Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
As most of you are aware, I recently was in Israel. After flying into Tel Aviv on October 22nd, I was able to go to places such as Joppa/Jaffa, Caesarea, Tel Megiddo (Armageddon), the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and old Jerusalem. This also included getting to the remains of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill.
If I need to go to Israel again (and expect that I may need to), hopefully my wife will be able to accompany me. But on this particular trip it was just me, a hired Israeli guide, and various ones that we were able to meet.
The guide was very helpful as sometimes we had to deal with Israeli security, Jewish religious concerns, etc. We had to stop videoing once and almost had to stop several other times. The guide’s knowledge of the Hebrew language, the Israeli culture, etc. were helpful as without his assistance, I probably would have not been able to accomplish as much as I seemed to be able to.
As mentioned last week, we have been invited to have some type of participation in a project related to the area of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill as well as a possible archeological project/dig in that vicinity.
No decision on this has been made about our participation and I have just asked the Israeli director who contacted me to provide more information. We will see what he says and try to see if our involvement will assist the final phase of the work.
On Sunday October 27th, I left the nation of Israel and came back to the USA. The day after I left, there were news reports that there were attacks in Israel from Gaza; there were other bombings this week, and even today (see Israel bombs Gaza and Syria). Violence continues in many places throughout the world. We need to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come!”
There was a lot to do to try to get caught up in the USA, but going to Israel was helpful. We (the guide and I) were able to video several sermons and a couple of Bible News Prophecy channel sermonettes.
The suggested sermon for today was videoed on the Mount of Olives in Israel.
Reaching the World Over the Internet
Earlier this week, I took a look at the Alexa popularity rankings of at least fifteen COG-related websites. Of all the Church of God groups whose leaders were once part of the old Global Church of God (and who are not ‘false apostles’), the Continuing Church of God has the most popular website affiliated with it. That is www.cogwriter.com. A detailed listing is found in the post Alexa internet rankings of groups whose leaders were once part of GCG.
Although I limited the listing to sites in the English language, I noticed that even our Asian language website ccog.asia (Alexa ranking 12,179,975) was more popular than several other COG group websites.
Speaking of Asia, there are several specific developments to mention here. One is that the sermonette suggested for this Sabbath is by an Asian. Jay Chiang lives in China and spoke here in Arroyo Grande a few weeks ago.
Another is that the second edition of the Mandarin Chinese edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine was posted online earlier this week (see 圣经新闻与预言2013 (October-December) and is currently being printed. The Continuing Church of God may be the only COG group putting out a recurring periodical in the Mandarin Chinese language–the language with the most native speakers in the world.
Still another is that the amount of articles viewed by people in China is continuing to increase at an astounding pace. For example, in January 2013, there were 3,207 articles viewed by people identified as being in China by AWStats at the www.cogwriter.com website. In September 2013 the number climbed to a record of 27,696 articles viewed there .
And for October 2013?
The numbers of COGwriter article views by people in China was an astonishing 81,321! The growth in reaching this most populous country on earth this year has been staggering. We should all be grateful that this door is being opened to us and that we have been blessed to be able to reach more and more there. And now with an additional magazine in Mandarin and more articles, our reach should continue to increase (ccog.asia is a newer site and still has relatively few materials, but the amount of materials and interest in it is increasing).
There is also fantastic news to report in the Korean language. We just received a translation of the COGwriter article What is the Gospel? into Korean. This is the first time we have had an article translated into Korean by someone who understands the Korean language (we have had one item that was machine-translated into Korean before).
In terms of printed literature, during October we sent literature to people in North America, Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.
World News Events
On world news, the embarrassment that the USA has faced in getting caught for its espionage has seemed to increase. The government of the USA does not seem to be repentant, only upset that it was caught doing to others what it would not want done to itself. This is getting the world in general, and the Europeans in particular (see EU Commissioner: USA espionage is for economic advantage, not terrorism and Spain summoned US ambassador over spying, while USA claims it stopped listening to European leaders calls this summer and France and Germany have a plan to ‘rebuild trust’ that will help eliminate the USA)upset with the USA in particular and even seems to spill over to resentment against its Anglo-descended allies (Karl Guttenberg and others on negative impact of USA surveillance. Who are the ‘five eyes’?).
This combined with increasing USA debt, shifts in military priorities, etc. will help the rise of the coming European Beast power.
Meanwhile, the USA continues to not solve its financial problems. It seems intent on increasing its debt (e.g. Some analysts expect ‘Europhoria’ and QE3 to continue and Despite the ‘shutdown,’ ‘negotiations,’ and other ‘crises,’ the USA debt continues to rise) and encouraging immoral behavior (e.g. US government leaders moving to expand homosexual and abortion ‘rights’). A BBC correspondent basically thinks the USA’s problems are related to its political structure, but the real cause of the debt, etc. is spiritual (see BBC and Bible on why America no longer works).
Over in Egypt, matters there still are not settled. There were protests after the arrest of one of the few top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood that had previously been allowed to be free (see Students protest and get tear gassed after Muslim Brotherhood leader arrested in Egypt).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:
- 2-3 hymns (we are using the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG, and in most areas, the Choral Accompaniment).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette. Here is a link to one by Jay Chiang: Astrology, the occult, tattoos, and pornography. Articles of related interest may include: The Bible and Astrology and Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose and Pornography: A scourge on society and Tattoos: History and Biblical Teachings. Other sermonettes are also 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 will be a recorded one titled: Sermons on the Mounts. This sermon was given on the Mount of Olives in Israel and basically tries to cover what Jesus said in Matthew 5,6,7,24,&25 as well as Acts 1. 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. So, this is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to try to improve that as well).
Brethren, I get requests pretty much every week from people who say that they would like to attend a congregation of the Continuing Church of God. But because we are such a scattered ‘little flock’ (Luke 12:32) and have few leaders, most of the time there is no reasonably close congregation for me to refer them to.
But perhaps I should mention that there could be a couple of places in the USA that we may possibly be soon adding congregations. If so, I would expect to announce them in a later Letter to the Brethren.
Notice the following from Jesus, which I have mentioned before:
2…”The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10:2-3)
Brethren, please pray that the Lord of the harvest will send us laborers for His harvest. Pray that God would allow us to raise up more congregations if that is His will.
Please also pray for each other, pray for me, and pray for God’s kingdom to come.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God