Letter to the Brethren: January 16, 2014

Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:

We returned back to the USA near midnight on Sunday night after a very long period of travel.  From the time we caught a taxi to the airport and arrived back to our home, it took 23 hours.  Despite being back late, I was at the office early Monday to try to catch up, keep up, and go forward with the work.

This week’s recommended sermon was taped in Vatican City.  It was much more difficult to do as we were told to stop certain types of videotaping while we were there.  So, if you wonder why this sermon shows a lot more Vatican images inside St. Peter’s Basilica and less on me while speaking, that is the reason.

By the way, last week was the first time since 2012 where I actually got to watch a sermon video as opposed to having to give the sermon.  And I watched the same one suggested for everyone else last week, CCOG in Israel: Historical and Prophetic Points.  While I was filmed a lot in that, this was the first time I was able to view it in its entirety.

Africa Matters

We just had the English and Kiswahili versions of the January-March 2014 edition of our Bible News Prophecy magazine printed in Kenya!  While the magazines are also printed in the USA, because of shipping costs, it is less expensive to print some of our literature also in Africa.

Over the past year, we have been working with various ones in Africa.  A couple of months back, Evans Ochieng contacted me and stated that he was interested in possibly working with us in Kenya and Tanzania.  He knew of me years back when he and I were in the same former association.  He has been visiting others affiliated with the Continuing Church of God on our behalf for several weeks and also has various congregations that he has helped serve for years.  He and I spoke again this week.  It is my hope not just to see him in Kenya, but also my hope that he and I will be able to visit those who support us in Tanzania.  Although one of the last things I want to do right now is travel overseas again, I realize that I need to do this and pray that this will help us in Africa.

Also this week, we ordered an additional 80 songbooks to be sent to Kenya, as well as an additional 60 other books.  We believe that personal contact and literature are among the most effective ways to reach people in that part of the world (cf. Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20).  But are also planning on an African focused website after the URL (website address) we have reserved becomes available for activation.

Internet Matters

We received the results of our Google campaign on the internet for December.  We seem to be able to get more and more show interest and December was a record response month for that campaign.  I have spent a lot of time to attempt to better reach people once they have responded to this campaign, but it is taking a long time, yet that project is still in progress.  Hopefully, that project (involving the creation of our first ‘booklet’) will be completely finished by or during the Spring.

On the English language Church of God News page additional links were added to reflect more of our websites. This is an overdue step that apparently had been overlooked and should result in additional visits to the other websites.

As far as the internet goes, the Continuing Church of God seems to be adding more content to our websites than any of actual COG groups.  The internet is currently the most cost-efficient way to reach people around the world in order to fulfill Jesus’ commissions and commands in Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.  In my view, putting up the amount of content that we do while ‘fine tuning’ existing articles are some of the ways that we are preparing for the short work of Romans 9:28, as well as demonstrating how we are currently leading the final phase of the work.

At  the Spanish-language website (http://www.cdlidd.es/) changes were made in order to increase its appeal and the ease that people can find materials.  Specifically, we increased the number of news articles visible from the main page and added a new button for additional information on doctrines.  Furthermore, our Spanish-language translator added photos to the news posts at that site (go to Enseñanzas and click on links).  We now seem to be putting up more materials on the internet in the Spanish language than any other group.

We also appear to be putting more materials up in the language of Mandarin Chinese than any other COG group.

We ultimately hope to have more materials up in the languages of Kiswhaili, French (especially if we end up with more cooperation from some in France), Tagalog, Jingpho, Telugu, and other languages.  We are not doing this because we are ‘competing’ with other groups (actually it was only after receiving a lot of improper criticism of our internet reach by a minister in my former association, did I consider more about reasons why our internet impact was higher than his group), but we are doing this because we are striving to go through every door that we can to reach the world with Christ’s gospel of the kingdom (cf. Revelation 3:7-8; 2 Corinthians 2:12).

World News Events

Much is going on in the world, but also within the various Church of God groups.  There has been a major split in one particular group (see Shake-ups at COGaIC and the bigger vision) and my hope and prayer is that they will decide to accept Philadelphian, and not Laodicean, era priorities and governance (see also Peter Nathan on Thyatira and Sardis, but what about Laodicea?).  But it seems like many truly are unwilling to ‘anoint their eyes’ (Revelation 3:14-22) and not remain Laodicean.  Since Herbert W. Armstrong died (see Herbert W. Armstrong died 28 years ago), nearly all the groups that were once part of his old church have taken a Laodicean direction.

In the USA, another debt increasing plan has been approved that also ended up not including certain restrictions to abortion (see New budget deal increases debt–What did Ezekiel write?).  We put together a BibleNewsProphecy video about the apparent correlation between abortion and debt in the USA (see Abortion, the Bible, and US Debt), and the deal this week seems to be further confirmation.

China showed off some of its military prowess this week by test launching a hypersonic missile that can evade conventional anti-missile defenses.  This has concerned some in the USA, and will be another factor in the USA shifting its military towards Asian concerns, which will tend to get it to overlook the rising threat in Europe until it is too late (see Chinese demonstrate hypersonic missile technology–USA watching, but…).

A federal judge declared that Oklahoma’s law against homosexual marriage was unconstitutional this week (see Judge rules Oklahoma ban on homosexual marriage is unconstitutional).  As one who has read the Constitution of the USA this decision obviously overlooks what the Constitution actually says as well as the view that the writers of the USA Constitution understood.  The Bible warns against adopting homosexual and lesbian practices (Romans 1:26-27) and teaches “those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).  Of course, this is not unique to the USA, as the Anglo-Saxon nations as well as continental Europeans are also promoting this abomination (see also Judge rules Oklahoma ban on homosexual marriage is unconstitutional as other nations are also discussed in it).  It may be that some of the droughts and severe weather that parts of the USA are experiencing is related to the increasing acceptance of the homosexual agenda (see also Drought disaster declared in 11 Western states; any relationship to homosexual agenda?).

Over in Europe, a leader called for a “United States of Europe” (see EU Commissioner calls for United States of Europe!).  This is something that various Church of God writers have been specifically warning against for over six decades.  Yesterday, however, UK European Union skeptic Nigel Farage spoke before the EU Parliament and stated:

The people out there do not want a United States of Europe…I believe that the European elections are going to mark a watershed…that the myth of a {European superstate} inevitability will be shattered by the European elections this year.

Well, Nigel Farage may be partially correct.  While 2014 could mark a watershed, especially if the United Kingdom votes to pull out of the European Union, the reality is that a European superstate will arise.  While it may not actually be called the United States of Europe, Bible prophecy says that it will form, despite having problems which are still future (Daniel 2:41-43) and reorganizations (Revelation 17:12-17).  It could be that upcoming European elections and/or economic concerns may result in civil unrest and violence in parts of Europe–but ultimately, the Bible teaches that the European Beast power will rise up.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:

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 improve that as well).

Brethren, we all need to build godly character.  Notice something related to how Christians should live and do that from the Apostle Peter:

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Let us all have the ‘love of the truth’ and not practice deceit.  Most who claim to be Christians today truly will not turn away from evil.

As Peter wrote, God is against those that do evil, which is another reason why the Continuing Church of God is the group to lead the final phase of the work.  Brethren, please pray that we will have the strength and courage to continue to go through the doors that God will open for us.


Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.