Saturday, August 15, 2020

Why Do They Stay?

Here on Banned, after reading all of the various and crazy seeming behaviors, ideas and perspectives of the spiritual leadership in the myriad of Church of God splits, splinters and slivers, we often are forced to ask ourselves, "Why do they, the membership, who can't be this naïve and gullible. stay?" 

One valid reason is that indeed they are that gullible and naive. Another is the sincere belief that have that in spite of the seeming craziness and prophetic blunderings, "I sincerely believe this is God's True Church."

 But also, and perhaps a more primordial and subconscious belief,  is the absolute fear of the loss of connection and of belonging.  I get that and so do you.  

For several years before I departed WCG as both minister and member, I could see it coming. 

Originally I thought that my generation of ministry would right the wrongs of the WCG and stop majoring in the minors as well as practice minding our own business on topics which are not actually the church's business.  

That idea got crushed early in my ministry , which began in 1972, with the failure of the Systematic Theology Project, in 1974,  that addressed just such needs in the church.  Herbert would have none of it nor would he yield his supposed authority to others to recognize the need for changes on such topics as healing, divorce and remarriage and a number of other topics that were both meddlesome and troublesome in endeavoring how to apply them in our times.  The church nor HWA could err on the side of compassion , love and common sense.  It had to be technically and literally correct if it was to be "God's true Church." The rest is history. 

But even more than simply choosing to quietly not apply some church teachings and requirements to the congregation because I disagreed with them, it was the loss of community, connection and belonging that also weighed heavy in the background.  It is a subconscious human need that goes back a very long ways. 

. Being "disfellowshipped" or "marked" is a very old way of stirring up the fear people have of these losses and was used by the Bronze Age Old Testament types and the Iron Age New Testament types to keep the "all speaking the same thing, that there be no divisions among us" family together in peace and harmony. In the OT the penalties for stepping outside the box of the Israelite religion was severe and often fatal. In the New Testament it was a more conscious attempt to make the person lonely and cut off from the herd with the hope that would teach them good not to stray again. 

In the ancient history of tribal man, being put out of the group was literally a death sentence. Being put out of the church was deemed a mere death to the flesh in turning one over to Satan, but so the spirit could eventually be saved in the tale of ultimate salvation. I doubt it worked either.  

Somehow it never seemed to strike the NT types to wonder just why someone felt as they did, asked the questions they did, had the doubts they did or made the mistakes they did, and perhaps actually get them help and encourage them. 

Today with the increase of knowledge, a good thing, that approach has lost much of it's punch in motivating people to pray, obey, pay and stay where they are not comfortable.  And yet, the need to belong and the connections people have with family and friends in their faith is still strong and the major reason people stay put. 

It is when they find themselves sitting on the outside to Church beliefs but standing up on the inside when they disagree.  The inside and the outside don't yet match and may never depending on the degree of loss of connection and belonging a particular person is willing to live with. Perfect love, the opposite of which is not hate but fear, does not strike the NT church as a way to keep a church together. Fear of loss works just fine. It also causes a church to be made up of people who seem one way but are another. 

The reality of "why they stay" is perhaps illustrated in the life of Charles Darwin as well in relation to his wife Emma.  His "evolving" views on the Origin of Species" caused great distress in his personal relationship with his very religious and church going wife Emma.  

But in his personal life and relationship, Emma wrote him of her concerns. 

" My reason tells me that honest and conscientious doubts cannot be a sin, but I feel it would be a painful void between us."

Emma, wife of Charles Darwin,  upon her recognition of potential consequences to Charles discoveries as to the Origin of the Species. 

"May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing until it is proved, influence your mind in other things that cannot be proved..." 

Emma to Charles one year later in 1839.

Charles Darwin's "Sandwalk " Path where he often spent time alone in his thoughts. 

By the 1840's, Charles is escorting Emma to church, stopping at the door to drop her off and going off to take a walk alone while she is in Church.  It was this fear of the loss of his bond to Emma that caused Charles Darwin to postpone the publication of his Origin of  Species for another 20 years. 

Some do feel that this had little to do with Darwin's fears about either the reactions of his peers or his wife and were more a function of being busy and in poor health, but "all of the above" would seem true with such a revolutionary theory and understanding in that day. Today we have ample proof he was correct where Darwin simply had the concept lacking all but some relatively simple proofs of his time and by observation during his trip on the Beagle.

In modern times and in such cases where walking away from religious practice, people and beliefs that one no longer can support or count as a credible reason to stay put, we can see the same fears expressed when contemplating the losses and realities that will come from no longer being able "going along to get along. "  Going along to get along is the dilemma I see many of my former and now older minister peers stuck in because of age and the price of leaving being way too high if not impossible to do at this stage in their lives.   I get that. It's a dilemma they never would have imagined when young and it is not a function of doubting their sincerity.  

"I have a compelling reason to believe in God. My parents are deeply committed Christians, and would be devastated, were I to to reject my faith.  My wife and children believe in God...Abandoning belief in God (or a specific faith and church as with the splinters) would be disruptive...sending my life completely off the rails."

Carl Giberson, "Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution"  2008

In my own experience in coming out of ministry and membership in WCG many years ago now, I participated in The Clergy Project. This was a private and secure website for members of the clergy, male and female, to talk with those who have already had the experience, about their loss of faith and how to navigate all the potential emotions and losses associated with it. It was always the fear of loss of a marriage, the love of children and the safety and comfort of belonging to community that held them back or was the stuff of nightmares "coming out." . One pastor asked me if the divorce he feared  and his children rejecting him had to happen.  He wanted reassurance that it would not.   I could not give him that. No one could. It is often inevitable depending on what actually holds a relationship together. If it just church, then no.  And if no is not something one is willing to consider at this time, the struggle for one's personal authenticity and the consequences of a  loss of faith in faith will come calling again another time to see how it's going. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

UPDATED: Sheldon Monson To Speak Saturday August 22 @ 2:00 EDT


For anyone interested: 

This is sure to irritate Gerald Weston and some of the boys in Charlotte.

Sheldon Monson will connect to a YouTube livestream COG Event scheduled for tomorrow, August 15th at 2:00pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). August 15 2020 Sabbath Services 2:00pm EDT

You can find the live stream event at the COG Broadcast Youtube page. 

If someone wants to share what he said please feel free to do it here. I will be out of town all day tomorrow and in an area with limited to zero cell service. 


Sheldon Monson will connect again to YouTube for another Event scheduled for tomorrow, August 22nd at 2:00pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). August 22 2020 Sabbath Services 2:00pm EDT.

You can find the live stream event at the same place, COG Broadcast on YouTube.

I believe this time around there's a greater possibility he will discuss his current situation involving LCG. The upcoming sermon from Sheldon is entitled, I believe, "Its better to obey God rather than men."

LCG: Wally Smith's verbal contortions on our obligation to submit to "substantial people in the church"


From an LCG source:

An Overlooked Aspect of Faith. Wally Smith, Living Church of God. Sermonette transcript. Aug. 8, 2020

Thank you very much, Mr. Ruddlesden. Howdy everyone, I hope that you are doing well. It's a privilege to be able to be connected with technology and all the goodness that is provided in our age today. I want to ask a question here at the very beginning. What is faith? And people define it in many different ways. Actually, I did a search online to find a way some outside of the faith define faith and it wasn't actually all that encouraging. We've understood for some time. Actually, Mr. Herbert Armstrong said it very well, and we continue that idea is that faith is believing what God says in his word. That faith is actually reading the words and recognizing God does exactly what he says he will do. God does fulfill the promises we see there and that God does work in the world and in the church exactly as he describes in this book. Believing that to the core of your being is faith. So, with that that in mind I have an often overlooked aspect of faith that I want to discuss here at the beginning of the sermon. I'm sorry beginning of the message. Do we have faith in, do we have trust in, do we believe in Jesus Christ when he tells us in his word and records plainly how he governs in his church? Because if those things are recorded in the Bible and we read those things in the Bible, but we do not take Christ at his word if we do not believe those things, then we lack faith. Faith isn't open to us to define and determine however we want. It's defined by God in this way. Do we actually believe what Jesus Christ says when he describes how he governs his church? And so that we're going to take a look at today. 

We're going to take a look at just a few verses that discuss how Jesus Christ himself from God's mouth to our ears through these papers, how he himself says he governs in his church. So we can ask ourselves if we believe Jesus Christ and have that faith, or whether we don't. My title today is An Overlooked Aspect of Faith. Now the verses and passages about this topic are many in the Bible. In fact, it might take a little bit of faith for some of those in the audience today to wonder if Wally Smith can give us sermonette-sized message. So I'm sure they're all praying right now, I hope that you are too. We're just going to focus on a few and definitely not take a look at all of them. Let's start in Deuteronomy Chapter 17. You probably have your Bibles with you, 'cause you're in God's Church, Deuteronomy, Chapter 17. And Deuteronomy Chapter 17, we're going to see beginning in verse 8, that God understood that disputes come up that disagreements come up, not because, say, one person is evil and one person’s not but legitimate attempts to understand how to apply his word and what to do. And did he abandon us to chaos in that regard. Absolutely, he did not. In Deuteronomy Chapter 17 and verse 8. Starting there, we read, “if a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise an go up to the place which the eternal your God chooses, and you shall come to the priests, the Levites and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them. They shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment.” It’s plain, he didn't allow this to just swim amongst the people. It certainly wasn't a democracy of any sort. He said, "I have appointed people. I am going to take care of you. I'm your God who loves you and I am going to ensure you do have a body of people that you can go to and discuss these things and hear from them what his judgment is and he takes it seriously." Take a look at verse 10, “You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the eternal chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you according to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you according to the judgement which they tell you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the Eternal your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So, you shall put away the evil. From Israel.” And it says, “that all the people shall hear and fear and no longer act presumptuously.” This was something that was meant to keep the people unified. It wasn't just about whatever particular circumstance came before the appointed judges sitting in the place of authority that God had placed, it was meant to have an effect on everyone so that everyone continues to work together in peace. 

Now, it might be easy to say, well, what does God actually want though? But he literally says. Do we actually have the faith to read what he says? In fact, if we were to ask ourselves how is it God would run his church? How is it God would want his church to be run in to be governed and for decisions to be made? If we haven't taught ourselves by now, that this is how we figure that out we go to this book and we ask him, he gives us the answers, though it does take faith to believe them. Now, thankfully at least in the Church of God, most of us wouldn't say this, but there are those out there in the world that might say, well, that's the Old Testament. You know? What about the New Testament? We see this repeated in the New Testament as well. Turn to Matthew, Chapter 16. Again, there should be no doubt God is speaking here of his design in these things. These are not words that are being made up by human beings. This is in the inspired word of God. Just like when you're trying to figure out how marriage is supposed to work, and I know a lot of us sometimes wonder how is this supposed to work? The answer to that is to look in his word and see how God describes this is how marriage works. “I designed it. Do you trust me or not?” When you're that wife - and now I've known a lot of wives that don't have perfect husbands like my wife does, and it's difficult sometimes. Sometimes your husband, maybe I have as well, makes a decision that you're pretty sure is kind of a boneheaded decision. You think about that and you think, “Honey, I don't know; there's something about that that just doesn't look right,” and you do your best to convince him and he's like, “I don't know, honey, I thought about it and you know I think we've got enough bananas to pull that off,” and I have no idea what that would be, but regardless, you know he's looking at and thinks we can do it. And I actually did have a faithful wife in the church days ago. I think she was just talking about her experience as a wife. And she said that she's found If she goes against God's small government, it still God's government in the family and tries to undercut her husband, try to make things work out her way, God doesn't bless that, even when she's right. But when she learns like Sarah did with Abraham in his moments of weakness, where he was worried about dying, though God had given him promises. If she yields and supports her husband then sometimes he makes it work out when it shouldn't. Sometimes he does help the husband see a year or two later. “Boy, honey, I'm really sorry that was dumb,” and sometimes he helps her see that she was wrong. But it works when we do it God's way in the Bible makes it plain what God's way is. So we see, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, we see that in Hebrews 13, Jesus Christ is consistent. The God of the Old Testament reigned through his people as he himself described in the Old Testament, and he reigns through his people today as he describes here, and it is the same.

We see in Matthew Chapter 16, where he's actually talking about the creation of the church and starting in verse 18. He says, “I also say to you that you are Peter, verse 18, and on this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Now we don't need be distracted by the difficult scripture aspect of this. We understand that he was the small rock, Peter was, and Jesus Christ was the big rock. The point is he's building his church and he's speaking to his leaders. And what does he say to them? He makes the same assurance that he made to the leaders of Israel. Read the next verse. Verse 19, “and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven.” Now let's understand. Does that mean that somehow people can decide? Well, here's what we bind on Earth: Sunday instead of Saturday. God is a Trinity. And no, that's not the same thing. Deuteronomy taught us. These were matters of trying to figure out how to apply the law, not how to discard the law, not how to jettison the law and replace it with nothing but human Pagan concepts. These were legitimate matters of how to apply the law, and let's be honest, if we have any kind of relationships with substantial people in the church and we talk about God’s things here and there, which hopefully we do, it's a wonderful thing to do on the Sabbath. We do not always agree, right? But someone has to make the call from time to time and Jesus Christ makes it plain who does. Now, it's important to understand there's other translations like the New American Standard Bible translation translates that as what you bind here on Earth shall have been bound in heaven. What you loose here on Earth shall have been loosed in heaven. It’s the same principle we see in the Old Testament, it’s the same principle we see in second Chronicles chapter 19, where God talks about being with the judges. In their judgment. It's Jesus Christ promising his church, “I really am the same yesterday, today and forever.” It's Jesus Christ, saying, “you can have faith in me and I do reign consistently among my people.” It's Jesus Christ saying that “just like there was a council of elders meeting in Acts chapter 15, in which I worked with my people through a contentious issue to come to my conclusion. I do not change and I work through a council of elders in the 21st century as well.” And I must say it's a privilege to be able to do that and to see Mario Hernandez’s smiling face, “Hello my friend,” you know, and everybody's his friend. And to see Mr. Ames sitting there like a rock so faithful and to reflect on these promises and to know that those promises are still true. You know, brethren, we are in a time in this world that is one of the most divisive and fracturing that I have ever seen. I'm 50 years old. I know some you think that's really young and some you think you must be almost dead. 50 years old in my whole life I have never seen times like this. The world is fracturing and people are being filled with division and hate. And Satan the devil smiles at the opportunity that he may have to inject some of that inside the body of Christ and the Church of God. Brethren let's not make him happy. Let's believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. Satan may want to do that, but we don't have to let him. And if we have faith. We won't.

Gerry Weston: Brethren, Please rise and "sing together in your heads"

This is from a VERY reliable source on Gerald Weston's mandate on singing hymns during church services. 

People might be amused to know that Weston has mandated that LCG members don't sing during song service.  They put on a rinky-dink CD accompaniment and the congregations stands holding their hymnals and they all "sing together in their heads."

This is really sad. 

It reminds me of the mandate dished out to the members in the Dayton, Ohio church that we were to be in Sabbath wear when listing or watching the broadcast at home.

The other interesting thing about Gerry and his crew is that with North Carolina's COVID guidelines for meetings being so restrictive, they have members drive across the border into South Carolina for church services where the guidelines are not as restrictive and they can meet together, with or without masks. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Fly in the Ointment: When disfellowshipped members don't stay silent

When a person leaves or is pushed out of one of the Armstrong Churches of God, those who remain expect them to tuck their tails between their legs and never have the audacity to speak or show their faces again. Unfortunately for them, many of us have not gone quietly into the night.

After all, leaving or disfellowshipping is supposed to remove the offending person from the church and cut them off from sowing any more mischief or discord within that body. The leadership of the church expects to be able to both characterize the person who has left and project the agenda and message of the church without hindrance going forward.

Imagine their consternation when someone whom they believe they have eliminated decides to challenge them. It must be infuriating for them to be confronted by someone whom they have labeled as being wrong. “NO, I’m not wrong – YOU are wrong!” That’s simply not supposed to happen. They are supposed to be able to control the narrative.

The thing that infuriates these folks more than any other is that one or more of these rejects would have the audacity to stand up against God’s anointed ones! It infuriates them, and they see Satan as being behind any and all such efforts. It is simply incomprehensible to them that one of their minions would regain their independence and stand on their own two feet again – to begin thinking for themselves once again.

Worse yet, they no longer have the means to control the access which these disgruntled folks have to the folks who have stayed behind – the internet has made that virtually impossible. It has to be frustrating to realize that there is absolutely no way to regulate what folks do in the privacy of their own homes. And with blogs, tweets, Facebook and e-mail everyone has a means now – a forum to reach the public. Yeah, the genie is out of the bottle, and there’s no stuffing him back down inside there!

Of course, from the perspective of those who have escaped these cults, the freedom to help others and make them aware of the hurts and harms that these cults have inflicted on so many is very appealing. We no longer have to suffer in silence and slink away into oblivion. We have a voice, and the cult’s leadership no longer has the ability to stifle, dismiss or suppress it!

Lonnie Hendrix

LCG Wallace Smith: If Your Husband Tells You to Lie It Is Ok Because You Are Following Government


The gist of Smith's argument as I understood it when I listened to it was that Sarah was right to go along with Abram's lie to Pharaoh about their relationship because God's will in the home is for the wife to be submissive to her husband and that if she doesn't support him even if he is wrong, it won't work well because she is not submitting to how God designed His government to work in the home. In The case of Sarah it was argued that God worked it out anyway, and that it is up to God to make the husband realize it if he is wrong. He then launched into the argument for binding and loosing, and equated Weston and the LCG "Council of Elders" with the "Council of Elders" that met in the book of Acts, implying that the LCG council is the one God is working through in the twenty first century.  

I have numerous issues with this approach. First of all Smith is cherry picking examples that he thinks fit his argument and ignoring others. As I mentioned in the other comment I made, Abigail did not go along with Nabal and did exactly what Smith says a wife should not do. In fact she went out without his knowledge and took provisions to David and his men, while Nabal got drunk and partied at home. She didn't inform him of what she had done until the next morning. As a result Abigail and her household were spared from being slaughtered in David's wrath, Nabal fell over dead within ten days, and Abigail then became one of David's wives. So my question is, was Abigail correct in this instance to circumvent her husband's wishes, or should she have just meekly submitted to him even when the servants came and warned her that there was going to be trouble as a result of Nabal's arrogance and foolishness? 

Another issue is the idea that LCG's leadership and council are equivalent to the "council" who met in Acts, and they have a right to bind and loose decisions on how to apply God's law for the rest of the church. If the "church" consists of the entire assembly of believers, and these believers are scattered among numerous groups with different councils and different shepherds, what makes Smith think the decisions of his council carry the same gravity as the group of people who met in Acts? The Apostle Paul didn't even give the meeting in Acts as much weight as Smith gives his council. A reading of Galatians 2:1-10 demonstrates this point. I could also add that reading the rest of the chapter would demonstrate that Paul did not view Cephas or Peter as some pope figure who was above criticism or reproach with the power to bind and loose, even if he was wrong. Galatians 2:11-14 demonstrate this point. 

If we cherry pick scriptures that only fit the scenario we want to promote, this is not gleaning the whole truth of God's word, and can be misleading, because we have left out part of the story. It also isn't honest, which goes to Smith's argument about Sarah. Is it okay to go along with a lie if your husband tells you to, and if so, will God always work things out in your favor, or will you suffer the consequences along with your husband? The story of Ananias and Sapphira might be instructive here. Acts 5:1-11 

Concerned Sister

Dave Pack: I am so desperate for your money that you can donate you BBQ grill and I'll get the cash...after all, everything you own is mine

From the money whores at Restored Church of God. Never has the church seen a more money-obsessed COG than with Dave Pack.

Your Offerings and Donations Are Making a Difference!

The Restored Church of God is reaching millions of people every year with the gospel of the kingdom of God. This Work is made possible by the voluntary, freely given tithes and offerings of the members of the Church and by offerings and donations of co-workers and donors around the world. This Work could not be accomplished without your support.

Over the years, we have been asked if automobiles, boats, stocks, even homes could be donated. The Church has not been in a position to accept such non-cash or “in-kind” gifts before, but that is no longer the case. In a giant step forward for the Work of God, The Restored Church of God can now facilitate all types of non-cash donations through the services of, which provides more options to give to the Work of God.

For an idea of what iDonate can do, here are some examples of non-cash gifts accepted by the service for other non-profits:

  • Grain: A farmer decided to donate a portion of his business inventory, which was grain ($306,000).
  • Designer Handbag: A girl used her Louis Vuitton handbag once, but decided to donate it ($950).
  • 2005 Honda Shadow: After losing her husband, a widow donated his motorcycle for which she had no use ($4,166).
  • Chaparral Ski Boat: Another woman wanted to sell her ski boat, but dreaded the selling process and instead donated it ($14,000).
  • Lynx 54” Portable Grill: One man donated his gently used grill when it came time to sell his home ($4,500).

Donating Non-Cash Items Is Simple!

To make non-cash donations go to the Member Services section of and click the iDonate tab under “Member Options.” (Our co-workers can contact The Restored Church of God Headquarters by phone at 330-334-2266.) You will see icons under “Ways to Give.” Then click on the icon that best matches the donation you would like to make.

You will be prompted to enter some general information about your item(s) and iDonate takes it from there.*

If your item is accepted (not all are), you will receive further instructions by email.

Upon completion of the sale, proceeds are transferred to the Church and you will receive a receipt. (Note: Due to the nature of IRS guidelines regarding charitable contributions, you may or may not receive an actual dollar amount on your receipt.)

Your cash or non-cash donation can have a powerful impact on a world searching for answers. We thank you for your support.

*The Restored Church of God is not involved during any part of the non-cash donation process. The iDonate company performs a service for the Church—turning non-cash donations into funds, which allows the Church to continue preaching the gospel to the world. If you have any questions about how to donate your non-cash items to The Restored Church of God, contact the Fundraising Department at 330-334-2266.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

LCG Member Readership Here Jumps Due To Weston Kicking Monson and Fritts Out Of LCG


Every once in awhile a loyal LCG member will pop on here and make the accusation that no one in LCG reads this site. We know that is not true.  

The day Rod Meredith said from the pulpit for members not to read this blog, the viewership shot up.  

Articles on Living Church of God and Restored Church of God draw the most views.  

The recent article about Weston firing and disfellowshipping  Monson and Fritts is now at, 2,590 views. 

LCG members know they never get the full story when news comes out of Charlotte. COG leaders have never been transparent with things that go on in their groups. It is actually pretty pathetic that LCG members have to come here to find things out their own church.

LCG: Trust Us For Wise Council - NEVER Trust Your Own Judgement! It Is A DANGEROUS Human Tendency!


The Value of Counsel: One of the common pitfalls in life is trusting in our own judgment when we only see part of the picture. When we make decisions or take actions based on how we see a situation, the results can be costly to ourselves and to others. This is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5, “lean not on your own understanding,” and in Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes,” and again, in Proverbs 28:26, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” Solomon also warned in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” These multiple warnings in Proverbs were recorded to alert us to a dangerous human tendency. To help us avoid making serious mistakes in life, Solomon advised in Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” and again in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” This is one of the reasons we have a Council of Elders in the Church of God. As individuals, we can obtain wise and valuable advice by prayerfully studying the book of Proverbs and by seeking counsel from parents, the ministry, and from more experienced friends and associates who can be objective and help us see a bigger picture that we perceive on our own.     

Have a profitable Sabbath,

Douglas S. Winnail

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Melvin Rhodes: The Age of Ignorance?


The Age of Ignorance?

Mel Rhodes has posted a piece that appears to be a rebuttal to my post "Faith of Our Fathers: A Racist Legacy." His post, "The Age of Ignorance," opens with a tribute to Handel's The Messiah (with which I have no problem). He wrote: "Today, we live in what can best be described as the age of ignorance.

Whatever the issues of the day, Black Lives Matter, slavery, and abortion, to name but three, a great deal of ignorance abounds. Gone is the grounding people once had in the Christian scriptures. Now, people spout their opinions, whatever they may be, exposing their ignorance on all topics.

The secularists may still appreciate the Hallelujah Chorus, for the inspiring music, but gone is the faith of their ancestors. It has been replaced solely by ignorance."

My first date with the mother of my children was on the occasion of a performance of The Messiah at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Then, as now, I felt inspired and appreciated the allusion to the fulfillment of God's plan for humankind as outlined in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Hence, my admiration for this composition could never be described as being secular in nature.

And, although the first two Hanoverian kings of Britain recognized Handel's talent, neither of them could fairly be characterized as "Christian" kings - unless we are using that term in the generic sense - as in, Donald Trump is a "Christian" president. George I was an adulterer who imprisoned his wife for seeking solace in the arms of another and had several children with his mistress.

Likewise, George II had several mistresses and was estranged from his father and heir (the Prince of Wales) for many years. Both George's were crude, vindictive men who spoke little English and used the British throne to further the interests of their principality in Germany (NCK objected to my characterization of it as a minor principality in the previous version of this post). Moreover, as far as the "Divine Right of Kings" is concerned, the only reason the Hanoverians ascended the British throne was that Parliament had barred the legitimate heir to the throne from the succession because he was a Roman Catholic!

In fact, the quotation from Dr. Roy Atwood is a perfect example of the kind of sentimental/nostalgic/fairytale history that I referenced in my post. For those who are interested in correcting the errors of their forefathers, the solution is relatively simple. It only requires a little intellectual curiosity, an open mind, a desire to be a better person and faith in God's ability to transform and forgive.

See Mr. Rhodes' post here

Lonnie Hendrix

UPDATED: LCG Breaking News: LCG Members Outraged After Weston Fires Sheldon Monson and Jason Fritts Over Masks

From an LCG source:

LCG fired 2 ministers today. One was a long-standing COE member. The members are outraged. These 2 were extremely loved and in charge of the youth ministry. Sheldon was in charge of their camps (which just wrapped up). Weston is citing masks as the reason (comical and lame) but we all know that’s just the pathetic excuse they’ve come up with.

Sheldon Monson Jason Fritts

August 7, 2020 Dear Brethren, It is with a sad heart that I must announce that Sheldon Monson and Jason Fritts are no longer in the ministry of the Living Church of God. We spent four and a half hours on Monday of this week with both of them discussing differences over masks, singing, how faith is exercised, and a few other issues. Then we held a Council of Elders meeting yesterday with Mr. Monson and 16 other members and advisors of the Council for another four and a half hours. Today Dr. Douglas Winnail and I talked with Mr. Monson on the phone and he agreed that we have come to a parting of ways. We also spent more than two hours with Mr. Fritts and could not reach an agreement on these subjects. We do not have personal animosity toward either of these men. Mr. Monson has been a faithful minister for many years and Mr. Fritts, though younger, has also served faithfully for a number of years. We want to make this breach between us as painless and amicable as possible, but it is impossible as an ordained minister to hold different views of how to conduct services during this temporary time of stress and not cause division, no matter how sincerely held those views may be. Even without intending to do so, this causes confusion and fragmentation among members of the Church. It is important to understand the reasons for some of the decisions the Church has made and that were confirmed by 16 longtime ministers yesterday in the Council. And let me assure you that these are not all “yes men,” as those of you who know them can attest. We truly wanted to find a way to work through our differences so that we all speak the same thing, as Paul admonished in 1 Corinthians 1:10. We will explain the doctrinal issues and biblical principles in the services livestreamed from Charlotte this Sabbath to North America and believe that the overwhelming majority of you will understand. The Bible is replete with admonitions concerning how God views division and those who cause division, and is just as clear about the wisdom of avoiding such individuals. This does not mean that we see each other as enemies. If anything, we should pray for one another with a sincere heart, that they may be able to walk with us in unity in the near future. But for now, we are left with no other choice but to agree to disagree. Brethren, we must be unified as one body doing the Work God has given us to do. Christ warns us that a “house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). Our world is falling apart around us. Satan is very active in dividing the world right now, and he would love to do the same in the Church. God has blessed us greatly during this time, and we are doing our best to walk through the many open doors He has thrust on us in the last several months, so it is no surprise that Satan is attacking us now through sincere, well-meaning, but confused individuals. Brethren, please do not get caught up in the politics of this world and issues such as whether to wear a mask or not. Here is a letter from one of our members and what she sees: Thank you for the work you are doing. Life today in this world is so different than I ever thought it would be, although I knew that these things would happen. I am praying for you, please continue to pray for all of us in the work. This is truly a difficult time, and it may be a time when God is sifting the wheat from the tares again. I am beginning to see division in the Church because of the dumbest thing ever, “masks.” I pray that we all see the one behind all of this and realize that nothing, absolutely nothing happens without God’s permission. It is so sad. This is a trying time for all of us. Pray that we don’t allow ourselves to fall into Satan’s trap. I see how Satan is trying to separate us (me) from the love of God. He is astute and we (I) must keep crawling to God for deliverance from Satan, the world, and ourselves. My biggest problem is me! Life today seems bleak, please pray fervently that we are able to celebrate the Feast together this year and focus on God’s Kingdom, coming to replace this world’s kingdom. May God bless you, your wife, and all my beautiful family in Christ out at headquarters and around the world. Thank you all for giving all you have to do God’s work. The magazines, letters, sermons, programs, Viewpoints, Whiteboards, Living Education, and so much more freely offered to us all are incredibly helpful. God gives us many passages of scripture on how to handle matters of controversy in the Church. To say that you believe Jesus is the Head of the Church and then reject all the scriptures proving how He guides His Church when there are matters of controversy is showing a lack of faith in His leadership. Why is it, my friends, that we believe Jesus is active as the Head of the Church and guides the servants He has appointed to lead His Church only so long as they agree with us? Walking by faith is essential, but, brethren, we need to ask ourselves: Is it up to each person individually to define “faith” in terms of wearing or not wearing a mask and singing or not singing during this “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26)? Is it truly biblical? One not-so-peripheral issue in the first-century Church of God was circumcision. It was a big deal, where people had plenty of scriptural “evidence” on both sides. God provided that account in Acts as just one of many examples that teach us how Christ settles matters of controversy within His Body. Paul instructed the divided Corinthian congregation, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Some may wonder whether we will still have summer camps and the answer is an emphatic YES. We will have them as long as God permits us to do so! We have every intention to continue with our youth camps. I have spent 28 years working with our young people at our camps, and we have no intention of abandoning them. Please be assured that, overwhelmingly, the membership is loyal and has faith in Christ to lead His Church. As all of us understand, it is our responsibility not to get caught up in disputes over masks and other matters, but to preach the Kingdom of God. Let us not walk in fear but in faith, boldly doing the Work set before us while there is still time. Sincerely, in Christ’s service, Gerald E. Weston

Monday, August 10, 2020

COG Leaders and Unconditional Loyalty


The following post was a comment on the LCG Breaking News: LCG Members Outraged After Weston Fires Sheldon Munson and Jason Fritts Over Masks concerning the power and control COG leaders succumb to when they start a church or take control of one.  Of particular notice is the comment by Weston that those who attend different Feast sites (of other groups than their own church) are sinning.

COG leaders all resent the fact that some of their members visit other COG's and feast sites WITHOUT asking their permission. Most are under the false impression that they "own" the members and expect their loyalty.

The problem is the system. When a human organization is viewed as and labeled the "church" or "true church" and those who call themselves "ministers" come to see themselves as the only legitimate representation of said "church" or arbiters of "truth", it is no longer just a matter of personal conviction or belief in Jesus Christ that makes one a member of the "church". It has more to do with what club you are loyal to, or in some cases, which one signs your paycheck. In the case of LCG Gerald Weston is seen by those loyal to his particular club as a pope figure and his board of elders are his council of bishops. They give themselves different titles, but their perception of their own authority over the brethren is the same. One of the issues Weston addressed in his sermon was the idea of brethren visiting "other groups" for the Feast. This is seen as something sinful. Why? Because they would be making an independent decision acting in defiance of their Pope and his bishops, which of course is equated with "God's government", because he sees himself as the only legitimate representative of that government. 

Once a man, even if he starts out as well meaning, decides to start his own "church" a different mindset begins to take hold of him. He takes possession of the organization he has started and begins to view those who choose to attend that organization as his "members" or "members" of the organization. The problem with this mindset is that it goes well beyond the biblical definition of a "member" because a "member" in the Bible is simply a member of one body, and that is Christ's. Romans 12:5 And Christ's body, assembly, or community is not synonymous with any human organization controlled by men. While members of His body might or might not attend a particular organization or even visit multiple organizations, that organization does not own those members, because those members belong to God, who has one body and places individuals in His body as He sees fit. Peter was told by Jesus to feed HIS sheep. John 21:15-17 That doesn't mean that Peter then became the owner of the sheep. He was simply supposed to be one of their caretakers. And as a fellow sheep, which he was, he was supposed to set an example of godly leadership, to serve among them, not rule over them. He did not become Chief Shepherd, Pastor General, Presiding Evangelist, or whatever other lofty title one might dream up. Those titles are exclusive, and only Jesus Christ can fill those shoes. Those who serve Christ in whatever function He places them in, according to the gifting he gives them are only supposed to be caretakers and servants among God's flock, which again isn't synonymous with any one human organization. 

These gifts, which some view as positions of hierarchy, that we are constantly told give some men the right to elevate themselves over, lord or exercise authority over others are not for that purpose. Matthew 20:25-28 1Peter 5:2-4 They are supposed to be gifts and functions that build the body up and equip everyone to function, work together, and minister to one another, so that the whole body grows up together and becomes unified and cohesive. They are simply supporting ligaments,and other body parts,as we all are. They are not the head,which is Christ. Ephesians 4:11-16

Instead their use has been distorted and perverted to serve those who think they are in power. They have been used to browbeat, scatter, and confuse the sheep. They have been used to promote a club or "church" mentality of one following "Paul" and another waving the flag of "Apollos". 1Corinthians 3:3-11 Because again, the sheep are viewed as possessions of the institution, club, or "church", rather than possessions of God, who these people are supposed to be serving.

Concerned Sister 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Living Dead


The Living Dead


Lonnie Hendrix/Miller Jones


Those who leave the Armstrong Churches of God (or are disfellowshipped) are often regarded by those who remain as the living dead. It is like the two hunters who shoot a deer and watch it continue to run for a few more feet. “He’s already dead,” one hunter comments. “Yep, he just doesn’t know it yet,” the other agrees.

A person who was formerly regarded as a friend and brother suddenly becomes persona non grata. Last Sabbath, he was one of God’s saints; and, today, he is the servant of Satan. Oh sure, some of the saints have convinced themselves that it is an act of love to reject the person. They tell themselves that they have rejected this person for their own good, so that they will repent and come back into the fold. Never mind, that that almost never happens.

“I still believe in Jesus Christ,” is not accepted. “I haven’t left God’s Church,” doesn’t work either. “No man has the authority to remove me from God’s Church or rescind my salvation,” falls on deaf ears.

It’s like the farmer who happens up on an overturned car full of used car salesmen and proceeds to dig a hole and bury vehicle and all. “Were any of them still alive?” an incredulous bystander asks him. “Well,” the farmer replies, “a couple of them said they were still alive, but you know you can’t believe a word those people say!”

And it’s especially wrenching when one leaves behind family members – when the person doing the shunning is a parent, spouse, child or sibling. To say that it is hurtful or soul-destroying to come to the realization that you aren’t as important to your loved one as the Church, doesn’t seem to do justice to the emotion that the one who has been abandoned is feeling. On the other side, the thinking is something like this: “I might as well get used to doing without them – After all, they’re NOT going to be in God’s Kingdom!”

If it wasn’t so heartbreaking, one would be tempted to laugh at the twisted reasoning, and the perversion of love. But it is sad - extremely sad. And too many people have experienced this pain.

Vic Kubik: Drawing upon my pain and suffering I am a more empathic leader

What the heck did I just read below?????? 

Why is it that the ministry of the church has to remind us how much they suffer?

Their pain and suffering are always greater than the suffering members have to deal with because of them. 

Never before in church history has one man suffered so much (except maybe than Bob Thiel). Where is our empathy? 
What more can we learn through hardship and setbacks beyond reliance on God and survival? In the midst of a trial, we can easily lament: Why is this happening to me? or I wish I wasn’t going through this! or What’s the point of this pain?
The trial could be related to health, finance, relationships, death of a loved one, marriage and children or persistent failure to overcome personal weaknesses. It could be due to matters involving our spiritual journey in fulfilling God’s will.
The apostle Paul related his horrific hardships to the Corinthian brethren while evangelizing in what is today Turkey. He told his story in such a way that this narrative has become a notable go-to scripture to understand why and how we must live through difficult trials. Note Paul’s story:
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10NLT). Through direct experience, Paul clearly relates how he learned to trust God for deliverance from mortal danger. His key point? God brought him through challenging trials again and again. Today, most of us have not even come close to facing such life and death situations. But we can certainly apply what Paul learned to the rocky road of life that we may be traveling on.
In this same chapter, Paul goes further to explain that life as a disciple of Jesus Christ isn’t just about mere survival. Our trials elevate us to a higher level of thinking and conduct. Our trial is not just about us. Trials give us an opportunity to learn how to reach out to others. God’s rescue is a big part of the story—but not the only part. In the narrative quoted here in 2 Corinthians, the more complete story is revealed by Paul:
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, The Living Bible).
These passages first came to life in my Epistles of Paul class at Ambassador College. They made a vivid impression on me as a 20-year-old student. Over and over in my pastoral career these words repeatedly demonstrated where true leadership shines.
I have found that to be true leaders, we must step outside of ourselves and show ourselves exposed and humbled. A leader draws on his or her own pain as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers. A leader uses his or her own experience to empathize with others. In my ministry over the years, my own personal tribulations helped me genuinely empathize with people in great pain.
Jesus Christ left us a sterling example of going through painful ordeals for the purpose of encouraging us: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).