Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.
Let me start off by explaining about the forthcoming dating booklet.
Originally, we planned to put out a book about the canon of the Bible this year. However, I realized that with my schedule and the research required for this subject (I had started on it last year), this would not happen in 2018. After praying about subjects to cover, I concluded that we could–and should–get out a booklet on dating. And I have been working on that. This is a subject quite different than others that our booklets, sermons, and magazines have covered.
Many aspects of Christian living should be part of what we need to teach (cf. Matthew 28:19-20), and while they have been, many aspects of dating were basically missing.
Furthermore, as we have scattered unmarried people in many places, and I did not want them to feel left out or without additional guidance from us. I have long prayed for our singles, widows, and divorcees (and yes, I pray for married people too). Soon, we expect to have a dating booklet that may help some of them. And hopefully, this will help others not with the Continuing Church of God as well.
Announcing a New Door: Animations
In order to help get information out to a wider audience, we have decided to produce some short animations that we plan to initially put up on YouTube.
This may be somewhat unique to us as I personally have never been part of a church that used a lot of animations (I only remember a two-minute animation in the 1970s used once as part of a World Tomorrow telecast related to Gehenna fire). The first CCOG animation is intended to be related to dating and our forthcoming booklet on the subject.
Currently, I have written two or three scripts for the animations, and am working on one or two others. Some will mainly promote booklets we already have, but we also will need additional ones.
Now, because of this animation door, this seems to be the time to produce some other booklets on subjects I had in mind to write (God’s existence, Christian living, God’s calling as Ambassadors for Kingdom of God, baptism, prophecy, etc.). So, I plan to work on at least a couple of those before going back to the book about the canon of the Bible.
We are striving to implement ways to better reach the audience in the 21st century. That is consistent with the following teachings from Jesus and the Apostle Paul:
12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12, NKJV throughout, unless otherwise noted)
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)
To try to reach all, we must also consider their demographics. Younger people are looking for more short bursts of information, and people are more used to being entertained.
There is a place for ‘milk’ as well as ‘strong meat’:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
So, while we will continue to have sermons, long articles, etc. (stronger meat), we are looking to provide some basic information (milk, starter food) in forms that more would be comfortable to start with. Plus, everyone who has been around for a long times does not always need strong meat. God made a variety of physical foods, and in CCOG we are trying to provide a variety of spiritual foods (magazines, websites, sermonette videos, sermon videos, personal contacts, visits around the world, baptizing trips, youth camps, church and holy day services, radio appearances, and now also videos). Radio appearances, of which I have done over 100 since CCOG formed, should be considered mainly along the “milk of the word” line.
Consistent with biblical admonitions, we need to “Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, CEV) as well as “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).
Since very young children tend to have their hearts turned towards their parents and vice versa, I have long believed we need to, in addition to teaching parents (which is something we have always striven to do), better reach young people in their teens and above. Animations look to be one way to do that (and yes, church youth camps, which we have each year are also another specific step we have taken).
But let it be understood that while the use of animations is mainly focused on people from age 13 to 30, animations should also be effective for people of almost all ages.
Notice something that the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, had in the last letter sent out before his death:
It may be that the Work that God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God’s Church, which will be faithfully doing God’s Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns … Remember brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong … The greatest work lies ahead … Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television ... Each of you must commit yourself to support God’s Work … God’s work must push ahead as never before. God is opening up new doors in television (Letter, 1/10/86).
The use of animations looks to be a door that we can use to reach others that we may not otherwise reach as well as those not as likely to want to read long articles and/or to watch long sermons. Hopefully, after watching animations, many will want to learn more.
The use of online television services like YouTube, and modern computer software to make animations, is a NEW DOOR IN TELEVISION.
My hope and prayer is that the short animations, combined with relevant free book offers, will help others develop more interest in true Christianity. This is another way to get the witness out to the world.
We plan to announce each of the animations shortly after they come available.
We also are expecting to make some of them available in other languages.
Now, as far as YouTube goes, yes we are aware that they censor and may one day block our content–it suspended a CCOG sermon by Steve Dupuie once and has blocked non-CCOG people (see YouTube censorship of ‘conservative’ content). However, since more and more people can watch YouTube on televisions in their homes, it is still the least expensive way to reach a broad television audience. Unless something better comes along, we plan to utilize the ‘door’ of YouTube until it closes. Which, one day, it will.
Until then, putting animations online, in addition to our sermons and sermonettes, on YouTube is an exciting development that I ask all of you to pray about. We hope to have the first one finished and available within weeks.
World News Items
Donald Trump’s announcement about imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum have shaken parts of the world and upset the Europeans (see Donald Trump likes trade wars, but world reactions are negative and Europe upset: Can a trade war lead to a military war? and Now, a Trade War — Is a Shooting War Next?). The Europeans have proposed retaliatory steps (see also ‘EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom set out plans to retaliate against the proposed US tariffs.’ Did Steve Bannon just tell Europe to implement 666?).
We look to see the start of ‘trade wars.’ As most of you realize that subject was the cover article of the last edition of our Bible News Prophecy magazine. Here is a link to the: the January-March 2018 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine.
The Bible shows that Europe will arise and dominate world trade (cf. Revelation chapters 13, 17, and 18) for a short time. Actions by US President Trump are helping to drive more nations away from the USA and towards Europe.
Brethren, we have been warning the world about what will happen, and we are seeing more and more confirmations that our understandings of biblical prophecy are valid and reliable.
Over in Italy there was an election (see Italy election brings back ‘existential threat to eurozone’). Some, erroneously, believe that this will ultimately lead to disunity in Europe (see also Italeave: Is the European Union about to break up?). While the Bible shows that Europe will have unity problems (Daniel 2:41-43), it shows Europe will reorganize (Revelation 17:12-13) and become the Beast of the Sea (Daniel 13:1-10) that will dominate the world (Revelation 17 & 18).
The German press reported that Pope Francis has recently approved another ‘feast day’ for his version of ‘Mary’ (see Pope Approves New Feast Day for ‘Mary’). ‘Marianism’ and/or apparitions claiming to be Jesus’ mother Mary are likely to be part of why Europe will one day unify (cf. Isaiah 47 & Revelation 18).
In other news, physicist and atheist Stephen Hawking declared that there was NOTHING before the ‘Big Bang’ but essentially that forces like ‘imaginary time’ led to the creation of the universe (see Stephen Hawking claims. ‘There was NOTHING before the Big Bang’).
The Apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy:
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, (2 Timothy 3:7-9)
People like Dr. Hawking are always claiming to be learning. But obviously, he and others like him have NOT been able to come to the knowledge of the truth. He and the bulk of the evolutionists are NOT progressing, ARE RESISTING THE TRUTH, and the folly of their positions should be obvious to all.
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is a suggested Sabbath service for 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: World Council of Churches’ agenda will result in disaster for the Vatican. Other sermonettes are 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: Exodus 8-9: Plagues and Prophecy. 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. 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 BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.
Be careful about focusing on the physical.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:6-16)
Brethren, we need to avoid evil and pursue righteousness. Jesus is returning. We are to be “blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.”
Pastor and Overseer