29 December 2011
Warm Sabbath Greetings from Charlotte,
As we turn the page on another year, what a year it has been! Sweeping political upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, Germany taking the lead in demanding stricter fiscal union in Europe, and continued spiraling debt in the United States while political aspirants jostle to position themselves for the 2012 elections. Plus some of the wildest weather on record! Tighten your seat belts─2012 will not be the “end of the world,” but it is certainly shaping up to be another turbulent year as we hurtle towards the dramatic end of this age!
Meanwhile, it’s been busy in Charlotte as we hosted the annual Charlotte Family Weekend, with over 400 brethren in attendance (see announcement below). Dr. Meredith has completed another Tomorrow’s World article this week, as well as taping a new telecast entitled, “Which Christ Do YOU Worship?” Dr. Winnail and Mr. Hernandez were in Mexico City last Sabbath, with 108 in attendance at services and brethren from ten countries tuned in to the live transmission. They also attended the Guatemala Youth Camp and conducted a Spanish Ministerial Conference this week. Mr. and Mrs. Ames and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Meredith are heading for Missouri to attend the Kansas City Family Weekend. Budgets and other plans for 2012 are being worked on as we close out the final week of 2011. Thank you for your con tinued prayers for God’s people who are suffering from health trials, and for God’s Work that continues to go forward around this globe!—RMc
Charlotte Family Weekend
Beautiful, cool, December weather greeted visitors from all over North America to the 5th annual Charlotte Family Weekend. The weekend’s activities were kicked off on Friday, with a Marriage Seminar conducted by Messrs. Richard Ames, Scott Winnail, and Rod McNair. Mr. Bob League presented the Friday night Bible Study to 149 attendees. On the Sabbath, Dr. Roderick Meredith delivered a powerful sermon to over 400 brethren, and the special occasion was punctuated by the ordination of two deacons, Messrs. Louis Crespo and Mike DeSimone. The evening was topped off by a delicious banquet meal and dancing by young and old. The next day, over 200 brethren joined the sports activity, with open basketball and volleyball, a children’s basketball clinic, family games, and a silent auction of baked goods. A big thank you to everyone who participated in making this weekend a success!
Update from Guyana
Mr. and Mrs. Fitzroy Greeman recently made Church visits to brethren in Guyana and Barbados, where he serves as Area Pastor. Like many scattered groups in international areas, our small but steadfast group in Guyana has only occasional visits from a pastor—about once every other month. Here are some excerpts from his report on their trip to Guyana, December 16-20:
“On the Sabbath, we drove to the Oceanview Hotel for Services… There were 21 persons in attendance… After Services Mrs. Greeman distributed some used clothing. I then anointed two members for some health challenges they were having. I then held a Baptismal Counseling session with one prospective member… [On Monday, after visiting with a prospective member,] we left their home on the East Bank of the Demerara River, crossed that river and travelled about 10 miles along the west bank to a village called Hague where we met a prospective member and his wife. I held a Baptismal Counseling session with him before we were served some lunch. We then fellowshipped for a little while before we had to leave for our return trip to Georgetown.”
Mr. Greeman also mentioned in his report a number of former WCG members and others who were interested in meeting with him. We continue to pray that God will bring more of His scattered flock together with us to continue in the Work. Please also continue praying for Mr. Greeman’s health, as he is battling with a debilitating kidney condition.
Guidelines for Church Dances
As members are enjoying family weekends and activities that are now in full swing, we want to remind everyone of the policies and traditions that have been established for the Living Church of God Youth Camps and Church-sponsored dances. The guidelines below are based upon godly principles of love toward others, and are taken from previous postings in the weekly update (Sep. 28, 2000; Sep. 6, 2007; Sep. 10, 2009):
1. All music should be chosen carefully, with a conservative approach, and with the approval of the pastor or an individual to whom he specifically assigns this task.
2. No “free-style” dancing is permitted since this usually involves inappropriate music and promotes an attitude of abandoned inhibitions and showing off, thus focusing attention on the self rather than showing outgoing concern for others. Exceptions to this are some cultural, line, and novelty dances.
3. Music should not be so loud that those who prefer not to dance have a difficult time carrying on a conversation.
4. Lighting should be turned up enough so that the average person could read a book with ease.
5. Chaperones should stay for the entire dance. It is advisable to have a minister present for the entire function.
6. Small children at a family dance should be supervised and not allowed to run or engage in horseplay.
There are about 1.5 weeks remaining until the start of the next Living University semester. To date we have over 130 students registered for January 2012 classes, and registration is continuing. Because classes begin January 11, it is important that new students enroll in the University as soon as possible and register for classes, so text books can be ordered and received by the semester start date. Returning students also need to register soon and order text books as soon as possible. A complete listing of “Spring Semester” courses (spring in the northern hemisphere), can also be viewed on the Living University website under the link “2012 Spring Schedule.” To make application to Living University, to register for courses, and to find out more, please visit the www.livinguniv.com web site. For additional information or questions, please contact Ms. Michelle Bottella email@example.com, or 704-708-2294.
I recently read of a man with cerebral palsy who gave inspirational talks to groups about overcoming trials. This is part of what he said in one presentation:
“God is preparing me… I am in His oven, so to speak. I am being baked for an eternal purpose. I am not finished yet. When I… stand before Him, He is going to say, ‘Well done.’”
We all desire to be “well done,” too! Brethren, many of us are in the crucible of trials right now, and God is allowing the heat to be turned up. But it is for a purpose. The Apostle Peter referred to that when he spoke of the “fiery trials” that will come upon us. But beyond that, he also focused on the ultimate hope of the Kingdom, that “when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Let’s hang in there, support one another, do the Work, and stay focused on the goal He has laid out for all of us. Through His power, we can make it!
Have an encouraging Sabbath,
News and Prophecy—December 29, 2011
Baron zu Guttenberg Returns from Exile: EU Vice President Neelie Kroes invited Karl-Theodore zu Guttenberg to Brussels “to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes.” Baron zu Guttenberg acted as a former “Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, in Germany,” and was thought by many to be in the running to be the next German chancellor, prior to the revealing that he had plagiarized large portions of his doctoral dissertation (Europa.eu, December 12, 2011). He has been living in the U.S. for the last several months in a type of self-imposed exile, while working with a major political think tank. Baron zu Guttenberg’s relatively quiet return to Europe has not gone without notice. Some have accused hi m of attempting a political comeback─something the Baron has denied. However many believe that public opinion will be forgiving of his editorial misdeeds given the proper amount of time. This sentiment was reflected by the EU Vice President when she was pressed about zu Guttenberg’s checkered past: “Kroes insisted it was she who approached zu Guttenberg and not the other way around. ‘I am looking for talents, I am not looking for saints’” (Financial Times, December 12, 2011). Scripture does reveal that at the time of the end, a “strong man” will come onto the scene to lead Europe. This man will have the power and charisma to lead Europe in some amazing ways (see Daniel 9:27, 11:21-23; Revelation 13:1-10). Although we do not yet know the future role of zu Guttenberg, he is descended from royalty, he is highly educated and well connected, and he is ambitious. He is definitely one person to watch, as even members of the mainstrea m press recognize.
Floods and Earthquakes: Typhoon Washi swept through the Philippines two weeks ago. Flash flooding devastated a southern region and two cities, killing over 1,100 people. According to one official, “Mortuaries have been unable to cope and authorities have started digging mass graves to bury victims” (Reuters, December 20, 2011). Tens of thousands of displaced persons are crowded into evacuation facilities with sanitation problems and little water. Over 330,000 people are now unable to return to their homes (AFP, December 24, 2011). Meanwhile in New Zealand, Christchurch was hit by yet another series of earthquakes Friday afternoon, December 23. The first registered a 5.8 and the second a 5.9. Although the airport was closed for several hours and minor damage occurred, including liquefaction in some residential a reas, no wide-spread damage was done. However the earthquake did bring back powerful emotional reminders of the stronger and frightening quakes earlier this year (Bloomberg, December 25, 2011). Christ revealed that as the end of the age approaches, earthquakes will occur in “various places,” and the winds and seas will roar─resulting in the hearts of people becoming faint (Luke 21:25-26). We should expect to see increasing natural disasters as we draw closer to Christ’s return. For more information, review our booklet Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.
Falklands Issue Heats up in South America: Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay (a land-locked nation) have backed Argentina’s recent ban of boats carrying the Falkland flag from docking in their ports. Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner “claimed Britain was ready to use its military to steal natural resources ‘anywhere, anyhow.’” Britain has controlled the islands since the 1830’s and most residents want to remain under British rule. Britain has reacted strongly, with one former Royal Navy head calling for the nuclear submarine stationed in the South Atlantic to surface from time to time and “stick up its mast to deter aggression.” The Defense Ministry has “dusted off” and is revising 2010 defense plans for the Falklands. However, many expe rts feel force will not be needed. Not only is Argentina not seen as a formidable threat, there are likely other ways to avoid confrontation (Mail Online, December 26, 2011). World pressure for Britain to relinquish its control over the Falklands is increasing. God promised through Isaac’s wife Rebekah, thousands of years ago, that her descendants would “possess the gates of those who hate them” (Genesis 24:60). God’s Church has long understood that these gates include the powerful sea gates long held by the U.S. and Britain around the globe. Gibraltar and the Falklands alone remain─for the time being. As Britain continues to stray from God, these gates too will likely be removed!─Scott Winnail and Adrian Käfer
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