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Update from the President: July 6, 2017

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Update from the President

July 6, 2017

Lucretia Kellers, beloved wife of Fred Kellers, died Tuesday morning, July 4. She had been bedridden for some time. We are all greatly saddened by this loss of a faithful Christian, wife, mother and helper in the ministry of Jesus Christ. It’s moments like this that directly focus us on life’s greater purpose, the Resurrection and our eternal relationship with God. We are all praying for Fred and his family at the time of this loss; we also know that there will be a time of joy when God brings her back to life eternal.

UYC camp Hye Sierra in California is in progress at this moment. From reports I’ve received from directors and staff, it has been exciting for all. Camp Cotubic in Ohio and Pinecrest in Missouri are behind us, with Woodmen in Alabama and Northwest Camp in Oregon still ahead. These are the summer camps in the United States. This year’s theme “Building Your Relationship with God” has been most conducive to discussion among our teens and staff and has received great reviews.

Yesterday, Sue Dunkle dropped by to show me the work done on the Festival Activity books for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles. She and other volunteer workers are putting together four levels of booklets. They are for grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and grade 6 through teen. The work done is producing creative and educational materials. It is intended to be a help for parents. The theme of the workbooks will be the same as our Youth Camps. They will be printed in late August and sent to all the Feast sites. A downloadable version will also be posted on the Feast website that can be printed yourself. A Spanish-language version will be available, too.

The new and updated Good Works website was launched this past week. You can see the new website by clicking here: https://www.ucg.org/members/outreach/good-works . It is greatly improved both aesthetically and functionally. And it’s mobile friendly. On the UCG members page the “Good Works” tab replaces the former “Outreach” tab. Youth Corps will become part of Good Works and new projects will be featured on the Good Works page with application information. Members can receive automatic e-mail updates by subscribing to this newsletter which prominently features what is on the Good Works and Members pages. To sign up for e-mails click here: https://www.ucg.org/subscribe-to-email-updates

Undercover Boss

There is a popular reality TV show that has been embraced by a record number of people. Based on a British TV show by the same name, the American TV program  Undercover Boss  captured a record 38 million viewers when it first aired back in 2010. It continues to be popular.

You may have seen it. If you haven’t, the program format features an upper-management professional at a major business who quietly “re-joins” the company at an entry level. He or she begins working with other employees who don’t know who the executive really is.

CEOs and other high-ranking executives go incognito to gain firsthand knowledge of the faults and strengths of their company. The unrehearsed experience is recorded, and oftentimes takes unexpected turns. Coming out of the turbulent Great Recession, the program was originally thought to expose corporate distrust. But it quickly “uncovered” some amazing stories.

In various episodes (including one about the Great Wolf Lodge organization where coincidentally we have been conducting our Winter Family Weekend in the Cincinnati area), the “undercover” executive learns firsthand about the lives of his or her company’s employees. The executive learns about trials they face. He (or she) often finds out some deep thoughts from employees. Sometimes some bad things show up and employees are uncovered who aren’t performing well.

For those who have not seen it, at the end of the program the identity of the senior executive is revealed. Surprise! Sometimes the negative behavior is exposed. Often the executive extends some form of aid (financial or educational) to help an employee deal with a long-standing problem. Hard-working formerly unrecognized employees are surprised to find themselves promoted or rewarded financially. As one TV reviewer noted, “ Undercover Boss  has clearly touched a nerve with viewers.” Others described the show as “irresistible” and “undeniably touching.”

One of the reasons that my wife Bev and I like it is for the strong parallels that the program seems to have with the greatest “undercover boss” of all: Jesus Christ.

The Gospels point out in several places that until the very end of His public ministry, Jesus largely kept undercover. When He performed a miracle like healing, He often charged the fortunate recipient with a warning: “See that you say nothing to anyone” (Mark 1:43-44 Mark 1:43-44 43 And he straightly charged him, and immediately sent him away; 44 And said to him, See you say nothing to any man: but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.
American King James Version×
).

In its first few verses, the Gospel of John spells out exactly Who and What Jesus was. In the first chapter Jesus is identified as the pre-existent Word. The Word, John declares, was God and was with God the Father throughout all eternity leading up to the present. The Word, we read, became flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
).

As a human in the early days of His ministry, Jesus was the ultimate incognito “undercover boss.” As Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us [physically] to him” (Isaiah 53:2 Isaiah 53:2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

Jesus mixed with all social levels of humanity (Matthew 9:10 Matthew 9:10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
American King James Version×
), from Jerusalem to Tyre to parts of what is modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. He hurt for them. He healed them. He spoke to them. He truly experienced the humanity that He had Himself created (Hebrews 1:2-3 Hebrews 1:2-3 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×
).

Like the reality TV program, it was only in the last months of His ministry that Jesus revealed Himself to actually be God, the Great “I AM” revealed to Moses (John 8:58 John 8:58Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.
American King James Version×
). Then, in His last days as a human, Jesus finally declared to the high Roman authority in Palestine that He was and is a King (John 18:37 John 18:37Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
American King James Version×
), whose kingdom was then “not of this world” (John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×
).

Interestingly, for us today, Jesus still often acts in an incognito fashion. As we read in Matthew, at the time that the prophesied Kingdom of God is actually beginning, Jesus will say these awe-inspiring words: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 Matthew 25:34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Why does Jesus say these newly transformed saints are so blessed? “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was naked, and you gave me clothing.” (Matthew 25:35-36 Matthew 25:35-36 35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
American King James Version×
).

Note the reaction of those whom Jesus is speaking to. They are puzzled. They don’t remember doing anything like what Jesus described for Him.

How does Jesus clarify the thought? “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:40 Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
American King James Version×
, NLT). Jesus Christ is completely aware of what we do for Him figuratively when we care for the disadvantaged and vulnerable.

We also see how humble Jesus was during His incognito human ministry. Paul instructs us that “You must also have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God…he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being…he humbled himself in obedience to God” (Philippians 2:5-8 Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

As the ultimate “Undercover Boss,” Jesus Himself was rewarded at the culmination of His incredibly successful human ministry: “God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:9-10 Philippians 2:9-10 9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Of course, the reality TV series Undercover Boss  is not perfect. But it does have some elements that we can reflect on in terms of what Jesus did and does today.

As Jesus instructed us, we are not to be obvious and vain-seeking in our worship of God, but to have in some respects our own form of being incognito. As we do so, “your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:18 Matthew 6:18That you appear not to men to fast, but to your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly.
American King James Version×
).