Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

“Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2).

Another full week in California. As usual, both national and international matters have needed to be dealt with as we work to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20.

Feast in San Diego

We made a decision and signed a contract for a Feast of Tabernacles’ site in San Diego, California for 2017. This is earlier than we have ever finalized a USA location, but we needed to do this in order to secure this location. While this location is not inexpensive, it is ‘reasonable’ for that geographic area and seems to represent the best value for us.

The plan is to hold services at the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina. It is located at 2051 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, California 92106; Phone 619-222-0561 Fax 619-222-9760.

best-western-plus-island-palms-hotel

The hotel is located on Shelter Island, but as it is connected to the rest of San Diego by roads you can drive to get to it.  It is also fairly close to the San Diego airport (Google says it is 3.3 miles away), though for many people it may be less expensive to fly into one of the other Southern California airports (LAX, John Wayne, Burbank, or Long Beach) and to drive south.

Although parking charges are typical for many San Diego area hotels, we were able to negotiate that no visitor or guest will be charged for parking (presuming that the hotel guests book through the block of rooms that the hotel has set aside for us–those who book through other means need to realize that they will be subject to a daily parking charge).

My family and I have already reserved our room at the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina as we expect to be at this location for the second half of the Feast of Tabernacles in 2017 (we plan to be at the location in Rotorua, New Zealand for the first half of the Feast of Tabernacles in 2017).

The earlier you book a room, should you decide to stay here, the better according to the hotel as they will only hold a limited number of rooms. The negotiated rate is $123.00 per night–and includes overnight parking as long as you tell them you are there for the Continuing Church of God conference when you telephone (which is 619-222-0561). There is no daytime parking charge at the hotel.

The opening night of the Feast of Tabernacles is October 4th and will run through the end of the Last Great Day at sunset October 12th in 2017.

We plan to add more information about the San Diego and the other sites at the following link: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2017.

Giving Answers in Australia

Someone who is relatively new to the Continuing Church of God sent me the following:

Hello Dr Bob,

I hope you and your family are doing well! I am just writing to tell you that I started a new job with a gardening and yard care company for the university holidays to get some extra money before our baby is born in March.

Anyway, I had an interesting experience which was unexpected. I was working with my boss and he asked me if I was available to work Saturdays if needed, I told him that I would not be available on a Saturday under any circumstances in a polite manner. My boss asked me why, and I replied that it was due to my religious conviction. My boss asked me what religion I followed and then followed by asking if I was a Muslim? I stated that I was in fact a Christian. He was shocked and asked me why that would stop me from working a Saturday and I explained the Sabbath command briefly. He then asked more and more questions about the Sabbath and what Church I went to. He asked me what we did for Christmas and I explained that we do not celebrate the normal so called Christian days and explained that unlike most Christianity we follow every word of God written in the Bible.

He asked me many questions for about 10 minutes in a nice and polite way and I assumed wrongly that he was probably a Hindu because he is from India, along with the other 3 employees at the company. After a few minutes of silence my boss then stated ‘you know I am a Christian too.’ I was completely taken a back because I had just spent 10 minutes explaining that most of modern Christianity does not follow the Bible and answering his many questions. I asked him where he went to Church and he said that he has been a Catholic since he was born. I was shocked because he asked so many questions but never even hinted that he was Catholic. He asked how many people were in the Church I went to and I said there was over 2000 around the world, he was puzzled and couldn’t reconcile the that it could hold the truth and be so small.

A few days later I was working with one of the other employees and he asked if I was religious, I again stated that I was Christian. He had a large smile and told me that he was also a Christian and showed me his cross hanging around his neck. He then mentioned that Christmas was coming soon and I stated that I didn’t celebrate Christmas. he seemed totally confused and asked me what days we celebrated and I told him. He had no idea other than Passover and Pentecost. I told him about the Sabbath and he went quiet. I asked him what type of Christian he was and he also said Catholic. He then told me that he was going to a Seminary and training to be a Bishop, though He had no idea what the Holy Days were other than the Passover and Pentecost.

I couldn’t believe i was working with 3 people from India and 2 were Catholic and 1 is a Hindu. Anyway, this person was not as receptive to what I was told him and he has spoken little to me since. My boss on the other hand interjected when the Hindu employee asked me about my Christmas, and told him that I did not celebrate Christmas but asked if I had enjoyed my time off anyway.

Anyway it was the first time I have been able to share so much about my faith, partly because I felt that my boss would not be a professing Christian. Hopefully the seeds planted could cause him to look deeper into the truth.

Regards,

(His name was left off so as to not directly identify the others he referred to.)

The Bible teaches:

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15, KJV)

And this man in Australia did that.

He was not trying to bother people, but let his light shine (Matthew 5:16) and answered questions as he was asked (1 Peter 3:15).

Malawi, Mozambique, and Ethiopia

Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng is working with various ones and making changes in Malawi that affect those in Malawi and Mozambique. We have had to make one leadership change and are working on how to best move forward.

We hope to finalize more related to those countries within the next several weeks. Please continue to pray that Pastor Ochieng and I will be granted proper wisdom to best serve God’s people there.

Please pray also that the invited leaders in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mozambique will be able to get their passports and/or other documents in time to be able to attend the CCOG conference in Nairobi, Kenya next month.

World News Items

Some have wondered if the returning of a type of four-horned sheep to the nation of Israel is a sign that the end is nearer and a Third Temple will be built (see Four-horned sheep a sign of the immanent building of the Third Temple?). While we are always getting closer to the end, there is no biblical requirement for a third Jewish temple to be built before Jesus returns (see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?). That being said, it is possible that the return of a type of four-horned sheep could motivate some Jews consider this as another reason to resume animal sacrifices–and the time will come when animal sacrifices will be resumed (cf. Daniel (27; 11:31).

The USA made the ‘hall of shame’ be being listed as a nation that is regressing when it comes to religious freedom according to the ICC (see USA makes ICC’s ‘Hall of Shame’ list of nations regressing in religious freedom). That report basically said that the mainstream media continues to show a bias against those that profess Christ and that all religious people are being marginalized through the law in the USA.  While we still have religious freedoms in the USA, more have been curtailed and one day, more will (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

Speaking of the USA, one astute writer noted that the economy of the USA was excessively supported by the creation of federal debt (see ‘It’s The Debt, Stupid – Massive Borrowing Binge Producing Fake Recovery’). Debt will be a factor in the coming destruction of the USA (cf. Habakkuk 2:6-8).

Seeing what has been happening in the USA has motivated more leaders in Europe to publicly declare that Europe needs to be able to unify better and increase its military. The election in the USA is one of several factors some have pointed to as a reason for this (see France’s Fillon wants more militaristic and stronger EU as Europe is not a USA priority). This will not end well for the USA (Daniel 11:39) nor eventually for Europe (cf. Revelation 18-19; Daniel 11:44-45).

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 Half human, half pig: What’s the difference? 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: Strong Meat: James 1-2. 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 Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Peter was inspired to write:

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.” (1 Peter 1:3-16)

Brethren, we are privileged to have knowledge that many have longed for throughout the ages. Despite trials and tests, remember to be thankful.  Remember, “He who called you is holy … be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ ”

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer