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Three Days and Three Nights

How do you come up with 3 days and 3 nights from Good Friday to Easter Sunday? Do the math.

Source: ucg.org
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Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French (called Pancake Tuesday in England) and is associated with the Roman Catholic custom of Lent. But is it taught in the Bible? Would God want Christians to celebrate it?


Answer:

Is Mardi Gras Christian?The idea behind Mardi Gras or carnival celebrations is that people overindulge before giving up something for Lent, which begins the following day with Ash Wednesday. (Lent is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.)

Note the following encyclopedia article excerpt:

"Some scholars have noted similarities between modern Mardi Gras celebrations and Lupercalia, a fertility festival held each February in ancient Rome. However, modern Carnival traditions developed in Europe during the Middle Ages (5th century to the 15th century) as part of the ritual calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Today pre-Lenten Carnivals are celebrated predominantly in Roman Catholic communities in Europe and the Americas. Cities famous for their celebrations include Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. New Orleans, Louisiana, holds the most famous Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. Residents of New Orleans have been celebrating Mardi Gras since the 18th century" ("Mardi Gras," Encarta).

Mardi Gras “is a lively, colorful [not to mention bawdy and debased] celebration held on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins,” says the World Book Encyclopedia. It “goes back to an ancient Roman custom of merrymaking before a period of fast.” In places like New Orleans, the period of merrymaking with fancy balls and parades goes on for weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday itself.

It has been suggested by some scholars that the pagan practice of “weeping for Tammuz” that Ezekiel decried (Ezekiel 8:14) was the actual origin of Lent. Tammuz was a pagan god associated with death and rebirth in nature and the husband of the goddess Ishtar (See the Good News Bible Reading Program’s commentary on Ezekiel 8 for details.)

The idea of partying before repenting seems to be to get as much revelry and additional sin out of the way before you decide to do anything about it. But that attitude doesn’t show a belief that God’s way is really right and that sin is really wrong, harmful and something to be avoided because it wars against us (1 Peter 2:11) and is contrary to God’s instruction (Romans 13:13-14). It doesn’t show the 100 percent commitment that God wants (Romans 12:1-2).

God says we should always live holy lives and obey His laws because they are good for us (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Satan is the one who wants us to think that doing wrong things is fun, and his deception has been quite successful (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 2:16).

Neither Mardi Gras nor Lent are commanded in the Bible but come from pre-Christian, pagan customs. What does God think about such pagan customs?

"When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess…do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods… Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).

The New Testament continues this theme. The apostle Paul addressed the issue of whether outside religious customs and practices had any place among Christians:

"What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’

"Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14–18; 7:1).Instead of renaming some of the pagan customs as Christian or allowing the new converts to retain some of their former practices, Paul commanded them to leave behind all of these forms of worship.

Mardi Gras celebrations have nothing to do with God’s commanded Holy Days. On the contrary, they are part of the system from which God’s people should separate themselves.

Source: ucg.org
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Heavenly Reward or Literal Kingdom - Humanity’s Future from a Biblical View to Be Explored In Global Bible Seminars Conducted By United Church Of God

What does the Bible say is humanity’s eternal reward? Surprisingly, it is not an eternity in heaven. The United Church of God will explore the critical answer to this question in January seminars.

Is a literal divine Kingdom ruled by a living Jesus Christ in humanity’s future? Presented by the United Church of God, a new series of public presentations will explore this critical biblical topic on January 21 in numerous places across the United States and aboard.

As noted by a number of biblical scholars, the eternal reward for Christians that is revealed in the Bible is not a new life in a distant heaven, but a reward where those in Christ will be resurrected into a literal Kingdom of God.

“In the first century the Apostles, particularly as recorded in the 15th chapter of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, taught and spoke at length about a coming Kingdom of God and how all people would be given a chance to be part of this Kingdom,” said Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, an International Association. “Some people are surprised to find out that the biblical record – in both the Old and particularly in the New Testament – focuses intently on a transformed earth featuring a global government led directly by Christ.”

“This teaching by the early Apostles directly reflects how Jesus powerfully taught the Kingdom’s importance for His followers,” he continued. “The United Church of God understands from the Bible that what Jesus taught concerning this literal Kingdom should have direct interest to all living on the earth today,” he continued.

To help people understand the vital and personal significance of this Kingdom taught by Jesus Christ, the United Church of God is hosting a second series of special presentations across the United States and other countries in January 2012. More than 100 presentations took place across America in the original series presented in 2011. As was done in the first series, the meetings explaining the critical nature of the Kingdom of God and its personal meaning will be conducted free of charge.

“From the beginning, the Kingdom of God was the focus of Christ’s own ministry,” Mr. Luker continued. “As recorded in the book of Mark in the New Testament, the Bible declares: `Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel”’ (Mark 1:14-15). We see multiple dozens of references to this gospel – the ‘good news’ – of the Kingdom of God in the teachings of Jesus, yet we rarely hear it explained today.”

The Church’s president noted that these continuing presentations represent the first time that the United Church of God will make this broad type of simultaneous outreach to the public through its ministry. “We produce the Beyond Today television program, which airs Sunday mornings on WGN-TV and other television stations, but this is the first time we have done something of this nature on this scale,” he said. “We are excited about the Kingdom of God and it is an equally exciting moment for us to bring this knowledge to the public in this way.” 
A special Web site – http://www.kogseminars.org – contains additional information about the January 2012 presentations.

“Anyone who is interested in learning more about what Jesus and the Bible teach about the Kingdom of God and how critically relevant that is to daily life is welcome to attend,” said Mr. Luker. “No one will be asked to join a church or religious organization, nor will there be any attempts to collect money or fund-raise – we in the Church simply want to make this critically important information available to all.”

The special Kingdom of God Bible Seminars will include biblical information on how to form a direct, close, practical and loving relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ. This direct relationship will improve an individual’s life and add depth and meaning in an important way.

“The Kingdom of God – the core outcome of the Gospel as taught by Jesus – represents the central story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation,” said Mr. Luker. “We hope that many will take advantage of this free opportunity to learn more without any obligation and commitment to join anything.”

Numerous locations across the globe will host these free Kingdom of God seminars, and more information about times and locations can be found at http://www.kogseminars.org. Those interested in attending can register online at this site.

About the United Church of God, an international association Basing its beliefs on the biblical practices of the original 1st Century Church, the United Church of God maintains congregations in more than 40 countries around the world. Following the recorded example of Jesus Christ and the first apostles, the Church observes the seventh day Sabbath and the annual Holy Day seasons as outlined in the Old and New Testaments. The main offices of the Church are located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Church produces the Beyond Today television program and publishes the Good News magazine. For more information about the Church and its activities, please visithttp://www.ucg.org.

Source: kogseminars.org
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Searching for Truth or Understanding

What are the top searches people make on the Internet?

[Darris McNeely] So while reading the Bible the other day, I was in 2 Timothy chapter 3 and the matter is posed of the last days, and in the last days the perilous times will come. When you read about the last days, perilous times in the Bible, you normally think about wars, famines, pestilences. But the Apostle Paul goes into a list of different things. He says, “For men in those days will be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unloving and unforgiving, traitors, headstrong, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy:3:1-5) Quite an interesting list, Steve, of traits of people that make for a very perilous period at the end time. Why is that?

[Steve Myers] Now you might think, well does that really apply today? The fact is, I think, Google bears that out, believe it or not. Google has compiled a whole list, top 10 searches of 2011. What were the fastest rising searches? Would that tell us something about where we are as a people, as a world? I think it does and those searches bear out we are entertainment, pleasure oriented. When you think about those searches, what would be number one? Well, number one on those searches was Rebecca Black, the rising teenage star, 13 years old. Just Google itself, searching was one of the top ten. Ryan Dunn, the big MTV star who died in a fatal accident—one of the top searches. Casey Anthony, the court case was more interesting than some of the serious news stories of the day. Look at number five was Battlefield 3, that’s a video game, a game that we can withdraw from the world and create our own…

[Darris McNeely] Virtual world.

[Steve Myers]…virtual reality. And you go down the list and it doesn’t change. There was only one serious news story that was on there and that was the Japanese tsunami, and earthquake, and nuclear disaster. So what does that tell us about our world? What does that tell us about us? Are we fulfilling the words that Darris read in Timothy?

[Darris McNeely] It may be saying that we are wanting to escape into a virtual world and escape some of the realities of life. And that’s understandable with the pressures that we have today. And we’re not talking about not having fun, not relaxing and not enjoying life, but we are talking about, and I think what Paul is talking about in Scripture is to not get caught up in matters that distract us from the big truths of life. In verse 7 of 2 Timothy 3, Paul says because of all these other matters that people are involved in, they’re always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy:3:7). Searching for truth, finding truth, considering those big questions are really matters that should consume us and it’s really time to wake up out of the sleep that we’re in and get to those answers to these big questions of life.

[Steve Myers] So it’s probably the time to unplug, unplug from that world that really is not reality and look for the real truth of God. That’s really the place that we’ve got to begin our search.

[Darris McNeely] Unplug so often from the virtual world, plug into the world of truth in God’s Word, the Bible, and start searching and finding those answers.

[Steve Myers] That’s BT Daily. We’ll see you next time.

Source: ucg.org
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Hanukkah, Christmas and Light

December 21, 2011 - Traditional festivals of light miss the truth about the true “Light of the world”.

Source: ucg.org
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BT Daily – Helpful videos on building a relationship with God.

The Beyond Today Daily Video Blog is a way for you to connect with the presenters and start to build a lasting relationship with God. These videos will feature commentary about news, events and culture and how it all relates to you and the Kingdom of God.

Source: ucg.org
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In 1933 Winston Churchill chillingly warned, “No one can watch the events which are taking place in Germany without increasing anxiety about what their outcome will be.” With an economic crisis now plaguing the eurozone, will Berlin’s troubled history repeat itself? What is Germany’s destiny? Does Bible prophecy give us any indication of where events in Europe are leading?

Europe's Troubles: Setting the Stage for Prophecy's Fulfillment

The late British author John Stott summed up the mindset of many this way: “Most of us feel demoralized by the heart-rending tragedy of this chaotic world. Our very survival is in doubt. The ordinary citizen often feels a helpless victim of the tangled web of politics, or a faceless unit in the machine of modern society” (Basic Christianity, 2008, p. 152).

The apostle Paul foretold that conditions would be like this during the last days of this age of man (2 Timothy:3:1-5). That’s why our articles about regional and world trends ultimately focus on the good news guaranteed by the prophecies of the Bible.

But the Bible itself makes it very plain that the wonderful world to come will first be preceded by devastating conditions of a magnitude never before seen by the human race (see Matthew:24:21-22; Daniel:12:1; Jeremiah:30:7). The state of the world will be so dire that human survival will be at stake!

Our news headlines show that prophecies written in the Bible many centuries ago are now beginning to be fulfilled in a major way. Nowhere is this truer than in Central Europe and the Middle East. This article focuses on Europe (though you can gain an understanding of the other region’s prophetic role by reading our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and articles about Israel and the Middle East that appear regularly in this magazine).

What does Bible prophecy tell us about the future of Europe? The biblical books of Daniel and Revelation both show that a new and dictatorial superpower will emerge at the time of the end, centered in Europe. In this article we’ll see how the stage is apparently being set for the fulfillment of these prophecies.

Source: ucg.org
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The Millennium: Christ’s Rule on Earth

We live in a deeply troubled age. Yet a magnificent 1,000 year period of peace and prosperity is coming.

Source: ucg.org
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There is a quickly-growing movement in the Evangelical Christian world called Dominionism. Its proponents consider it a way to establish the dominance of God in all facets of life. But is Dominionism supported in the Bible?

Dominionism: A Growing Evangelical Movement
Be sure you don’t get swept up in a movement that isn’t in alignment with the Bible.
Source: Photos.com

On Aug. 24 I listened to a fascinating interview conducted by Terry Gross on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program. She interviewed an author, Rachel Tabachnick, who writes about an emerging religious/political movement called Dominionism. The gist of it was that a growing network of people is working to make possible the return of Christ by removing various barriers that are standing in His way.

The interview listed a whole raft of barriers needing to be removed, most of them topics of modern controversy (abortion, homosexuality, Islam, conversion of Jews to Christianity, conservative vs. liberal politics, big government vs. small government, public schools vs. private schools, and so on).

The Dominionist solution to removing those barriers was said to be for Christians to take dominion over popular culture, business and politics by unifying the Protestant world under one banner, supporting conservative Christian politicians and energetically working for change at every level of society.

The interview also outlined some of the theology involved (fighting the demonic principalities controlling individuals, groups and nations; end-time scenarios of a one-world religious and economic system called Mystery Babylon, the Antichrist, the Millennial rule of Christ and other tenets).

Dominionism: More than just a Christian movement

What makes this different from just another religious grouping? Several political figures of national stature in the United States were named as being associated with the Dominion movement, or supported by it. As the U.S. election year heats up, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about this topic.

A simple search on the Internet turns up dozens of websites devoted to the pros and cons of Dominionism, and the rhetoric is pretty fiery on some of them. The NPR website that hosts the transcript of the interview, had 700+ comments posted in just two short days after the interview aired!

As you’d expect regarding a movement that proclaims strong teachings on subjects as fundamental as the balance of church and state, the end times and the return of Christ, the comments covered a wide range of opinion. Atheists and believers squared off, with both sides offering well-written and thoughtful posts and ripostes (some were respectful, some sophomoric—all an energizing read either way though). There is plenty to think about, pro and con.

But what does the Bible say?

The Bible is the only authority—not political or religious movements

Followers of this website, readers of The Good News magazine and viewers of Beyond Today television all know that’s the first question a Christian should ask.

Jesus Himself said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew:4:4). The apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy:3:16). And the prophet Isaiah wrote, “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah:8:20).

The Bible does prophesy about the end times, warning us about the ever-increasing troubles leading up to the crisis at the close of this age of man. Read Matthew 24 for a hair-raising synopsis. And numerous Scriptures do promise a wonderful, world-ruling Kingdom of God, administered in power and in love by Jesus Christ Himself.

But the Scriptures reveal that it won’t happen according to the scenario painted by Dominionism, or any major or minor religion for that matter. The god of this world, Satan the Devil, has spread confusion and contradiction and a cloud of mystery over these vital truths of the Kingdom and the awful events immediately preceding Christ’s just-in-time arrival here on earth.

Dominion of this earth belongs to Jesus Christ alone

History (and current experience!) shows us there’s danger when any given religion has the power of the state behind it. Think Spanish Inquisition, sharia law under the Taliban or the Salem witch trials. When mankind, however well-intentioned, attempts to bring about some version of the Kingdom of God on earth, it always falls short.

When evaluating the specific beliefs behind Dominionism or any system of religion or government, our only sure guide is God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Be sure you don’t get swept up in a movement that isn’t in alignment with the Scriptures!

For more information and a clear understanding of these prophesied events, you need to be sure you’re not getting your point of view from any source other than the Bible and literature in alignment with the Bible. You owe it to yourself to read your Bible and look up all the scriptures laid out in order for you in the pages of the various booklets offered free of charge on this website. To learn more about the dominion Christ will have at His return, read The Gospel of the Kingdom. Watch Beyond Today on WGN, read The Good Newsmagazine and take our free Bible Course.

In addition, why not plan on coming to one of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars being held in a city near you beginning in mid-September? They’re free; there will be no commitment solicitation or requirement, and no follow-up or request for money. Time and location information is easily found on this website, just type in your ZIP code and see the details.

Source: ucg.org
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As a reader of the Good News magazine, published by United Church of God, we would like to invite you to a special seminar in early September 2011 for Good News magazine readers and their friends entitledKingdom of God Bible Seminars.”

Kingdom of God Bible Seminar

A Key to Human Survival

The Kingdom of God was the central theme of Jesus’ ministry. Our world today is filled with thousands of forms of organized Christianity that teach about Jesus—but often don’t teach the message that Jesus shared with His believers. Jesus Christ’s original message of the future Kingdom of God (found in over 100 places in the New Testament) is largely unrecognized by Christianity today—even though this message holds the very key to human survival.

Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into His Kingdom (Mathew 7:21). Jesus told of the key signs about His return and how to prepare for His Kingdom! As a reader of the Good News magazine you have read of the prophesied troubling times ahead for our nation and the world. But, as you have also read, there is good news of a Kingdom yet to come!

You Are Warmly Invited

We want to tell you more about that Kingdom and give you the good news Jesus preached to his disciples. You are invited to this special Kingdom of God Bible Seminar, entitled “Why the World Needs the Kingdom of God Now.”

Jesus instructed us to: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). As a Good News subscriber, you and your family and friends are warmly invited to join us for this free, special presentation. We will help you unlock your understanding of the Bible as never before. These seminars are being held in over 160 cities across the United States and many other countries around the world.

What Can I Expect?

By attending you will discover what the Kingdom means to your own personal salvation. The seminars will help you understand the key signs Jesus gave His disciples about His return and how the Kingdom of God will soon be established on earth. You will also discover not only how you can enter the Kingdom of God, but vital ways you can develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your Creator now. And finally, you will learn important ways to live a positive, happy life even in the midst of the problems and challenges you face.

Reserve Your Complimentary Seat Today

Please go online for additional information and to reserve your complimentary seat. Space may be limited, so visit our Kingdom of God Bible Seminars website today at: www.kogbibleseminars.org. The seminars are absolutely FREE and refreshments will be provided.

We are looking forward to meeting you and sharing with you the same message Jesus Christ shared with his disciples over 2,000 years ago.

Source: kogseminars.org