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Letter to the Brethren: April 21, 2016

Letter to the Brethren: April 21, 2016

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

The Spring Holy Day season is upon us.

Passover, the Night to be Observed, and the Days of Unleavened Bread

Passover will be after sunset on Thursday, April 21st. So, it may have passed by the time many of you read this, which is why we sent the following links in the last Letter to the Brethren:

Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Unleavened Bread recipes A Serbian COG member sent these recipes for those who would like more ways to prepare unleavened bread.
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? A related video is available and is titled The Night to Be Much Observed.

While you do NOT have to use the CCOG Passover Service video, for many it is helpful and ensures that nothing is missed.  Otherwise, the instructions in the article Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread also should suffice.

The Night to be Observed is Friday, April 22nd, after sunset, and this begins the Days of Unleavened Bread.  Instructions as to how to keep that Night are in the article The Night to Be Observed. We made a new video this year, that is optional to watch then (but is good for many to do), titled The Night to Be Much Observed.

Someone asked me about appropriate dress for The Night to Be Observed. Traditionally, casual dress was worn in the COG, and in the original one by the children of Israel. In CCOG, we also tend to go with casual dress for that evening.

Unleavened Bread Recipes

There are many types of unleavened bread.

My wife Joyce tends to bake more during the Days of Unleavened Bread than she normally does the rest of the year.

Here is one of several recipes that she thought she would share:

Lemon Ricotta Bars

For the Crust:

2 cups organic flour
3/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks (or 12 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter

For the Filling:

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup organic sugar
5 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup organic flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
powdered sugar for dusting the finished bars

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Make the crust:  Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  (You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.)  Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then set aside to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

3.  Make the filling:  In a blender, combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, flour, lemon zest, and salt.  Blend until smooth, then taste to make sure it is sweet enough for you.  If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more sugar.

4.  Pour the filling over the baked crust and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the filling is just set.  Allow the bars to cool, then cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Store leftovers in a sealed contained in the refrigerator.  Yields 20-40 bars depending on size.

Here is another:

Sesame Crackers

2 cups unbleached organic flour
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Mix together flours, cut in butter.  Add milk, honey and sesame seeds to make stiff dough.  Roll thin and cut with knife into squares.  Placed on greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with milk and prick with fork.  Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes or until desired brownness.

Here is a third:

Caramel Toffee Bars

1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar, packed
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add yolk and vanilla to creamed mixture.  Mix flour into the mixture.  Mix in walnuts if desired.  Put into 13 x 9 inch pan.  Pat out in pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 8-12 oz. package of chocolate chips over top of crust.  As soon as it’s softened, spread over top and smooth out.

Here is a fourth:

Unleavened Bread

4 tablespoons honey
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups milk
6 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Blend honey, oil and milk.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Knead lightly.  Roll on floured board with rolling pin.  Place on cookie sheet.  Cut in squares.  Make a few holes in each piece with fork.  Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

There are other recipes (see Unleavened Bread recipes), but we thought sharing four with you all this year might be helpful.


Google reported that our campaign reached 2,913,570 computers last month. When this is added to the reach of and the official CCOG websites, we reached well over 3,000,000 computers last month. We would like to reach many times that amount and are looking at the budget to see how to best reach people via the most effective ways we can.

Ethiopia Troubled, But Our Members are Safe

Yesterday, Koang Deng from Ethiopia sent in the following reports:

Dear Pastor Bob: On  Thursday,April 15th 2016. A great Attack took
place in Gambella land which loses the lifes of 208 people, More
numbers Women and Childrens. A gain, Abducted of 80 childrens and some
numbers of more than 60 cattles. So, that attack came out when a mixed
of a militan arms of Murle and Dinka  from South Sudan by the order of
the Presiden of South Sudan Salva Kirr Mayardid who is a dinka in
birth. This problem happens due to the conflict took place  On 15th
2013 in South Sudan capital Juba b|n Nuer and Dinka.These arms acrosed
the border of these two country, Ethiopia and South Sudan.And the
attackers surrounded 10 vllleges of inhabitats of Nuer ethinic who
lived in Ethiopia land as citizens. Now,the presiden of Ethiopia  put
a very great action on it, now  ordred more numers of Military
Ethiopia arms to follow the attackers until they enter to their land,
South Sudan. …

Dear Dr.Bob: They have taken of more than 600 cattles. But from there
on, our God covered his people from that attack. Pass this to all
brothers in ccog. Best regards, koang deng.

The world is a more dangerous place than many realize.  Thankfully, our members have been protected.

World News Items

In the USA, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won their party’s primary in the state of New York. Either of these people could have major impacts on the future of the USA. We may see a female presidency for the first time ever in the USA (see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in New York: ‘Madame President’ and ‘inequality’), which brings to mind Isaiah 3:12:

As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.

Ever since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of the United Kingdom, I have felt that it is likely that the USA would end up with a female president or at least a highly influential woman in a top level federal government job. As it turns out, the four remaining predominantly British-descended nations (the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) all have had not only queens (they shared the same ones), but all have already had a woman in the office of prime minister. The prime minister is the chief executive official in a parliamentary system of governance. The USA has not had a female top executive and we may well see one with Hillary Clinton.

The leaders of the Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches met briefly on the Greek Island of Lesbos. While they claimed this was mainly humanitarian (seePope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos II meet on Lesbos), the result is that they all signed a declaration for encouraging “Christian unity” (see Lesbos call for ecumenical unity). From a prophetic standpoint, the fact that the Greek Archbishop Ieronymos II  signed this is significant as various Greek bishops have been opposed to the type of unity with Rome that Pope Francis has been advocating.  While there still is serious resistance in Greece, this declaration is a major formal step towards the type of Babylonian unity that the Bible warns of in Revelation 17 and 18.

There were significant earthquakes in Myanmar, so I wrote Lazum Brand in Kachinland and asked him about them.  But as he does not have email, but only postal mail, it will be some time before we receive a response.  There were also significant earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador (see After Japan’s quakes, Ecuador hit with 7.8 earthquake) Jesus warned about “earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7) during the beginning of sorrows–a time we seem to be in–but I believe that much more significant earthquakes are in the relatively near future.

On other matters, Saudi Arabia is more and more questioning its relationship with the USA. While its King Salman met with US President Obama, it seems that various ones in Saudi Arabia believe that they need to work towards being less dependent upon the USA for security (seeUSA’s Obama and Saudi’s Salman meet–cracks widening). The time will come when an Arabic power will make a deal with a European power (Psalm 83:3-8; Daniel 11:27) and this will not end well for the USA (cf. Daniel 11:39).

Suggested Holy Day Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974Bible 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 titled: Offering After Passover. For how go to the Donations page of the ContinuingChurch of God. There is a mailing address there, as well as the ability to give offerings online.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Christians and Unleavened Bread. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Because of this Sabbath also being an annual Holy Day, some may wish to have double-services.  If so, here is a suggestion for the second service (note: the sermon listed below is from 2015):

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.


Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. (2 Corinthians 13:5-9)

Have you been examining yourself like the Bible and last week’s recommended sermon taught?


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer