This group which is based in Tyler, Texas, USA has in recent years been seeking to extend its influence in the UK and Europe through the efforts of a Mr James McBride who is based in Lincoln, England. This group was founded by Garner Ted Armstrong, son of Herbert W. Armstrong who founded The Worldwide Church of God which produces the glossy magazine ‘The Plain Truth’ and puts out a satellite TV broadcast each Sunday called ‘The World Tomorrow’.
In fact, my first introduction to Garner Ted Armstrong was during my teenage years when I used to listen to the pop music station – Radio Luxembourg and Garner Ted used to present a 15-minute programme on behalf of his father’s church and the programme was called ‘The World Tomorrow’.
It’s Tuesday 9th November 2010 and as I sit at the computer with an open document in front of me, the reality that this will be the last edition of “News From The Front’ that I write is only now beginning to fully impact upon me. Back on 31st October 1989 I resigned from secular employment fully convinced that the Lord wished me to serve Him in a full-time capacity. Having waited on the Lord for His leading I formed ‘Take Heed’ Ministries on 1st September 1990 and the following September (1991) I issued the first 3-page letter edition of “News From The Front”. Many who received that first issue have faithfully remained with ‘Take Heed’ over the ensuing years and of course others have in the will of the Lord gone on to their eternal reward. The faithful encouragement and support by recipients of the newsletter has been immeasurable and also a great confirmation of the Lord’s will where ‘Take Heed’ was concerned – to all I say a humble and sincere ‘thank you’. It has been ‘quite a journey’ ministering in many wonderful places, meeting welcoming brothers and sisters in Christ, hosting ministry visits by a wide range of gifted Christians and personally addressing and exposing the many deceptions and errors that have assailed true Christendom over those years. I had considered listing some of the issues tackled, outreaches undertaken and appeals made and met for various needs but I have decided against that – I simply want to say that without the faithful prayers and sacrificial giving of so many over the years, who were moved by a desire to honour our God and Saviour, these various ventures would never have got off the ground.
As mentioned in my last 2 newsletters I have been giving serious thought to the future strategy and functioning of ‘Take Heed’ in the light of a number of relevant factors. As promised I am enclosing herewith a further ‘personal letter’ that sets out my settled line of thought on these issues – a line that I trust will still enable me to serve the Lord and His people to the glory of His name.
In particular for those without computers can I draw attention to the short letter that needs to be returned to me requesting inclusion in a new mailing list being drawn up to enable me to send out an annual ‘review’ letter.
Returning to this present newsletter, as you will see, all but the last page has been devoted to an exposure of the ever present challenge posed by The Papacy to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you receive this newsletter, the UK will be on the brink of a visit by the present Pope, Benedict XVI. In the 19th century Bishop J C Ryle wrote ‘We are in imminent peril of re-union with Rome’ – considering the spiritual state of the nation I think the ‘imminent peril’ could be described more as a ‘take-over by’ rather than a ‘re-union with’ Rome. May ‘the candle’ for truth, lit by the martyr Hugh Latimer, shine brightly in these days.
I want to begin by saying a very big ‘thank you’ to the many folks who contacted me in the wake of the personal letter that I enclosed with my March newsletter. I was very touched by the expressions of concern and also helped much by the constructive comments and suggestions. As I said in that letter I hope to include a further letter with my September newsletter [DV]. We are still considering a number of possible options concerning the future and ministry so please do continue to pray on that the Lord will make His will for us ‘crystal clear’.
Whatever circumstances unfold in our lives we will endeavour to adopt the following (latter) attitude – this quote was passed on to me by a good Pastor friend who jotted it down when his church hosted a visiting missionary. The missionary said “Circumstances can come between us and our faith in God, OR we can put our faith in God between us and our circumstances”.
Worldwide there is much uncertainty ‘in the air’ at present but as children of the living God may we, through faith, know that peace that passeth all understanding.
Last October (2009) marked the 20th anniversary of my leaving secular employment to seek the Lord’s will for full-time Christian service and God willing this coming September (2010) will mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries. Enclosed with this newsletter is a personal letter to all on the mailing list indicating that another ‘landmark’ event is now showing up on the radar of my life – an event that may signal some changes in the future strategy and functioning of ‘Take Heed’. Time is such a precious gift from God – Moses saw his life divided up into 3 ‘chapters’ of 40 years each and without doubt the first 2 ‘chapters’ [Egypt and Midian] prepared and equipped him for probably the greatest ‘chapter’ of all – the last one when he was commissioned by God to go to Egypt and secure the release of God’s people from their bondage and to lead them towards the Promised Land. Bearing this in mind the words of Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” – clearly come from the heart of one who had learnt this great truth along his journey of life. C H Spurgeon commented ‘It is most meet (fitting) that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated by wisdom’s hand. A short life should be wisely spent.’ John MacArthur commented ‘The Psalmist had the right perspective in Psalm 90:12… Wisdom numbers the days, sees the limited time and buys the opportunity. Don’t be foolish – shun opportunities for evil, but seize opportunities for good’. These words have been easy for me to type and for you to read – may God help us all to apply the wisdom learnt as our days unfold. May you all know His blessing in 2010 and beyond [DV].
Writing to believers in Thessalonica Paul told of how they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” [1:9]. This obviously brought great joy to his heart. I fear that if Paul were to look at professing Christianity in the British Isles today his heart would be grieved and his spirit would be once more “stirred [provoked] in him” just as in Athens [Acts 17:16]. On 8th October Prince Philip opened a new wing at the Anglican Walsingham Shrine where each year a statue of Mary is paraded through the town. Next year, the one who promotes the idolatry of the Roman Catholic Mass, the Pope, is scheduled to visit Great Britain and rumour has it that he may stay at Buckingham Palace.
In September the Vatican announced that ‘the next International Eucharistic Congress, to focus on the Eucharist as communion with Christ’ would be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. On 20th October Rome announced formal plans to accept disenchanted Anglican clergy. Our lead article will highlight the march of Roman idolatry in the UK and the capitulation to it of the Church of England. God’s Word is short and simple “flee from idolatry” [1 Corinthians 10:14]. Locally in October that very subject evoked differing responses from an evangelical politician, the ‘culture minister,’ and a currently prominent evangelical ‘clerical minister’. The former quite rightly would not countenance attending a Mass under any circumstances whereas disappointingly the latter would. The politician was right – he realised that God’s glory ‘trumps’ community relations. John MacArthur summed such situations up perfectly when he wrote in his latest book ‘The Jesus You Can’t Ignore’ (p 70) “Jesus knew something evangelicals today often forget. Truth doesn’t defeat error by waging a public relations campaign”.
Prominently and in the public eye we today have a President, a former Prime Minister and a purpose-driven Pastor all claiming allegiance to Jesus Christ. In this newsletter and enclosure you will read much about them and their common ‘vision’ for the future. Are they speaking and behaving, as true men of God ought to? It’s enlightening to note what C H Spurgeon wrote about Psalm 26:4-5 and its author, David – “So far from being himself an open offender against the laws of God, the Psalmist had not even associated with the lovers of evil. He had kept aloof from the men of Belial. A man is known by his company, and if we have kept ourselves apart from the wicked, it will always be evidence in our favour should our character be impugned… True citizens (of heaven) have no dealings with traitors. David had no seat in the parliament of triflers… We must needs see, and speak, and trade with men of the world, but we must on no account take our rest and solace in their empty society… as this vanity is often allied with falsehood… The congregation of the hypocrites is not one with which we should cultivate communion; their ultimate rendezvous will be the lowest pit of hell”. Social and political goals should never cause us to trifle with or compromise the uniqueness of the Person and work of the only Saviour of men, the Lord Jesus Christ – to do so is a mark of ‘sitting with vain persons’ (v 4) and ‘sitting with the wicked’ (v 5) – such intentions do not reveal men after God’s heart. May we all, like David “walk in His truth” (v 3).
I mentioned in my last newsletter how the BBC was ‘singing the praises’ of Charles Darwin and his [still] theory of Evolution. I happened to catch coverage of a March debate in the House of Lords the aim of which was also to extol the praises and merits of Darwin and Evolution. One Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Anglican Bishop of Oxford, took the opportunity to magnify the supposed scientific basis of Evolution in contrast to those misguided Christians who still believe in Creation as outlined in God’s Word. Back in my June 2002 newsletter I quoted the following about this then Bishop – Dr Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford said on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day ‘It is therefore quite extraordinary that 140 years later, after so much evidence has accumulated, a school in Gateshead is opposing evolutionary theory on alleged biblical grounds. Do some people really think that the worldwide scientific community is engaged in a massive conspiracy to hoodwink the rest of us’? The reality is that he is being used by a certain malevolent source to hoodwink people. Paul refers to him and his ilk in 2nd Corinthians 11:13-14 “such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light”. Evolution has also been a ‘godsend’ to outright atheists – see page 3. Meantime let us all, as we are given opportunity, take our stand for our Creator God.
For most of the past year large swathes of the world have been engulfed by what has come to be known as the ‘credit crunch’. Supposedly prosperous nations in Asia, Australasia, Western Europe, the British Isles and North America have been brought financially to their knees. Some of these in times past would have been viewed as bastions of Christianity but they have been found to be not only virtually financially bankrupt but also to be spiritually bankrupt. In Deuteronomy 8:19-20 God issued a warning to His people as they were making their way to the Promised Land – “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish…because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God”. The finances of many nations have been destroyed by corruption in high places – and so it has also been with their spiritual resources – they too have been corrupted. Much of this newsletter brings to light some sources of such present-day and popular corruption. May God be pleased to give His people discernment to preserve and prosper a faithful spiritual heritage amongst the nations that will bring true glory to Him, for that surely is one genuine biblical purpose that God has for His redeemed people.
When commenting on the parable of the householder and his vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46) the great English Anglican Bishop J C Ryle wrote ‘The fruit that the Lord receives from His vineyard in this land is disgracefully small compared with what it ought to be. We should note what an awful reckoning God sometimes makes with nations and churches… A time came when the long-suffering of God towards the Jews had an end. Forty years after our Lord’s death…they received a heavy chastisement for their sins in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple… And will the same things ever happen to us? Will the judgments of God come down upon this nation… Only God knows. But history tells us that judgments have come on many churches and nations. Where are all the early African and Eastern churches? They are run over by Islam and destroyed…Nothing offends God so much as the neglect of privileges. Much has been given to us and much will be required’. Truly remarkable and in many ways ‘prophetic’ words seeing that they were first published in 1856. Margaret and I thank you all for another year of encouragement and support and wish you His rich blessing in 2009 [DV].