Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings on the date of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving.  Whether you observe this or not, it is always good to be thankful.

If you want to see more about being thankful, you can check out the article Giving Thanks and/or watch the sermon video Ingratitude and Giving Thanks.

I have had more internet problems than usual the past several days, so my apologies to those I have not been able to respond back to in a more timely manner.  We hope this will be resolved before next week’s letter.

Booklet Updated

Finally, the second edition of our booklet, Continuing History of the Church of God, was finished and uploaded.

CHOG Book Cover 2015

We also ordered copies to be printed, and our magazine subscribers in English-speaking parts of the world (other than Africa, as items are printed there) should expect to receive a copy in the mail by or near the first of January 2016.

Many of you will recall that the original version was ‘rushed’ to be ready to go with me to Africa, when I was there for a CCOG leadership conference in Nairobi, Kenya last year.  While the number of pages has not changed, there are more scriptures, more references, and a little more concise information than was in the rushed/draft edition that many of you already have.

Member Protected

Speaking of giving thanks, a member in the USA sent me the following:

Hello Dr. Thiel:

Greetings from the SE corner of Wash. It has been a very long time since we last spoke. I have been hoping all is well with you and the rest of the staff and ministers. I have been listening regularly with another friend of mine via phone. He is the only one I have the privilege to share the Sabbath with. He is also a member and we have been friends for 28 years. There has been no one in this area to fellowship with. The last church function I have been able to go to was the Feast in Bend OR in 2013. That was a United Site.

My parents are getting worst and now my dad cannot operate a computer anymore due to dementia and the drain to take care of my mom. I was able to sneak into that area and visit for two days. God certainly protect us and especially me because of issues of that area. I may have share that with you.

Speaking about protection. I would like to share an incident that happen to my on the 11th. I had just been coming back to the house from a Veterans dinner (I was in the U.S. Army in 1979) and was walking across a marked crosswalk (No Traffic Light) and a car had no intentions to slow down nor stop as law requires. I happen to see his hood out of the corner of my eye and began to run. Now I lost my leg back in 2013 and have to use a fake leg. I was able to run for the first time in a very long time and he miss me by one inch. That is no joke one inch. God certainly protected me that night and I had to work most of the night at project and this was the first real job my GF son would have. That would have been disastrous if I had gotten hit and he would not have learned to do a cleaning job right. My dad taught me how to clean since I was 10 and had to go with them doing janitorial work in LA. I helped him to learn to do a job right like my dad taught me. His dad has not been in his life much if at all. So I guess I was like a dad to him. At least an older brother. So God was merciful to me that night.

We should all be thankful for God’s protection.

Statement of Beliefs

From time to time, minor adjustments have been made to the Statement of Beliefs of theContinuing Church of God.  Normally, they are restricted to a couple of words and/or adding additional scriptures.

While we in the Continuing Church of God have always taught that a biblical marriage is one between a man and a women as Jesus taught in Mark 10:6-9, because of many changes in this current age, additional information was added to insure it is clearer on certain areas as some people and governments did not hold the same view.

Consistent with our public teachings and practices, here is what the Statement of Beliefs of theContinuing Church of God now states related to marriage:

BIBLICAL MARRIAGE

The Bible only condones sexual relations in marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-7:5).  Furthermore, Jesus taught that marriage is one between one natural man and one natural woman (Mark 10:6-9) and is intended to be for life (Matthew 19:3-9; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:39).

In the Bible, other sexual relations are condemned (e.g. Exodus 20:14; Romans 1:24-32; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17-18; 27:21), as is transvestism (Deuteronomy 22:5), and improper attraction (e.g. Exodus 20:17; Leviticus 18:6-23; 20:15-16; Matthew 5:27-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  People practicing, or desiring to practice, homosexuality, bisexuality, adultery, fornication, transvestism, bestiality, or other forms of sexual immorality are not welcome to attend church services or otherwise be considered as members of the Continuing Church of God without true repentance consistent with biblical teachings (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

The New Testament shows that marriage helps picture the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and in the New Testament, divorce is only allowed in very limited circumstances (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 7).

The Bible also teaches,“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; cf. 7:39), thus the Church opposes marriage between true Christians and unbelievers (with the biblical exception of Exodus 22:16).

If you have translated the Statement of Beliefs into another language that we have used, please translate the marriage section in it and send it to me.

Internet Campaign

Got an email from Google about our advertising campaign with them to reach people around the world to learn more about the CCOG.

Google reported that our advertising campaign over the internet reached 3,065,981 computers last month.

Even though we are reaching millions, it is my hope and prayer to be able to increase our reach this way next year.  We will see how our finances look, because likely trips in Africa and support there, we may not be able to increase the funding for the campaign next year as I would prefer.

Through our websites, even apart from Google, we have reached people in pretty much all nations and territories in the world.  We want to provide as thorough of a witness of the gospel of the kingdom as we can (Matthew 24:14).

Death of George Lemi

I am saddened to announce that I was just informed of the death of George Lemi of Tanzania (the communication received did not have his date of death). He once was part of the Living Church of God, but he told me he left because LCG was not interested in reaching people in languages like Kiswahili. He always referred to himself, in person and in emails, as ‘Lemi,’ and not George nor George Lemi.

Starting in early 2013, Lemi became part of the Continuing Church of God. While he was with CCOG, he was a volunteer translator and translated our Bible News Prophecy magazine, as well as Statement of Beliefs, into Kiswahili. He was pleased that CCOG was so willing to go through whatever doors God would open for us in places like Africa.

He was an educated man and a very good translator. He attempted to come to the first CCOGFeast of Tabernacles in 2013 and spoke at an alternative location in Kenya, on our behalf, in Ndhiwa, during that Feast.

Lemi and I met in 2014 at a CCOG leadership conference in Nairobi, Kenya. There, privately, we discussed reaching people in Africa with the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) and teaching whatsoever Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).

For a doctrinal position he decided on later in 2014, he left CCOG, though on mutually good terms. He left because he wanted me to insist that everyone had to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in palm-branch booths per his understanding of Leviticus 23:40. But I would not do so.

I informed him he was welcome to do that, but CCOG would not teach that this needed to be done.

Why are tents and motel rooms acceptable ‘tabernacles’ as opposed to only dwelling in palm-branch huts? Here are some items to consider:

  • The New Testament shows that Christians have a different tabernacle (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11-15; 13:10).
  • It was not possible historically to use palm-branch booths for many regions throughout the Christian church era.
  • I have been unable to find that early Christians in Asia Minor/Europe lived in such booths, hence it is not clear that the booth practice was part of the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
  • Since Jesus changed symbols and practices associated with Passover (Matthew 26:26-30), and that is why we do not follow the instruction to put blood on our doorposts per Exodus 12:7, that as Christians there were allowable changes to aspects of keeping the Holy Days.
  • The children of Israel dwelt mainly in tents per Exodus 33:8 (and sometimes apparently temporary houses per Deuteronomy 4:46) while they were in the wilderness for forty years and God considered those as tabernacles per Leviticus 23:43.
  • Living in tents or motel rooms was a similar type of temporary dwelling/tabernacle today.
  • We do not do the type of animal sacrifices and offerings (Hebrews 9:9) like the burnt offerings which they used to have to provide during the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36-37), as instead we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
  • The New Testament gives the church authority to clarify how to keep the Holy Days (Colossians 2:16-17, when properly translated).

Since CCOG was doing the type of proclamation work Lemi felt that God’s church should do, in addition to giving him reasons to consider about tabernacles, I said that perhaps he consider at least being involved in that as it was not likely to happen if he was on his own.

Yet, Lemi was unwilling to change his position, nor was he able to reach people like his work did while he was part of CCOG. Despite this, we kept in contact (my last emails to and from him were last month).

I had hoped and prayed that he might come back to us. But, he died.

I am saddened by the loss.

Nigerian Update

James Dzermine emailed me and said that he and the others WOULD be able to keep their government jobs while serving as officers for the Continuing Church of God in Nigeria.  Our prayers for this were answered.  My thanks to all of you who prayed about this.

Malawi and Mozambique

Sosten Libungwa sent the following from Malawi:

Greetings from CCOG Malawi,a week of too busy,we have finished
for hymnal bible book translation yesterday, We are just waiting for
Chichewa lanquage checkers to come on Friday this week and  check if
there is no problem before we send to you for publication.On the
Registration, the Lawyer will collecting the three receipts this week, He
will start from his,the Government and to the Registrar general, I hope I
will send together with hymnal book by next week while our Certificate
are on process. Pray for it and us here as am going with my wife to
Mozambique to clear them on clean and unclean meats as they requested
for us, when Evans comes {we} will go with me to this place, Brethren there
are much humble,it is my prayer Evans to come after from Nigeria,

Best regards

Sosten,

We currently do not have the funds for Pastor Evans Ochieng to visit Nigeria.  After he is able to do that, then hopefully eventually, he will again be able to visit those in Malawi.

In time we expect to have our songbook in Chichewa and send copies to Africa for those in Malawi and Mozambique.

World News Items

Our computer connection problems deleted all of the rest of this update, so while I tried to recreate it, I ended up not rewriting this section.

But what I will state related to world events is that certain events this week are leading to the ultimate formation of the King of the South of biblical prophecy (Daniel 11:40-43).

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 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also someChoral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one titled:2017 Year of Jubilee and the Messianic Age? 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 Old Testament Canon: Who Knew? 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 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 ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

Solomon was inspired to write:

8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say,
“Why were the former days better than these?”
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.

11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
And profitable to those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. (Ecclesiastes 7:8-12)

Brethren, develop character and have God’s priorities in your life.  Endure to the end!

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer