, you can have a teammate substitute for you in that part of the games. Participants should wear modest athletic wear and tennis shoes. Teams should have 12 to 20 players, with a minimum of three preteens (ages 7–12), three teens (ages 13–17), three adults (ages 18–59), and three seniors (age 60+). Participants can sign up as a full team, as a partial team, or as an individual wanting to join a team. To register for the Novelty Olympics, click on the link on the activity registration page for the Charlotte Family Weekend or go to cogl.org login to MyLCG and see the Novelty Olympics registration announcement. If you are participating, please arrive by 9:00 am. Looking forward to seeing everyone there! Let the games begin!
Meals: For those taking advantage of the buffet lunches and dinners available at the weekend, and the dinner for the Dinner/Dance, you must register and pay for these activities by December 17. No payments will be taken on site. If you are sending a check to pay for these meals, your check must be postmarked by December 17 and must be accompanied by a copy of the “Payment Form.”
General Ministerial Conference Planned—Repeat Announcement
We are planning a General Ministerial Conference, to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 16–18, 2020. Generally, arrival day will be Sunday, March 15, and departure day will be Thursday, March 19. All pastors and elders should have received an e-mail announcement about the General Ministerial Conference by now. (If you have not, please contact Church Administration at [email protected].) Additional information will be forthcoming. We look forward to seeing many of you at the Conference in March!
Last summer, a group of Living Education students pioneered a new program in Israel. Along with group leader Mr. Joe Ross and his family, and Mr. Wallace Smith and his wife, students had the opportunity to tour sites like Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Dan, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, Masada, and, of course, Jerusalem! They also spent a week on a dig—an archaeological dig at Biblical Libnah, an Iron-Age site in the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath!
This summer, we’ll be expanding the program to include members beyond the Living Education–Charlotte students. To learn more about the requirements and details, just go to lcgeducation.org. Pre-registration will begin this week!—Jonathan McNair
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Friday Evening Bible Study
The online Friday evening Teen Bible Study on December 13 will cover Mark 13:24 through chapter 14, and will be given by Mr. Sheldon Monson. Join us at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The chat room will be open for a half-hour before and after the Bible Study.
To join the study, visit https://live.livingyouth.org, and sign in with either your MyLCG or LYP camp registration credentials. 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, recordings of previous Living Youth Bible Studies, including last evening’s on Mark 12:1–13:23, can be found on the Living Youth Programs Live archive page at https://live.livingyouth.org/archive/.—Josh Penman
Be a Light and Example: According to the Scriptures, God desires His people to be lights and examples to a world enveloped in darkness. God called Abraham to learn to live by His commandments and to walk before Him and be blameless (Genesis 17:1; 26:5). Moses told the Israelites that God gave them His laws to set them apart from other nations so they could be examples to the world (Deuteronomy 4:1–9)—and they were instructed to pass these concepts on to their children. The Old Testament makes it clear that God’s people were to live moral lives, avoid profanity, avoid sexual perversions, and even to refrain from getting tattoos or dressing like the opposite sex (Exodus 20; Leviticus 18:22; 19:28; Deuteronomy 22:5). In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples they were to be lights to the world and live not only by the letter of God’s law, but also by the spirit of the law (Matthew 5:13–30). In addition to instructions to live moral lives, the Apostle Paul advised Christians to wear their hair in a manner that was appropriate for a man or a woman (1 Corinthians 11:14–16). He also said that women should dress in modest and appropriate apparel (1 Timothy 2:9–10). This would certainly be relevant for Sabbath services and for men as well. While some want to dismiss these clear New Testament guidelines as “rules and regulations” that are irrelevant to modern Christians, these instructions were preserved for us in the word of God to set His people apart from Satan’s societies, so we can truly be lights to this world—not only spiritually, but also physically. As we see the standards of conduct and dress continue to decline, these biblical guidelines will become increasingly noticeable as Christians function as “lights” in a darkened world.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—December 5, 2019
America’s Alarming Health Trends: Public health experts are concerned. “Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people ages 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives” (MSN, November 26, 2019). Factors driving the rising death rates in America include suicide, drug addiction and overdose (the opioid epidemic), obesity, alcohol-related liver disease, and numerous other causes. Even more sobering is that working-age women “are succumbing to diseases once far more common among men.” According to Dr. Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, these trends indicate that “there’s something terribly wrong” in America and that “there’s some root cause that’s causing adverse health across many different dimensions for working-age adults.”
Dr. Ellen Meara, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, has observed, “There’s something more fundamental about how people are feeling at some level—whether it’s economic, whether it’s stress, whether it’s deterioration of family.” Dr. Meara noted, “People are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and that’s leading them to do things that are self-destructive and not promoting health.” The fact that America has one of the world’s highest standards of living and also arguably one of the most advanced health care systems in the world also makes these trends very disturbing.
The Bible reveals that God makes health and healing available to those who obey Him and live by His commandments (Exodus 15:26). In addition, God specifically warned the Israelite nations that He will break the pride of their power if they reject Him and His laws (Leviticus 26:19). As we watch the deterioration of the United States and many other Israelite-descended nations, it is important to remember that this moral, physical, economic, and military decline is proceeding hand-in-hand with the continued rejection of God and His laws. Be sure to read or listen to “The Demise of the West,” which sheds further light on this issue.
Nigeria “Hate Speech” Bill: “Hate speech” is a rapidly spreading international catchphrase that is gaining traction in legislatures around the globe. As a result, freedom of speech clauses in constitutions and legal codes all around the world are coming under attack. Words and phrases that were considered fair and legal for many decades or centuries are being challenged and declared threatening and illegal.
Now, as a reaction to the way social media has been employed to foment violence across the nation, Nigeria is poised to become one of the leading nations in the “hate speech” movement. The senate of Nigeria has proposed a law that says any individuals who are convicted of spreading certain kinds of speech could be jailed for life—even resulting in their execution by hanging if it is judged that their speech caused loss of life (Deutsche Welle, November 26, 2019). Severe hate speech laws will also be drafted and applied to the broadcast media—especially independent media sources.
While these laws can be formulated with a sincere desire to prevent stirring up hatred and violence, there are also more ominous ramifications. “Hate speech” laws in some nations are now being used by some activists and politicians to silence any reference to biblical moral values that clash with their licentious and immoral agendas. In such countries, this means that preaching the Gospel and spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ or making any reference to end-time Bible prophecies will become increasingly difficult. The Bible foretold that the time will come when there will be “a famine… of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). The appearance and rapid spread of these “hate speech” laws could be one tool used by some to fulfill this ancient prophecy. To learn more about prophesied end-time events, be sure to read “Is a Famine of the Word on the Horizon?”—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater,and Chris Sookdeo