Letter to the Brethren: April 10, 2014

Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:

It took close to 50 hours to get home from the conference in Nairobi, Kenya due to airline issues and problems.  But after all of that, at least I made it back safely.

I have received reports that some in other COG groups are concerned about our growth in Kenya and that certain leaders have arrived in Kenya after I did in an attempt to discourage others from supporting us.  My hope and prayer is that all who consider themselves part of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God will support the Continuing Church of God in Africa and elsewhere.  Please pray that our people will be protected from those with less love of the truth.

Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng reported that he was able to visit with some in Tanzania, which is something we have wanted him to do for some time.  We have one congregation there and hopefully will end up with several later this year or next.


March 2014 was a very successful month for us to reach people on the internet.  We reached over 140,000 different computers and had close of 500,000 articles viewed.  We are getting the gospel out over the internet, in person, over the radio, and through our literature.  YouTube channel views (our form of ‘television’) also were positive.

Other Media: Radio and Newspaper

Ended up with a last minute radio interview today.  I discussed the decline in morality in the USA and also tied it in with a new study showing that the amount of North Americans who do not trust the Bible has doubled in the past three years.  We also discussed ‘blood moons,’ Russia, and other prophetic matters.

On Sunday, I was able to submit an article to The Journal: News of the Churches of God which should come out soon.  The article was related to the trip to London and Nairobi and I expect to provide more information on this in the next Letter to the Brethren.


Lazum Brang wrote me again from Kachiland, an area in the northern part of the land known as Burma.  He has had health problems, and is still weak.  But he wrote that he still intends to translate the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God into the language of Jingpho. Jingpho is spoken in Kachinland as well as  in the Yunnan Province in China.  I plan to send him some of our new church history booklets.


Passover is almost here.  It will be Sunday evening after sunset.

We have an article titled Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.  A related video sermon is titled: Preparing for Passover.

Most of you not part of a congregation will probably keep Passover alone or with very few others.

For Passover itself, we have an online service with step-by-step instructions: CCOG Passover Service.

In the USA, there are some options for attendance with others.  Those in Central California can email me, cogwriter@aol.com.

If you are in the Connecticut area, you can send an email to jcosenza@kw.com.  In the Walla Walla, Washington area, you can send an email to togoma@juno.com.  I have not personally met either man, but have spoken to both of them over the telephone.  Both offered to host others for Passover and possibly the Spring Holy Days.

Those in New Zealand can contact John Hickey, email john.h@vodafone.net.nz

Those near Silay City in the Philippines can contact Oscar Mediavilla, email hansmeidavilla@rocketmail.com.

Those in Africa will meet in their respective areas.  You  can also email Pastor Evans Ochieng at evochieng74@gmail.com.

The Days of Unleavened Bread

The Days of Unleavened Bread will begin after sunset on April 14th this year, with the Night to be Observed on that first night.  The last day of unleavened bread will be until sunset the 21st of April this year.

To help you remember the dates of the Holy Days, here is a link to our English language Holy Day Calendar.

Unleavened Bread Recipes

There are many types of unleavened bread.

My wife Joyce seemingly likes to bake more during the Days of Unleavened Bread than she normally does the rest of the year.

Here is one recipe that she thought she would share:

Lemon Ricotta Bars

For the Crust:

2 cups organic flour
3/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks (or 12 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter

For the Filling:

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup organic sugar
5 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup organic flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
powdered sugar for dusting the finished bars

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Make the crust:  Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  (You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.)  Bake for 15 minutes until golden, then set aside to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

3.  Make the filling:  In a blender, combine the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, flour, lemon zest, and salt.  Blend until smooth, then taste to make sure it is sweet enough for you.  If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more sugar.

4.  Pour the filling over the baked crust and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the filling is just set.  Allow the bars to cool, then cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Store leftovers in a sealed contained in the refrigerator.  Yields 20-40 bars depending on size.

Here is another:

Sesame Crackers

2 cups unbleached organic flour
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Mix together flours, cut in butter.  Add milk, honey and sesame seeds to make stiff dough.  Roll thin and cut with knife into squares.  Placed on greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with milk and prick with fork.  Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes or until desired brownness.

There are other recipes, but we thought we would share a couple with you all this year.

World News Events

In France, a political leader has been accused of trying to force Muslim and Jewish students to eat pork (see France trying to force students to eat pork!).  And while they can chose to go without, it did remind me of other attempts to try to force those who try to live by biblical dietary guidelines to violate them in the past (see also The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats).

It should be noted that it is not just one in France that wants people to violate their religious conscience.  In the USA, its Supreme Court let stand a judgment against a female photographer who declined an assignment to photograph a lesbian marriage (see US Supreme Court rules against photographer with a religious conscience).  What makes this even more bizarre is that such ‘marriages’ were not even ‘legal’ at the time.  The USA and many other lands are ruling that biblical principles and beliefs are less important than government interests.  This is a disturbing trend, especially in the USA, and one that is worsening.  The time will likely come when religious speech opposed to homosexuality will become more restricted as this is becoming more of an evil time (cf. Amos 5:13).

Less and less Americans claim to believe what the Bible says.  A new study reveals that the amount of biblical skeptics has nearly doubled in the past three years (Americans increasingly do not trust the Bible–to the peril of the USA!).  Without national repentance, the USA is doomed (cf. Romans 1:18-32; Habakkuk 2:6-8; Daniel 11:39).

In the UK, there were some positive economic reports this week.  Also in the UK, Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Pary (Ukip), made more statements about the UK leaving the European Union (see IMF: UK to lead G-7 in economic growth; N. Farage: Best way to reform EU is for UK to leave it).  Ultimately, the UK will be taken over by the power in Europe and while Nigel Farage wishes to prevent this, he will not be able to (even though the UK will leave the European beast power as a member in the future).

On improper prophetic matters, some Protestants believe that the ‘blood moon’ that is expected next week may have significant prophetic importance (see Wrong Protestant view about the coming ‘blood moons’).  Yet those that try to tie this next ‘blood moon’ in with scriptures such as Matthew 24:29-30 and Revelation 6:12 are in error.  Jesus is not returning on April 15, 2014 or on a blood moon in 2015 either.  Because of false predictions and false interpretations of biblical prophecies, more will scoff when true ones are explained (cf. 2 Peter 3:1-13).

Over in Ukraine, more are making overtures towards Russia (see Donetsk claims sovereignty and asks for Russia to send troops) and the Europeans, USA, and the interim government in Kiev do not like that.  Russia’s moves related to the Ukraine, Moldova, etc. are factors that are helping convince the Europeans that they need to increase their military capabilities.  This will not end well for the USA (Daniel 11:39), its Anglo-Saxon allies, nor ultimately, the Europeans (Jeremiah 51:11-31).  Europe has been taking steps, before (see also Europe takes another technological step in space), but now will tend to be more determined in developing a more ‘independent’ military capability.

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 also is some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette which for most will be a recorded one.  Two are listed here because of events going on in the secular world.  Since income tax returns are due from many in April, here is one is titled: Should Christians Pay Taxes?;  a related written article is titled: Taxes.  Since there is to be a ‘blood moon’ on April 15th that some wonder about, here is one titled: Blood Moons, Prophecy, 2014, and 2015; a related written article is titled Blood Moons and Prophecy. Other sermonettes are also 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 will be a recorded one titled: The Passover Plots, Including Easter. There is also a related written article titled: The Passover Plot. 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. So, 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.

Spring Holy Day Suggestions

For Passover (April 13th after sunset), we recommend the online service  titled CCOG Passover Service,which has step-by-step instructions. There is also a related written article available titled Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

For the Night to be Much Observed (April 14th after sunset), no service is required, yet some may wish to watch the video The Night to Be Observed and/or read the article of the same title The Night to Be Observed.

Here is our suggested format for the First Day of Unleavened Bread (April 15, 2014):

Concluding Comments

Notice the following from the Apostle Paul:

7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

Brethren, examine yourselves, deleaven your lives spiritually as well as physically, as we enter this season of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.  May we all “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) because of it.


Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.