Letter to the Brethren: March 24, 2016

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

We hope you have been having a spiritually prosperous week. We continue to work on many matters here in Grover Beach, California.

For this Sabbath, we ended up having a sermonette and sermon covering similar topics.  It was not my original plan, but last Sabbath I made a last minute sermonette decision based on an email I received and it resulted in two videos related to Europe.  You should find they complement each other.

For the sermon, I tried something new that hopefully all will like (and hopefully the YouTube editors will not pull down soon).  I played parts of a presentation by former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and provided commentary and scriptures. This could prove to be interesting to the CCOG for many reasons.

Deaths of Vorace ‘Ray’ Smith, Ruby Callahan, and Mrs. Joel Bwana

On March 18, 2016, Ryan Smith, son of CCOG member Dr. Ray Smith, told me his father died.  Dr. Smith lived in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Here are some statements from an email from him:

This is Ryan Smith, Ray’s son.  I wanted to reach out and let you know of my father’s passing last night at his home in Frankfort, Kentucky.  He died around 7 PM peacefully in bed most likely from a ruptured aneurysm.  He was found in bed with his dog next to him and his hand on the Bible so it was as good of a passing as any. We are very saddened by the loss but also consider it a blessing with all the health problems he has experienced in recent years.

Dr. Smith had never quite been the same since having his stroke, but was very pleased that he found the Continuing Church of God.  And while I knew that, it was nice to also hear it from his son when we spoke later that day.

I knew Dr. Ray Smith for many years and was able to meet him personally at the CCOG Feast of Tabernacles’ site in Orlando, Florida in 2014.

Ryan Smith, wanting to be respectful of his father’s religious beliefs, asked me if we could either send someone to conduct the funeral or at least send him scriptures that we would like read.

As it turned out, although we did not have any member near enough to conduct the funeral, there was a COG man in the area who was acquainted with us and me him.  His name is Larry Carmichael.  So I called him and he graciously agreed to conduct the funeral service.

I was pleased that we were able to have Larry Carmichael conduct the service and am grateful to him for doing so.

Edith and Beverly Bivens sent me the following:

Ruby Calahan of Milwaukee Wisconsin passed away quietly on March 20, 2016, at 2:00 pm, after a six-month battle with cancer. She was 71 years old and has been a faithful member of God’s Church since 1983. She is survived by her daughter and two grandsons. Ruby will be remembered for her gentle nature and she will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Ruby was a ‘pioneer’ in the Continuing Church of God as she (along with her friend Beverly Bivens) attended our first Feast of Tabernacles in the USA in 2013.  And I have seen her at all the CCOG USA sites since as well.

On other matters, though I do not mention all deaths here, Joel Bwana of Nigeria reported that his wife died on 3/13/16, and he and I are saddened by his loss. He did not provide her name nor any details about her death.

April 2, 2016 in Florida

As announced before, I plan to be in Florida the Sabbath of April 2, 2016.

We arranged to meet for services at the West Boca Executive Office Suites at 7777 Glades Rd #100, Boca Raton, FL 33434. Services are to begin about 1:30 pm.

If you live in Florida, and/or may wish to visit and would like to come for services, please email me. My email address is cogwriter@aol.com.

The Sabbath Sentinel

A month or so ago, I submitted a short article to The Sabbath Sentinel, which is put out by the Bible Sabbath Association.

My article has now been published in the March-April 2016 edition.  Although someone there selected a picture that was NOT the one I submitted, they did publish the article. The Bible Sabbath Association is not a Church of God group, but a group of people and churches who believe in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. This is the first of my articles they acknowledged and printed. Here is a link to an electronic version of that The Sabbath Sentinel: The Didache and the Sabbath.

The published article came from my article Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath. Because of the restrictions in article length for The Sabbath Sentinel, I submitted just a few pages which they published. However, they asked for more, so the next issue should also have another short article from me, essentially continuing where the March-April article left off.

It is my hope and prayer that those who read the submitted articles will see that early church history supports Saturday, and not Sunday, as the Christian day of rest.  This article should be able to reach people we have not been able to reach in other ways. It is also my hope and prayer that those who read the articles will see that we in the Continuing Church of God have a true and proper grasp of early church history.

The series of articles expected to be published in The Sabbath Sentinel should also help non-Sabbath keepers realize that the historical evidence points to early, faithful, Christians resting on Saturday and not Sunday.

Google Campaign

Google informed us that our Google campaign to reach people about church history and why the Continuing Church of God best represents the original Christian church reached 3,336,685 computers in February 2016.

Malawi and Mozambique

Sosten Libungwa of Malawi sent us the following email:

Dear pastor Dr Bob, Pastor Evans:

Christians greetings from Sosten. I am glad to give you the report of our Charity works that the Continuing Church of God has provided, some weeks ago to the people of Malawi and Mozambique.

After I received the funds, I started distribution in Mozambique.  I was able to give each family 25 —30 kilogram of maize so that they may learn it how to use it very wisely since there is along journey for us to harvest our farm produce. We have remained with two months to harvest. Tomorrow am going there to keep Sabbath with them and I will also distributes some maize to them after prayers.
In Malawi i was able to provide 40–45 kilograms of maize to the congregations, using the same money, I bought mattresses to the sick and old people after Evans advised me to do that. Even to me I saw it very good to help them so that they can sleep on the good place since they are aged. Using the same money I was able to buy the spares parts to maintained the bicycle for brother Brighton Chikombole, his bicycle was not working for the long time–this the one of the interested groups to join CCOG, when Evans was in Malawi. He preached and visited this group, even we also shared them food. Thank you very much brethren of CCOG of sporting us with food.  According the Bible, he who helps the poor shall gain more in due season God will return. May God bless you all and continuing praying for us.

Sosten also sent some photos (note: the date is in the European style order as all photos shown were taken in March 2016):

Malawi01   Malawi02
Malawi03   Malawi04

Malawi06   Malawi05

We are glad we were able to assist the poor and hungry in Malawi and Mozambique. Presuming their crops come in two months from now, we should not have to do that next year. The Apostle Paul was advised to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10), so while we proclaim the gospel and produce literature, we too strive to “remember the poor” as we can.

Thank you all for your assistance.

World News Items

The European Union’s deal with Turkey to deal with migrants began on Sunday (see EU’s new migrant deal with Turkey begins), but that will not be enough. A strong leader in Europe will arise (Revelation 13:4).

There was more murder and mayhem from Islamic terrorists this week as Brussels, Belgium  was hit (see Islamic terrorists kill many in Belgium: Might this help Donald Trump?). The Europeans will get sufficiently offended by this to one day reorganize (Revelation 17:12-13). Islam will one day be defeated (Daniel 11:40-43; Revelation 13; 19).

This attack is also affecting USA and UK politics (see Brussels’ bombings impacting UK and USA politics).

On other matters, Pope Francis said yesterday that Jesus wants to suffer more for people (see Pope Francis’ statement about Jesus wanting to suffer more is wrong). While Jesus is willing to suffer for us, He does not want to suffer more for us. I suspect the Roman Catholic encouragement for unnecessary suffering may have interfaith applications in the future.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.


Concluding Comments

The 37th Psalm concludes with:

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.  (Psalms 37:37-40)

Brethren, strive to live blameless lives and trust in Him.


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.