THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL
VOL.2 NO. 1 ©May 1988
Original Purpose and Birth of the Southern Sentinel
No More Controversy
Tampa Fires Tyler
Forgiveness is a Choice
What Binds Us Together?
ORIGINAL PURPOSE AND BIRTH OF THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL
The idea for a regional church newspaper is not new. The concept of publishing an unofficial regional church newspaper in conjunction with the official and national newspaper of the Church of God, International had been discussed by ministers of that church organization for some time.
At the July 1987 CGI Ministerial Conference in Tyler Texas, members of that church's Ministerial Council were also approached with the idea. Their response was logically "so what" since a number of newsletters were already being published and distributed.
On August 31, 1987 almost all of the CGI ministers in the southeastern United States got together for a regional conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The purpose for the gathering was fellowship and a discussion of ways to improve the effectiveness of the church's operations along with other professional "shop-talk".
Out of that conference came THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL. That's why it is "southern". Its original concept was limited and complementary to the national paper.
There was no conspiracy to "secede" or "compete". A representative of the Ministerial Council was invited to and did attend the meetings. Audio tapes were sent to the rest. Only Mr. Armstrong did not listen to all of them.
The simple fact was that the CGI national publication was inconsistent as to its date of publication. It could not be depended on to announce future events since no one knew when it would next be published. Not even its publishers!
Furthermore, the local churches desired an open forum to exchange ideas and information about local church evangelism, discipleship, and the practical problems they faced.
These subjects were not of interest to the folks in Tyler who, of necessity, were quite selective in the natlonal paper's editorial policy as they considered it an "official publication" representing that church organization.
In its first issue THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL briefly reported on the topics discussed at the Atlanta meeting along with a sample of local church news. It noted the ministers' plans to submit their thoughts in writing to the entire CGI ministry at the next conference in Tyler. This was the accepted way to present ideas for discussion.
The problem was that one of the main ideas discussed was the GRADUAL (over a period of three to nine years) modification of the process by which Ministerial Council members are selected. Currently, this governing body is a self-elected committee in which existing council members choose their successors or new members to fill vacancies.
These ministers' thoughts never even made it onto paper, much less presented to the rest of the ministry due to subsequent events. In short the proposal suggested opening up the Ministerial Council selection process to the entire ministry at the annual conferences.
A corollary idea was to select some of the members of the council on a regional basis. Neighboring ministers would select a representative from among themselves to sit on the Ministerial Council. The majority of the Council would be elected "at-large" by the entire ministry.
It was suggested that anywhere from one to three new members might be elected upon the acceptance of this suggestion by the ministry as a whole. It was not anticipated that any existing members would lose their current "chairs" on the Ministerial Council.
Unfortunately, several of the Ministerial Council members apparently took the whole thing personally as an insult and a threat.
They objected to and tried to prevent the August 31, 1987 meeting even before it took place once they were told what some of the topics might be. Four ministers were sanctioned and prohibited from speaking at the Feast of Tabernacles and their attitudes were questioned.
Since the Atlanta meeting, some in Tyler seem to have taken a unreasoned belief in a "conspiracy theory". Consequently, grave distortions of what took place and the imagined intentions of the participants have been published and preached to the membership and the ministry of the CGI.
Because of the public discussion and distortion of these events in the "official" organs of the CGI, it has become necessary to discuss some of the more pertinent facts of the issues (and not personalities) in THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL.
Our editorial policy continues to be one of forgiveness which covers the sins of all wherever possible and assumes the best of intentions. However, publicly made accusations and pronouncements demand truthful response.
ENTER THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL
The first issue of THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL was too late to mail and so was distributed at the Feast. Council members instructed other ministers to interfere with the distribution of THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL at the Williamsburg site.
A reason? Throughout the month of September, Council members maintained that the CGI members were "sheep" who can't think for themselves but follow ministers who are all "wolves" if they possess an original thought to solve a problem or two.
It seems that the majority of the Ministerial Council members refuse to accept the fact that local church members have concerns, are aware of problems, possess honest desires to improve or solve them, and express those desires to their minister who may sincerely try to relay them to the Council.
Meanwhile, THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL had been widely distributed at the Panama City Beach Feast site - first to the Armstrongs by the way. In the interests of church unity Henry Nix agreed to try to "keep a lid on things" and in return was promised by Charles Groce that the southeast ministers would be able to present their proposal in accordance with due procedure and that THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL would be published without interference.
As a result, general rejoicing and hope spread among the ministry and church members in the Southeast. Then the Ministerial Council met in December and sent a delegation out to speak with every minister who had been in Atlanta. The meetings seemed successful excepting the precipitous revocation of Mr. Kimbrough's ministerial credentials.
The gist of the December meetings was that Ted Armstrong stated that he would never accept any form of democratic process to select Ministerial Council members. He said that, legally, the CGI was modeled after the Worldwide Church of God with some minor technical exceptions: specifically, Mr. Armstrong explained that the CCI Constitution and By-Laws did not grant him the same absolute powers possessed by his father in the WCG.
Mr. Armstrong went on to show that the organization of both the WCG and CCI were really better illustrated by using a central circle representing the physical head of the CUI structure with spoke-like arms radiating from it to the different departments.
Despite this statement and the exercise of charismatically absolute authority, Mr. Ted Armstong asked for time and patience. He admitted that the Ministerial Council had been ineffective in the past, but they were making changes.
The feeling was one of, "Let's let bygones be bygones." It did not change the minds of the ministers in the Southeast about what was probably a better way to do things, but tolerance was perceived. These meetings also revived a hope for future progress and/or potential compromise now that the existence of these problems had at least been admitted and seemingly considered non-conspiratorial.
In January of 1988 the publisher and editor of THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL, Christopher J. Patton, received a letter from the Ministerial Council which temporarily suspended him from the CGI ministry for unstated reasons. Over the phone he was informed that a primary reason was the publication and distribution of THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL.
The Council objected to the contents of the second issue which was printed and mailed prior to the December meeting with the Ministerial Council delegation. The conspiracy theory had not died in their hearts even though it seemed to in their mouths.
In compliance with the request by the Ministerial Council, THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL has not been published since that phone conversation and is not currently published by "The Carolina Congregations of The Church of God, International". After two months consideration, Mr. Patton terminated his legal ties with the CCI as a minister in a March 19, 1988 letter to the Ministerial Council.
NO MORE CONTROVERSY
by Christopher J. Patton
"Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," (Philipians 3:13-14).
No better scripture comes to mind to describe the future direction of THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL's editorial objectives.
For too many years those of us who thought we had left the past behind have been walking backwards. What I mean is that, yes some progress has been made, but, no, it has not been purposeful progress. It has been ineffective.
How can anyone make purposeful progress when he is constantly living in the past? When you walk backwards, you can't see where you are going and so, progress is slow and without direction.
When you walk backwards, you find out about the potholes in the road the hard way - by falling into them. Hopefully you fall on your padded backside, but how much better to avoid them by looking at where you're going!
Such a mode of locomotion lacks direction of purpose. It wanders all over the road seemingly unaware of God's will and promise for man. It lacks speed, agility, and strength because the body's walking mechanism is misused at best, for the body was made to walk forward in long strides without rapidly tiring - not backward.
When someone walks backwards, he ignores parts of his body. He's not using his eyes and the majority of the arm and leg muscles which are designed for forward motion. So why would anyone do that, except for a prank or a short period of time?
Perhaps, he is too afraid of where he's going or wishful of comfortable, imagined past glories and dreamy memories of unreality.
One who looks backward as he walks with God obviously doesn't deeply care about his walk, or have the courage enough to turn around to actually see where he is headed.
Why, if he did that, he might get excited about God's Promise for man and run a little - pulling the whole body to work towards accomplishing His Purpose.
'Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win...1 run in such a way, as not without aim," (II Corinthians 9:24, 26).
EYES OF FAITH
The old saying, "Seeing is believing," is true for the physical brain of man, but there are also eyes of faith - faith in the forgiveness of God who has paid fbr our past sins with Christ's blood. We have no right to dig that past up again and use it as an excuse for not moving ahead to seize the Promise.
We have no right to limit our effectiveness as members of Christ's Body by fearfully walking backwards.
"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."
"For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
"But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16).
It is the sincere desire and editorial objective of this publication to put the past behind without malice.
For too long have God's people been subjected to repeated recounting of the sins and painful memories of past church affiliations. Opportunity to return has been increasingly found proportionate to the growth in material success.
What was once held up as being an evil, wrong, and unloving way of administering Christianity has now been upheld as the ideal goal, with just a few modifications.
I don't honestly think that this organizational evolution was intentional, pre-planned, or calculated. It just happened. Why? Because the goal of that organization is to become or do better than its parent - just as a son tries to outdo his father.
It has come about because sincere people can be unaware that they are walking backwards. Hence they are blind to the changes in the road ahead and what needs to be done in order to get to their stated destination in time.
They see the past plainly, however, and talk about it constantly. Ultimately, the result is a return to the past. They stop walking backward (For, it is hard to do.), and begin to walk forward down the road from which they've come because they forgot to turn around first.
So please refrain from sending articles or tellers about the past mistakes of others or ourselves that drag up specific church organizations. Such material will not be published again in THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL.
If you have a problem, write us, and we'll try to refer you to someone locally who is willing to help you on a personal basis face to face. Or, perhaps there is professional literature or counseling that might be more effective in your case.
"Therefore, . . let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set be fore us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," (Hebrews 12:1-2).
THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL is Christ focused. Its direction is to help you to become like our elder brother, Jesus, choosing the Father's Will as our own.
The heritage related in its pages will be that of the Promise of God, His Covenant with humanity as related in the Bible. It is the heritage of the Fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is the heritage of the Children of Israel and the Church founded in Jerusalem. It is the story of the Congregation of God from its beginnings to the present.
The Church is all who believe. lt is not divided into classes of members: ministers and lay members, rich and poor, or the prominent and the embarrassing.
We are all disciples of Christ, which means we live to learn and teach others what we are learning at the same time. We are all laborers together In the harvest, bearing fruit in our lives and the lives of others.
For the harvest is indeed plentiful, and the laborers are indeed few. That is because the harvest of human lives must be hand-picked. It is tender, like strawberries and not like hard kernels of grain, which can today be cut, winnowed, and bagged by huge machinery. In antiquity even grains were gathered by hand.
Jesus will build His Church. I do not worry or doubt about that. He will also return as King of Kings and forcefully seize control of this world's governments.
These things are in God's hands and sure. But it will all be meaningless to us unless we are there ourselves as a part of the Kingdom, and I suspect that none of us will get there without helping another along the way.
Not only do we have to passively forgive our brother, we have to actively love him. That means sacrificing ourselves in some way to his eternal benefit in accordance with God's Judgment - not ours or our brothers.
The fruits of God's Spirit within us changes us from within. That active love alive in our minds and hearts is what yields the fruits of discipleship.
It is not the old us which died in baptism. But the new creation, God in us, His Spirit joined one with our own, that works the work of love.
This is what opens the mind of the unbeliever. It is God in us, love alive and at work, that attracts him and makes him feel safe enough to confront his sins and repent. It is the love of the brethren that comforts and helps to sustain us in times of trial.
It is the Holy Spirit, the Love of God, which is the foundation upon which the Church is built.
The knowledge of the truth just makes man free to enter into His Love. It is the Love itself, alive in us, that leads to life in another Thus, Jesus promised, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father," (John 14:12).
Tampa: Recently two members have been baptized, we welcome James Strohaber and Geraldine Lott. Also the Tampa church is proud to announce the addition of a new member; Beaufort and Barbara Brown are the proud parents of a baby boy, Brandon. Be sure to catch Beaufort's article on page.
St. Petersburg: There are three more recent baptism's in the church; please welcome Bob DiGiovanni, and Jim and Toni Robinson. St. Pete is also rejoicing over the new baby girl, Sarah Mcintyre, born to Paul and Elizabeth Mcintyre. There is a prayer request from St. Petersburg. Please pray for Andy and Nancy Kirby. Both of the Kirby's have been very sick for months, and would appreciate your prayers.
West Palm Beach: Yet another baptism has taken place and we warmly welcome James Winslow into the Body of Jesus Christ. There has been further excitement in the West Palm Beach church. Rhonda Tressler married Raeford Hall on October 24, 1987, Charles Kimbrough was presiding pastor at the event.
Here We Come Hollywood!
In Ft. Lauderdale they have--what? No it's not a privately owned TV station it is a permanent Meeting Hall at the Senior Women's Garden Club on Hollywood Blvd. Exit off 1-95 1/2 block next to Railroad Crossing. There are also another two- you guessed it-baptisms, welcome Arvey Love and Donna Kougal.
Scott and Dorothy Erickson, former preaching Elder in the WCG have volunteered to help us In W. Palm Beach and Hollywood. So now these brethren can hear live sermons more than once a month now.
There Was A Marriage
In Tallahasse, Florida, Faith Alcorn married Robert Basset. Once again Charles Kimbrough
performed the ceremony. Also the church has been blessed with another baby. Congratulations, Michael and Rebekah Rogers on your beautiful baby boy.
No Fratricide! We have on best authority from the older siblings of these babies that they are planning to keep them.
Tampa/St. Pete Update
A new minister has moved into the Tamp/St Pete area. David and Kimberly Nix and their two lovely daughters moved not long ago. David was recently ordained at the Feast Of Tabernacles in Panama City Beach. It was an answer to a fervent prayer for help when David's job transfer brought him to central Florida. He and Kim are expecting a new baby any day now.
It's been pretty good for the church recently, there have been 8 baptisms, 4 births, and 2 marriages. "And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." Gen. 1:28 KJV.
FEAST SITE ANNOUNCED
Charles Kimbrough has arranged for Festival facilities just north of Orlando, Florida, the home of Disney World. Services will be held at the Winterpark Civic Club 1050, Morse Blvd., Winterpark, FL.
The hall comfortably seats 400 people. Because of the proximity to Disney World (less than a half hour away) there are ample accommodations at a variety of prlce and space options. The area is also famous for its restaurants.
Not far away is the oldest city in the US, St. Augustine FL which has been reconstructed with live demonstrations and unique shops. In contrast to the past is the doorway to the future, the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral.
Because of this resort area's popularity; it is advisable to make your plans and reservations early. Most will probably want to stay somewhere between the meeting hall and the recreational area.
More details will be available later. Anyone who wishes more information should write: Charles Kimbrough, P. 0. Box 547, Crystal River, FL 32629.
HOW TO USE THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL
THE SOUTHERN SENTINEL is meant to be used. Reprint articles and the Bible Correspondence courses will always appear in the middle sections ot the publication. All you have to do is pull them out.
Punch holes in the margin and you can keep them in loose leaf binders. Advertise in the local paper, or give them away to to friends. Feel free to copy them for such evangelistic work. We simply want to know your results. If a group is using our materials, we would like to know about it. Your comments are appreciated.
TAMPA FIRES TYLER
The Tampa congregation of the Church decided in mid-January of 1988 to withdraw from association with The Church of God, International as a result of Ted Armstrong's unilateral revocation of Charles' Kimbrough's ministerial credentials.
This unnecessary and precipitous action was taken based on a directive given by the CGI Ministerial Council to its spokesmen which stipulated that any minister who didn't meet that week with their delegation would automatically have his CCI credentials terminated.
Any mitigating circumstances were irrelevant. Not showing up was perceived as proof of a "bad attitude". This was thought to be true even though the ultimatums of mandatory appearance were passed on to the ministers with very little warning - only hours in some cases and a few days at best.
Of course, only the ministers in the Southeast were subjected to these meetings. The reason for the December meetings following the Ministerial Council conference in Tyler was not always stated either. In some cases elaborate explanations were presented over the phone in an attempt to convince the recipient of the call that said meeting had "nothing to do with the Atlanta conference" which took place in August 1987.
The Tampa congregation decided to withdraw because they were not even consulted by Tyler in regards to this precipitous and provoking action. Their decision to withdraw was made over the objection of Pastor Charles Kimbrough. The congregation took a month to consider their action. It was finalized after visiting minister Chris Patton and local pastor, Dave Nix had conducted two intensive sessions in additional attempts to dissuade such a move by the members.
One week after their decision, Chris Patton was suspended from the CCI ministry. One reason given over the phone (there were none mentioned in his letter of suspension) was his effort in Tampa on Tyler's behalf.
January through March saw further resignations from Alan Heathcock in Alabama, Don Young in Kentucky; George Dewey in Michigan and Chris Patton in eastern North Carolina. In each case their decisions were made in consultation and in conjunction with the congregations they pastor.
In their letters to the CCI officialdom, these ministers generally expressed concern over the increasing similarities of the CCI corporate culture with that of its parent Organization, the cultic Worldwide Church of God.
These men's perception of this trend was enhanced by Ted Armstrong's open and uncompromising position that the structure of church government, or administration, in the WCG was good. Only the change in personnel and the unrighteous execution of their offices made that organization bad.
Since the WCG's form of government is good, the strucure of the CGI administration, which is modeled after the WCG, is also good and in no need of significant improvement. Both church administrations are structured like a wagon wheel with its self-perpetuating central government as the hub and the various departments as spokes. It is a bureaucratic form of administration common to business.
Thus, in all practical matters, the CGI administration is the same as the WCG's. Neither one recognizes in its functional administrative structure the likely probability that the majority of the church are converted or that the majority of the ministry are competent enough to participate in the selection process of their own Ministerial Council. This approach to administration is fine for an evangelistic organization but constrains a church's potential growth.
These ministers' resignations are an acknowledgment that the CGI's main reason for existence is to support one man's calling as a minister. The fact that each member as well as each minister has a special calling is considered a threat to the health and success of "THE WORK".
Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the CGI in its present configuration will never effectively reach the broad majority of the US population - much less the international families of man.
"It has taken us a little time to see that we are not needed in your organization" wrote Don Young on March 9, 1988.
The following excerpts are taken from George Dewey's letter of resignation: "I have felt for many years that there was a desperate need for clearer definition in the CGI of roles, policies, priorities and procedures, particularly in the area of relationships between the home office and the field churches and field ministry, and between the lay membership and the ministry. Many in the field are thus left with the feeling that anyone brave enough to voice a problem is viewed as the problem himself, and the solution is to hush him up or remove him."
Mr. Dewey also commented on the lack of established procedure for the removal of a minister's credentials in the CGI. He noted that the basis of Charles Kimbrough's removal was one phone call with one witness which is in contradiction to the Biblical injunction of not receiving an accusation against an elder "except on the basis of two or three witnesses," (1 Timothy 5:19).
FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE
by Beaufort A. Brown
Choice is the act of choosing: To prefer select or decide. Everywhere we look in today's society, we must make choices. We make decisions about things like school, eating, sleeping, and driving.
We even decide whether or not to reject the Almighty God because He gives us the privilege of making that choice. Consequently we also decide whether to obey God's Word when He tells us to forgive.
Some of us do not like to be told to forgive. "I don't want to hear that. I know all about that", we may say. And we have heard the instruction on forgiveness before, we still are not doing what the Word of God says to do about it.
Do you forgive? If not, you are not in line with the Word of the Almighty. You have not made the choice to obey and you have allowed pride, envy, and/or jealousy to step in.
Forgiveness is to grant pardon; to cease blaming or feeling angry with. To forgive is to yield to the Holy Spirit rather than to old sinful nature. To forgive is to love.
Have you ever heard anyone say something like "I love him, but I don't forgive him"? Evidently that person does not realize that "…love keeps no record of wrongs...." -2 Cor 13:5-- NIV.
Therefore, there is no love if there is no forgiveness. Next time someone says to you, "I love him, but I don't forgive him", you say to that person, "You don't love him if you can't forgive him."
Booker T. Washington, the renowned educator gave an excellent example of choosing to forgive when he proclaimed; "I am determined to permit no man to narrow or degrade my soul by making me hate him". What a high and noble standard those words set! They confront racial tensions, family conflicts, and peer struggles.
Whenever we choose unforgiveness, resentment, a bitterness and a desire for revenge may surge through our minds with a blinding sensation.
As a result, our feelings of forgiveness become numbed. We become unable to reason. We want revenge, thinking that revenge will make us feel better.
Actually, we will not feel better. We will feel just the opposite because of the destructiveness of the emotions associated with revenge.
It is not our job to seek revenge. The Almighty says that, "... Vengeance belongeth unto me, I Will recompense" Heb. 10:30 KJV.
It is our job, however, to forgive even though the natural human tendency is to resist and resent rather than to forgive. Fleshly or unworldly character tends to be unmerciful while Godly character is to be forgiving.
Though we have all sinned against the Almighty, He still forgives us and expects us to do the same for others. Yet while the Almighty's forgiveness makes it possible for us to forgive others, He does not force us to forgive and no one can "make" us forgive. Forgiveness is something that is done only by c-h-o-i-c-e.
We are told in Matthew 5:44-45 to love our enemies so that we may be the children of our Father which is in heaven. But who can obey this unless he has the mind of Christ?
We have to give our enemies good words for bad words; do good to them that hate us; and give our Enemy every proof that we love him.
However, we cannot do these things without the Holy Spirit. And if we cannot do these things, we will not be the children of the Father God: Plain and simple.
For those people who constantly harass and slander us, we must be able to love them, not with words only, but in deed and truth.
We know that people are either led by the Holy Spirit with the Almighty as their Father, or they are influenced by Satanic spirit with Satan as their Father: There is no in-between. Consequently, we must remember that the problem is not with the people, but with the evil spirit that influences people.
Furthermore, Almighty God has told us that we are not fighting against flesh or people: Ours is a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, we must pray for our persecutors because we cannot change men's: Only the Almighty can.
It is by this type of love and forgiveness that we are examples for the world. When we love only those who love us, we have done no more than what the pagans or those in the world would do (Matt 5:46).
We are to be different from the world, and others should see that we are different by our actions of forgiveness through love and obedience.
In Matthew 6:15 and again in Mark 11:25 we are told that our Father God will not forgive us if we will not forgive others. In fact, we are to be reconciled with a brother who has something against us before we approach the Almighty (Matt 5:23-24).
"But", you may ask, "What if the other person does not cooperate?" As long as we do what is required of us we need not worry about the other person not doing his duty. Men's sins against us are their own stumbling or hindrances from their duty to love which they owe us; but our forgiveness of those people are our debts to the Almighty God.
As for us, we are to bless those that persecute us: Bless and not curse (Rom. 12:14).
We are to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). We may want to overcome evil with evil ,but that is impossible to do. We will only get more evil in return.
Paul addressed the Corinthians on how to handle a brother who causes distress in the church: The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him.
"I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him." II Cor. 2:6-8 NIV Paul admonishes the Corinthians that the punishment of the offender should be discontinued and he should be lovingly restored to their fellowship.
While church discipline is important, it should not be allowed to develop into some form of graceless or merciless punishment in which there is no provision for restoration. Rather, we are to encourage the brother in love.
There will be problems in the church, but, "Lest Satan should get advantage of us..."-II Cor. 2:11 KJV, we must learn from the Word of the Almighty to handle problems in love and forgiveness.
If a brother offends or sins, he is to be made aware of it but in a specific manner as described in the Holy Bible. In addition, we must be able ready to forgive with no second guessing because the Almighty forgives us. If we do not choose the required way of Almighty God, we will have dissension in the church.
In Matthew 18:21, Peter raised the question of how many times we should forgive our brother. Our Savior's answer included a parable about the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a mammoth debt, but who refused to forgive someone else a quite small debt. Consequently, the pardon of the great debt was withdrawn and the unmerciful servant was left without the mercy he could have had.
In the same way that he who shows mercy to men receives mercy from the Almighty, we must be forgiving in order to remain a part of the body of Christ. And if we are tempted to despise our brother on account of his weaknesses, we must think of our own weaknesses and of Almighty God's mercy and forgiveness towards us.
We must bear with one another's faults, forgiving whatever complaints we may have against one another (Col 3:13).
We are to rid ourselves of all bitterness, rage, anger, and slander along with every form of malice and be kind or generous and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:31-32). "Why?" Because these thing are all of the old nature. We are to have no part of the old self, but become strong in the word of the Almighty.
Some of us struggle so greatly with the phrases, "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you", that we nearly choke on them as we try to say them. Is it that difficult. Yes, if we are not yielding to the will of the Almighty. But if we yielded, being truly repentant, The Holy Spirit frees us of the pain of apologizing and forgiving.
One who forgives is thought to be weak. However, the opposite is true. The human spirit is strongest when it foregoes revenge to obey the Almight's instruction to forgive.
No person can find forgiveness in himself or the will to forgive others in and of himself. Forgiveness comes only through the shed blood of Jesus the Christ.
As soon as we feel resentment, we must make the choice to forgive. If we do not, unforgiveness can consume our very life.
Many people ignore the hidden price they pay for harboring the resentment of unforgiveness. Normal health declines, friendships are broken, jobs are lost homes are destroyed, and churches are split (Yes!).
These are demonic evils that occur if we allow Satan to use his schemes and devices through our own unforgiveness (II Cor. 2:11).
These evils are as real as the many and varied hurts we endure. Some people have been carrying around resentment for ten years or more: A young man finds out that his boss lied to him; a young lady cannot forget that her father abused her as a child; a husband or wife learns that their has cheated them. These people all need to forgive, but they cannot do it alone.
Likewise, we need to forgive on those occasions when we find some in the church who follow the world's way, thereby bringing unforgiveness into the church.
We need to pray and repent and say, "Father God, take it away! I do not want it anymore!" Only you can choose to forgive through the power of Almighty God. "...because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing". --I Peter 3:9KJV.
Beaufort A. Brown is a member of the Tampa congregation.
What Binds Us Together?
by George and Pam Dewey
It is possible to be a lay member in the Church of God, International and suspend all judgement about the role of Garner Ted Armstrong and the Ministerial Council. A member can come because he or she likes the fellowship, believes most of the doctrines, and wants a place to worship at on the Sabbath. A member can think GTA is fulfilling the role of Elijah, is just a man with an interesting message, or not care at all about him.
These options are not available to a minister in the CGI. A credentialed minister is not just a representative of Jesus Christ. He is not just a Bible teacher, a servant of the people, or a public speaker. He must be, by definition, also a personal representative of GTA. It is inconceivable to the Ministerial Council that a field minister might have a personal calling from Jesus Christ apart from GTA's own national mass media effort.
Every CGI minister must encourage people to support the "work" of GTA and encourage their belief in GTA's definition of himself as having a unique commission from God as "the" special messenger of God for our times. As he, himself stated at the 1987 ministerial conference, the ministry are "salesmen".
A CGI minister must agree with all doctrine and policies which GTA considers "locked in" (he himself used that very phrase at that ministerial conference. The doctrines of the CGI are GTA's doctrinal understandings. Its policies, his policies. We have no objection to this practice since the CGI is by definition, GTA's organization. He has every right to establish those requirements for the ministry. We do object, however, to the seeming dissimulation presented to the membership that the CGI is other than it is.
Back in the WCG, the average members only contact with GTA was through TV, from a distance at the Feast, or by impersonal letters. That has continued in the CGI. For the lay members, GTA is only a video image or a signature on a piece of paper.
These second-hand impressions are the only thing most members go by when evaluating GTA's claims for himself. He is not a man, just an illusion and a message. But the Bible does not say "By their message shall you know them." It says, "By their fruits you shall know them." For us the bottom line is this - we have seen more of GTA than the illusions on the screen and the signature on the paper. And we do not see the fruits of a Paul or a Peter or an Elijah.
Each man or woman must do their own discerning with the help of the Spirit. But a minister of Jesus Christ who cannot see those fruits cannot continue to encourage belief by others in what he is convinced is an illusion.
We know that having one's illusions shattered is a painful experience. We lived with belief in the illusion of Herbert W. Armstrong for ten years. We believed that the WCG was the only true church on earth. We no longer believe that.
For the last ten years we have acted on the hope that our affiliation with GTA was to be a part of something wonderful to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But you can't live on hope forever -except the hope that comes from faith in Jesus as your Savior, the kind of hope that is evidence of faith in God. God never commanded us to have faith in Man. He gave us minds, and His Holy Spirit to help us evaluate our human hopes.
We have come to the conclusion that we have done what we said we never would when we left the WCG - turned our eyes off Jesus and on to a man to fulfill our hopes. It is not that man's fault. We believe GTA is sincere. But neither does the Bible say, "By their sincerity you shall know them."
If what binds a congregation together is belief in a man's calling, then we do not believe that congregation is the Ecclesia of God. If what binds a congregation together is the agape love of Jesus Christ then the ties between the people transcend place and organization.
There will come a time when there will be no Garner Ted Armstrong, at least as far as contact with him goes. There will come a time when there are no more tapes, no more TV programs. If we are as close to bad times as some think, then we are close to a time when all we will have left are the face-to-face relationships we have built with other Christians. There will come a time when we need each other far more than we think we need each other now.
We believe that God will do his work in His time with the servants of His choice. We believe there are many voices out there preaching the Gospel - the Gospel of Jesus Christ survived and spread for 1900 years without mass media, and continues to be so spread.
We believe that, at a time of God's choosing, there will be powerful witness and warning to our nation and the whole world from God. But we believe it will be done the same way it was always done in the past, from Elijah to Paul - by the awesome power of the Almighty God, not the power of the almighty dollar.
Editor's note: The Deweys are freelance Christian writers. Mr. Dewey was until recently a minister
by C. Aaron Patton
Love is a much misunderstood concept. There are actually three different concepts associated with love or called love but, only one of them is really love. These are: sexual love or lust, romantic love, and real love.
First there is lust or sexual love. Lust is the emotional response that we see in animals in heat it causes them to desire sexual intercourse with animals of the opposite sex.
Lust is a purely chemical reaction, this has been proven to us by various laboratory experiments using male and female hormones. This causes extreme behavioral changes to the degree that female rats have, humped males. All of this only goes to show however, that or physical attraction is deals only with propagation of the species and is obviously not real love.
I am not saying that the sex drive is bad. On the contrary, it is good in a monogamous relationship with your spouse. It is beneficial even, for without it the human race would have died out long ago.
However, there is a detrimental effect to uncontrolled lust, we are not animals! We should not act like them. Here are a few of the negative effects of lust: AIDS, teen pregnancy, a sense of unfulfillment going from one one-night stand to another and never being satisfied because all there is is a brief high that merely whets the sexual appetite, not to mention the possibility of future problems with someone you really love.
Now, being as that the human animal is continually in heat from puberty on, the big question in most peoples minds is, "How do I control it?"
The big thing to remember is that lust is like drugs, the more you have, the more you want. The fact is that even looking at erotica can cause problems, let alone petting or copulation. I am not saying be a prude, like most teenagers I have a healthy appreciation for members of the opposite sex, I just don't let it control me. To sum up, when dealing with lust which is a very strong, basic, and primal emotion, exercise caution.
In all relationships there is give and take, what most people fail to realize is that there are two states that give, or take can exist in, active or passive. In the case of lust there is give-passive and take-active. Sometimes the passive is not mentioned, thus lust is take.
The next type of love that I will discuss is romantic love, or the crush, it is give-active and take-active.
Romantic love or the crush, is very simply, lust that complies with or is in accordance with one or more preconceived ideas of the person with the crush. Lust is usually the spark for romantic love and the wood that keeps the fires, burning is usually an idea.
For example: Mary is a very beautiful girl. John's "friends" have been embarrassing him about not having a girlfriend. John sees Mary; John feels lust. John thinks, "l could fall in love with a girl like that."
The idea is a way out of his embarrassment, if John falls in love with a beautiful girl like Mary his friends will respect him, he will be one of the "in" crowd, it is also a way of rationalizing and fulfilling his lust.
The above is a classic example of peer pressure causing crushes. Another is: "Are you a virgin, John?" Implying that being a virgin is bad, this causes John to hop in bed with the first girl who will go along. The same situation is true for girls i.e. "I really love this guy, I really do, so because I really love him it's okay to go to bed with him."
This is not to say that all romantic love is bad. In some cases it is engendered by an aftinity or sympathy of character and as such can occasionally be the start of real love. The key to not being harmed by, and enjoying romantic love is to take a good, as completely honest look yourself as you can in your present euphoric condition.
Please realize that states of complete irrational bliss can blunt the mind's ability to cope with reality. Be as unemotional and logical as you can be about what causes your emotions.
It is a good idea not to be controlled by your emotions, which are nothing more than chemical imbalances anyway. To sum up, be sure that you have honest reason, that you understand fully, for your crush.
Real love is a give-active, take-passive relationship. In other words, both members of a real love relationship give freely and generously, and take only as an after thought, only as things are given to them.
Love is non-selfish. It is interesting to note that it is impossible to really love a slime, the emotional delusion of romantic love for such a person may last 2 or 3 years but unlike real love, sooner or later it will pass.
Real love is always a two-way street, it is impossible to love somebody who doesn't love you. That doesn't mean that there is "love at first sight" that's lust.
Real love is a developing and growing process for both parties, and while there may be romantic and/or sexual love as a sideline the core of real love is unemotional, and is something that transcends and rises above emotion.
If you have love for someone you will eventually know it, it may take time but at some point you will know and you will be sure. It will be the most natural thing in the world.
Editor's note: Aaron Patton is the 15 yr. old son of Christopher J.
by Gladys Poe November 25, 1987
There is a place I'm longing to see Where Jesus will be ruling over you and me.
Working will be easy and walking will be fun.
In a wonderful city called New Jerusalem.
No more sorrows, no more strife. No more worries for man and wife.
Children will be laughing and having lots of fun. In this coming city of New Jerusalem.
Life will be wonderful, won't it be grand? Living close to Jesus, walking hand in hand.
Chosen in the beginning to be Savior of us all. Jesus paid price in blood---Now listen for His call.
The "called out ones" His Bride to be. Keeping God's commandments is the key.
Observing all His Holy Days is required of everyone. Jesus will be King in the New Jerusalem.
Satan will be bound in chains, not running to and fro. For a thousand years---ln God's truth we will grow.
So let us continue to pray "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done" in the New Jerusalem.
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