Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
The weather has been much cooler than normal in our area, but that has not interfered with doing the work–it has mainly meant that I have worn sweaters indoors a lot.
I also spent some time to do some additional research into church history and prophecy.
Going through Doors in Africa and Around the World
We have been looking at ways to better serve the brethren in East Africa and had a minister visit congregations in several areas. We are also looking to possibly print some copies of the next edition of the Bible News Prophecy magazine in Kenya.
We also ordered more song books for Africa and those should arrive there in a few weeks.
Additionally, someone sent in some money to support orphans and that was sent to Africa earlier this week. Also in Africa, a speaking campaign is planned for the end of this week. Africa takes a lot of my time, and I have concerns about the financial support this area needs as well.
We still hope to be able to get more materials up at the www.ccog.in website. This is the site targeted towards India. There are some technical issues associated with the recently translated materials which I hope and pray will be resolved soon.
Over in the USA, last Sunday evening I was a guest on a podcast called Jim Paris Live. While as a guest sometimes I had to refrain from giving too much strong meat at times, overall it went well and people were reached that we otherwise would not have reached. I expect to do radio interviews also in 2014. For 2013, I was a guest on radio and/or podcast programs 15 times. This cost the Continuing Church of God basically nothing as I do not draw a salary nor did we have to pay to be on the programs. Because these interviews are normally done over the telephone, there usually are no travel costs associated with them either.
Regarding the internet, on a worldwide basis we had an all-time record response to our online Google campaign for last month. While we reached 1,622,846 computers with that campaign in November (which is not a record), we got 20,943 responses, which is a record for us. And as mentioned last week, all of the CCOG websites had all-time record months for last month. And while www.cogwriter.com did not have an all-time record month, its relative popularity improved. When I looked it up earlier this evening its Alexa popularity ranking was 114,525, which is very good (especially when you consider that this means that there are 500,000,000 websites that are not as popular, including most associated with various Church of God groups).
While it was not a record month, we did get thousands of views for our Bible News Prophecy channel last month.
Basically, our plan is to continue to do radio when feasible, continue with the two You-Tube channels, put out regular magazines in as many languages as we can, distribute literature, increase available materials on the internet, visit places where we can, and do what can to fulfill Matthew 24:15; 28:19-19, and lead the final phase of the work.
Biblical and Church History and the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill
Some progress was made in the areas of biblical and church history and certain prophetic ties. Additionally, I have spent additional time considering how to best present this information to our brethren and others who have interest in this subject.
On a related note, earlier this week the Jewish rabbi Avraham Goldstein called me from Israel and we discussed potential Continuing Church of God involvement related to the area at and near the Church of God in Jerusalem’s Western Hill (commonly referred to as the Cenacle on Mt. Zion). He stated that because of my visit there in October, I opened his eyes to the possibilities of some of what this building means to Christians and others. We discussed various matters including a possible archaeological project related to that general area.
I mentioned to him that we might be able to supply some who may wish to dig (as one or two have emailed me to volunteer), but he said that they had enough diggers, but that political issues within the Jewish community were an issue that needed to be dealt with. Unlike most scientists, Avraham Goldstein believes that this hill is the biblical Mt. Zion and that David’s tomb (as well as other tombs of other ancient kings of Judea) is located beneath the building there. Because of this, as well as Catholic and Islamic interest in the building and the area, he believes that the building should be open to all faiths and the immediate area fixed up.
I informed him that while we did not have the financial resources for some of what he had in mind, that we may be able to assist with some publicity and perhaps increase scientific interest in the area. He mentioned that they recently took some ‘radar pictures’ which tends to confirm his view of the area. If this area truly is the Mt. Zion of Revelation 14:1, then it has both historical and prophetic value more than most have accepted. There are also other items of historical and prophetic interest that may be involved as well.
Avraham Goldstein repeatedly told me that he wanted to keep in contact with me on this building. I proposed that he send me some additional information and suggested that perhaps some he knows and I could possibly write some type of technical article about the area that hopefully would help all learn more about the truth of the area, and perhaps lead to more exploration. He was interested and asked me to email him the type of information that I felt was needed at this stage.
While I still do not know how of this may proceed, if it is God’s will, perhaps at some point in time we will have some significant biblical and scholarly involvement.
World News Events
The USA continues to squabble on federal government spending and looks to have a budget, which not surprisingly, continues to increase actual federal government debt (see House approves new budget deal, but it will not avert the coming major crisis to the USA). China, and others, are taking and/or advising steps to protect themselves (see Black Swans, China, and the USA).
Over in Europe, various leaders hope to have an agreement for a ‘banking union’ by the end of the year (see Spain expects European banking union by the end of the month). The Bible teaches that the Beast power will have financial controls (Revelation 13:15-18). A ‘banking union’ would seem to be a step in that direction.
Pope Francis was named ‘Person of the Year” by Time magazine (see Time names Pope Francis ‘Person of the Year’). He, and certain other bishops, also encouraged the veneration of Mary this week (Do you understand the ramifications of the ‘Lady of Guadalupe’?). This Pope seems to be elevating Marian devotion beyond his predecessors and this may end up leading to the fulfilling of various end time prophecies (e.g. Isaiah 47, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Over in Egypt another group was formed (see An attempt to revive Muslim Brotherhood objectives in Egypt was announced). This one to oppose the interim government that removed Egypt’s last president, Dr. Morsi. This ‘new’ group seems to have objectives that are similar to the Muslim Brotherhood, and seems to want a leader who could become the King of the South of Bible prophecy (Daniel 11:40-43).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 also is some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette which for most will be a recorded one titled: WTO Trade Deal and the Rise of the European Beast Power. There is a related written article also titled: WTO/TTIP and the Babylonian Beast. 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: Universal Offer of Salvation: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? This sermon is the fourth part of an intended five-part series on God’s plan to offer salvation to all either in this age or the age to come. There is also a related written article titled: Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis. 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).
Someone from Asia who asked me for prayer, also asked if I could use prayer. I responded that I can. Please pray for more laborers for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God