Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from storm-ravaged Grover Beach, California.
Many of you probably heard about the torrential rains in California. One news report suggested about 8 trillion gallons of rain fell on California.
In our area, we were without electricity for about ten hours on Sunday. Beyond that, we were basically fine until yesterday afternoon when a very windy storm, which may have included a tornado, hit:
A suspected tornado wreaked havoc in Grover Beach on Wednesday afternoon, with trees topple, power lines knocked down, and awnings and shingles torn from buildings. …
The storm hit businesses and homes on Grand and Ramona Avenues as it moved through Grover Beach. …
At 7:20 p.m., more than 2,000 PG&E customers remain in the dark. https://calcoastnews.com/2024/02/suspected-tornado-wreaks-havoc-in-grover-beach-photos/
Much of the roof of our building at 1036 W. Grand Avenue in Grover Beach was blown off. A lot of rain came in and there was a lot of water on the ground throughout the entire building when I left last evening. Prior to leaving, a roofing firm came to try to prevent more rain from entering the building. Today, I plan to try to figure out how to remove the water and how to best function after this. It was difficult to make a full assessment with the power out, etc. when I left yesterday. We had to shut off all possible power as a safety precaution as rain was filling up the light fixtures in the ceiling. Today, after it is light (it is still dark outside here) we will see if there is power to the building and if it is safe to turn the lights back on.
That said, as I have written before, weather changes should serve as a type of ‘wake-up call’ as they help show us that our personal, local, national, and even international circumstances can change quickly (see also Weather Blessings and Sorrows). But also, that we always need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Gospel of the Kingdom of God
We received another 25 translations of our English booklet titled The Gospel of the Kingdom of God this week.
Consider also the following:
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-14)
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. (Philippians 3:1)
Do not be weary with the fact that the Continuing Church of God has put out its gospel of the kingdom booklet in more languages than has ever been done by any real Christian group during the church age. Do not think it is tedious to continue to provide updates on its progress.
These translation are helpful to support the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, Romans 11:25 (see What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?), the Ezekiel warning (see What is the Ezekiel Warning?), as well as the short work of Romans 9:28 (see also Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word).
Rejoice and be thankful that God has allowed you to support His work:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is commonly celebrated by many in the world on 14 February. In 2024, many will also celebrate Mardis Gras which is 13 February in 2024.
These are not biblical holy days, but pagan ones.
Here is what a Roman Catholic source has written about Valentine’s Day:
The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year…
The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots. (The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day. http://www.american catholic.org)
A day of pagan roots and sexual license is certainly not a day for Christians to observe. This type of behavior was warned against in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:18; Jude 4).
Notice some Islamic comments about Valentine’s Day:
Celebrating the Valentine Day is not permissible because: Firstly, it is an innovated holiday …Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine’s Day. The way the Christians adopted St. Valentine’s Day should be a lesson for Muslims …We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices .. Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such .… origins. (Ruling on Celebrating Valentine’s Day. http://www. contactpakistan.com)
Notice that Muslims associate Valentine’s Day with Christianity (obviously the false compromising kind) and sin.
In other words, Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5). Do not have “the name of God blasphemed because of you” (Romans 2:24) keeping pagan holidays.
Real Christians do not keep repackaged demonic holidays (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:21).
Carnivals like Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day (called Lupercalia below) came from paganism:
One of the first recorded instances of an annual spring festival is the festival of Osiris in Egypt; it commemorated the renewal of life brought about by the yearly flooding of the Nile. In Athens, during the 6th cent. BC, a yearly celebration in honor of the god Dionysus was the first recorded instance of the use of a float. It was during the Roman Empire that carnivals reached an unparalleled peak of civil disorder and licentiousness. The major Roman carnivals were the Bacchanalia, the Saturnalia, and the Lupercalia. In Europe the tradition of spring fertility celebrations persisted well into Christian times … Because carnivals are deeply rooted in pagan superstitions and the folklore of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was unable to stamp them out and finally accepted many of them as part of church activity. (Carnival. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2015)
The Baccanalia was to the god Bacchus, also called Dionysus. He was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre, and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Sexual lewdness was part of the Baccanalia celebration. His worship was condemned by the Greco-Roman leader Commodianus in the third century (Commodianus. On Christian Discipline. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4).
Alcohol, especially wine, played an important role in Greek culture with Dionysus being an important reason for a raucous life style (Gately I. Drink. Gotham Books, 2008, p. 11). Mardis Gras and Carnaval seem to be related to this.
New Orleans Mardi Gras (Infrogmation)
In the late second century, Roman Catholic Bishop and Eastern Orthodox saint Irenaeus condemned the followers of the heretic Valentinus for participating in meat eating heathen festivals as he wrote:
Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the “most perfect” among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that “they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For instance, they make no scruple about eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, imagining that they can in this way contract no defilement. Then, again, at every heathen festival celebrated in honour of the idols, . . . Others of them yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual. Some of them, moreover, are in the habit of defiling those women to whom they have taught the above doctrine, as has frequently been confessed by those women who have been led astray by certain of them, on their returning to the Church of God, and acknowledging this along with the rest of their errors. (Irenaeus. Against Heresies. Book 1, Chapter 6, Verse 3)
Later, the Orthodox Catholic apologist Arnobius (died 330) warned against the type of fasts that pagans had:
What say you, O wise sons of Erectheus? what, you citizens of Minerva? The mind is eager to know with what words you will defend what it is so dangerous to maintain, or what arts you have by which to give safety to personages and causes wounded so mortally. This is no false mistrust, nor are you assailed with lying accusations: the infamy of your Eleusinia is declared both by their base beginnings and by the records of ancient literature, by the very signs, in fine, which you use when questioned in receiving the sacred things,—“I have fasted, and drunk the draught; I have taken out of the mystic cist, and put into the wicker-basket; I have received again, and transferred to the little chest. (Arnobius. Against the Heathen, Book V, Chapter 26)
Arnobius even seemed to warn about a ‘Mardi Gras’ banquet followed by a fast:
The feast of Jupiter is tomorrow. Jupiter, I suppose, dines, and must be satiated with great banquets, and long filled with eager cravings for food by fasting, and hungry after the usual interval. (Arnobius, Against the Heathen, Book VII, Chapter 32)
Thus, early writers condemned holidays that sound a lot like Carnaval/Mardi Gras because of its ties to pagan idolatry. The fast afterwards brings to mind the Greco-Roman practice of Lent.
The Bible teaches:
13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14)
While the Bible does not condemn rejoicing, Mardi Gras and related observances are contrary to scripture. In Bolivia they call it the “Devil’s Carnival” and openly worship Satan as their god!
Devil’s Carnival (La Diablada) Every spring, Oruro goes into carnival mode… One of the highlights are the devil dancers, the tradition of which derives from a peculiar kind of devil worship. Oruro is a mining town and the locals, spending so much time underground, decided to adopt a god of the underworld. Christian tradition dictates that this must be the devil and the Oruro faithful thus adopted Satan, or Supay, as their god/ (Frommes. http://events.frommers.com/sisp/
Carnaval/Mardis Gras is a demonic holiday and certainly not a Christian one. It was not kept by Jesus nor any of His early faithful followers. Nor was Valentine’s Day.
More on holidays and holy days can be found in our booklet: Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?
Suggested Sabbath Day ServicesHere is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:
- 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.
- The suggested sermonette is titled: USA Attacks! Terror will come! Other sermonettes are available at our Prophecy channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/prophecy/
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- The suggested sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be: Dating for a Happier Marriage. Other sermons are also available at the COGTube channel on BitChute https://www.bitchute.com/channel/cogtube/
- 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 mobile 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.
World News Items
We continue to see more and more pressure against speaking the truth as well as the allowance of government officials and their preferred sources to lie as a report about the UK pointed out (see ZH: UK’s “Online Safety Act” Officially Grants MSM Premission To Publish Lies). The USA has its own problems that was as well (e.g. Homeland Security Cited Inaccurate Allegation To Censor New York Times Journalist). And Europe is moving even faster in that direction, which is consistent with various biblical prophecies about it (e.g. Revelation 13:15-18).
This Sunday, about 100 million people are expected to watch the biggest annual violent sports event in the USA (see Superbowl, Violence, Children, and Philadelphian Christians). This is not something Christians should encourage or do.
With food prices rising and scarcities in some areas, various ones are recommending taking various steps related to food preparation and storage (see TCD: Survival expert shares ancient hack for naturally preserving food & MS: Millions Of Americans “Prepare For The Apocalypse”). While this will not stop famines from coming, it is always prudent to be prepared for food disruptions as various scriptures (such as Proverbs 6:6-8) suggest.
A leader in Northern Ireland is predicting that the North will be reunified with the rest of Ireland within a decade (see NM: N.Irish Leader O’Neill Predicts Irish Unity Vote Within Decade Read more: N.Irish Leader O’Neill Predicts Irish Unity Vote within Decade). Based on various biblical prophecies, that prediction is likely to turn out to be correct.
In addition to Hamas-Israel and Russia-Ukraine (see CNBC: Russia claims it is now occupying ‘advantageous’ positions in Donetsk) wars, consistent with Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24:6-7 we continue to hear of wars and rumors of war (see ‘Iraq warns Middle East is now on ‘brink of the abyss’ after 16 killed in US revenge strikes on Iranian-backed militias’ and Houthis vow more attacks and ZH: US Establishes New Stockpile In Australia To Prepare For War Over Taiwan). But, as Jesus also said, the end is not yet (Matthew 24:6b), but soon (cf. Matthew 24:14-22).
The Apostle Peter wrote:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things which angels desire to look into.
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:3-21)
Yes, brethren, despite trials and problems of various sorts, we are to have hope and strive to lead holy lives.
And be grateful that you know many of the mysteries that people have wondered about throughout history (see also
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You?).
Yes, as Philadelphian Christians, we have a real hope.
Pastor and Overseer