Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
We are working on various matters, including the Holy Days and travels.
As mentioned before, we are planning on conducting Sabbath services in Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 25th. If you have not already contacted us, but would like to attend, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this moment, we plan to possibly be in New Zealand for Pentecost weekend. We had originally hoped to go to New Zealand for part of the Feast of Tabernacles this Fall, but because of airline schedules and the dates the Holy Days fall on this year, that is probably not going to happen. When we were there in 2013 we said we would try to come back in 2015, so that may happen for Pentecost.
We are working on Feast of Tabernacles sites for 2015. Next week, I plan to share more information on that here.
Reaching the World
Received a report from Google Adwords that our campaign reached over 1.57 million computers last month. We also reached over 100,000 with our websites.
Worked on the front and back cover design of a new booklet this week. It is my hope and prayer that this will be able to be sent with the next edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine to all of our subscribers.
Received a draft of our magazine in the Dholuo language. It will probably take a few weeks, but we hope to get this printed and distributed in parts of Africa.
Next week, I may have another guest spot on the radio.
We continue to use many means to reach people around the world.
Dealing with the World
Today, I received a deceptive email from someone claiming to be Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng. Later, I was able to verify that email was fraudulent with Pastor Ochieng. It is sad that we have to be so diligent to deal with multiple deceivers. But I get a lot of improper and deceptive emails.
Also today, I received a report from someone who was prevented from going to one of our affiliated websites at a library associated with a school. The reason provided for blocking it was that the URL was classified as: “Personal Beliefs/Cult.” This reminds me of what is called ‘the Great Fire Wall of China’ (and we actually are accessed there in China–the West is getting worse than the Chinese, who the West often criticizes, when it comes to aspects of religion). The time of the ‘famine of the word’ is coming (Amos 8:11-12) and we need to realize that it will come on full force. Satan does not want the world to be able to access the truth about him and his plans.
After all that, I received an email from Canadian government authorities which have not approved our request for charitable status in Canada. Canada is different from many other nations and does not consider that valid churches are eligible for charitable status under one of its tax acts. This obstacle will take time while we see if we can deal with it.
Marijuana in Washington D.C.
Today marks the first day that recreational use of marijuana became ‘legal’ in the District of Columbia (see Marijuana ‘legal’ in Washington, D.C.).
Although most realize that heavy marijuana use causes brain problems, a study that came out last year also found that casual use messes with the brain:
For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes – and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures…
“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory. It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”
For their most recent study, Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.
Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape.
According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.
“For the NAC, all three measures were abnormal, and they were abnormal in a dose-dependent way, meaning the changes were greater with the amount of marijuana used,” Breiter said. “The amygdala had abnormalities for shape and density, and only volume correlated with use. But if you looked at all three types of measures, it showed the relationships between them were quite abnormal in the marijuana users, compared to the normal controls.”
Because these brain regions are central for motivation, the findings from Northwestern help support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to a condition called amotivation. Also called amotivational syndrome, this psychological condition causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life, as well as seem less focused in general. (Grush L. Casual marijuana use linked with brain abnormalities, study finds. Fox News, April 15, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/04/15/casual-marijuana-use-linked-with-brain-abnormalities-study-finds/)
The facts about marijuana are not good.
The Bible also warns against intoxication (for various scriptures, see the article Marijuana: Should a Christian Get High?) and marijuana is intoxicating.
Marijuana use is not good for the USA. Those who believe it is good to get high are deceived.
The BBC reported the following today:
The invisible downside of cheating in life
26 February 2015
People who take shortcuts can trick themselves into believing they are smarter than they are, says Tom Stafford, and it comes back to bite them. …
The researchers ran another experiment to check that the effect was really due to the cheaters’ inflated belief in their own abilities. In this experiment, students were offered a cash reward for accurately predicting their scores on the second test. Sure enough, those who had been given the opportunity to cheat overestimated their ability and lost out – earning 20% less than the other students.
The implication is that people in Chance’s experiment – people very much like you and me – had tricked themselves into believing they were smarter than they were. There may be benefits from doing this – confidence, satisfaction, or more easily gaining the trust of others – but there are also certainly disadvantages. Whenever circumstances change and you need to accurately predict how well you’ll do, it can cost to believe you’re better than you are.
That self-deception has its costs has some interesting implications. Morally, most of us would say that self-deception is wrong. But aside from whether self-deception is undesirable, we should expect it to be present in all of us to some degree (because of the benefits), but to be limited as well (because of the costs).
Self-deception isn’t something that is always better in larger doses – there must be an amount of it for which the benefits outweigh the costs, most of the time. We’re probably all self-deceiving to some degree. The irony being, because it is self-deception, we can’t know how often. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150225-unexpected-downside-for-cheaters
Jesus taught that Satan was a liar and the father of lies:
44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44)
Of course, Satan takes advantage of deception and encourages humans to deceive themselves. Recall what happened to Eve:
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6-7)
Satan was involved, but the woman allowed herself to be deceived. This type of deception happens every day.
But what about Christians?
Jesus warned that most Christians in the end times would be deceived:
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:14-19)
Although most Laodiceans do not believe that they are deceiving themselves, Jesus said that they were. Jesus said that Laodicean Christians needed to repent–they need to change.
In addition to doctrine and how they lead their lives, there are serious prophetic deceptions that the Laodiceans have fallen for. A list of 30 prophetic deceptions that various Laodiceans believe is in the article The Laodicean Church Era. Believing several of these will insure that Laodiceans will not realize that the Great Tribulation is here until it is to late for most to flee (cf. Revelation 12:14-17).
Self-deception is common. Try not to fall for it. The word of God is truth (John 17:17), hopefully you will believe it enough so that you will resist Satanically-encouraged self-deception (cf. James 4:7).
World News Events
Last Sabbath, US President Barack Obama made an appeal to quicken the pace of a couple of major international trade agreements (see Obama pushing trade deals: might this tip the balance towards Europe?). It is long been my opinion that trade disputes would play a role in convincing the rising European Beast power to attack the USA and its Anglo-Saxon descended allies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped hints that he would prefer not to be part of an apocalyptic war involving Ukraine, though he did not seem to rule it out (see Putin calls ‘apocalyptic’ war with Ukraine ‘unlikely’). He wants Ukraine and is attempting to figure out how to increase the amount of territories that are under Russian control and/or dominance. Despite that, Russia is NOT the prophesied King of the North (Daniel 11:40-45) that some have taught that it is.
Some have asked Pope Francis to speak out more boldly against Russia than he has (see Ukrainian archbishop wants Pope Francis to speak louder against Russia). Pope Francis would prefer to keep good relations with the Russian Orthodox as they fit in with his ecumenical agenda, however he may feel he needs to do something as most of the European Union is opposing Russia on Ukraine as well. The Pope wants political ties to both Russia and the European Union, so he may simply condemn violence and drop hints about Russia.
Last Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and other matters (see Pope Francis speaks of Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, & Mary but needs a lesson about the original faith). Because his audience does NOT truly understand church history, they seemed to like what he said. Hopefully, because all of you know more about the Bible and the truth of church history than the pontiff’s audience you will not be misled. The time is coming when misinformation will be even more believed than it is now–we all need to have the proper love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Over in Egypt, its President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made an appeal for the Arab nations to unite militarily to fight the Islamic State. What he is calling for is the type of arrangement that is similar to what the King of the South of biblical prophecy (Daniel 11:40-43) would want to build upon (see also Egypt calls for ‘King of the South’ military).
Speaking of the Islamic State, they kidnapped about 90 people on Tuesday (see Putin calls ‘apocalyptic’ war with Ukraine ‘unlikely’). A report today says the total has since increased to at least 220. The time will come when the West and parts of the East will have had enough of this group and its horrific tactics.
Over in Asia, South Korea ‘legalized’ adultery today (see South Korea ‘legalizes’ adultery). While we all know the Bible teaches, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Romans 2:22), the Constitutional Court in South Korea believes that adultery is a ‘freedom’ that should not be criminalized. The trend towards turning against God’s laws was prophesied for these last days long ago (2 Timothy 3:1-7). Sadly, South Korea has decided to more fulfill this. Adulterers are deceiving themselves (2 Peter 2:13-14) and harming society.
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 some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one: 12 Apocalyptic Risks from Oxford University. A related written article is: Oxford University’s 12 likely causes of the Apocalypse. 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 who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory. Two related written articles are titled: Questions and Answers from Genesis and How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? 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 ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.
The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Brethren, despite the problems that the world faces, God has a plan, God will win, and God will judge. Let’s continue to strive to live our lives God’s way and keep His commandments.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God