Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.

The recommended sermon for the week was almost two-parts, but I decided to keep it to one. It is essentially a prophetic sermon covering the position that the Anglo-American dominance of the world started to rise up 2520 years after the end of ancient Israel, that we are currently in a world that has been dominated by Great Britain and the USA for over two centuries since, but that will end as the Gentiles will arise again and change the world order until Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God.

Feast of Tabernacles

Services for the Feast of Tabernacles will begin the evening of October 4th and continue until the Last Great Day which is October 12th in 2017. Since this will involve travel for many, please start making your plans if you have not done so already.

If you are in North America and have not made your Feast of Tabernacles’ plan for this year, please consider your priorities (cf. Matthew 6:33) and do so.If you wish to come to the site in San Diego, California, USA please email me at COGwriter@aol.com

Speaking of San Diego, I thought we would again show the following email as the deadline for one facility is getting close:

Hello Dr. Thiel,

Good afternoon! I hope you are doing well. I have attached a current list of rooms reserved under your block here.  As a reminder, the cut off date for your group rate is September 6th. At that time the rooms will be released back into the system.

Just sending you this in case you need to send out a reminder to your attendees.

Let me know if you have any questions at all!

Have a great day!

Andrea Davis

Senior Sales Manager

Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina

2051 Shelter Island Drive

San Diego, CA  92106

Phone: (619) 222-0561

Fax: (619) 222-9760

Direct: (619) 814-1107

Email: adavis@islandpalms.com

Thus, if you want to book a room at the same hotel that we are having service in (Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina), please contact them soon to be sure you can get a room, and that the price will not go up.

In other Feast of Tabernacles news, this week we mailed related sermon DVDs to the Philippines, Africa (Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Ghana), and for the site in Wichita, Kansas.

For information on our festival sites around the world, you can go to the following link: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2017.

Visit to Eberge, Kisii, Kenya

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following photos and descriptions:

Eberege congregation Kisii under Ezekiel Oanda Ombaso. He is the one standing in the middle

Eberege congregation outside the hall

I have asked for photos so that they can be added to the African congregation pages so that visitors will have a better idea of who are our members and where we hold services in Africa.

Evangelist Ochieng sent the following with the second photo:

Pastor Dr Bob

Greetings from Kenya.

Eberege congregation outside the hall.

Next to me in white shirt with picture around the neck is pastor Ezekiel Oanda Ombaso from Eberege. He is the host there. Eberege congregation is near Eberege factory in kisii.

The meeting was very good with a total of 72 members who attended the service today. There normal number is almost 100 but today the attendance was 72 including children.
We were doing the arrangements for the Feast of Tabernacles 2017

Evans

We continue to try to go through the doors Jesus opens to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.

YouTube Issues

As most of you know, we have been utilizing YouTube since within days of the official start of the Continuing Church of God.

While we have generally done well with YouTube, I noticed in the past several weeks that views are not going quite as well as in the past. While there can be many reasons for that, it appears that YouTube has changed an algorithm to make finding videos with religious content more difficult. This may mean that a door to reach people doing internet searches has been partially closed.

Here is a news report from about a month ago, that some just told me about on Tuesday of this week:

August 1, 2017

Today, YouTube clarified how it plans to handle videos that don’t violate any of its policies but still contain offensive religious and supremacist content: …

In a blog post today, YouTube provided a better sense of what that stance entails. Now, when YouTube decides that a flagged video doesn’t break policy but still contains “controversial religious or supremacist content,” the video will be put in a “limited state.” Here, the video will exist in a sort of limbo where it won’t be recommended … It also won’t include suggested videos or allow comments or likes. …

alternative media figures and conspiracy theorists have been complaining for weeks that YouTube is already manipulating the algorithms to limit their reach … And this announcement will likely only add to their resentment of a platform that they rely upon to reach their audiences. …

YouTube also announced today that it has added to the list of NGOs it is working with to help determine what content should be hidden. …

YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The update also touted the success of the machine-learning-driven removal of content, claiming that over the last month, YouTube algorithms have found 75 percent of policy-violating extremist content before a human was able to flag the videos. http://gizmodo.com/youtube-has-a-new-naughty-corner-for-controversial-reli-1797429910

So, YouTube is also using some type of machine to look for what it calls “extremist content.”

Whether our viewership has been affected by any of this so far is unclear, but it does seem possible. As far as religious extremism, please understand that some in the USA believe that ALL who believe in the millennium are religious extremists and potential terrorists. Also, the message of the good news of the kingdom of God is also considered to be religious extremism by many. So, yes, whether we have been affected, we are subject to being affected.

Other than changing content (which is not really an option), paying for YouTube advertising (which we do not currently have the budget for), or perhaps adding more graphics (which we plan to do), it is unclear that how to get around this more subtle form of censorship that YouTube is now engaging in.

We originally choose YouTube ‘television’ because it was convenient and basically free. It has wide viewership all over the world and even plays on many newer television sets. This wide viewership opens up doors to reach people we otherwise would be unable to reach. But changing algorithms makes it more difficult to reach people who do not know about us.

We currently have three active channels on YouTube:

Bible News Prophecy channel. Dr. Thiel has produced many YouTube videos for the BibleNewsProphecy channel. And you can find them there.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.

We have the least content (and viewership) on the CCOGAfrica channel–we hope to get more content on that in the future.

Anyway, please pray that God will grant us wisdom on how to best deal with this door that seems to be getting partially closed.

On other YouTube-related news, we just put up a short introductory video for the ContinuingCOG channel. Here is a link: ContinuingCOG Channel.

MP3 files

While we usually eventually have MP3 files attached to our sermons at YouTube, we now have another place which has MP3 files of many sermons for those of you that use MP3 files: CCOG MP3 audio streaming  (https://archive.org/details/@continuingcog).

World News Items

Parts of Texas and Louisiana have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey–the amount of rain is considered to be unprecedented in the USA (see Harvey’s “Unprecedented” Devastation, “No Parallel To Any Rainstorm In US History” and Rain and floods continue to affect Texas and Louisiana: Who controls the weather?). It has long been my view that weather issues, like a major hurricane, will be part of the sorrows and troubles that will weaken the USA prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). While Hurricane Harvey is not as devastating as what will come later, it shows us that the unexpected can wreak havoc. Something much worse is coming. Later, something even worse (Jeremiah 30:7).

Elsewhere in the USA there have been protests and counter protests (e.g. Protests cancelled, but problems simmering). Some of the protesters/counter-protesters have gotten violent (e.g. WP: ‘Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley’). Violence is not the answer, but expect to see even more violent civil unrest in the USA in the future.

North Korea has reignited concerns in the USA and greatly upset Japan by launching a missile over it (see North Korea launches missile: Infuriates Japan and gets a response from Donald Trump). North Korea is playing a dangerous game that may hurt itself and others (cf. Mark 13:8).

Over in Poland, Catholic bishops have called for a ban on Sunday shopping (see BBC: Polish bishops for total ban on Sunday shopping). Expect to see more ‘Sunday’ laws and other laws hostile to Sabbath-keepers in the future. The European Beast of the Sea will again rise up and persecute (Revelation 13), and the Sunday proposals are just another small step in that direction.

Over in Vatican City, Pope Francis met with World Council of Churches’ President Olav Fykse Tveit. Olav Fykse Tveit essentially said that progress was made on their quest for ecumenical unity (see ‘Pope Francis meets with World Council of Churches leadership in Rome’). Expect more ecumenical cooperation until supporters of the coming Beast turn on the Church of Rome (Revelation 17:16-18).

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: Orwell’s 1984 by 2024? 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: The Times of the Gentiles. 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

Brethren, we face tests and trials and many despise many truths that the Bible teaches. The Apostle Peter wrote:

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”  15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

So, live as God would have you live. Learn God’s ways and word so you can properly answer those who have sincere interest in the truth.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer