Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings from Grover Beach, California.
Feast of Tabernacles 2023
As a reminder, we continue to prepare for the 2023 Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is something all of us should be preparing for. This year, services are to begin the evening of September 29th and continue until sunset ending the Last Great Day which is October 7th.
Last week, we mentioned that in the USA, we plan to hold services in the Fairfield Inn & Suites Wisconsin Dells. Its address is 511 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Wisconsin Dells
The Fairfield Inn & Suites Wisconsin Dells shares a parking lot, and has affiliation, with the SpringHill Suites Wisconsin Dells. Its address is 461 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965.
The hotel representative sent the following:
|Hotel(s) offering your special group rate:|
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Wisconsin Dells for 99 USD per night
Book your group rate for CCOG Feast of Tabernacles
- SpringHill Suites Wisconsin Dells for 109 USD per night
Book your group rate for CCOG Feast of Tabernacles
The SpringHill Suites Wisconsin Dells is supposedly a little nicer than the Fairfield Inn & Suites Wisconsin Dells and also is to have the option of having connecting rooms.
The rates for each include some type of breakfast.
The discount being offered to us is substantial as when we tried to book them for the period of the Feast of Tabernacles, the rates that came up online where about USD$50 more per night, so we feel that the rates being offered are quite good.
While we do not require that people stay at either of those properties, it is usually much easier for those who chose to stay where services will be held.
My wife and I have purchased airline tickets to fly into the closest main airport, which is in Madison, Wisconsin. We, and some others, have already booked rooms for the Feast in Wisconsin Dells this year.
If you are planning on attending in the Wisconsin Dells, please let me know. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
In Canada, a New Brunswick location is planned. If you plan to attend in New Brunswick, please contact Herb Haddon. His email address is email@example.com
Congregants should already be saving second tithe so they can afford to go and observe the Feast of Tabernacles joyfully, as God’s word declares they should.
Do not put it off as time marches on fairly quickly.
Leaders in other parts of the world should also be planning on where they will hold the Feast of Tabernacles in their respective countries in 2023.
Here is a link to additional information, which we expect to further update: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2023.
As mentioned in a previous Letter (see Letter to the Brethren: March 2, 2023), we have made arrangements to go on religious-commercial radio. This is through the Wilkins Radio Network.
The Bible News Prophecy program is scheduled to air once per week beginning March 18, 2023 on the following twelve AM/FM stations on the Wilkins Radio Network (WRN):
KKIM AM 1000 Albuquerque – Saturday 9:15 AM
KGMS AM 940 Tucson – Saturday 1:15 AM
KCNW AM 1380 & FM 96.1 Kansas City – Saturday 2:30 PM
KERI AM 1410 Bakersfield – Saturday 11:45 AM
WWNL AM 1080 & FM 103.9 Pittsburg – Saturday 11:30 AM
WSKY AM 1230 Asheville – Saturday 7:45 PM
WELP AM 1360 & FM 104.3 Greenville – Saturday 7:00 PM
WNVY AM 1070 & FM 104.5 Pensacola – Saturday 7:15 PM
Note: WWNL in Pittsburg is a 50,000 watt station, which is the most powerful that the USA FCC allows.
Anyway, our about to begin on this network is great news! Our first broadcast explains God’s purpose for each individual –which is to be able to increase love in a unique way to make eternity better for themselves and everyone else. Satan does not want people to believe that, but you should. That broadcast was also videoed and is the recommended sermonette for this week (watch Could God be Creating Something Beautiful in You?).
Radio is a proclamation door that we use to reach those we otherwise would not reach. It also assists us we work to toward doing our part to fulfill Romans 11:25 about the full number of Gentiles coming in (see also What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?).
In addition to these new stations, Bible News Prophecy radio program in online and it is also on EGR and WRMI, plus are on the air in the Philippines on one station and Africa we have been on four stations.
More details can be found on the Continuing Church of God Multimedia page.
Talebearers and Accusations
This morning, I received the following from a leader in Kenya:Dear Dr Bob Thiel, Thanks be to our heavenly father who has kept us safely. He has protected us from many challenges that we are facing on this journey of faith. I want to thank God once again for the wonderful revelation he showed me. I think if you can remember I wrote to you that there are waves targeting the church of God. Heavy storms striking the people of God. And now here they’re at work. There’s a movement now shaking CCOG. Even some people are using my name without my consent. They’re pointing out that CCOG is dead. You know what, the members are not carried away like grains in the sack. There are groups going from one congregation to another preaching that CCOG is bad. So as I said, there is need to pray more earnestly than there before. My people are led astray for lack of wisdom. They miss out the seven pillars of eternity proverbs 9:1. Changing from one ministry to another is not a solution. What is needed is to change our behaviors and lifestyles. To walk the Walk as if you are alone. To preach the gospel as you will not be there tomorrow. We are all called to be under instructions to become judges and priests in the kingdom of God. Whatever is now being reported is just to destroy the work that has been set up. Stand firm on the foundation of God. Let us run to achieve our goal. Will turn to you shortly for more info about that. Thanks you and God bless. Yours fellow disciple of the Christ, Ezekiel Ombaso Oanda.
Various ones have been spreading gossip, false accusations, and rumors about a couple of CCOG leaders in Africa. In addition to receiving Ezekiel Ombaso Oanda’s email, I also received another unsolicited email of support from one of our deacons in Kenya today.
The Bible teaches:
15 … In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people … (Leviticus 19:15-16)
20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.
21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body. (Proverbs 26:20-22)
With that in mind, notice something published in January 1982 edition of the old Good News magazine:
WHY God Hates Gossip!
by Dibar Apartian
Do you know what scourge victimizes more people every year than all the sicknesses and accidents in the world? It is the deadly poison of gossip.
The Bible reveals that Satan the devil is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10).
But how does he accuse us? By spreading rumors and causing gossip.
Satan introduced gossip into the world shortly after the creation of Adam and Eve, when he spread rumors about God. Satan told Adam and Eve that God lied to them. He made them suspect God’s loving concern and wonderful plan for all mankind to inherit eternal life.
God told the man, after putting him in the Garden of Eden: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
God’s command was clear. But Satan put doubts in the first couple’s minds. He made them question why God had forbidden them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He made them feel that God was keeping from them something that was good for them.
Notice how Eve answered Satan (who appeared to her in the form of a serpent), when she repeated God’s order.
Eve told the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Gen. 3:2-3).
Why did Eve add the last part of that sentence? Where did she hear it? God didn’t forbid her to touch the tree. He told the couple not to eat of it.
Yes, but in Eve’s mind, twisting God’s order was necessary to express her feelings toward what she believed to be unfair. Can you imagine? God wouldn’t even allow them to touch the fruit of the tree! Satan had already influenced her mind and she began to shade what God had said.
She obviously also thought the penalty God imposed was too severe. The clear statement, “Thou shalt surely die,” became, in her words, “lest ye die.”
Quite possibly, the more Eve reasoned in her own mind, the more she believed she was right. She became convinced that she was telling the truth. The woman now “knew” that God was really harsh and unjust.
Just think: If you repeat something enough times, you end up believing it.
And in this case, that’s just what Satan wanted Eve to do: believe God was unjust, so he could seduce her. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by taking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The carnal mind always seeks its own way, its own aggrandizement. It wants to be right. Self-justification is one way to achieve that goal. Accusation is another. Both help to shield our own mistakes. The carnal mind likes to be exalted. It will distort facts or twist statements to preserve its own presumed integrity.
Do you realize that often, during conversations, you only hear what you want to hear, and not necessarily what was said? Likewise, when you repeat what you want to hear, you present the information in such a way that you end up appearing innocent of any errors.
But God commands, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex. 20:16). Do you grasp the depth of this commandment? Bearing false witness against someone can not only involve lying, but also accusing, gossiping and spreading rumors.
If you are truly a Christian, you should never take part in any of these activities. You should not accuse others, whether it be to defend yourself, to cover your mistakes or merely to make yourself look good in the eyes of others. In other words, the Ninth Commandment forbids lies, accusation, gossip and spreading rumors. That’s what bearing false witness is!
As a true Christian, you are to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39). But how can you love your neighbor if you accuse him or gossip about him? How can you love him if you have a part in breaking up his family or his home or in making him lose his friends?
Satan wants you to bear false witness. He would like to cause division between you and your brethren. He would like to destroy your home, and he would do anything to divide or destroy the Church.
When you gossip, you bear false witness against your neighbor, but God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Rom. 13:9).
Stop and ask yourself: How much of what you hear is true? And how much of what you say — or repeat — is true? We all tend to repeat what we hear — or believe it — without ever checking the facts. We take for granted what we hear or read.
But gossip is never the entire truth. It might be part of the truth, or a shaded truth, or a truth out of context, but it is never the whole truth. There is no such thing as “half-truth.” A lie is a lie, whether white, black or shaded.
Here is a simple rule to remember: Before you say or repeat anything about your neighbor, be sure you have all the facts (and by definition the facts will be true). Then ask yourself, “Am I loving my neighbor as myself when I repeat this?” If not, you are breaking God’s commandment.
Sometimes you can be unintentionally guilty of gossip. You may not think you are doing any harm, but gossip always harms. Whether you justify yourself by distorting the facts or accuse someone because he is accusing you, gossip is always destructive. Ultimately, the penalty for gossip is death. …
Gossip about Jesus
Was Christ a drunkard? Of course not. But His persecutors claimed He was. They spread rumors about Him.
Actually, people saw wrong in whatever Christ did. When He drank wine, He became a drunkard in their eyes. When He ate with the publicans, He was classified as being one of them. Christ was accused no matter what He said or did. His enemies constantly spread rumors about Him.
As Christ said: “For John [the Baptist] came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matt. 11:18-19).
Strangely enough, many of the people who accused Christ or spread rumors about Him had never seen Him. They only believed what they had heard, and they had heard from His enemies that Christ was a drunkard and a glutton.
Even though Christ never broke God’s commandments, He was accused of breaking every last one of them. When He healed on the Sabbath, they said He broke the Sabbath.
When He stated that those who did His Father’s will were like members of His own family, people said Christ did not love His mother, brothers or sisters. People did not even believe Christ was born of the Holy Spirit; rather, they called Him a bastard — one born of fornication.
To His false accusers, Christ said: “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:42-44).
Indeed, Christ’s persecutors were unable to understand Christ. They had for their father the devil, who is a liar. They believed the lies and not the truth. As one old saying goes, if you do not want people to believe you, just tell them the truth!
But there is no excuse for us in God’s Church to behave like those who do not have God’s Spirit. We must always tell the truth. We must never say anything that could hurt or harm our neighbors, never gossip, never spread rumors.
It is hard to believe, but people even accused Christ of being possessed by a demon (verse 48)!
Today the world still hates Christ, because it does not understand His teachings. People still spread false rumors about Him, His teachings and the message He brought from His Father.
“If ye were of the world,” Christ told His disciples, “the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:19-20).
Today this prophecy is being fulfilled, much as it was in the days of the early Church. Not only unbelievers, but also those who once called themselves believers, are now persecuting the Church. …
Satan still wants to divide the Church and stop the proclamation of the Gospel. Those who persecute the Church are once again led and influenced by him.
Examine your heart
Remember, gossip’s root cause may be self-justification, jealousy, a spirit of vengeance or simply vanity. But whatever the cause, gossip is sin. It breaks the Ninth Commandment. God hates gossip.
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19).
Practically every one of the seven things mentioned in these verses has something to do with lying, gossiping, spreading rumors and sowing discord among the brethren.
God told His people: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:16-18).
As God’s people, His Church, it is high time we wake up and obey His commandments seriously and from the heart. It is high time brethren everywhere stop spreading rumors, seeking vengeance or bearing grudges against each other.
Three Simple rules
Here are three simple rules that will help you stop gossip.
First, before you repeat anything about anyone, ask yourself, “Do I have all the facts?” If not, what you say may not be true. You will be spreading rumors. God commands you to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:2).
Second, before you repeat anything you have heard about anyone, ask yourself, “Can I tell this thing in the presence of the person involved?” If you cannot, then you should not tell it in his absence. In other words, don’t say anything about anyone that you would not be willing to say to that person’s face.
Christ said that only the merciful shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7). But how can you be merciful if you spread rumors about your neighbor? Christ also said that the peacemakers shall be called the sons of God (verse 9). A gossiper is not a peacemaker.
The third rule is just as simple as the first two. After you have obtained all the facts and after you have ascertained, in all honesty, that you can repeat in the presence of the person involved what you have heard about him, ask yourself: “Will saying this do any good? Will it help? Is it really beneficial?”
If the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t repeat what you have heard!
Be a true witness, not a talebearer, nor one who clings to gossip. The root of bitterness often grows in those who get wrapped up in gossip.
That said, it is my plan to cover aspects of hierarchical governance and allegations of corruption in the sermon I expect to give this upcoming Sabbath.
Growth in Kenya
Ezekiel Ombaso Oanda, from Kenya, sent me the following via Facebook Messenger on Tuesday:
I’m also expecting to baptize some before the Passover feast. Thanks and God bless.
People are often baptized just prior to Passover (I was as well!). Passover this year will be after sunset April 4th.
Evans Ochieng has sent me reports this month about two Sabbatarian leaders in Kenya who have been looking to have their congregations become part of the Continuing Church of God. One, who has just made the move, is a now former Church of God General Conference (CG7) pastor named Arutur Topos–here is a link to the letter he sent his former church: Arthur Topos letter.
Evans Ochieng (left) & Arthur Topos (right)
There are about 250 people with him in Lodwar who are now with the Continuing Church of God. Lodwar is in northern Kenya. Evans Ochieng continues to demonstrate he is doing “the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).
Suggested Sabbath Day Service
Here 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: Could God be Creating Something Beautiful in You? 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 a recorded one. The suggested one is: King Charles III Coronation and Prophecy. 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 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.
World News Items
The USA had two of its largest bank failures in over a decade in the past week which are also causing concerns in Europe (see VOA: From Wine Country to London, Bank’s Failure Shakes Worldwide and Signature Bank closed and ‘Bundesbank convenes crisis team to assess SVB fallout’). In Europe, Credit Suisse seems to be facing issues as well (see also ZH: “The Market Is Being Brutal”: Futures Crash As Banks Crisis Slams Europe, Credit Suisse Craters)–and today it was reported to be receiving a $54 billion loan from the Swiss central bank.
The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, had a view about banking matters and European unity. Here is something he said in a sermon on July 7, 1984:
And I can see now, the event that is going to trigger the formation of the reunification in Europe; the resurrection of the medieval Holy Roman Empire that we’ve been looking forward to that is prophesied to come…
But I believe that some event is going to happen suddenly just like out a blue sky that is going to shock the whole world and is going to cause the nations in Europe to realize they must unite! … Well now I think I can see what may be the very event that is going to trigger…that is the economic situation in the world…
The whole banking structure in the United States is a network all jointed together. But not only that, one nation has to deal with other nations and imports and exports. And so they have to have a means of transforming money from one nation to another. And so the banking structure is international and interwoven…
Now when the financial structure breaks down, all civilization is going to break down…
So, an economic or banking crisis is what Herbert W. Armstrong concluded would drive Europe to unite. We may be seeing some of the beginning steps of that.
Over in the Vatican, Pope Francis is considering lifting the celibacy requirements for its clergy (see FN: Pope Francis says Catholic Church banning priests from engaging in sex is ‘temporary’). This is something I pointed out over a decade ago that may happen–ministerial celibacy was not an original Christian belief (1 Timothy 3:1-5; see also Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession?).
The Apostle Paul wrote the following:
11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech — 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 3:11-4:1)
Brethren, despite tests, trials, and difficulties we encounter, we are looking for something more glorious than people can even imagine!
Accept the mercy you have received, be merciful to others, and do not give up or lose heart.
Pastor and Overseer