November 5th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
Not since the Civil War has America been so divided, and we know what Jesus said about a house divided against itself. We may very well be witnessing the destruction of America, and even though many around the world may cheer America’s fall, it will not be good in the long run for the rest of the world. I thought it would be good to remind everyone why we don’t vote in these elections. God humbled the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar and taught him this lesson: “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). We can give a more thorough and complicated answer as to why we don’t vote, but very simply: It is God’s decision and we do not want to be found voting against God. Which one of us knows what God has in mind? Who is His choice at any given time? We all have opinions and that is okay, but the more you learn about politics, the sleazier it becomes. Meanwhile, the Work of God moves forward on our knees and we pray more earnestly, “YOUR kingdom come”!—Gerald Weston
Special Livestreamed Sabbath Services for U.S. and Canadian Congregations—November 28 and December 26
The Headquarters Sabbath Services will be livestreamed from Charlotte on November 28 and December 26. All U.S. and Canadian congregations, and other congregations for whom it is practical, are requested to tune in. Services will begin at 1:00 p.m. EST, USA. Livestream access information will be announced soon. A phone number will also be available for those who do not have Internet access. For those who live in time zones where tuning in to the live service is not practical, or for those who need a translation of the message, a recording and translation will be available later.
We look forward to meeting virtually together!
Death of Mr. Randall Moran
We are saddened to announce the death of Mr. Randall Moran on September 24. He was 63 years of age. Mr. Moran, a longtime elder, has served as the Assistant Pastor of the Corning and Rochester, New York, congregations. Please remember his wife, Janet, and his family in your prayers, as well as the brethren he served. He will be very much missed.
Charlotte Family Weekend 2020—Repeat Announcement
The Charlotte, North Carolina, congregation will be hosting its annual Charlotte Family Weekend this year! The dates for the event will be arrival on Thursday evening, December 24, with departure on Sunday morning, December 27. See the tentative schedule below. Because of state regulations, this year will present a unique version of the weekend that we believe you will still thoroughly enjoy. If you are interested in attending the Charlotte Family Weekend this year, please take a moment to fill out the pre-registration form, which can be found in the link below. This form will be used for planning purposes, and is not a full commitment to attend, but is rather a tool for us to measure interest in the weekend. Your immediate responses are much appreciated.
Rooms at the Embassy Suites Concord will cost $109 (plus tax) per night, and that includes two plated breakfasts. Additional details will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.
We hope to see you here in less than two months at the Charlotte Family Weekend 2020!
- Thursday evening, December 24 – Arrival
- Friday, December 25 – Morning seminars / Afternoon activities / Friday night Bible Study
- Saturday, December 26 – Afternoon Sabbath Services / Evening plated dinner / Saturday night Talent Show
- Sunday Morning, December 27 – Departure
What is the biggest challenge you face in maintaining regular, consistent prayer? Is it distractions? Procrastination? Feeling like your prayers aren’t going any higher than the ceiling? Did you know you’re not alone? In our recent “Tools for Christian Growth” unit on prayer, more than 500 members answered this question in our poll. If you’d like to see the results of this poll, along with a variety of resources that will strengthen your resolve and understanding of prayer, visit our unit on prayer.—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Festival 2020 Attendance Growth Amidst COVID Challenges
It’s hard to overstate the challenges our Festival Site Coordinators faced this year to plan for the Feast, even in the very days leading up to it. Especially outside of the United States, our Coordinators and Regional Directors contended with unpredictable, constantly shifting local and national restrictions and had to formulate multiple contingency plans. God blessed their efforts, though, as 11,183 Living Church of God attendees were able to worship Him in person or online during the Feast of Tabernacles in 2020. This is a 1 percent increase over the total in 2019 (11,070). This year, 7,834 (70 percent) of those attending were able to gather in person at 84 Feast sites in 31 countries around the world. Also, we want to pass on our appreciation to the technical crews who worked extra hard this year, all over the globe. They made it possible for 3,349 brethren (30 percent of the total) around the world to connect to Feast services via livestream or telephone connections, individually or in small groups. Most of those connecting via livestream were forced to do so due to government shutdowns or personal infirmities. Thank you!
Beware of Misguided Ideas: The Apostle Paul warned, “in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1–5) and that many will not listen to sound doctrine but will prefer to ignore advice and follow their own ideas (2 Timothy 3:1–6; 4:1–4). The Apostle Paul also warned that critics from within and from outside the Church will try to divide the Church to gain a following (Acts 20:29–31). He pointed out that Satan will try various ways to mislead people (2 Corinthians 2:11) by appealing to the human desire to be independent, or be recognized as an authority, or as being important (3 John 9–10). Numerous issues threatened to destroy the early Church: different ideas about foods, hair lengths, the resurrection, circumcision, or following a particular leader (see 1 Corinthians and Galatians). However, Paul’s constant advice was to “guard what was committed to your trust” (1 Timothy 6:20), to “hold fast” to what you have been “taught” (Titus 1:9–11), and “avoid foolish disputes” (Titus 3:9; 1 Timothy 6:3–5). When questions do arise over doctrine, the biblical example is to take the issue to the leaders of the Church for a decision and then follow that decision (Deuteronomy 17:8–11; Acts 15:1–31). Nowhere do the Scriptures encourage individuals to take it on themselves to correct or “save” the Church. That is something that Jesus Christ will take care of in His time as He “builds” His Church (Matthew 16:18).
Have a Profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—November 5, 2020
Starvation in Yemen—A Glimpse of the Future: Civil war, famine, and COVID-19 have brought starvation to many in Yemen—especially small children (The Guardian, October, 28, 2020). The United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for the country recently observed, “Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis. If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children.” Yemen could lose almost 100,000 children under the age of five.
During this tragic time of hardship, funding for the UN World Food Program has fallen, threatening charitable supplies that are desperately needed to feed starving people. Bible prophecy foretells a coming time, just before the return of Jesus Christ, when billions will die, due in large part to famine and starvation (Matthew 24:3, 7; Revelation 6:5–8). Students of the Bible must realize that situations like Yemen’s will not always be constrained to a small, specific area of the world.
However, God’s word also speaks of a time when famine and starvation will become a thing of the past. Jesus Christ is going to return and set up the Kingdom of God on earth. At that time, the earth will be restored, streams will burst forth in the desert (Isaiah 35:1–6), and there will be an abundance of food (Amos 9:13). As nations learn to follow the laws of God, they will receive rain in due season (Leviticus 26:2–4). The suffering we witness today should motivate us to pray “Thy kingdom come”! For more details about this coming kingdom, be sure to read or listen to The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?
Droughts and Floods Worsen: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, roughly 45 percent of the continental United States is currently in drought, and the situation is forecast to worsen in the months ahead (New York Times, October 15, 2020). Although much of the drought is concentrated in the normally arid regions of the southwest, parts of the usually lush Ohio Valley and the northeast are also in drought. Climate scientists say this is the worst drought since 2013. Drought is also expected to develop in the southeastern U.S. over the winter, leading to more fires.
According to the University of Melbourne, southern Australia is experiencing some of its driest weather in 800 years, resulting in destruction of crops, cattle, and a great deal of wildlife. Yet, northern parts of the country are wetter than they have been in centuries. Looking back about 250 years, researchers from Germany and the Czech Republic determined that the 2018–2019 drought in central Europe was the most widespread and severe drought in the area since the year 1766 (Phys.org, August 6, 2020).
Aside from the droughts, ten hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. this year, shattering a record that stood for more than a century and dumping copious amounts of rain in the Gulf Coast states (Weather.com, October 13, 2020). This year’s Atlantic hurricane season may also break 2005’s record for most named storms. And a recent article in the New Scientist reports, “The years 1990–2016 rank among the worst periods of flooding in Europe in five centuries.”
Why are these events significant? Bible prophecy warns that at the end of the age, Israelite-descended nations like the U.S., the UK, much of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada will experience both drought and flooding within the same nations. The prophet Amos records, “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered” (Amos 4:7). While trends rise and wane, we can expect activity even more extreme than this to occur as we draw closer to what the Bible calls “the end of the age.” For more insights into extreme weather predicted for the future, be sure to read Acts of God: Why Natural Disasters?—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, and Chris Sookdeo