Greetings from Charlotte,
Mr. Richard Ames recorded a Tomorrow’s World telecast this week titled “Just What Is ‘The Day of the Lord?’” We are making preparations for Council of Elders meetings this coming Thursday and Friday, and for the General Ministerial Conference the following week. This is the first conference of this size in six years. COVID-19 caused us to consider whether to cancel the conference, but after serious discussion and prayer, and looking at who is coming and from where, we decided to go ahead with it. There are certainly risks with something like this, but if the virus has spread much further than is being reported, which is almost a certainty, the actual mortality rate may be significantly lower. We have taken what we call a “layered approach,” involving decisions to be made at different levels of risk. For example, we have encouraged any of our ministers with underlying health issues to consider carefully whether to come. Also, if necessary, we will ask those people from a high risk part of the world not to come. Few if any currently fit into the latter category. Please do pray for the safety and health of everyone traveling to and from the conference.—Gerald Weston
Babysitting for Passover
Each year, the question comes up for many baptized parents, “What if I need babysitting service during the Passover service?” The simplest solution we suggest is that parents make arrangements personally with a babysitter, rather than relying on the Church to provide babysitting service. Otherwise, the Church takes “care, custody, and control” of your children, which is a real legal responsibility and sets in motion a number of processes we are required to take (vetting volunteers, background checks, etc.). If, however, you have no option of working out babysitting personally, contact your pastor and discuss the situation with him.
Pastors: An e-mail has been sent to all pastors about the steps to take if you decide you will be providing babysitting service for your congregation(s).
All Requests for Passover Supplies Should Already Have Been Submitted
All requests for additional Passover Service supplies should already have been submitted to the Church Administration Department.
Ministerial Conference, March 16–18
As was mentioned in an e-mail this past week to all the ministers who have registered to attend the conference, after careful consultation, Mr. Weston has made the decision to continue with plans for the upcoming Ministerial Conference, but with caution. We are expecting over 300 attendees to the Ministerial Conference March 16–18. However, the international situation with the COVID-19 virus is very fluid, and we will be prepared to adjust plans as needed, with special concern for international travelers. We urge our ministry to be aware of the COVID-19 virus situation, and how it might impact their travels, particularly if they are coming from outside the United States. As mentioned in the e-mail, no one should travel to the U.S. if they are feeling ill or have been around people who are ill. All of us, especially the elderly, need to consider carefully whether or not to travel at this time. The Church has long practiced the biblical statute regarding quarantine (Leviticus 13:46 and others), and members should be especially alert and careful in these times (Proverbs 22:3). CAD is not requiring anyone to travel in these times if they would rather not. CAD will make arrangements regarding costs associated with cancelled flights, etc., on an individual basis. Concerning ministry from the U.S. and Canada, the quarantine statute should be carefully observed. If possible, drive instead of using air travel, and CAD will discuss the financial aspects with individual situations. In any case, you should not come if you are uncomfortable with travelling in the current conditions.
Prayer Request: Locust Plagues in Africa—Repeat Announcement
Locusts continue to be a threat throughout Kenya; however, none of our members has been affected. The government is tirelessly working 24/7 to fight these insects, but has been unable to kill them. Instead, the locusts move to another location where they are not expected. A report from the agricultural officer has expressed fear that newly hatched hoppers could grow into new swarms and warned that new generations can be 100 times greater than the parent swarms and could rise to 500 times by April if uncontrolled. We need prayers because if these young insects mature, they will be larger swarms than what we are already experiencing and will cause more harm than we expect.—Simon Muthama
Stay Healthy and Be Prepared!—Repeat Announcement
As we deal with the busyness of life, it is not uncommon for many of us to push ourselves and compromise on our sleep and diet. Then, when we are exposed to illnesses that are going around, we get sick. Next, we often spread it to others. When we become ill, for the benefit of our brethren, it is important to avoid fellowshipping and attending services until all our symptoms are gone. Taking measures to stay healthy and even improve health before illness strikes is important, and it is also important that we take wise measures not to share any illnesses that we have. Also remember to look to God for protection.
Over the years, we have also recommended that members prepare for emergencies that may disrupt utilities and other services by keeping enough food and water and other essential items in your home to be able to function for several weeks—it’s always good to be prepared.
We have now opened the last unit of our General Epistles class, with Mr. Weston’s lectures on John and Jude. Already 249 people have enrolled and begun to take advantage of this free class focusing on these short but important letters. It’s not too late to take advantage of this class, or the rest of the lectures focusing on the General Epistles. Just go to lcgeducation.org and look for the “Online Study” link to get involved.—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
Care Regarding International Travel for the Feast
COVID-19, the coronavirus, is spreading around the world. One of its greatest dangers is that it is highly contagious, and the general population has no immunity to it. It is a killer to a small percentage of those who contract it, and about a fifth of those who contract it become seriously ill. The rest may have mild, flu-like symptoms, but still spread the illness as they continue to go about their normal activities instead of seeking medical assistance or quarantining themselves. Therefore, this is something to take seriously and, as we know, it is causing disruptions all over the world. We cannot predict what conditions will be like seven or eight months from now for the Feast of Tabernacles. We will keep the Feast, but we may need to cancel, or limit travel to, some sites. Governments, at any time, may ban group gatherings where they deem necessary. Therefore, please do not make reservations or final travel plans until we see how this is going to shake out. You may even want to consider attending your locally assigned site this year rather than traveling halfway around the world by air. As the scripture counsels us, we should take precautions when we see trouble on the horizon (Proverbs 22:3).
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Friday Evening Bible Study
The online Friday evening Teen Bible Study on March 13 will cover Luke 16:19 through 17:37, and will be given by Mr. Sheldon Monson. Join us at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The chat room will be open for a half-hour before and after the Bible Study.
This will be the last Friday evening Teen Bible Study until November 6, 2020.
To join the study, visit https://live.livingyouth.org, and sign in with either your MyLCG or LYP camp registration credentials. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. For those who are unable to make it to the study, recordings of previous Living Youth Bible Studies, including last evening’s covering Luke 15:1–16:18, can be found on the Living Youth Programs Live archive page at https://live.livingyouth.org/archive/.—Josh Penman
Adventure Camp 2020
We still have room for a number of campers aged 13 through 20 for Adventure Camp 2020 in Southwest Wisconsin, covering about 50 miles of the Lower Wisconsin River by canoe. There will also be plenty of opportunities for fishing, nature hikes, swimming, and camping on sandbars and islands along the way. The camp takes place from July 31 to August 10. We hope you join us! You can get more information or apply online at https://camp.livingyouth.org.
Be Lights and Examples: The Scriptures reveal that God desires His people to be lights and examples to a world enveloped in darkness. God called Abraham to learn to live by His commandments and to walk before Him and be blameless (Genesis 17:1; 26:5). Moses told the Israelites that God gave them His laws to set them apart from other nations so they could be examples to the world—and they were to pass these concepts on to their children (Deuteronomy 4:1–9). The Old Testament states that God’s people are to live moral lives, avoid profanity, avoid sexual perversions, and refrain from getting tattoos or dressing like the opposite sex (Exodus 20; Leviticus 18:22; 19:28; Deuteronomy 22:5). In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples to be lights to the world and live, not only by the letter of God’s law, but also by the spirit of the law (Matthew 5:13–30). In addition, the Apostle Paul advised Christians to wear their hair in a manner that was appropriate for either a man or a woman (1 Corinthians 11:14–16) and that men and women should dress in modest and appropriate apparel—especially for Church services (Matthew 22:11–12; 1 Timothy 2:9–10). While some want to dismiss these clear biblical guidelines as “rules and regulations” that are no longer relevant to modern Christians, these instructions were preserved for us in God’s word to set His people apart from Satan’s society so we can truly be lights to this world—not only spiritually, but also physically. As standards of conduct and dress continue to decline, these biblical guidelines will become increasingly noticeable as Christians function as “lights” in a darkened world.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—March 5, 2020
Coronavirus and Prophecy: Every week, the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths continue to rise as the virus spreads around the globe. While the origin of the virus is not yet fully known, responses to this outbreak are disrupting airline flights, closing borders, and bringing commerce to a standstill in affected areas.
To combat the virus, public health agencies around the world are taking drastic measures. In China, the nation of origin for the illness, major cities have been quarantined for over a month, leaving many stuck indoors. In northern Italy, more than 1,250 cases have been reported and 10 percent of doctors cannot work because they tested positive for the virus (AP, March 2, 2020). Some Italian schools, universities, museums, and cinemas have been closed, and supermarket shelves have been emptied (Deutsche Welle, February 25, 2020). Eleven towns in that beleaguered Mediterranean nation are on lockdown for 15 days as people await release after the incubation period (The Guardian, February 24, 2020). Residents of these affected areas have been shocked by the deserted streets. As the epidemic spreads, we will likely see conditions like these spread to new areas.
Bible prophecies clearly state there will be widespread disease epidemics as the end of the age approaches (Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11). The massive-scale quarantines provide some insight into what this coming calamitous period could be like. One of the consequences of unrepented sins is that “your highways shall be desolate” (Leviticus 26:21–22)—a condition in which future epidemics could play a role. We do not know the exact events that will fulfill such prophecies, but the coronavirus epidemic gives us a glimpse of larger things prophesied to come. For greater insight into Bible prophecies to watch for as events unfold, read or listen to Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.
Dangers of Multiple Sexual Partners: “Make love, not war” was a popular saying in the 1960s and 1970s. This catchy phrase promoted sexual liberty and the attitude that no one should dictate personal moral behavior for others. However, such ideas and behavior have come with a cost.
While health professionals have long known that sexually active people are engaging in a “high risk” lifestyle, this warning is seldom conveyed by Hollywood or the popular press. However, a recent study did make headlines. Research published in the highly respected BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health concluded, “People who have had 10 or more sexual partners during their lifetime may have increased odds of being diagnosed with cancer” (Reuters, February 13, 2020). Specifically, women who had ten or more sexual partners were at nearly double the risk for contracting cancer, compared to women with zero or one sexual partner. Men with ten or more partners were 64 percent more likely to contract cancer than those with zero or one sexual partner.
Although the study only showed a correlation between sexual activity and disease, the results validate a broader principle God outlined in the Bible. God designed sexual relations to occur only within the boundaries of a marriage between one woman and one man. Biblical commandments also label sex outside marriage as sin (Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:13–18). When we fail to follow these God-given instructions, there are serious consequences for our mental and physical health. God gave His laws to protect and bless those who choose to follow them. To learn more about the biblical perspective on this important topic, be sure to read or listen to our article “AIDS Can Be Stopped!”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater