May 14th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
This week we had a WebEx Council of Elders meeting. Council members reported on the positive attitudes they see in our members. They also reported being contacted by people wanting to fellowship with us, and a number have already begun faithfully tuning in to our livestream services. This same enthusiasm is seen from our social media outreach. One man wrote: “I went there to order the free book Restoring Original Christianity (and did order it) and got lost in there for over 4 hours. The articles are fascinating and inspiring. Glad I found the site.” Another wrote “I have just become a big fan of Tomorrow’s World. This is powerful truth.” And then there was this one: “I read your materials at tomorrowsworld.org and I’m interested in attending your congregation here in Philippines, Quezon City. Who can I contact with?” The Council members also reported that there are very few members who have tested positive for the coronavirus, but there are a handful or two around the world. I think this shows that God is protecting us overall, but let us not forget those few who have been affected. The deacon from Strasbourg, France, is supposed to go home from hospital tomorrow (Friday). We are very thankful for God’s mercy upon him and upon others who have contracted this disease.—Gerald Weston
HQ Sermons Posted, Distributed Electronically
In March and April, a number of sermons from Headquarters were livestreamed to all brethren who could “tune in.” Recordings of those and other recent sermons are now available on the lcg.org website.
Also, in the month of May, we are not sending to congregations the physical DVDs or CDs of English sermons. Instead, this week we sent an e-mail to congregation Video Recipients and to Pastors, giving them the links to access the English sermons in this month’s “sermon shipment.” These can be used as recorded sermons in local, streamed services, either by playing them directly from the link, or by downloading them onto a device and playing them from there (through the File Transfer Protocol site).
Serving Spanish-Speaking GOTOs in English-Speaking Areas
As the Work grows in Spanish-speaking areas, we are blessed to be seeing more Spanish-speaking GOTOs responding, even from English-speaking countries. This can, however, present a challenge to pastors who do not speak Spanish! We do have a number of methods in place to serve these interested people. First, pastors can respond to their inquiry with a pre-translated message from Church Administration, to make a connection and acknowledge their inquiry. Second, pastors can utilize tools such as Google Translate to have at least a rudimentary back-and-forth exchange with them, to introduce themselves and get a dialogue going. Third, pastors can utilize Spanish-speaking brethren in their congregations or neighboring congregations to help translate a phone or in-person conversation. Fourth, pastors can direct Spanish-speakers to weekly live sermons streamed by the Spanish Department. If needed, the ministers from the Spanish Department can be contacted to counsel with these new GOTOs further. But we are trying to handle locally as many requests as possible.
Another idea we are now implementing is including a Spanish-language audio translation for select English sermons in the electronic “sermon shipments.” The idea is that when the English-language sermon is played, Spanish-speakers can watch the English sermon and listen to the Spanish-language audio translation. The ultimate goal is to integrate Spanish-speakers into their local congregation as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Hopefully, these measures can facilitate that process.
At this point, 430 members have taken advantage of our new Pentecost Focus Unit. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to check it out, it is simple to do. Just go to lcgeducation.org and click on “Courses.” That will take you to our “library,” where you can enroll and have access to all the resources provided in the course, as well as to our other classes. There is no cost and no age limit. Simply enrolling gives you access to all the information in the course, which you can study at your own pace. The course includes a curated selection of segments from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, with special study guides and podcast-style interviews with pastors from the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, this would be a great way to prepare!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Additional, Smaller Sites
We are continuing to hold meetings with Festival Site Coordinators, Regional Directors, and Area Pastors about this year’s Feast. At Mr. Weston’s direction, we are in the process of renegotiating contracts to reduce the numbers assigned to our current sites. We have been very encouraged to see how easy most venue management personnel have been to work with. We’ve also been encouraged to see a number of potential sites materialize fairly quickly, through the efforts and legwork of local pastors and the cooperation of the sales representatives they’ve been working with. Your continued prayers for this process would be much appreciated!—Festival Office
Living Youth Program
Camp Registration Now Closed for All United States and Europe Camps
Camp registration is now closed for all camps in the United States and Europe. Anyone not registered at this time must get approval from the Youth Director to apply. Only valid exceptions will be made, and these only until this coming Monday, May 18.
Mr. Weston will make a final decision by the first week of June on whether these camps will happen or not—so stay tuned.
Respect for Authority: Today we live in a global society where respect for authority and for anyone in authority is in serious decline. Parents, teachers, politicians, policemen, church leaders, and heads of state are portrayed as liars, buffoons, and worse. While some cynicism and disrespect is deserved, much is fostered by an anti-authority attitude promoted by the media—which is directly influenced by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). The Apostle Paul foretold that pride and disrespect for authority would be rampant at the end of the age (2 Timothy 3:1–5). The Apostle Peter predicted that presumptuous, self-willed false teachers would come, who “despise authority” and use deceptive words to malign (run down) the “way of truth” (2 Peter 2:1–10). The epistle of Jude (verse 8) offers a similar warning. This open disrespect for authority and those in authority is totally contrary to God’s instructions in His word. Moses wrote, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28). Solomon advised, “Do not curse the king, even in your thought” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). James warned, “Do not speak evil of one another” (James 4:11). The Apostle Paul wrote, “we urge you, brethren, to recognize [get to know, acknowledge, value, respect, defer to] those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13). The Scriptures also state that love and respect must be earned and maintained (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Proverbs 29:2). We look forward to the time when the proper use of and respect for authority will permeate the world.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—May 14, 2020
Muslim Prayer Calls in U.S. Cities: During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan this year (April 23–May 23), mosques in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and several other American cities are publicly broadcasting the “call to prayer” five times a day (Al Jazeera, April 24, 20202). “While the adhan [the call to prayer] is commonly broadcast throughout the Middle East, North Africa and other places, for many Muslims in the US, it is only heard inside mosques or community centres.” One reason behind the recent move is to allow Muslims to pray at the same time while practicing social distancing and avoiding attending mosques. However, it is also an acknowledgement of the growing numbers of Muslims in America.
For this call to prayer to be broadcast publicly, city governments must approve the action. Although Minneapolis is not the first city in the United States to approve the public call to prayer, this is the first time it has been allowed in a major American metropolitan area. For some, this represents equality under the law. However, for many residents of these cities, the Muslim call to prayer is a public enforcement of personal religious beliefs and very different than the ringing of church bells. This same issue has generated controversy in numerous European cities.
For many, broadcasting Islamic prayer calls over an entire community, multiple times a day, in a nation that once publicly embraced many biblical principles it now shuns, is quite disturbing. The Bible plainly states that if the Israelite-descended people turn away from God and reject His commandments, one of the consequences will be that “the alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower” (Deuteronomy 28:43). The public broadcasting of Muslim prayer calls in U.S. cities highlights how those of the Islamic faith are gaining political influence in the nation. We appear to be watching these ancient prophecies being increasingly fulfilled today. To learn more about how God deals with human choices that are contrary to His instructions, be sure to read “Why Does God Punish?”
U.S. Marriage Rates Lowest Ever: In 2018, the last year for which accurate statistics are available, the marriage rate in the United States dropped to its lowest level since 1900 (Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 29, 2020). Just 6.5 out of 1,000 people got married in 2018, down from 7.0 in 2016. Many experts believe this number will continue to drop in future years. Experts disagree as to just why the marriage rate is dropping, but it is clear that more couples are living together outside of marriage (Daily Mail, April 29, 2020).
Marriages are more prevalent among financially stable couples, while those in more challenging financial straits are less likely to marry. Yet research shows that marriage can potentially improve a couple’s financial situation and also provide health benefits. While some studies suggest that fewer people are marrying because there are not enough “economically attractive” men available, other experts suggest that “the recent decline may simply be because people are following less traditional family paths.”
Bible prophecy also sheds light on the declining trend in marriage. Speaking about signs that would identify the end of the age, the Apostle Paul wrote that “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Many of these characteristics reflect a very self-centered focus—an attitude that does not fit well with biblical marriage, which requires each partner to give to and serve his or her mate. Sadly, in choosing not to marry, millions in the U.S. and other nations are denying themselves the opportunity to experience one of the great joys of life. To learn more about this topic, be sure to read our insightful article “Solving the Mystery of Marriage.”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater