Dear Friends and Supporters of the ACD,

 

Greetings to you and to your family. I pray that 2003 will be your best year yet as you serve His Majesty.

 

In this letter I want to report to you on what the ACD is doing and plans to do, and to look ahead to 2003—sure to be a critically important and pivotal year in modern history.

 

But before I reflect on current events and prophecy, I have some suggestions for maintaining a sane and balanced attitude in the face of the real and present danger. It is a principle of true reality to which I often retreat in times of stress.

 

The Racket

Presently tyrants and terrorists dominate the news and threaten the peace. The winds of war are everywhere howling. Their roar adds to an already noisy and chatter-filled world. The din increases as our ears catch the persistent cries of mundane needs and the cares of daily life. There are so many voices competing for our ears. Like being in a rock concert or on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, it is hard to hear anything above the noise. This can be dangerous.

 

Cell phones hang from the ear as people drive jam-packed freeways listening to music or talk radio. At home the TV blares, the phone rings, the computer signals incoming email, kids cry, dogs bark, cat litter smells, dinner to make, unpaid bills….  Above all the racket of daily life in our fast-paced information age, we struggle to hear the voice of God. Was his voice easier to hear when people lived on farms, watched flocks on the hills, and actually looked at the stars every night? When the roar of life wasn’t traffic, but the peaceful sounds of nature? When there was an abundance of quiet time? Maybe it was, and maybe today we have to work harder to make quiet time to hear God’s voice.

 

If we let the nagging cacophony of voices drown out the voice of God, we are doomed to live in the chaos of the moment. This is a pathetically hopeless state. What is this voice of God? And how do we tune our ears to hear it?

 

The Voices of God

God has two voices: the one booms with ground shaking power; the other is a still small voice. He has used each at different times for different reasons and to different audiences in communicating his will to mankind. In the near future his mighty Word will shatter the heavens and shake the earth announcing that the kingdoms of this world now cease! — and the Kingdom of God begins! He will drown out all other voices. The mighty power of Abraham’s God will both surprise and terrorize earth’s inhabitants. Many will hide in caves for fear of the God they do not know. Only the Church and the repentant will rejoice that the end of the age has finally come and God’s powerful voice is everywhere heard.

 

But our Father, Yahweh, has chosen to speak to his sons and daughters in his tender, quiet voice. His son, the Messiah, speaks to us in the same kind and gentle voice. It is the voice of God’s spirit speaking to our heart and mind. His voice informs our conscience of right and wrong and draws us to become like him. This quiet voice of God is continually convicting us to do good, to overcome selfishness, to be generous, to be kind, just and merciful, and to take on his righteous nature. It is a loving, patient voice. We sit, as it were, on his lap while he whispers into our ear. His written word, the Bible, sits quietly on our desk or nightstand waiting to be picked up, studied and thus come to life.

 

The Problem

Don’t we all love God’s soft voice toward us? – the softer the better. But can you see the problem? It is quite easy, as I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, to let the racket of life drown out the voice of God. The culture, daily news, and our busy affairs can so dominate our attention that for all practical purposes the voice of God is silent. We effortlessly fall into a distracted state which slowly makes God less real to us than the “real issues” of the here and now. By no longer hearing him, we in effect silence the voice of God in our lives just as sure as if we told him to shut up. Nothing could be more disastrous to our life. This is how alienation from God begins, how sin grabs a foothold, and how disbelief sets in. It is subtle, slow, and deadly to our spiritual life.

 

Does not Jesus warn that the affairs and cares of life can separate us from God? We cease to have faith and trust when we are overtaken by the worries and noisy cries of the present.  Jesus says he expects the unconverted, the ignorant, and the pagans to fret, worry and stew about the physical cares of life. He expects those who don’t know him to put the less important in the most important place of life. But for his own he expects them to hear his voice and “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” (see Mt 6:25-34).

 

He also said: “My sheep hear my voice” (see John 10:1-16).

 

The Antidote

Never has it been more important to be carefully attuned to the voice of God and his Son. We live in times that will test and try our faith. I speak not of wars and rumors of war but of prosperity and peace. Historically these were the times when children of God forgot him and became entangled in the cares and lusts of life. It was when great evil struck Israel that it awakened, remembered its God, and sought his voice. Jesus warned that Christians must be vigilant, watchful, wise, and ready with wick trimmed to go out and meet him. The evil one will distract us in any way he can using the current tools he has available. We must determine who we will hear.

 

The Principle of Life

Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…. (Ps 95:6-8)

 

I know it is difficult to keep focus upon Him Who Matters. I struggle as you do. My experience, the hard teacher, has taught me that I clearly hear God only when I set aside time to be quiet, meditate, and ponder his written word. I can come up with many worthless excuses for not loosing weight, for not exercising, and for not keeping up with my mail, but I can’t offer one for not taking time to hear God’s voice. Can we ever say to our heavenly Father, “sorry I was just too busy to take the time to listen to you”? Could we say it with a straight face after spending 24 hours-a-day doing what we want—including hours listening to people yak on and on whether in person, on TV, radio, or in the pages of a novel? God won’t buy it so neither should we.

 

Nothing is more important to our spiritual well-being than to be in constant touch with God. And that means muting the other voices that clamor for our life energy. It is to that end that I wrote the enclosed article, Rest In PeaceIn it I advocate the (lost?) art of meditation—the biblically sound practice that every spiritual hero of Scripture mastered. It seems to me we can never hear this message too much and perhaps my few words on the subject will be of service to you.

 

2003 in Prophecy

We are now a year closer to the First Resurrection. This I know for sure. It is true in the sense of time remaining until Jesus sets up his Kingdom on earth; it is true in the sense of the years remaining in your life. This fact, which I’m confident you also accept, should be all the reality we need to maintain a continual sense of urgency to walk uprightly before God.

 

However, specific dates and times I’m not as sure about. I believe we are living in the end times and that the major players in the final showdown are suiting up for action. A careful reading of biblical apocalyptic is not easy and sorting through the ancient writing style and symbols is daunting work. Much prophecy that some teachers proclaim yet future has already been fulfilled—and history can prove it. What remains unfulfilled may not be understood until shortly before or shortly after its fulfillment. Even at that, it is said that “only the wise will understand.”

 

I believe that our ACD team has broken new ground in the understanding of the four most relevant chapters in Daniel and the Gospels. We also have, I believe, solved some of the riddles of Revelation. In fact, ACD will be sponsoring a three-day seminar on prophecy sometime in 2003. I expect many participants and I’ll be sure to give you the details in advance in case you would like to attend.

 

What ACD Has Been Accomplishing

As I previously reported, my health problems in 2002 hindered our usual productivity. Nevertheless, most of ACD’s most important ministries, such as the Virtual Church and our powerful, professional website, continued to function without interruption. Speaking of our web site, www.godward.org, it is visited by several thousand people from all over the world each week. The average time a visitor spends at the site is 24 minutes. Viewers  have a choice of over 1000 pages of substantive, balanced, and carefully researched material on biblical topics. New articles are being added weekly. If you have a computer and haven’t visited please do and recommend it to others.

 

Perhaps our most significant growth this past year is in the numbers of people tuning into the Virtual Church. This live, weekly Sabbath service via phone hook-up, grows by word of mouth and by a small ad in The Journal. It meets a need previously ignored—shut-ins, elderly, and scattered Christians without a local church. These folks can now receive weekly fellowship and inspiration for the price of a phone call. I invite guest speakers from various parts of the world to the VC at least once a month. Hundreds tune in weekly from every state in the Union except Alaska – and many from Canada. We may have listeners in Alaska, but no one has spoken up yet.

 

In addition, ACD publications are regularly sent to over 1000 families on our worldwide mailing list. Our periodicals, The New Millennium and the ACD Newsletter, are once again getting back into publication. We have also distributed hundreds of books on biblical topics this past year. ACD supports and funds biblical research. It provides key support to a Christian ministry in Kenya, East Africa. It sponsors conferences and seminars on important doctrines and issues for ministers and Christian workers. Our cassette tape ministry has over two hundred regular subscribers.

 

In addition to the above I represent ACD’s work as the first vice president for the Bible Sabbath Association. I am also director of the Great Kings Discovery Project which is a growing team of leaders, researchers and scholars actively involved in restoring the biblical truth concerning the Temple and the Throne of David. This work is drawing international attention and I believe it will in time more fully establish the historical and archeological reliability of Scripture. It will also provide a means to tell the story of the coming Davidic ruler, Christ, soon to assume his throne and rule the earth.

 

All these ministries are being supported by a very small budget—some have said it’s embarrassingly small. But I believe we get more bang for every dollar donated than any other Christian ministry. Unfortunately our income declined this past year and there is no way we can meet our present level of outreach, much less grow, without substantially more financial support. We face several dynamic opportunities to expand the ministry’s outreach in 2003. To mention a few: we have important plans to expand the reach of the Virtual Church by at least seven-fold; plans for publishing new biblical research never before seen; and plans to initiate at least two new biblical conferences this year.

 

To maintain this ministry of Christ and expand its impact in 2003, we need more regular donations from people like you who can identify with our mission. Would you help this Cause for Christ to get off to a strong and productive 2003? As we enter this year, ACD’s 29th, I hope and pray we can count on your generous and faithful support. Thank you.

 

May this year be our most spiritually fruitful as we move Godward. With all our being we must take on the divine nature becoming like God in heart and mind. The sands of time are falling. This is our time of salvation, and as Jesus set the example, we must be about our Father’s business. Thy Kingdom Come!

 

In His Service,

 

 

 

Kenneth Westby