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Update from the President: Dec. 26, 2019

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Update from the President

Dec. 26, 2019

Trip to the Philippines

The events of the past week here in the Philippines have been a blur of activity. After arriving in Manila last Wednesday, we visited the Church office in the Makati District on Thursday. We very much appreciate their oversight of the Church’s media outreach as well as the administrative support for the congregations and ministry throughout the Philippine Islands.

On Friday, we took a day-long excursion to Corregidor Island, a strategic entrance to Manila Bay. It is a symbol of Filipino and American valor in World War II. The Japanese invaded the Philippines and finally the last bastion, Corregidor, fell on May 6, 1942. From Corregidor, the Bataan Peninsula is visible just a few miles away. The Death March of Filipino and American prisoners of war here is a most familiar story from the Pacific Theater of World War II. It was a sobering memorial to the savage conflict.

On the Sabbath, we held a Kingdom of God seminar in Quezon City where Darris McNeely and I both spoke. Of the total of 140 people who were present, 38 of them were new attendees. A question and answer session that was part of the seminar yielded some very good questions by those present.

On Sunday, we visited the American Cemetery in Manila. It is the largest American military cemetery outside the United States. Sunday evening, we assembled for the start of the Philippine Ministerial Conference. It was patterned after the Pastoral Development Program that we have been holding at the home office for the past five years.

Four men gave expository sermonettes that the attendees evaluated. We also recorded two podcasts.This program in the Philippines is a landmark event for training our ministry. In the evening, Darris and I presented an Ambassador Bible College sampler on the book of Daniel and the book of James. We have had plenty of time to socialize and really get to know each other brethren well.

We had an eye-opening presentation from Ireneo and Glory Ann Suaner from Sabah in Malaysia who spoke about the uniqueness of the church there. Also, Gum Seng Aung from Myanmar told us about their congregation in what used to be Burma.

You can follow much more detail about our trip with many photos on TravelArk at
During the conference, the women met separately to discuss their role along with their husbands in the ministry. Discussion ranged from helping their husbands in the care of the church to helping and advising them about their speaking and teaching. Conversation extended to how this could be done better in a team-like way that the husband could appreciate and respect. How can a wife also be respected in her equal role as is written in 1 Peter 3:7 1 Peter 3:7Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
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: “the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life?” The next day, all attendees met together for a very profitable, spirited and honest discussion in which most everyone commented.

We continue our journey to Singapore on Friday, and look with great anticipation to visiting our brethren there.

I want to thank our Filipino ministry and brethren for making us so welcome. I also want to express appreciation to David and Denise Dobson and Earl Roemer for their part in this educational event. Special thanks go to Darris and Debbie McNeely for their involvement in the planning and many hours of teaching. And, as always, thanks goes to my lovely wife, Bev, for her support.

Receive the Abundant Goodness of God

As we continue this study of the fruit of the Spirit, we should remember that these qualities of life—”fruit” grown in our human lives by the watering of God’s Holy Spirit being poured out in our hearts (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
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)—appear as a result of supernatural intervention and favor occurring as we become more like our heavenly Father. These qualities are called fruit of the Spirit for a reason. They are not naturally occurring.

So it is with the spiritual quality of goodness that comes from God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. The Bible speaks many times of God’s goodness. The goodness of God—God’s excellence and unsurpassable virtue—is underscored several times, even back in the early Exodus account. For example, the father-in-law of Moses, himself a remarkable leader of that ancient age and region, reacted joyfully at the goodness of God (Exodus 18:9 Exodus 18:9And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
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) when he learned of all that God had done in bringing the nation of Israel out of human slavery.

Moses himself, whom God spoke to as a friend (Exodus 33:11 Exodus 33:11And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
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), desired to see God’s glory. God said that He would “make all my goodness pass before you” (verse 19). Further, David wrote in the Psalms “Oh, how abundant is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You” (Psalms 31:19 Psalms 31:19Oh how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for them that fear you; which you have worked for them that trust in you before the sons of men!
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, English Standard Version).

Just as Paul noted that disciples of Jesus Christ who have the Holy Spirit manifest this spiritual goodness openly, David also confirmed this, as the New Living Translation makes plain: “You lavish it [the goodness of God] on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world” (verse 19, emphasis added throughout).

As a minister of Jesus Christ for now more than 50 years, I have seen this many times. I have seen people come to our fellowship with less-than-optimal attitudes and then be transformed (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 [1] I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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) in manner and conduct, their very character changed. More than once I have heard it said of our members in the United Church of God, “your people are just good people.”

That is the very goodness of God, a supernatural fruit—proof if you will—of God’s Holy Spirit working within them.

Earlier in Galatians, Paul is very careful to note at least 16 common traits of human life that are harmful, both now and eternally. If one embraces these qualities and yields to them, Paul solemnly warns: “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21 Galatians 5:21Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
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). These include sex outside of marriage, wrongfully putting desires and things so that they eclipse God (idolatry), alcohol abuse and others (verse 19).

When we find ourselves subject to these negative traits or in the societal midst of them, we can become discouraged. We might even wonder, “Can I make it? Will I make it?”

Thankfully, there is good news!

Consider this: in writing to the Romans and to us today, Paul described a life as a disciple as nothing short of one facing internal war. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18 Romans 7:18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
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Paul told the Corinthians—who lived in a coastal center of Greek commerce that was home to one of the most depraved cultures of the day—that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (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.
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, ESV). Miraculously, as we read in Hebrews: “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
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, ESV).

Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother and soon-coming King, advocates for us. His astonishing sacrifice takes away the sin that separates us from God the Father and makes possible the gift of the transforming Holy Spirit of God!

As we yield and seek God, we receive grace. We seek His refuge from the daily storms and trials that we face. We seek guidance, laying our plans before Him (Proverbs 16:3 Proverbs 16:3Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established.
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The result? As David wrote, God lavishes His goodness upon us! We become more like Him, exhibiting His traits of uprightness and virtue. We are delivered!

What is truly amazing is that this is an unbreakable promise God makes to each one of us. Why wait? Fall to your knees and seek the Almighty—and receive the promised abundant goodness of God!