Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from the Five Cities region of California.
As always, a lot is going on, including planning for an upcoming trip.

New Zealand Trip

My wife Joyce and I are barely back from our trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and now need to get ready to go to New Zealand.

We plan to be in New Zealand for Sabbath and Pentecost services on May 23rd and 24th.  We also plan to do baptismal counseling prior to that to a visitor from out of the area and maybe also some later for another.

We had hoped to go to New Zealand for the Feast of Tabernacles this year, but had to change that.  Basically, because of our location, airline schedules, and how the Holy Days are arranged this year, we were not able to properly set this up without traveling on one of the Sabbaths, so we proposed coming for Pentecost weekend instead.  As it turns out, we will have to leave here on a Tuesday to get there on a Thursday, so we will be there in time for the Sabbath the next evening and then leave on Monday.

If there are any who normally do not attend services in New Zealand, but would like to attend, please email John Hickey john.h@vodafone.net.nz.

Canada Matters

Herb Haddon signed the document that the lawyer and I put together to provide additional information to Canadian authorities regarding registering Continuing Church of God, Canada as a recognized charity for purposes of tax deductibility for donations, etc.  We began this process late last summer and hope that we have provided what the authorities there need to approve this.

We have a URL for Canada, which is CCOGCanada.ca.  We wanted CCOG.ca, but that was not available.  We hope to have more up at that website in the future.

Africa Matters

We were able to order a couple dozen copies of The Bible Hymnal in English to be sent to the group in Southern Ethiopia.  I wanted to start off with a smaller amount in order to learn if there will be delays, custom’s fees, address problems, etc.  This order is not scheduled to reach Ethiopia until late next month, even though I placed the order early on Monday and it has already been sent out for shipping there.

We also set up a YouTube channel for Africa that ultimately we hope to upload to.  It is called CCOGAfrica.  We hope to have videos up in various languages there.

I was also finally able to buy a URL for Africa, and hopefully this will work.  This was supposed to happen in 2013, then it was delayed, then in 2014, then it was delayed.  But we then supposedly reserved the URL we wanted, but that also did not work.  The international group that was handling this dot Africa project kept causing delays and then still did not handle it as they claimed they would.  But we hopefully have something that we can start to work with now.

If so, by late summer, I hope that we will have a properly functioning website for Africa.

Feast of Tabernacles Matters

We are looking at the possibility of having two different sermon speakers for the Feast of Tabernacles’ sites in North America this year.  These two (myself and Steve Dupuie) may try to alternate sites and hence spend time in both Denver and Niagara Falls.  If there are others who may wish to give sermons, please contact me.

We are also trying to figure out sermonette speakers. Some of which I encouraged to ‘volunteer’ :).  If you might wish to do this, and I have not already contacted you, please contact me.

World News Events

A CCOG member in Wisconsin sent me a link to a video that I was able to watch (normally, I cannot watch most of the videos people ask me to as my schedule is more full than I can explain here).  This video was an interview with the former German economics and defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg where he discussed international matters  (see Karl zu Guttenberg again gets my attention).  One of the items of interest, to me at least, was the fact that Barron Guttenberg had a beard and mustache in that interview.  There already were certain similarities that Herr Guttenberg had with a Greek Orthodox prophecy related to one who could be the final ‘king of the north’ of biblical prophecy (Daniel 11:22-44) that I was aware of, prior to this.  And as it turns out, that particular prophecy mentioned the man having a beard.  A few weeks ago, Herr Guttenberg did not have a beard according to a photograph that I saw of him related to that.  Now, this does NOT mean that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg must be the final King of the North, but he remains one to watch.  His interest in international matters and his disappointment with how the USA and EU are handling some of them make it sound like he is already campaigning to be one to lead a revived Europe.

Saudi Arabia was accused to using ‘cluster-bombs’ against Islamists in Yemen (see Saudi Arabia accused of using ‘cluster bombs’ in Yemen).  Cluster-bombs are banned by international agreement, as they often are considered in-discriminant, terroristic, land mines when some of the bombs to not explode on impact. Although the USA (which allegedly supplied them) and Saudi Arabia have not signed that agreement.  In my view, this makes it look like the USA look a bit hypocritical with its ‘war on terror” (which is what it used to call its actions).

In the USA, two supposedly with some ties to the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State, fired shots in a ‘free speech’ claimed rally that was somewhat anti-Islamic (see ‘Brothers’ of Islamic State claimed to be responsible for Texas terror shooting: more justification for Jade Helm?).  Despite it basically being a failed attempt, the Islamic State publicly took ‘credit’ for this terrorist incident (see ISIS claims responsibility for Texas attack and makes additional threats to the USA). More terroristic events will occur in the USA.

A member in Connecticut sent me a link to an item related to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (see Antichristian agenda in the US Supreme Court and from Hillary Clinton).  He thought it fit in with last week’s recommended sermonette Famine of the Word?

Notice some of what Mrs. Clinton publicly stated:

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.

Basically, Mrs. Clinton believes that biblical admonitions against abortion, homosexuality, and other causes she promotes need to be changed.  As one hoping to become the next President of the United States, one would think that perhaps she would not try to imply she is opposed to ‘freedom of religion,’ but I believe that she and others are opposed to those who wish to hold to original Christianity and/or certain biblical teachings.

Speaking of the USA presidency, a few others also announced this week that they were running, including the Seventh-day Adventist Ben Carson (see Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson enter the race and Mike Huckabee enters the race, but . . .).  While various people have ideas on how to improve the USA, it will not be fixed until after Jesus returns.

Speaking of elections, the United Kingdom has been holding elections today.  Some are concerned that the ultimate result of the election will be that the citizens of the UK may vote to leave the European Union (see UK’s Cameron makes a reelection pitch: his reelection may lead to a Brixet from the EU).  The European Union itself shares that concern (see EU concerned about UK election).  The time will come when the UK will be taken over by the European Union (cf. Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 11:39).  In the news this week it was reported that the UK is currently fairly weak as it has issues with most of its Trident nuclear submarines, thus has to rely even more on the USA for its defense (see UK not the ‘independent’ nuclear power some believe as problems with its Trident submarines help demonstrate).  That will work for now, but will not work in the future (cf. Daniel 11:39).

On other international matters, the USA is trying to make trade deals with Europe and parts of Asia (see Obama and Republicans pushing TTIP & TPA–Democrats not so sure).  Because of problems with USA espionage and genetically-modified organisms, I believe that the USA will decide it has to concede more to Europe than it otherwise would to get an agreement.  The Bible warns of a European dominated trading power (e.g. Revelation 18) and Europe keeps attempting to get trade agreements in various parts of the world that ultimately will allow it to dominate like the Bible says.

Locally, a science teacher at Arroyo Grande High School has been disciplined for teaching that evolution as a theory has scientific flaws (see New Times: ‘There is no other side to evolution’). Some ideas that do not conform to what certain government officials and atheists believe are being more and more restricted.  These type of restrictions are basically preludes to the coming ‘famine of the word’ (Amos 8:11-12).

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 recommended sermon for next Sabbath brought to mind the following:

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4)

One of the reasons that knowledge of church history is important is because many seem to wish to believe doctrines that the early Christians condemned–and we want to be committed to the  faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God