Greetings from Charlotte,
As the two-week Living Youth Program Texas Teen Camp nears its conclusion, other camps are just gearing up. Texas Preteen Camp will begin on July 24, and a Teen Camp in Belgium on July 28. The Missouri and West Virginia Preteen Camps will both be conducted the following week. Also, we have a new congregation in Equatorial Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of West Africa—our first congregation in that country. In the Headquarters office this week, the Television Department put the final touches on the 2023 Feast of Tabernacles “Behind the Work” film, focusing on the Work in the Asia-Pacific region. Hosted by Regional Director Rob Tyler, it is an inspiring look into the Work being done in this expansive part of the world, and a personal glimpse of the brethren around the region. Please also note the re-running of an important note about “Pre-engagement Counseling” in this week’s World Ahead. Your continued prayers for God’s people all over the world would be much appreciated.—Rod McNair
Tomorrow’s World Presentations
Last weekend we held two follow-up presentations in Waterville, Maine; and Tilton, New Hampshire; which had five and one repeat guests respectively. This weekend there will be four initial presentations: in Pensacola, Florida; Gulf Shores, Alabama; and Prince Albert and Yorkton in Saskatchewan, Canada. Thank you for your continued prayers and support for the Tomorrow’s World presentations.
Mr. Dayrell Tanner, former pastor of the congregation in Brisbane, Australia, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer that has also spread to his bones. Besides serving in Australia, Mr. Tanner has also worked with congregations in the Philippines for a number of years. Your prayers will be appreciated for Mr. Tanner and his family.
Why Get Pre-engagement Counseling?
If you are dating seriously but not yet engaged and publicly committed to marriage, this is for you. Your pastor is here to help you, as a couple, discern God’s will as you consider making a covenant with each other before God. If you are not yet ready to go to your pastor as a couple, you may wish to speak with him individually about your relationship and ask for his advice on how to proceed. The purpose here is to give you tools you need, early in the process, to make wise decisions and seek God’s direction at every step. If you would like more information or have any questions about pre-engagement counseling, contact your pastor.
The Church requests that all couples considering marriage seek pre-engagement counseling from the ministry before any formal engagement. While the Church has historically suggested premarital counseling for all couples considering marriage, it makes much more sense to seek pre-engagement counseling. The intended purpose of counseling has always been to help couples better determine if they are “right for each other” in God’s sight and to increase their opportunity for success in a potential marriage. Regrettably, in all too many cases, once a couple is engaged, their focus is no longer on evaluating their relationship and whether or not they are right for each other. When their main concern is planning the wedding, they are far less evaluative of their relationship. Counseling can become simply an afterthought. The Bible tells us that good counsel is critical for making good decisions (Proverbs 1:5; 11:14; 12:15). Marriage is one of the most important decisions of one’s life (second only to baptism). The ministry must never become a “blessing factory,” just putting the Church’s stamp of approval on a marriage no matter what. Rather, the ministry is here to help couples seeking marriage discern God’s will as they consider making a covenant with each other before God.
Pre-engagement counseling makes far more sense. The couple may be dating seriously, but they have not yet publicly committed to marriage in an engagement, and they are much more open to honestly evaluating themselves as potential marriage partners. This, in turn, gives much more opportunity for God to guide their decision-making. For more information, contact your pastor.
Feast of Tabernacles
U.S. Feast Speaking Schedules
The Feast of Tabernacles speaking schedules for the United States have all been sent out. If you have been assigned to give a message at the Feast, please submit your message title(s) to the Coordinator of your Feast site by September 8. He will submit them to Headquarters. Please be aware that the titles of the messages are due at Headquarters no later than September 8. The international speaking schedules are being sent out as they are finalized.
Feast Site Closed to Further Transfers
The Feast Site in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has been closed to further transfers. If you have any questions, please contact the Festival Site Coordinator, Mr. Ron Poole, at [email protected].
The Importance of Doctrine: The Apostle Paul commended Christians in Rome because they “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [teaching] which was delivered to you” (Romans 6:17, KJV). He urged Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine… for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). However, Paul warned repeatedly that “in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy” (1 Timothy 4:1–5). Paul also warned that as the end of the age approaches, one-time believers would “not endure sound doctrine” but would have “itching ears” and would follow misguided teachers—turning their ears away from the truth to follow fables (2 Timothy 4:1–4). In order to avoid being deceived, we must study the Scriptures carefully so we know what the Bible teaches about doctrine (see Acts 17:10–11) and can exercise discernment that comes from nourishing and using God’s Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6–7).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—July 20, 2023
Worshiping “Mother Earth”: According to The Guardian, a new Australian survey revealed that many young people on the island continent reject the idea that humans have the right to use nature for their own benefit (June 22, 2023). The survey identified how different generations view environmental issues. A majority of Baby Boomers, born in the decades immediately following World War II, believe humans take priority over other creatures, while nearly 80 percent of Gen Z—generally those in their teens and early twenties—feel human benefit does not outweigh concerns about the environment or the needs of other species.
Older generations were raised with a mindset that human beings should freely use the earth and its resources for their benefit. By itself, this is not a wrong concept, but it does require wisdom. Taken to the extreme and without foresight, this perspective can result in exploitation and degradation of the environment. In contrast, younger generations are more sensitive to the impact of human actions on nature. Again, by itself, this is not a bad thing—God commissioned Adam and Eve to be wise stewards and to “tend and keep” the environment around them (Genesis 2:15). However, younger generations today are deluged with all kinds of environmental propaganda. As the Guardian article mentions, many companies are “greenwashing,” making exaggerated or false marketing claims about their environmental activities or standards, to be seen as fitting the green agenda.
As discerning people understand, the truth is often somewhere between the extremes. God made the earth for the benefit of humans (Genesis 1:26–28), but not for mankind to destroy. As society moves away from the worship of God, it moves in the opposite direction—to the worship of false gods, including “Mother Earth.” The Apostle Paul observed mankind’s proclivity to exchange “the truth of God for the lie,” and to worship and serve “the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:18–26). Without God’s instructions, we lack balance on most issues. Man truly is the pinnacle of God’s creation and has priority over all other elements of that creation. And the earth can be used to benefit mankind, but that use should be in a way that preserves creation for future generations. Jesus Christ will bring such knowledge when He returns. To learn more about this exciting future, read “A Time of Restoring.”
Where Have All the Adults Gone? The rapidly changing morals across Western societies is disorienting. It seems as though leaders have lost any appreciation of history and the lessons to be gained from life. How has this happened? Why have younger generations gained so much political power and influence so quickly? A recent editorial by Janet Daley in the UK’s Telegraph put it this way: “Where—to put it bluntly—have all the grown-ups gone? Presumably they have abandoned their leadership because of the faux righteousness of the young usurpers. But ironically the justification for this repressive coup is the opposite of what it claims to be: it is not tolerant, or liberal, or kind.”
She continues concerning this “coup” of the young, “Because it has no standard for truth other than personal feelings, it is determined to accept every individual’s assessment of his own identity and capabilities.” The article’s author further observed, “We have entered a Dark Age in which objective fact, evidence, argument and tolerance have been banished by a cult which permits no dissent.”
The Bible records a time in ancient Israel when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), which is much like we see today. Regarding the end of our age, the prophet Isaiah warned, “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable” (Isaiah 3:4–5). Increasingly, young leaders today refuse to listen to the wisdom and experience of their elders. However, this upside-down situation will not continue forever, and Christ will restore honor and respect for age and experience when He returns (cf. Leviticus 19:32). To learn more about this biblical perspective, read or listen to The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater