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Monthly Newsletter for September 2002

The Pastor's Pen

Well, it's time for FESTIVAL 2002, the Festival of Tabernacles that we are hosting in St. Petersburg, Florida.

A grateful "thank you", to all who have volunteered to help host this Festival, our 22nd. We still need help, so if you can assist, please let me know ASAP; it's not too late! I don't know if we'll be able to continue with our Festival sponsorship after this year, we'll have to take a long hard look at it after we return.

Festival sermons will be brought to us by: Calvin Burrell, from Houston, TX, representing the Church of God Seventh Day; Joe Kirkpatrick and myself, representing the Christian Church of God; Les Stocker, President of the Braille Institute in Los Angeles; Bob Wertz, co-pastor of the Church of God in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Ken Westby, Director of the Association for Christian Development in Seattle, Washington, Vice President of the Bible Sabbath Association and author of The New Millennium; We will have Festival worship services daily, except for our Wednesday Family Excursion Day, at 10:00 A.M. in the Treasure Island Community Center, across the street from the Bilmar Beach Resort, our hotel site.

As for Fellowship Activities, we have the following scheduled: Welcome Sunset Beach Reception; Beach & Volleyball Party; Pool & Pizza Party; Sunset Dolphin-Watching Cruise; Starlight Majesty Dinner Cruise & Dance; Smugglers' Cove Miniature Golf & Feed the Alligators; one more possibility would be the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. Family excursion day will be an excellent opportunity to take in Disney World, Epcot Center, Sea World, Universal Studios, MGM Studios or Busch Gardens.

This Festival, the original retreat, revival and reunion will be a time for spiritual rejuvenation and bonding in fellowship for brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why do we, as New Testament Christians honor these Holy Days? The primary purpose is that we see Jesus Christ and His role in our lives in God's Holy Days. We do not celebrate these scriptural days in the same way or for the same reason that Israel observed these days. These days foreshadowed our Savior and Messiah and we, as New Covenant Christians, celebrate, honor and worship Christ and what He is doing for us, in these Holy Days.

What a shame it is that so much time, energy & resources go into the celebrations of man's holidays while God's Holy Days go largely unnoticed, disrespected and ignored.

What we find in the New Testament as relates to the Holy Days is enlightening. Paul points out that it is Jesus who is now our Passover.

1 Cor 5:7

7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Paul set the tone for the New Testament celebration of Christ in the Holy Days and the spiritual meaning contained in these days in his first letter to the Church at Corinth.

1 Cor 5:8

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Jesus instituted the bread and the wine as new symbols, sacraments for the New Lord's Passover. Jesus is the bread without leavening that we must partake of now.

John 6:53-58

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Our Savior became our Pentecost, in that He has freed us from the slavery of sin, releasing us from our debt of trespasses. On this very Holy Day, with the New Testament Church assembled together, He poured out His Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter.

Acts 2:1

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And what do trumpets as depicted in the Festival of Trumpets have to do with our day of salvation? Our Lord will return as our King with the sound of mighty trumpets, the Festival of Trumpets.

1Thes 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Zech 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

The Day of Atonement, what does that mean to the grace-filled, sanctified, and justified Christian? Only in Jesus do we have atonement, without which we are alienated from our God.

Rom 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The Festival of Tabernacles reminds us and keeps us aware of the fact that when Jesus Christ returns, and He will, He will establish His Kingdom and be our King.

Zech. 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

The Last Great Day of the Festival, lest we forget, keeps before our minds the fact that there is a Day of Judgment when all will give account to our Lord, our Master, our Judge, Jesus Christ.

Rev 20:12-13

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

2 Tim 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

This Festival of Tabernacles and throughout the year let us praise God and the purpose He has for each and every one of us. God is good and His mercy endures forever!

All things are ready, Come to the Feast!

In Christ's service,

Jeff Booth


By definition, conservative is 1. Inclined to preserve the existing order of things; opposed to change. 2. Moderate; cautious. Whereas, liberal is 1. Characterized by or inclining toward opinions or policies favoring progress or reform, as in politics or religion. 2. Not intolerant or prejudiced; broad-minded.

A recent column in the Amarillo Globe-News piqued my interest, for in the writer's politically motivated tirade against "conservatives" (specifically, the "radical, right-wing Christian Coalition"), they accused them of believing that "Jesus was a conservative." This writer then proceeded to "take another hard look at the Gospels, which portray Jesus as one of the most liberal religious leaders who ever lived."

Was He?

I weighed what the writer said about Jesus being "infuriated [by] the conservative leaders of his day" against the comments of Christ in Matthew 23:1-3, NIV, "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.'"

A picture emerges, doesn't it? Jesus didn't contest what the Pharisees preached, only how they acted. In this context, Jesus was not inclined toward reform in religion. He was conservative. Look at another of His statements:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:17-19).

Does that sound liberal? Was Jesus trying to do away with the foundational principles of the Jews' religion? A closer look at this entire sermon of Jesus (Matt. 5, 6, 7) -- the so-called Sermon on the Mount -- shows Him amplifying and clarifying the "Law and the Prophets." What he condemned, His "intolerance," if you will, was directed toward the weakness and failure of those who held these tenets sacred: "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (ibid, vs. 20.)

But, having responded thus to the Globe-News writer, I must, in all fairness, quote another portion of their letter. "Jesus was a preacher who, in three short years, so infuriated the conservative leaders of his day -- by constantly exposing their misuse of their religious and political authority -- that they had him killed . . . ." I'm interrupting this part of the quote to endorse it to this point. Here, again, we must note that Jesus was condemning their attitudes and actions: their "misuse." Continuing: ". . . to prevent the people from hearing the very liberal [writer's emphasis] teachings that are found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

As a general rule, the problem is the same: take a conservative position on an issue (especially a moral one) and the liberal-minded condemn such for their lack of "love, concern, inclusion, compassion and social justice" (which the writer says Jesus endorsed). Yes, He did. But why must those who take such a moral stance, biblically based many times, be accused of being heartless and uncaring?

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote under the title Old Errors and New Labels: "Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error."

How do I see Jesus portrayed in the Gospels? Conservative . . . and liberal. Conservative in principles; liberal in His attempts to reform wrong concepts and change bad attitudes. He observed His people having lost the spirit and impetus of the Law and the Prophets. Wrong attitudes toward women, the poor, the Gentiles, etc., needed correcting. He got His ire up against injustice and hypocrisy. He came fulfilling the Prophet's words: "The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. (Isa. 42:21).

I see our Lord and Savior as truly fair and balanced. After all, what was He really after? He tells us in John 10:10b, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

-Jerry McClenagan  

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