Roundup of tidbits related to recent postings and/or of interest within the COG community
Holidays and Holy Days Are Upon Us
The past year, I’ve attempted to get out of the habit of regurgitating the same old things when it comes to holidays and holy days (unlike some other writers out there). There is a method to my madness, though, to borrow a cliche.
I have the article headings set up for various beliefs including “Holidays or Holidays?” That is because I want to for various reasons post updated articles or current events that point to more static material such as holidays vs holy days instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every year (all year) and make it somehow sound “hip” or “relevant” or any other buzzword you want to throw at it. IMO, regurgitating the same stuff all the time hurts SEO, and more importantly hurts reader interest.
I will go through the old articles as best as I can as certain seasons come upon us, and I will have to decide whether to update them or publish new ones. Either way, you may see some old material float to the top, but that is intentional. I will take comments on older articles into consideration, of course, but I may elect to strip some (especially since some of the cranks have long ago been blocked or left after it was clear I wasn’t going to allow their agendas to overtake the blog). It will be on a case by case basis, but new comments are still welcome as they often provide an opportunity to clarify certain things.
The Baggage of Offense
I updated the article “What Offends You? The Answer Depends on How You Understand the Eighth Day (Last Great Day)“, as I left out a quote from Seth Godin I meant to include. Sometimes, these things get lost in the mad collection of research I do. You can view Seth’s article on “Taking Umbrage” itself, as it is short (this description is longer), relevant and to the point.
“The Bones You Have Broken May Rejoice”
Yesterday’s Sabbath Thoughts blog has a very interesting article “Broken Bones” which opens with quoting Ps 51:8. I’m honestly do not know the author or his background, but I have often seen Facebook posts and I even once subscribed to the Sabbath Thoughts Facebook page (I am no longer on Facebook, though). The article dares to ask:
The idea of God breaking our bones is hard for me to understand sometimes. He punishes us for sins, yes; He allows us to experience trials, yes; He lets us reap the consequences of bad decisions…but to personally break our bones? For a loving God to intentionally inflict that kind of pain on His servants, even metaphorically, seems almost cruel. And yet there it is, preserved in Scripture, inspired by God for us to see—there are times when our Creator breaks our bones.
Maybe I am just slow, and I’m sure some would not hesitate to agree, but I guess I missed the fact that this was a blog and not just a FB page. At any rate, I added this one to the blogroll.
Speaking of Suffering, What of PTSD?
I came across an interesting article on LinkedIn about “My Goldman Sachs Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (And Why I’m Grateful)“. Obviously, it is not a religious article, but there is something worthwhile that can be applied to this traumatic world filled with all sorts of problems:
… My roommate at the time refers to them as Bethany’s “dark period” or, simply, as “the lost years.” Suffice it to say I was female, naïve and immature. Any one of these would have been difficult; the combination was disastrous. Today, when my fellow analysts with whom I’m still in touch bring up things that happened, or people we worked with, I’m too embarrassed to admit that I often draw a total blank. I think I have post-traumatic stress disorder.
And yet, I will always be profoundly grateful to Goldman. In part, this reflects a personal predilection, which is that if you have to grow up, wisen up, and toughen up, it’s best to do it fast. But I’m also not exaggerating when I say that I use the lessons I learned at Goldman every day.
There is also another interesting note about how we have a tendency to think of numbers as objective gems of truth. She points out that numbers are only as good as “the wobbly assumptions that go into them.” That’s something to consider whenever faced with a “fact” or, more importantly, a “statistic”.
COGWriter Blows His Own Horn Once Again
There is a fine line between reporting on efforts to preach the Gospel and bragging about it. In “COGwriter on Radio“, COGWriter Bob Thiel boasts:
This is a way we can reach many at no financial cost (we do not pay to be on the program or get the links posted).
I have been doing radio on a little bit more than once per month basis, as a guest, since the official formation of Continuing Church of God.
Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 are being fulfilled via the internet, radio, literature, and personal contact by those of us in the Continuing Church of God.
Not exactly, Bob!
It is a fine thing to find inexpensive and even free ways to spread the Gospel. In one sense, this blog does so. It isn’t exactly free, but the cost of domains and hosting are a lot less than many companies and churches spend on advertising alone. Of course, organizations should be spending more on larger sites, but in comparison to television and radio, the Internet is still a lot cheaper.
Even in WCG days, one of the best ways to advertise was through the Reader’s Digest. While the cost was only slightly cheaper, Reader’s Digest magazines get recycled more than almost any other magazine in existence. So, when you consider the cost per responder, it was a lot less than the average medium of advertising.
So, I applaud efforts to use tithes and offerings in an effective manner. What good is it, however, if the casual observer is simply met with a lot of chest beating and self-promotion?
Thiel makes a big deal out of making inroads to China, for example, but the 2010 United News “Good News Circulation Around the World” (link is to a PDF copy) points out that 81 copies of the magazine go to China, 34 to Thailand, and even Myanmar gets 26! More surprising to me is that Iraq has 7, Saudi Arabia has 20 and, get this, Iran has 92!
And that’s just UCG! Leon Sexton has a literal presence in Southeast Asia, LCG has several congregations in Africa, COGWA has some in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka …
No, the idea that CCOG is the only one doing a worldwide work is patently false, and while he may not have stated that, his continual blowing his own horn certainly implies that.
BTW, Americans say “blow your own horn”, while apparently Brits say “blow your own trumpet”. Apparently, the phrase originally contained both elements, according to The Phrase Finder, and was first written as “In the colonies..when a gentleman sounds his own trumpet he ‘blows.'” in 1873. It is thought that the American slang that something “blows” as being bad or a bummer comes from this phrase as well.
However, an interesting consideration is that often royalty send heralds before them to trumpet that royalty is following them. Therefore, there are a few that believe the origins of the phrase are in reference to sounding your own horn when it would have been more appropriate for a herald to have done so. The irony is that by sounding your own trumpet, you are actually acting like a herald instead of royalty.
That actually ties in with a biblical principle, believe it or not:
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
Speaking of the Bible, the journey of this saying started much further back, for it is quite similar to what Jesus said:
2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!
Does it matter whether we give money to the poor or proclaim the Gospel or anything else if we are doing it in order to be seen by other people? When we wrap ourselves in the cloak of self-righteousness, will God honor it?
Like I said, there is a difference between giving a report of activities and boasting to be seen as positive by men.
29 I know that, after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and won’t spare the flock. 30 Some of your own people will distort the word in order to lure followers after them.
Speaking of Different Organizations, Is Unity Really the Answer?
It is quite often that you hear something along the lines of “Disunity is the Church’s biggest issue. If all of these organizations could get along, then God’s work would be done better, more easily and more effectively.” Well, is that really true?
I myself have tackled that issue in the past, and I believe the answer to be “No.” In the end, our problem is not unity with one another but rather whether or not we are in unity with God.
Author@ptgbook takes on this rather large topic in “What Is the Church of God’s Greatest Sin?” and the article chronologically preceding it, “Philadelphia Must Come Out of Laodicea“. In the formerly mentioned article, he wrote:
I don’t think the number one problem in the Church is disunity. I think the number one problem in the Church of God is lack of love and lack of zeal to get the warning message out.
There were 32,000 men who wanted to join Gideon to fight against Israel’s enemies, but God narrowed it down to 300, and He did a more powerful work with those 300 than the 32,000 could have done on their own (Judges 7:1-8). God separated the 300 from the rest of the 32,000.
GOD DOES NOT WANT UNITY in the Church of God right now. He wants separation. He is testing us and he wants us to choose loyalty to Him and loyalty to His work more than loyalty to friends, relatives, ministers, and organizations….
I myself have pointed out that as long as the disciples stayed in Jerusalem, the message stayed in Jerusalem. However, God allowed persecution to set in. Why? In part so they would scatter. What happened when they scattered? The Gospel was preached wherever they went!
In the second article I pointed to, but was written earlier, Author makes the point again that God more effectively works through groups that are zealous for the things God desires rather than, well let’s call it what it is, apathetic.
We should work for the unity among us that comes from unity with God. As each of us draws closer to God, we should draw closer to each other as well.
Just for those who haven’t been following along, I don’t believe in “eras”, or at least I don’t believe that is the right word to call them. All seven churches existed at the time John wrote, and all seven attitudes have existed down through time at various times. When an era begins, the older one closes out. We even have the expression “end of an era”. No, at least three and probably four of these churches can be shown to exist when Christ returns.
Now, attitudes are another matter. The Germans have the term “Zeitgeist“, which literally means “spirit of the times”. That’s an interesting word when you consider that John wrote the the “angel” overseeing each church! Every civilization and every time period has a certain prevailing attitude that holds sway over it. Not everyone will be caught up in it, but the majority will.
We live in a time when the cult of self is heavily promoted. You look at the Laodiceans, and it is evident their main issue is one of perceived self-sufficiency. You look at the church organizations today, and many of them have been tainted by this very attitude. Some have been outright consumed by it, if you ask me, because their leaders promote themselves rather than Christ!
HWA preached a lot about the way of get vs the way of give. Self-sufficiency promotes the way of get, whereas love for your brother, phileo, promotes the way of selflessness.
Author does put forward the idea that not preaching the Gospel is not only wrong but a sin. I totally agree! If this new organization, COGFC, wants to indefinitely put off preaching the Gospel, then I believe that to be a huge mistake! Why? Because, as they say, tomorrow never comes.
18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
Did you catch that? Jesus said He would be with His disciples “every day” while preaching the Gospel! He did not say, “starting tomorrow” or “starting next week”!
If someone truly wants to be “Philadelphian”, they will want to warn people of what is to come. We don’t have to stand on street corners to do this, but we each in our own way can spread the word. At very least, no one should be able to come out of the Great Tribulation and say, “I wasn’t warned“!
The main problem with church eras is not even the idea itself, but rather how people use it. They tend to proclaim themselves “Philadelphian”, which in itself pretty much negates them from being one! Maybe instead of concentrating on church eras, the Church should be more focused on actually being Philadelphian in speech, conduct and truth.
Most Stolen Book Is the Bible
Life Hope & Truth ran an article on a subject that seems pretty ironic, “The Bible: The World’s Most Shoplifted Book?” The contrast between stealing a Bible and “Thou shalt not steal” would seem pretty evident, or so I would have thought.