Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Another busy week in the Five Cities region of California.

It has also been a distressing week because of health problems encountered by various ones around the world, including a couple of members in the USA with serious cancer issues.  One of them, Rose Brown, hosts our congregation in Wichita,  Kansas–she and her family need our prayers as her situation with cancer is now more life-threatening.

Study the Bible Course

On other matters, I spent a lot of time working on an upcoming Study the Bible Course lesson.

I again would like to thank Shirley Gestro for all her assistance related to these lessons.  The lessons take a lot of work to update and prepare, and without her assistance, as well as the others who help proofread them, we would not be able to get them produced as well and regularly as we have been able to do so for.

Someday, I expect to do a series of sermons related to the courses.

Holy Day Calendar Cards

While at the Feast of Tabernacles in Niagara Falls, Canada, Michael Radtke passed out some pocket-size cards he printed up with the Roman calendar dates of the biblical Holy Days from 2015 through 2024, which he had gotten from the COGwriter.com website.

We asked him for the file he had on it, so that we could get them printed up. We made a couple of small modifications, which mainly had to do with the picture and word quality on the outside of the card.

Here is basically what they look like:

Calendar Card Outside

Calendar Card Inside

We plan to send one out to all on the mailing lists outside of Africa.  We may later have some printed in Africa for distribution there.

Ethiopia

Pastor Evans Ochieng and Pastor John Owak returned from visiting Ethiopia.  They met with Koang Deng of Ethiopia and some others.

Picture009
Koang Deng

Here is a report from Koang Deng:

Dear pastor Bob:

I am very happy when I see two Elders, Elder Evans and
Elder Jonh Otieno Owak. We spent two days with them in Gambella, And we
also come back to Adis Ababa together. Today 30th Nov-2015, is the day
they depart from Ethiopia to kenya. Now members in the Church  are (10)
in number out of Women and Children. And thanks, koang deng.

Although we thought that there were more with interest there, we are grateful that we have reached some.

Here is a report from Pastor Ochieng:

Pastor Dr Bob, I am in Gambella Ethiopia. I found very good people who
are really after the truth. Ten of them are now fully CCOG members
after long discussion. But pastor, these people leave a very tough
life that I am even shed tears. there is an old man here who is
sleeping just on sacks no mattress, no proper food. Some members are
refugees who leave in small open huts. no proper food but rich in
faith. ooh the life is very tough here. I will write when I’m back in
Kenya. if the brethren can assist these people is well and good. very
sad to see how GOD’s people are suffering.  Evans

The extreme poverty that many in the world face is appalling.  While it will take the return of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to fix this, we also try to assist when we can.  We hope to be able to provide some assistance to Ethiopia later this month.

Nigeria

Terrorists have been in the region where we have some affiliated with us.  Here is a report from Sharon Recho:

Dear Pastor Bob,

It’s so sad.

We had an attack by the boko haraam  last night. twelve people were
left dead and many injured. The incidence just occurred  some few miles
from where we live. It was a short distance from Abuja.

Please pray for Nigeria.

Best regards,

Rachael

Boko Haram gained international notoriety after they kidnapped teenage school girls last year.   Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State.

In other Nigerian news, Joel Bwana and his group were visited.  Here is a report from him:

Hi Thiel,

We were visit by Sharon,James Dzermine and Peter. We were very happy
with their visit. They also gave us books to study with. They look to
be good people. We heard some news which we did not know before.

Sharon and James called me and told me that Peter got accident before
he reached home. This is very sad to me . we are planning to see him
at the hospital tomorrow. We are praying for him to be healed. God
will heal him soon.

Joel

And here is a report from Sharon Recho about this:

Dear Pastor Bob,

I hope you had a happy sabbath.

Pastor Jamesom, Peter Nouh (our secretary) and I visited Joel Bwana and
the group. They are 12 in number. We carried with us some few books
which we shared to them. They held their meeting in Joel’s house.

Sad news.

On our way back, we bordered different buses with the one Peter used
since we were going different directions. Just some minutes after
reaching my home,I received a shocking phone call that Peter is
invonved in a serious accident and one of the legs is brocken. I
rushed to the hospital where he has been admitted and found that he
has serious injuries including the chest and on the head.  It is very
serious.

Right now we have no way to help. we have done the much we can and
they have done the nursing and dressing. You know we use our tithes to
pay rents for the halls we hold our sabbaths for four groups. We have
totally nothing left to help the situation. Please help Peter if you
are in a position to help.

He  was our translator and he was going on with the translation of the
books you sent.

Best regards,

Rachael

Peter Nouh has started to translate The Bible Hymnal for us.  We sent the funds we had available to try to assist him because of the accident.

YouTube ‘Famine of the Word’

World News Daily reported that YouTube permanently suspended a Protestant channel because of complaints related to the content of one or more of its videos (see YouTube censorship of Protestant channel).  While YouTube relented and reinstated the channel, it is my concern that the same thing could happen to us.

Why?

Because both YouTube and various government entities appear to consider that biblical morality  is not always acceptable.

Notice the following from an official YouTube website about content on the channels:

Hateful content

Our products are platforms for free expression. But we don’t support content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics. This can be a delicate balancing act, but if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line.

The Bible does not consider that certain forms of ‘sexual orientation’ nor ‘gender identity’ are protected classes.  But, of course, we in CCOG do not incite violence.

Currently, we have not had a problem we are aware of with YouTube, but are also concerned as the Bible warns of a coming famine of the word in Amos 8:11-12.

Since Jesus taught us to, “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men (Matthew 10:16-17), I looked into other options than YouTube for our videos and was able to come up with a possible alternative to YouTube if problems develop with them.  Hopefully, that will not be necessary for a while.

Currently we have two active and two developing YouTube channels (a total of four channels).  We utilize YouTube because it is free, because it allows sermon-length videos, and because it more easily reaches people than the alternatives we are aware of.

World News Items

There have demonstrations in Chicago and there was a shooting in Colorado Springs (seeDemonstrations in Chicago, Shooting in Colorado Springs, Civil Unrest in the USA).  In Colorado Springs, a Planned Parenthood facility was the target.  Planned Parenthood has blamed media coverage of its immoral practices as the cause (see Planned Parenthood blames coverage of its immoral practices for shooting).  While no one should be randomly shooting people at Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood needs to repent and change many of its practices.

Yesterday, Islamic terrorists killed people in San Bernadino, California (see Muslim terrorists kill in California).  They struck a Regional Center, which is an organization that provides services to disabled children.  Sadly, more terrorism can be expected (Leviticus 26:14-17; Deuteronomy 32:25; Isaiah 9:8-12).  Some believe that more gun control, and not God, is the answer to this, but they are wrong (see NY Daily News: ‘God Isn’t Fixing This’).

On the global scene, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it has approved the use of the Chinese renminbi yuan to be part of its basket of currencies (see IMF adds China’s currency to its basket).  This is a boost to the prestige of China.  The IMF wants to topple the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency and this is a step it hopes will help lead to it.  While the US dollar will one day be completely dethroned, it will mainly be because it is replaced by something that the Europeans will endorse.

A UN “climate change” conference has been going on in Europe, with leaders from the USA and other nations saying that they should agree to various standards (see UN’s ‘climate change’ conference trying to establish more world government precedents).  While reducing pollution is an admirable goal, the international agenda that many who promote “climate change” matters have is not going to lead to a better earth–it will take the return of Jesus and the establishment of the millennial kingdom of God to do that.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced yesterday that it invited Montenegro to join.  This has upset Russia (see Montenegro invited to be part of NATO–was Germany involved?), who has long wanted assurances that NATO would not expand to the east.  Currently, NATO, via the USA, protects Europe.  However, the time will come when Europe has sufficient military ability (see European Technology and the Beast of Revelation) to takeover the USA (Daniel 11:39).  I have wondered for many years if an attack against the USA may one day occur under the guise of a NATO exercise.  The addition of Montenegro will not help the USA.

 Suggested 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: Humility and Righteousness. 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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Basic Doctrines of Hebrew 6. 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 that we list each week. 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 ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

Notice the following from Luke’s Gospel account:

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”

62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:57-62)

Many people claim that they will follow Jesus, but when it comes down to it, they have excuses.  Brethren, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer