Letter to the Brethren: December 29, 2022

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

The Bible teaches:

10 … Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)

People who discount prophecy are not understanding the Bible. Prophecy is also a key in understanding why Jesus is the Messiah (see also the free online book: Proof Jesus is the Messiah).

In Ghana, the police have been trying to ban ministers from discussing prophecies and predictions:

Police in Ghana have warned faith leaders against making traditional New Year prophecies which can cause fear, anxiety or death.

The right of freedom of worship must not violate the rights of others, the police said in a statement.

Millions of Christians often gather in churches to hear their pastors make proclamations about the new year. …

Ghanaian lawyer Sammy Darko said the police order was “illegal.”

“It is not even up for debate or interpretation by the highest court of Ghana. No law in Ghana grants the police administration any powers to regulate prophecies in the country,” he wrote.

“Religious freedom is more than the ‘freedom to worship’ at a synagogue, church, or mosque. It means people shouldn’t have to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government unless it violates a specific law,” he added.

Mr Darko told the BBC that the police lost a case earlier this year against a pastor who had been charged for allegedly making an alarmist prophesy about a celebrity musician being shot.

“This was significant,” he said. 12/27/22 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-64102094

In Ghana, the police said they had adopted 27 December as Prophecy Communication Compliance Day. They only want “smooth things” preached.

Sadly, many do not want to hear the prophetic messages of scripture, but that was expected:

8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever:

9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”

And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path,Cause the Holy One of IsraelTo cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:8-11)

6 “Don’t say such things,” the people respond. “Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way!” (Micah 2:6, New Living Translation)

Notice that these are end time prophecies.

We in the CCOG, despite having a significance presence in Ghana, believe that we are still to teach about prophecies and predictions.

Here is a link to this week’s recommended sermon video: 23 things to prophetically watch in 2023.

Youth Camps in Kenya

We held youth camps in Kenya. Pastor Sawek sent the following:

Receive greetings in Jesus name. The youth’s meeting ended well. The youths  were taught the ways to follow so as to maintain their good morals. The Women youths were also taught good morals to follow. The youths should be married outside the church. Instead they should wait until the right time when their parents and church arrange for their official wedding. They should abstain from their cultures that are required in the church teachings. The male youths were also taught well on how they should behave.

We really thank the planners of the youth meeting because it has shaped the future of the youths at large. The youths have shown their obedience while at home and also in the church. The meeting more so in Riftvalley, both Maasai and Kalenjin had in the past cultures that were not easy to change. We are happy to say that the church teachings have changed their past beliefs and bad morals into better people of today. Titus 3:2-4.
In Chilani local church for example, the young childrens were included in the youth meeting and they were ready to be taught. This shows that the children of today are ready to learn something that will assist them in future. We have seen in other churches that the children are not allowed to attend the youth meeting. We are against them because God did allow the childrens in his presence. Proverbs 22:6, Mathew 19:13,14. We really pray so that God may strengthen this meeting next time. God bless you. I will attach the photos for the youths meeting.
Pastor Sawek

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following photo and report:

Pastor Dr Bob

Greetings from Kenya.
Full Joy from the youth camp at Got kachola. Got kachola is  situated  a Long lake Victoria. The youth camp was very very good that the youths forced themselves to extend with one day. This time the camp was different. We divided the youths into three categories.senior youths, the medium and the Young. This style made all youths to enjoy the teachings and understood deeply. As I told you last year. Youth camp is very important for the young generation because it makes them to learn and go deep into truth. Not only that but also help them in socializing themselves. The senior youth also Saw the sense of not marrying outside the church or being married out of the church. They also learned more about the different between fear, respect and fright. Most of youths nowadays are involved in suicide because of fear. This subject was thoroughly explained that every youth understood it properly. They also saw the importance of being Christian and mostly being a member of church of God. The subject about the differences between Catholic, Protestants and the church of God was fully explained. One of the youths also taught more about SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD. …
In today’s generation, most parents pamper their kids to an extent of failing to do their parental duties of telling them what’s wrong and what’s right. In addition, the education system (in Kenya) has abolished punishment of students especially physically. This has led to great rise in youth misconduct. As Christians parents, we should always use the phrase, “spare the rod and spoil the child”. However it doesn’t mean that we should always give corporal punishment to our children. We can as well advice them appropriately, be free with them, show them love and to some extent care them but not beating them.
That’s was a lecture from one of the youths.
They sat together both ladies and gentlemen to share talks. The also talked much about the badness of early married.
We had 210 youths at Got kachola. I have received the massages from kisii where the youths were 160, chilani where the 170 and Njoro where youths were 180. I’ve not receive the massages from Bomet and mau.
Pastor I want advice on that the youth camp should be done worldwide so that we can prepare the young for a better work a head.

So, it looks like we had 800 or so youth that attended. Evangelist Ochieng and I are looking to see if we can add other locations/countries for the future.

New Year’s Issues and Practices

The Bible begins the year in the Spring (Exodus 12:2), but what is commonly called New Year’s Day is observed on January 1st on modern calendars. In the late 2nd century A.D., Greco-Roman theologian Tertullian condemned those who professed Christ who were celebrating a version of it. But, that did not stop many who wanted to celebrate.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Christian writers and councils condemned the heathen orgies and excesses connected with the festival … celebrated at the beginning of the year: Tertullian blames Christians who regarded the customary presents — called strenae (Fr. étrennes) from the goddess Strenia, who presided over New Year’s Day (cf. Ovid, Fasti, 185-90) — as mere tokens of friendly intercourse (De Idol. xiv). (Tierney J. New Year’s Day. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11, 1911)

Around 487 A.D., the Greco-Romans seemed to adopt the “Feast of the Circumcision” on January 1st. This, however, did not stop all heathen activity.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

Even in our own day the secular features of the opening of the New Year interfere with the religious observance of the Circumcision, and tend to make a mere holiday of that which should have the sacred character of a Holy Day. St. Augustine points out the difference between the pagan and the Christian manner of celebrating the day: pagan feasting and excesses were to be expiated by Christian fasting and prayer (P. L., XXXVIII, 1024 sqq.; Serm. cxcvii, cxcviii). (Ibid)

So it also states:

…towards the end of the sixth century the Council of Auxerre (can. I) forbade Christians strenas diabolicas observare.

The expression strenas diabolicas observare roughly translates from Latin to English as “observing the new time of the Devil.” It is likely that New Year’s resolutions are related to prayers and practices once given for the pagan goddess.

January 1st is not a biblical holiday, and even the Church of Rome has forbidden some of its attributes as demonic.

That said, yes, we realize that for various government matters, including taxes, we use the year governments pick.

Notice that the Bible condemns various activities associated with New Year’s parties:

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:12-14)

20 Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)

1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valleys, To those who are overcome with wine! 2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand. 3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, Will be trampled underfoot; (Isaiah 28:1-3)

18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (Ephesians 5:18)

A night of drunken revelry is not a Christian holiday and should not be observed by the faithful.

The partying drunkard is also specifically condemned as part of those that will not inherit the kingdom of God:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Christians should not participate in pagan holidays, and especially those that involve drunken revelries.

Those who are Christians and used to do those things are expected to repent:

3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3-4)

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

The fact that many professors of Christ ignore clear scriptures causes a false version of “the Way” to be discounted by the Gentiles (Romans 2:24).

The Bible warns:

1…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-2)

Christians should not participate in pagan holidays, and especially those that involve drunken revelries.

Year-End Income Tax Matters

(Public Domain Images)

The Roman calendar year is almost up. Those who live in the United States, in order to have their contributions eligible for tax deduction for calendar year 2022, need to send electronic or regular mail donations no later than December 31, 2022. For those who physically mail donations, they must be postmarked by December 31, 2022 to be eligible for deductibility for 2022.

All contributions received via US mail for residents of the United States are to be processed for the tax year based upon the postmarked date on the envelopes.

For contributions received via PayPal, we use the date that PayPal gives us.

The PayPal donation link for the USA is at: https://www.ccog.org/donations/

In Canada the rules may be slightly different for mailed and other contributions, so if you want the tax deduction for calendar year 2022, they likely also need to be made before the end of the calendar year to the CCOG office in Canada.

(In New Zealand, they use a March 31st date to end their tax year.)

Suggested Sabbath Day Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

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 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. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones channel.

World News Items

The government of the USA took additional steps to increase its debt this past week (see RP: Omnibus shows Congress’s Priorities: Authoritarianism and War). The Bible warns that this debt increasing pattern will end terribly (cf. Habakkuk 2:6-8).

Jesus warned of wars and rumors of war (Matthew 24:6), and we are seeing that around the world. The situation between Serbia and Kosovo has heated up, as have other parts of the world (see MS: Who Will Start The First Major War Of 2023? … Will it be Serbia?). The situation between Iran and Israel is one to watch in 2023 (watch Iran and Israel Conflict). Israel’s new government is likely to provoke Iran (see Israel’s new government wants Samaria and threatens Iran).

Concluding Comments

God said the following:

2 This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2)

14 “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. (Exodus 23:14-16)

That first month called Abib (also referred to as Nisan in Esther 3:7), begins in March or April of each year. In 2023, it begins at sunset March 22. That marks the beginning of the biblical Holy Day calendar. For dates of the Holy Days through 2033, check out the following: Holy Day Calendar.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

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.