Personal from Herbert W Armstrong
MR. ALBERT PORTUNE, our Vice-president for Financial Affairs and Planning, and I, have a disagreement. He is a very appreciative man. He's always counting his blessings.
"I'm the most blessed man on earth," he insists.
I flatly disagree with him. I tell him I enjoy that status. Like the Apostle Paul, I feel that I have been the chief of sinners — yet God's marvelous grace has so richly abounded that it seems He has simply lavished on me every blessing that even the loving GOD can bestow!
Business associates, not quite comprehending the spiritual significance or real reasons, admit and marvel at the really happy and enjoyable life I have been granted. They seek the full joys of life. I did, too — once. And as long as I tried to GET and to TAKE them, I somehow never had them.
Back in my pre-conversion days in the magazine and newspaper world, I fought and strove energetically for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — the money that would buy happiness and all the "good things" of gracious living. I sought and struggled valiantly to attain the vanity-pleasing status of being considered "important" by important business men.
Yet, somehow, I never quite caught up with the end of that rainbow. For a few years — in my middle and late twenties — I enjoyed considerable financial success — for a young chap under thirty. I was making an income equivalent to perhaps $35,000 a year in today's money-value. Even so, I never seemed to get out of debt. My heart was set on material things and on plain vanity — and they just never seemed to satisfy. Neither, incidentally, did the brand of cigarettes whose advertising claims "they satisfy."
You say you couldn't imagine me smoking cigarettes? Well, I couldn't either — NOW 44 years later. I remember, now, with almost a pang of stomach-sickness, the many times I sat at a banquet table, smoking a fine cigar. Why? Vanity. I was a "sheep." Others did. I followed. But did I ENJOY it? Never! What an idiot I was! In my mouth the saliva flows freely on slightest provocation. A cigar in my mouth started the saliva glands flowing. I was forced to use the napkin for a cuspidor — and even then, it usually made me slightly sick at the stomach. Enjoy it? NO!
Those were days of ambition and hustle and striving — but they also were days of frustrations, fears and worries, and an underlying sense of insecurity. Carnality and this world's ways simply never paid off!
Then two successive major business depressions, and circumstances beyond my control, brought three successive total business failures. It was then that a Bible-believing woman, neighbor of my parents in Salem, Oregon, convinced my wife that the Bible enforced observance of the seventh-day Sabbath in this New Testament time of grace! The facts of my outraged reaction at this "religious fanaticism" have been published many times.
I was unable to talk, reason, argue, cajole, or threaten her out of her new-found conviction. I was literally angered into my first STUDY of the Bible — to prove to her that "all these churches couldn't be wrong" — and that the Bible commanded and enforced the observance of Sunday, in this New Testament period.
I sought, wrote for, and obtained at the public library every book or booklet possible purporting to refute seventh-day Sabbath observance. I searched every nook and cranny of the New Testament to find the sanctification, making holy, or command to observe Sunday. It was like hunting for the needle in the haystack — the needle that isn't there! Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I never found it!
Instead, I found that Jesus Christ always kept this day "as His custom was," and the Apostle Paul kept it "as his manner was." I found where Jesus gave us an example that we should do as He did, and where we were commanded to walk in His steps — to walk as HE walked. Also that it is "Christ IN us" which gives hope of glory (by His Holy Spirit), and that He is a changeless Christ — the same today as when He walked the earth in human flesh. I found that the New Testament commands Sabbath observance.
By the way, we have a booklet explaining in detail what I found on this question in the Bible. It is entitled Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? I think you might find it interesting, as well as surprising and eye-opening. It is in addition to our other booklets on the Sabbath. This booklet is profusely illustrated in color. YOUR copy has already been paid for (you can't pay for your own) — and it would be a shame for your copy to keep on lying unused in our mailing room, wouldn't it? Remember, it's FREE, as Christ's Gospel is free, of course.
Well, Satan may have "opened" the eyes of Adam and Eve to evil — and then BLINDED the eyes of all of us ever since — but in that study the true Creator GOD opened my eyes to His TRUTH! here it was, staring at me in the Maker's own INSTRUCTION BOOK!
I didn't like it — at first.
"What would my business associates say?" was the question that came automatically to mind.
That's the question that chains most people to the darkness, the curses and frustrations of this world. They seldom give a thought to "What would GOD say?" They ought to ask, "What is CHRIST GOING TO SAY, when I have to face Him in the Judgment?"
To me, God's Truth meant GIVING UP! It meant giving up associates and friends — at least, so I supposed. It meant giving up MY OWN WAY! It seemed like GIVING UP everything I had ever held dear or lived for. It was like GIVING UP my very life.
But then, with God's BIBLE before me, I came to realize that Christ had bought and paid for my life — and it wasn't mine, anyway. God had made the giving up easier by repeated defeats — by reduction to economic poverty. I was only a "burned-out hunk O' junk," anyhow. Finally, I did make the surrender — UNCONDITIONALLY! I told God He could have my life, and if HE could make anything out of it, He could have it — I had made only a failure out of it! And I did mean that!
To me, it meant GIVING UP everything I had valued as worth living for. But, you know, we have to die to LIVE — to LOSE our lives in order to FIND THEM! Perhaps, then, I never expected to really ENJOY LIFE anymore. I had sought hard to ENJOY LIFE — and failed. So now I gave it up!
But, actually, that was precisely when I really FOUND IT!
THAT was when truly ENJOYING LIFE first began!
I remember many a happy, blessed, really ENJOYABLE hour spent in the bare kitchens of financially poor people, studying the Bible with them. It seemed as if the angels were there with us — as, indeed, they were! It was as happy as if the bare, poverty ridden kitchen had been a gilded king's palace. No — that's wrong, it was not just as happy — it was a thousand times more so!
I began to learn that happiness did not consist of material possessions. Happiness is in the MIND. And, somehow, I had found happiness — real, full, abundant, deep-down HAPPINESS! We didn't have money - but we had inherited the TRUE RICHES!
I was literally plunged into the very Work of God. I didn't seek it — God PUT me in, once I yielded wholly to be faithful to His Word. Having a part in God's own Work was the greatest joy I had known.
The change came early in 1927. Almost night and-day Bible study continued. My wife was miraculously healed — even a dumbfounded doctor was forced to admit that. Then I was blessed with my first son. Years later, God tried me to see whether I would be willing to give him up. Struggling in prayer, I told God I was willing — not for a moment believing He would require it of me. But He did. But God had given me a second son — Garner Ted!
The first conversions through my preaching came in December 1930. NEVER had I experienced such joy. Talk about THRILLS! I had experienced thrills at football games, and worldly entertainments — but never anything like THIS!
Blessings piled up on blessings. God opened the powerful DOOR of radio — and the printing press — in the very smallest manner, at first. But the Work grew, and grew. More and more conversions followed — dozens, then scores, then hundreds, then THOUSANDS! I expect to have a lot of COMPANY in God's Kingdom, where we shall live FOREVER!
After 28 years of economic poverty-21 of which had been spent in the joys of God's true blessings — God allowed even a measure of material blessings!
I have very little money in my own name in the bank — yet God enables me to enjoy all the material blessings today that are good for me. This, however, came only after I had learned NOT to set my heart on economic prosperity.
Best of all, we in this great Work have the matchless knowledge that we are HEIRS of GOD — and joint-heirs with CHRIST- to be BORN INTO GOD'S OWN FAMILY and share His honor and GLORY forever!
But meanwhile, our minds are free from fears and worries. There are never any frustrations! We have been given abiding FAITH, which never fails — and never will! We have ABSOLUTE SECURITY! We are allowed high position and authority in GOD'S Work, directed personally by the living Jesus Christ. I am privileged to work directly UNDER HIM!
We are kept BUSY. We are privileged to enjoy the physical BEAUTY of (we believe) the three most beautiful college campuses in the world! We are privileged to EN JOY seeing the almost incredible transformation and character development spiritually, mentally, morally, emotionally, and physically, in hundreds of purposeful college students. We are privileged to lead them, counsel with them in their problems, serve them in many ways.
I am PRIVILEGED to have my son, Garner Ted, second in authority, in these colleges, and all God's Great Work — a son IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED!
I am privileged to write this GOOD NEWS for perhaps more than two million of you to read.
Say! Just what do you mean, Mr. Portune — you are "the most blessed man on earth"? Well, after all — that's the kind of "competition" where I can say I'm rejoicing in the knowledge we SHARE the rich blessings of the benevolent GOD!
I wish men of position, and growing success in the world, could realize the REAL SOURCE of true happiness — of real, enjoyable, interesting, happy and abundant LIVING!
Yes, I wish ALL PEOPLE, everywhere, could really enjoy life as much as we do.
I'm glad Albert Portune is privileged to enjoy life so abundantly. I'm glad — and supremely grateful — that my son Garner Ted is so blessed, with a dear and lovely wife, three fine and properly trained sons, a beautiful home — every material blessing, beside all the lavish spiritual blessings. I rejoice that Dr. Roderick Meredith, Dr. Herman Hoeh, and many others and their families are equally blessed. I'm grateful beyond words that scores, hundreds, and thousands, are now sharing in these same blessings, and will really know what I'm talking about!
And I rejoice in the sure knowledge that, in the very imminent future, Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth in all the supreme POWER and GLORY of the Great GOD, and literally force this whole world to see the TRUE VALUES, and learn the way to all we enjoy now — and MORE!
SURE I'm happy — just brimful and running over with it. I've tried to share a little of it with our readers.
Speaking of BLESSINGS which God showers on those who obey and trust Him, all this reminds me of the first chapter of Ephesians — Moffatt translation. I will have this ended by reproducing some of that for you — and I sincerely hope it applies to YOU, as it surely does to me.
Here it is:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing within the heavenly sphere! He chose us in him ere the world was founded, to be consecrated and unblemished in his sight, destining us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.... So richly has God lavished upon us his grace, granting us complete insight and understanding of the open secret of his will.... May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of himself, illuminating the eyes of your heart so that you can understand the hope to which He calls us, the wealth of his glorious heritage in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of his power over us believers — a power which operates with the strength of the might which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords, above every Name that is to be named not only in this age but in the age to come — he has put everything under his feet and set him as head over everything for the church, the church which is his Body, filled by Him who fills the universe entirely."