Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
It has been busy here since I last wrote you. There is always so much going on.
One matter had to do with reporting about two of the dreams I mentioned here in the last Letter to the Brethren. I decided to post it at the COGwriter.com website, and while working on that post, realized that since Jeremiah 23:28 said, “The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream,” I should include more details of a dream that I had a few years ago. Anyway, that is included in the post Dreams, the Bible, and the Continuing Church of God.
Various naysayers, of course, ridiculed the dream post, but the Bible is clear that God has used dreams (and similar visions) as one way to give His messages (Genesis 20:3-7, 28:10-17, 31:10-13, 31:24, 37:5-10, 40:5-18, 41:1-32; Numbers 12:6; Judges 7:13-15; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel 2:3-45, 4:4-27, 7:1-28; Matthew 1:20-25, 2:12, 2:13, 2:19, 2:22; Acts 16:9). The Bible is also clear that dreams are something God uses in the last days (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). Those who claim to believe the Bible should realize this.
Reaching the World
We were able to send Bible News Prophecy magazines to Tanzania and also ordered songbooks for the people there. There is a group of 56 people there (most of whom had a WCG background). They liked our Statement of Beliefs in Kiswahili and contacted me a while back because of it. Currently, someone else from Tanzania is working on improving that particular translation for us. Having multiple languages should help us reach many who have not had much contact easier. We also heard from various ones in Kenya and sent literature and song books to several small groups there. We additionally heard from a couple of groups in Uganda.
We are hoping to arrange to have someone visit some of those groups on our behalf. I have spoken with and/or emailed various ones in East Africa and believe that this is a part of the world that has more interest than many other parts in Christ’s message of the kingdom and doing the work. But it is a complicated area to attempt to serve from here.
We made some progress this week related to reaching people in Asia.
Our first professionally translated article into the Korean language is now up: 복음이란 무엇인가? The article in English is: What is the Gospel? We in the Continuing Church of God want people everywhere to be able to hear/read the gospel (cf. Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20).
Progress was made in getting some translations into the Indian language of Telugu this week.
As far as reaching more of the world itself goes, I just received a report from Google. It shows that we reach 1,690,184 computers in October 2013. While that reach is down, the number of those interested because of the campaign for the month was up. This campaign has been effective and is part of our plan to lead the final phase of the work and try to fulfill Matthew 24:14.
World News Events
Typhoon Haiyan dominated the headlines this past week. The Philippine islands were hit by one of the strongest violent storms in history. About 10% of the people there were seriously affected by the storm. Certain areas on the eastern coast of the Philippines are in shambles. Food and water supplies are also an issue (see Death, Food & Water Shortages, and Destruction in the Philippines). Although I sent two emails and made multiple Skype attempts, I have not been able to learn about the status of our members there. But that is not that unusual as they do not have internet or Skype availability often, plus the internet is out in various storm affected areas. Those that I tried to contact are in Silay City, which while not destroyed nor close to Tacloban (which was devastated), did sustain damage from Typhoon Haiyan. One report that I have received from a Filipino supporter also confirms that the communication issues with Silay City, as opposed to devastation, is the likely reason we have not received a response yet. Those in the Philippines, members and non-members, should be in your prayers.
Over at the Vatican, steps are continuing to be taken in order to encourage dialogue and unity among those in the Muslim and Eastern Orthodox faiths with the Church of Rome (see Vatican plans related to Islam & Orthodox are developing). The Bible is clear that an ecumenical religion will affect the world Revelation 13:4,8) and steps for such are under development.
In the Middle East, Russia seems to be filling in some of the void that certain USA policies have created (see Russian MiGs to Egypt? Putin calls Saudi king. Preludes to Psalm 83?). As nations in North Africa and the Middle East move further away from the USA, they will be more inclined to fulfill certain end time prophecies such as those in the 83rd Psalm, the 11th chapter of the Book of Daniel, and the 30th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel.
In the USA Hawaii decided to take steps to legalize homosexual marriage. The United Methodist Church has tried to take a stand against one of their ministers for performing homosexual weddings, but other ministers there have objective (see More Protestant ministers supporting homosexual marriage). The Bible warns that those that approve homosexuality and other biblically-prohibited behaviors are subject to destruction (Romans 1:24-32).
As far as the USA goes, it seems determined to take steps that devalue its currency, and others are noticing this (see Some bankers see USA following wrong path; China attempting to take advantage of USA’s wrong financial policies). The expected next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has indicated that she will continue those type of steps as well (see Fed’s Yellen again signals her commitment to inflating US currency). This will not bode well for the USA and aligns with warnings in Habakkuk 2:6-8.
Meat in Due Season
This weeks recommended sermonette is titled Could Comet ISON be Wormwood of Bible Prophecy? While some might think that some of the material on the recommended sermonette is a bit “out there”, the Bible teaches to give “meat in due season” (Matthew 24:45, KJV). In the next couple of weeks, Comet ISON is supposed to get about 15 times brighter in the sky than a full moon does. This will get many people’s attention and make some wonder if this has any prophetic ramifications. Some believe this comet will be brightest on November 25, 2013, which is 30 days before December 25, 2013–and that this is supposed to be a sign, according to some fringe types, that Jesus will return on December 25, 2013. Others point to a later time.
Because of statements that Protestant leaders such as Billy Graham and John Hagee have made, some evangelical Protestants are seriously wondering if Jesus will return in 2014 and 2015. Billy Graham pointed to essentially moral reasons for his conclusions last month, whereas John Hagee pointed to astronomical signs such as blood moons (you can read Blood Moons and Prophecy or view the video Blood Moons, Prophecy, 2014, and 2015 for more details).
Some others have claimed that Comet ISON is really ‘Planet Nibiru’ (they also call it Planet X). Some have tied the Wormwood prophecies of Revelation 8 in with this and are seemingly expecting something that the Bible teaches cannot possibly happen. Some claim that all humanity will be gone by the end of January 2014 because of it–that also cannot possibly happen, which is something that I believe the sermonette proves.
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: Could Comet ISON be Wormwood of Bible Prophecy? There is also a related written article titled: Wormwood and Planet Nibiru. 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: God is love . I expect this to be part of a multi-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).
The Apostle Peter wrote:
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
Hopefully, sharing what has been happening in the Continuing Church of God brings you good comfort and helps you become more complete and better at showing love.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God