Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.

We flew out to Florida last Sunday morning. In Florida, we had services for the Last Day of Unleavened Bread in Jensen Beach. We plan to have Sabbath services there later this week.

Since late March I have had a sore throat, but still made sermon and sermonette videos. This past Sabbath, I thought my voice may do better without the additional strain, so decided to not record another sermon, but make available one that I gave in the Netherlands one Sabbath. It was not ‘made public’ until a few days ago (it has essentially been held in reserve over YouTube, for an occasion like this).

On other matters, I have not been able to use my laptop the past several days (I am currently using our son’s). Because of this, I have not been able to make additional updates or corrections at COGwriter.com, but expect to be able to do that again in 1-4 days.

This Sabbath in Jensen Beach, Florida

I did speak on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, plus also plan to speak this Sabbath in Jensen Beach, Florida.

We are again planning to meet at the Vince Bocchino Community Center on the grounds of Langford Park, in Jensen Beach. The address is 2369 NE Dixie Hwy, Jensen Beach, FL 34957. We have the Vince Bocchino Community Center rented from 1:00pm and presume services will start by 1:30 pm.

If you are in, or wish to come to Florida, and may wish to attend, please email me: cogwriter@aol.com

Africa Report

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent in the following report:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Kenya.

The passover went well and the unleavened bread went well in all congregations of Kenya and Tanzania. I received a good report from Tanzania that they had a wonderful discussion during the feast of unleavened bread. I also talked with Andrew who told me that the passover and unleavened bread of this year was well done in Tanzania. The reports which I received from Nyakach, Eberege, and Migori were very good.

During the days of unleavened bread I went to meet some of the people whom I baptised when I was in VITWCOG. When I was leaving VITWCOG, they remained in VITWCOG till this time when I received their call that they want to meet me because they wanted to join CCOG.

Last sabbath I visited Migori congregation with Bartholomew Ogada and Ezekiel Oanda. There were 6 people who have been taught for a long time to prepare for baptism. So when I was there we did counseling to them to confirm that they were ready for baptism. We baptised five/six members namely –
1-Mary Adhiambo
2-Melkizedeck Bodo Ochieng.
3-Teresa Akeyo
4-Sheril Duncan
5-Morine Lavin
6-Sharon Granton.

I also received a report from Molozowa who visited Zambia where he went to meet some new brethren in that country. His trip was good. He told me that, he met with old members of Worldwide Church of God. Those people wanted to meet me. So we agreed with Molozowa that we shall visit Zambia in may. I will visit Malawi and we shall visit Mozambique and Zambia when I am in Malawi.

Evans

Also, there is another group from Kenya interested in us, but until that happens, I do not expect to make that public. God is opening doors and hearts in Africa.

Google Campaign

Google reported that our campaign with them reached 3,157,729 computers last month. This is up a little from the previous month.  We could have reached more, but we have continued to limit our budget to continue to provide support for the needs in Africa. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only (cf. James 1:22; 2:14-17) as we are diligently working to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.

Will We Be Labeled as a ‘Hate Group’?

One of our members in Asia sent me a link to the following item:

A liberal coalition on Thursday started a campaign to label social conservative organizations that oppose transgender rights as hate groups, ratcheting up the antagonism between opposing sides on one of America’s most contentious debates.

The Eliminate Hate Campaign seeks to draw attention to groups it sees as extreme and hateful against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, accusing them of hiding behind ostensibly Christian or family values.

Alarmed by a surge in reported hate crimes tied to the 2016 presidential campaign, the campaign will pressure the media to use the hate-group designation for about 50 organizations in the United States. 04/13/17 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-conservatives-idUSKBN17F2MY

While it is NOT likely that US President Donald Trump or his Vice President Michael Pence would accept that, do not be surprised that other countries may do so and that ultimately the USA may.

As far as being persecuted under the guise hate speech, this is something that we in the Continuing Church of God have long known would happen. Notice two reports from back in 2013 and one from 2014:

Since “Catholic” leaders have renounced the millennial portion of the gospel message, some of them will not want it to be broadcast into all the world in the 21st century (for some details, please see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?). They will support the King of the North’s efforts to stifle the message, probably in the name of “tolerance” and/or calling parts of the message “hate speech.”  A famine of the word is coming (Amos 8:11-12; cf. Romans 10:14-15).  The Bible tells of a time, which to a degree we are now in, when a certain amount of self-censorship will be needed:

2 For I know your manifold transgressions
And your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time,
For it is an evil time.  (Amos 5:12-13)

And while some COG groups overly “keep silent,” hence pull-punches in proclamation, the reality is that there is not truly full freedom of truthful speech in countries like the USA without consequences.

However, the work will be done and it will trigger persecution. Until the work is done the most faithful will:

1 Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)

Of course, no matter what some Laodiceans insist upon, the end has not yet come–the final phase of the work is not over. (Thiel B. CCOG: The Final Phase of the Work. COGwriter, May 4, 2013)

President Obama has also been hinting that part of the purpose of the “Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) is to make abortion access better–and this is not what was originally promised to some who were persuaded to support that Act.

Furthermore, with more and more legalization of homosexual marriages, more people will be required to provide “benefits” that they would not wish to pay for because of moral reasons.

Also, we are starting to see an increased intolerance of various forms of Christianity, not just in the Islamic world, but in places such as the USA and parts of Europe.

And, according to the Bible, the time will come that all will either worship the Beast power, be persecuted/flee/hide, or be protected by God (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:14-17; 13; 14).

But before then, the Bible talks about the fact that God will finish the work and cut it short (Roman 9:28).  Notice also the following which could be related to that:

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it.  (Amos 8:11-12)

The above could only happen in the 21st century if the internet was down and/or internet content related to the truth of God was no longer permitted.  Governments are taking steps, including “hate speech” rules, which could bring that about. (Thiel B. Religious freedom is being reduced. COGwriter, May 2013)

The homosexual lobby and its supporters have continued with their plan to squelch dissent and gain revenge against those who had publicly opposed their agenda. …

The homosexual lobby and supporters are attempting to squelch future dissent as they take their revenge out on whoever they feel is vulnerable to their efforts. They will push against churches where they think they can have an impact.  They will try to silence the Continuing Church of God if they think they can. …

I believe that the warning in Amos 8:11-12 is a reference to at least a coming internet censorship.  This is likely to start just before the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), also called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21).

Perhaps under the guise of “neutrality,” perhaps under the guise of “The Patriot Act,” perhaps under the guise of “public welfare,” perhaps because of alleged “intolerance,” calling parts of the COG message “hate speech” and/or national security threats/issues, something will be done to stop perhaps all of the organized media efforts to proclaim biblical truths. A short work will be done (Romans 10:14-15), which will trigger the end (Matthew 24:14), and likely then the famine of the word (Amos 8:11-12).

Those on Satan’s side will try to silence those who stand for the Bible (cf. Daniel 7:25), and while there will be some ‘successes’ that way, God’s plan will be implemented and ultimately, His kingdom will come (cf. Daniel 7:26-27). (Thiel B. Homosexual lobby getting its revenge against critics. COGwriter, May 12, 2014)

The trend to go against biblical morality and call those who stand for it purveyors of hate is still out there. There will be more persecutions and threats of persecutions.

Of course, many already call us names and say bad things about us–but that, too, was prophesied:

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

But we are getting closer to the time when more government censorship will become the norm. A ‘famine of the word’ is coming (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

It is likely that one or more governments will label the Continuing Church of God as some type of a “hate group” in the future. One reason will be our millennial and prophetic teachings, and another will be our insistence on biblical standards.

World News Items

The USA is talking tough about Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and those nations have spoken tough themselves. While many applaud USA actions and statements, some believe that the USA is being unduly provocative and that this will cause problems.  A problem most overlook is that this is getting more in Europe to decide that Europe should lead as soon as it can. And that will not end well for the USA (cf. Daniel 11:39).

Following the trend of various states in the USA, Canada is proposing legalizing marijuana (see Canada proposes becoming a marijuana nation). Smoking marijuana is harmful to human health and getting ‘high’ on it is not something Christians should do (see also Marijuana: Should a Christian Get High?).

Last Sabbath, the Eastern Orthodox believe a miracle occurred in Jerusalem (see ‘Holy Fire,’ ‘Holy Saturday’, and ‘Easter’ or a Saturday resurrection?). Each year, the day before Pascha (Eastern Orthodox’s version of ‘Easter’), the Patriarch of Jerusalem enters a church and comes out holding something on fire. While this seems like a mild, and easily discounted ‘miracle,’ millions accept this as real each year. The time will come when signs and lying wonders will get worse (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

The Brexit plan of the UK has caused issues to re-surface with both Gibraltar and North Ireland, and lately more in the UK are supporting the exit from the European Union (see Brexit, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar). Spain has long wanted Gibraltar and Ireland has long wanted Northern Ireland. One day the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will lose both. As well as no longer exist (cf. Daniel 8:24-25; 11:39).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Solar Eclipse and the Apocalypse. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • 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: Christianity: Two groups. 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 (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

The Book of Hebrews teaches:

1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)

Brethren, the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread behind us for 2017, let us go on to perfection.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer