GCI Update

A tasty sandwich

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joe Tkach and Tammy TkachHave you ever picked up one of those small, multi-layered sandwiches at a buffet and been surprised at how tasty it was? A Bible story can be like that—perhaps a bit confusing at first with its multiple layers, yet surprisingly tasty and nourishing once you get into it. There’s a story like that in Mark chapter 11. The first layer goes like this:

As they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it (Mark 11:12-14).

Why did Jesus do that? It seems at first glance a rather unreasonable thing to do. It wasn’t the season for figs—so why blame the tree? Was the pressure of the last weeks of his earthly ministry getting to Jesus? No, he knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t mutter this under his breath—as verse 14 indicates, he made sure his disciples heard.

Mark then adds another layer to this “tasty sandwich”:

Casting Out the Money Changers by  Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)
Casting Out the Money Changers by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Mark 11:15-17).

What Jesus did here was a public relations nightmare! Approaching the city the day before, the multitudes greeted him as a conquering hero. This was a particularly sensitive time of year and the occupying Romans were on the lookout for trouble. Jesus had “flown under the radar” in his triumphal entry, so the sensible thing for him to do now would have been to keep his head down. Instead, he causes a major incident in the most sensitive spot imaginable—the Temple. He charges it with being unfruitful in prayer for the nations.

This shocking proclamation exposes the corruption and hypocrisy of Israel’s religious elite. Jesus is accusing them of abandoning Israel’s mission to be a light to the nations, and attempting to keep God’s blessing for themselves. Jesus is asking for trouble!

Then Mark adds another layer:

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching (Mark 11:18).

Jesus’ prophetic word was sure to provoke a showdown with the religious elite. But it wasn’t quite time yet. So…

When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city (Mark 11:19).

Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was not about the tree. It had no fruit through no fault of its own. That would be clear to all. He was using the incident with the tree to illustrate a far more important lesson. But it was not a lesson that the disciples grasped at the time, as we see in the last layers of the story:

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” (Mark 11:20-21).

Jesus’ reply to Peter might seem rather unsatisfying—perhaps even condescending:

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them” (Mark 11:22-23).

Let’s review what Jesus is saying here in context. He is not giving advance notice of a breakthrough in civil engineering. This lesson is no more about the mountain than the other was about the fig tree. In the ancient world, “mountains” often symbolized empires and kingdoms. Casting them into the sea symbolized their judgment—being thrown into a place of destruction (Mark 9:42). This was likely baffling to the disciples, because what Jesus predicted did not happen immediately. The disciples were weak in faith, and so the one who “does not doubt” here is Jesus. He has no doubts that his Father will bring this to pass—that he will judge the Jewish religious elite and the Roman overlords who refuse to bow to Jesus’ lordship. Eventually, they will be thrown down.

The point here is that the kingdom that Jesus is inaugurating by the authority of his words and deeds stands over all other authorities, religious or secular. His rule and reign has begun and he knows that it will reach its fullness over time. Jesus’ words of judgment—sorting out what is what—will come to pass, even if there is a delay, just as there was between the words Jesus spoke and the effects seen upon the fig tree. This delay does not diminish the effectiveness and certainty of his authoritative word. In that regard, remember the prophecy of Micah:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it (Micah 4:1).

These “last days” have been unfolding for a long time. The Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 and then, by AD 476, the Roman Empire ceased to exist. Yet we still await the ultimate consummation of the last days, which will occur at Jesus’ return in glory. The kingdom Jesus inaugurated 2,000 years ago, eventually will completely overthrow all opposition, whether religious or secular. But, according to our Lord’s way, this overthrow comes gradually, and not through cruelty, force or intimidation. Instead, the kingdom advances through the pronouncement of the Lord’s word by his people who, themselves, live by faith in that word. Opponents to Jesus’ kingdom reign are thus conquered “from the roots,” over long periods of time and in ways generally not immediately seen. For these vanquished foes, rather than revenge, there is forgiveness, love and mercy.

The time span between the inauguration and consummation of the kingdom involves a process of judgment that leads to peace—a peace that the world is unable to understand, for it goes against the grain of human nature (John 14:27). Those whom Jesus chose to join him in the next stage of his ministry needed to understand, as do we. We await the fullness of the kingdom with patience and a hope that will not be disappointed.

With concluding words from Jesus, Mark adds a final and rather surprising layer to this tasty sandwich:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:24-25).

Here is the unexpected, perhaps shocking, way the kingdom unfolds. Through clarifying judgment, over time, all opposition to the kingdom is overcome as it is exposed for what it is: nothing compared to the rule and reign of God in Christ, which alone gives life eternal. As believers, we pray for and thus welcome this unfolding judgment—not through revenge or condemnation, but by extending the Lord’s forgiveness to all. This we do because our concern is that deception be lifted and all enter God’s glorious kingdom, receiving God’s forgiveness as his redeemed children. Because we have received that forgiveness, we have passed through the Lord’s loving and freeing judgment, which led to our repentance. And now we wish for others to gain what we have received. Ultimately, God’s judgment, delivered to us in Jesus Christ, is a word of compassion and salvation. And that is a tasty sandwich indeed!

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach

Bill Linge

William LingeBill Linge, pastor of GCI’s congregation in Boise, Idaho, grew up near Seattle, Washington. “I grew up attending WCG from age five. My mother had been listening to The World Tomorrow broadcast since around the time I was born and had requested a visit. About five years later, she was contacted and invited to church.”

After high school, Bill entered the University of Washington. “I was an engineering major with a secondary emphasis in business administration. I was able to complete an MBA post-Ambassador, though I never got back to engineering. I ended up with a career in IT as the paying part of my bi-vocational career.”

Bill attended Ambassador University—first in Big Sandy, Texas, then graduating in Pasadena, California. “After graduation, I was hired by the church’s radio and television department and worked there until 1994, when the telecast was shut down. I accepted a severance package and Priscilla and I looked around for an area in the western U.S. where we could settle down. Initial doctrinal changes had begun (healing, de-emphasis on prophecy, God as Trinity, etc.) and we noticed that not all pastors were on board. In the city of Boise, we found a good economic base, a family-oriented civic community and a church with a pastor who appeared to be open to listening to and studying the changes that were coming out of Pasadena. So we settled down there with the idea of being ordinary church members and possibly raising a family.”

Bill and Priscilla (Taylor) have been married for 22 years. “We have two children: Kayleen (12) and Sean (8). We consider them a great blessing because early in our marriage we were told by doctors that we would be unable to have children, although we always had hoped otherwise.”

After moving to Boise, Bill and Priscilla started serving the congregation. “Priscilla and I supported many of the programs including youth ministry and children’s church, facilitating and hosting small groups, choir and worship. Nevertheless, we never seriously considered pastoring (seeing the burdens that some pastoral wives were under, Priscilla proclaimed that she would never be a pastor’s wife. However, it appears that the Holy Spirit took that proclamation as a challenge!).”

It was a tough time, Bill said. “The path was convoluted and somewhat painful–taking us through the doctrinal changes with its associated divisions and politics both at the denominational level and locally with friends and family on both sides. Priscilla and I were already convinced prior to leaving our jobs with the church in Pasadena that the changes were the result of God opening the eyes of the church; however, we tried to stay out of the fray, expecting older and more experienced members to provide local leadership. But when the local pastor was laid off for lack of local funding and had to begin looking for work elsewhere, the remaining local church leaders would not commit to supporting headquarters. Some even hinted that they might seek independence for the congregation and/or revert back to some of the old doctrines. This is when I found myself being pushed forward for local leadership. After serious prayer and soul-searching, leading to the “voice inside” insistently telling Priscilla and me what we did not want to hear, we spoke to the outgoing pastor and allowed ourselves to be put forward for pastoral training in January 1999. Upon my return, I served as a co-pastor with the outgoing pastor until he left, then was installed as the bi-vocational senior pastor.”

Priscilla, who did not want to be a pastor’s wife, has risen to her calling. “I don’t think I could do the job without her support! She serves as worship leader, sermon critic, private secretary, caterer, youth minister, back-up sound person, neighborhood liaison, encourager, private masseuse, social planner, prayer warrior, counselor, confidante and soulmate (I’m sure I could come up with other roles as well!). But she draws the line at speaking, so that leaves something for me to do!”

What Bill enjoys most about being a pastor is “being able to assure people who have spent their lives under legalism of the unconditional love and grace of God. It is particularly satisfying to watch the growing realization that this is real and that it applies to them. I also enjoy being able to serve others.” His most memorable moment as a pastor was “being able to baptize a co-worker from my paying job and her grandson.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being part of GCI, Bill said, “There is a commonality of background, with a common understanding of the pitfalls coming from many issues to which many Christians in other denominations seem blinded. I am excited by the depths of God’s grace that our Christ-centered, Trinitarian focus continues to reveal to us.”

Bill shared that his passions include, “My family, enjoying our local community, and being able to share news about God’s grace in Jesus Christ with those who are willing to listen.” He feels closest to God “in the openness of the natural outdoors, and in the midst of the worshiping congregation or small group.”

Jamaican youth honored

RaneilRanaeil Thompson (pictured at right) is a member of GCI’s church in Kingston, Jamaica. He is a youth group leader and member of the praise team.

Recently Ranaeil’s story was featured in a local newspaper. The article highlighted Ranaeil’s aspirations to become an architect.

Also recently, the church awarded Ranaeil the first-ever Edalere Scholarship to help cover his high school expenses. The scholarship was set up as a tribute to the late Lateef Edalere who pastored the Kingston congregation for many years.

SoCal cohort forms

On April 12, a group (pictured below) of 20 GCI pastors and leaders from California and Nevada known as the “SoCal cohort” held their first “mission field discipleship” meeting in Glendora, California.

SoCal cohort

Those invited to participate in the cohort are highly motivated pastors and ministry leaders who are interested in growing their congregations spiritually and numerically. The purpose of the cohort is to make disciples in the mission field using an organic process that includes engaging new contacts, sharing the gospel, discipling relationally in venues outside the church walls, and incorporating rhw new disciples into the body of the local church.

At the first meeting, regional pastor Lorenzo Arroyo made a presentation entitled, “rethinking evangelism.” He noted that evangelism and discipleship are two sides of the same coin that should be fully integrated. District pastor and church planter Heber Ticas led the group in sharing stories about disciple-making in their contexts. Church pastors Anne Stapleton, Manuel Ochoa, Glen Weber, Bermie Dizon, Ruel Guerrero, Enoch Palacios, Jose Luis Escalante, Angie Tabin and several others shared stories concerning their community engagement experiences. Those stories were then compared to events recorded in Luke and Acts.

The meeting concluded with prayer for more intentional engagement of those in need of experiencing the reconciliation that is already theirs, and for continued guidance and participation with what the Spirit is doing in their midst. In the next meeting, the cohort will tackle the nuts-and bolts of making new disciples in the mission field.

TCAT follow-up

TLoopEight leaders from New Creation in Christ, a GCI congregation in St. Louis, Missouri, gathered recently for a retreat to seek direction from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit regarding their next steps in implementing the action plan that resulted from their participation in the Transformational Church (TCAT) consulting process (illustrated at right) provided by GCI Church Administration and Development.

The retreat, which was facilitated by Larry Hinkle, and Charles and Carmen Fleming of GCI’s affiliate ministry, Odyssey in Christ, included times of worship and instruction in group spiritual discernment practices.

KarlKarl Reinagel (at left in the picture), who pastors New Creation in Christ, commented: “At the retreat, we learned to discern God’s will for us—looking and listening for the Spirit in silence and solitude, meeting him in those moments, then yielding to him and his will. We also learned how to come to conclusions as a group as we participate in these times together.”

For information about GCI’s Transformational Church (TCAT) consulting services, click here.

Arnold Clauson

Here is a recent update on Arnold Clauson from his daughter Rachelle who is helping with his care at his home in Texas.

Arnold, Trish and Rachelle Clauson
From left: Rachelle, Arnold and Trish Clauson

Dad had a difficult time this weekend, then yesterday [April 21] he seemed to decline even more.

We had arranged yesterday for him to receive hospice care. For now they are coming in 20-30 minutes each day. However, Dad’s symptoms were changing so fast last night that we asked them to return. They gave him oxygen to help increase his blood oxygen levels.

This morning [April 22], Dad was able to eat and was strong enough to travel for dialysis. His blood pressure drops at times, so we’re keeping a close eye on that.

Continued prayer for Dad’s healing and comfort is much needed and appreciated. Please also pray for Mom [Trish] and for me—we often get exhausted caring for Dad. We love you all—blessings and health to you and your loved ones.

Cards may be sent to:

Arnold and Trish Clauson
109 Melrose Circle
Denison, Texas 75020

Death of Shirley Moskel

We are saddened to learn of the death on April 18 of Shirley Moskel, wife of GCI pastor John Moskel. Click here for a previous prayer request that outlines her battle with cancer that now is over. Please pray for John and Shirley’s other family members and friends. Details about the funeral are pending.

Cards may be sent to:

John Moskel
130 Youpon Drive
Lexington, SC 29073


John Halford

John HalfordPrayer is requested for John Halford, special assistant to GCI president Joseph Tkach. John was recently hospitalized where he was diagnosed with cancer. He is now home, awaiting further tests to determine the extent of the cancer and to determine needed treatment. Here is an update from John’s daughter, Becki Halford Brown:

My dad had been experiencing rapid weight loss and some discomfort in his chest. Tests showed that he has esophageal cancer. The oncologist says he is “cautiously optimistic” that the cancer is limited to the esophagus. If that is the case (and we will know soon), radiation and chemotherapy will probably not be needed, and dad will have surgery right away to remove the cancer. Short of a miraculous healing, this is about the best news we could ask for.

John and his family ask for your prayers for John’s healing and for direction for the doctors who will be treating him.

Cards may be sent to:

John & Pat Halford
5836 South State Road 129
Versailles, IN 47042

Forth Worth 50th

GCI’s Forth Worth, Texas congregation will hold its 50th church anniversary on July 5, 2014. The congregation invites everyone who has been a member or otherwise associated with the congregation to attend and to bring family and friends with them.

The event will be held at the Summit Active Adult Center at 2975 Esplanade in Grand Prairie, Texas. The worship service begins at 2:30 pm and a beef and chicken fajita dinner with all the fixings will be at 5:00 pm. The guest speaker will be Felix Heimberg who pastored the congregation from 1975-1978.

Reservations in the form of payment for dinner are due no later than June 19. Make out your check to NHCF for $25.00/person and mail it to Jack Wetzel, Treasurer, 6091 David Road, Fort Worth, TX 76140.

If you want to order dinner, but lack funds, phone Jack at 817-478-3448; assistance is available.