Resources for the members of the United Church of God

Update from the President: April 27, 2017

You are here

Update from the President

April 27, 2017

At the home office it’s been a bit of a “Creation Week.” Today, as this eNews is being mailed to you, we are recording three new Beyond Today television programs. They are:

  • “When Nations Rise and Fall” by Darris McNeely
  • “Shocking Teachings of Jesus—False Christs” by Steve Myers
  • “Seduced by Conventional Wisdom?” by Gary Petty

The entire day has been spent with the final review of scripts and the actual recording. All of us are very anxious to see groundbreaking for the new video studio, which will give the presenters far more options in style and impact.

Also, our newest 50-page booklet, Angels: God’s Messengers and Spiritual Army is about to go to press. I’ll be offering to 180,000 Beyond Today subscribers in a few weeks this newest piece of literature. All church member families will automatically receive a copy.

Feast registration has gone fairly smooth with the newly developed festival registration system this year. We appreciate the patience of pastors, festival advisors and members in learning a new process. Last year on this date we had 5783 registered, and as of today, we have 5726 registered, which is about the same. We will have upcoming reminders later this summer encouraging those not registered to do so.

We are also looking forward to the coming annual meeting of the General Conference of Elders. Some international elders are beginning to arrive. It’s always a wonderful time of fellowship and discussion.

The Pathway to Being a Disciple

As the first Holy Days of the year have come to a close, we stand reminded of how Jesus Christ gave Himself for us and how we need to seek daily to purge sinful or potentially sinful acts from our lives. Ahead of us is Pentecost, which is the memorial of the founding of the Church of God and the giving of God’s powerful Holy Spirit.

I never cease to be amazed about how God’s great plan for humanity cyclically urges us forward spiritually. This represents the sacred process of being set apart and becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself made it clear that it is not a light thing to make a commitment to becoming a disciple.

In the 14th chapter of Luke, Christ was asked by those following Him: “what does it take to be a disciple?” Christ responded with three criteria to consider as one becomes a true follower and student of Christ. All three call for careful thought and steadfast commitment. None are easy; however, their implementation reaps eternal benefits.

Here is the pathway that Christ laid out in Luke 14:26-28 Luke 14:26-28 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
American King James Version×
:

1. First and foremost, our relationship with Him—and God the Father (John 10:30 John 10:30I and my Father are one.
American King James Version×
) must be above any other relationship that we may have in this life.

This relationship is above any bond with father, mother, wife, children, brother and sister. You must be willing to set your personal life aside and put God front and center in your life. You cannot be a “nominal” Christian. That would be an oxymoron. Discipleship demands the deepest personal commitment to God. Nothing else will do.

Next:

2. “Whoever does not bear his cross [Greek stauros —a heavy stake] and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27 Luke 14:27And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
American King James Version×
).

What Jesus is talking about in verse 27 of Luke 14 is taking responsibility for our lives and actions as we put them in the context of following the teachings and example of Jesus. That includes enduring hardships.

We must be careful not to confuse this with the singular act of reconciliation that Jesus performed on a stauros . That was a once-in-all-eternity act. But, as Peter writes, Jesus Christ “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness ” (1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 2:24Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

The “cross” that you bear may be relationships that are no longer what they used to be before you became a Christian. You now live a live a life where you must “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
American King James Version×
). It may be a financial, health, or occupational trial. Or worse. Nonetheless, you are aware that you may need to endure unfairness and injustice in this life in order to be a disciple of Christ.

But, it includes the fact that we are told: “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 1 Peter 5:7Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation). And, that you believe what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Corinthians 10:13There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
American King James Version×
: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (NLT).

And the final thought in Jesus’ answer to the question about discipleship:

3. Luke 14:28-30 Luke 14:28-30 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
American King James Version×
: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”

Are you willing to go for the ‘long haul’ of what a Christian life entails? So many have quit, changed direction and became disillusioned. They lost sight of these cardinal points of discipleship. You cannot be a sunny-day Christian, only interested when things go your way. Sometimes, they don’t. What will you do?

As we move toward Pentecost, let us all individually renew our commitment to becoming disciples of the living Head of our Church: Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, and soon-coming King! This is a good time to consider the positive attributes associated with becoming a disciple. There is no journey that comes close to the meaning, power and rewards that being a Christian will bring.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.