Letter to the Brethren: November 16, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from Grover Beach, California.

We continue to work on literature and international matters.

We hope and pray that you are all doing well and growing in grace and knowledge.

Death of Jim Cosenza

Deacon Richard Close informed me that Jim Cosenza of the Continuing Church of God died yesterday:

Kris Cosenza left … a message saying that Jim passed away peacefully at12:30 a.m. this morning.

He and his wife Kristine were married for 50 years.

Kris told me had been suffering for some time–and especially the past three months. Sometimes it is time for the righteous to depart (cf. Isaiah 57:1) and the suffering of this life to end.

My wife and I first met Jim and Kris at the Feast of Tabernacles in 2014 in Orlando, Florida. We also saw them again at the Feast of Tabernacles in Niagara Falls, Canada on 2015.

NiagaraFallsJim Cosenza, seated in front row next to Joyce Thiel

A few years ago, he sent me some information about himself:

My name is James Cosenza. I prefer to be called Jim. I am married to my wife, Kris. We have been married for 46 years and have two children, David and Julie. I was born in Wallingford, Ct. and have lived in Connecticut all my life except from 1968 to 1974 when I lived in Pasadena, Calif. I have a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and a degree in Theology from Ambassador College in Pasadena. I briefly worked for the State of Connecticut before attending Ambassador College. I worked for The worldwide Church of God as a marketing and media analysis until a health issue caused me to leave in 1974. We moved back to Connecticut as a result. Upon recover I became a real estate agent and still work as such.

I was baptized in Nov. of 1967 by a minister in WCG. I first heard Mr. Armstrong on the radio in April 1967. After studying many of his articles and booklets with the bible I became convinced God was using him and he was God’s servant.

I enjoy learning about biblical doctrine and church history. My wife and I enjoy visiting our national parks. As a teen my main interest in life was sports. I played varsity football in high school and played in organized baseball until I was 22. Today I enjoy playing golf.

Although he did not go along with the apostasy of the Tkach WCG, he stayed with WCG/GCI longer than many. After he came in contact with CCOG, he told me he could not understand how people who used to know the truth could turn away from it as those still in GCI had done. But that type of thing was prophesied (see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).

Jim spoke a time or so at CCOG festival sites.

Jim Cosenza giving split-sermon

Before his health took a turn for the worse, he also used to regularly help edit posts at the COGwriter Church of God News page.

Jim Cosenza will be missed–but his next conscious moment will be the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-54) in the millennial Kingdom of God. We can all be grateful for that (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

My prayers go out for his family.

Bangladesh


Map of Bangladesh

We received a baptismal request for the first time from someone in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim nation. It was once called East Pakistan when it, and then West Pakistan, became independent from India.

The request is from a former Muslim (he stopped practicing Islam about two years ago). For some time he has communicated over the internet with Canadian Randy Freeze.

Anyway, as we do not have anyone near enough to Bangladesh to counsel and baptize him, I encouraged him to continue to study our literature as well as articles at COGwriter.com. He has volunteered to see if he can possibly translate our English Statement of Beliefs of the ContinuingChurch of God into his native language of Bangla.

The following scripture came to mind when I had to respond to his baptismal request:

37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)

Please pray that we will get more faithful leaders–laborers for the harvest–around the world.

Youth Camps

The Continuing Church of God has had one or more youth camps in Kenya the past several years.

Evangelist Evans Ochieng told me that he is planning to have the youth camp, next month, in two areas, Rift Valley and Ndhiwa.

Please pray for their success.

Shipments to Africa

Bill Wedekind emailed me and stated that the shipment sent April 10, 2017, finally got to Evangelist Evans Ochieng.

That container shipment contained:

Laptop computers
gardening gloves, shovels, knee pads, and other agricultural support
cameras
shoes
speakers (for computer)
pens
notebooks

Another container shipment is planned. This time with:

Laptop computers
gardening gloves, shovels, knee pads, and other agricultural support
cameras
shoes
speakers (for computer)
Bibles
Hymnals

Bibles and hymnals are often included as this is the least expensive way to ship them to Africa.

Cameras help us show what is happening in various regions. Speakers help with church services. Computers for communications and sometimes translations.

African Caution

A few days ago, a Canadian member asked me about a donation request he received from someone in Africa.

The African who made the donation request was relieved from his position in CCOG a while back because of greed, fraud, and violating many of the Ten Commandments. The Canadian who asked me about him was not aware of this.

While we do not tell our members that they cannot give to whomever they wish, we encourage them to give directly to CCOG for the poor as we tend to have a better understanding of what is happening in places like Africa.

World News Items

An article came out this week about lies that abortion promoter’s use (see ’15 deadly lies of abortion pushers’). Lies are often used against the Bible and the true Christian church.

Lies have been promoted by those who promote items such as homosexuality.

The lies remind me of the following scriptures:

13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18)

In the case of Romans 1, it then goes out to condemn homosexuality, including lesbianism (Romans 1:24-25)–it then warns against not only participating in those behaviors, but also approving of them (Romans 1:32).

Recently, the government of Australia asked its citizens if they wanted to approve homosexual marriage. Yesterday, the results of this were released, and about 61.6% of Australians said that they approved of homosexual marriage (see Australians want homosexual marriage). This result is expected to set the stage for Australia to possibly legalize this perversion next month. The other Anglo-American countries have already done so. According to biblical prophecies, this will not turn out well for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, or the UK (cf. Romans 1:18-32; Jeremiah 30:7; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7).

Twenty-three European nations signed the PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) military agreement this week (see ‘PESCO helps to ensure a more secure Europe for its citizens’ and EU Creates New Defense Pact To Reduce Dependence On US: Brexit & Trump predictions are coming to pass). The Bible teaches that Europe will have a “great army” (Daniel 11:25). With a combination of its military and apparently USA/UK power (cf. Daniel 8:24), it will one day takeover the USA (Daniel 11:39) as well as its Anglo-Saxon allies (cf. Isaiah 17:3; Daniel 8:25).

Over near the Iran-Iraq border, hundreds died from an earthquake (see Hundreds die in 7.3 earthquake–is a much worse quake coming to the USA?). Over in Madagascar, over 140 have now died from the bubonic plague (see More dead from bubonic plague in Madagascar). Jesus warned about a time of troubles (Mark 13:8), including earthquakes and pestilences (Luke 21:11), and we continue to see troubles in many parts of the world.

Over in Saudi Arabia, its new Crown Prince has seemed to shake things up and we keep seeing changes related to Saudi Arabia (see ‘If The Saudi Arabia Situation Doesn’t Worry You, You’re Not Paying Attention’). The situation in the Middle East and North Africa will change (cf. Daniel 11:40-43) and we are seeing that quick change is possible over there.

Speaking of the Middle East, Syria declared victory against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (see ‘Syria declares victory over Islamic State’). Terrorism, however, is not over and no one should conclude that the end of the Islamic State means the end of terror (cf. Deuteronomy 32:5,25).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

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 (as my home one is) 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 new 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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

Despite the negative things happening around the world, God’s people have hope.

Notice something from the Old and New Testaments:

5 For You are my hope, O Lord God;
You are my trust from my youth.

14 But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits. (Psalms 71:5,14-15)

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Notice also something that Job stated:

8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite,
Though he may gain much,
If God takes away his life?
9 Will God hear his cry
When trouble comes upon him? (Job 27:8-9)

Brethren, let us live our lives, not as hypocrites, but as loving Philadelphian Christians.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

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