Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.
As we are starting to head towards the Spring Holy Day season, we have a recommended long sermonette on preparations related to that by Louis Rubin: Preparing for the Spring Holy Days.
In other ways of preparation, I have begun a sermon series on the Book of Romans. My intent is to go over each and every verse in that book, hopefully prior to the Passover this year (which will be after sunset on April 14th in 2022).
Because the recommended sermonette is longer than usual (and more like what the old Worldwide Church of God would call a ‘split sermon’), I decided to do a shorter sermon than usual, so only covered the first two chapters of the Book of Romans in it. Watch: Romans 1-2: Believe the Truth of God.
Attend the Feast of Tabernacles
Got an email last month from someone I never heard of.
The individual, however, considered himself a member of the Continuing Church of God.
Since I knew that the individual was not following biblical instructions related to tithes and offerings, nor has he ever attended one of our Feast of Tabernacles’ sites, I told him that he would not be considered a member. I encouraged him to take steps, such as those in our booklet: Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian.
Perhaps it should be pointed out that although those CCOG members who run forums and online activities allow prospective members to participate, unless the participants have properly repented, accepted Jesus, been properly baptized, and are striving to obey God in all ways, they also are not full members of the CCOG.
That being said, someone told me that some who claim to be members of the Continuing Church of God do not think that they need to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, because I have written that if you cannot attend at any of our festival sites you could set up a tent at your home.
While I did write that those UNABLE to attend should do that, that is not what should be done if feasible. Not attending is not a proper option because you might think that is fine.
So, I apologize if some have thought I condoned non-attendance by those who physically could attend. We are not to fear humans, but obey God and keep His commands and festivals.
How seriously do you wish to follow God’s ways and worship Him as He commands?
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
The truth is that God, not me nor the old Worldwide Church of God, ordained His festivals (cf. Leviticus 23).
YOU should attend.
In the Spring of 1977, someone told me about saving second tithe so I would have money to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall. So, I began to do so, even though I was convinced I could not afford it. My festival tithe for five-six months amounted to $300.00. With that, I drove about ten hours to the closest festival site and kept my first Feast of Tabernacles. I have kept the festival in person every year since.
In 1979, I faced possible jail time when I was in the military as some ordered me to not attend. However, I was able to work it out with my military superiors, was not jailed, and did attend the Feast of Tabernacles.
Perhaps I should also mention that about 37 years ago, my wife Joyce was fired from a job she had because she told her employer she needed to attend the Feast of Tabernacles and that employer would not grant her the time off. She and I then attended the Feast anyway.
Others in the old Worldwide Church of God faced issues as well as have current members of the CCOG. Throughout church history, governments and others have tried to interfere with practicing the true faith (cf. Acts 5:24-29).
Let me also add that I have between 12-14 years of college/university education and attained almost all of that AFTER being baptized and keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. I privately met with the different instructors/professors before the Feast each year and explained the situation–some were supportive, others were not. Although my grades may have sometimes suffered a little because of attending the festival, but I have no regrets–plus do have numerous degrees (A.A., B.S., M.S., Ph.D, etc).
If Christians do not have a communicable disease, other than for serious health or other matters rendering attendance nearly impossible (like perhaps massive distance if you cannot travel for some legitimate reason), those who are truly Christians in the 21st century should be attending the Feast of Tabernacles. Do not make excuses or lie to yourself.
In 2022, Feast of Tabernacles’ services are scheduled to begin the evening of October 9th and continue until the Last Great Day which is October 17th.
Now it is time to plan for it, no matter where you live.
As far as affording to attend, here is something from the old Worldwide Church of God, with one minor edit, regarding financial planning:
One major concern in planning for and attending the Feast is finances.
Thankfully, God has shown us the way to handle the financial aspect of attending His annual feast days.
God explains feast finances for us in Deuteronomy 14:22-27: “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed, which comes forth from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place which he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and flock; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to bring the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses, and spend the money for whatever you desire, oxen, or sheep, or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves; and you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not forsake the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you” (Revised Standard Version).
We have called this tithe or tenth part of our income a second tithe; however, the Bible nowhere calls it by a specific name. We have more commonly referred to it in recent years as the festival tithe, as that is what it is used for.
This tenth of our income is not used for God’s Work or the preaching of the Gospel, as the festival tithe belongs to us, to use in the way God specifies. God provides for the needs of His Work by His first tithe. The first tithe belongs to God and is not for personal use.
Here are some commonly asked questions about the festival tithe and their answers, based on biblical principles.
What is the festival tithe?
Simply stated, the festival tithe is a tenth of one’s increase (income from personal effort), which is set aside for use in attending the annual festivals ordained by God.
How is the amount of the festival tithe calculated?
It is a tenth of your
grossnet income, exactly the same amount as God’s first tithe or tenth.
Is this amount commanded, or is it optional?
As the previous quote from Deuteronomy showed, saving the festival tithe is commanded by God, just as much as God’s first tithe is commanded. Since it is a part of God’s law, it is sin not to set a full tenth aside for the specified purpose.
How is it to be used?
The basic use of this money is to finance attendance at God’s festivals, including (as specifically mentioned) food and beverages. The festival tithe would also cover travel expenses to and from the feast site, motel or hotel expenses and other related costs.
May any of this money be used to buy clothing?
The primary use of the funds is for travel, lodging and food.
However, in some cases, people may not have sufficient or proper clothing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. In such cases, where there is sufficient money to take care of the other needs as well, it would be permissible for a person to use some funds to buy proper clothing so that he might be better able to go to the Feast and rejoice as God commands (Deut. 16:11).
This permission in unusual circumstances, however, has been used by some to justify large or expensive purchases of clothing or even whole wardrobes. Using the festival tithe in this way violates the basic spiritual intent of the law.
What about using some of the funds for car repairs?
In some cases the family or personal car is not in condition to make the trip, or to safely make the trip, to the Feast site. Under such rare circumstances, if sufficient funds are available for the other necessities as well as minor car repairs, it would be within the spirit of the law to make repairs. In other cases it would be wiser to consider alternate transportation.
What about purchasing gifts?
Some members have purchased gifts for their children so that the children might better enjoy the Feast. Gifts for small children at Feast time helps make the Feast special for them — a time to look forward to each year.
But in other cases, some people have overdone the giving of gifts at Feast time, sometimes buying expensive items they couldn’t really afford. Usually such items are used during the rest of the year as well. This goes far beyond the principle of using the festival funds to provide a joyous, happy Feast.
Is it proper to use the festival tithe for side trips?
The use of this money to visit natural wonders or special scenic areas or places of historical interest on the way to or from the Feast certainly could make the Feast more enjoyable as well as profitable.
Some scenic wonders, such as the Grand Canyon or Carlsbad Caverns, can preach eloquent sermons to the glory and magnificence of the God who created them. Limited funds for even short side trips to such areas would certainly be well spent.
However, long trips involving excessive costs and time and taking you away from the direction of the Feast site should not be paid for with festival funds. If in doubt, counsel with your minister about this or any other questionable expense.
I have heard that it is permissible to borrow from the festival tithe if I pay back an additional one fifth.
This mistaken idea comes from a misunderstanding of Leviticus 27. This chapter has nothing to do with the festival tithe, but an altogether different matter.
Borrowing from the festival tithe is not borrowing but stealing. Quite a number have learned the hard way that this “borrowing” does not work. Here is a letter pointing out this very thing from a member who wrote after the last Feast of Tabernacles:
“Dear Mr. Armstrong,
“This has been the most spiritually enriching Feast of Tabernacles.
“I learned the hard way not to ‘borrow’ second tithe for my own use. Soon after I did so, my work ‘dried up’ and God showed me that without His blessing I could not replace the stolen second tithe.
“When I finally appealed to Him to help me replace the second tithe I took, I again had work, but all my sources of income did not pay until after the Feast, so I didn’t have the money to use during the Feast.
“I had enough second tithe to enjoy the Feast, but with the amount I had stolen the Feast could have been even more enjoyable. I am now able to restore the second tithe I stole but the Feast is over and I can only send it in to you as excess second tithe. I have learned my lesson. I will never steal second tithe for my personal use again.”
I have more festival tithe than I need. What should I do with the excess?
There are always those who have insufficient tithe to attend the Feast, or not enough to go and pay for normal expenses.
To provide for this need, it has always been the practice of the Church members who have more than they need to turn in this excess to the Church. The Church then, through the local church pastors, uses these funds to take care of such needs.
In the past, unfortunately, there have often been insufficient funds to send every less fortunate person every year. It would be wonderful if everyone could attend every year. The following scripture indicates that such people should be provided for:
“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press; you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns” (Deut. 16:13-14, RSV).
The only way some of these people would be able to attend would be for others who have excess funds to assist them. Jesus said that it was more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Those who do give for this purpose will have the special joy that comes from being generous and having an unselfish attitude. (Neff L. The Festival Tithe – Your Questions Answered. Good News, September 1981)
The one ‘edit’ was that I crossed out the word “gross” and replaced it with the word “net.”
Because honest taxpayers really do not have control about how much money the government takes, hence it is more appropriate to tithe on income after income taxes (net income) than gross income (income before taxes) as that is a better reflection of ones “increase.”
That being said, while part of the old Worldwide Church of God, my wife Joyce and I did tithe on the gross. And while sometimes on paper it looked like we would not be able to handle our expenses, it did work out.
Have faith in God and try to arrange your finances so you will be able to obey Him.
Now there was another question in that WCG article that perhaps would be good to put here as well:
I have heard some members talking about the tithe of the tithe. What is this?
Several years ago, because of the considerable expenses of providing the facilities and handling year-round administrative needs for the Feast, Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong directed all members of the Church to send in one tenth of their festival tithe to cover these costs. This is commonly referred to as the tithe of the tithe.
It pays for all the festival facilities, whether Church-owned or rented; operation of the Fall Festival; and other year-round festival-related expenses.
These questions and answers should help you use your festival tithe and to rejoice before God at the Feast.
In the CCOG, the ‘tithe of the tithe’ is used to pay for Feast expenses in the USA as well as to support Feast of Tabernacles’ expenses for non-USA sites.
To learn where we have or expect to have festival locations this year, check out link to Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2022.
We expect to update the Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2022 link throughout the year as we get more information.
In the USA we are currently looking at Southern Missouri and have been debating between two possible locations in the Branson region.
If you have not attended in the past, but now hope to in 2022 (based on the view that we will probably finalize a site in Branson), please do not be lukewarm, but send me an email in the next several days to tell me as that will assist us in planning.
My email address remains: COGwriter@aol.com
The CCOG Canadian office sent some funds to our Haitian brethren to help with their weather and earthquake related food shortages. Our leader there sent some photos and a report yesterday:
For a report of everythings about the aid. Last Friday I … bought 6 products to help brothers and sisters access to food. 18 little rice bags, each bag 4 marmites. 13 little oil gallons. 12 little ball spaghetti. 3 large pea bags, every bag 8 marmites. 3 large corn bags, every bag 8 marmites. 2 little milk boxs, every box 48 little. The aid is very helpful for us. All brethren sent a great thanks to our Brothers and Sisters church members. Brethren was in an extremely need for food and drink. ThanksEvery one has foods for 20 to 22 days to eat. I pay the owner of the space a little money to gave me the space access for the 3 hours. And he gave me access again at the space to meet brethren yesterday for Sabbath.Because of everything that has happened in Haiti, life is difficult for our brothers and sisters.
While we cannot solve Haiti’s problems, we attempt to follow admonitions in scriptures like the following:
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you. (Proverbs 3:27-28)
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
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 most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Preparing for the Spring Holy Days. Other sermonettes are available at the BitChute Prophecy channel https://www.bitchute.com/channel/prophecy/ and other CCOG used platforms.
- 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: Romans 1-2: Believe the Truth of God. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel and other CCOG used platforms.
- 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 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 Bible News Prophecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.
World News Items
Over in Canada threats were made and arrests were carried out against those involved with the truckers’ protests (see Canadian government goes after bank accounts of protesters and those willing to help protesters: shades of 666! and Protesters fined and arrested in Canada, USA plans its own truck convoy protest).
The situation between Russia and Ukraine changed as Russia decide to recognize, and officially support, the portions of eastern Ukraine that called themselves the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People s Republic (see I365: Right before Messiah, US will fight Russia and China will capitalize, rabbinic “prophecy” reveals’ COGwriter: No, that is not what the Bible teaches and ‘What to Know About the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions’). This is causing concerns in various parts of Europe (see ‘Europe braces for further strife as Ukraine crisis escalates’ ‘Germany’s Russia policy …’ ). As most of you are aware, I have long warned that prophecies involving “the kings of the Medes” (Jeremiah 51:11, 28-29) pointed to portions of lands controlled by Ukraine ultimately supporting, combining, and/or being confederate with Russia. I also pointed to those prophecies in a recent recommended video (watch Russia, Ukraine, Babylonian Europe, and Prophecy).
World events continue to align with properly understood biblical prophecies.
As far as the situation with Russia and Ukraine go, it has escalated as, early Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called for a “special military operation” into Ukraine–which has resulted in bombs and loss of lives (see ‘Putin Orders Military Operations in Ukraine, Demands Surrender’ ‘Gather yourselves together’). Related to it, Germany’s foreign minister said, “We woke up in a different world today.”
Things can change quickly. Few in Ukraine thought this would happen today.
Take what happened to heart. Pray for those affected.
But also remember that the Apostle Paul wrote:
3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Do not wait until it is too late to take the proper spiritual steps you probably realize you should take.
The Book of Titus starts out as follows:
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; (Titus 1:1-3)
Brethren, remember that God cannot lie and we all need to support the preaching by the church.
Remember also that we have true hope in eternal life.
That is very good news!
Pastor and Overseer