April 2nd, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
We know from Bible prophecy that difficult times are in our future, but when the sun is shining, when fluffy snow-white clouds dot a deep blue sky, catastrophic events catch us by surprise. Thankfully, we were already preparing in Charlotte for moving vital functions to other locations, so while we still had work to do on a “failover” system, we have been able to carry on with the Work of God at this time. Mail is being processed and literature is being sent out, and, as given on Wednesday’s report over our Tomorrow’s World YouTube channel, March was a record month. We added 31,000 followers to our Social Media Platforms, we had an all-time record 254,000 unique visitors to our TW websites, and in addition to the 11,000 to 12,000 monthly average Tomorrow’s World television responses, we processed 15,000 online literature orders. Regarding the daily or every other day YouTube updates that I have been recording, we plan to move these from the Tomorrow’s World YouTube channel to our Living Church of God YouTube channel next week, as these would probably be of greater interest to those with a more religious bent. Frankly, I intended these for our members, but we see that many non-members are following them as well. As a reminder, please do not tempt God during this crisis, just as Jesus did not allow Satan to tempt Him by taking scripture out of context. Practice social distancing, use proper handwashing practices, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless hands are clean; and then be sure to wash your hands so that you do not spread this disease to others in case you are an unaware carrier. This coming week is Passover and the beginning of Unleavened Bread. Be sure to prepare in advance for these observances. They will no doubt carry special meaning this year.—Gerald Weston
Please be reminded of instructions regarding keeping the Passover in your own home (as stated in the “Passover Preparations for One Person or a Household” instructional letter):
- Only prepare as much wine and bread as will be needed.
- Once the Passover wine and bread have been blessed, do not use it for any other purpose than for the Passover service. It should not be saved for consumption later.
- If you plan accordingly, there should be no unused unleavened bread or wine left over after the Passover service (pour only a small amount of wine in a small glass, and use only a small piece of unleavened bread).
- If there is, however, any unused wine or bread left over, the unused, blessed bread should be burned, and the unused, blessed wine should be poured on the ground.
- Only the poured wine (a very small amount) is blessed. The rest of the unused bottle in another room need not be disposed of.
All LCG brethren should prepare to keep the Passover in their own home this year, as a result of the current COVID-19 situation. As you prepare to keep the Passover and the Night to Be Much Observed in your own home, please note the resources that are available to you. You can find these on the MyLCG website.
ote: All U.S. baptized-member households have also been mailed a copy of the Passover instructions with an accompanying DVD.
If you have any additional questions on how to conduct the Passover in your home, please contact your pastor.
Live Stream Service from Charlotte on April 15 (Last Day of Unleavened Bread) and April 25 (Weekly Sabbath)
We are asking all LCG congregations to tap into the Church service that will be streamed live from Charlotte on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread (April 15) and also on the Sabbath of April 25. Each service will begin at 1:00 p.m. (EDT, USA). This will give everyone a chance to hear the same messages and stay in closer contact with Headquarters—which is important at this time. If you have any questions, check with your local pastor. (International congregations in time zones where these Sabbaths will have already been over can watch the recordings of these services later. Additionally, there will not be simultaneous translation into Spanish and French during the live streams, but translations of the recorded sermons will be made available later.)
Offerings on the Holy Days
On God’s Holy Days we are commanded not to come before Him empty-handed (Deuteronomy 16:16). While we will not be meeting under normal circumstances for these Holy Days of Unleavened Bread, all brethren should still prepare a Holy Day offering, in obedience to God’s word. Members can make their offering online on the Holy Days by using a credit or debit card—or they can send a check in the mail. (Please do not send cash through the mail.)
Sabbath and Holy Day Hall Rentals (USA)
Pastors: As the coronavirus crisis goes on, please continue to be in touch with the management of the halls we regularly use for Sabbaths and Holy Days. In some cases, because of local or state-wide restrictions, they may be legally unable to open, which simplifies things as far as we are concerned. But please let them know we value their service and we intend to be back as soon as the crisis ends. If we have prepaid, ask them to give us a credit for the times we are not meeting. If we have not prepaid, let them know we fully intend to return as soon as the crisis ends. We will not be making further payments until the crisis ends and we start meeting in halls once again.
For information about what the contract says for a particular hall, please refer to your copy of the approved contract; it was attached to the Letter of Authority sent by Legal/Risk. If you cannot locate a copy of the approved contract, or need further assistance with the contract wording, please contact Legal/Risk at HQ ([email protected]). If you have any questions about what has been paid to the halls previously, please contact Accounting at HQ ([email protected]).
If you are outside of the United States, please contact your Regional Office for more information about your particular situation.
Spring Holy Day “Young Singles Virtual Weekend”
Living Education will be sponsoring a “Young Singles Virtual Weekend” involving a number of online get-togethers on April 10 and 11. Activities will begin with a Friday evening online “interactivity,” followed by a “virtual brunch” on Sabbath morning, and an “online food and fellowship” after Sabbath services. For young singles between 18 and 30, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to fellowship with other young adults and speak one-on-one with our hosting ministers, led by Mr. Gerald Weston. For more information and to register, just go to MyLCG at cogl.org and sign up!—Jonathan McNair
Passover and Beyond: The Holy Days are a vital part of God’s plan for mankind of eventually becoming part of His family. In the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, we are given two incredible tools to help us grow and develop the mind and character of God (Philippians 2:5; 1 John 3:1–3). To grow in this direction, we need to take time during this period to carefully examine our own thoughts and actions (1 Corinthians 9:24–27; 2 Corinthians 10:3–5). We need to honestly and prayerfully study God’s word and ask Him to help us see what commandments we are breaking and what instructions we are not following as we should (1 Corinthians 11:26–32). We also need to focus on clearly seeing our own shortcomings and resist judging others for their problems (Matthew 7:1–5). Recognizing the problems that are hindering our own growth is a big step toward becoming more like God and our Elder Brother Jesus Christ. It is also tremendously encouraging to realize that we can be forgiven of our sins (John 3:16). Yet, there is more to the process—we also need to be overcomers (Revelation 2:26–27; 3:12, 21). To actually make progress in overcoming our sins, we need to spend some time during the Days of Unleavened Bread planning how we are going to replace certain thoughts and actions that are holding us back from growing to become more like our Father. We need to “ponder the path of [our] feet” (Proverbs 4:26–27) and identify what changes we need to make (more time to pray and study, how we can treat others better, etc.)—and then focus on doing those things. Make a list and begin to work on it in the days following the Passover and Days Unleavened Bread, so we can prepare to be more effective instruments in God’s hands.
Have a positive and profitable Sabbath and Holy Day Season,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—April 2, 2020
More “Progressive” Abortion Laws: New Zealand recently passed what many view as a “progressive” law that allows abortion—no questions asked—up until 20 weeks of pregnancy (New York Times, March 18, 2020). Previously, New Zealand was one of just a few industrialized nations that still viewed abortion as a criminal act.
The new law allows for abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy only “if the health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.” The legislation is written very broadly and is open to interpretation, as even some of New Zealand’s liberal lawmakers admit. For example, “the bill does not say what counts as appropriate. It states only that the practitioner must consult with at least one other colleague, and take into account ‘all relevant legal, professional and ethical standards,’ the woman’s physical and mental health and ‘overall well-being,’ and the age of the fetus.” Some opponents of the law believe this could easily allow for abortions to occur up to birth, given the right circumstances. And some believe the law could be used for cases of sex selection—in which a child is aborted simply because the mother wants a child of a different gender.
As the value of life continues to diminish in self-centered Israelite-descended nations (like New Zealand), it is not surprising that the life of the child in the womb is also becoming irrelevant. One element of the Law that God gave ancient Israel to set them apart from other nations, is the premium it placed on unborn life (Exodus 21:22–23)—where a fetus was given the same value as that of an adult! The Bible is replete with God’s condemnation of the sacrifice of innocent children to pagan gods. Abortion is no different when it is used as a method of birth control. These “progressive” abortion laws are simply a barometer showing the further decline of societal morals. For greater insights into how God views the modern plague of abortion, be sure to read “Abortion: A Modern Holocaust?”
Global Oil Industry Threatened: The Financial Times makes a grave case concerning the impact of the current pandemic: “It is no exaggeration to say the oil industry faces its gravest crisis of the past 100 years” (March 24, 2020). As many citizens of industrialized nations settle into life at home, travel by land, sea, and air has fallen drastically. Experts estimate that between 10 and 25 percent of global oil consumption could disappear in the coming months. This will have a big impact on an industry where supply and demand fluctuate wildly and dramatically.
As Russia and Saudi Arabia continue to produce oil at extremely high levels, their policies will only magnify the problem. Storage facilities are being filled with excess supply and supertankers are being forced into service as additional storage facilities. Global oil storage will reach capacity by summer. According to the report in the Financial Times, “Respite will come only once the most expensive oil production starts to shut down, or the weakest producers go bust…. If the short-term outlook for the industry is, frankly, a hellscape, the long-term outlook is arguably not that much better. The pandemic could leave a mark on already stuttering oil demand growth. International travel will take time to recover. Companies and employees who adapt successfully to working from home are likely to make it a bigger part of their future, keeping more cars off the road.” Economies that rely on oil revenues, including Nigeria and Iraq, will suffer greatly. And as the oil industry declines, so too will its subsidiaries, through a “trickle down” effect.
Prophecy declares a period ahead in which the world is turned upside down, old alliances and political configurations are reshaped, and once mighty superpowers are broken and humbled. While oil has provided a powerful path to wealth and influence in our modern world, there is no security for any world power, small or large, that does not recognize the sovereignty of the Almighty! To learn more about the reasons behind growing national and global problems and how these problems will be resolved, read or listen to “Nations Rise and Fall.”—Scott Winnail, Paul Kearns, and Francine Prater