Letters &



We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print. We include our response to each letter in this type-style. We have selected a title for each letter for easy reference. If writers supply their own title, we will be happy to use it.

LRCOGs Serving Ex-Sunday-Keepers

Letter: May 11, 1997

Dear Norm,

It was great to read in Servantsí News about your research on the calendar. I wanted to be able to come to the conference, but funds did not allow it. I can remember talking to you on the phone about two years ago and then hanging up and praying that God would show the truth to you. It was thrilling to read the results of your research.

Then, to have the added blessing of seeing you come to an understanding on the Passover, I was ready to dance in the streets!!! Sometimes it is very difficult to be the minority opinion on these important issues.

I applaud your effort to strive for unity and perfection, and hope that now you will start to observe the things that God has shown you in your own life.

I also canít stress the importance of allowing others to have the freedom to follow their conscience. Even in our local congregation we have people observing Passover on the 14th and others on the 15th. We also have some who still follow the Hillel II calendar. This is not confusion but love for each other without condemnation and being grounded enough in our individual beliefs to not be afraid of a different conclusion.

The size of the congregation here has almost tripled in the last year, we have two hour long weekly radio broadcasts. Most of the people are not former COG, they are disgruntled ex-Sunday keepers. The Churches need to realize that the biggest part of Godís people are going to come from the fields, not other store houses that are already harvested.

Keep up the good work!

—Mark Carr, Knoxville, TN


Response: Thanks for the encouraging letter. It is wonderful to see people who have studied a long time, come to believe they understand the truth on a subject, but still be tolerant of others with a different understanding. Some people believe that all of the various Sabbath-keeping groups must come to an agreement on doctrine and then they can begin preaching to others. I can prove that this will not happen in my lifetime. How? Because I cannot study every doctrinal article, book and tape that someone has suggested within my lifetime. And if I cannot study every issue, how can I either agree with or refute what a potential brother is saying? I believe that we must never quit studying, but that we will probably never all agree on everything unless the Eternal miraculously reveals all truth to all of his people.

I am glad that you mentioned helping "disgruntled ex-Sunday keepers." Many former WCG-members are now depressed. They put great efforts into a hierarchical organization that they thought had "all the truth" only to find out it did not. Was it all for nothing? No, there is a whole world full of people who have been attending hierarchical Sunday-keeping congregations that need to understand and deal with the problems of hierarchies. The problems of political control, and the emphasis on people paying and ministers doing are strong in Sunday congregations. Former WCG members can be a big help when these people leave their congregations and begin seeking truth.

We would appreciate a more detailed story sometime about your local fellowship and gospel preaching.


No Opinions in the News, Please

Letter: April 28, 1997

Dear Editor,

When you include News of the Churches of God in your Servant`s News, I have noticed many times you also include a personal comment if something is not done in accordance with your personal belief. I would get more out of Servant`s News if it was void of your agenda in that particular section.Thank you.

—a reader

Response: Thank you for your comment. However, we hope you realize that all publications reflect the personal beliefs of the writers and publishers to one degree or another. We feel that it is better to plainly state the facts and also our opinion, rather than following the more common journalistic practice of communicating oneís opinion by selectively reporting the facts.

As an abbreviated example, suppose that a Pastor Q resigns from the XYZ-COG, 120 members of his congregation plan to attend with him, 60 members plan to stay with the XYZ-COG, and 20 members are undecided. The XYZ-COG press might report like this:

Pastor Q resigned, but at least 60 of the members there are still faithfully holding on to the XYZ-COG. Numerous others are confused and will probably rejoin the XYZ-COG as soon as the confusion settles.

Whereas, Pastor Q may send out a letter that says the following.

What unity! Nearly 3/4 of our congregation decided to consider the scriptures and do what God says rather than just blindly follow the XYZ-COG!

This selecting and slanting of the facts could be applied to every point in the story. Sometimes writers do this consciously, other times they do it by accident—their opinion is simply coming out. Obviously, some publications and writers are much more objective than others. We will try to be more diligent to make sure that we separate the facts from our opinion, but we will continue to give our opinion as we try to base it on our understanding of the Bible. Also, everyone knows where we stand.


Love, Peace, Joy and Mercy

Letter: January 31, 1997

Dear Norm,

I have been thinking about these things for some time and this week two things have definitely moved me to put my thoughts on paper. If you publish this letter please donít use my name because I am not trying to correct any individual—just feel there is much to be considered. Who is the enemy?

I have friends in several of the Churches of God. We exchange ideas and encourage each other, share tapes and reading material on occasion. One thing that seems apparent in non-aligned groups is that while tolerant of all different views in their meetings, many will not accept that Global and United also seek to serve God as best they can. A comment in the Christian Beacon really struck me as it stated a wish to "run rings around the hierarchies." Is this co-operation? Or is it revenge, strife, and vain glory?

I have been a baptized member since 1971, having spent my entire adult life in WCG until 1995. The church provided a way of life which I believe was basically correct. My children have been taught to build a relationship with God and this, I hope, will stay with them throughout their lives. Mr. Armstrong taught us much that is true while the society around us has become increasingly evil.

It seems many are now blaming Worldwide Church of God for all of their trouble. If you didnít study, is that someone elseís fault?

Fortunately, God is waking us up to many weaknesses within ourselves and the church overall. What will we do now as the responsibility becomes ours?

Could God work through Global with the World Ahead Program? (Yes, I am aware of their position as the only true church.) Could United provide fellowship for those to whom government is not such a big issue?

Did all of the ministry fail to such a degree that these men and women should have no financial support in their old age?

Also, many readers of the "Good News" magazine are happy that it is available again. Naturally, members in their zeal to form groups, publish newsletters and greet new brethren are excited. When this settles, though, will there be love, peace, joy in our calling and mercy toward others?

One thing we must learn is that, as we were mistaken in many things before, we certainly do not know everything perfectly now.

Will we really follow Christ? Watch out for those ditches—on both sides! We should thank God more while spending less time commending ourselves. Please remember, Satan is the enemy.

To you at Servantsí News, many thanks for useful, instructive, and uplifting articles. In my opinion, it is #1. May God continue to inspire you and provide for your family as well as means to publish.


[Name Withheld], Texas

Response: Thank you for your letter. Most Scriptures on judgment reveal we will be judged primarily on how we live our lives and treat our neighbors. While we believe that hierarchical government is a doctrinal error and stifles the working of the holy spirit, we have much evidence that the Eternal has worked in hierarchies in the past and He probably will continue to do so to some degree. It is our hope that the Eternalís people will be served and the Gospel will be preached as much as possible in all congregations.


Comments on WCG & UCG

Letter: November 12, 1996

More than thirty years ago, I walked away from a protestant church because I could see the difference between Godís Word and what was taught by word and deed.

For several years, I read the Bible, did my own Bible studies and prayed for God to show me which of the many churches He wanted me to attend. I am not sure He ever did answer this prayer, although, I once thought He had.

Learning also that it was almost impossible for anyone to stand firm when they are alone. Circumstance certainly makes it hard to do when one has no support and they differ from the general concept. I sought a church home.

Eventually, because I understood the need to observe Passover. I took my list of doctrines or beliefs and measured them against the list of church doctrines; and joined the Worldwide Church of God.

I fairly soon learned that many of the members idolized Herbert W. Armstrong. To some extent, I also learned more of what God wants everyone to learn—the holy days and their meaning.

While there was some things I could not accept, there were others which I felt would not hinder my growth, so I accepted them even when I did not believe that God was quite that picky. Such things as the length of oneís hair; being re-baptized; make-up. My attitude was "if thatís what it took, I could live with it." Other things didnít really affect me—like the marriage and divorce issues. These had been decided on because of Bible verses earlier. I became stable.

In various ways, the church was good for me. I was blessed, even though I felt like I did not belong. I felt like an outsider. I could and did regulate my lifestyle more in keeping with Godís Way. And I was content to live peaceably with other sabbath-keepers.

Then a wake-up call arrived in the form of a video.

I could not believe that anyone could repent for the entire church, especially concerning the trinity doctrine; something I thought Iíd proven wrong before I joined the WCG.

God could not be quite so fickle. Then I became more watchful of the sermon content, checking upon every scripture used. And I became convinced my current minister was including numerous lies into his sermons. Since God does not lie, this ended WCG for me.

As I am convinced one should assemble regularly (weekly) with other sabbath-keepers, I now attend with the United Church of God.

However, the fact that this church is so determined to follow the same form or pattern as the WCG, bothers me; and the never ending pitch of how wonderful or marvelously they (the ministers or elders) have done or are doing. Itís almost like brainwashing. Repeat in one form or another, then repeat again endlessly.

Jesus said feed my sheep as often as He said go you into all the world and make disciples. Whatever happened to feed my sheep? Occasionally, there is a sermon one can see and appreciate in this light. But most sermons sound more like bragging than feeding. Maybe thatís because we, being small in number, have had a series of different ministers. Still, I donít feel like I belong. Iím an outsider again and not appreciating it.

Iím not just checking the scripture to prove a sermon point or verify if itís been correctly quoted. I am again doing my own Bible studies and reading. This time, if anything falls by the wayside, (itís going to be the ever abundant supply of church magazine offerings); not the comprehensive type of Bible study, where all scriptures on a given topic are listed and then read all at one time to get a better understanding of the intent.) You have included several articles of this type in your Servantsí News and such items are very valuable. I appreciate them.

I certainly believe God teaches here a little, there a bit more, precept upon precept. And a review of basic doctrine—precepts or principles is a good way to feed Godís sheep, now in their confusion. One cannot believe at all times exactly as the church desires when the learning comes bit by bit. Thatís getting the cart before the horse.

Most lay-members are not lacking in mental capacity—they just have not been introduced to the source materials the ministry has, and have been conditioned to accept what is said verbatim.


Response: We agree with nearly all of this letter. People were encouraged to "read their Bible for themselves" when they first began attending. Most of the early doctrines were easily provable, so people developed trust for the church organization. Later, too many people simply got used to trusting the organization, and (with the organizationís encouragement) stopped insisting that they understand every doctrine from the Bible before beginning to practice it.

You are also right in that too few members knew about all of the various Bible study tools. Members who did their own research were told that any conclusions they reached that were contrary to church doctrine were certainly wrong because God would only reveal new truth to the Ministry—only the high-ranking ministry.

Someday, it would be interesting to ask our Father how many times throughout history truth has been rejected because an "unordained" person was the one that first learned it.


Reply to "The Error of Racism"

Letter: May 19, 1997

In response to William Washingtonís letter, page 36 of Mar/Apr 1997 Servantsí News:

Hey, am I missing something? Why should simply recognising that the Lost Tribes of Israel migrated to Western Europe and fulfilled some of the greatest prophecies recorded in scripture make a person a racist! Somebody please enlighten me.

—Dale Heslin, Canberra, Australia


Response: Unfortunately, there are people who believe that the USA and Western Europe are Israel, and also believe that non-Israelites or non-whites are second-class people. However, just because some British-Israel believers are racists, it does not mean that all such believers are racists. It may well be that most of the British-Israelite believers who William Washington has dealt with have been racists. When a person has suffered at the hand of a person with a certain belief, it is hard for that person to accept that belief.

To use a different example, how much trouble would you have teaching a young Arab boy whoís parents were killed by Jews to accept Yeshua (Jesus)? While it is true that Yeshua was a loving Jew, it is hard to convince a person who has suffered greatly to accept the people whom he has suffered under. These situations often require years of recovery or miraculous healing from the Eternal—just as a serious physical sickness or injury.



UCG in Miami &West Palm Beach

Letter: January 24, 1997

Dear Norman,

I really enjoy Servantsí News. It brings to our attention many questions about our beliefs that we had accepted in the past without proof. Asking good questions brings us closer to the truth. Keep up the good work.

Speaking of truth, I donít know how much true news on what has happened in South Florida has circulated among Godís family, but Iíd like to give my input about the reality of UCG government. I am a former member of UCG, West Palm Beach (WPB) congregation.

There are currently two mindsets in UCG: those who think a total rebuild of Worldwide is what is needed (pray, pay, stay and obey); and those who are asking questions, looking for deeper understanding of Godís will. They do not co-exist in peace.

A little history first. The WPB congregation came out of Worldwide months before the forming of United. All of local WCG ministry in South Florida embraced the apostasy, except Ron Smith, who was fired early in 1995 for standing for the truth. He was asked by those who left WCG to become the leader of the group. He has taught us for the last two years and was hired as a minister in United in the summer of l995.

A small group of "WCG mindset people" wanted to get rid of Ron, starting approximately a year ago. They brought false accusations against Ron and reported their accusations directly to HQ council of elders (personal friends).

I unknowingly added fuel to the fire, when, God forbid, I placed non-approved literature on the information table (Servantsí News, Giving and Sharing, and The Way— on a week when the "regional pastor" was in town.)

HQ, through the "regional pastor" said they would resolve the problems with the members making accusations, but it was allowed to fester as the congregation split down the middle. Finally, rumor had it that something would happen around the time of the feast (96).

In November, Ronís "superior" (the regional pastorís own term for himself) came to WPB and stated that Ron was cleared of all charges brought by the few members. (During the entire time, no one came to talk to the "mere members"— again the Superior Regional Pastorís term—about how effective Ronís leadership has been.)

One week later, David Hulme himself came, without approval of the council, without following the constitution, and fired Ron within 7 minutes of his arrival, being very vague as to the reason, and having Ron sign a paper saying he wouldnít sue the corporation!

Both the Miami and West Palm Beach congregations were outraged at this action, and wrote dozens of letters, pouring their hearts out to the council asking why they had never asked for the congregationís input and why he was fired, and even if they had the right to enter into the affairs of our congregation. No one received a response except for flippant form letters thanking them for writing. Several "HQ approved" ministers came over the following weeks to meet with the congregations and answer questions, but no answers came.

Finally, on January 11th, the "showdown at the OK Coral" (Miami Marriott) occurred. One of the council members, Richard Pinelli, came to answer questions. (Note: WPB congregation was not even invited to the meeting, but found out through the grapevine.) Frustrated members asked direct questions which he managed to avoid, dance around, bob and weave like a veteran politician. After an hour and a half of this, the only thing established was that they are hiding the real reason he was fired, standing behind "legal reasons" for why they canít disclose (if it was legitimate, why worry about a lawyer?).

A new "HQ selected" minister will be sent. The group said "we will not accept another minister." His response was along the line that we have that choice. In essence, blowing off both congregations.

What I see is that the whole issue centers on control. HQ has a big business (of menís making) to run, and they must control all dollars, and the people where those dollars come from. The only "consensus" that is allowed is the will of those in control on the council.

It is obvious from the way the situation was handled that the elite group of men in the council know what is best for the mere laity—whose opinions could not possibly have any use to the corporation. I know a corporate attitude when I see one because I work for a secular one (not that Iím saying this one isnít secular.)

There is no room in UCG Corporation for thinking people, unless you are thinking along lines that help the big business. How could a group of men think they are doing Godís will when acting like the organizations of the world? WCG modeled the Roman church, which modeled the Roman Empire, which is the Beast. Its government was the image of the Beast.

UCG hasnít improved very much from that form. It has been modeling a socialist police state in handling the South Florida situation.

In I Samuel 8, God told Israel that if they modeled the worldís governmental system, then that system would yield similar results to what we see in society (v 11-18). I no longer wonder about what I see coming from UCG headquarters, as it can only act like what it is set up to do.

This organization would have done well to look to the United States government as the founding fathers originally set it up. They saw from history that human nature cannot be trusted, and so set out to minimize the power of a central government, leaving states autonomous except in only a few matters.

I am not bitter over the situation, I feel sorry for those who think they are doing Godís work by modeling Satanís system of government. Also, for those who are not seeking to move where God is leading His people, choosing to believe the headquarters "truth".

As of January 18th, 30 of Godís people have decided to begin a LRCOG in the South Florida area. We hope to follow Godís lead, not menís.


—Robert Sipsky, Stuart, Florida

Response: We are sad to hear this, but we know that it happens. Most of the people you named probably believe they are doing "the best thing to preserve the unity of the brethren." If God is working through their church organization, then supporting that organization must be the right thing to do? Right? Not necessarily! This is why the Eternal gave us law and not just an organization chart. If something cannot be accomplished righteously, then it is not His purpose! We hope people in organizations and living-room fellowships will learn this lesson.




Jewish Influence, Tithing

Letter: May 21, 1997

Norm E.

A few comments on recent articles on tithing in SN:

I donít have the article with me as I type, but I recall you lean quite a bit on Jewish interpretation. For me, what the Jews taught and believed matters less and less as time rocks along.

Response: I believe we should study Jewish interpretation because in some cases it is the background against which the New Testament was written. It makes little sense to view the New Testament with a Catholic, Protestant, or 20th century Church of God background, because nobody in the first century had heard of that yet. However, I believe the Jewish interpretation is similar to many other kinds of interpretation—it is a mixture of truth and error. There were devout people who were seeking the Eternal and had revelations from him when Yeshua (Jesus) was just a baby (Luke 2:25-38). On the other hand, there were corrupt Jews who were interested in manipulating the laws for their own benefit and to reduce their need to follow the Eternal—you give fine examples below.

Letter: The WCG is fond of saying that Gentile converts were not required to keep the Sabbath. That may have been what the Jews said. But what did God say (in Isaiah about the Gentile who would take his foot off the Sabbath)?

Response: The Jews have a means whereby a person could completely convert and become a Jew: he was required to be circumcised and required to keep the law as all other Jews. They also recognized various lesser states for Gentiles who still "feared God" but were not converted—they did not believe that the Sabbath was necessary for them. However, it is obvious from both the New Testament and first century history that the early congregations kept the Sabbath (Acts 13:42; Heb 4:9; 1Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28). The only reason people say otherwise is simply because they want to keep Sunday.

Letter: Didnít the Jews determine that it was okay to give away the leaven in oneís house before the Days of Unleavened Bread, then buy it back afterwards?

Wasnít it the Jews who said it was permissible to neglect oneís parents as long as one made a gift to the sanctuary (the matter of Korban, or whatever).

Iím sure there are many examples of this stiff-necked people who, nonetheless, bent over backwards to find ways of avoiding the intended effect of Godís laws.

Response: The Jews said both of these things—they both violate the spirit if not the letter of the law. Of interest, the Jews had largely stopped the first practice you mentioned—probably partially because of the influence of our Messiah and his followers. The Mishna records that a person should take care of their parents even if they needed to use items dedicated to the temple. The first practice, however, is still common among Jews today. Yes, Matthew 23 and other chapters contain many examples of bad teaching on the part of the corrupt Jewish teachers of that day. There is a good indication that this was the most evil generation of Jewish leaders ever (Luke 11:50-51; Matt 23:31-39).

Letter: Now, concerning the idea that wage earners werenít required to tithe... You have written some articles on the Law that went into some detail explaining the wisdom of God. Please write an article explaining why wage earners would be exempt from paying tithes. Also, please explain why only farmers, in effect, were required to tithe.

Response: We explain that to some degree in our article, How Do We Give to The Eternal?, which I am sending to you. But the answer is fairly simple and makes good economic sense. Originally, the Eternal gave everyone land—something that would produce wealth with very little work. If the Eternal blessed them with the right weather, a person who owned land could buy a slave or pay someone else to work his land, and be able to live without having to work at all on a regular basis. The Eternal levied his tax (if we can use that term) on people with this wealth. If a person lost his land and had to sell his hourly labor for a wage, he no longer had to pay these taxes—a great contrast to what exists in most nations today: the wage-earners pay taxes, and those with great revenue-producing assets avoid taxes through various loop-holes.

Another advantage of this "single-point of taxation" was that it did not hinder the economic efficiencies of specialization. We can ignore wage-earners for a moment and, suppose that 100 people lived in a community and they all owned land. They could each farm their own land, build their own houses, make their own clothes, make their own tools, etc. The net tithe from the land would be 1/10 of all the produce. But now, suppose that half of the people liked farming and farmed both their own land and the land of one other person (for a fee). The half who were no longer farming would specialize in making tools, clothes, houses, etc. The farmers now buy clothes, tools, and additions to their houses from the tradesmen. The tradesmen buy food from the farmers and tools, clothes, etc. from each other. Under the Eternalís system, the only increase in tithe demanded is the increase that will likely occur due to the increased farming efficiency of full-time farmers with good tools. But under manís taxations system, all the food is taxed, plus all of the incomes of the tradesmen as they produce items of value for each other.

We can bring this example home to our generation: Supposing I am a farmer and I figure my time spent on my farm is worth about $10 per hour after all taxes paid. I need to fix my barn. It will take me twenty hours to do the job, or $200 of my time. My neighbor specializes in fixing barns and has much better tools—he could do the job in 10 hours. He needs to charge $10 per hour for himself, and $5 per hour additional to help pay for his tools and education. Under the Eternalís system, it would make sense for me to pay him $150 to fix my barn in 10 hours and for me to keep farming. Under this worldís taxation systems, my friend may have to pay taxes at both the personal and corporate level, and will have to satisfy numerous government-imposed bureaucratic requirements. He must charge me $30 per hour in order to take home $10 per hour and the total job will cost me $300. It is cheaper for me if I do the job myself. Obviously these figures would not be the same for everyone. If another person earned $20 per hour or if it would take him 40 hours to fix the barn himself, then it would make sense for him to hire my neighbor to do the work in spite of the taxes. The lower the tax rate, the more people will be able to hire others. The greater the tax rate, the less sense it makes to use outside labor.

In our modern day world, there are many things that would cost a person hundreds of times as much to do themselves (e.g. assemble their own house, car or television), so there is a great deal of specialization in spite of taxes. The fact that there is so much specialization today is a testimony to the benefit of specialization. (Specialization also has some negative impact on society—we do not advocate a society where everyone only knows one narrow job, but we cannot discuss all of those issues here.) We wonder how much more wealthy our nations could be if specialization were not so heavily taxed.

Letter: What does Malachi mean when he writes that the "whole nation" was guilty of robbing God? Is this an accurate translation?

Response: Mal 3:8 says that they robbed the Eternal in "tithes and offerings." The majority of the nation was probably robbing Him of tithes—most had at least a garden. Everyone (the whole nation) was required to give offerings based on how the Eternal had blessed them (Deut 16:16-17). This same practice of offerings continued in the New Testament (2Cor 9:6-7). The word for nation here is Goyee—which usually refers to nations other than Israel (it is often translated "heathen" or "Gentiles"). Even the Gentiles who fear the Eternal are responsible for giving offerings. Some very specific things are mentioned together with the general giving of offerings: verse 10 mentions bringing "tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house." It was only the Levitesí tithe to the priests that would be put into the temple ("My house").

Letter: I must admit the issue of tithing is far from settled in my mind. I have long wondered what effect our high taxes should have on the amount we tithe. What exactly is the tithe for today (I think you have discussed this)? Not to mention 2nd and 3rd tithe, which I have always felt were difficult to justify.

Response: Please read How Do We Give to the Eternal?!


Take Positive Action To Endure

Letter: May 2, 1997

Dear Norm,

Thank you for printing my letter "Freedom To Think and Study" in the last Servantsí News. Itís a real blessing for us to have this outlet to share our thoughts and studies and feed one another as God would have us do.

I continue to share with the brethren the importance of a prayer life, with all the chaos around us and which will get worse as the tribulation draws near, God promises to give us His peace to endure if we will stay with Him in prayer (Phil 4:6-7).

Jesus said this is what it would take to endure through all thatís coming (Lk 21:34-36; Lk 18:1-8).

Before I left CGI over six months ago, God gave me the opportunity to share these things in sermonettes here in New Orleans. And, I tried to share these points at every opportunity God gives me.

The last time I spoke there was on the Feast of Trumpets last year. I spoke about Revelation 2 and 3 and how these were trumpet blasts to Godís people. Five of the seven were warned to repent, the other two were told basically to hold fast not to let go.

I believe these messages are for the problems in the church today—because they apply. In my 22 years in the church, I have been in this Laodicean attitude many times—but thank God, He pulled me out of it, and I pray and hope not to drift into what God says is a very dangerous attitude again.

As I shared Matthew 25, where God says so many of His people will be asleep at His return, I asked this question, "In the light of Matthew 25 and other places that talk about so many of Godís people in trouble at Christís return—should we be reminding one another of these warning messages in Rev 2 and 3?

Then I said, if your answer is yes, then you know why Iím speaking about it today.

If those that Matthew 25 talks about would have given heed to these messages, they would not be where they are when Christ returns!

Nothing is able to stop the least child of God who goes before Godís Throne Room to do this. God puts it under the blood of Christ and once again we are spotless in His sight! I know of no other positive action than this, itís the best shot in the arm we can receive.

But the reason those messages get by so many, is because we donít think it applies to us; but the safest ground we can stand on is to do this prayer and examination before God. The more we do this, the safer ground we will be on.

When Jesus said He stands at the door and knocks (that is talking to those in the church), He wants a close personal relationship with us—but He will not force us—we have to reach out and open the door. When I started to center on these points in my relationship with God, thatís when my life really began to change, and the peace that passes understanding is there.

That is why I share the importance of getting your foundation down in Jesus Christ, and when all the organizations come tumbling down, you wonít fall with them, but will be secure in your relationship with Jesus Christ in your prayer life.

With the present situations of Godís people being scattered all over and so many confused brethren, this direction would help the wounded hearts and give the direction needed. Nothing can stop the least child of God who wants to grab hold of the hand of Jesus Christ and spend more time in the Throne Room with our Father.

I can see by some of the articles in Servantsí News, how we are learning from all the things that have been happening in the churches the past few years.

Thank you once again for giving the opportunity for an outlet to share Godís word; it is truly an honor to share Godís word. May God continue to bless your efforts.

Your brother in Christ,

—Tommy Willis, Louisiana

Response: Our Father in heaven is like a good parent: He wants to be close to His children and He wants them to do right. Far too many Christians try to fulfill only one of His desires—they either become saturated with study and an effort to "do everything right" or they emphasize the relationship and nearly ignore Biblical teaching. He wants us to learn both and it is best for us if we do!