Thursday, October 29, 2015

What's Written Between the Lines in LCG's "Tomorrow's World"?

Man, LCG. You got me again. I don’t know how you do it. Maybe it’s the attractive mushroom cloud on the cover of your magazine. Maybe I have mommy guilt because I’ve let my emergency canned food supply dwindle. Either way, when the November-December issue of the Living Church of God’s Tomorrow’s World arrived in the mail this week, I couldn’t resist turning to the issue’s featured story, “Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?”

The thing I enjoyed most about this article was that it never actually mentioned how to be ready for Christ’s return. Instead, the author, Richard Ames, detailed the terrifying events that will lead up to the Battle of Armageddon - in between heart-warming pictures of fiery oil wells and abandoned gas masks lying in piles of rubble.

Now, I don’t mean to imply I think there’s a way to be physically prepared for the Second Coming. Bottled water, food rations, whatever – it isn’t going to cut it. But I would assume there would be some spiritual admonition given here, like “start keeping the Sabbath,” “Throw out your Christmas decorations” or even something vague like “Get right with God.” But there was none of that. It didn’t even mention contacting LCG.  Ames totally missed the point.

Unless that wasn’t the point.

Once again, I’m inclined to believe that this article is largely intended to scare LCG’s disgruntled membership into staying with the embattled organization. Sure, it might frighten a few anxious newcomers into Rod Meredith’s cold, clammy embrace. But with no mention of the Sabbath, Holy Days or other standard COG doctrines, my guess is it’s intended for folks who already agree on these points.

When you consider that, just pages earlier in the magazine, Meredith warns that “within the next several years, a genuine ‘spirit’ war will break out,” after which Satan will finally be cast into the bottomless pit, we can almost certainly conclude the target audience is LCG members who are ready to jump ship. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “several” as more than two - but not very many more - which seems to undermine Meredith’s longstanding teaching that Christians cement their  salvation through a lifetime of obedience.  Are we to believe a human who joins LCG this year could prove him or herself trustworthy “not to become another Satan,” as the COGs teach, in just a few short years? Hardly. Fresh fish don’t seem to be his target.

Honestly, I struggled to find a true “action point” that would get me “ready” for Christ’s return. Ames warned that that our world will experience increasingly severe weather extremes “unless we wholeheartedly return to God.” Can’t do much more than I’m already doing with that one, although I’m sure Ames would disagree.  Still, I can’t do anything about the rest of humanity. What else? I should “wake up and heed what is happening around the world.” Check. “Be spiritually alert for signs of Jesus Christ’s second coming.” “Look forward to His return with confidence, hope and faith.” Besides that? Have a satchel packed for Petra? Buy extra can openers? A portable water filter? Anything?

And this is why I suspect this is article is intended more to control than to inform. It’s certainly in line with LCG’s track record and modus operandiDon't look around. Don't ask questions. Don't prayerfully consider why God has led you to this blog. If it doesn't come out of Charlotte, it's heresy. 

Ames did have ONE helpful recommendations - to check up on LCG and all preachers by reading my Bible. Luckily, my “false Christian” preacher recently gave a message on the end times. That makes my job easy. Ok, Richard. Let’s see how my pastor is misleading me and the rest of his flock about Christ’s return. These are quotes directly from the sermon transcript:
“It (the Day of the Lord) will include what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation.  That's a seven-year period during which the anti-Christ will rule the earth as a self-proclaimed god.  And during the second half of those seven years, God will begin to pour out His wrath upon the earth.  That's part of the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord also  includes the coming of Jesus Christ.  He'll come to the earth, and He'll rule on a throne in Jerusalem, and for a thousand years, Jesus Christ will rule the earth.  The Bible talks about that, not only in the book of Revelation, but also in Isaiah and other places in the Old Testament.” (Revelation 11:2; 13:5, Daniel 8:19, Daniel 12:7, Revelation 6, Revelation 8, Revelation 16, Revelation 20)
(Note: The COGs dispute that the Tribulation will be 7 years but agree that the destructive phase, when God pours out His wrath, will be a period of about 3-1/2 years)
“Now, you drive up to a railroad crossing, and as you drive up to that railroad crossing, the crossbars come down, the bells begin to ring, the lights are flashing, and you see the train coming  down the line.  When the train comes and crosses in front of your car, when you see that engine coming, there is something that you know for certain.  Now, think about this: When you see the engine coming, there's one thing you know for certain.  Here's what it is: Eventually, the last car on that train will pass by.  Would you agree with me on that?  If you see the engine, eventually, you're going to see the last car.  Now, it may come in five cars, or it may be 10 cars down the line, or it could be 100 cars down the line.  You don't know how long that train's going to be.  But eventually, the last train is going to come.  It's coming.  The Bible says the Day of the Lord comes.  It is coming.  It is certain.  It may come in 10 years.  It may come in 100 years.  It may come in 1,000 years.  It may come in 10,000 years.  I believe it's coming very soon, very shortly, but it is coming.  Time on earth is running out.  The Day of the Lord is coming.  The end of time is coming." (Matthew 24:32-33; 36)
“Do you know something?  The Bible shows us that the people who ridicule us or scoff at us or make fun of us because we believe that Jesus is coming and that judgment is coming and that the end is coming, those people themselves, and their mockery, is a sign that judgment is coming.  Look in your Bible over in 2 Peter, chapter 3.  I want you to see what the Bible has to say.  The Bible says that one of the signs of the end times is that people will mock those who believe that the end times are coming.  Isn't that something?  Look in 2 Peter, chapter 3, beginning in verse 3.  This is a picture of the world today.” (2 Peter 3:3)
Wow. That guy has some nerve. What twisting of God's Word. What distortions of scripture. I guess everyone outside LCG, certainly everyone outside the COGs, is totally deceived about Christ's return. I guess he's also deceived when he reads the following: 

(2 Peter 3:9)  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Now wait a minute. Why would Jesus delaying His coming keep anyone from perishing? And how is this whole “perishing” thing necessarily a bad thing, eternally speaking? Why would He be concerned whether as many people as possible come to repentance before He returns? Wouldn’t they just come up in the second resurrection and get their chance to repent and accept God’s way? Out of all the Armstrongist teachings I was raised with, this is the one I desperately want to be true.  But the more I study, the more I come across stuff like this: 

(Hebrews 9:27) And as it is appointed for men to die once, then after this the judgment.

My pastor makes his reason for speaking on this topic clear - he cares about your eternal destiny:
“Why would God choose to warn us about the Day of the Lord?  Why would He choose to warn us about judgment? Does He do it to scare us?  Does he do it to frighten us?  Does He do it because He has a bad intent toward us?  No.  He warns us against the Day of the Lord, and He warns us against His judgment, because He does not want you to experience judgment and condemnation at the Day of the Lord."
You can nitpick him on the rapture (a theory on which I'm undecided) or scoff at him because he thinks unbelievers will go to hell immediately after they die (a theory which gains more credibility the more I look at it) rather than rising in a second resurrection. But in this discussion, my pastor, Ames and Meredith are all in agreement that the saints will rise; that Christ will return; that there will be a real Armageddon; and that there is a real hell. They're mostly in disagreement about the timing.  

You can write off my pastor and others like him in the "so-called" Christian world as deceived loons because they disagree with the COGs about timing. But at least they are forthcoming about their motivations for preaching about the end times: they hope you will avoid the judgment and repent, place your full faith in Jesus Christ's sacrifice for salvation and then grow to be more like Him in the time you have. What is Richard Ames' reason for publishing his article? It's not to get anyone ready for Christ's return. It's not to implore them to leave "false" Christianity. So what is it? You can be sure they're not just spending their dwindling tithe dollars for the fun of it.

If you are happy in LCG, stay. If you believe it is God’s true church and you see the fruit of the Spirit there (Galatians 5:22-23), then stay. If you admire your leaders, aspire to be like them and desire the kinds of outcomes in your life that their conduct has produced in theirs, (Hebrews 13:7), then stay.  But don’t stay because Rod Meredith and Richard Ames tell you that anything outside LCG is Sodom and Gomorrah. Because they hint that the end is imminent, and that you just have to endure the miserable environment they’ve created a couple more years. Or risk the Lake of Fire. 

Don’t let Rod and his henchmen bully you. You are more than a tithe check. You are more than a backside in a chair, or a number LCG gets to claim in the ongoing COG grudge match for the most members. You are a human being. Jesus loved you enough to die a brutal death for you on the cross. And He still loves you that much today. Any message about the judgment or the terrifying times to come must be rooted in that love. That love is the reason the Lord gave us those sobering passages of Scripture in the first place. To reassure those who are His that He is still in control, no matter what unfolds on earth. To plead with those who are not yet His to turn to Him while they still can. Any message about Armageddon that is not grounded in God's love for you is nothing more than an attempt to scare you, manipulate you and control you.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11


Anonymous said...

Seeker of truth? Anyone can pick at any article and say it needs this or should have mentioned that, but no you want to make it into what you rekon it should say.

This is one of the worst and most deceptive blog posts I have ever come across. Who are you that we should listen to anything you have to say?

You're just another tool satan uses in his spread of deception and hopfully people wont take anything you say seriously.

xHWA said...

One of the most deceptive, eh? That's quite the superlative. A bit vague, though. Perhaps you would like to point out exactly how it is false, and provide some factual evidence to support your claims?

There is nothing "deceptive" about critiquing an article. You did it to this article. Based on that alone, shall we say your comment is one of the worst and most deceptive comments we have ever come across?

Martha said...

Yes, as xHWA said, please be more specific about what is so deceptive about this post. The fact that you disagree with my critique of the LCG article does not make what I have to say deceptive. I gave support for my conclusions. You are more than welcome to do the same.

I maintain that people don't publish things or deliver a message without a reason for doing so. I'm sure that was taught at Ambassador College, and even in WCG's Spokesman's club. Various WCG splinter groups have been publishing material for years; this is not a new venture for them. The article in question does not to much in the way of informing, educating or persuading. So there is either another purpose, or LCG is wasting time, print space, ink and the tithes and offerings used to produce this material.

ABD makes no secret about our purpose. We are here to help questioning members caught in the splinters of the Worldwide Church of God find their way out of a destructive, false religious system into the New Covenant and a relationship with Jesus Christ. What's yours?

Unknown said...

Maybe the troll from LCG will crawl back in his hole

gr8ful_4 said...

Thanks so much for your website! I'm always searching the scripture and have started to make personal change. Unfortunately I made the mistake of learning about the Sabbath through lcg. I am just so grateful to Jesus Christ who strengthens me! And gave me the Holy Spirit! You know something is wrong when you stop hearing from the Holy Spirit! I thought it was me and when they told me my baptism was null and void I knew that I could not abide in the doctrines of this church. I'm pretty isolated so they came in as showing the fruits of the spirit until I noticed that if I didn't attend a service the traveling pastor shows up at my door. Whenever I search the scripture and find stuff that doesn't line up I ask them about it. In no certain terms we are to take what is said as the truth, but I have always been a bible reader and for them it easy to contradict the Word of God to fit their mind control tactics. I'm trying to break from them and their so called help doing as the Bereans did always taking everything through scripture. Once I decided to leave my peace and joy has come back, thanks to the many website and bloggers like this one especially because of the beautiful and loving way you write!