Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The World and the Church in the Year Ahead

What's ahead in the world?

The last year and a half have been very eventful in the Church of God. Perhaps the next year will be quiet for the Church. Perhaps the big news in the next 12-14 months will be events in the world. I hope not. That is, I hope there will not be big news in the world. If there is, it is not likely to be positive. But I hope we have quietness and peace in the Church of God for a while. More events must yet happen, but I think we need a break.

There is an election coming in the United States. 2012 will be full of campaigning. That is known. But there are dangers on the horizon.

It really does look like Iran is close to making an atomic bomb. And it really does look like some kind of war with Iran may be close. If such a war comes, oil from the Persian Gulf could be disrupted and diminished, and gasoline prices would jump. That could further hurt a fragile world economy.

How fragile? Will a war crisis break the world economy? We may find out.

The Iran situation has developed slowly for a very long time. A war should be a surprise to no one. It has been much anticipated. What is unknown are the consequences. World history is full of examples of wars that were expected to be short, but turned out to be long. Men do not know ahead of time what war can bring. The whole world is like a trap ready to spring.

I saw some figures recently on the national budget deficit and debt. They were shocking. As much as I knew we have been spending ourselves into ruin, it was still shocking to me. It hit me in the gut. Why haven't we collapsed yet, I asked myself. How can we go on like this, even for another year or two? It truly is "scary" as they say. God's protection and mercy is the only hope of a Christian.

There are a number of interesting posts in Robert Thiel's COGwriter blog. Bob Thiel has posted numerous times about the Iran situation and our national debt. Here is a link to his blog:

The troubles the United States is in as a nation are troubles of our own making. We got ourselves into this mess through our own foolish decisions. Maybe half the country, or less, sees the seriousness of our condition, and the other half is blind to it. But almost no one outside the Church of God understands the true spiritual angle. About half the country sees that we are spending ourselves into oblivion. They see the solution as political. Elect leaders who will be conservative. Cut spending. Reduce the deficit. But they do not see their own sins.

The nation just finished celebrating a winter holiday that is said to represent the birth of Christ, but in actuality represents rebellion against God. Atheists and materialists often observe Christmas in a secular way, while many church-goers keep it for its religious meaning, but neither group seems to know how wrong it is.

About three years ago, the majority of American voters elected a president and Congress that is very "liberal", using the political label. That label represents a collection of views and policies that often come as a package. It includes massive government spending, and that spending is now ruining us. It is setting us up for a fall. The country is in a dilemma. Americans are addicted to a level of government spending far beyond what the government collects in taxes, yet the government cannot raise taxes without hurting the economy that generates those taxes. But members of Congress would be committing political suicide to cut spending as much as it needs to be cut. Every special interest group would say, "not us!" Not enough Americans grasp the need for sacrifice, for personal suffering now to avoid greater suffering later. Or, they see the need for others to sacrifice, but not "me", not "now".

So we drift (or race) into ruin.

Probably, at some point, there will be a severe worldwide economic crisis or collapse, then a recovery. The American economy would suffer the most during the collapse and come back the least during the recovery. When the smoke clears, the United States would be much diminished as a nation. Europe would lead the recovery and become strong.

There is one thing about all this that conservative Americans may see, but the liberals do not. When all our deficit spending catches up with us and we have to pay the price, the price will be have to be paid not just because our nation has elected politicians who massively spend us into debt, but because we have elected politicians who believe in abortion and other obvious immorality. It is the same group of people. In that sense, our own sins will punish us. By voting into office people who stand for allowing women to have abortions for any reason, for allowing men to have civil unions with men and women with women and call it "marriage", for promoting a godless agenda in the educational system, we have also elected into office people who spend government money at such a rate that we bankrupt ourselves. It is the same group of people.

Yet conservatives are not without sin.

While God may allow the liberals to be the instrument of our punishment, the whole nation, liberals and conservatives alike, is guilty.

The whole nation is guilty before God, but the religious segment of our society doesn't see their half of the guilt. I mentioned Christmas. The religious part of our nation thinks it is pleasing God by observing Christmas. I think Christ hates Christmas with a passion because it represents open disobedience towards God and a disrespect and disbelief towards God's word. But few people see that.

We in the Church see it. We know it is wrong because more than seventy years ago Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong started a work to preach the truth he learned from the Bible to the public, and most of us know what we know because he and others sacrificed to "preach the gospel to the world".

We now have the obligation to make the same kind of sacrifice to share that same knowledge with others in the United States who have not heard it before. We have to sacrifice just as Mr. Armstrong and Church of God members sacrificed in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s to get the truth out. If we do not, we become hypocrites if we claim to live by every word of God. The need is more urgent than ever.

That is why I am concerned when a Church of God fellowship so organizes and structures itself that it does not have the money it needs to do more than a very small work of preaching to the public. That can happen because it is overloaded with paid ministers who cannot be laid off because the leadership is committed to protecting their salaries in return for their votes.

Well, perhaps that problem could be solved. Many problems contain seeds of opportunity within them. The opportunity is that such a fellowship, having an abundance of professional ministers on salary, has the manpower to produce much published content in a short amount of time. Articles, booklets, and books can be produced. Then if, IF God chooses to empower that group to do a strong work of warning the United States and other nations, IF the leadership of that fellowship is willing to make hard decisions, then ministerial payroll can be cut, pastors' congregational responsibilities can be consolidated, and money can be freed up to publish and broadcast that content to a wide audience.

I think Church of God a Worldwide Association (COGWA) is on the right track to ask ministers and members to contribute content for preaching the gospel (Link to their announcement: The leadership of that Church is wise to suggest collaboration between pastors who can provide strong content and others who have writing skills to shape and polish that content. They are starting an Internet work because that can be cheap, and right now that is the only way they can start.

If this opportunity is handled wisely, the coming year or two could be a golden era for COGWA in the production of content that can be published or broadcast.

My suggestion is that they use this opportunity to not just write short articles, but to follow that up with longer booklets and books and to write scripts for a TV or radio broadcast, even if the money is not yet available to publish printed literature or to record and broadcast radio or TV programs. Use the window of opportunity for writing while it is open - the money for using it may come later.

Consider also the copyright issue. There has arisen, within all the division within the Church of God, a tradition that is not good. Literature is written by ministers employed by a Church of God organization. That literature is copyrighted by the organization. Then, there is a split, many ministers and members leave that organization to start a new one, but they cannot use their own writings! The organization that has copyrighted them owns the rights and won't give "the other guys" permission to use them.

Yet these books, booklets, and articles really belong to God. They are produced with GOD'S tithe, and that tithe belongs to God. If you pray for God's help and inspiration in the writing and editing of this material, and Christ inspires your writing, He does it for the benefit of those who will read or hear the material, nor your benefit. The material belongs to Christ. It is not just for the benefit of an organization.

So why should its use be restricted?

Why should one Church of God organization use copyright protection to restrain another Church of God organization from using its material to publish the truth of God's word to a world that needs it?

So my suggestion is, consider putting some or all of this new material in the public domain, or consider a policy of allowing other Church of God organizations to use it to preach to the gospel to the world. Or, if you don't do that, consider how you would answer someone who says, "If this material is for the benefit of God's work and is intended to help people, why would you restrain others from getting it out to people so it can do them good?" Or consider how you would answer, "If God is financing and inspiring the writing of this content, doesn't it belong to Christ, and if so, should one Church of God organization prohibit another Church of God organization from publishing it to the world, which is what Christ wants anyway?"

It is a shame to the whole Church of God that we are so divided we cannot share copyrights for the good of new prospective members God is calling who need to know about the truth of God and for the good of the nations that need to be warned about the tribulation to come if they don't repent. And while many leaders in the organized ministry claim to serve Christ, their copyright policy is a witness that they are serving themselves.

The recent split between UCG and COGWA puts a spotlight on this whole issue. If UCG simply gave COGWA permission to use the body of literature copyrighted by UCG, but produced and paid for by many members and ministers now in COGWA, what would be wrong with that? What is the purpose of this material? Is it to help people outside the Church who have not been involved in our Church divisions and infighting? And who does this material belong to? Does it belong to Christ?

Look at Paul's attitude: "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice" (Philippians 1:15-18). Did you get that? Paul REJOICED when others, even out of a spirit of envy and strife trying to hurt Paul, preached the gospel! Why? Because Paul was serving Christ, not himself. With that kind of love for the gospel, do you think Paul would have denied these people the right to publish his own letters if there were copyright laws in those days? I doubt it.

Come to think of it, COGWA might not really want that permission from UCG. Why? What would COGWA do with it? They do not have the money to publish. Right now, they have an excuse for not spending money on TV, radio, and printed literature and a magazine. "We have to produce content, and that takes time." But what would happen to that excuse if UCG handed them a whole body of literature on a silver platter? They cannot say the content is not sound, because the ministers and members of COGWA helped to produce it when they were in UCG just a short time ago.

I think COGWA would be on the spot. UCG would seem to capture the high ground morally and ethically because they would seem to be showing love towards others by sharing the right to produce the literature. The permission could contain the requirement that the literature would not be edited without the permission of the copyright owner (UCG), except the contact info (Church name and address) would be changed to the publisher who pays the expense of printing and mailing it (COGWA). Authors' names, when included in the literature as published by UCG, could not be removed. But in giving permission, UCG could force COGWA to explain why they are not publishing it.

Actually, LCG could make the same offer to COGWA. The doctrines are mostly the same, except for governance, and Church literature for the public rarely speaks about the governance issue. No major Church of God organization has ever done this. Any Church of God leader with literature compatible with COGWA beliefs could offer COGWA permission, and if he did he might shake things up a bit. What would COGWA say? "We can't publish it because we don't have the money?" Why don't they have the money? "We have too many paid ministers in proportion to our members?" Why do they have too many paid ministers?

I started this post about conditions in the world and prospects for the year ahead, and look where that led. Train of thought. One thought leads to another. Start with the national debt and end with copyright sharing in the Church.

Yet everything ties together. There is a direct connection between events in the Church and events in the world. It is all the same issue. A warning message and the true gospel have to go out as a witness to the American people and people of other nations, especially in Israel. Everyone in the United States should hear a warning so they know that the disaster that is coming is not just because some liberals have been elected but the WHOLE nation, conservatives also, are sinning against God. But the divisions in the Church make it more difficult to get that warning out. Governance is also a part of that same issue, because a governance that makes it hard for a leadership to make tough budget decisions, decisions unpopular with a voting ministry, also makes it harder to find the money to preach a warning message.

The Church of God needs to warn the American people that they are doing wrong and will face the tribulation if they do not repent. They need that warning so they will know God was fair to warn them while they had time to repent, and they need to accept responsibility for ignoring the warning. The more the Church of God follows God's Word, the Bible, in everything including governance, the more effective we can be in getting that warning out.

And if we fail to get the warning out because of our own disbelieve or disobedience, then the blood of the nation is on our own head (Ezekiel 33:1-6).

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Responsibility of a Watchman, Chapter 3

The Ezekiel Warning, Chapter 3

The Effect of the Holocaust, Chapter 4

My Comments and Conclusion, Chapter 4

The Two Witnesses and God's Fairness, Chapter 4

The Church, Chapter 4

Why the Gospel Must Still Be Preached to the World, Chapter 4

Church Government, Chapter 7


Monday, December 19, 2011

A Key to Faith

There is a need for more faith in the Church of God.

Many old-timers remember the atmosphere of faith that existed in the Church under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's leadership in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, and even those of us who were not in the Church at that time are aware of the accounts of healings that took place. It seems there were many more healings in the Church at that time than now.

Mr. Armstrong had faith in God. He believed what God says in the Bible. He demonstrated that trust and belief in God's Word by giving up his own Sunday traditions and accepting correction in doctrine from the Bible. That attitude of willingness to believe the Bible more than anything else, more than his opinions, more than his traditions, and more than the teachings of any minister, was the foundation of Mr. Armstrong's faith. That is the way of life and of thinking that Mr. Armstrong practiced and it is the way of life and thinking he taught when he said, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible.

Mr. Armstrong always had a willingness to learn new knowledge from the Bible and to be corrected by the Bible, and it was because of that willingness that God was able to use him to restore lost doctrine.

I believe there is a direct connection between Mr. Armstrong's faith and trust in God's word, his willingness to change doctrine when necessary, and the healings that took place in those years.

Mr. Armstrong was willing to go, doctrinally, wherever Christ through the Bible would lead him (Revelation 14:4). He was more concerned with being faithful to teach the Bible accurately than he was about the reactions of human beings to the doctrines he taught. He was more concerned about what God thought than what man thought. He was not a people-pleaser. He was not trying to teach what the Church wanted to hear in order to build up and retain the largest possible number of members.

Since the death of Mr. Armstrong, some in the Church of God say with great emphasis that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come (Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:11), and they try to use that to say that Mr. Armstrong's doctrines can never be changed or added to, but in saying this they seek to overturn the most important doctrine Mr. Armstrong ever taught, that we must be willing to grow in knowledge and be corrected by the Bible. Some may think that our body of knowledge as a Church is complete and free of error, and that no doctrinal change is ever needed, but they forget that the Bible teaches that we know only in part (1 Corinthians 13:9) and that we are to grow in both grace and in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).

When we preach the gospel, we ask the public to be willing to learn new things from the Bible. We have to be willing to do the same.

True faith comes from God, it is a gift, and we have our part to do also. We may ask God for the gift of faith, we trust Him to provide it, and we can seek God through prayer and fasting, which the Bible teaches. We also increase our faith as we exercise it, making right choices to believe and obey God when occasions arise.

And when we seek God with fasting, I think we would be wise to consider the teaching and positive example of Mr. Armstrong. He relates in his autobiography how he first began to fast when his wife Loma Armstrong was sick and when God was not answering his prayers for her healing. When he was fasting, he did not ask God for healing. Instead he asked God to show him what was wrong with HIM. He used fasting to humble himself so that he could more readily be corrected by the Bible, and he looked to the Bible, studying it while he was fasting, for the answer to WHY God was not answering his prayers for his wife's healing.

And after God corrected Mr. Armstrong and he received the correction, THEN God answered Mr. Armstrong's prayer for his wife's healing.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Our Attitude and Approach Towards God's Word, Chapter 1

The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6

Practicing What We Preach, Chapter 6

Changing Doctrine, Chapter 6

A Lesson from the Autobiography, Chapter 6

Faith, Chapter 6

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How the Structure of Governance Affects Preaching the Gospel to the World

In my last post, I did not mention that COGWA has determined which members of the board will be up for re-election in four years and which will be up for re-election in eight years, according to a post in James Malm's Shining Light blog. This was determined according to a random drawing, in accordance with the governing documents. The terms of service of the following board members are eight years:

Arnold Hampton
Richard Pinelli
Larry Salyer
Richard Thompson

The terms of service of the following members are four years:

David Baker
Joel Meeker
Leon Walker

Also, a little under 8.5 million dollars was budgeted based on estimated income.

Here is the link to the post:

As I said in the last post, COGWA does not seem to have the finances at this time to do a large work of preaching the gospel to the world and get a warning message out to the nations of Israel. There is a connection between their shortage of money for the gospel and their structure of governance.

Here is a quote from my book, Preaching the Gospel, chapter 7, section "Church Government", pages 347-348: "There is a direct connection between hierarchical government and the ability of a church organization to make the sacrifices and the hard decisions necessary to preach to the public. I think recent experience has shown and is showing that if the human leader or leaders at the top of an organization, who have the authority to determine the budget and how much money is spent on preaching the gospel to the world and how much is spent on ministers' salaries, are themselves elected by the ministers, it is unlikely they will make the hard decisions necessary to allocate sufficient resources to really finish the work of preparing Israel for the tribulation. It is just common sense that many ministers will not elect someone who would reduce their salaries or lay some of them off if that were necessary." This statement was written several years ago, long before it became apparent to me or to most people that UCG would split.

And now, COGWA is becoming an example to illustrate the truth of that statement.

How important is it that we get a warning message to Israel about the tribulation to come if we as a nation do not repent?

It is vital that the people in our countries hear the warning BEFORE the tribulation begins. This isn't just for making new members. It is for showing the public that God is fair to give them a warning before He punishes them. It is for helping Israel to accept their responsibility for their sins and the resulting suffering that will come upon them.

Most of the people will not heed the warning. That is expected. But then, when they go through the tribulation, they will remember that they heard the warning. Most important of all, they will remember their own responses, that they laughed at it, became angry, or ignored it, but did not check up in the Bible with an open mind to see if the warning was true. And that remembrance will help them realize what fools they have been. That will be their first step towards accepting their own responsibility for their sins, which is a first step towards repentance.

But if they don't hear the warning, how will they react in the tribulation, and even afterwards in the millennium? "God wasn't fair. I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping Sunday, Christmas, Easter, and using holy pictures and images when I pray. No one warned me that I was doing anything wrong, so why should I be punished?"

How will people react in the tribulation if they have not heard a warning? The closest thing to the tribulation in modern history may be the Holocaust when millions of Jews suffered and died in Nazi concentration camps during and before World War II. If you haven't studied the Holocaust, you might think that suffering always draws people closer to God, but that is not true. Many Jews who were religious before the Holocaust lost all faith in God because they couldn't understand why a just God would allow it, according to survivors who actually lived in the concentration camps, as I have documented with quotes from survivors in chapter 4 of my book. That could be a picture of the attitude of distrust and resentment towards God that the tribulation will produce if our people hear no warning. We MUST get a warning out.

But could Mr. Franks make the tough decisions to consolidate congregations, to let some paid ministers go and let those who remain serve several nearby congregations, to free up 30% or 40% of the budget to do a powerful work of preaching the gospel to the world and giving Israel the Ezekiel warning before it is too late? I doubt he could do that to the very ministers who elected him and his supporters to the Ministerial Board of Directors.

That is the connection between the structure of governance in the Church today and the ability of the Church to get a warning message out that is so vital to Israel's repentance during the tribulation and their conversion in the millennium. And since Israel is to serve as a model nation in the millennium for other nations in the world, their conversion is vital for the conversion and saving of the whole world.

How important is that?

By making the board directly dependent on the approval of the ministry, and the president dependent on the board, COGWA has organized itself into a form in which its ability to get the warning out depends on the collective willingness of the entire ministry to sacrifice some of their own income. It may be that from God's point of view, not every paid minister in COGWA should be employed as a minister at this time, but neither Jim Franks nor any other leader of COGWA is in a position to take paid ministers off the payroll to finance the preaching of the gospel.

I fear that COGWA may become another COG fellowship that mostly just "feeds" itself.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:



Church Government, Chapter 7

Monday, December 12, 2011

COGWA Headquarters Location

In their recent conference last week, COGWA leaders were to choose a permanent location for their headquarters office. Although I have not seen or heard anything official from COGWA, James Malm has reported that the COGWA board has approved the Dallas/Fort Worth area as the location for a future headquarters office.

Here are links to posts in the Shining Light blog and COGwriter blog:

Shining Light blog:

COGwriter blog:

Bob Thiel has also reported that UCG average US attendance in October was 7,621. Link:

COGWA has announced a new publication for its membership called, "One Accord", and Larry Salyer will be the editor. Link:

I have also noticed that the members of COGWA's Moral and Ethics Assessment Committee have been named in COGWA's governance page. They are:
Mike Blackwell
Mike Hanisko
Les McCullough
Larry Neff
Paul Suckling

This seems to complete COGWA's organization. Here is a link to the page that lists all the members of the administration, the board, and the committees:

Where do UCG and COGWA stand right now? The actual split is past history and each group is making its own individual history from now on.

COGWA is fully organized. The leadership is in place and the headquarters location has been chosen. An entire holy day season has passed since COGWA started.

COGWA may not have the finances to do much of a work of preaching the gospel to the public right now. That can change if more members come to COGWA, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. Probably most members of the pre-split UCG have made their decisions and are unlikely to change in the near future barring some major event. The ratio of tithe-paying members to paid ministers in COGWA, particularly in the United States, may be too small to support a powerful work of preaching the gospel to the public. They can still do that work on a small scale of course, and I expect they will do as much as they can. They can easily do an Internet work with online publications and audio/video recordings and with pay-per-click advertising to bring readers and listeners to the webpages. They can do that on a small scale for now without the expense of a widely broadcast TV program and a large-circulation printed magazine. And if God blesses their effort, it may grow, bring in more donors, coworkers, prospective members, and members, and that growth may enable a greater work later, a work of a TV program or radio program broadcast to millions and a large circulation magazine. But that is a big "if".

UCG and COGWA have recently published Feast attendance figures, and those can be a guideline to membership numbers. In terms of membership numbers that can finance the preaching of the gospel, it is primarily United States and Canada figures that are most important.

While COGWA may have about half of the worldwide membership, they do not have half the membership in the United States. UCG has many more members in the United States, while COGWA may have more than half of the paid ministry in the United States. The split between UCG and COGWA is also a split to a degree between the majority of the tithe-paying members and the majority of the salary-drawing ministers, at least in the United States. To sum it up, most members stayed with UCG and most paid ministers went with COGWA.

What this means is that, while COGWA has enough money to pay its ministers, it does not yet have enough money to do more than a small work of preaching the gospel to the world. In contrast, UCG should have an abundance of money for that purpose right now.

Why have not more UCG members gone with COGWA, at least in proportion to the number of ministers who have done so?

A contributing reason may be that the membership has never heard a definite and plausible explanation for why the split occurred. If it appears that it is only due to personality differences and human carnality, they are less likely to leave one organization to go to another, especially if most of the members did not want the split to occur.

I have said before that the responsibility for explaining the root cause of the split, the underlying issues, lies with COGWA. The responsibility for the split itself may be shared between UCG leaders and COGWA leaders, but the explanation has to come from the COGWA leaders. They were the ones who quit. They may have been forced out to a degree, but they still have to explain why. UCG leaders are not going to admit they forced out those ministers.

I have imagined how I would explain the split to someone outside the Church of God who has not been familiar with the ongoing events of the past year and a half.

If someone asked me, "Why did the Church split?", I would have to say, "I don't know."

I know something about HOW the split occurred. This blog has chronicled some of the details of that. But not why. Not the underlying issue or issues that divided the leadership and ministry of UCG into two competing camps in the first place. The biggest surprise about all this to me has been that the ministry has managed to keep that under wraps even till now.

COGWA leadership might have good reasons for not saying right now. I won't speculate here about the reasons for the split or the reasons why the COGWA ministry has not said much about it publicly.

But even if COGWA is wise not to talk about it, they may be paying a price in lost membership. And that may spell trouble down the road when if it becomes evident that COGWA will simply not be able to grow the Church and get a warning message out to the public. Not all the members and ministers in COGWA will go along with that state indefinitely.

Here are links to related chapters in Preaching the Gospel:



Friday, November 25, 2011


"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (1 Timothy 2:1).

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2).

Those of us in the Church of God and in the United States have much to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, started as a tradition by those coming to this land who were thankful for God's protection and blessings.

Over the last two hundred years, the United States has been greatly blessed by God. We have more personal freedom, including the freedom to practice God's truth, than most nations of the world. We are still the most prosperous nation on earth. We are the most powerful nation on earth. God has worked things out in our history to make it thus. During the civil war, the nation was in danger of being split, but in the end we were united. God gave us the victory in World War II by intervening in many instances, I believe.

Yet the nation has been turning away from God in many ways.

It has been nearly 40 years since the Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade guaranteed that women would be able to have abortions, and since that time about 40 million or more unborn children have been aborted. Our public schools and secular colleges and universities are dominated by a godless, materialistic outlook that denies God's existence and creation, teaching that we came into existence through the random forces of evolution. Disrespect towards God and His name is a dominant characteristic of the entertainment of this country, the TV, movies, music, games, books, magazines, and websites Americans spend so much time with. Many people downplay the actual giving of thanks on Thanksgiving. They observe a day, but call it "Turkey Day" as if we are celebrating a turkey.

And the United States is beginning to lose its blessings.

We in the Church of God should not succumb to the attitude of unthankfulness around us. We have much to be thankful for.

Those of us who have jobs can give thanks for our jobs. Those of us who have families can be thankful for our families. Those of us who are able to attend Church of God services and enjoy fellowship can be thankful for those things. Those of us who are healthy can give thanks for our health.

We can all give thanks for the Bible and God's truth. We can thank God for opening our minds to understand His Word and His truth because so few people on the earth do. We can thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ so that we can have the opportunity to enter God's Kingdom and live in joy and peace with God and Christ forever. We can even give thanks to God during our trials because we know that God works all things for our good in the end (Romans 8:28, Romans 8:18).

Let us always have an attitude of thanksgiving towards God for the blessings He has given us and will give us.

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Members of COGWA Board Elected

James Malm in the Shining Light blog reports that the three new members of the Ministerial Board of Directors of Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGWA) who were elected to fill recent vacancies are David Baker, Arnold Hampton and Larry Salyer.

Here is a link to the post:


Here is a link to a page in the COGWA site that gives a summary of the offices and leaders who hold office currently in COGWA:

Friday, November 4, 2011

COGWA Announcements

Church of God, a Worldwide Association has published a November 3 letter from Jim Franks in their website. There is not much news in it - I am waiting for an announcement of the results of the last election to fill vacancies on the Ministerial Board of Directors (MBOD).

Joel Meeker is the new chairman of the MBOD. He was a member of the board before, so he was not in the recent election.

The highest attendance for any holy day this year was 5,002 in the United States only. The estimate for total attendance at the Feast including an estimate of those who listened to the webcasts over the Internet is 5,300 in the United States and 9,500 worldwide.

The total of all holy day offerings in the United States this year is about $2,300,000.

Here is a link to the announcement:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

The First 500 Trillion Years

The Bible teaches us about the Millennium and the White Throne Judgment. God tells us that our life in the Kingdom of God will be eternal and the Kingdom will last forever (Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:31-33). God also describes for us the New Jerusalem that God will dwell in on the earth (Revelation 21:1-4).

The Bible doesn't give us much information about what we will be doing in the eternity that follows. We know it will be joyous (Psalm 16:11).

It is as if God gives us descriptions of the Millennium, the White Throne Judgment period, and the New Jerusalem as an example of the kind of happiness and accomplishment we will enjoy for eternity.

God has allowed scientists in our time to discover many things about the universe. Scientists make mistakes, and some of the things they teach are wrong, but one thing I think they are right about is the vastness of the physical universe. The universe is much greater than is needed simply to provide the view we have of the sky with the sun, moon, and stars visible to our eyes. At most we can see a few thousand stars with our naked eyes. But there is much more than that.

The stars we see are suns, similar to our sun, very far away, and each can have planets orbiting around them, some perhaps similar in size and composition to our earth. Most of the stars we see are in the Milky Way galaxy as we are, and there are many galaxies. Scientists estimate there are perhaps about 100-200 billion stars in our galaxy and there are perhaps 100-200 billion galaxies in the known universe.

I want to speculate a little about what the Family of God might be doing after the White Throne Judgment.

Eternity is a difficult concept for the human mind to grasp, so I have chosen to consider only a tiny slice of time, a mere fraction of a second compared to eternity, a small period of time that our limited human minds can more easily grasp. Thus the title of this post, "The First 500 Trillion Years". That is easier to understand than infinity.

God is creator, and He is the author of life and beauty. The life that exists on earth in all its variety is testimony to that. It is likely that God will lead His Family to create life on other planets in this vast universe.

Christ may begin by teaching us in detail about the chemistry of life, the DNA code, and how to design and create new forms of life, giving us knowledge far beyond anything scientists presently know. Then perhaps we will start with the planets and moons in this solar system. Mars would need a richer atmosphere and might need to be closer to the sun. Venus has too much atmosphere and the wrong kind and may need to be farther from the sun. The gas giants have moons that may be able to be modified to support life. Christ may organize us into teams to work with these planets, creating life, and managing the ecology.

Once we have done that with the solar system, we may go out to do the same with all the solar systems in the galaxy, and after that, the same for all the galaxies.

There are enough stars in our galaxy for each one with multiple planets filled with life to be ruled and managed by one person born into God's family in the Millennium or White Throne Judgment. And after this, there are enough galaxies for each son of God to rule and manage an entire galaxy. God will see to it that we have the powers of mind and Spirit to fulfill our responsibilities. Our minds and our powers will be vastly increased beyond what we have today.

Those in the Church today, the first fruits, those in the first resurrection, will have the priviledge of dwelling in the New Jerusalem, the headquarters of the universe, with Christ Himself (Revelation 3:12-13, 21). He will share His joy with us (Matthew 25:21-23).

And through all this, the greatest joy will be the happy and loving fellowship and unity we enjoy with God the Father, Jesus Christ, all the saints, all those made sons of God and added to His family in the Millennium and White Throne Judgment, and all God's holy angels.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Last Great Day Shows God's Mercy and Justice

Satan the devil deceives the whole world during this 6,000 year age of man (Revelation 12:9). A meaning of "devil" is "slanderer" or "false accuser". He is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). But he also accuses and slanders God. He does that by deceiving men with false religion into believing that God is unloving and unjust.

Most mainstream churches teach that to be saved, one must accept Jesus Christ in this life, and that this age is the only opportunity men will have for salvation. Yet the they know that throughout history, hundreds of millions of people never had the opportunity, due to time and chance and circumstances of birth over which they had no control, to accept Christ at any time in their lives, even to the time of their death. Yet according to the theology of this world, they are now condemned, never having been "saved" before they died.

Moreover, much of this same theology teaches that all men have immortal souls, and that those who are unsaved at the time of their death will suffer eternal torment in hellfire.

Talk about a monstrous idea!

But this is Satan's slander against God. He falsely accuses God of being cruel, by torturing men forever in hellfire, and unjust, by condemning those who have never had an opportunity to be saved. He also accuses God of weakness or incompetence, because he accuses Him of being powerless to bring salvation to all mankind.

So through much of this world's religion, Satan falsely accuses God of cruelty, injustice, or weakness, or a combination of these.

Mainstream churches never directly accuse God of these things. They will tell you that God is loving, just, fair, kind, all powerful, all wise, and all good. But those are words they say. They cannot believe those things deep down and still believe the traditional doctrines of their church about the soul, about hell, and about this being the only time of salvation.

The meaning of the Last Great Day shows that Satan's accusations against God are false, and the fulfillment of that day will clear God's name and glorify His reputation.

Ezekiel 37 describes the fulfillment of the Last Great Day. Everyone who has ever lived and never had a chance for salvation will be resurrected back to physical life. At that time, salvation will be open to all, and that includes those among men who have believed Satan's lies. They will find out that God is more loving, more just, wiser, and more powerful than they ever thought before. Those people will rejoice, and God's name will be glorified. People will be able to be re-united with their loved ones, and everyone will have a chance for salvation. I believe most people will choose God's way and enter God's Kingdom.

What a day that will be!

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Millennium Prepares for the White Throne Judgment

The Last Great Day represents the great White Throne Judgment, a time when most of mankind that has lived and died during the six thousand year age of man is resurrected back to physical life. Those in that resurrection will have their first opportunity to learn the truth without Satan around to deceive them. They can then choose to accept God's way of life and gift of eternal life or to reject it.

But this post is not about the Last Great Day. It is about the Millennium.

The general resurrection is described in Ezekiel chapter 37. "Again He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.' " ' So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord God: 'come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.' " ' So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:4-10).

How many people have lived and died in the earth since mankind began? There are about six or seven billion people alive today. Perhaps there will be 20 or 30 billion or more in that resurrection.

Think about their physical needs!

What will they wear? What will they eat? Where will they live? How will they find homes? All the physical possessions they had in their former life will be gone. Will they have to start from scratch, living in poverty and squalor until they can build up farms for themselves? I don't think so.

God could miraculously provide everything. But it seems that God uses His servants including physical human beings to do what we can to do His work.

Isn't it likely that preparing for these people will be a job for mankind in the Millennium?

Clothing will have to be produced. Food will have to be saved and stored. Housing will have to be built. There are many things that will have to be done to prepare for the arrival of 20 billion or more human beings who will have nothing and will need everything.

There will be a lot of work during the Millennium to prepare for the White Throne Judgment period. But this work will actually be good for mankind in the Millennium.

God's way of life is the give way, the way of love and service towards others, and we learn by doing. Just as the Church learns to put into practice the law of love by working to bring the gospel message and the Ezekiel warning to the world now, so people in the Millennium will have the opportunity to practice the way of love by working to prepare to provide the necessities of life to those who come up in the general resurrection that follows.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unity in the Bride of Christ

One blessing of the Kingdom of God during the millennium and for eternity that I think we can well appreciate in this time of the scattered condition of much of the Church of God is the unity that will exist in the resurrected Church, the wife of Jesus Christ.

We, the members of the true Church of God, when resurrected will marry Christ. The Church of God is to be the bride of Christ. We, who are many, will collectively be that bride. Yet Christ will have ONE wife, not many wives (Revelation 19:7). How is that possible? We will be so united in purpose and love towards each other and so much of one mind to serve Christ that from God's point of view, we will be one, not many. That will certainly be true to a greater extent than now, but not only that, it will be true to a greater extent than has ever been true in the Church, whether under Mr. Armstrong's leadership or anyone else. That is because, for the first time, we will be perfect, without sin, righteous, not subject to the carnal pulls of the flesh, not subject to Satan's temptations. God cannot be tempted, and as full-born sons of God, we will not be tempted either (James 1:13).

Never again will we be divided. Never again will any of us give in to impulses of selfish ambition or disregard for others. We will love each other as we love ourselves. Never again will any of us sin by disbelieving what God says. There will be no heresy, no disagreements over doctrine, no divisions at all. Everyone will be perfectly fit and able to do the job and fulfill the office assigned to him or her with perfect love, wisdom, and competence. We will all be eager and willing to help any of us with advice, counsel, and cooperation. Those over us in authority will love us and we will love those under our authority. We will not lie to each other. We will be like God and Christ because we will be God's children and Christ's bothers and sisters. We will no longer have human nature, which is Satan's nature.

But we must be learning that way of life and that character now.

Jesus Christ wants one wife, not many wives quarreling with each other. Perhaps that is why He placed so much emphasis on love and unity in the Church now. He commands us to love one another (John 13:34-35, 15:12-17). He prayed for our unity not only with each other but with God (John 17:20-23).

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:17-18). These are good verses to especially keep in mind in our dealings with each other during the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a good time to practice them, and then remember the lesson during the year that follows.

It is that love and unity and fellowship that will help make our eternal lives joyous (Psalm 133:1-3).

We should strive for that love and unity now. But in the Kingdom of God, we will have that love and unity in its fullness for eternity. That is something we can look forward to.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

The Days of Unleavened Bread - Repentance, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

The Millennium Will Be a Time of Joy for God Too

When we picture the millennium, we think of the happiness and joy that all humanity on earth will experience at that time. We also think of the happiness we as the spirit-born Sons of God and first fruits will experience being in the Kingdom of God.

But God the Father and Jesus Christ will also experience joy during that time.

How long has God the Father and Christ been planning to expand God's family? How long has God been planning to reproduce Himself? For thousands of years, certainly. For millions of years? For billions of years? Probably. For Eternity? Possibly.

And now, in the near future, it is finally about to happen!

For the first time in the history of the universe, the Family of God will expand to include more than just the Father and the Word who became Christ. The first stage of God's plan and purpose for mankind will have been accomplished. The first fruits will have been born by a resurrection from the dead or instantaneous change from mortal to immortal at the return of Christ. Tens of thousands of the Father's children will have been born (1 Corinthians 15:50-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Romans 8:29, Revelation 14:1-5).

And Christ will enjoy the first one thousand years with His new wife in a marriage that will last for eternity. For the first time, Christ will have a bride that is like Him, compatible with Him, glorified as He is glorified, righteous, trustworthy, and faithful (1 John 3:1-2). There will be no divorce from that marriage. There will be no marriage problems. It will be a perfect marriage. It will be a gloriously happy marriage for eternity, and Christ will know it absolutely, and we will know it too. The resurrected Church will be that wife (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-32, Revelation 19:6-8).

Christ will for the first time in thousands of years be able to see Abraham again, and Isaac, and Jacob, Noah, Moses, David, and also the apostle He loved, John, as well as all the prophets and saints who have lived in the last 6,000 years, both those we know about and those we never heard of, and including all of us who make it into the Kingdom. Christ will be able to see all of us together. And He will give us our jobs and assignments and direct us in our work. He will have the pleasure of rewarding us and sharing His joy with us in a fuller measure than He ever could while we were mortal in this physical life (Matthew 25:20-23).

What a glorious time that will be for God, for Christ, and for all the saints.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Millennium

Wednesday night at sunset begins the seven-day festival, "The Feast of Tabernacles", which pictures the Kingdom of God ruling over the earth during the millennium. The millennium is the period of time for one thousand years when Christ and the resurrected saints rule the earth (Revelation 20:1-9).

But the millennium is not the Kingdom of God. The millennium is a period of time lasting one thousand years. The Kingdom of God will go on forever.

The Kingdom of God is the government of God that will rule over the earth during the millennium, and it is also the family of God, or "God Family". Flesh and blood human beings living on the earth into the millennium will not be IN the Kingdom of God while human during the millennium, but they will be RULED BY the Kingdom of God, with justice and love. And they will have the opportunity to hear the true gospel, to believe the gospel, to repent, and to eventually enter into the Kingdom of God also. Salvation will finally be open to all.

The Kingdom of God will include Jesus Christ and all the resurrected saints made immortal and made full Sons of God. As part of God's family, we will live forever in power and glory and joy. With Christ we will rule the universe. The millennium is just the beginning.

God does not give many details of what projects we will be working on in the vast universe for millions, billions, or trillions of years into the future. But there is a great deal of information about what we will be doing in the millennium. We will be kings and priests helping Christ rule the nations on this earth (Revelation 1:5-6, 2:26-27, 3:21). And the Bible is full of information about what life will be like during the millennium, and much of this information will be related and expounded upon by God's ministers in Church of God Feast sites all over the world during the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.

It will be a period of great happiness, peace, prosperity, and justice.

God commands us to gather to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and to rejoice. We are to spend the second tithe we have saved for a year to enjoy food and fellowship that will help us to have a small foretaste of the prosperity and happiness that will exist all over the earth during the millennium (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).

There are really two aspects of the joy that the Feast of Tabernacles helps us understand.

One, there will be the happiness that will exist on the earth among mortal human beings when the nations are taught to obey all of God's laws. Satan will be put away and people will learn the truth about God's way of life that results in happiness. The Kingdom of God will teach mankind God's law and enforce peace and justice.

But also, we ourselves who will be IN the Kingdom of God and part of that Kingdom will experience a joy we can only partially imagine now. We will share in the power, glory, and joy that Jesus Christ experiences now (Matthew 25:20-23). We will live forever with no fear of death. We will finally be free of human nature and temptations to sin. And we can look forward to ever increasing accomplishments working with the whole vast universe that Christ presently rules. And this will go on forever.

During the Feast we will have many opportunities to enjoy food, fellowship, service, and fun that we do not experience during the rest of the year. But we should not get so wrapped up in just the enjoyment of the moment that we forget what that enjoyment is supposed to represent. It represents the happiness we will enjoy in the Kingdom of God and it represents the happiness mankind will enjoy during the millennium when the Kingdom of God is ruling the earth.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Chapter 2

Friday, October 7, 2011

Atonement and Fasting

Like many of God's holy days, Atonement is rich in meaning, and it has more than one meaning. It represents the putting away of Satan so he can no longer deceive the nations (Leviticus 16:10, 20-26, 29-31, Revelation 20:1-3). It also, like Passover, represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins (Leviticus 16:7-9, 15-19).

There is an important lesson in the Day of Atonement about overcoming Satan and his influences. There is a connection made between fasting and overcoming Satan.

The Day of Atonement, the day that represents the putting away of Satan, is the only day God commands us to fast on. Fasting is an effective tool for overcoming the temptations and wrong influences that Satan uses to attack us and try to destroy us spiritually.

When Jesus went into the wilderness to face the greatest temptations that Satan could throw at Him, He fasted for forty days (Matthew 4:1-2, Luke 4:1-2). Though He was physically weakened by that ordeal, He was close to His Father in heaven. He was able to resist all of Satan's temptations.

When Jesus's disciples tried to cast out a particularly resistant demon and could not, Jesus said that this kind of demon can only be cast out through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:17-29).

The lesson in all this seems to be that prayer and fasting are valuable tools for overcoming Satan, temptation, and sin. For as long as I have been in the Church, and I am sure before that, the Church of God has taught fasting as a valuable tool for drawing closer to God, and the Bible confirms this. Perhaps God has given us Atonement so we can experience fasting as an encouragement to fast regularly throughout the year as a tool for drawing closer to God and overcoming sin.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Day of Atonement - the Putting Away of Satan, Chapter 2

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Meaning of the Day of Trumpets

We in the true Church are called to an understanding of the Bible and the true gospel that mainstream Christianity does not have. Perhaps less than one person out of 100,000 on the face of the earth has the knowledge God has given us. That knowledge carries with it a responsibility, and we will be judged by God on how we handle that responsibility. "And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:47-48).

We have to overcome and do God's will in our lives if we are to stand in the judgment.

We have the privilege of understanding the holy days. Not all even in the Church of God have that knowledge. Most in Church of God Seventh Day do not have that knowledge. Some mainstream Christians understand that the holy days have meaning, but they think they can understand that meaning without keeping the days. But God gives understanding to those who fear and obey him (Psalm 111:10). The commands to observe the holy days are in force for the true Church today (Leviticus 23:1-44, Matthew 5:17-19).

The Day of Trumpets represents several things. It represents God's direct intervention in this world to bring judgment upon the world for its sins. The next major event in God's plan is the great tribulation which comes primarily upon Israel as punishment for her sins, and we in the Church of God know that "Israel" includes the United States (the tribe of Manasseh) and Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (the tribe of Ephraim). See Genesis 48:12-20. We do not know the exact date of the tribulation, but we know that it starts shortly before the return of Christ, which happens at the close of this age. We are nearing about 6,000 years of man's history, which will be followed by the 1,000 year millennial rule of Christ just as the seventh day Sabbath of rest follows the six workdays of the week (Revelation 20:1-6, 2 Peter 3:8, Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 5:5).

After the tribulation comes the heavenly signs (Matthew 24:29), then after the heavenly signs comes the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31). During the Day of the Lord are the seven trumpets, each signaling a disaster or series of disasters that strikes mankind (Revelation 6:12, 17, 9:1-21, 15:1). At the seventh trumpet Christ returns, and the saints, those in the true Church of God who overcome and endure to the end, will be resurrected, immortal, into God's kingdom to rule the earth with Jesus Christ (Revelation 11:15, 20:4-6, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

This is the time we look forward to, and this should motivate us to strive to overcome and do God's will to the end. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8). "if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:11-14).

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

Yet this world with its materialism and its traditional religions is deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). Many, especially in the industrialized countries, believe there is no God, that this universe just exists by itself, and that there is no true hope of life after death. Many religious people believe man has an immortal soul that goes on to paradise or to punishment at death. But this Day of Trumpets teaches us that there must be a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:16-19). The soul is mortal, and when we die we are unconscious, as asleep. But at the resurrection, God brings us back to life.

The events pictured by the Day of Trumpets are ahead of us, the next holy day to be fulfilled in God's plan for the salvation of mankind. When the fulfillment of that day comes, it will be too late for any Church members who have not prepared themselves and made themselves ready. We do not have an unlimited time.

Let us make the best of the time we have now to prepare ourselves so we can stand in that day without fear.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Day of Trumpets - the Second Coming of Christ, Chapter 2

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Appointments in COGWA

In a September 15 member letter on the website of the Church of God a Worldwide Association (COGWA) Jim Franks announced several appointments to leadership positions.

The Ministerial Board of Directors (MBOD) approved Doug Horchak as operation manager for Ministerial Services and Clyde Kilough as operation manager for Media. Both of these men are members of the board, so they will have to resign from the MBOD to accept these positions. With Mr. Franks also having to resign from the board, this will create three vacancies out of the seven positions on the board. These will be filled by an election with all elders eligible to vote. The election will take place from September 19 through October 3. COGWA ministers will be receiving instructions.

The list of men who will be on the ballot was not announced in the member letter, but if I understand the governing documents correctly, the number of men on the ballot will be twice the number of positions to be selected by vote, so since three men are to be elected, there will be six men on the ballot. Those men will be the ministers who received the most votes in the last election to the board who were not elected to the board. In the last election, 7 men out of 14 candidates were selected, leaving 7 men who did not win election to the board. The six out of those seven who received the greatest number of votes will be on the ballot for election to fill the three vacancies.

The seven men on the last ballot who were not elected to the board are David Baker, Arnold Hampton, Mike Hanisko, Leslie McCullough, David Register, Larry Salyer, and Lyle Welty, so six of these men will be on the ballot, the one with the fewest votes not being on the ballot.

The board also approved the five members of the Doctrine Committee: John Foster, Bruce Gore, Don Henson, David Johnson, and Ralph Levy.

Members of the Moral and Ethics Assessment Committee (MEAC) are yet to be appointed, and Mr. Franks said that will probably not happen until after the Feast.

He also said that he expects the headquarters office to have a staff of about 8 to 12 people. Clyde Kilough, Dave Evans, Dave Johnson, and Jason Lovelady are members of a task force to study options for a headquarters location and are expected to present their recommendation to Mr. Franks within the next couple of months.

Below is a link to the letter:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Will United Church of God Liberalize Doctrine? - How to Prepare

Is United Church of God getting ready to liberalize doctrine? Some believe that is happening. Some believe that a desire on the part of the current leaders of UCG to liberalize doctrine, to water down the truths of the Bible and of the Church of God, has been an important cause of the split. According to this view, now that the current leaders of UCG have strengthened their power, they will move to change doctrine, to move in the direction of traditional, mainstream Christianity as Mr. Tkach did in Worldwide, slowly and gradually perhaps, but in that direction nevertheless.

I personally do not know if this is true. It might be. There have been clues and hints, but so far no smoking gun that I can identify to prove the case. So this is a hard question for me to answer definitively. And I do not advocate any member of UCG leaving that fellowship just because of rumors that they may change doctrine in the future.

But I can answer how to prepare. If you are a member or attendee of UCG and you want to be protected from wrong doctrines, I think I know how you can prepare. The steps you should take are good steps to take even if doctrinal change does not take place, and they will help you see through any errors if change does take place.

If change comes, there will be a great effort to make the changes appear right. Many scriptures will be used to support the changes. That is how it was in Worldwide. There will be some truth and maybe some error mixed in. One point of truth that is likely to be included is the truth that we are to grow in grace and knowledge and be willing to be corrected by the Bible and learn new knowledge from the Bible. And that is a true and valid principle. UCG teachers may say that members should not be afraid of changes in doctrine if those changes are right and needed, and that is true. They may say that changes should not be rejected just because they are changes and sound different but that we should examine what the Bible says on the subject with an open mind, a mind willing to admit error and be corrected.

Nevertheless, the actual changes themselves might not be right.

So how can a member know? And how can a member be protected from deception in such a case?

This applies not just to members of UCG but all of us Church of God members wherever we may fellowship.

We have to know our Bibles. We have draw close to God in an attitude of meekness, humbleness, and willingness to believe God and the Bible more than man. And we have to put in the time to really study the Bible in an attitude of belief, to prove for ourselves what we believe and what we have been taught. This takes time. It takes time away from TV and entertainment. It is a sacrifice we must make if we want to be on solid ground. This kind of study can't be improvised suddenly at the last minute when you have to make a decision.

Prayer, meditation, and fasting can also help one draw closer to God.

Then if changes come, we will have the overall background in Bible knowledge, not based just on Church of God literature, but based on our own study of the Bible, and we will have the attitude and habit, built up over many months or years, of proving what God says and believing Him. With that attitude and background, we can examine any proposed change in doctrine in the Bible itself, and the Bible, which is God speaking, will tell us if the change in doctrine is true or false.

We have to apply the principles of Bible study that God Himself teaches through the scriptures:

"Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

" 'Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him' " (Isaiah 51:1-2).

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' " (Romans 4:3).

"And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' " (James 2:23).

"...just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' " (Galatians 3:6).

"And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).

" 'For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the LORD. 'But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word' " (Isaiah 66:2).

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-16).

"And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19).

"You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:19-22).

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).

Notice that Jesus Christ said that faith is a weightier matter of the law. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23). Faith is more than believing God exists (James 2:19). It means believing what God says. And that is a matter of law, as this passage shows. It is a violation of God's law, one of the three weightier matters of the law, to disbelieve what God says, and therefore since sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), to disbelieve God is sin. Notice that those who do not believe God will not be in the kingdom of God: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

It is a serious matter to refuse to believe the Bible in matters of doctrine. If I understand these scriptures correctly, you could lose your salvation if you disbelieve what God says. We all make mistakes, I do not say any of us will lose salvation because of sincere mistakes. But we better have an attitude that trusts God and His word to be true and is willing to believe God more than man.

There is one more point about being protected from deception, and I make this point in my book Preaching the Gospel. If we want to have God's help to have spiritual discernment so we are not deceived, we better be careful that we do not ourselves deceive others in anything. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). Don't lie to anyone. In any situation, speak the truth or keep silent, but don't lie. If we lie and deceive others, God may let us become the victims of deception, letting us reap the consequences of what we sow. If you study the life of Jacob, you will see that after Jacob lied to his father to obtain a blessing, God let Jacob suffer many things because of how others lied to him. See Genesis 27:1-35, 29:18-25, 31:7, and 37:31-35. God let Jacob learn the hard way the consequences of lying. There may be a lesson in that.

Something to think about.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Our Attitude and Approach Towards God's Word, Chapter 1

How to Understand the Bible, Chapter 1

Focusing on the Bible, Chapter 5

The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6

Faith, Chapter 6

How Could Trained and Experienced Ministers Be Deceived?, Chapter 5

Friday, September 2, 2011

Jim Franks is President of COGWA

The COGWA Ministerial Board of Directors has named Jim Franks as president, David Johnson as secretary, and Jason Lovelady as treasurer of COGWA. Here is a link to the announcement from COGWA:

Mr. Franks is a member of the board, and so will have to resign from the board before he takes office as president.

Of all the positions in COGWA, the most powerful is the presidency. The entire board is more powerful in the long run, but no one man of the seven men on the board is as powerful as the president. It is fitting that the most powerful position be filled by one who is judged as most competent and qualified, and since the ministers in electing the seven members of the board presumably voted for those they felt were the most competent and qualified, it is not surprising that the president would be one of the seven board members.

Clyde Kilough, Dave Johnson, Dave Evans, and Jason Lovelady have been named to a task force to research a permanent headquarters location and advise the president.

What still needs to be done is to name five members each of two committees (Doctrine Committee and Moral and Ethics Assessment Committee) and to name operation managers for departments such as ministerial services and media (preaching the gospel). Also, the vacancy on the board that will be created when Mr. Franks resigns to accept the presidency will have to be filled. The board can still operate with six members, but some decisions must be made by a vote of 5 ballots of all board members, so it may be important that the vacancy be filled relatively soon.

Qualifications for membership on the two committees include the requirement of 20 years of service as a minister, and for the Moral and Ethics Committee include the requirements that members be at least 60 years old and not members of the board. Members are nominated by the president and approved by at least five members of the board.

Operations managers are nominated by the president and approved by a simple majority of the board.

The vacancy on the board left when Mr. Franks resigns to become president will be filled by an election by the ministry. There will be two men on the ballot. As I understand it, those two men will be those two who received the most votes in the last election among those who were nominated but were not elected to the board.

To fill all these positions will take a few weeks, so it is understandable if this process goes to around the time of the beginning of the Feast. I would think that Mr. Franks will move quickly to nominate important operation managers and these can be approved by a simple majority vote of the board, which would require four board members voting to approve. Since at least four board members besides Mr. Franks approved his selection as president, it is likely those same board members will approve his recommendations for director of ministerial services, media director, etc. So I think these matters, which may be the most critical for the effective administration of COGWA, will be taken care of quickly.

The requirement that many decisions require approval by five out of seven members of the board will not be a major problem organizationally as long as there is general unity among the ministers in COGWA. Right now, that unity seems to exist. There is an apparent spirit of cooperation. This may be partly because of the recent trial these ministers have gone through together coming out of UCG, as well as a sincere desire on the part of many ministers to behave like Christians. A shared trial can create emotional bonds. But in the long term, if that spirit of unity and cooperation does not continue, it can be a problem. There can be deadlocks.

Suppose that four years from now when new members of the board are elected there is division among those on the new board. Suppose they are divided 4 on one side and 3 on the other on some important issues. How would they appoint a president when his present term expires, either re-electing Mr. Franks or electing a new man? Someone would have to compromise. If the division becomes as sharp as it was in UCG before the split, there could be a deadlock. Probably that won't happen for a long time, but it is a possibility.

But for right now, COGWA seems to be moving ahead with its organization. I expect the next announcements will be about the nomination and approval of the major operation managers or about the election to fill the vacancy on the board left when Mr. Franks resigns to assume the presidency.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Listing of Church of God Blogs Now with Sortable Columns

I have updated the Church of God Blogs website with sortable columns. You can now group together all blogs listed affiliated with a particular Church of God fellowship, or all blogs by a particular author, or all blogs that accept comments, etc.

Currently I list about 24 blogs including two that are inactive but I list so that viewers can browse past posts. I hope to continue to expand the list as I discover more COG blogs. I do not list anti-COG blogs or blogs generally hostile to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, although some blogs may disagree with a few of his teachings. I list each blog name, URL link, the owner or author, which Church of God fellowship the writer is affiliated with (when I know it), whether the blog accepts comments or not, and whether or not the blog is a good source of Church of God news.

I provide this site so that Church of God members can read and exchange views with members and ministers in their blogs in the spirit of "iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17) and so that members can find sources of news about the Churches of God as well as uplifting messages from bloggers in their own fellowship and in others.

There is a handy link to this site in the sidebar of this blog to the right.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

COGWA Election Results

Seven men out of 14 nominated candidates have been selected for Ministerial Board of Directors of Church of God, a Worldwide Association by the balloting of the ministers (including unpaid local elders) of COGWA. Here are the men selected:

Jim Franks
Douglas Horchak
Clyde Kilough
Joel Meeker
Richard Pinelli
Richard Thompson
Leon Walker

The announcement dated August 17 was made in the COGWA website.

The next step includes selection by the board of a president. There will be other positions that will need to be filled in the administration, and members of a doctrine committee and an ethics committee will have to be selected.

The president cannot be a member of the board at the same time as he is president. But the board can choose one of their own members as president and that man then resigns from the board to accept the position of president.

My guess is that either Mr. Franks or Mr. Kilough will be named president, but this is just speculation.

Here is a link to the announcement:

Victor Kubik has announced that UCG has appointed three new regional pastors. They are Vern Hargrove, Ken Martin, and Steve Nutzman. Link:

More to come...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Could I Be Wrong About Governance? - Why I Believe Top-down Governance Is Better than Using Balloting

Just for the record, I do not accuse any individual on either side of this controversy of deliberate idolatry in the way he understands the scriptures, and I hope no one accuses me of that. In the past, I have said that UCG as an organization seems to be making an idol out of their commitment to using balloting to select leaders, not because I think they are mistaken in their views, but because they seemed to be so committed to their governance system that they seemed to be unwilling to even consider changing it. But I usually try to avoid accusing particular individuals of anything more than making a mistake because I cannot know any man's heart as God knows the heart.

Anyone can make a mistake in understanding of the scriptures, and only God can judge a particular individual for his attitude, views, and teachings because only God knows the heart. We make a mistake when we become too harsh towards each other for our differences. I would not want God to be harsh with me when I make mistakes, so I try not to be harsh with others. There is a way to debate controversial issues honestly and with respect, and I try to have a right balance in that.

Could I be wrong about governance? Of course I could. I am human. Perhaps I misunderstood the Bible about something. But I want to strive the best I can to understand the scriptures and believe what I read.

If someone is to show me I am wrong, it will have to be through the Bible, through logic, or through historical information I can check up on or know about. God can also put me through experiences through circumstances that will teach me lessons and make me think about things with a fresh perspective. And God can use us to correct each other and teach each other, and I am always aware that God may show me something through correction from others, so when someone disagrees with me, I try to follow their logic and compare it to mine to see if I might be wrong.

But that is not just true about governance. It is true for any doctrine, the Sabbath, the holy days, the nature of God - you name it. My commitment is not to these doctrines, but to the Word of God itself. I only believe the doctrines of the Church as long as I see that the Bible teaches them, but if someone showed me something in the Bible I did not see before, my commitment to God to believe what He says requires me to compare it with everything else in the Bible with an open mind and believe what God says, even if it means I have to change my doctrinal beliefs. No one has shown me from the Bible that I am wrong about the Sabbath or any other major doctrine so far.

Over time, God will correct our mistakes to the degree we are willing to believe what He says, but sometimes that correction and our learning takes time and we should be patient with each other. None of us knows everything perfectly yet, so we should still be willing to learn new things, even from each other. "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17). See also 1 Corinthians 13:9-13, 2 Peter 3:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Acts 17:11, and Proverbs 11:14.

The reasons I believe top-down governance is what the Church of God should have rather than using balloting to choose leaders is that I see many examples of God using top-down governance in the Bible, but no examples of God setting up a system of balloting, and the Bible seems to teach us that we should learn from the examples in the Bible and not just commandments. Also, I see the fruits of Mr. Armstrong's top-down governance, and it seems to be better and greater fruit than anything produced by a group governed by a system of balloting. I think the fruits of his leadership are good, in spite of his mistakes and shortcomings, because none of us would be here if it was not for the work God did through him. I might be persuaded that I am wrong about governance, but I don't know how anyone can do so except to show me from the Bible that a) we are to learn only by the commands of God, not His examples, or b) the examples of the Bible endorse balloting as much as top-down structure in God's government. Show me one of both of these, and I will reconsider my position. Or show me from the Bible some other way. But personal insults will not persuade me much, nor would I expect them to persuade those who disagree with me.


Michael Hanisko has reported on COGWA finances in his COGWA – Beloit blog. Steve McNeely, a COGWA accountant, reported that June income was over $800,000, and income for the year so far is about $3,880,000. He also reports that COGWA has a reserve in the bank of about $1,430,000 and that just under $400,000 of that is reserved for preaching the gospel.

Here is a link to that post:

More to come...

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Government in the Church, Chapter 5

Following the Bible -- Pattern of Government, Chapter 6

Church Government, Chapter 7

How Is the Church Organized?, Chapter 7