Letter to the Brethren: March 21, 2019

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from Grover Beach, California.

We are still trying to decide on our better options for YouTube alternatives.

As mentioned before, because of YouTube periodically shutting down channels, pulling some videos (including once for a time, one of ours), and sometimes placing warnings on others, we can see that it is best to not be totally dependent upon that organization.

Vimeo, which we are trying for an alternative option, recently shut a Protestant channel down because of its position on LGBTQ matters. Therefore, this is also a concern to us.

So, for another possible alternative, this week’s sermonette link is to a place called Brighteon. If enough watch it, Brighteon will allow us to upload more videos (they have limits based upon number of views–the more views on the channel, the more videos they allow).

We currently have over 100 videos on Vimeo and 10 videos on Brighteon. If you see videos on Brighteon from us that you have not watched, or ones that you want to watch again, we would encourage you to watch those there. This would tend to get Brighteon to increase the number of videos we can put up.

However, perhaps it should be pointed out that they do put up some small ad (of their choosing) towards the beginning that we do NOT get any revenue from (that’s how they make their money, similar to commercial television).

Vimeo does not put ads up, since we paid a small fee to try it for a year. But since they do not accept certain aspects of speech freedom, they may not be our best long term option.

We know that the famine of the word (Amos 8:11-12) is coming, but we still need to wisely strive to go through whatever doors Jesus opens (cf. Matthew 10:16) and stop any that He closes (Revelation 3:7).

YouTube

As far as YouTube goes, according to them we have had 1,240,000 views on our channels since we began with YouTube just over six years ago. That comes out to over 3,800 views per week.

Now, this DOES NOT count the other places those videos are sometimes promoted at. This happens when some other places embed our videos in their videos or when the animations have been promoted over Facebook. The places we know about (and there can be many that we do not) amount to at least an additional 430,000 views. So, if we include those views, we have averaged over 5,100 views per week since starting with YouTube in January 2013.

That being said, for the first 11 weeks of 2019 we have had 110,000 views of our YouTube channels according to YouTube. Therefore, we have averaged, according to YouTube, 10,000 views per week this year.

Thus it is clear that YouTube still is working for us.

But again, we do not want to be so complacent that we do not take steps to be able to function should YouTube (or some other platform) remove our videos.

Passover is Coming Soon!

Passover for 2019 is after sunset on April 18th.

Pastor Tiongik Sawek sent the following report from Kenya:

REPORT AND GREETINGS FROM RIFT VALLEY

 I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ here in Kenya rift valley we are going on  well. The groups of Chilani have made all the arrangements for the New Testament Passover scheduled for next month. We are looking forward for the arrangements of the groups of Mau,  Njoro and its groups, Molo and its groups and Bomet. We are looking forward to beginning with Bomet, Mau and finally Njoro.  If I would get fare, I will traverse all these groups before the Passover. I am also looking forward to meeting another group in Kericho, Merigi and Kiromwok in Bomet east. It is now a year since I have been chatting with these new groups, but I wish to meet with them lord’s willing. In Chilani there will be visitors whom I believe will join during the Passover. Some of these brethren were from Sunday churches but are thirsty of the word; I therefore predict that the meeting will be bigger. We were also thankful for Pastor Ochieng for the meeting we held in rift valley which he narrated to us what the lord had done in Malawi . He also supported  Pastor William on the hospital bill of his children, Lord bless him. He also promised to visit Rift Valley before the Passover to see other works which have not been completed. We are also thankful for you prayer for the son of brother David … he was one of the KCPE candidates  but because of suffering from mental illness, he had to  repeat class 8 again and has now fully recovered, although his father has suffered economic blow due to attending various hospitals and still incurring debts. We also received a report from Pastor Stanley, of working three months in looking for brethren who had been displaced in the Mau forest  and  he has managed  to assemble them all in one point where they will have their Passover. Although there is a problem of hunger, he has also managed to baptize 9 brethren, pray also for them for we are seeing the work going on.

Pastor Sawek

Are you getting prepared for Passover?

If you have not already watched it, or if you want to watch it again, here is a link to a sermon on that: Really examine yourself before Passover.

Youth Bible Lessons

After being told in writing by Grace Communion International that they would not make available for us to purchase, etc. the old Youth Bible Lessons from the old Worldwide Church of God, we have begun a program to look into republishing slightly edited versions of them.

So far, I have reviewed and tentatively approved about two dozen lessons, with minor edits (mainly additions of historical facts) in about half of them.

The intent is to produce the youth lessons in English and Spanish, and perhaps other languages.

We plan to make relevant announcements in one or more future letters.

World News Items

The terrorist murdering of 50 people in two mosques in New Zealand have dominated much of the international news (see At least 49 dead from terrorist at New Zealand mosques). Murder and terrorism are wrong, but sadly, we can expect to see more of it until Jesus establishes the millennial portion of the Kingdom of God.

Over in the UK, Brexit keeps being more and more politically complicated internally (see ‘Britain – Hard Exit or Cancellation of BREXIT’). UK Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU for an extension until the end of June yesterday (see Theresa May asks for a no later than June Brexit delay; Donald Trump Jr. says she should have listened to his father). The EU response was reportedly, if Parliament will agree next week to the same deal it turned down twice, it is possible, otherwise not (see Brexit: EU says short delay is possible if MPs back deal). Should that really be the case, then the UK could theoretically leave the EU on March 29, 2019 with no deal and only a few days warning that there was no deal. That will be chaotic for the UK (and parts of Europe) to say the least. Some hope that the UK Parliament will push for another referendum. No matter how this turns out, the Europeans will not forgive and forget Brexit.

Over in the USA, there has been severe flooding in its Midwest–so much so that it even somewhat affected military preparedness (see ‘Devastating flooding hits already struggling Midwest farmers’). Food production is also at risk. We should expect to see more severe weather in the future.

Over in Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe were hit with severe flooding from Cyclone Ida (see 1,000 feared dead after Cyclone Ida makes landfall in Mozambique). While we have not heard of deaths for any of our brethren there, one or more meeting locations were broken from the rains and we sent some funds on Tuesday to attempt to assist with rebuilding.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week for our scattered brethren:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Must Christians use ‘Sacred Names’?
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Exodus 16-19: Manna, Governance, and End Time Protection. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; (1 Thessalonians 4:1-10)

Brethren, in this age of public figures–including often religious ones–pushing all kinds of sexual immorality, we need to be faithful to the word of God.

Sexual immorality is NOT brotherly love as something I read recently implied. Brotherly love involves caring for others and keeping the commandments–all of them! As the James wrote:

27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2:8-12)

Brethren, do right and keep yourselves unspotted from the world.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer