Monthly letter archive

Christian Biblical Church of God

Post Office Box 1442

Hollister, California 95024-1442


Fred R. Coulter, Minister

June 8, 2007

Dear Brethren,

As you know, since the first of the year we have been gradually making the shift to using CDs for our audio messages—while still sending out a few audio cassettes. As it turns out, you are receiving with this mailing the last audio cassette of our sermons and Bible studies. (It’s an interesting coincidence that this final cassette—which some may have already received—is entitled It Is Not How You Start, But It Is How You Finish.) We will, however, continue to send cassettes to a few—those who are blind or are incarcerated (prison officials do not allow inmates to receive CDs because they could be made into lethal weapons).

Switching from cassettes to CDs sounded simple enough at first, but proved to be much more involved than anticipated. In fact, making CDs is far more technical and complicated than making cassettes. This is why it has taken us six months to make the change-over. We have had to buy new equipment and learn how to use it. And, because digital recorders are not yet reliable enough for our purposes, we have had to digitize the taped messages so they could be recorded onto a master CD. We then had to set up a system to get the master CD to Enas Media for replication—and have the final CDs shipped back to us in time to mail to you.

As it turns out, the final impetus to complete the transition from cassettes to CDs came two weeks ago from the United States Postal Service. On May 14 new postage increases went into effect—with the price of a regular letter going from 39 to 41 cents. But that was just the beginning. The USPS also reclassified letters and small packages by size and flexibility, which greatly increased our costs for mailing audio cassettes. Previously, we were able to mail two audio cassettes, first class, for 83 cents. Under the new regulations, however, the Postal Service now distinguishes between flat mail that uses thin, flexible regular-sized envelopes that can be machined processed, and thicker non-flexible envelopes that cannot be machined processed. Thin, flexible mail can be sent at the new regular rate—41 cents per letter and upward depending of the weight of the letter. But since our audio cassette packages are not flexible, they cannot be machined processed. Also, the envelopes with the cassettes inside measured about a half inch thick, which—under the new rules—put them into a new category. As a result, the cost to mail two cassettes went from 83 cents to $1.40! By comparison, the cost to mail one CD is 58 cents—and we can put up to ten messages on one CD. Those same ten messages, on ten cassettes, would cost just over $3.50 to mail—plus the cost of the cassettes would be about $5.

But there’s more—the increase in overseas mailing costs is even more mind boggling. In the past, we were able to mail boxes of books via surface mail—by boat. The cost for a box of books ran from $65 to $85 depending on which country they were being mailed to. However, the USPS has now eliminated all surface mail to foreign countries—offering only various air mail rates with three-to eight-day service. As a result, the cost for mailing books has skyrocketed. For example, a box of God’s Plan Revealed mailed to South Africa cost $78.50 before the new rates went into effect. Now, to mail the same box of books using the eight-day service—the lowest rate available—costs $187. That is a two and a half times increase in mailing costs! Incredibly, however, our government continues to reassure us that there is no inflation! Of course not—they only reclassified everything! Nothing like a “slight of hand” to downplay the actual increases imposed by these actions.

While the USPS will no longer send mail overseas by ship, I am sure other ocean-going freight services will fill the void. Perhaps in the future we can send books overseas through a private shipping company, and even substantially reduce our costs. We will simply have to adjust to these new realities. After all, with every challenge comes the opportunity to improve or find a new way of doing things.

The Bible Project: We are continuing to make progress with the Old Testament Bible Project. We should be finished editing and polishing up the Scriptures in about 60 days—and finished writing and editing the commentaries in about 90 days. This will give enough lead-time for the printer to order the special French Bible paper and the lambskin to make the covers for 7,000 copies. Then we will have 3,000 copies printed with soft covers, which will lower the overall cost. Later this month I will meet with the printer’s representative to finalize the contract.

Thank you for your continued prayers for the Bible Project. We are dealing with the Holy Word of God—and must be absolutely sure that we translate it as accurately as possible in order to clearly convey the original meaning of the Hebrew.

As you have seen with the samples we sent to you in the last mailing, all of the difficult Scriptures will be properly translated and clarified. For example, passages instructing us how to properly count to Pentecost have been correctly translated. They now clearly show how to count fifty days—with each of the seven complete weeks ending with a weekly Sabbath, plus one day. Seven complete weeks of seven days each—to the day after the seventh Sabbath—for a total of 50 days. Therefore, Pentecost is always on the first day of the “eighth week.” This is important because the number eight signifies a “new beginning”—and the resurrection is truly a new beginning for the saints. While there may be some who continue to cling to a Monday Pentecost, the proper translation of Leviticus 23 should eliminate this error in the future.

When the WCG observed a Monday Pentecost for forty years (from 1934 to 1974) they were observing it on the wrong day—a day late—because the day after the seventh Sabbath is a Sunday, not a Monday. Keeping Pentecost on the wrong day undoubtedly lead to a lack of understanding of its full meaning. While many understood the Old Testament harvest of the firstfruits of the grain harvest, they failed to understand that the true harvest of the spiritual firstfruits at the first resurrection also had to occur on a Pentecost. Instead, as so many still assume, they believed that the first resurrection would take place on the Feast of Trumpets. But the Feast of Trumpets is a memorial of the blowing of trumpets all day long. Trumpets is God’s call to war, not a day of the resurrection of the firstfruits.

The New Book: Since a Pentecost resurrection is still a problem for many brethren today, the new book God’s Plan for Mankind Revealed by His Sabbath and Holy Days shows in great detail why Pentecost is the feast day that truly pictures the spiritual harvest of all the saints at the first resurrection. The saints are indeed the firstfruits of God—to be raised from the dead on Pentecost, the spiritual harvest of God.

We have already received numerous letters from brethren telling us how much they like the new book with its set of four CDs. We plan to include some those letters next month—but for now, this letter is rather short due to my work on the Bible Project and trip to Monrovia for the Sabbath of June 9.

Feast of Tabernacles Letter: By time you receive this letter we will have begun mailing out the Feast of Tabernacles letter announcing all the festival locations. Brethren, in the years just ahead of us, we need to make every effort to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, because there is going to come a time when it will be nearly impossible to travel very far in order to keep the feast. Because of age and the rising cost of travel, lodging, food and meeting halls, it is most likely that more and more brethren will eventually have to keep the feast at home or in very small groups. Always remember that Jesus promised, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

Today, as we continue to witness the day-by-day unfolding of prophecy, we truly need to draw close to God through prayer and the daily study of the Scriptures in order to stir up the Spirit of God that is within us. As Paul wrote to Timothy: “I admonish you to stir up the gift of God that is in you by the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound-mindedness…. [For God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling—not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the ages of time” (II Tim 1:6-7, 9).

May you continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” in all you do. Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Brethren, once again thank you for your continued love, prayers and support through your tithes and offerings. May God’s love, grace and blessings be upon you in everything.

With love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter