August 19th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
We held a productive online Council of Elders meeting on Wednesday. I mentioned a few encouraging trends that came out of it on this week’s video update, including two new congregations in Mexico. At the same time, even during the Council meeting, we learned of the death of Mr. Arius Nusantara, our minister in Indonesia (see more details below).
This Sabbath, Mr. Jonathan McNair is scheduled to be in La Porte, Indiana, and Mr. Dan Hall is scheduled to be in Dothan, Alabama, for Tomorrow’s World Presentations in those two areas. See the announcement below regarding last week’s TWPs.
Our world is changing rapidly, and the disastrous manner in which United States troops were brought out of Afghanistan has serious ramifications as it has emboldened our enemies and shocked our allies, leaving them wondering whether the U.S. can ever be trusted again. Brethren, we may be further down the road to the fall of America and the British-descended peoples than we realize. I am certainly not trying to set a date and we know that the fall of nations is not always in a straight line, but anyone with eyes to see should recognized that this is not a time to get caught up with silly disputes on social media. God has called us to do a Work—let’s be about our Father’s business!—Gerald Weston
A powerful, 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti last Saturday morning. Dr. Wil Pierre, who oversees the French Caribbean, reported that no brethren have been injured or killed as a result of the quake, though some in our congregation in L’Asile have suffered material losses. Our ministry is working with our brethren to assess the damage. Services in Haiti were canceled last week because of the earthquake, but brethren are planning to meet together this Sabbath. While not nearly as devastating as the earthquake in 2010, this quake has nevertheless killed at least 2,000 Haitians. We pray for all those affected, as well as so many others suffering as we approach the end of the age. The upcoming Holy Days remind us to pray “Thy Kingdom come!” (Matthew 6:10).
Death of Mr. Arius Nusantara
We were saddened on Wednesday to hear of the death of Mr. Arius Nusantara from complications of COVID-19. Mr. Nusantara was ordained into the ministry in May 2007 and faithfully served the brethren in Indonesia for many years. He also was involved for a long time with the translation of Church literature and television programs into the Indonesian language, as well as serving many other functions. As Australasian Regional Director Rob Tyler noted, “His love for God, his love for his family, his love for the brethren, and his zeal for the Work in Indonesia have been and will continue to be an inspiration to us all. Arius accompanied Mr. Rajan Moses and me on many visits around the region, he visited Australia, and attended Ministerial Conferences in Charlotte. Arius also worked with our Thai brethren, assisting them in developing their English skills. Mr. Nusantara will be deeply missed by all!” Please join us in praying for Mrs. Erna Nusantara and their two children during this difficult time, which is made even more difficult by the fact that the family will not be able to see him or attend his funeral due to government restrictions. Please also be praying for all our members in Indonesia.
87 Guests at Tomorrow’s World Presentations in Des Moines, Iowa, and Plainview, New York
So far this year, the Living Church of God has conducted 44 Tomorrow’s World Presentations (including follow-up presentations) with about 553 guests attending in person or online. We are grateful to see the good responses these events are generating, with 28 new people now either attending Church services or showing strong interest in attending. Last weekend, TWPs in Des Moines, Iowa, and Plainview, New York, resulted in 53 guests and 34 guests, respectively. This weekend, TWPs are planned for La Porte, Indiana, and Dothan, Alabama, as well as follow-up events in several other locations. Your continued prayers for this dynamic program are appreciated!
Feast of Tabernacles Virtual Choir Deadline on Sunday
This year we are preparing for another Feast of the Tabernacles virtual choir. If you would like to participate, just go to https://www.lcgeducation.org/virtual-worldwide-chorus/. The sheet music and audio practice music are now available there, as well as all the instructions explaining how to record. The deadline for turning in recordings is this Sunday, August 22. We had a great response last year and we are hoping for even more voices this year! Participating is easy—just check out the website for information.—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Appropriate Dress for Feast Services
While Scripture teaches that God looks on the heart, dress and outward decorum are also important (Matthew 22:8–14). As we prepare to be “lights to the world” at the Feast, it’s good to review some basic principles for attire at Feast services. For men, in most modern cultures, coats, collared shirts, ties, and nice slacks are considered appropriate on special occasions. This may vary somewhat in tropical climates. For ladies, 1 Timothy 2:9–10 explains that dress should be “modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” Short, tight, form-fitting dresses, necklines flaunting cleavage, bare shoulders, backless dresses, belly-baring tops, etc., are not appropriate for Church services. We come to services to worship God, not to display our bodies. Our challenge as Christian men and women is to come out of this world (2 Corinthians 6:17) and be lights to a world that has lost its way (Matthew 5:14–16). This is especially true as we gather to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles—picturing Christ’s glorious reign on earth!
What About at the Beach?
Appropriate beach attire for women and men at the Feast of Tabernacles is swimwear that is modest and in good taste. We should be guided by the two great commandments—to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39; Mark 12:29–31)—so as not to offend God or neighbor in our dress at the Feast. Accordingly, following our Living Youth Programs policy, beachwear at the Feast for ladies should be a modest one-piece or a modest tankini (covering the mid-section), and for the men, no Speedo-type suits (unless pool facility rules require them, as is the case in some countries). Fathers and husbands have a responsibility to be leaders in their families to teach and guide regarding what is appropriate and what is not (Ezekiel 22:26).
Note Activity Registration/Payment Deadlines
Activity registration is now open and Living Church of God attendees and guests may sign up for activities at the Feast. Simply go to the members area of the lcg.org website, click on “MyLCG” at the bottom of the page, sign in, click on “Registration” on the right hand side of the page, and then click on “Activities Sign-up.” 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). Since many vendors need to know attendance counts a few weeks before the Feast, if you could sign up for the activities you wish to attend at your Feast site soon, that would be very helpful. Note payment deadlines for your specific site—if you have questions, contact your Festival Coordinator.
Opening Night and the First Holy Day—Repeat Announcement
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, the first day of the Feast. As last year, there will be a special pre-recorded welcome message from Mr. Weston during this service. Be sure to check your Feast website or ask your Festival Site Coordinator for the exact time of the Opening Night service at your Feast 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. Occasionally 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! 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 keep the Feast all the way to the end!
Tithe of the Festival Tithe—Repeat Announcement
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.
U.S. Deadline for Payments Before Feast
Please note that our last scheduled day to print checks will be Wednesday, September 15. After that date, we will not be able to print any checks again until Monday, October 4. Any invoices we receive before September 13th will be paid before the Festival break. Any invoices we receive after September 13 may not be able to be paid until October 4.
If you have any questions concerning specific invoices or payments, please contact Michelle Broussard in the Accounts Payable Department at 704-708-2234 or Rylyn Mooney at 704-708-2237. You can also email [email protected].
Transforming Faith: How has your faith transformed your life? The Apostle Paul urged Christians, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1–2). The word “transformed” comes from the Greek word metamorphoo, which means a complete and total change—as when a caterpillar undergoes a metamorphosis into a butterfly! Jesus told His audience they must repent (Greek word metanoeo), which means learning to think differently and turning with sorrow from a past course of action. As we study and meditate on the word of God and ask God to help us change, we will develop more of the mind of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5). As we make conscious decisions to think and talk and act as Jesus would—as we crucify the old self—Jesus will be able to live His life in us (Galatians 2:20). This is the transforming faith that enables us to come out of this world and be the lights that God is looking for in individuals who are called to be members of His family (Ephesians 5:8–10).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—August 19, 2021
Chesapeake Bay Water Contamination: Famed Chesapeake Bay is bordered by the American states of Maryland and Virginia. The bay is home to vast numbers of wildlife above and beneath the water. It provides seafood—including crabs and oysters—to millions of people and brings in revenues in excess of $600 million annually (The Guardian, August 11, 2021). This body of water is also flanked by more than a dozen U.S. military facilities that contaminate the groundwater feeding the Chesapeake.
“Groundwater on military bases along the Chesapeake Bay is contaminated with toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ at levels many times above the level some regulators say is safe for drinking, and they are probably ending up in blue crabs, oysters and other marine life that are consumed by humans.” Researchers believe these PFAS compounds—man-made substances that do not break down in the human body or in the environment and accumulate over time—come from firefighting foam used in military training exercises. Groundwater levels of PFAS chemicals around these bases are as much as two million times higher than allowable for drinking water in some states. The article reported that “The contamination presents an ‘extremely troubling’ health threat in the nation’s largest estuary.” Little is known about the dangers of consuming sea life contaminated with PFAS.
Water contamination in the Chesapeake reflects poor stewardship of the natural environment. In addition, consumption of shellfish such as crabs and oysters—sea life that God created to filter water and not to be eaten—is a risk factor that could be avoided if more people followed the biblical dietary laws outlined in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. For more information on this important topic, be sure to read our extensive free booklet Biblical Principles of Health.
Weather Extremes Go Global: A German author recently noted, “July and August 2021 have been marked by extreme weather conditions—from drought and fires in Southern Europe, Russia and North America to severe flooding in Western Europe, Africa and Asia” (Deutsche Welle, August 10, 2021). Flooding and drought are on the rise around the globe!
In Algeria, forest fires are burning villages and killing rescue workers (AP, August 10, 2021). In Greece, unprecedented fires and soaring temperatures have created “apocalyptic” conditions in and around Athens and ravaged several islands, forcing evacuations (The Guardian, August 7, 2021). Severe fires are burning in Siberia, California, Canada, northern Israel, and southern Lebanon. In the Andes in the Southern Hemisphere, winter snowpacks are extremely low (The Guardian, August 5, 2021), suggesting devastating fires should be expected this summer.
Droughts lead to low crop yields and reduced supplies of hay, forcing ranchers to cull herds and perhaps to look for supplemental income to offset their financial losses (AP, July 26, 2021). Warming rivers are resulting in massive fish die-offs (AP, July 27, 2021). Some of the world’s leading climate experts warn that the extremes of drought and flooding will continue if the planet continues to heat up (National Geographic, August 9, 2021).
The weather extremes we are now witnessing are prophesied to occur on an even greater scale as the end of the age approaches. God warned the ancient Israelites that if they turned away from Him and despised His laws, “your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust” (Deuteronomy 28:23–24). Bible prophecies also warn of rain and flooding in one city and drought in another (Amos 4:7). There is more to the extreme weather events we are witnessing than media reports suggest. For more insight about the future, be sure to read Acts of God: Why Natural Disasters?—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, and Chris Sookdeo