Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
This has been a full week again involving a variety of matters.
One matter had to do with how to handle a dream report I received in late September 2013. After counseling with various ones both in and out of the Continuing Church of God, I decided to include something about it in this letter.
Another area of work this week had to do with East Africa, specifically Kenya and Tanzania. We are looking at how to better respond to the inquires we are getting from that region of the world. I also made four telephone calls to East Africa this week, as well as some calls in the USA, in an attempt to figure out how to better serve that region. There were also numerous emails. Over in Tanzania, we have gotten additional interest from another group there that appears promising. We have not made a final decision if anyone will specifically represent us in parts of East Africa or if so, who that would be.
This week we sent song books and Bible News Prophecy magazines to various ones in East Africa. This letter is going out a little earlier this week at the request of someone from Kenya.
Over in India, work was started on translating the Bible News Prophecy magazine into the language of Telugu.
We also worked on various website issues, including attempting to get more materials in languages other than English, as well as adding more English language materials.
As mentioned last week, the Continuing Church of God has been invited to have some type of participation in a project related to the area of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill related to a possible archeological project/dig in that vicinity. We received some feedback on this, but not enough to make a decision yet.
Dreams and the Continuing Church of God
Do dreams and prophets have any place in the Christian Church today? Are any related to the Continuing Church of God?
The Bible teaches:
8 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them,
“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:14-18)
28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Despite what the Bible supports, most Church of God groups do not seemingly accept that there are any prophets today, nor do they seem to accept that God actually sometimes speaks in dreams in the 21st century. Part of the reason for this is that those self-proclaimed ‘prophets’ outside of the Continuing Church of God have proven to be false.
But that does not mean God doesn’t ever use dreams or have any in the office of prophet or ever pour out a ‘double-portion’ of His Spirit (cf. 2 Kings 2:9-15) as happened when an ordained minister named Gaylyn Bonjour so prayed and anointed me on December 15, 2011.
The Bible shows that the Apostle Peter and the prophet Joel mentioned that there would be some with prophetic dreams in the end times.
But first, let us start here with something that the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about dreams:
Let me say here that in about 99,999 times out of 100,000, when people think GOD is speaking to them in a dream or vision in this day and age, it is pure imagination, or some form of self-hypnotism or self-deception. I have only come to believe that this dream was a bonafide call from God in the light of subsequent events. (Autobiography of Herbert Armstrong, Volume I, chapter 10)
And that is correct. Most dreams are not from God, even if people think that they are. Dreams from God are shown to be correct in the light of subsequent events (though just because a dream ends up being correct, that does of itself, not prove that it was from God as there can be other factors; cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Though many discount all dreams, many also forget that Herbert W. Armstrong believed that his wife Loma Armstrong had a dream from God, although it took him some years to accept the validity of it:
Within 30 or 60 days after our marriage God spoke to my wife in what might have been an intense unusual dream, or a vision — but it was years later before we came to realize that this really was a message from God. (Armstrong HW. Brethren and Co-worker letter, November 28, 1956; see also, Autobiography of Herbert Armstrong, Volume I, chapter 10).
A question to ponder is have there been any dreams from God in more recent years?
A few years ago I had a dream, which while I did not understand it at first, I did as it became fulfilled over the years (it had to do with myself and a particular evangelist). There also seems to have been at least one other dream related to the Continuing Church of God that I would like to mention in some detail here that some else had.
Unbeknownst to me until late September 2013, Fesilafai Fiso Leaana of New Zealand had a dream after going to bed on December 8, 2012. Here is a report that Fesilafai Fiso Leaana wrote about her dream:
A few months before my dream, my husband and I noticed a contradiction in practice, regarding the sabbath commandment in LCG, from there we started to pray continuously for God to lead us to where the truth is. It seems God has answered our prayers through the dream.
The dream began with myself and approximately 70 New Zealand Living Church of God brethren, then suddenly LCG vanished (I was wondering where is LCG?) and I was left standing with approximately 10 people excluding myself, on a very high building. We were standing on the very top of the building, where I couldn’t see the bottom, there were no other buildings, just this building. I could not see the bottom of the building but just clouds below the building and clouds surrounding the building which led to a beautiful white mountain – a mountain that had no ends on either side. The building was pretty close to the mountain, I could see the top of the mountain. The mountain was all white and so beautiful. I remember that I began to be filled with joy and peace. But also wondering how we got up on this building and confused why there were no other buildings but the clouds seemed like it was hiding the building and I felt protected or it felt like a safe place. I looked around there were still only about ten people there, the only person I could clearly recognize was Shirley constantly working, the approximate ten others were just sitting and standing around. So I walked around the building looking for the large crowd from LCG, but all I kept returning to was that Shirley was working and doing different types of work alone while the others were still sitting and standing around the building with me. I wondered why she was working a lot. I could not find LCG.
Then suddenly a message came to my mind: “There is a secret in the mountain”. And I was so happy to know that, I was still feeling elated and could still see the beautiful white mountain and wondered about the secret. Then I asked: “What is the secret?” Then the message said, nobody knows the secret in the mountain but only you have received this message that there is a secret in the mountain. Then I asked ‘what is the secret in the mountain?’ I received a message to my mind that told me that “the secret in the mountain is the Ark of the Covenant”. Then the dream abruptly ended because I woke up. And immediately, I woke up my husband and recounted the dream to him, and I told my husband that it reminded me of when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the mountain and that the mountain was also covered with clouds.
On the same day after my dream, at church service Mr Penman warned us to be careful what we read from Bob Thiel’s Obama book, because they do not support everything he wrote in it. At the time I kept your name in my mind as I did not know who you were then.
Then 3 weeks later Shirley contacted me regarding your Chronology – the exit from LCG. Shirley had all of the Chronology and gave us all a print out of it and went over it with my husband and I. Shirley kept stressing the integrity of the LCG leadership and administration was compromised as proven by your Chronology account. Then my husband and I had to make a decision whether we would continue with LCG or go with Bob Thiel (you) since Shirley, John and Kayla had already decided to be with you 🙂
We decided to go with Bob Thiel and then left the meeting but a letter from Mr. Penman and a visit from the new New Zealand minister Paul attempted to obstruct our departure and tried to dissuade us from leaving LCG and coming with you. This forced us to carefully rethink our decision.
My husband and I were alone, that’s when my husband said to me, “remember your dream? This is what your dream means, that we need to leave this church and go with Shirley”. That’s when we knew what to do. And this dream is the reason most of us in the kiwi CCOG knew that we are in the right Church, God told us to come to this Church. We reaffirmed with Shirley and others that we were going to go with Bob Thiel and my husband told them the dream for the first time and that the dream is the reason my husband and I decided to come.
Not having all the details of the dream, Shirley then prayed about the dream. She asked God for more understanding on the dream. Then the next day she was reading the book of Psalm and Psalm 25:14 JUMPED out at her: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.” (email 9/29/13)
Within several weeks of the dream, ten people in New Zealand, including Shirley Gestro (the Shirley above) began to attend the newly formed Continuing Church of God.
Biblically, mountains can symbolize government (Psalm 30:7; Isaiah 11:9; Daniel 2:35; Zechariah 4:7) and white purity or cleanness (Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 7:14, 19:14). Clouds around a mountain (or at least the top of it) could show a separation—maybe a separation that keeps many from seeing all of the truth (cf. Job 22:14; Lamentations 3:44) or recognizing top leadership?
The dream seemed to be a signal to confirm that the Philadelphia mantle was not with the Living Church of God, but instead was associated with someone that that had something to do with the ark of the covenant. Prior to the dream Fesilafai Fiso Leaana indicated that she had problems with how the leadership in LCG viewed the Sabbath, and that was one of the issues that I dealt within weeks of the formation of the Continuing Church of God.
Now, I (Bob Thiel) never heard of, nor learnt of, this dream until after the start of the Feast of Tabernacles in September 2013 in New Zealand (which is where my wife Joyce and I began the Feast of Tabernacles in 2013).
Why is that potentially significant?
Back in 2006, when I was first asked to give a sermon at the Feast of Tabernacles, it occurred to me that never in WCG, GCG, nor LCG did I recall anyone actually fulfilling the requirement in Deuteronomy 31:10-13 about reading the “words of the law” in Deuteronomy every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles. So, when the opportunity to give a sermon came up (in Guatemala), I attempted to go through that book of the law. In 2012, it occurred to me that since this was to be done every seven years, that somehow I would need to do this in 2013 (seven years later), but I was not sure how this would be done. However, once the Continuing Church of God formed, I realized that how this would be done at the Feast of Tabernacles in 2013.
After I began to cite Deuteronomy 31:10-13 and started reading the book of the law at the Feast of Tabernacles in New Zealand in 2013, Fesilafai Fiso Leaana came up to me and told me about her dream. We discussed some points about it and the ark of the covenant, etc. As it turns out, one of the items that was kept besides the ark of the covenant was the very same “Book of the Law” (Deuteronomy 31:26) that I was reading in its entirety publicly during that Feast of Tabernacles. This is a connection that, humanly speaking Fesilafai Leaana could not have known. (There are also other potential ramifications related to the ark of the covenant that I may attempt to publicly address in the future.)
Subsequent events, events that Fesilafai Leaana could not have known on December 8/9, 2012, confirmed her dream. She had no idea that the Continuing Church of God was going to form, and I had not made the decision to actually form it until after getting a letter on December 28, 2012. Fesilafai Leaana’s dream is another witness as to the proper start, etc. of the Continuing Church of God.
Although some have chosen not to believe all the facts about how and why the Continuing Church of God began, recall that the Bible teaches:
16 ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ (Matthew 18:16)
19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19)
Of course, since Gaylyn Bonjour always freely stated that he did the ‘double-portion’ anointing, there long had been a second witness (though various ones have their own opinion about how to interpret that).
Yet, in addition to various facts, the dream from Fesilafai Leaana looks like perhaps God was planning on making it clearer for true Philadelphians (in various organizations/fellowships) to see that the mantle location had truly changed.
World News Events
On world news, the USA has announced what appears to be a policy of appeasement with the Europeans related to the Snowden leaks of the USA’s espionage (see Kerry commits USA to share more ‘intelligence’ with Europe and seemingly commits to reducing spying on Europe). This week’s recommended sermonette is related to that.
Also in Europe, former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg met with German Chancellor Merkel (see Karl zu Guttenberg has an unannounced meeting with German Chancellor Merkel; is a comeback in the works?). Baron Guttenberg is one that I have been watching since late 2009 as one who possibly could rise up and become the final King of the North of Bible prophecy. He may not be that person, but he has often taken steps since 2009 that suggest that he could be. He is one to watch.
As I mentioned before, over in Egypt, matters there still are not settled. There was a trial that began for its deposed President Morsi that was cancelled, because of complaints and protests (Amidst protests, trial for Egyptian President Morsi stopped and delayed). Later in the week, an Egyptian court said it would not overturn a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood there. However, despite what the courts decide, the reality is that the Bible says a confederation similar to what the Muslim Brotherhood wants will happen in the Middle East and North Africa and that Egypt will be a major part of it (Ezekiel 30:1-9; Daniel 11:40-43).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:
- 2-3 hymns (we are using the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG, and in most areas, the Choral Accompaniment).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette which for most will be a recorded one titled: Are the Snowden NSA leaks leading to the destruction of the USA? There is also a related written article titled: The Snowden Leaks are Leading to the Destruction of the USA. 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: Church Governance. There is also a related written article titled: The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government. 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