Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
Another full and busy week. There was both good news and negative news.
The good news is that many of the websites had record or near months for February. We also may have reached more people on the radio in February 2014 than any other month.
The recommended sermonette for last week, Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware!, has proven to be popular with thousands of views since we first posted it last week. There is real danger with the ecumenical movement and those who claim to believe the Bible need to avoid being caught up in it.
On the negative side, there were a variety of technological problems and challenges in the past week.
We had a problem that the site (Aweber) that sends out our electronic daily newsletter had technical problems which prevented various ones from getting the newsletter. This seems to now be resolved.
We also have had some serious problems both with our telephone number, as we had changed carriers to assist with internet matters. Furthermore, we had problems with the contact form on the CCOG.org website, frustrating many who have tried to contact us the past couple of weeks.
Hopefully those problems are resolved.
However, if you sent us a message from CCOG.org in the past several weeks, please understand that we never received it. I want to apologize for this problem, but will add that I did work to correct it once it became known.
It also was frustrating trying to get a new laptop with Windows 8.1 ready to take to Evans Ochieng in Kenya later this month. Apparently, Microsoft does not like anyone setting files up in the USA for a computer going to Kenya. Working on this took much time and ended up not working, so despite what the Dell rep said when I bought it, another Dell tech said this could not be done because of Microsoft complications, so this laptop was returned.
However, because of the work in Africa, including the hope to print more literature there, a proper computer is needful, and one with Windows 7 was ordered.
Originally, I had hoped to bring multiple laptops with me to Africa, but that does not seem feasible, due to many factors including time, space, and funds.
We also tried a less expensive way to send some funds to Africa, which our American bank indicated would work, but did not. So, to allow various congregations over there to be visited by our minister Evans Ochieng, we ended up using Western Union to send funds yesterday. We are still looking into better, less costly ways to provide needed funds (Western Union charges a lot more for Kenya than many other locations).
Speaking of funds, I finally took some time to try to be able to get the Continuing Church of God to directly accept donations via PayPal. Someone had asked me about that a couple of weeks ago, and I had looked into this once earlier, but without success. Finally, it is available.
Since our income is not amongst the highest of the COGs, whatever ways we can properly utilize to make donations easier may end up helping us finish the work that we are to do.
The Bible Hymnal
We are still trying to see if we may end up with our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, in the Kiswahili language. Someone in Tanzania has agreed to assist. If it is done very soon, I may be able to bring some with me on my trip to Nairobi, Kenya later this month. Your prayers for this would be appreciated.
World News Events
The situation with Ukraine and Crimea have been in the news and this is the subject of the recommended sermonette for this week, which is Ukraine in Prophecy?
Various ones, in and out of the USA, are having concerns about how the USA has handled this and other matters (see Iran considers Obama’s threats ‘joke of the year;’ Germans wonder about Obama’s international commitments). Various statements, etc. from the USA government seem to be convincing many that the USA has lost the pride of its power (Leviticus 26:19). And while the USA will likely have future displays of its military might, the situation with Ukraine is undoubtedly driving the Europeans to realize that they need to have more of their own credible military to stand up to Russia. Yet, the Bible shows that the coming European power will turn on the USA (Daniel 11:39).
Because of the crisis in Crimea/Ukraine, we have had a record number of people viewing the article Russia and Ukraine: Origins and Prophesied Future, and have had higher than normal views at the Church of God news page this week.
In California, its Governor Brown warned about having too many ‘potheads,’ which is one of the reasons he cited for not trying to immediately legalize marijuana. In the federal District of Columbia, the city council voted to ‘decriminalize’ marijuana (see Washington D.C. Council votes to ‘decriminalize’ marijuana). There is a new trend to increase public acceptance of marijuana in the USA (and elsewhere) and I expect to see a lot more ‘decriminalizations’ of it, as well plans to add marijuana taxes. Expect to see people trying marijuana, who otherwise may not have, as it becomes more ‘legally acceptable,’ despite the health and moral problems it can cause.
On the moral side, Massachusetts’ highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, ruled Wednesday that it is not illegal for people to try to take photos looking up women’s skirts! For details, check out Upskirt photos not deemed to be illegal! The Bible warns about increased problems in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-7), as well as people approving immoral behaviors (Romans 1:28-32).
This time of year, many Greco-Romans are now keeping ‘Lent.’ In his message for Lent and Ash Wednesday, yesterday, Pope Francis again told people to turn to his version of ‘Mary’ (see Ash Wednesday and Lent for 2014). Pope Francis is highly Marian-focused and ‘Mary’ is believed to a useful ecumenical tool by various Roman Catholics (see also Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?). Francis is one who many seem to think looks like a lamb, but his statements on ‘Mary’ and other matters suggests that he truly more speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11). If Francis is not the last pope, he certainly seems to be preparing the way for the final Antichrist.
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: Ukraine in Prophecy? There is somewhat related written article titled: Russia and Ukraine: Their Origins and Prophesied Future. 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: Race and Grace; Do you view race as God does? There is a related written article titled: God’s Grace is For All. 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).
Notice the following from the Apostle Paul:
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:28-29)
Brethren, the world does not like what we stand for, but as it says in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God