Letter to the Brethren: January 5, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.

Instead of making a sermon AND sermonette last Sabbath, we passed on making a sermonette as I decided to work on a new Passover Service, which we videoed. The recommended sermonette this week was given by Warren Savage in Canada.

On other matters, we have been somewhat backed in a corner regarding the Feast of Tabernacles in San Diego. The place we were leaning towards (one of two possibilities) has another who wants the conference room when we would want it. If we do not decide by Friday, January 6, 2017, they will give it to the other group. We had hoped to receive more quotes before we finalized this hotel–but others we have since received were all too expensive.  And while this one is not inexpensive, it is ‘reasonable’ for that geographic area. Please pray that God will grant us wisdom as we will need to give an answer by Friday.

Malawi and Mozambique

Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng has been in Malawi and tried to get to Mozambique as well. Here are excerpts from some of his emails to me:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Malawi,

I had a tough time since yesterday. When I was going to Mozambique. I return when we were approaching border of Malawi and Mozambique simply because of bad road and rain. It was too hard to pass. It forced the driver to go back on reverse almost 7 km away. Another worst thing is that in Mozambique, some parts are without network. Like the place where we have a church, there is no network at all. So I was disappointed and I had already put a enough gas to the  car that was taking me there. …

The trip to Blantyre (Malawi) was long because we were using public means. I arrived little bit late. …

It is not an easy job. We have to pray for it every time so that God can guide us and protect us and give us wisdom to serve the brethren.

Evans

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Malawi,

Thank you for your information.

You replied me when I was talking with Molozowa on phone because I wanted to get how I can reach pastor from Mozambique. This has been a problem for me since yesterday. I never sleeps well since I arrived in Malawi nor eat well. This is the toughest trip I ever met. Even funds I have used more funds in Malawi this time than other days. So I want to make sure that we have a good plan and vision in Malawi. I am praying that God open for me a good way how the church in Malawi can grow. I was almost falling down today because of hunger. Please do pray for me this night so that I can succeed in the activity which brought me here.
Molozowa has already accepted that he will help me tomorrow. He will go up to Mozambique and trace that pastor so that he can attend the conference in Kenya.

Evans

Greetings from Malawi

I was traveling on a bicycle when I was going to the bank in Malawi

Evans.

 evanbike
Pastor Evans Ochieng on the back of a bicycle in Malawi

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from Malawi,

I’m sending Molozowa to Mozambique this morning to go and meet the Mozambique pastor and he will return to Malawi tomorrow morning. So I will communicate with him through phone tomorrow after coming back from Mozambique. We can wait and get the program from him tomorrow. I will travel back Kenya today at 3.30 pm and arrive in Kenya at 1.20 am.

This January is a busy month with me because after reaching Kenya, I am going to Tanzania to Martin wanga and Andrew for their trip to Nairobi conference. After that I will come back to plan and check the hotels where Alexander will sleep when we are visiting congregations in Kenya. The congregations in Kenya are at a far distance that if we go in Rift Valley, we must visit all congregations in Rift Valley and spend in a hotel in Rift Valley , then we go to kisii, then to Nyakach, then all congregations in NDHIWA and Migori.

Evans

The last email above was sent yesterday. Radson Molozowa, from Malawi, wrote Pastor Evans Ochieng that he was able to visit Mozambique.  Here are some excerpts:

Pastor Evans,

I had a nice trip to Mozambique to see Mr Matiya …  After our meeting he requested me to visit some members which I did. The Balaka Church was started by Matiya’s brother … And there is a need to visit Balaka soon. There is
one Church {with CCOG} but other Churches are willing to join. Matiya is coming to Malawi on Sunday. Really he was happy to see me. Blessings

We are facing many issues in Mozambique and Malawi and again request your prayers for working in those nations.  It is my hope to meet at least two from Malawi and one from Mozambique at the conference in Nairobi, Kenya scheduled for next month.

Rift Valley, Kenya

Received the following report today:

I salute you all in the name of Jesus Christ peace be with  you. Here in rift valley(Kenya) we are fine and we thank the lord for sustaining our life.

We want to thank the lord for his blessing,the youth meeting we held last year was good because we register a large number ever since ,we want to thank you also for the support of that meeting.

Last sabbath we held a blessed meeting at Kabolecho many people turn up and we thanking the leaders for the successful of  the youth meeting, many soul were revised.

We were planing that meeting with Pastor Ochieng and we were expecting to be a me received to a special journey, we prayed for him to have safe journey.

Members of Kabolecho were happy although they don’t have a church ,they are worshiping under a tree,we are seeing that during raining season they have problem ,we pray that the lord we do good in the near future.

We were with these brethren at the feast of tabernacles.

Concerning children local church.we have proposal those center to be the head quarter of rift valley region.

We are asking for your prayers so that we have a large hall and others facilities which will accommodate a large number of people. Although we have minor problems such as drought and famine many windows and orphans are suffering but these will ceased when the rain comes.

Joseah Ngenitch

Thank you

I wrote back today that we will try to review his proposal, etc. at the Nairobi conference next month.

Bible News Prophecy Magazine in Dholuo and Kiswahili

We just got translations of the Bible News Prophecy magazine into two African languages formatted and ready to print.  They are Dholuo (Weche mokor mawuok e muma dwe mar abirio –ochiko, 2016) and Kiswahili (Unabii Wa Habari Za Biblia Oktoba-Desemba 2016):

luoforwebbnp2016  kiswahilioctdec16bnpfront

Although English is an official language in many African nations, not all read English. We hope to get the magazine translated into more African languages.

Story from Richard Close

Richard Close sent in the following story titled Little Things can Kill:

It was a bright sunny day,very light breeze. A young, healthy, well trained pilot had an aircraft that was well maintained. 

The pilot completed his pre-flight  check and taxied to the end of the runway-set the brakes and waited for the tower to clear him for takeoff. 

When the air traffic control gave him the OK , he increased the engine speed to full throttle, released the brakes and accelerated down the runway—with in 60 seconds the pilot’s lifeless, crumpled body was tangled in the wreckage at the end of the runway. His life was over.   

Let’s pretend that we are part of the National Safety board investigating this crash. Pre-flight calculations showed that he needed  7,600 feet of runway to get safely air-borne. The runway was 8,400 feet long. He had 800 feet to spare. Every thing was in order.

What happened?      

Several minor things added together got him killed. As he started his initial calculations, the morning air temperature was 69 degrees, but by the time of take off it had risen to 76 degrees. The additional warmth made the air thinner–reducing  the amount of lift provided by the wings–this added 350 feet to the needed runway length to lift off.  As he released the brake, the wind shifted and a slight breeze came from behind the plane,just enough to increase the runway needed another 700 feet.  

When taking off in this direction, the runway at this small airport rose 100 feet in elevation. Very minor but the pilot neglected to take it into account and it added 450 feet.  When the mechanic refueled the plane the night before he made a error in his math and miscalculated the weight of the fuel added. The pilot missed the math error.  It added 390 additional feet.  He now needed 9490 and he only had 8400.  This still should not have caused him to lose his life.  There are sign’s posted along the runway  called “point of no return”  Aircraft speed has to be correct @ that point –matching all calculations–for the takeoff to be safe. If not, there is time to apply the brakes, stop, and turn around and go back.   As he blasted past that sign at full throttle, every thing seemed to be fine—In seconds he crashed.

Do we sometimes blast by signs in our lives?  Do we disregard “little things”?  Things we might think of an insignificant  “missing of the mark”? That goal of perfection that God has set for us. Math. 5:48 “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”      

Repentance for us is like that point of no return sign—We put the brakes on, stop, change, go the other way.   But if we go blissfully on, ignoring those little things, they can add up, draw us away from God’s precious Truth, and could cause us to lose out on being an “overcomer” and the reward that is promised for them “that overcome”   See Rev  Chapters 2 & 3   

Passover is approaching  rapidly and as we prepare and examine ourselves we may see some of these little things that need to change–small corrections in our spiritual path.     Did we see things last year that we resolved to change?  Have those things,maybe, faded a little bit or drifted from our focus???

Some of mine have. 

Brethren, let us resolve today to pray more–to pray for each other for spiritual growth–for God to rekindle our zeal–to sharpen our focus.  Remember (or review) what the apostle Paul prayed for regarding the people he pastored===Spiritual growth and change.  Eph 6:18  “supplication” mentioned twice in this verse, can have the sense of “to beg”  God for help for our brethren-for change-for more of the Holy Spirit–for gifts, as Steve spoke about during the Feast.  

We have the basics down–Sabbath’s , Holy Days, food laws, etc. but are we in any way on  SPIRITUAL CRUISE CONTROL?  just going along overlooking some of the little things in our lives?? We need to identify them and strive to overcome them to obtain that  perfection.  We have been admonished for many years to “Watch you therefore” RE:  news events, changes in society, many things that point to the coming  Kingdom of God. 

I would like to shorten that instruction today to  “Watch  YOU”    look @ yourself for those little things   and going on– PRAY ALWAYS  especially for the saints.    Richard C

World News Items

2016 saw a rise in the cost of ‘natural’ disasters. The ten-year average cost, worldwide, has been about USD$45 billion per year, but rose to $175 billion in 2016 (see ‘German insurer says costs of natural disasters soared in 2016′). Jesus spoke of earthquakes and troubles as part of the beginning of sorrows (Mark 13:8).

Over in Germany, the sales of the re-release of Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf have done better than the publisher expected, so a French translation is also in progress (see BBC: Germany sees ‘overwhelming’ sales of Hitler’s Mein Kampf; EUObserver: Superpower). A survey of Germans found that the majority of them want a powerful European army (see Majority of Germans want a European army). The Bible tells that Europe will have a “great army” (Daniel 11:25) and we are seeing that more in Europe want a unified military.

Some are concerned that the Euro may collapse in 2017 (see Euro gone in 2017? ‘What 12 ‘Financial Experts’ Predict For The Economy in 2017 (Spoiler Alert: It’s Ugly)’).  We will see. The Bible does not speak of the “Euro” but tells of a European power rising up, despite having problems of unity (Daniel 2:41-43).

Over in California, prostitutes under age 18 are no longer considered to be criminals under a new law that went into effect this week (see California ‘decriminalizes’ child prostitutes). This is NOT the solution to the sexual exploitation of children. We need the Kingdom of God.

Over in Chicago, four people essentially kidnapped, tortured, and videoed a mentally disabled man (see Racist thugs attack mentally disabled man and broadcast it over Facebook Live). This incident brought to mind the following:

10 “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)

In other news, entertainer Nick Cannon expressed his views that the abortionist organization Planned Parenthood was founded to exterminate black people (see Nick Cannon: Planned Parenthood Founded To ‘Exterminate’ Black People). Historical evidence backs up his claim. Much of what Planned Parenthood does is horrible.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for 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 some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is by Warren Savage: Destined to be Kings and Priests. 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 most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons. 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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

The prophet Zechariah was inspired to write:

6 … “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘”

8 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

9 “The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:6-10)

Brethren, do not despite the day of small things. While we are small, the work we must do is large. And, with God’s help, and only with God’s help, can it be accomplished.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

Posted in Letters to the Brethren