December 23rd, 2021
The last two years have been inconvenient for many and difficult for others. Some of us have lost family and/or friends due to the coronavirus. As I write this, we are seeing another variant sweeping around the world. If South Africa and elsewhere are examples, while extremely contagious, Omicron may not be nearly as dangerous as the recent Delta variant. Time will tell.
In addition, 2022 holds out the specter of major wars. Rumors and actions indicate the potential for conflicts between the Ukraine and Russia, Taiwan and China, and Iran and Israel. Whether shooting wars erupt in any, or all, of these areas remains to be seen, but any one of these could draw other countries into the fray and things could get very messy.
Immorality is spiraling downward and our Israelite nations, especially, have lost all sense of biblical morality. Our nations are becoming more like Sodom and Gomorrah and the time before the flood with each passing year. In the Church, we must understand that we are not insulated from the course of this world—as guided by the prince of the power of the air—just because we have been baptized (Ephesians 2:1–2). Acceptance of immorality, rising anger levels, divisions, and getting caught up in wild conspiracy theories do affect some of us—perhaps all of us more than we are willing to admit.
Everything, including morality, has become political, and it is difficult to separate the two. Yes, we ought to be against abortion, the LGBTQ movement, and other woke ideologies, but we must stay out of the politics of it all. Members of the Living Church of God must come out of this chaotic world and remain focused on our mission—to preach the good news of Christ’s coming Kingdom and to warn mankind, especially the Israelite nations, of why our world is in so much trouble and how it will only get worse unless we change direction (Matthew 24:14; Ezekiel 33:1–7).
Rand Millich, one of our Council members, passed along the question from a member who asked when the next Church-wide fast might be called. Those of us here in Charlotte agreed that it would be good to call for one, given the turmoil in our world. Therefore, I am calling for a Church-wide fast for the Sabbath of January 22, 2022. If you are new to the Church, calling for a special day of fasting and prayer is supported by biblical precedents (Esther 4:16; Ezra 8:21; Nehemiah 9:1; Acts 14:23).
Members often ask what the purpose is for a fast when the Church calls for one. The purpose of fasting is to draw near to God by humbling ourselves and confessing our sins (Psalm 35:13; Daniel 9:3–5). It will do us well to pray and meditate on what is happening around us and evaluate how much this world of confusion is affecting us personally. It is a time to step back and focus on the purpose of our calling and cast aside the distractions that so easily beset us. Paul admonishes us to be circumspect, to look around and be wise. Please read all of Ephesians 5:1–21 as it certainly applies to us.
Since this fast is not the set-in-stone date of Atonement, a few congregations or individuals may have to choose an alternate day near January 22. We have a few Tomorrow’s World Presentations already scheduled for that day and it would be appropriate for members in those areas to fast on a different day. There may be other extenuating circumstances for a few, but most of us will fast that day and I will plan to give a special livestreamed sermon that Sabbath. In the meantime, let us meditate on who we are and who we should be and pray for one another, as many are going through difficult trials.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston
As Mr. Weston mentioned in his opening remarks above, we will have a Church-wide fast on the Sabbath of January 22, 2022. There will be a live service (the entire Sabbath Service, including hymns, prayers, announcements, sermonette, and sermon) livestreamed from Charlotte on January 22. Pastors, please make arrangements for your congregations to view the streamed service from Charlotte, if at all possible. Streaming and translation information will be sent as we get closer to January 22. For congregations where the time difference makes this impractical, or for those needing Spanish or French translation, a recorded (and/or translated) version will be available at a later time.
Super Typhoon Rai (Odette)
Last week, super typhoon Rai (called Odette in the Philippines) ripped through southern and central Philippines, killing at least 375 people. As of this writing, 56 people are still missing. We are grateful to report no members of the Living Church of God are among the casualties, although some suffered material damage. LCG Elder Amancio Cuares, who resides in Manila but has family in southern Leyte, where the storm hit hard, was himself caught in the storm, and describes the harrowing experience: “Myrna and I were caught in the storm. We were able to experience what a super typhoon and storm surge is really like and without God’s supernatural intervention and protection, in a twinkling of an eye we would have died. The medium-size window-type aircon unit was thrown down to my bed in spite of the steel bracket. It seems I was inspired to quickly stand and leave the bed. Had I not responded, my head would have been hit by that very heavy aircon. My brother and his wife have been greatly affected by the storm surge. The two sea walls to protect their cottage were totally washed out and the strong waves broke the main door and penetrated the house. With God’s help they were able to escape and went to the higher mountainous area. Our family and relatives in Calian were able to survive as well and no injury. The town of Liloan and surrounding barangays became ghost places with most of the small buildings with light materials totally washed out and carried by the sea water. Power, water supply and communications, banking, and any form of money remittance is totally destroyed and could be restored probably by three or four months.”
Australasian Regional Director Rob Tyler reports that the Church is in the process of giving basic assistance (including rice, canned food, water, candles, etc.) to six LCG families that suffered damage as a result of the storm, particularly in Southern Leyte. One member had her roof and ceiling totally destroyed, and her house is no longer habitable. Other homes of brethren totally collapsed. But, as Mr. Cuares noted, “We can really witness God’s protection to those who are serious of their calling.”
Your prayers for our brethren affected by the storm would be greatly appreciated.
2021 TWPs: The Year in Review
2021 has been a productive and exciting year for Tomorrow’s World Presentations. Here are some notable statistics from the past year:
- 2021 overall presentations theme: “The Signs of Christ’s Return”
- 72,926 invitations for 74 live events, resulting in 749 guests
- 31 new attendees in LCG congregations (plus 12 interested, not yet attending)
- Three of the TWPs were held outside of the United States, in Tauranga, New Zealand
- TWPs in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; and Auckland, New Zealand, were canceled due to tightened COVID restrictions
Tomorrow’s World Presentations have produced growth in LCG congregations, even indirectly. Here are a few comments from pastors who conducted TWPs this year:
- “It is worth noting that the TWP has also, indirectly, brought along at least another six new people who didn’t attend the TWPs, but who are various friends of some of the people who did attend the TWPs in person.”
- “I have spoken to at least two more that have asked for Feast of Trumpets and Sabbath schedule.”
- “Not connected to the (online) TWP, we have 11 new people who have begun attending in the area.”
We are extremely grateful to all our ministers and brethren who worked hard to make it possible for about 750 guests to see live Tomorrow’s World Presentations in 2021. And, we wish to welcome our new brethren who are now attending LCG congregations for the first time, as a result of these campaigns! Please pray for God’s blessing on the new lineup of TWPs in 2022.
Living Education–Charlotte is now accepting applications for the 2022–23 school year. Why would a young person want to invest nine months in intensive training, learning how to apply God’s word to life? The answer is simple. This generation of young adults faces a cocktail of toxic philosophies and ideas that erode their confidence in God. While we may hope that our sons and daughters will soak up the messages that we are teaching them, our instruction is not all they are absorbing. Our children will not learn to love and defend God’s Way by the process of osmosis—sitting in Church and hanging out with friends at Church activities. If they are to become the leaders for the next chapter in the history of the Church of God, they will need to commit to dig into God’s word and passionately apply His mind to real, adult life. Living Education–Charlotte is a workshop where this happens. If you’d like to learn more about the program, the requirements, and scholarship opportunities, go to lcgeducation.org.—Jonathan McNair
Year-End Donations (U.S. only)—Repeat Announcement
Please be reminded that all U.S. contributions dated in December and postmarked on or before Friday, December 31, will be counted as a donation for 2021 and may be tax deductible in 2021, even if we receive them in January 2022. For those who donate online, the deadline for online contributions is 11:59 p.m. on December 31. Keep in mind that December 31 is a Friday this year, and sundown times will vary depending on your location.
Also note that if you plan on taking a tax deduction for contributions, your tax return should not be filed until you receive your year-end receipt for donations. This donation receipt is one of the tax documents the Internal Revenue Service requires you to keep as backup to claim this deduction. We plan to issue year-end donation receipts on or about January 20, 2022.
As we close the calendar year for 2021, we want to extend a hearty thank you to all our members and co-workers for your generous financial support, and for your prayers for every aspect of the Work. The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, but collectively we are able to accomplish much through God’s blessing. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance in everything that we do at Headquarters and in the local congregations around the world as we begin 2022.
Be Thankful for the Truth! As much of the world celebrates the year-end holidays that originated in ancient pagan practices, it is a good time to reflect on the unique privilege that God has granted to those He is calling (John 6:44, 65). Jesus said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Few today realize how Satan has deceived the world (Revelation 12:9), or that God is only calling a few to understand His Truth and His Plan about the coming Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:26–29). That understanding is a very special gift that is being offered to those God has chosen to work with now (Matthew 13:11–17). Let’s never take that calling lightly. Let’s grow so that we can be more effective instruments in God’s hands—and let’s be thankful for that Truth.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—December 23, 2021
Science Fiction Coming to Life: Russia recently tested a hypersonic missile that travels at nine times the speed of sound, and China has recently tested one, as well. Defending against a hypersonic missile attack could include building a faster missile to shoot it down, or building a laser, which travels at the speed of light. Since the 1950s, science fiction stories have depicted lasers and other “beam” weapons being used to attack others or to defend against enemies. And, as science advances, many once-fictional technologies are becoming a reality.
The U.S. Navy has now tested what some call a “game changer”—a laser weapon mounted on a naval vessel (The Telegraph, December 15, 2021). The weapon worked successfully against both a flying drone and a floating target. The navy sees this weapon being used against “small boats, UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and potentially in the future for countering ASCMs [anti-ship cruise missiles] and ASBMs [anti-ship ballistic missiles].”
Solid-state lasers mounted to ships are surely just the tip of the iceberg in “futuristic” military technology, with many other technologies still under development or not yet revealed to the public. Such advanced technologies are often developed as defensive tools but can easily be used offensively. The Bible prophesies powerful military capabilities that will be deployed at the end of the age. The prophets of the Bible appear to have seen in vision various military technologies and weapons that were beyond their comprehension, resulting in their use of symbolic language to capture the sense of what they witnessed (e.g., in Revelation 16). Yet God’s word is clear concerning the awesome destructive power of these devices in the hands of vast armies. Thankfully, the Bible also makes clear that these technologies will not destroy all mankind. If you want to learn more about the future of military technology and its aftermath, be sure to read or listen to Armageddon and Beyond.
Orphans Without Love: According to a recent report, 5.4 million children live in “institutions that cannot meet their needs and [that] neglect their rights.” These orphanages are well known for exploiting and harming these innocent children (The Guardian, December 14, 2021). This well-documented report reviewed evidence from 84 organizations in 45 nations and highlighted how orphanages are using children to make money—through forced begging, prostitution, and entertaining potential foreign donors. Children are also sold or rented out to work for businesses like cocoa farms and gold mines. Some children are even purchased from disadvantaged families and sold to donors at a profit.
In some orphanages, as many as 80 percent of the “orphans” are not truly orphaned, their family status forged by orphanage operators. While the overall number of orphaned children in many nations has declined in recent decades, the number in orphanages has drastically increased. In Uganda, for example, the number of children in orphanages has increased 55-fold since the late 1990s. And in Cambodia, the number of residential-care orphanages has increased by 75 percent in the last ten years.
The Bible warns that, as the end of the age approaches, an increasing number of people will be “unloving” and will also be “lovers of money” (2 Timothy 3:1–4). It is heart-wrenching to watch how children, innocent and wholly dependent on the adults they trust, are increasingly seen as a commodity—a mere product—by unscrupulous and ungodly people. Followers of Jesus Christ should be motivated to pray fervently for God’s Kingdom to come! The reign of Christ will be a time when children can play safely in the streets, watched over by loving parents and grandparents (Zechariah 8:4–5). The future is not without hope—even for children! To learn more, watch “Hope for the Future.”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater