May the prisoners be set free!

While we are now three days in a new year,  I have always wished those who are entrapped in what we call Armstrongism will be set free and it is my hope that 2011 will be different in the fact that there will be a significant number hitting the road. Douglas Becker in his latest article in The Painful Truth website agrees:For 2011, expect more people to be wising up and leaving the venue of the Armstrongist community. In ligt of what has and is happening with the UCG and CGAWA, 2011 should have a revolt of the members. Ministers just had theirs this past year. What about the tithe-payer who supplements their salaries? Isn’t it time they get a voice too? Yes, there will be some who want others to do their thinking for them but we’re not talking about them (we all know they are a lost cause)—we are talking about those who want to get of the treadmill and on to something else. Douglas Becker has still offered the alternative to Armstrogism in the form of  the Church of God Seventh Day and if anybody wants to keep the Feast of Tabernacles WITHOUT the Armstrongism, they have the chance to do so with a  Seventh Day Church of God  based in Idaho having their Feast in Washington state later this year. I can only support Douglas and say to those who pondering the idea, “GO FOR IT!”  This Church of God has been celebrating the Feasts, according to Becker, since 1920—approximately 13 years before a Radio Church of God came on the scene.

Douglas Becker also says in his post in The Painful Truth,”Expect to hear more about Jesus Christ than you would at the standard Armstrongist CoG Festival and the participation is a lot more Scripture oriented..” I say “Amen” to that!

In light of the spirit of a revolution for the tithe paying member, I will leave you with some clips of the last episode of the 1960’s British TV series The Prisoner. Yes, one of the most highly complex and metaphoric episodes I ever seen of the series or any TV show. You might be perplexed by it but I hope all will enjoy it.

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Notes and a video

  • Read Aggie’s account and J’s account with the upheaval going on in the United Church of God. It’s President Clyde Kilough has resigned but the Chairman of the Board will take on the UCG’s presidential duties. I have been firm in my opinions on the UCG’s compromise on the essentials of historic faith and I am still firm. There are many people whom I know in the Living Church of God and the United Church of God that are very sincere in their belief and I do highly value them. Yes, there are those in the splinters who are like the late Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker and have dealt with such toxic personalities but I am not talking about them. There are some in the UCG and other like groups who are honest, decent, God-fearing folk who I think that the establishment has used them to no end. I can only pray that they recognize that “enough is enough”. Refusing to tithe to the headquarters is only a bandaid solution. A mass exodus to freedom (wherever it may take them in their faith). Frankly, I wish ministries like Doug Ward, John Valade and Pam Dewey will finally take root after a mass exodus in the UCG or the LCG for that matter. These people mentioned were never ordained in any XCG ministry, are pretty sane minded people who are not prone to fanatical wild-eyed private interpretations of scripture and were never in it for the money (all more the reason).
  • For those wondering about the condition of former WCG evangelist Ron Dart, this is from Pam Dewey about approximately an hour ago from the Facebook site called Praying for Ron Dart.

Current info at the caringbridge site: They began to give him Vitamin K to speed up the clotting time, and it appears that the bleeding has either stopped or is very slow. He has a blood clot where he has been bleeding, that will need to be absorbed by his body. The doctors believe he will be okay, but it will take a… while for his body to absorb the clot.

For those who don’t know what happened to Mr. Dart, the Facebook site explains,

Ron Dart suffered a fall on Thursday night, 8 April. He hit his head and lost a lot of blood, but was checked by doctors and returned home. A CT scan at that time showed no bleeding on the brain and he was coherent and lucid.

However, during the day on Friday, he had growing problems with his speech and he returned to the doctor. He was then transported by ambulance to ETMC where is currently in the Neuro ICU.

I will admit that back on my previous blog in 2006, I  was “gloating” that Christian radio stations were taking his Born To Win program off the air getting on the “evangelical” bandwagon. I remain firm on my then concerns about Ron Dart’s teachings but I could have taken a more “humble” approach than I did in 2006. I must give him credit for a splendid essay on the Christian Woman in which he rightly criticizes the sex-negative early Church Fathers and their misogynistic worldview on women.  Also FYI Again rightfully told me and others of the dangers of equating all XCGs on the same footing. Yes, as scripture states in 2 Peter 3:9,”The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” As Gavin Rumney once stated that we have arrogantly assumed knowledge of things. God can and will correct errors whether moral or doctrinal of EVERYBODY (that includes me). I join in the chorus of the prayers for many to restore Ron Dart to health and let God lead him in the way that he should go.

  • A fellow Canadian by the name of Rand Zacharias who is a former WCG member now his autobiography about his time in the Church  for all to see here.
  • Here’s tip to PasedenaGuy 10 who found this inspiring video from Adrew Rieu in which he performs the “Hallelujah” chorus! Enjoy!

 

Byker Bob’s “common sense revolution” for the UCG

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(Editor’s note: You may have looked at my reforms for the UCG but here’s Byker Bob’s ideas for reform excerpted from Gavin’s blog. Yes, I will admit  my ideas a lot more theoretical, whereas Byker Bob’s ideas are more on the side of  being the practical nitty-gritty. A lot of people can relate to that. Not to forget, his ideas for UCG reform are truly full of common sense. As I said on my previous post, times are a changing and at least there some in the UCG know that. We can only hope that can spread further)

 

 

Quit putting obstacles in front of people who want to attend. Advertise your address in the Yellow Pages with the other churches. When curious people show up, don’t have the gestapo give them the first degree starting in the parking lot, try instead to create an environment so that they feel welcome and actually want to come back, and maybe learn something more. Remember, Jesus and John the Baptist didn’t tell people who wanted to be baptized that they had to quit smoking, start tithing, split from second or third marriages, so in maybe six months they could qualify for baptism and the Holy Spirit. They baptized the people the same day so the the Holy Spirit could come into their lives and help them bear fruits.

Drop the dress code. Of course, the congregation should not take advantage of this, but what’s wrong with some dude showing up in Levis, a Harley shirt and Tevas? If his attitude is right, why focus on the physical (Editor’s note: Just like Bruxy Cavey’s The Meeting House. There, you MUST throw away your suit!) .

Dump the Purple Joykiller. Appoint a worship leader, and have him put together a band with contemporary instruments. Need a clue as to what constitutes inspiring praise music today? Listen to Christian radio, or tune in JCTV. There is some awesome and very inspiring music being produced these days, and the ACOGs are out of the loop on it.

Quit treating Herbert W. Armstrong as if he was equal to the priests, Kings, prophets, or apostles in the Bible. Question his models, his methods, and above all, some of the speculative and extra-Biblical doctrines that are antiquated and obviously not working. Remember, the church started by Jesus Christ is about Jesus and God, not about Herbert W. Armstrong. 

Get accountable! Have a third party evaluate your finances to ensure that everything is within typical accounting guidelines for a modern religious organization, so that you can make a case for broadcasting on TBN(Editor’s note, it is time for them to embrace trinitarian thinking for them to be palatable for TRINITY Broadcasting Network). That’s where the greatest harvest is happening today! With the Messianics and the Prophecy related teachers, believe me, your message might fit in better than you could possibly imagine.

Learn to preach in love, and not with an angry, growling tone. Your message gets across much better to a broader cross section of the general public when they know that you are preaching out of love, rather than from a position of Pharisaic condemnation. 

Learn how to deal with dificult personality types, and how to assist in their spiritual development without using the disfellowship tool. Reserve that tool only for sexual predators in the congregation, and other extreme cases.

Get involved with your community. Give back. Help in disaster relief, and do volunteer work. Contribute to charities. Interact, don’t cloister yourselves, that just hides your light! Armstrongism has a despicable history of being the most selfish and self-absorbed religious movement in the history of the USA (Editor’s note that is sooo true!!!).
Work hard to obliterate that perception.

Those would be my recommendations in a nutshell. I am sure others could add to the list. I must say, though, that I seriously doubt that any ACOG leader, or aspiring leader would be capable of acting in this fashion. You’d probably actually need God’s guidance to behave in such a converted and Christlike way.

Editor’s note: They make sense to me Byker Bob!

Are times are-a-changing for the UCG???

 

Go to Russell Miller’s blog Holy Mighty Atheist (his May 4,2008 post among others) and there are suggestions that this may be the case. The question is, will the UCG have their own version of events of what happened in the WCG (now GCI) back in 1995? It probably can be safely assumed that this is not the case.  What are my feelings about these suggestions? I hope somebody big in UCG have read my suggestions for  reform which was both in my old blog http://lifeafterwcg.blogspot.com/2007/03/if-united-church-of-god-wants-to-live.html and  Gary Scott’s old blog XCG at http://xcg.kingary.net/index.php?id=882, which I also directed on an older post here of May of last year when I angrily lambasted UCG minister Mr.Meeker’s complaints. Frankly, I don’t think the UCG is neither ready nor I think it’s desirable to have it’s “1995”. Yes, I would like to see the United Church of God at some point embrace the essentials of historic Christian faith. I would like them at some point to join the “Protestant Revolution”. I firmly believe that is their ONLY ticket for survival and trying to be another Armstrong-lite group will no longer do. That may be a dream but I am standing by Byker Bob that I (and others rightly concerned) should be praying about this situation. One person on Gavin’s blog was hoping that they would re-unite with the GCI. A respondant believed that they burned their bridges with the WCG (GCI) that it would be impossible. Actually, I would like to see more members in the UCG form a movement from the lay members for a mass exodus to the Denver-based Church of God (Seventh Day) led by Conference President Whaid Rose. I have mentioned that I have met the man 9 years ago this summer and have endless spoken positive things about the man. I have once called him “The anti-Armstrong”. I believe this is best solution for the membership, ever.  It might not be best for the UCG ministry. Just as my workplace at Home Depot we are having campaign of putting our customers first, that’s the way I see it for the UCG members, they come first and foremost among others. Some members actually did make an exodus to CG7 and I think the more, the merrier. I tried to encourage one person who was malcontent with the UCG to try the CG7, even to point to encourage him to take the next step in forming a home church or at least a home Bible study in his area (because there was no church in his area) but he wasn’t willing to take that step. At least this person has at some occasions came into contact with them, which I  believe that includes attending their services. At least this person was impressed.Yes, we all know the world as we know it is changing. At least some in the UCG are recognizing that they cannot be in their own little shell anymore. To continue to do so will have grave and unimaginable consequences. May that message ring louder and louder over the coming days, months and years to come.  I leave you with some good ol’ Bob Dylan with his song, Times Are A Changing, courtesy YouTube.

Richard’s discovery (however small) and his right of return

 

On Jesus Loves Fellowship, I am hearing that at least the United Church of God is growing up on the issue of New Year’s or at least giving greetings for the New Year according to recently returned UCG member Richard Burkard,

“May you all have a blessed New Year….” So I heard a UCG Pastor say this afternoon, at the end of his sermon. (The last one of 2008; he’ll be away the next two weeks on a trip to Europe.)

The sermon topic was so familiar, it was practically a rerun. But this sentence was a stunner to me — so much so that I asked the Pastor afterward, “Is it OK for us to say that now?!”

I reminded the Pastor that for so long, COG’s refused to acknowledge 1/1 as New Year’s Day — the “calendar year by man’s reckoning” stuff. But he assured me that a phrase like “Blessed New Year” would be all right.

Wow! May I wish you….. uh, errr, grrrerer…. well, I have four days to work on it….

I am sooo glad that this actually has been a non-issue for me for a long time. Even Church of God (Seventh Day) long time thought that New Year’s wasn’t AS BAD AS Christmas but the killjoy nature of Armstrongism always had to look for the worst in anything and everything. A pastor-friend whom I have on facebook.com did exactly that to wish people a “blessed and prosperous new year”.

I did mention that Richard Burkard had returned to the United Church of God. How do I feel? I was one of the first cheering him on to leave and I make no apology for it. To be blunt the only Church of God I wanted him to go was the Church of God (Seventh Day) where I believe that under it’s President Whaid Rose, the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached which includes his life, death and resssurection. The kingdom of God is important for it is God’s solution to all evil and injustice in the world but the kingdom of God cannot be forgotten with the one who brought it forth, Jesus Christ. Richard has long protested that distance to another city was a factor from him joining. I even suggested that he could have started a small CG7 group in his area but I guess for reasons unknown to me, he wasn’t game. Richard describes his recent journey in his article  Dividing from United http://www.angelfire.com/ga4/wwwcg/dividing.html  at his webpage:

The Search is On (NEW November 2008)

So what did our year of searching show us? That many cities have plenty of other options available for Sabbath-keepers. Some turned out better than UCG, while others did not….

+ The largest “mega-church” in my city has a Baptist background, and a Saturday 6:00 p.m. service. That’s after sundown, for practically all of the weeks we’re on standard time. And the pastor struck out in most of the other weeks, especially when he talked about going to heaven when you die (note Jhn. 3:13 and Acts 2:34, among other verses).

+ A non-denominational church with a similar Saturday 6:00 p.m. service also talked often about going to heaven. It also allowed women to speak during services, usually from their seats.

+ The major Seventh-Day Adventist church in my city has services every Sabbath morning. But I found other doctrinal issues where the SDA’s seem to conflict with Bible statements.

+ The Messianic movement (called “Hebrew Roots” by many inside it) has attracted some people disaffected with COG’s, who either disagree with a group’s leadership or believe they’ve advanced to a deeper level of Bible knowledge. I attended a Feast of Tabernacles site where scattered local fellowships came together. They had some things in common, but clashed openly on other doctrinal points.

+ On the other hand, a former WCG Pastor has developed a ministry with everything from a children’s school to an outreach in Africa. It offers telephone conference-call “Bible discussions” three times a week, including Sabbath mornings. The views there are wide-ranging at times, but at least callers are allowed to compare Scripture with Scripture to draw conclusions. The discussions are successful more often than not, by allowing for that divergence — but worship services in the Pastor’s home city (which we attended on some Holy Days) lack that, and often strike out.

+ The biggest surprise for me during the search was the denomination Herbert Armstrong once dismissed as “dead” and “Sardis-era.” The Church of God Seventh Day turned out to be Biblically sound, and focused on practical points that really matter — not chasing after prophetic revelations or playing self-justification games with other sects. Podcasts by a couple of congregations let you hear for yourself. Alas, the lack of a COG-7 congregation near my home forced me to settle for those.

One Lap Later

When the year of searching ended, we were confronted by Hebrews 10:25. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing….” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance indicates “meeting” means a Christian gathering for worship.

Can you really “meet for worship” through a podcast? That seems like a stretch of the definition. Can you do it through telephone conference calls? In a way, but some dispute it. A top UCG official declared at one 2007 Feast site it’s not the same as face-to-face contact – yet UCG admits it uses Internet webcasts to present live weekly services to scattered brethren in South America.

I concluded my only real option for worshiping personally with other people was at the place where I started. I returned to the United Church of God service in my city, completing that lap around the race track. My personal disagreements with UCG teachings remain. But to borrow from golf, UCG is simply “closest to the pin” in the place where I live. If God moves me to a different location, things could be very different — so I continue to listen to podcasts and conference calls, for balanced instruction from God’s Word.

If you’re searching for the right place to worship, may you let God be your guide. And be attuned to what the ministers of the various denominations and congregations say. Double-check the things they preach, and you could find they’re giving clues to the right answer.

My summations about this that there is no “perfect church” and if one goes around looking for a church to agree on every single point will find him or herself very disappointed and extremely disillusioned to say the least. Was Richard looking for “the perfect church”??? I would like to answer that but I won’t. I am just glad that Richard is still on a journey and it hasn’t ended and frankly that is good enough for me.

Richard’s Thoughts

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For those who want to know a little in depth about why Richard Burkard has separated his fellowship from the United Church of God, he goes into a detail in his article at his website at http://www.angelfire.com/ga4/wwwcg/dividing.html . The article aptly called Dividing from United.  It remains my prayer that Richard does not feel any need to return an organization that has a foundation on shifting sand. Also, I give thanks to Richard in calling me direct in his article!

Right on Richard!!!

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For those who haven’t looked in the comments section about Armstrongist Refuseniks post as of late, I will post this here:

Since you brought it up, you’re the first online to know — I’m taking my own leave of absence from UCG. I didn’t know you wrote that phrase before I used it to a group of brethren from my UCG congregation, at a Feast dinner Tuesday night.

The people in my congregation seemed understanding in person. Even my Pastor did, when I told him at the end of the Last Great Day service Thursday. (But he already knew about it, from the Local Elder who was at the Tuesday dinner.) We parted company with a hug.

I explained to all that my examination of other options could wind up being one long lap around the race track — and I could wind up back in UCG. I’m not leaving out that possibility. I’m praying God will lead me to the right place.

My first stop this weekend? I’ll call it Megachurch Baptist — which has a 5pm Saturday Bible study, a 6pm worship service (sundown’s 7:20pm here right now), and a potential new controversy over a change in its incorporation status. My city has no Seventh-Day Baptist, so this will have to do for now.

Richard, welcome to regaining your sanity that was stolen and very importantly welcome to freedom!  I look forward to hearing your current exploits. My advice, make that leave of absence from the UCG, a long, long, permanent leave and do not step back! God bless!