Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
Greetings from Rome! In addition to travel, we spent part of this week finalizing some foreign language editions of the Bible News Prophecy magazine, handling year-end accounting issues, handling emails, preparing for this upcoming Sabbath, and reflecting on our first full year of existence as a new entity.
We also spent time on African matters. And we sent money to Kenya to assist with some of the poor there as well as to prepare to get hundreds of our magazines printed there (slightly more in English than in Kiswahili) for the first time ever.
Brief Update on What Has Been Accomplished by the Continuing Church of God
The suggested sermon for this week is Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? It is a little longer than most of my other sermons, but since this week’s recommended sermonette is a bit shorter than several others of late, the two will somewhat balance each other out as far as total time goes.
Before going further, I would like to apologize to Fesilafai Fiso Leaana of New Zealand for badly mispronouncing her name in that sermon. I believe her name is Samoan and that is not a language I have studied. I ‘warned’ her before that if she wanted me to mention something she told me that I would mention her by name–but no, I did not tell here I would mispronounce it so badly :).
Speaking of apologies, you may notice what seems to be an edit around when I discuss Quantcast in that sermon–our lights went out at that point in the sermon, so the camera was stopped and we started again.
There are frequently trials and complications that we face, not only technical one, but others in all of our lives which as more significant (Acts 14:22).
Since our formation, we in the CCOG have stood for the truth. We have not had the type of personal or doctrinal integrity problems that various other Church of God (COG) groups have had.
We have also been able to clarify and expand understanding on many issues by presenting together scriptures in ways that many had not considered in the past.
We have been able to produce written literature in many languages, and more are to come. We also established many websites and two video channels (links to those and certain additional statistics is in the news post Continuing Church of God first year anniversary: What is being accomplished?).
We have reached millions of people in over 220 countries and territories on the internet, via YouTube, and over the radio. Plus reached others by way of personal contact.
We established congregations in the USA, New Zealand, and Africa. We have known scattered supporters on all continents except Antarctica. We produced at least 125 sermon and sermonette videos this year.
And to better serve our scattered brethren, we just finalized a CCOG Passover Service for use in this coming April.
Despite improper criticisms by various ones who do not wish to believe the truth, the combined popularity of our websites and cogwriter.com exceeds nearly all other COG groups (there are 3-4 groups that seem to be more popular, but 2 are probably not truly COG, one has tended to be lukewarm on doctrine and proclamation, and it is not clear if there is a fourth that is more popular). So brethren, the work that you have been supporting is fulfilling Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20. There is so much more to do.
Yet, we have had a productive first year in the Continuing Church of God. As I have frequently requested in the past, please pray as Jesus instructed:
37 “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
Teaching the truth and love of the word of God to the world in general (Matthew 24:14) and those called in this age in particular (Matthew 28:19-20) is the mission of the Continuing Church of God (more on the mission can be found in the Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God.
This gospel reach has not been accomplished because of our large size (we are very small) or our large budget (it is even smaller). It is through God’s Spirit that we have been able to accomplish this (Zechariah 4:6). The Continuing Church of God is leading the final phase of the work. The accomplishments of our first full year of operation should help prove it to those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deuteronomy 29:4).
December was a record month for the www.ccog.in and the www.pnind.ph websites. While hacker traffic was a factor for the former, even discounting that, both sites broke their respective records in terms of viewership during December 2013.
Also, for the year 2013, the www.cogwriter.com website broke its readership records. The COGwriter.om website also had its best Alexa ranking in December 2013 than any known ranking in prior years.
We are grateful to God for the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
After the January-March edition of the English edition of the magazine was laid out, we noticed that it was too short so a last minute item was added related to the Days of Unleavened Bread.
And at the end that article states, “The Days of Unleavened Bread for 2014 run from sunset March 25th through sunset April 1st.” That should have stated:
The Days of Unleavened Bread for 2014 run from sunset April 14th through sunset April 21st.
The Days of Unleavened Bread for 2013 ran from sunset March 25th through sunset April 1st. This is entirely my fault as I obviously looked at the wrong year for the dates. Sorry for any confusion this might cause. I have asked for a corrected file for the online edition and to prevent this from occurring in the copies to be printed in Kenya.
Note: This article is NOT in the other language editions.
World News Events
On Sunday, the Church of Rome observed another one of its invented holidays. This one is known as the “Feast of the Holy Family” (see Feast of the ‘Holy Family’ another ‘trinity’? Will the “Western lung” unite with its Eastern counterpart?). And while the Bible does teach that Jesus’ mother Mary should be considered blessed (Luke 1:48), many in the Church of Rome push past that into idolatry and more. The Church of Rome seems determined to get people to look more and more towards their version of ‘Mary.’
Speaking of the Church of Rome, Pope Francis claimed to want an end to war and made more ecumenical statements yesterday (see Pope Francis calls for an end to war, but…).
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that effective January 1, 2014 that homosexuals can be members of their youth organization (see Is January 1st when God’s new year begins? BSA changes then in 2014). One of the REQUIREMENTS for being a Boy Scout used to be to that members were to be ‘morally straight.’ And while ‘morally straight’ may still be a requirement on paper, the BSA no longer truly expects its members to be ‘morally straight.’ Boy scouts are youth; youth should not be engaging in sexual activity, homosexual or otherwise. This trend in Western lands to accept homosexuality as ‘normal’ will not end well according to the Bible (Romans 1:18-32).
Over in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia decided to provide billions of dollars in financial assistance to Lebanon (see Saudi Arabia is taking military steps). As a leader of the Sunnis (some consider it THE leader, but Egypt seems more likely to become that in the future), the Saudis want to build a confederation of support amongst those that support its view of Sunni Islam against those who hold the views of Shi’ite Islam. Saudi Arabia has long been concerned about Iran, and Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions have been perhaps even a greater concern in the past year or so. As it turns out, the nations listed in Daniel 11:40-43 that appear to be supporters of the King of the South (and Iran is NOT listed among them in Daniel 11:40-43) are currently mainly dominated by Sunni Muslims. This move to greatly support Lebanon, and other moves, by Saudi Arabia indicate that it is a nation to be watched in the end times (cf. Mark 13:37).
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: Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2014? A written article of related interest would be
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 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: Continuing Church of God first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? There is also a related written news article also titled: Continuing Church of God first year anniversary: What is being accomplished? Here is a link to that written article in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido? 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 improve that as well).
Finally, notice the following from the Apostle Paul:
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
25 Brethren, pray for us…
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, 28)
Brethren, you are in my prayers.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God