August 12th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
First of all, I want to thank all of you for your prayers, cards of encouragement, and concern for Carol and me after we contracted COVID-19. Please be assured that we are feeling much better and are getting back to our normal routines. Many others have fully recovered or are on the mend, for which we are ever so grateful to our Creator, who is the only true Healer. Mr. Rob Tyler mentioned in an email I received this morning that Mr. Arius Nusantara, our minister in Indonesia, has come down with COVID-19 and is receiving oxygen. Please remember him in your prayers, along with a family that I mention in the video update for this week. Many prayers have been and continue to be offered up for all who have fallen ill. Thank you, dear brethren, for your love, your faith, and your concern for one another.
Brethren around the world are facing pressures to be vaccinated. The Church does not give medical advice; we do address moral decisions such as abortion or assisted suicide. While some strongly believe that they should not be vaccinated, others have chosen to do so. Whether or not to be vaccinated has implications for attending the Feast (some venues are now requiring it), for one’s job (some companies are requiring it), and potentially whether one can fly. Crossing national and provincial borders may also be a problem. Brethren, the Church is not going to tell you to be vaccinated, or not to be vaccinated. That is a personal decision that must be weighed carefully by each one of us. The Church will continue to serve all members within the constraints placed upon us by the many properties that we rent for services and the Feasts. Please pray and even fast about these matters as the Feast draws near. Paul fasted often, and we too must fast at times other than Atonement. Have a wonderful Sabbath.—Gerald Weston
Eleven young adults arrived in Charlotte last week to begin their nine-month educational journey with Living Education. Orientation week began with a trip to the mountains of North Carolina, where they spent a day at the Blowing Rock Conference Center learning about the traditions and expectations of the program. The next day was spent in “extreme fellowship” as they navigated the whitewater on the Watauga River, with water temperatures hovering between 40 and 50 degrees! For the latter part of orientation week, our department managers introduced themselves and their staff to the students, familiarizing them with the part that each department plays in Headquarters operations. Messages challenging them to make the most of their experience and providing practical advice as to how to fulfill that challenge made up the balance of the week. Dr. Douglas Winnail, Mr. Richard Ames, and Mr. Gerald Weston spoke to the students to conclude the orientation program.—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Opening Night and the First Holy Day
This year, the Opening Night service will take place on Monday evening, September 20. We should all make every effort to arrive at our Feast site in plenty of time to attend this opening service at the beginning of the Holy Day, which is the first day of the Feast. As last year, there will also be a special pre-recorded welcome message from Mr. Weston during this service. Be sure to check your Feast website or ask your Feast Site Coordinator for the exact time of the Opening Night service at your Festival site.
The first day of the Feast, a Holy Day, is Tuesday, September 21, and the Last Great Day, also a Holy Day, is Tuesday, September 28. Sometimes some brethren plan to leave on the Last Great Day before the afternoon service. Please consider—the entire Last Great Day is a Holy Day! And a special pre-recorded message from Mr. Weston will be played on the afternoon of the Last Great Day. Everyone is encouraged to plan and make every effort to attend the Feast all the way to the end!
Activity Registration Is Now Open!
Good news! Activity registration is open and Living Church of God attendees and guests may now sign up for activities at the Feast. How? Simply go to the members area of the lcg.org website, click on “Feast of Tabernacles” at the bottom of the page, and follow the links. You will also find information on payments for activities. To pay for activities, please read and follow carefully the instructions provided by your Festival Site Coordinator (and, of course, never send cash in the mail).
Speakers at the Feast of Tabernacles: Deadline Approaching
Reminder to speakers at the Feast of Tabernacles: The deadline to send the title of your message(s) to your Festival Site Coordinator is Tuesday, August 31. If you have not already done so, please send that information soon.
Tithe of the Festival Tithe
For many decades, the Church of God has practiced what is called the “tithe of the Festival tithe.” What this means is that brethren who can afford it are asked to send a tenth of their Festival tithe to the Church in advance of the Feast, to help pay for meeting halls and other Feast expenses, as well as to help brethren around the world with limited resources to attend the Feast (Deuteronomy 14:27; 16:14). If you are able and you have not already done so, please send in your tithe of the Festival tithe for this year. This contribution is greatly appreciated.
Congregation Information for Atonement (9/16) or the Sabbath Before the Feast (9/18)
We are currently compiling information from the Area Pastors regarding which congregations will hold services on the Day of Atonement, September 16, and the Sabbath immediately before the Feast, September 18. This will be posted on the MyLCG website at the end of August. If you plan to be en route to the Feast on those days, you will be able to find cities and times of services, as well as contact information for further details.—Festival Office
The Value of Wisdom: We live in a materialistic world, where people strive to gain physical things: money, cars, homes, and fame. Yet, Solomon said that of all the things we can acquire in life, “wisdom is the principal thing” (Proverbs 4:7). Solomon wrote that gaining wisdom leads to happiness and a long and honorable life (Proverbs 3:13–16). We are told that as Jesus grew up, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). The Apostle Paul urged Christians to use wisdom in dealing with people (Colossians 4:5–6). The Bible reveals the key to gaining wisdom is to fear God and live by every word of God (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). We also need to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5–7) and seek wisdom by studying the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 4:1–10; 2 Timothy 3:15). It is also very helpful to listen to older and wiser people (Proverbs 10:1; 15:7; 22:17). If we follow this advice, we can grow to be more like Jesus Christ and the wise God whom we worship (Philippians 2:5; Romans 16:27).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—August 12, 2021
An EU Army—Round Two? The European Union began discussing an EU army in 1999 and set up combat-ready battle groups in 2007—however, the battle groups have not yet been used (Euractive, May 6, 2021). But these forces have not been forgotten: “Fourteen EU countries, including Germany and France, have proposed a rapid military response force that could intervene early in international crises.” Currently, “the bloc has a joint budget to develop weaponry together, is drawing up a military doctrine for 2022 and detailed its military weakness last year for the first time.”
The latest military proposal calls for “a brigade of 5,000 soldiers, possibly with ships and aircraft, to help democratic foreign governments needing urgent help.” Europe’s foreign policy head, Josep Borrell, has repeatedly stated, “the EU needs to learn the language of power.” The organization now has an official European Defense Fund and has recently launched its European Peace Facility, “a mechanism that will boost the bloc’s ability to provide training and equipment—including, for the first time, weapons—to non-European military forces around the world” (The Guardian, May 19, 2021).
End-time prophecy reveals that the coming "King of the north," a German-led European "beast" power, will have significant military might (Daniel 11:40) and will use this might to surround Jerusalem with armies (Luke 21:20–21). Students of Bible prophecy should watch for a military build-up by Europe and efforts to extend this military power beyond its borders! For more insights into this future European military force, read or listen to Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.
Disastrous Decline of Insects: According to Dr. Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex, the insect population of the globe has probably declined by some 75 percent in the last 50 years. The sobering significance of this precipitous decline of insects is that “our world will slowly grind to a halt, for it cannot function without them” (The Guardian, July 25, 2021). Dr. Goulson has written an informative account of the consequences of this decline in his book Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse.
Why is this decline so important? Insects are pollinators of flowers and important food crops. They play important roles in the food chain when they are consumed by fish, birds, bats, amphibians, and other animals. Insects also play vital roles in decomposing dead animals and vegetation, which is important for recycling nutrients in the environment. The widespread use of toxic pesticides and the destruction of natural habitats all contribute to this drastic decline.
What many do not realize today is that God gave mankind the responsibility to manage the earth and its resources, just as Adam was asked to “tend and keep” the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15; 1:28). However, as the precipitous decline of insects and other creatures tragically illustrates, the impact of human activities on the environment has been damaging and very costly. The prophet Hosea warned long ago that the result of human beings turning away from God would be that the “land will mourn” and that even the creatures of the world would suffer (Hosea 4:1–3). However, the Bible also reveals that there is hope ahead when the whole creation is restored in the coming Kingdom of God (Acts 3:19–21; Romans 8:19–22). Insects may be tiny creatures that many of us view as mere “bugs,” but they were created by God to play vital roles in the ecosystems of the earth. To learn more about what lies ahead for the planet and for mankind, be sure to read or listen to The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail, Rod McNair, and Francine Prater