January 20th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
More statistics come in as we evaluate last year’s progress in the Living Church of God. Regular income and offerings for each Holy Day in the United States were up over the previous year and we ended the year with income over budget. We are hearing similar reports from our offices around the world, with only one or two exceptions. Worldwide membership is now over 12,300, in spite of many older members going to sleep and awaiting the resurrection. We have more than 7,600 baptized members, over 2,000 prospective members, and slightly under 2,600 church youths. It is encouraging to hear of a number of engagements that took place around the Feast of Tabernacles last year and to see young families growing in many congregations. The New Zealand LYP summer camp is now underway (see further details below). Earthquakes struck Puerto this past week; a report is below. Please remember in your prayers our brethren in disaster areas. I’m sure all of you are noticing the fires in Australia. We do not want to claim every earthquake, volcano, flood, and fire is a sign of the end time, but this fire season is remarkable and it is interesting to note that there seems to be no recognition of a connection between moral decisions the country has taken and what is now the worst bushfire season in known history. More than a billion animals have perished, along with human lives and property lost. Moral restraint is missing when God is rejected, and some fires apparently have been deliberately set by individuals lacking a moral compass. One must wonder how long God is going to put up with similar moral decay found in other Israelite countries. His patience with us must be wearing thin.—Gerald Weston
Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2020, the Passover Service will be observed on Tuesday evening, April 7. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays, wine trays, and/or glasses) or a copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French, and Spanish). A new Passover Service recording in English is being made for 2020 by Mr. Ken Frank. To ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs, we need this information before February 6 for international congregations and by March 5 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 6 and U.S. requests before March 5. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible.
Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has been struck by multiple earthquakes this past week, some with magnitudes greater than 6. More than a thousand earthquakes with a magnitude of 2 or greater have occurred in the last few weeks. The brethren are safe, but some have lost electricity and water, depending on where they live. Those in the south part of the island are closer to the epicenter. Except for one member in that area whose house sustained structural damages, the homes of the brethren have not been damaged. Further seismic action is expected in the near future, so it is a very stressful situation for everyone. Our brethren there appreciate your prayers for their safety.
Medical Emergency Plan
Pastors should take the lead in formulating a medical emergency plan for each congregation they serve. To prepare for this, the pastor should make sure each congregation he serves has a functioning, well-supplied First Aid kit available and on-hand at each congregation service. The pastor should also designate a Contact Person (“CP”) in each congregation who can take the lead in medical emergency situations. This may be a nurse or health practitioner, a member trained in providing First Aid, or simply the head usher or deacon. As a quick tip, all ushers and other leaders in the congregation should keep a notecard in their wallet with the address of the meeting hall, in case it needs to be given quickly to a 911 operator.
In the event of a medical emergency situation:
- Ushers should immediately notify the Contact Person, (or head usher if no CP has been assigned).
- The Contact Person should assess the situation, assist the victim, and instruct someone to call 911 if necessary. The 911 operator will ask questions about the situation.
- The Contact Person should administer First Aid procedures as appropriate until the medical response team arrives.
- It should be understood that if the pastor or an elder is present, the victim should be anointed at the first opportunity.
Men’s Training Camp Phoenix
From February 14–16, we will have our first Men’s Training Camp (MTC) for the Southwest area. The location will be on the northern outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. Pastors Stephen Elliot, Jonathan Bueno, and Jonathan McNair will lead the event, along with Regional Pastor Dr. Jeff Fall. To find out more and to register, go to MyLCG for the registration link and password to login and register. If you have questions, contact James Populo at [email protected]. Register right away, as we’ll be finalizing details shortly.
LivingEd–Charlotte Registration Underway
We are now accepting applications for the 2020-21 school year for Living Education–Charlotte. Our nine-month intensive study program for young adults will begin on August 12, as we begin our third year of student training. To learn more and to apply, go to lcgeducation.org.
Blowing Rock Holy Day Weekend
Registration for our Spring Holy Day Weekend in the Smoky Mountains will begin next week. Blowing Rock, North Carolina, will once again be the site for a gathering of members to observe the beginning of the Spring Holy Days. Arrival will be on April 8, as we’ll keep the Night to Be Much Observed together. Departure will be on Sunday, April 12. For more details and registration information, stay tuned for another announcement next week.—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Feast of Tabernacles, 2020—Pre-registration for Trim, Ireland
Festival Site Coordinators are busy working on preliminary plans for the Feast of Tabernacles 2020. The tentative date for Festival Registration in 2020 is Sunday, May 17. A few sites—such as Trim, Ireland—will have a Pre-registration before the May registration date, to accommodate local U.K. brethren, and then overseas brethren. Watch for future announcements in The World Ahead, as more information on Pre-registration for Trim, Ireland will be forthcoming.
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Friday Evening Bible Study
The online Friday evening Teen Bible Study on January 17 will cover Luke 4 and 5, 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 covering Luke 2–3, can be found on the Living Youth Programs Live archive page at https://live.livingyouth.org/archive/.—Josh Penman
New Zealand Living Youth Camp 2020 Underway!
On Wednesday, January 8, the New Zealand teen camp officially got underway. The 28 campers, 3 mini-campers, and 23 staff are enjoying surprisingly cool weather conditions for a summer camp, so campers and staff have been appreciating their LYP-printed jumpers! Nations that are represented by campers or staff outside of New Zealand are Australia, the Philippines, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. Classes and activities that have been enjoyed so far are Christian Living, team-building, dance, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and kayaking. The theme for camp is Philippians 2:4: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Although camp is just beginning, we are already seeing this principle being put into practice by campers and staff alike, and plenty of laughter, warm fellowship, and Christian character has been enjoyed and displayed.—Paul Kearns
What Is Your Most Important Priority? What is the major focus of your life: job, family, friends, travel, success, finding happiness, obtaining more material things? While each of these things can be important, the Bible offers a very different perspective. Jesus advised His disciples, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). For many people today, spiritual things are pushed much further down the list. Yet, Jesus said that spiritual goals should be our most important priority. The Apostle Paul urged Christians who want to be in the Kingdom of God to strive to develop the very mind and perspective and character of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5–12). We can do this by studying and following the example of Jesus Christ and “feeding” on His teachings as recorded in the Scriptures (John 6:53–57). The Bible reveals that if we are teachable and desire to live by every word of God—and we make this the most important priority in our lives—there will be eternal rewards (Isaiah 66:2; Matthew 4:4). As we begin another calendar year, it would be good to examine just what is the most important priority in your life.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 9, 2020
Here Come the Germans! In 2020, Germany is positioned to have a major impact on the European Union and the world. Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s former Minister of Defense, is now President of the European Commission and is calling for a Green Deal to address climate change and make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent. In July, Germany will take over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, is already calling for the creation of a European Security Council to “make Europe a bigger player on the world stage” (Deutsche Welle, December 30, 2019).
During 2020, the European Council, under German leadership, will hold a EU-Africa summit to promote closer relations with that continent, and host a EU-China conference to address numerous challenging issues. The German-led Council will also preside over negotiations dealing with Britain’s departure from the European Union. Germany’s current Minister of Defense and a proponent of a European Army, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has stated that a country of Germany’s size and power “cannot just stand on the sidelines and watch” and that “German military forces must take a lead role in the world’s security” (CNBC, November 7, 2019).
Prophecies recorded in the Bible describe a German-led “beast” power that will emerge in Europe. Ten kings or rulers “will give their power and authority” to the leader of this European superstate, which will be promoted by a prominent, wonder-working religious figure (Revelation 17:12–13; 13:11–12). This will be a formidable global powerhouse that will impact the world in ways that few now suspect. For a glimpse into the future of Germany, Europe, and the world, see The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?
Emotions and Godly Habits: New research by Dr. BJ Fogg at Stanford University suggests that it is emotion, not repetition, that creates lasting habits (TIME, December 30, 2019). It all has to do with motivation. “There is a direct connection between what you feel when you do a behavior and the likelihood that you will repeat the behavior in the future.” According to Dr. Fogg, “In my own research, I found that habits can form very quickly, often in just a few days, as long as people have a strong positive emotion connected to the new behavior. In fact, some habits seem to get wired in immediately: You do the behavior once, and then you don’t consider other options again.” He sums up his conclusions in three words: “Emotions create habits.” The other part of the equation is, as Dr. Fogg emphasizes, we can choose the emotional response we want to have toward a behavior or habit.
So, what does this research mean for Christians, and how can this understanding help us build godly habits? The Bible records an important fact in Deuteronomy 4:29. God told ancient Israel that they would surely find Him “if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” The context of this verse clearly shows that seeking God with all one’s heart and soul involves obeying Him, keeping His laws and statutes. Seeking God includes daily Bible study and prayer—two behaviors that are easy to make into habits if we pursue them wholeheartedly. And according to Dr. Fogg’s research, the emotional satisfaction we experience when we achieve something we’ve pursued wholeheartedly can play a powerful role in solidifying those newly formed godly habits. For more information and assistance in seeking God with your whole heart, be sure to read or listen to “Do You Seek God?”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater
You are receiving this e-mail because you are a designated recipient of the Living Church of God Weekly Update. If at any point you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please contact Church Administration at [email protected] and request removal.
You may alternatively request removal by writing to the following address:
Living Church of God
PO Box 3810
Charlotte, NC 28227-8010