January 12th, 2023
Greetings from Charlotte,
In this week's video update, I reported on Mr. and Mrs. Cristian Orrego's planned trip to Guatemala, Mexico City, Tijuana, and La Paz in Baja California Sur. I also mentioned several other items, including a new initiative to begin translations into the Italian language. We are beginning to gear up for summer camps in the Northern Hemisphere by conducting meetings, having staff get certifications, and encouraging campers and staff to apply early for planning purposes. This week, all air traffic in the United States was grounded for several hours, the first time since 9/11, when some kind of computer problem occurred. It will take several days to work through the logjam. There is a report below on storms affecting the brethren in California. Please remember them in your prayers. Brazil saw thousands of disgruntled citizens storm Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidential Palace last Sunday. This kind of thing is not historically new for South America, but it demonstrates that our world is no more civilized than in the past and is one of many signs that we live in an unstable world.—Gerald Weston
Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2023, the Passover Service will be observed on Tuesday evening, April 4. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays and/or wine trays or glasses) or a physical copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French, and Spanish). Passover Service recordings for 2023 were made by Mr. John Strain in English and by Mr. Kenneth Frank (translated by Mr. Yvon Brochu) in French. To ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs, we need this information before January 27 for international congregations and by March 17 for U.S. congregations.
Also, please let us know of any scattered members who are unable to keep the Passover with a congregation and who need to receive a physical copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions for observing it at home. International requests should be received before January 27 and U.S. requests before March 17. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible. These dates take into consideration the slowdown of mail service in some places.
Note: As has been the case the last couple of years, the Passover Service recording will also be available digitally to pastors and video recipients via the FTP site. A private YouTube link will also be provided ahead of time.
Past and Upcoming Tomorrow’s World Presentations
Last weekend, we held three Tomorrow’s World Presentations: two initial presentations in Anniston, Alabama; and Gainesville, Florida, and one online-only presentation in Canada. There were 45 in-person guests and 98 guest connections to the online presentation. This weekend, we have five events scheduled: three initial presentations in Warner Robins, Alabama; Columbus, Georgia; and St. Michael, Barbados; and two follow-up presentations in Anniston, Alabama; and Gainesville, Florida. Thank you all for your continued prayers for these presentations.
From Dr. Jeffrey Fall: Sunny, drought-stricken California has recently had a total weather reversal! “Cyclone bombs” coming from the repeating atmospheric rivers have aggressively wreaked havoc on most of the state. Flooding ensues, and cyclonic winds have snapped telephone poles, caused power outages, downed trees, and flooding from raging rivers or broken levees has necessitated evacuations. The U.S. president has declared California to be in a state of emergency.
To date, there has been no loss of life or major damage for the brethren. Most have encountered some power outages; several have had trees uprooted. For our part, we had a tall redwood tree in our backyard totally uproot and crash down just two feet away from the house. A widow was also blessed, since the tree narrowly missed her house and car! So, we can see that while God’s people may suffer somewhat with the conditions of the rest of the world, God is ever mindful of us! There is talk of yet more atmospheric rivers brewing on the Pacific, so we pray for protection for the brethren in California.
From Mr. Rodger Bardo: In Southern California, the latest atmospheric rivers or “bomb cyclones” have, in three weeks, brought more than half the rainfall that is normally received in a year. This has somewhat relieved drought conditions, but brethren have had to deal with severe wind-driven rain, mud slides, power and Internet outages, localized flooding, water damage, and even a fire. The good news is that all are safe, and we are thankful to God for His protection! More rain is expected this weekend and while we do need more rain to break the drought here in California, your prayers for protection are appreciated!
Living for Tomorrow – L4T Eagle Rock—Repeat Announcement
The first L4T of 2023 will be held at Camp Eagle Rock, located west of Branson, Missouri. This event will be held over President’s Day weekend, February 17–20, and will be for young adults ages 18–30. Camp Eagle Rock is a beautiful site to get together with other young adults for an uplifting Sabbath, enjoyable activities, and focused presentations. The activity will begin on Friday evening, February 17, with departure on Monday morning, February 20. Log on to MyLCG for a link to register for the event. Registration is now open, so plan to sign up and make that weekend a highlight of your winter!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
2023 Feast of Tabernacles Registration: Sunday, April 30—Repeat Announcement
General Feast of Tabernacles registration is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, April 30. The U.S. Feast sites and coordinators are listed as follows:
- Aguadilla, Puerto Rico – Raul Colon ([email protected]) 787-420-4543
- Arroyo Grande, California – Rodger Bardo ([email protected]) 602-910-1086
- Boerne, Texas – Gary Stein ([email protected]) 940-395-9984
- Branson, Missouri – Shannon Christal ([email protected]) 417-768-0367
- Fontana, Wisconsin – Bob Rodzaj ([email protected]) 262-321-8313
- Hilton Head Island, South Carolina – Alex Celan ([email protected]) 214-535-1711
- Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri – Richard Franz ([email protected]) 314-775-3192
- Natchez, Mississippi – Glen Harrison ([email protected]) 225-681-0222
- New Bern, North Carolina – Wyatt Ciesielka ([email protected]) 512-775-8368
- Newport, Oregon – Chet Carpenter ([email protected]) 406-599-4149
- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee – Ron Poole ([email protected]) 864-906-4985
- Poconos, Pennsylvania – Michael Aviles ([email protected]) 631-946-1141
- Rockport–Fulton, Texas – Jonathan Bueno ([email protected]) 361-331-1099
- St. Augustine, Florida – James Sweat ([email protected]) 423-653-8746
- St. George, Utah – Stephen Elliott ([email protected]) 480-553-1042
- Williamsburg, Virginia – Lenny Bower ([email protected]) 704-412-8511
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Teen Camp 2023 Registration Open
Registration for this year’s Living Youth Teen Camp in Athens, Texas, is now open, and we are accepting applications for campers, staff, and mini-campers. Youth aged 13 to 17 can register to attend as campers, and those aged 17 and 18 can apply to be members of our High School Staff. Staff registration is open for those 19 and older. The preteen children of staff members can be accepted as mini-campers. Staff will need to arrive on July 9, and camper arrival is July 11. The departure date at the end of camp is July 24.
For more information about the camps, fees, and to begin registration, please visit https://camp.livingyouth.org. We hope to see you all there! We strongly encourage people to register early for camp as it greatly helps us in planning for the camp, so don’t delay!
Mr. Phil West is putting together plans for another wonderful Texas Preteen Camp, which will immediately follow the Teen Camp. Those serving as staff at the Teen Camp may want to consider staying on campus the following week to serve at the Preteen Camp, and teens, also, may want to stay on to serve as staff at the Preteen Camp.
Registration for this year’s Preteen and Adventure Camps will begin at a future date.—Joshua Penman
The Lesson of Two Trees: The book of Genesis contains what many believe is a quaint little tale about two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from. Yet they made a fateful choice to ignore God’s instructions, and they reaped the consequences (see Genesis 2:15–17; 3:1–23). However, this is more than a quaint little story. The two trees picture two ways of life—of obeying God’s laws or turning away and rejecting His instructions. This important theme runs through the Scriptures. The covenant God made with Israel promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). David repeated this same message about blessings for the righteous and curses for the ungodly (Psalm 1). Jesus also focused on the need to choose between two different ways of life: a narrow way that leads to life and a broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13–14). We need to learn a vital lesson from these two trees so we can make wise decisions.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 12, 2023
Birds Can Make Us Happier: According to a recent study in Nature’s journal Scientific Reports, a “growing body of empirical evidence is revealing the benefits of nature for mental health, including higher mental wellbeing and lower risk of mental illness.” The study of over 1,200 people asked them to record their mental and emotional wellbeing in real time during and following exposure to birds, such as watching or hearing them. According to researchers, such exposure produced “time-lasting improvements in mental wellbeing,” meaning that the effects lasted even after the participants’ exposure to sights and sounds of birds ended. Even study participants diagnosed with depression experienced benefits.
The study was careful to rule out causes unrelated to the exposure to birds, and the findings echo the results of a previous 2022 study that illustrated exposure to bird songs may “alleviate anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants.” Researchers behind this new study suggest bird exposure could one day play a role in complementing current mental health treatments.
The God of the universe created the earth with mankind in mind, and upon creating the birds, He declared that “it was good” (Genesis 1:21). Certainly, birds are needed for pollination, transfer of seeds, keeping insect populations in check, and acting as a food source for other animals and humans. But God apparently designed them with other benefits to humans in mind, as well. In today’s society, with so many people living in large cities and “concrete jungles,” individuals come into contact with birds far less regularly than they once did—a fact of life that motivates the authors of the recent study to consider the possible benefit of policies to promote the growth of bird populations in urban areas.
Jesus Christ declares the coming of God’s Kingdom to this earth. The reign of that Kingdom will be a time of unprecedented peace for both humans and animals (Isaiah 11:6–9). It is likely that this coming utopia will involve more regular exposure to God’s creation, including wildlife and birds, bringing the positive impact on the mental health of humanity that He intended all along. To learn more about the benefits to mental wellbeing of exposure to nature, be sure to read or listen to Biblical Principles of Health.—Scott Winnail