Letter to the Brethren: March 3, 2016

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

We hope and pray that you are doing well. Another full, but productive week here in Grover Beach.

We have been working on many matters, including some new booklets. Plus we have been making preparations related to the Feast of Tabernacles.

Feast of Tabernacles 2016

A coworker in Illinois had to delay his visit to a couple of hotels in the Aurora/Naperville region of Illinois that I asked him to see. Anyway, he was able to go this week and sent in a report about the locations. His report was favorable for the places he visited.

I have tried to finalize arrangements in writing with one hotel,  but that has not happened yet due to some personnel issues at the hotel. Once we have a signed arrangement, those who wish to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us in the USA this year should be able to make more definite plans.

At this moment we are fairly confident that we will be meeting at one of the hotels in the Aurora/Naperville region of Illinois. This region is about a half-hour south of Chicago.

We have also been working on speaker related issues for the North American sites.  We are now fairly set for Canada, and reasonably set for the USA. For the USA, the sermons speakers are set, but we still need to handle the sermonettes.

While we are not certain about all the sites around the world for 2016, the following is what I currently understand, with the knowledge that the African sites (and possibly others) may change:

Africa

Ethiopia. Contact Koang Deng, email koangdeng5@gmail.com
Ghana. Contact Samuel Ofosu Gyeabour, email fosusamuel81@gmail.com
Bomet, Kenya. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com
Kitui, Kenya. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com
Nairobi, Kenya. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com
Ndhiwa, Kenya. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com
Transmara, Kenya. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com
Migawi, Malawi. Contact Sosten Libungwa email s.libungwa@gmail.com
Abuja, Nigeria. Contact James Dzermine, email jamesdzerm@gmail.com
Utegi, Tanzania. Contact Evans Ochieng, email evochieng74@gmail.com

Europe

Gouda, Netherlands. Contact J. Kersten, email joeygirl82@hotmail.com

New Zealand

North Island, New Zealand. Contact John Hickey, email john.h@vodafone.net.nz;

North America

St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Contact Herb Haddon, emailhwhaddon@gmail.com
Aurora, Illinois, USA. Contact Dr. Bob Thiel, email cogwriter@aol.com

Philippines

Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, Philippines. Contact Anthony Flavell, via emailanthonyflavell@yahoo.com.ph
Silay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. Contact Oscar Mediavilla, emailhansmeidavilla@rocketmail.com.

It might be that there will be just one site in the Philippines. And there could be other additions or consolidations in Africa.

As far as dates go, in 2016 the Feast will begin after sunset October 16th and run through sunset October 24th.

We are not yet asking people to tell us where they wish to attend. We simply thought this would be a good time to show the places we expect to have.

Information on the sites gets updated in the article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2016.

Kachinland

Heard from Lazum Brang from Kachinland. He does not have internet access, so he sends me letters via the regular mail.  We specially made some DVDs for him that he received since his last letter. The DVD messages were on the millennium, the kingdom of God, behind the work, and the CCOG Feast 2015 slide show.

He appreciates getting our materials and shares what he learns with those in Kachinland. Kachinland considers itself independent of Burma, but the Burmese government has a different view.

Anyway, he mentioned this time that also likes to get the Letter to the Brethren, but as I only write him about 4 times per year, he gets that infrequently. Lazum Brang is basically an ‘independent’ COG pastor who has been around a while, but he likes getting our materials.

YouTube Relented

As mentioned in January, I received the following in a ‘do not respond’ email from YouTube:

Hi ContinuingCoG,

The YouTube community flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. After reviewing the content, we’ve determined that the videos violate our Community Guidelines. As a result, we removed the following videos from YouTube:

Are we saved by faith? Or are we saved by works?

Please note that this removal has not resulted in a strike.

– The YouTube Team

This email and the related removal were outrageous. They did not tell us what they considered wrong–all we got was the above. And they removed that sermon.

The sermon that YouTube censored was by Steve Dupuie. It was given at the Feast of Tabernacles in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in in 2015. Steve Dupuie sent me his notes before and after the sermon, and I saw nothing in it that warranted it being pulled by YouTube.

It appears to have been pulled because someone (likely from a Protestant faith) claimed that doctrinal differences were offensive.

Anyway, finally I figured out how to file an appeal with YouTube.

YouTube never responded to me regarding the appeal, but I noticed that the sermon is live again.

We have been warning for some time that since the Bible tells of a coming ‘famine of the word’ (Amos 8:11-12), that we should expect YouTube censorship to be part of this. And while it happened once, and likely will happen again, it is nice that they reversed themselves on this.  Though it would have been nice if they would have notified me.  I only figured this out because I was looking over older sermons on YouTube and noticed it was back up.

Radio

I ended up being a guest on secular radio right after sending out last week’s Letter to the Brethren.  Topics covered included the King of the South, the peace deal of Daniel 9:27, and the applicability of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Being a radio guest is basically a no-cost way to get parts of the biblical message across.

Speaking of radio, Bible News Prophecy online radio is also something we have. We had some technical problems caused by ‘security’ updates, but we have been working on resolving them. The Bible News Prophecy online radio mainly streams our BibleNewsProphecy videos and also sometimes features John Hickey, from New Zealand, providing prophetic news of interest. CCOG in New Zealand runs this for us.

Internet

Google informed me that our campaign reached 3,581,916 computers during January 2016.  We hope to be able to expand the program with Google once we get less emergency requests for funds from Africa. I also experimented with a campaign on World News Daily which reached around 770,000 computers in the past two weeks.

Speaking of the internet, we have had problems with AW Stats for some time, so I have not reported about individual web sites that way.  Basically, we average over 6,000 visits to www.cogwriter.com per day, viewing 11,000 articles.  Each month, over 100,000 ‘unique visitors’ come.

In addition to that, we have the official CCOG sites which get thousands of visitors.  We are currently working on something that we hope will increase international interest as we hope to have materials in several times more languages than ever before.

We are reaching people all around the world.

COG News

Leaders of my former COG group have been sued for slander and basically making false statements about a family who is not in nor part of the Continuing Church of God (see LCG leadership being sued for slander).

While I do NOT support the means of a lawsuit for what the family seems to want to accomplish, the reality, as most all of you reading this letter realize, is that I found it necessary to leave my former COG group precisely because they did not have the type of integrity needed to be used of God to lead the final phase of the work (cf. Jeremiah 48:10; Psalm 33:4).

Moses once warned some of the tribes of Israel, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The Apostle Paul wrote “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Again, while I did not support this lawsuit, it may well be that God will use it to get some messages out.

Presuming this lawsuit does not get settled out of court and information sealed, more people who are willing to look will see the lack of integrity on various issues has remained in that church since my departure.

In time, those scattered Philadelphians who are not part of us, will realize that they should be supporting the Continuing Church of God. While that does not need to have any lawsuit to happen, one might be a factor for some.

World News Items

USA politics have been in the news. Because of that, we did a BNP video titled Could Donald Trump be Apocalyptic? Those with no interest on that topic should feel free to watch a different sermonette video. We made this particular one as we feel we may be able to reach people who otherwise might not watch our videos. And since we are NOT partisan, let me mention that we made one related to the one currently leading in the opposing political party last year (seeHillary Clinton and Bible Prophecy).

More in the secular media are noticing that USA debt is an issue (see M&M: Death by Debt). We have been warning about this for years as the Bible has end time warnings related to debt in Habakkuk 2:2-8.

USA debt is affecting its military as well. USA defense officials have expressed concerns that its nuclear deterrent needs serious upgrades which cannot be put off too much longer (see US Defense officials plead for modernization for aging nuclear deterrents). Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work pointed to years of 2021 through 2035 as a vulnerable time. Enemies tend to strike when they perceive a power is most vulnerable and it may well be that the Great Tribulation will begin during those years.

Speaking of USA defense officials, US General Philip Breedlove told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia and Syria are weaponizing migrants to destabilize Europe (seeRussia and Syria accused of arming migrants to destabilize Europe). General Breedlove is the head of the US European Command as well as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. The USA has brought in a lot of Islamic migrants and is planning on bringing in more from Syria. The leaders in Europe and the USA apparently do not pay attention to biblical prophecy as there is one in Isaiah 9:11-12 which tells of problems from Syrians. And that prophecy, as well as others, will be fulfilled (cf. 2 Peter 1:19, KJV; John 10:35).

In international economic news, the G-20 group of nations have expressed concerned that the UK departure from the European Union would be a shock to the global economy (see BBC: UK EU exit would be global economy ‘shock’ – G20 leaders). While that would somewhat happen if the UK pulls out, expect more economic shocks to the global economy before Jesus returns.

 Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974Bible 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 titled: Could Donald Trump be Apocalyptic? 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 many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: The Mystery of Iniquity. 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 ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

Notice the following:

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:18-24)

Brethren, we need to believe God and live in accordance with His commandment. Not just in word, but to obey and love in deed.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer