Common Faith Network

Common Faith Network

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2018 Feast of Tabernacles


When to join us. Mark your calendars and start making preparations to join us. We will be observing the Feast beginning with food and fellowship as we welcome the Holy Day on Sunday evening September 23rd and running through Monday October 1st. The opening session of the Feast 2018 will begin at sunset on Sunday September 23rd. There will be food & fellowship followed by opening night services to kick off a wonderful time of spiritual reunion of God's family. More details coming.
The beautiful location.We are happy to announce that CFN will be meeting on beautiful Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach Florida. The Fort Walton Beach/Destin area is a family favorite feast destination, and it is easy to see why. With sugar-white sand beaches, abundant family friendly leisure and recreational activities, and a veritable smorgasbord of dining options to please every palette, there is no end to the possibilities for family fun.
The modern venue.CFN is excited to announce that we will be hosting the Feast of Tabernacles at the wonderful Emerald Coast Convention Center again in 2018. The ECCC is located at 1250 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 on beautiful Okaloosa Island. The ECCC is situated on the main highway connecting Fort Walton to Destin. It sits just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, and backs up to a state park on the inland waterway of Choctawhatchee Bay. This modern facility has spacious public areas, meetings rooms for all the many feast functions, and a grand ballroom that serves as the worship center for the feast.
The Luxurious Housing: Members have varied housing needs and interests and the beautiful Emerald Coast is the best place we've found to provide the ideal home for each family. You will find a wide range of restaurants, shopping and activities. Many members will be staying at:
    Azure
    Waterscape
    Summerplace
    Many others within one mile of the Emerald Coast Convention Center
HOUSING DISCOUNTS: Are available to attendees of the Common Faith Network Feast of Tabernacles. Resort Quest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is offering 15-20% discounts for their properties in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin (including Azure, Waterscape, Destin West, Bella Riva, and many others). To claim the discount you MUST BOOK BY PHONE by calling ResortQuest Reservations Department at 1-800-380-4808 to make individual reservations. Guests should identify themselves as part of the Common Faith Network, customer code S1117, when they call. Guests will be asked for a credit card for their advance payment at the time of booking their reservation. The advance payment will be 20% of the total rent. Remember, the discounted reservations are NOT available ONLINE with the group booking code, only by phone.
We understand that some have experienced problems finding housing due to several local schools being on Fall break during the same time, many of the rental agencies are requiring Saturday to Saturday only rental. We suggest you try Airbnb and VRBO. The good news is that many are having success finding beautiful, affordable units available for the specific Feast days.
WORKSHOPS:CFN is on the cutting edge of feast developments, and CFN feast attendees LOVE seminars and workshops. We are making plans for a week full of helpful, informative, and entertaining workshops from the family of faith.
YOUTH CLASSES:CFN is dedicated to making the feast experience special for our young people and has plans for another great Vacation Bible School adventure with classes for ages 4-9, 10-12, and 13-18. Additionally, the young adults (ages 19 and up) will be challenged and encouraged in the INFUSE program with life application learning that extends outside of the classroom and encourages community service.
SPEAKERS:CFN will once again provide a variety of speakers from across organizational lines to inspire and instruct God's people during the feast.
MUSICCFN has something for just about everyone when it comes to music. We enjoy a variety of musical styles and lift the sound of our instruments and our voices in praise with standard hymns, old time gospel, contemporary gospel, and praise & worship music.
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Church of God Cincinnati

Music in the Church by Ken Shoemaker


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
August 03, 2018

Hi Friend,

When the World Goes Crazy

If you occasionally think the world has gone to the dogs, you're in the company of good men-many of whom lived in past generations. Even Jesus looked at the world around Him and said, "This is a wicked generation." (Luke 11:29 NIV)

And it got worse. Caligula and Nero were two notorious emperors of Rome that reigned during the 1st Century after the death of Jesus, and they were as evil as any men who ever ruled. It is reported that Nero hung Christians from crosses and used them as human torches to light his grounds during evening parties.

The Apostle Paul was stoned and beaten. The evidence strongly suggests that in Ephesus he was once required to fight wild beasts. Eventually he was executed at Nero's order because he believed in Jesus Christ.

At least for now life in America is better.

Jesus once reflected, "The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it..." So, one wonders how other generations will judge ours. How, for example, would your ancestors look at this age?

My grandparents were born in the 19th century which almost seems like another world. Yet I can go home to the land they farmed or, in some cases, the home they occupied. In a way it seems strange that on a hot summer day they may have found shade under the same tree that I might rest under today. There are vague memories, maybe aided by pictures, of walking down the sidewalk with my grandfather near his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The same sidewalk still exists. His old house is still there. But the world has changed. What would he think of this world? If he could come out of the grave and listen to the news, how would he judge us?

This week the morning talk show hosts on a radio station in Louisville, Kentucky were talking about the attempted abduction of a twelve-year-old girl. She was walking her dog near her home in an expensive neighborhood when a black Lexus SUV with darkened windows pulled up beside her. The lady said, "Your mother asked me to drive you home." The girl had the presence of mind to reject the offer and get away from the stranger.

On Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I was in Whole Foods examining ingredients on a package when a commotion broke out behind me. I turned to witness a near fistfight between two well-dressed men. The first man was shopping in the store while his daughter was in the next isle. The daughter had run to her dad after the second man had attempted to convince her to leave with him.

Did my grandparents ever hear the term sex trafficking? Did they ever remotely consider that one day this country would have an industry of people making a living by kidnapping young children from the corner grocery store or the family's front yard to be sent into a world of sexual slavery?

Once when Jesus was talking to His disciples about the end times, He gave what may be the most overlooked sign of the last days. He said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold..." Matthew 24:12). Maybe it's too obvious that a world of wicked people will eventually self-destruct, but we too often look at military and political events as the signs leading up to Armageddon.

The significant part of that statement is "the love of most will grow cold." After all, there have always been wicked people-and there always will be. It's the loss of human compassion in the midst of evil that is most concerning.

The lesson may be illustrated by an experiment on honesty conducted by a team of psychologists in New York City. The experiment involved leaving a wallet on the street that contained money and contact information for the owner. The percentage of people who called the owner to arrange to return the wallet was consistent for several days until one day no calls were received. Not one wallet was returned. Why? It was the day following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

The experimenters had no way to predict or control for the effect of an external event on their project, but they concluded that evil events change the habits of people and shut down the sense of compassion that people may normally exhibit.

It is to this circumstance that Jesus was speaking, so He also gave the antidote. The next verse says, "but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:12-13).

It may sound strange but the worse the culture surrounding Christians becomes, the more important it is to focus on the central value Christ taught.

A friend clued me into a book with the subtitle, "The Paradoxical Commandments" which shed insight on this problem. The first paradoxical commandment is, "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway." Another is, "The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway." And another, "The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway." And finally, "People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway."

Perhaps, the first major lesson in the life of every human is that man has been cast out of the Garden of Eden. If God intended us to live in a perfect world our ancestors muffed it. This world is flawed.

When the world is going the wrong direction, avoid the herd instinct. However few the number, some people will be headed the right way. Be one of them.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Church of God Cincinnati

Coming Rest by Dan Allen


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Church of God Cincinnati

Proving All Things by Using Evidence by Bill Veeneman


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
July 27, 2018

Hi Friend,

He Signed It

One of the things parents think about as they grow older is what's going to happen to their "stuff" after they are gone. An inheritance is a blessing. Solomon wrote that a wise man leaves something for his grandchildren. So it is that Donna and I spent an afternoon in the office of an attorney updating our will.

There were a series of documents that passed back and forth over a few weeks until the final iteration was completed. We sat across the desk from the attorney who had become a friend over this period of time, as he passed the completed form to us and called his secretary to witness our signatures. It wasn't official until it was signed. Until then it was a paper with words that had no power. Putting our hands to that document represented what will happen to every bit of wealth we will have accumulated by the time we leave this mortal realm.

The force of this came to mind as I was reading the account of Moses receiving the tablets of stone from God containing the Ten Commandments. The phase that struck me was "...written with the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18) As I read this out loud to Donna she remarked in the same voice she used when teaching history class, "It is just like our will. His handwriting made it legal."

The movie "National Treasures" contains a fascinating plot revolving around the theft of the Declaration of Independence. The inescapable point is that our nation places an extremely high value on documents that are the cornerstone of our civilization. They are placed behind bulletproof glass, surrounded by armed guards and protected by sophisticated electronic equipment.

At the bottom of the Declaration of Independence are the handwritten signatures of our founding fathers. This document had absolutely no value until it was signed, after which all of the words in the manuscript became the words of those who put pen to paper. We say our nation had its birth when the signatures of these fifty-six men were penned to that document.

Many Americans make a pilgrimage to the national capitol to view these documents. They want their children and grandchildren to see THE piece of parchment that made us a nation!

Looking on the actual signatures on the Declaration of Independence I could only imagine what it must have been like for the High Priest of Israel to see the handwriting of God on tablets of stone. This wasn't something written by a man-it was written by the finger of God! From the time of Moses until the time Solomon's Temple was destroyed the Ark of the Covenant was approached by the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement. A mere human could enter the room containing a document written by God-the words that established the foundation of justice for the Kingdom of God. What went through the mind of the High Priest as he viewed this unique tablet?

Even today, many homes display an icon representing these tablets giving testimony that they remain the foundation of the Christian ethos. The Supreme Court Building has such an engraving over the rear entrance testifying that the system of justice in our country rests on what was written by the finger of God.

A fascinating sequel to all this may yet occur. Those two tablets of stone still exist somewhere on this earth-maybe hidden away in a cave like the Dead Sea Scrolls-just waiting for an unsuspecting explorer. Movies have made millions of dollars built on the speculation that someone might find the Ark of the Covenant. Who knows? Maybe one day such a thing will happen.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Morning Companion

When your car breaks down, make two calls




My summer reading list includes the book Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, written by Professor John Sexton. The book is not as sacrilegious as its title suggests. Those of us who are denizens of the game develop an almost mystic approach to the sport, which does seem to take on a quasi-religious nature. Baseball has its cathedrals of sorts (such as Fenway, Yankee, and Wrigley), it's pilgrimage site (Cooperstown), and a pantheon of saints (the Hall of Fame).


Hollywood and Broadway have built on the myth with magical productions such as Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Damn Yankees.


While this book, Baseball as a Road to God, is heavier in good baseball stories than it is in theology, one story caught my eye as pretty good theology. Ironically, it has nothing to do with baseball.  Quoting:

It was 1961, my first year coaching the St. Brendan's debate team … . We had piled into my 1955 Oldsmobile, known to the students for its worn and torn condition and affectionately called Betsy. But as I turned onto the Belt Parkway, a cloud of smoke rose from Betsy's hood. 
I made my way to examine the engine, glancing back only to notice that Sister Maria Dolorosa (sorrowful in Latin) was leading the girls in prayer, petitioning God to start the car. A few unsuccessful attempts at ignition later, and I too became convinced of the need for a higher authority. 
"Sister, you keep praying," I said. "I'm going to get a mechanic."

That calls to mind the faith vs. works tension that seems to call forth much discussion and debate in the world of Christianity. Sister Dolorosa exhibited faith and Professor Sexton was looking toward works. Who among them was right, and who among them was wrong? James in his epistle would say neither, that they were working opposite sides of the same coin.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  (James 2:14 - 17 NIV)
 We find another example of this in Nehemiah. The Jews returning from exile were attempting to rebuild their temple, but they faced not only political opposition from the surrounding people, but also physical attack. Nehemiah's response is right out of Sister Dolorosa/Professor Sexton: "Nevertheless we made our prayer to God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night" (Nehemiah 4:9 NKJV). It is usually the case that we must do what we can do. In Nehemiah it was a case of praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Your thoughts and prayers are good things. Don't let anyone shame you out of praying for help if your car won't start. But then get on the phone and find a mechanic.





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Church of God Cincinnati

Abomination of Desolation Part 1 by Jim OBrien


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
July 20, 2018

America's New Civil War

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Hi Friend,

Alexis de Tocqueville said America was the country with the greatest freedom of speech and the least freedom of thought. For people who are justifiably proud of the 1st Amendment, it may be facing its most serious test.

Often overlooked in the discussion is that freedom of speech is not the central focus of the 1st Amendment. It is the by-product of the right to worship God. Without the right to express ideas freely there can be no freedom of religion. And freedom to worship God is the key reason the Pilgrims came to America.

Pilgrim means "religious wanderer" and these people had wandered from one shore to another in search of a place they could worship in peace-and freedom. Finally, they boarded their families, their tools, their clothes and a few animals onto the lower deck of two wooden vessels, the Speedwell and the Mayflower and set off for a three-month voyage to the Promised Land. Almost immediately the weather turned bad, the Speedwell began to leak and they returned to port where most boarded the already crowded Mayflower.

The two freedoms-the one to worship God and the second, the liberty to express ideas-are indissolubly connected. Overlooking this fundamental reality, Christians in America may be unaware that the forfeiture of free speech will inevitably lead to the loss of opportunity to worship God.

Already the Bible is considered hate speech by some and is banned in certain circles.

Where are we headed? At a college campus in California on Constitution Day in 2013, a decorated military veteran (who also happened to be a student) attempted to hand out copies of the Constitution and was told he could not.

A few months later college students in Hawaii were told they could not give fellow students the constitution outside of a "free speech zone."

Recently students and faculty have joined forces to exclude campus speakers whose opinions they dislike. They are called "disinvitation seasons."

The newest trend is something called 'trigger warnings". Professors who are about to discuss a subject that may be uncomfortable for some students must alert the class. Books and essays must warn students that they are about to read something that may "trigger" a negative emotional response.

Is it possible under such circumstances to "teach" history? Can a teacher say that Hitler was evil or that the Holocaust even occurred? But how does one define evil if the events of the past are too uncomfortable for students to hear?

The history of Christianity is filled with the stories of unknown martyrs who gave their lives in order to "speak" the Gospel. These dedicated men and women sacrificed themselves to pass on the "Word" of God to future generations.

The Apostle Paul faced death on many occasions. "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;" (2 Corinthians 11:24-25 KJV) These things did not happen to Paul because he was leading an army. He was speaking a positive message of hope to an audience composed of mostly peaceful people. But a minority did not want to listen to his ideas and worse-didn't want anyone else to hear his words.

Paul was executed for doing nothing more than expressing his opinion. But his words lived on and started the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.

Has America become so intolerant of opposing opinions that we are headed for another civil war? Some think we're already in one. If our nation has moved that far down the road, there is a scripture we should heed. The Psalmist wrote "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. " (Psalm 119:165 KJV) Odd as it may sound, the road to peace is to love the Law of God. There is something about having a love for God's Laws that prevents a person from being offended. America could use a healthy dose of law to bring about peace.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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