Letter to the Brethren: July 5, 2018

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from Grover Beach, California.

We continue to work on literature, and this week made some additions to several of our booklets that we have not yet printed. We plan to print several new booklets before the Feast of Tabernacles and mail them to our supporters and those who ask for them.

Feast of Tabernacles

Pastor Tomas Koskey and Pastor Tiongik Sawek sent the following reports:

Dear Bob,

The work of the Lord is going well here at Bomet, Kenya.

We are preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles. Thank you.

Tomas Koskey

Receive greetings from me and the church,

The visit I made to Kuresoi was a success. I visited Kuresoi North and South and in the third sabbath I was in Mau. I was welcomed and we received four families who joined us. I promised them that they shall be issued with books of Continuing Chirch of God, especially the ones narrating the history.

The challenges however included unfavourable climate of rainfall and bad terrain. I was so exhausted and was also expensive. I am grateful for the little support I got from Pastor Ochieng, may God bless him.

Many people in Kuresoi north worshiped in Apostolic church of God who do not keep the Feast of Tabernacles and other biblical festivals. We however learnt together and understood that it is clearly written in the bible. They however asked me to make a revisit to give more teachings and studies on the same.

At Mau, I met Pastor Stanley Kibet going on well  and the church at Olesuswa has grown and expanded. we had visited the church. The only challenge there, rain destroyed potato plantations which they had planted and highly depend on there. They requested for support and i promised to ask you on the same.

We met with Bomet brethrens on my way to Tranmara and they are going on well, receive their warm greetings.

Last week we hold a service at Transmara with Chilani groups. However, there is a lot of hunger there as their plantations were destroyed by floods in the past months. We have many children in Chilani church and its a challenge keeping them from hunger. If possible that we get some relief food so that we may feed them on sabbaths it may sustain them for the next five months as we await what we have just planted to ripen, apart from support for the adults.We are expecting Ochieng to fix a date so that we may plan where to meet.

I am sorry, but my camera was destroyed by rain, do not know if it will still function.

We are also needed far and wide hence it’s a bit challenging in matters concerning finances and Transport, we request for your prayers to unlock every door as we traverse to preach

Otherwise, receive greetings from all brethren.

May God bless you.

Pastor Sawek

So, we are reaching more.

Well, those African reports brought to mind that we should remind everyone about the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles (including the Last Great Day) will be here relatively soon: starting the evening of September 23rd until sunset October 1st in 2018.

The USA sites are Alexandria, Virginia and Wichita, Kansas.

One is at the Marriott Courtyard Alexandria Old Town/Southwest, located at 2700 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA  22314-4553, (703) 329-2323 and the other is at the Wichita Public Library, Evergreen Branch, 2601 N Arkansas, Wichita, Kansas.

Marriott Courtyard Alexandria Old Town/Southwest

Wichita Evergreen Library

If you have not already done so, please email me to tell me which of those sites you plan to attend. Some of you have already done so, but others have not yet.

Please try to let me know as soon as you can. My email remains cogwriter@aol.com

For Canada, the site is at the Ramada Plaza, 6445 Boul. Décarie, Montréal, Québec, Canada 1 (514) 739-3800 for booking, hotel website:  http://www.ramadaplazamontreal.com/For more information call Herb Haddon at: (cell)  506 442-8889 or email:  hwhaddon@gmail.com

Information on our Fall festival sites around the world is in the article: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2018.

Internet Server Attacks

There has been a history of electronic attacks against COGwriter.com and CCOG websites on the internet. This is not a reference to the lies that many tell about us, but what appears to be cyber attacks that make our information unavailable or so slowly available that people searching for it do not receive it.

We spent a lot of time working on this issue recently, and yesterday added a new protective internet service that hopefully will reduce this particular problem (but we suspect more work in this area will be needed).

While we know that Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled, please pray that God will give us wisdom to handle cyber attacks as well as other attacks against the truth.

Homosexual Conversion Therapy

Homosexual conversion therapy has been banned in some US States and now the United Kingdom is intending to do that as well.

The BBC reported the following:

‘Gay conversion therapy’ to be banned as part of LGBT equality plan

3 July 2018

Controversial “gay conversion therapies” are to be banned as part of a government plan to improve the lives of gay and transgender people.

The prime minister said nobody “should ever have to hide who they are”.

A 75-point plan to improve the lives of LGBT people, costing £4.5m, has been produced in response to the survey. It includes plans to introduce a national LGBT health advisor, tackle discrimination, improve the response to hate crime and to improve diversity in education institutions. …

As part of the plan, it said it would “consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy”.

Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of the practice: “This is very extreme so-called therapy that is there to try and ‘cure’ someone from being gay – of course you can’t cure someone from being gay. In its most extreme form it can involve corrective rape.

“That’s very different from psychological services and counselling. It’s pretty unpleasant, some of the results we found, and it shows that there’s more action to do.”

She said the government is consulting on the best way to implement a ban, adding: “It’s absolutely right that that abhorrent practice has to go.” …

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We can be proud that the UK is a world leader in advancing LGBT rights, but the overwhelming response to our survey has shone a light on the many areas where we can improve the lives of LGBT people.

“I was struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.

“No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love.” https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44686374

No one should have to hide what they are?

So, pedophiles, adulterers, thieves, etc. should continue too?

Gays cannot be changed? What if they want to?

Sadly, many no longer want to believe scriptures that teach homosexuals can change, like the following:

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)

Now, notice something else that BBC reported:

3 July 2018

Sometimes called “reparative” or “gay cure” therapy, conversion therapy is a term used for any form of so-called treatment which attempts to change sexual orientation or reduce attraction to others of the same sex.

Experts say the word therapy is misleading because there is no scientific basis for it

All major therapy professional bodies as well as the NHS in the UK disagree with it on logical, ethical and moral grounds. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44686374

Moral grounds?

Homosexuality is immoral.

It is also immoral to tell people that they cannot seek help to change.

The Bible not only warns that homosexuality, lesbianism, and cross-dressing are wrong, it also condemns those who condone all forms of sexual immorality:

5 A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:24-32)

But what about the claim that there is “no scientific basis” for gay conversion therapy?

Well, that is not true.

Consider the following:

Can homosexuals change? Is trying to change sexual orientation harmful? Should counselors work with clients with unwanted same-sex attractions, helping them live out their sexuality in a biblical way? There’s been a lot of debate in recent years in the mental health professions, the media and various state legislatures about these questions.

In the past, such help and change was widely considered both desirable and possible. More recently, however, an increasing number of mental health practitioners now believe that a homosexual orientation is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity that cannot – and should not – be changed. The mental health professions haven’t really discovered anything new about human sexuality or homosexuality; they are just more ideologically and politically driven. …

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1998 issued a position statement “rebuking” practices that are broadly referred to as “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy” for homosexuality. More recently, these practices have been labeled “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE). …

In 2007, the American Psychological Association set up a task force, composed exclusively of gay-identified activists and apologists, to study the issue. No practitioners of SOCE or experts on change from homosexuality were included in the task force. The group also threw out myriad accounts and reports of change from homosexuality and of help from SOCE, while at the same time using anecdotal statements of harm. Despite this stacked deck, the task force could not conclude in its 2009 report that SOCE was ineffective or inherently harmful. Nor did the group call for a ban on SOCE. They simply said more research was needed and cautioned therapists about their work.

Both groups claim to be scientifically driven, yet the APA states that homosexuality is a “normal variant of human sexuality.” And the American Psychological Association says that homosexuality is a “normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.” But these views are really beyond the power of science to decide, entering into the worlds of philosophy, ethics and religion. Science can only tell us what is, not what is moral, good or ethical. Science also can’t describe for us God’s views about human sexuality.

Significantly, both groups seem to dismiss the fact that many individuals who experience same-sex attractions or engage in homosexual activity are dissatisfied with the situation and seek professional help to align their thoughts and behaviors with their convictions and faith. Many who experience homosexual temptations and impulses are responding to the Gospel message that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome. And as they seek pastoral and professional psychological counseling, they find that change and transformation are, indeed, possible.  …

* There are no scientific studies that demonstrate that adolescents have been harmed through SOCE.

* The psychological literature confirms that permanent change away from a homosexual orientation is possible:

* In 2007, Drs. Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse published a study confirming that long-term change away from homosexual orientation can occur through religious mediation. At the end of three years, 67 percent of men and women who had undergone group discussions, individual counseling, journaling, Scripture reading and prayer either reported a change towards heterosexual orientation or were successfully continuing work towards that goal.[8]

* In 2001, Dr. Robert Spitzer published a report showing that a majority of gay men and lesbians who sought “re-orientation” therapy were able to achieve fulfilling heterosexual relationships.[9]

* While acknowledging that change in sexual orientation is both difficult to define and to measure, a bibliographic review of the literature from the past 100 years or more notes the wide variety of treatments that have claimed success.[10]

* There is no valid or replicable research demonstrating the inevitability of homosexual behavior based on biological or genetic circumstances. Studies on twins show that homosexuality is not genetic.[11] https://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sexuality/leaving-homosexuality/the-right-to-counseling-for-unwanted-same-sex-attractions accessed 07/03/18

In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul also warned about those that “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

Bans of homosexual conversion therapy, stating that there is no scientific basis, and claiming this as a fact are attempts to suppress the truth.

What about the claim from psychologists that such therapies are ineffective?

Consider the following related to the text Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation:

Is it possible to be an ex gay?

Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse present social science research on homosexuality designed to answer the questions:

  • Can those who receive religiously-informed psychotherapy experience a change in their sexual orientation?
  • Are such programs harmful to participants?

The results show that outcomes for this kind of religiously-informed psychotherapy are similar to outcomes of therapy for other psychological problems. Such programs do not appear to be harmful on average to individuals. https://www.ivpress.com/ex-gays accessed 07/03/18

So, if gay conversion therapy is about as effective as other psychological counseling, then should all psychological counseling be banned?

Banning counseling for those who wish to stop sinning is wrong.

That is unethical and immoral. It is wrong to tell people that they cannot change. It is wrong to censor peoples’ abilities to help those that want help.

The Bible warns that more censorship is coming:

11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)

Do not think that the UK is the only place discounting what the Bible says.

In Canada, quoting parts of Romans 1 in certain ways is essentially banned (watch Canadian censoring of the Bible).

Notice also something from the State of California:

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in a “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that either advertises or engages in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” In the bill, the phrase “sexual orientations change efforts” is defined as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

It would appear that this definition would include the Bible, since the Bible explicitly condemns homosexual behavior and defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. That means that if Assembly Bill 2943 is officially signed into law, it could ban the sale of the Bible in the state of California, which, for obvious reasons, would be an assault on not just the Constitution but on the very fabric of America.

First and foremost, the First Amendment guarantees that each citizen is endowed with the inalienable right to freely practice their religion without interference from the government. This includes not only the reading of the Bible, but also the private sale of the Bible from individuals or companies looking to spread the Christian faith. Banning the Bible, which Assembly Bill 2943 would likely do, is a clear violation of the freedom of religion as outlined in the Constitution.

Second, as a matter of free-market economics, since when does the government have the authority to control which products are sold by businesses and which are not? If California can legally declare that the sale of the Bible is prohibited, does this mean that they can ban any book that doesn’t subscribe to the progressive ideology? https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-04-23-new-california-law-would-criminalize-book-stores-for-selling-the-bible.html

The controversy is over a bill that critics have charged effectively would ban the sale of Bibles, because it regards as “consumer fraud” any commercial transaction that affirms Christian beliefs about the nature of the two genders and homosexual behavior.

Now, a video has been revealed of California state Assembly member Al Muratsuchi admitting that he wants to target people of faith.

The lawmaker argued the First Amendment “does not prohibit banning fraudulent conduct.”

The faith community, like anyone else, needs to evolve with the times,” he charged. …

Liberty Counsel noted the Bible specifically refers to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9 then states in verse 11: “And such were some of you.”

Publishing such a passage — which indicates that “through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, people with same-sex attractions or who engaged in same-sex behavior can change” — would “be considered fraudulent business practices under this bill,” Liberty Counsel argues.

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chief counsel, said his organization is prepared to sue “to stop this outrageous attack on the First Amendment.”

He explained the Bible specifically counsels against same-sex relationships, and citing that verse in any number of ways could be interpreted by California as fraudulent activity.

Staver called it a “dangerous bill that would punish people for their biblical beliefs about marriage, gender and human sexuality.”

“This law is stunning in its breadth. The mask of those supporting this oppressive bill has been removed,” he said. “Their goal is to crush Christianity and any viewpoint that does not align with the state. We stand ready to file suit to stop this assault on freedom if this bill is signed into law.”

Robert A.J. Gagnon, the author of “The Bible and Homosexual Practice.”

His column at The Federalist was titled “Snopes is a Sneaky Liar about California’s Bill to Ban Christian LGBT Talk.”

“If you haven’t already lost significant respect for Snopes as an impartial fact-checker, its analysis of a bill that bans all transactions involved in stating Christian beliefs about homosexual behavior should,” he said. …

Gagnon explained the bill poses legal jeopardy for a “Bible study or house church leader, member of a parachurch organization working to help people afflicted by same-sex attractions, or indeed anybody who attempts change if goods or services involve an exchange of funds.”

“Read the bill. There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. There is not even a restriction to claims about changing a person’s sexual orientation or transgender feelings in whole or part. The bill is quite clear that any ‘efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions’ are included in the ban on attempts to change a person’s ‘sexual orientation,’” he said.

He continued: “So you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice or not to identify as ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ because such behaviors and self-identities are morally wrong, or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area, you will be in violation of California AB 2943, at least so long as your advertising or efforts involved in any way an exchange of money for goods or services.”

Violations of A.B. 2943 could, he said, include “selling religious or secular books (pamphlets, videos, audios, etc.), holding conferences, teaching courses in a college or seminary where tuition is paid, giving a speech at a paid venue, counseling people for a fee, or perhaps even posting online articles in a site that requires a paid subscription, in which it is asserted (in whole or part) that it is morally wrong for people to engage in homosexual practice or identify as ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.’”

He quoted religious liberties lawyer David French, who agreed, stating it is “a bill that would actually – among other things – ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.” …

The state previously banned therapies for children, defining “conversion therapy” as employing “prayer, religious conversion, individual and group counseling.” http://www.wnd.com/2018/04/activists-confess-bible-ban-does-target-faith-community/#OOqGatFXhYm3hDHa.99

The State of California already has a law against praying that minors should not be homosexuals. How that can be ‘constitutional’ in the USA makes no sense.

Anyway, California State Assembly passed “AB-2943 Unlawful business practices: sexual orientation change efforts” on April 19, 2018. While it does not directly ban the sale of Bibles, it is certainly a step in that direction.

As most of you are aware, we also made a video on that: Banning the Bible?.

Understand that LGBTQ agenda supporters have published statements like ” the truth about religion in America. It also reveals an ugly narrow-mindedness.”

The Bible warns against the rise of despisers of good in the last days:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Those of us who hold to the idea that sexual relationships are only to be between a man married to a woman are considered to have “ugly narrow-mindedness” by supporters of the LGBTQ movement.

The work of God needs to be done now as Jesus said:

4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)

The time to do the work is now, while we still can do it! We are seeing more and more signs that “the night is coming when no one can work.

That is part of why we in the Continuing Church of God are preparing for the ‘short work’ (Romans 9:28) and the coming ‘famine of the word.’

The State of California has proposed to have journalists, bloggers, and any one who has influence to register and to get their ‘news’ approved before putting it online (Doug Casey Warns ‘It’s Going To Get Very Disagreeable In The US At Some Level Quickly.’ California SB1424 risks. Brandon Smith claims ‘World War III Will Be An Economic War.’ Then there is the Bible). The bill, sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan is called the “Internet: social media: false information: strategic plan,” or SB1424. If carried to its logical limit, this would cover anyone who ever posts anything on the internet, and perhaps even those whose emails get spread around. Many in the government want to restrict what people tell others.

A famine of the word is coming.

Until then, Philadelphian Christians want to go through the doors that Christ opens to proclaim the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; Colossians 4:2-4) and do the work.

Philadelphia means “love of the brethren.” It is LOVE to properly teach what the Bible teaches, even if some group calls that “ugly narrow-mindedness.”It is love to tell those with homosexual tendencies that they can change.

Jesus can help them. As the Apostle Paul taught:

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Sadly, many do not want people to believe that is true. Jesus can help convert one from a life of sin to a life leading to righteousness.

We must do the work and persevere to the end–despite government restrictions and others who do not truly respect the Bible.

World News Items

While many wonder when the Great Tribulation will start, let me state that it cannot start before 2022 (see The Great Tribulation CANNOT BEGIN BEFORE 2022!). Basically, this is because we have not yet had the ‘peace deal’ made, let alone confirmed, that Daniel 9:27 speaks of. That being said, various peace deals are in the process of being proposed. The end is getting closer, but until certain biblically-predicted events take place, it will not be before 2022.

That being said, there is a lot going on that shows we are getting closer to the end. Various statements from US President Donald Trump are providing motivation and opportunities for the Europeans to be better able to dominate world trade as prophesied (see ‘Europe needs to do 2 things to win the trade war,’ Donald Trump’s World Trade Organization views are leading to the rise of the Babylonian Beast). He has also continued to pushed them to better arm themselves (see Donald Trump pushing Europe to arm as well as unite against the USA and Donald Trump is pushing Europe to fulfill biblical prophecies). The USA continues to increase its debt, which will not end well per Habakkuk 2:6-8. Mexico elected a new president who has issues with the US President (see López Obrador wins Mexico’s election: Expect friction with the USA and more ties to Europe)–ultimately, I expect Mexico to be in military league with the Europeans against the USA (which will be consistent with Daniel 11:39 as I assert that Mexico will end up with lands that are currently part of the USA).

As far as being near to the end goes, a Jewish scientist recently admited that the 6000 years is up sooner than most Jews believe. While what the Jews currently believe on this is of little biblical importance, the reality is that we are closer to the end of the 6000 years that God has allowed humans to go their own way until God intervenes and sends Jesus to bring in the millennial portion of the Kingdom of God.

So, while the end is not yet, it is getting closer.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

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.


Concluding Comments

The Apostle John was inspired to write the following:

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Brethren, walk in the light of the truth. Do not practice darkness. Since all have walked in darkness, believe that Jesus can cleanse us from all sin.

As far as fellowship goes, meet with other brethren when you can. And do not neglect trying to attend the Feast of Tabernacles.


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.