Greetings from Charlotte, 

This morning we had a very inspiring Headquarters staff meeting led by Mr. Roderick Meredith. Mr. Richard Ames started it by encouraging office employees to monitor their health; Mr. Rod McNair prepared the staff to be the “welcoming committee” for our brethren traveling to Charlotte for our Regional Family Weekend; Mr. Davy Crockett went over some business items; and Mr. Meredith concluded the meeting by exhorting us to work ever more zealously. He reminded us that we are working for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:5-9) and that we should be faithful to those over us and work heartily because “you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24).
The circulation of the Tomorrow’s World magazine has passed the 400,000-mark. The January-February 2009 print run will be 418,000. Now we are on our way to the half-a-million-subscribers milestone!
Dr. Douglas Winnail, our world-traveler, is currently on his way to the United Kingdom. Earlier this week, he wrote from Kenya: “After a brief delay in New York over a passport problem, I arrived (after a 14-hour flight) in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday and stayed with a local family.  On Saturday morning, Mr. and Mrs. Pieter van der Byl and I flew to Johannesburg and then conducted a combined Sabbath service in the capital city of Pretoria (attendance 66).  After services, I covered assignment three in the Advanced Leadership Training Program. On Sunday, more than 20 (elders, deacons, other leaders and their wives) attended an all-day conference on Leadership Principles and a discussion on doing the Work in South Africa.  On Monday, Mr. Christo Botha, Mr. van der Byl and I did some filming at the Voortrekker Monument and at the capital buildings in Pretoria, and then we had a nice visit with Mr. and Mrs. Syd Hull in Johannesburg.  This morning I will fly on to Nairobi, Kenya, for meetings with brethren.  Mr. and Mrs. van der Byl will fly back to Cape Town.  This has been a very encouraging visit to South Africa, where we are seeing definite growth.”
Living University
Spring 2009 Semester Registration
Registration for Living University spring semester classes is underway. At LU you can experience learning the way it was meant to be: enjoyable, meaningful, productive, fast and convenient. Classes begin on Wednesday, January 14. Now is the time to sign up.
Seven basic courses are scheduled: Christian Camp Leadership, Introduction to Biblical Doctrines, Christian Leadership, Acts and the Writings of Paul, Old Testament Survey II, History of Christianity II, and Archaeology of the New Testament. For specific information or to sign up for classes, visit the Living University website at www.livinguniv.com. All courses are planned to fit your schedule and are designed to meet the needs of working adults, as well as of traditional-age college students. The courses are not difficult, but they do require you to study and to complete homework designed to help you learn and remember. Through our Open Learning Program you may enroll in courses to help you grow in understanding of the Scriptures and to enhance your ability to effectively communicate God’s way of life to others.
Online Orientation is now available on the university’s website. To learn more of LU’s distance education programs, we suggest that you participate in this online orientation program. It should take you about 15 minutes. If you are a student, a person thinking about enrolling at LU, or one simply interested in learning more about the university, do not miss this online presentation. Visit the university website at www.livinguniv.com and select “Online Orientation.”
Finance Department
As we quickly move toward the end of the calendar year, we are wrapping up various items for 2008 and planning for 2009. Income through today (Thursday) is 0.4% above budget and 7.9% above last year at this time. This number can change, but we believe the trend to be good. We deeply appreciate the diligence and sacrifice of members, co-workers and donors who make this good report possible. The financial uncertainties being experienced in the USA and internationally may ultimately impact the Work, but at this point God has generously provided for our needs.
For those of you in the USA who do year-end tax planning, remember that all donations that we receive that are dated postmarked by December 31 or before will be included in your final contribution receipt for 2008.
On other matters, we are working on planning the Feast of Tabernacles 2009 with several contracts in place and others that should be finalized very soon. An announcement will be made when all the Festival sites are secured, but registration will begin after the Spring Holy Days.—Davy Crockett
Church Administration
Spanish Update
New Radio Station in South America: A new door opened last week for the Spanish Work in Argentina. We have started airing the radio program in Viedma, province of Rio Negro some 300 kilometers southeast of Bahia Blanca, on the radio station Jehová Jireh, 101.5 FM. It will air our program on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. As an offering to God, the station’s owner will give us one month free of charge!
Charlotte Regional Family Weekend
It’s only two weeks away!  Come enjoy a full weekend of fun family activities in North Carolina, hosted by your friendly Charlotte brethren!  If you are interested in learning more about the Regional Family Weekend in Charlotte from December 25-28, you may download a registration form at the Web address: www.cogl.org/media/CharlotteRegionalWeekendFlyer.pdf.  The downloadable registration form includes more information about the activities during the weekend, such as the Music and Games “Drop-In” Night (December 25), Games and Fellowship Day (December 26), Friday night Bible Studies (December 26), Sabbath Services and Etiquette Dinner and Dance (December 27), and Singles Brunch and Seminar (December 28).
Those planning to come need not pay for the activities now (we will collect the money at the door), but do need to register by Friday, December 19, to give us accurate counts. You may register by downloading and filling out the form, and then calling your information in to Dorothy McNair at the HQ Office. You can reach her at 704-844-1960, ext. 248. You can also fax your form to her at 704-844-1975 or send it by e-mail at dmcnair@lcg.org.
If you are staying at the University Hilton, you may obtain special rates at $69/night for Friday, December 26 and Saturday, December 27.  Just identify yourself as an LCG member when you call the hotel.  If you would like the special rate before or after those dates, contact Mr. Davy Crockett at dcrockett@lcg.org.  The University Hilton is located at 8629 J.M. Keynes Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262; phone 704-547-7444.
For more information about the Charlotte Regional Family Weekend, contact Rod McNair at rmcnair@lcg.org.
Kansas City Regional Family Weekend (repeat announcement with additional information)
The Kansas City congregation will be holding its annual Regional Family Weekend on December 27-28.  Among the activities on Saturday will be a Sabbath-morning Bible study, services, a covered-dish meal, and a family social including a dance, card tournament, children’s activities and plenty of opportunities for fellowship.  Additional information: Sunday will feature competitive and recreational volleyball, a basketball tournament, children’s activities and more opportunities for fellowship.  Please note: Those with bad backs or other similar injuries should not participate in the sports activities.  Due to the inherent risk of such activities, all participants must sign a Liability Waiver.  Those under 18 will need a parent or legal guardian’s signature before they can participate. 
If you are planning to attend, please register soon on the website www.lcgkc.org (not an official Church website).  Once there, click on “Announcements” at the bottom of the page, then on “Event Announcements,” then on “Kansas City Regional Family Weekend.”  Visit the website for information on accommodations, location, times of events, sign-up forms, payment and more. 
Because of the costs involved with this weekend and getting a newer, larger facility, participants should pre-pay for the event.  The cost will be $5 per person and $25 maximum per family.  For payment method information, again, visit the website www.lcgkc.org. If you have any other questions concerning the weekend, please contact Michael Keesee at 816-847-5635 or e-mail him at mkeesee@cerner.com. We look forward to hosting you once again for this fun family weekend!
Little Rock Family Weekend
Mr. Rick Stafford, Arkansas Area Pastor, reports on the success of the recent annual fellowship weekend in Little Rock held on December 5-7:  “Friday evening I gave a Bible Study on the ‘25 Biblical Stress Relievers’ following up on my recent sermon on ‘Overcoming Spiritual Stress.’ We had an attendance of 130 for services on the Sabbath… I baptized three new members (two from Memphis and one from Little Rock).  This was followed by a chili feed feast and fellowship until the dance began…. On Sunday, hardy souls meet at Pinnacle Peak Park for a hot dog feed and outdoor games, including hiking 1,100 feet up the nearby Pinnacle. Members provided housing for many of the guests and Little Rock provided all of the meals and activities at no cost to any member. This was a highlight social and the spirit of the Little Rock brethren was very warm, positive and enthusiastically friendly.”
Risk Management
Sports Are Special Activities
Attention Area Pastors: The Church is routinely insured for “church” activities (worship services, church dances, dinners, picnics, potlucks, fun shows, family campouts, etc.)—typically considered “low-risk.”  However, not being a sports organization, the Church is not routinely insured for sports activities (baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, etc.)—such are excluded.  Our standard insurer may cover an informal “pickup” game of basketball that is incidental to a main activity, such as a picnic, but not an organized game or tournament—that sort of thing is specifically excluded.  
Since these higher-risk sport activities fall outside the Church’s standard insurance, a Special Event Activity Request Form must be completed and submitted to this office—ideally well in advance (45 days) of any announcement of the activity.  We can then attempt to place insurance coverage for these higher risk activities under our separate Special Event policy (which requires advance approval for each such “event”).  A copy of the Special Event Activity Request Form is available to all LCG ministers via their MyLCG accounts in the “Legal Forms” section.  
The Special Event Activity Request Form is “fillable” on-screen and may be submitted electronically by pressing the “Submit” button, which then connects to the sender’s email software to send it to us. The form may be printed and faxed to 704-844-1976.
After processing the form and submitting it to the insurance underwriter, either Michelle or I will let the person who submitted the form know whether we were able to get a sports activity insured or not.  If we are able to do so, then all participants (and their parents, if a minor) in the sport activity will need to sign the liability waiver (included with the form), which is required in order for coverage to apply.  (Actual sports organizations routinely require liability waivers of all participants).
Notes on the form: the “venue” would be the premises where the sporting activities are being held.  “Name of the activity” would be whatever you will label it for your announcement.  Please list all the activities that will occur, so the insurance underwriter can get a sense of the entire event.
If you or those assisting you have any questions, or need assistance with the form, etc., please let Michelle Matherly or me know.  Email: risk@lcg.org. Phone: (704) 844-1970.—Tom Turner
Do we really grasp the meaning of true repentance? We know, of course, what sin is (1 John 3:4). But, at times, we make compromises with true repentance. For instance, when Judas realized that he had betrayed his Master, he repented by hanging himself. That was not tantamount to repentance. Likewise with Simon Magus, who was never truly converted. After believing and being baptized, he offered money to buy God’s Holy Spirit. His attitude was totally carnal, sinful and selfish. When the Apostle Peter ordered him to repent and to ask for God’s forgiveness, Simon said, “Pray to the Lord for me” (Acts 8:24). This is far from being true repentance. Of course, there is nothing wrong with asking others to pray for us, so long as we do our own part. Compare the attitudes of Judas and Simon Magus with that of the Apostle Peter. After Jesus Christ’s arrest, Peter denied Him three times, pretending, lying and even swearing not to know Him. Prior to His arrest, Jesus had warned Peter and the other disciples that they would abandon Him. Yet, Peter assured Him that he would never do so. Was Peter’s sin tantamount to being unpardonable? No, because after realizing what he had done, he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). The adverb “bitterly” says it all. True repentance involves a total change, a turn to the other way. True repentance is a genuine and heartfelt determination never to repeat our sins, never to blame others for our shortcomings, and never to lack gratitude toward God and His blessings. When we have such an attitude and when we follow Christ’s example of humility (Philippians 2:5-11), we can be sure of being on the right track to true repentance.
Have a wonderful Sabbath,
Dibar Apartian
News and Prophecy—December 11, 2008
Culture Clash Coming in Europe. “Europe is heading towards a major cultural clash with an ever-growing Muslim population that does not want to adopt European culture, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said Monday… [Mr. Halevy continued] More and more we see that Muslims [living in Europe] are not interested in adapting to the local European culture but seek to live by their own way of life within the European framework.” Mr. Halevy added that by 2050, the nations in Europe as well as Russia could be 50% Muslim. And because of Muslims’ refusal to integrate, they will impact society and politics in a major way (Jerusalem Post, December 1, 2008). Daniel 11 describes a struggle between the kings of the North and South, which Muslim immigration may impact. Additionally, God warned the Israelite-descended nations (many of whom exist as European nations) that, because of their disobedience, “those who hate you shall reign over you” (Leviticus 26:17). God also warned that “the alien who is among you will rise higher and higher…” (Deuteronomy 28:43). Interestingly, Britain is now considering allowing certain aspects of Islamic law, in place of British law, for Muslim immigrants (Jerusalem Post, December 1, 2008). 
Earthquakes in Diverse Places. Five low-magnitude earthquakes (2.2-2.7) struck central Arkansas during the month of November. Although earthquakes are not new to north-east Arkansas, there is no history of earthquakes in the central region of the state. According to the Director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, “It is abnormal. It is significant… We need to carefully watch this activity.” Because there are no “known” fault lines in this area of the state, there were no seismometers in the area to measure the quakes—preventing detailed analysis of the seismic information. Scientists believe that the quakes could possibly be related to geothermal activity from the near-by hot springs—if this is the case, the threat of future earthquake activity could be low. However, these quakes could also be related to a yet-to-be-discovered fault line (which the pattern of the quakes appears to indicate)—if this is the case, a major future quake could be possible (Associated Press, November 28, 2008). Last weekend, central California also experienced four earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 3.0-4.1 (m.news10.net, December 1, 2008). Christ warned that “earthquakes in diverse places” would be one definite sign of the end of the age (Luke 21:11). These recent Arkansas tremblers are very minimal and may mean nothing. Time will tell. However, in the greater landscape of Bible prophecy, they add to a host of worldwide earthquake activity that indicates the last days are definitely approaching.
Flooding in Venice. Venice, Italy, flooded last week with over five feet (1.5 meters) of water. A combination of heavy rains, quick snow melt in the mountains, and an unusually high tide resulted in the devastating flood. Venice is actually considering raising its historical buildings by one meter in order to reduce future flood damage. Venice is no stranger to flooding; however, this is the worst flooding in more than 20 years (AFP, December 1, 2008). Earlier this year, in June 2008, catastrophic flooding also occurred in the central U.S., India, and China. Although the Bible does not directly predict “flooding in Italy,” Christ did predict “fearful sights” and “pestilences” (Luke 21:11). Following virtually all major disasters, natural and man-made, come disease epidemics (pestilences). Italy’s flooding is not new, nor was it extreme. However it is one event in a host of globe-spanning events that are on the rise. As we watch world events, as Christ commanded (Matthew 24:32-44), we will not be caught off guard, as will so many around the world, when the end comes upon this earth as a “thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10).—Scott Winnail

COGwriter 2008

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