Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Another busy week in the Five Cities region of California.

We sent out the English version of the July-September 2015 edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine.

JULY-SEP_ENGLISH cover

We also worked on editions in other languages.

We also sent information to translators related to the next edition of the magazine.

Malawi and Nigeria

We sent more literature to the African nations of Malawi and Nigeria this week.

We have not yet met any of the groups which have contacted us from these nations, but decided that sending literature is an appropriate step.  Ugandan-born CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng is looking at visiting various congregations and hopes to visit Nigeria soon if possible.

Laptops, Literature, and Banners to Kenya

A third container shipment was sent to Kenya with the following:

1) Ten (10) laptops including batteries and chargers.
2) Five (5) laptop bags / cases.
3) Approximately 30 Bibles.
4) Approximately 50 song books.
5) Five (5) Feast of Tabernacles banners…
6) An iPad and an iPhone 4 including chargers…
7) Miscellaneous additional items…

Sending containers allows us to send materials cheaper than the other ways we have tried.  It takes a lot longer, but is definitely more affordable.

The banners we are sending should allow some to go to places such as Tanzania, Nigeria, as well as other possible African countries.

Although it may take many months before there is a fourth shipment, I plan to order more Bibles and song books later this month so that when another shipment is made, we can include them.

If we mail Bibles directly, the cost to mail them is about 3-5 times the cost we pay for them.  Much of what we send to Africa costs more to send than the items themselves cost.

Canadian Registration

We again worked on matters related to getting the Continuing Church of God officially registered in Canada.  We first started to work on this in August of 2014 and hope and pray that we will get the approval some time this year.

Festival Tithe and the ‘Tithe of the Tithe’

Someone emailed me and asked when people should send in the ‘tithe of the tithe’ for the Feast of Tabernacles this year.  What is that?

Notice something written by the late evangelist Leroy Neff and published by the old Worldwide Church of God in 1981 related to festival financing:

God explains feast finances for us in Deuteronomy 14:22-27…

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 … 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. …

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.

While the Bible does NOT mandate sending in a ‘tithe of the tithe,’ it does state that some of the festival tithe should also go to support the ministry.  Here is some information from the Bible on the festival tithe:

22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.  (Deuteronomy 14:22-27)

The term ‘Levite’ is a reference to the ministry.  The New Testament teaches that there was a change from Levitical priesthood to the ministry of Christ (cf. Hebrews 7:11-12).  The ministry also is to ‘remember the poor’ (Galatians 2:10).

As far as when to send CCOG a ‘tithe of the tithe’ in, that is an individual matter.  Basically, whenever you are reasonably confident of how much money you will have saved for the Feast (often called second tithe), then send in 10% of that.

Some of that money will be spent to pay for expenses associated with the Feast of Tabernacles’ sites in North America and/or Africa.  The money we send to Africa related to the Feast of Tabernacles helps feed poor members who attend.

As far as the Feast of Tabernacles goes, if you are planning on attending in North America, our sites are in Denver, Colorado, USA and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.  If you are planning on attending in Denver and have not contacted me, please send me an email: cogwriter@aol.com.  If you are planning on attending in Niagara Falls and have not contacted Herb Haddon, please send him an email: hwhaddon@gmail.com.

If you are planning on attending Feast of Tabernacles’ site in New Zealand, contact John Hickey, email john.h@vodafone.net.nz; his mobile phone number is 021 519 441.

If you are planning on attending in Tanzania or Kenya or Nigeria, please contact Pastor Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com.

For more information of the various locations of the for 2015, including in those in Africa & Asia, check out the updated article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2015.

US Supreme Court Decision

Last Friday, the US Supreme Court decided, in Obergefell vs. Hodges, to attempt to redefine marriage and ruled in favor of homosexual marriages across the USA (see US Supreme Court declares in favor of homosexual marriage, in spite of the Constitution).  Various ones applauded the decision, while those who have a closer biblical view of this matter were disappointed.  The end result of the US Supreme Court ruling will be disaster (see Supreme Court tragedy and disaster).

Notice some comments in Time related to this ruling:

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito explicitly warned religious traditionalists that this decision leaves them vulnerable. Alito warns that Obergefell “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” and will be used to oppress the faithful “by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.” …

The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist. …

To be frank, the court majority may impose on the rest of the nation a view widely shared by elites, but it is also a view shared by a majority of Americans. There will be no widespread popular resistance to Obergefell. This is the new normal. For another, LGBT activists and their fellow travelers really will be coming after social conservatives. The Supreme Court has now, in constitutional doctrine, said that homosexuality is equivalent to race. The next goal of activists will be a long-term campaign to remove tax-exempt status from dissenting religious institutions. The more immediate goal will be the shunning and persecution of dissenters within civil society.  http://time.com/3938050/orthodox-christians-must-now-learn-to-live-as-exiles-in-our-own-country/

The USA is not the land of the free and those who believe in a religion that the elites do not hold to are subject to problems.

A form of media censorship has started to emerge as many do not want the biblical view to receive press coverage (see Media censorship on homosexuality).  A ‘famine of the word’ is coming (Amos 8:11-12) and more seem to want to hear less about what the Bible actually teaches.

Now that homosexual marriage is ‘the law of the land’ of the USA, expect this to be a precedent for other nations.  In this USA itself, besides persecutions towards those who oppose this abomination, realize that this is NOT the end of the homosexual agenda.  The direction that the majority on US Supreme Court took opens the way for possibly allowing polygamy, bestiality, and a lowered ‘age of consent.’  The fruits of the ruling are not good, and disaster is ahead (Romans 1:18-32).

One of the reasons that I decided to make the sermon What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? on June 13, 2015 was precisely because I felt that the US Supreme Court would rule this way (as I had written earlier).  The time may well come when those type of sermons (and perhaps that one itself) will no longer be allowed on YouTube or certain other sites on the internet.

The US is going in the wrong moral direction and many of its leaders are causing people there to err (Isaiah 3:12; 9:16).

World News Items

The Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma declared that the Ten Commandments had to be removed from the capital grounds as the display is now considered to be ‘unconstitutional’ (see Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against the Ten Commandments).  Following the lead of Australia and a couple of other areas, the State of California now has a law prohibiting religious and personal objections for parents who do not want there school-age children to be vaccinated (see Time: Jim Carrey Brands California Governor ‘Fascist’ Over Vaccine Law).

These decisions, along with the pro-homosexual US Supreme Court, are part of a trend for governments to decide that religious views are not as important as government views.  The final Beast will take this even further per Revelation 13.

Pope Francis sent a letter of support to the World Council of Churches (WCC) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary this week (see Pope Francis fully supporting World Council of Churches).  The Church of Rome, for the longest time, was not officially part of the WCC, but now pushes its agenda as the two groups are basically identical on their religious, political, and environmental goals.

Related to this, Pope Francis, like the WCC, is not satisfied that fuller unity has not been achieved as he wrote to the WCC saying:

“Looking at the present state of the ecumenical landscape and the world at large, we have to confess that divisions among Christians are there, that we are not sharing the gifts of the Triune God and the fruits of the works of our hands through the holy Eucharistic fellowship.”

Of course, the Bible does not teach a Triune God nor the round ‘Eucharistic host’ that the Vatican now pushes.  Even the Church of Rome did not have those doctrines originally as their own scholars admit.  Yet now, the pontiff wants to unify the world’s false Christian faiths under those.

The Vatican signed a document officially recognizing the ‘State of Palestine’ (see Vatican signs official recognition of Palestinian state; Revenge for not turning over the ‘Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill’?).  I believe that part of the reason for this is that Pope Francis was not given the type of control of the ‘Cenacle building’ was constructed on the foundation of the original Christian church building in Jerusalem.  This building, possibly, could be the place where the abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet will be when it is time to flee per Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15.  Anyway, the Bible indicates that part of the territory currently controlled by the tiny nation of Israel will end up under control of those of Gaza (Amos 1:6-8)–the Gazans are Palestinians.

Over in Europe, there have been various reports and plans about what to do related to Greece.  Greece said earlier this week that it would default (see Greece says it will default, stock markets drop, Puerto Rico also may default) and it did not make a debt payment that was due on Tuesday.  Unless there are major changes, Greece plans to have a vote on Sunday about whether or not its voters wish to accept European austerity plans or not.  The time will come when more civil unrest will occur in various parts of Europe, including Greece.

A German report came out encouraging Germany to have a military industrial complex that is more independent of the USA (see Germany military looking to be ‘Independent of the USA’).  The Germans also want to tap into American military technology and try to improve it.  Others in Europe have similar ideas.  The time will come when a German-dominated Europe will successfully invade the USA and UK (cf. Isaiah 10:5-11).

Over in France, an American factory which is providing jobs and technology to the French, was attacked by an Islamic terrorist (see Islamic terrorist strikes US factory in France).

In the Middle East and North Africa, terrorism continues.  The group calling itself the Islamic State completed its first year of existence with that name (see VOA: ’1 Year After Declaring Caliphate, Islamic State Remains Strong.’ Tunisia killings are related proof).  The actions of Islamic terrorists look like they will be catalysts to generate support from the West and the Arab world (with Turkish and Cushite involvement) for the rise of a confederation to be led by one the Bible refers to as the final King of the South (Daniel 11:40-43).  Such a leader will arise and the Islamic State is unknowingly pushing world leaders to want it.

Yesterday, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted that the USA is losing some of its military lead as he expressed concerns about Russia, China, and others (see General Dempsey: USA losing military lead; Russia claims USA policy is confrontational).  He, and many other leaders in the USA, fail to understand Bible prophecy related to the USA.  Because of this, the USA  is taking steps to prepare for a war it will not fight, while arming European allies who will turn into enemies that it will be defeated militarily by (cf. Lamentations 1:1-2; Daniel 11:39; Revelation 13:1-4).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:

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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

The Bible states:

9 Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

United, we can fulfill Matthew 24:14 and accomplish the work that Jesus has set for His end-time Philadelphia remnant of the Church of  God.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God