FAQ

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page! If you have a question about this blog, hopefully it is covered below. If not, feel free to leave a question in the form at the bottom and perhaps it can be added in the future. I’ve already got a few I would like to add, and hopefully I will get to that sooner rather than later.

The Questions So Far… [Click on a question to skip to the answer below.]

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Q: Is there some way to be notified when there is a new post on your blog?

A: Yes, indeed! There are actually a few ways. (1) You can subscribe to the blog. Regardless of the theme I am using at the moment, there should be a button somewhere that says “Subscribe” – clicking on it should allow you to enter an e-mail address which will be used to automatically notify you of future posts. (2) You can subscribe to my Twitter account at twitter.com/wgsmith, which will show a new tweet every time I post. (FYI: These also show up as updates to my Facebook status. I don’t know how to link it to Google+, yet.) (3) You can subscribe to an RSS feed, for which there should also be a link on the blog for whatever theme I am currently using. (4) You can compulsively check the blog every few hours. Ha! Just kidding with that one…

Hopefully one of these will help!

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Q: What are your goals for your blog? Have they changed over time?

A: That’s a good question! I cover it a bit in my very first post, I think, but this is a good place to restate them. After all, if I don’t have any goals, why am I doing it? :)

(1) I want to be able to use the blog as a means of touching base with my church members—something very important yet harder to do in our more scattered state in these days. My motivation here is akin to the sentiment of 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

(2) I want to be able to drive traffic to our Church’s websites: lcg.org and tomorrowsworld.org. As far as I’m concerned, they are the two most important websites in the universe, and hopefully my blog helps a few more people find them.

(3) I want to use the blog to stay in a “writing mode” as an aid to my work for the Church. And it has helped me in this way so far, with several posts resulting in commentaries (after some polishing) and providing a means to collect thoughts that have eventually become articles or telecast portions.

(4) I want to provide an occasional “behind the scenes” peeks at the Tomorrow’s World telecast. I think that our team produces a fantastic program for God’s Work, and I figure folks might find some comments about the “work behind the Work” interesting from time to time.

Those have been my goals from the beginning, and they haven’t changed yet!

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Q: Where do you find time to blog? Does it distract from the rest of your work?

A: I blog when I have a few moments here and there. Again, it seems to help with an aspect of my work, so I wouldn’t consider it a pure “distraction,” and, yet, it is a non-essential element (e.g., I can surely stay in a “writing mode” and collect/generate thoughts for articles, scripts, etc. in another way). Consequently, as I have said before, if it begins to take up too much time or if it actually distracts or takes away from the Church’s Work in any way, then I will be happy to stop. I’m married to a Beautiful Wife, not this blog. :)

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Q: Why don’t you publish your email address here on the blog?

A: Well, it’s not that I’m adverse to my email address being out there, but I am adverse to spam. :) All the ministers in the Living Church of God have e-mails that fit the same pattern (to wit: first initial and last name “@lcg.org”), so it isn’t a matter of trying to remain a mystery. And many have left private comments on some posts which have turned into correspondences through email. At the same time, if these multiply and begin to take time away from the things I have been directly commissioned to do, then the blog would need to go away. Much of my time in any given week seems to be spent communicating with others, by email, phone, etc.—often to the point where I’m paddling like crazy just to keep up (more due, perhaps, to my need to grow in organization than the volume, though the volume is high).

So, short answer summary: Spam deterrent plus the fact that I am rather reachable anyway.

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Q: Why does the RSS feed contain only a short blurb instead of the whole entry?

A: I think that reads on the RSS feed were not being counted in statistics, and clicking to read the entire post helped to include that information in the statistics. (This may have changed since the time this setting was applied, I am not sure.) And the statistics are rather helpful to me: Once when I saw that a particular topic was getting a lot of attention I was able to mention it to someone in Charlotte and we were able to create an online commentary on the matter. The statistics help in keeping a finger on the “pulse” of readers, so they are important. Yet, at the same time, this being something I do on the side in support of my work but not the central part of my work, I don’t have the time to dive into detailed statistics. Consequently, having folks come to the blog, itself, helps me in that it ensures visits are recorded in the simplest of stat tools WordPress offers. And I need things simple. :)

I hope it is not too great an inconvenience; please let me know if it is.

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Q: Why don’t you ever talk about other COG organizations?

A: Well, that is one question with many answers! Let me give you the shortest version of several of them:

  • I’m not into gossip and rumormongering (even “confirmed rumor” mongering). Yes, it makes web traffic higher (much higher) but there is some internet traffic not worth having.
  • I see no profit in it and much detriment.
  • By God’s grace and mercy I’m a minister of Jesus Christ with the Living Church of God and intensely thankful to be so. I truly believe that this Church is where God is working in the world (not that His hands are tied from using other circumstances and other efforts, per Mark 9:38-40, Phil. 1:15-18, et al.). Beyond the love I have for the members of those organizations, I am not concerned with any other work (beyond the love I have for the members in them) and strive to focus on the task God has given to me.
  • Such news brings attention to other groups, and I feel no compulsion to distract from a Work I believe with all my heart God is clearly doing. They can get their own attention.
  • I do address questions about other organizations in my role as a pastor, but I do this locally and in person. The Internet is a horrible medium for doing some of that.

It’s not that I think the differences between us are unimportant—quite the contrary, I think they are of vital importance. But this blog is, in my opinion, a horrible place to address them. At the same time, I do address them in one way by addressing the topics that are at the root causes of many of those differences (e.g., biblical government, party spirit, heresies, carnal attitudes, compromise, delusions of grandeur, etc.), and I try to make my stand on those things very clear.

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Q: You link to a lot of articles. Why don’t you just “copy & paste” the content here? Then we can just read it here on your blog. (And it would help search engines find you, wouldn’t it?)

A: Yes, you could then read the article here, but quoting an entire article here, or even a significant portion of it, would be stealing and breaking the third commandment. To quote so much of someone else’s work instead of sending readers to their site robs them of Internet traffic. I’ve seen some quote for entire articles without even a link to the original webpage, and I’ve seen some who are “pharisaically” better but still breaking the spirit of the commandment by providing a link but quoting so substantially that the reader feels no need to follow a link for more since the “guts” of the article are already there.

For instance, if I quote a very large section of a Tomorrow’s World commentary on my own blog, even if I provide a link to the original I may have robbed the TW website of readers who felt that they got “enough” from my too-large quote. That’s why for those commentaries I do mention, I only quote the first paragraph, prompting the reader to click for more. (If the commentary is one I’ve written and which first appeared here in my blog in some form (usually a rougher form!), I’ll usually try to go back to the post and add a link to the cleaner more professional version.)

Some online sources have caught on to the fact that some frequent bloggers do this and have added text that shows up when you paste their material. For instance, if you copy and paste material from the Financial Times, you see these words appear at the top of what you paste:

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail.

The real temptation comes when the source is behind a “paywall” – that is, the article is for subscribers only. Then, the link I provide does not do any good to those who do not have the same subscription I do. Still, I do not want to steal, so I do not change my policy. I may use small quotes, which would be OK within copyright limitations as I understand them, but I still do not “copy and paste” large amounts. It really would be stealing.

Consequently, I do try to use quotes here and there that highlight some points, but I try to be careful not quote too substantially and, thus, rob the original site of traffic that belongs to them. So if you want the “guts” of any article I mention, you’ll need to click the link. I hope it’s not too much of an inconvenience for you!

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Q: Wait a minute! I thought there would be Bible questions on this page!

A: OK, that’s not a question. However, yes, you are correct: this is an FAQ about the blog, not about the Bible. However, it has been suggested to me that such a Bible-oriented FAQ is very helpful for search engines, and I’ve stated very clearly that one of my hopes is to get more people clicking to my church’s websites (lcg.org and tomorrowsworld.org), so I may very well add a “FABQ” page in the future (think about the abbreviation, you’ll get it). Some posts I have made addressing specific scriptures are frequent hits even now, years after they were written, so the advice may have some merit.

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Q: Could you tell us about your ministerial background, education and training?

A: Sure! In my life leading up to being added to the ministry, I earned my degree in Pure Mathematics at Texas A&M University (Whoop! — happy to be an Aggie!) and taught high school mathematics in the Dallas area. Our pastor there was the late Mr. John Ogwyn. While our first son was on the way, I changed careers so as to make it possible for my wife to work (harder!) at home and became an actuary. I loved being an actuary and was one (hard) test away from becoming an Associate of the Society of Actuaries when Mr. Ogwyn visited our house one day to say that the Church believed I was being called into the ministry, and all of that changed. When the time came, we moved up to Kansas City where I trained for a year under the wonderful tutelage of Mr. Rand Millich, before moving to my first pastorate in Central and Eastern Missouri. From there I was eventually assigned to my current pastorate in Ohio and Eastern Pennsylvania.

In terms of my education in the truths of the Bible, that came over the years as it does with so many, starting back before Mr. Armstrong’s death in the mid 80s. In particular, I believe that having Mr. Ogwyn as a pastor during our many years in Dallas was a huge help in the decade before coming into the ministry, and learning and working under Mr. Millich was invaluable. My wife and I took Hebrews 10:25 and John 6:68 seriously, and if the doors opened for services or a Bible Study or a workshop, we were there. However, I also look forward to taking more advantage of Living University in the very near future, and have already taken a couple of classes. What a tremendous resource that is!

Of course, in one sense the education and training never stops! I am thankful for the wisdom and insight of my current Regional Pastor, Mr. Lambert Greer, and for the chance to work alongside Mr. Roderick Meredith, Mr. Richard Ames, and Mr. Rod King on the Tomorrow’s World telecast, as well as with a large number of men and women in various roles — many of whom I look forward to emulating better when I grow up. :) God has often provided us many teachers in our lives if we are willing to look, including, in my case, a Beautiful Wife who is both teacher and fellow student with me.

This is probably more “answer” than the question intends, but I hope it helps!

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Q: Are the things you say the official teaching of your church?

A: Ah, now there’s a question! This blog is my personal blog and not an official website of the Living Church of God in any way. Consequently, my posts aren’t reviewed by the Church and the Living Church of God is in no way at all responsible for the content.

That said, I am a minister of the Church and I do strive to ensure what I say complies with the teachings of the Church as I understand them and I also strive to point out what might be my own speculations. However, if I say something poorly or fail to label my speculation, that is completely my fault.

There is no individual writer on the Internet today who speaks for the Church — only those articles actually published on lcg.org or tomorrowsworld.org (or additional websites the Church, itself, may add in the future) should be considered official publications of the Church.

(Note: And even then on occasion a mistake slips through. For instance, at least one of my published commentaries has been edited when I found I had made the hasty mistake of identifying Habakkuk 2 as a prophecy specifically about the U.S., which it is not as Mr. Richard Ames pointed out to me.)

Again, for emphasis: Just because someone on the Internet, including me, says “we in the LCG believe…” or other similar statements, these lazy comments need to be taken with a grain (or pound) of salt because the Living Church of God has not authorized any of us in any way to represent them on the Internet on our own blogs or webpages. I’ve even seen Church publications selectively quoted so as to make it seem as though the Church believes something it does not, so, again, the Church has not authorized any individual on his own website to officially represent the Church.

Does that mean that I will not try my best to make sure that my statements are not in line with the teachings of the Church? Of course not. But it does mean that only I am responsible for the content I create here, and that questions about it should be directed to me, as anything I write has not been reviewed by the Church nor endorsed by it.

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Q: Do people really ask you all these questions?

A: It’s a mix. Yes, many of these are asked exactly as they appear. Others have come up in conversation or in comment. And as this FAQ grows, I plan to include some questions that folks haven’t asked, but which I anticipate. So is it really a “FAQ” or is it an “AFQSPHA” – “A Few Questions Some People Have Asked”? Perhaps the latter. But if I saw a link labeled “AFQSPHA” I know I wouldn’t click on it. :)

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Q: Is this really the last question listed on this page?

A: Yes, I’m afraid so.

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