Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Work has proceeded related to gospel proclamation, literature production, serving the brethren, preparing for the Fall Holy Days, and working with various ones around the world.
In last week’s letter, I mentioned our booklets as a tool to reach others better. As it turns out, CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng sent me an email where he said he had just received a report that after reading our booklet, Continuing History of the Church of God, another group of 30 in Kisii, Kenya who was considering us, decided that they too wanted to be part of the Continuing Church of God.
Kachinland and India
Received a letter in the mail from Lazum Brang of Kachinland (a region claimed by Burma). My wife Joyce retyped the following from his typewritten letter:
On July 31 evening, we have gladly received a parcel from you. The enclosures are:
1. Your kind letter of July 8, 2014
2. Bible News Prophecy, the new issue of July-September 2014
3. Faith for those God has Called and Chosen (booklet)……….etc.
We all are very very happy and glad to receive this literature. And we all thank you so much for your kind sending and generous support.
Now we are using “Bible News Prophecy” as our Sabbath School Lessons Book. Bible News Prophecy, is very very helpful for our ministry. Through reading all the articles, we have had many many spiritual knowledge and strengths. And we have to know more about the Bible Truths.
We very much enjoy reading about the “Leadership Conference in Nairobi, Africa. We all very much appreciate you for your evangelistic works around the world. The laborers are very few for the harvest, but today we all are now coming to new Canaan. Before reaching New Canaan, we all must be sanctified and purified before God.
Kachinland is not the same as other foreign countries. It is a war-field. The Burma government regularly sends many many Burmese troops with great weapons to Kachinland all the time. From July 22 to 26, the 16 ethnic revolutionary groups’ leaders from various areas, held a very special meeting in Laiza, China border. This coming September, these leaders will meet with the Burma government leaders in Yangon, Burma, and they will discuss more about cease-fire agreement for all of Burma.
In this year, we aim and plan to celebrate “The Feast of Tabernacles” in our hometown. But we don’t know about tomorrow. Because, if the cease-fire of agreement fails, the terrible fighting will be started again and again here. . . 1,200,000…refugees are still now staying at the refugee camps in China’s borderlines. Most of them are babies and older people. But, our scattered church members are not included among the refugees. We all are very much thankful to God for His merciful protection…
…After the rainy season, we also aim to build a big hall (90 feet long by 20 feet wide) for the services of God…
…I will try to translate “The Statements of the Continuing Church of God” and other important literature in Jingpho language, but I need to find time. Because I am the only one employee and minister here, and I am very very busy all the time…
…May God bless you and your ministries around the world very abundantly. And please be assured that I and all the Kachin believers remember you always in our prayers…
…P.S. Between Kachinland and Burma, the mail service is still now running regularly. Please convey to all American believers about “KACHINLAND” and its present conditions. Please let us unite our hearts to accomplish the work of God very rapidly.
There are a couple of groups around the world that, while not officially part of the Continuing Church of God, that we cooperate with.
We also regularly hear from a group like that in India, and less often from one in France.
As it turns out, I received nearly a dozen emails this week from another group in India. The leader there has expressed interest in translating our materials in the Tamil language. About 70 million speak Tamil as their native language. Most speakers live in southern India and northern Sri Lanka. However, because of the type of characters Tamil uses, etc. we do not have the funds for proper typesetting for a project like that at this time, despite the offer for free translation. Perhaps we will in the future.
We would like to reach more in all of Asia, including India and Kachinland.
Fall Holy Days
The Fall Holy Days will be upon us shortly.
The Feast of Trumpets is from sunset September 24th until sunset September 25th in 2014. The Day of Atonement is from sunset October 3rd until sunset October 4th this year.
The Feast of Tabernacles begins the next week. For a complete listing of the Holy Days with their Roman calendar dates, go to Holy Day Calendar. In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日？ 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
If any of you wish to host any of the holy day services at your home this Fall, please let me know so we can inform others that might be interested.
Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles is coming soon. Opening night is October 8th.
The scheduled location for the USA Feast of Tabernacles’ site in 2014 is the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport hotel, 7550 Augusta National Drive, Orlando, Florida 32822. As the name implies, it is near the Orlando, Florida airport. We are considering a group activity after services on October 10th called the Holy Land Experience. If enough people contact me by September 10th, we might be able to get a group discount. If not, my family and I still plan to go. Information on that activity and more is in the article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2014. For more information, contact Dr. Bob Thiel, email email@example.com.
The site for the Feast of Tabernacles in New Zealand is to be in Tawa which is a suburb of Wellington. The location there is the Bucket Tree Lodge, 1 Boscobel Lane (PO Box 51009), Tawa, Wellington. For more information, contact John Hickey, email firstname.lastname@example.org; You can also telephone him on his mobile phone. His number is 021 519 441.
In Kenya, it is planned that Ndhiwa will be used as the primary Feast of Tabernacles’ site, and that there will be another site in Kisii. Most from Kenya and Tanzania are expected to go to the site in Ndhiwa. For more information, contact Evans Ochieng, email email@example.com.
We expect to have a video group site in the Philippines (Silay City). For details, contact Oscar Mediavilla via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information on all the expected sites is in the article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2014.
Festival Tithe of the Tithe
The Bible teaches the following related to what has been termed ‘second tithe’ or the ‘festival tithe’:
22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. (Deuteronomy 14:22-27)
A few days ago, a supporter asked me our position on the ‘tithe of the tithe.’ In the days of the old Radio Church of God, an administrative decision was made to encourage members to send in one tenth of their festival tithe to support costs associated with putting on the Feast of Tabernacles.
Part of the rationale seemed to be based on the view that if this was not done, tithes and offerings would have to be diverted from proclaiming the gospel in order to pay for expenses associated with the Feast of Tabernacles. This was not considered to be ideal (cf. Acts 6:2-4).
The point of the practice of giving a tenth of our second tithe—a tithe of the tithe—is to help the church to pay for the many expenses incurred in providing so much of what we need at the Feast. These include such items as meeting hall rental, additional song books, and certain ministerial expenses. Thus far, we have not received enough ‘tithe of the tithe’ to cover the expense of the least expensive hall rental we could find in the Orlando, Florida area, let alone the others.
Since the Bible itself teaches to not ‘forsake the Levite’ in Deuteronomy 14:27, the idea that some of the festival tithe should pay for ministerial-related expenses has biblical support. And, of course, various scriptures discuss the idea of looking out for others and the poor. Perhaps, it should be mentioned that the Levites themselves paid a tithe of the tithe in ancient times (Nehemiah 10:38-39).
In budgeting our festival tithe, we ought to consider those whose circumstances in life have made it impossible for them to attend the Feast without assistance. The problem we currently have is that applies to most who are part of the Continuing Church of God. Most of our supporters in North America do not have the funds to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, and we do not have the finances to support them, at least not this year.
Most of the members we have in Kenya and Tanzania also do not have the funds they need either. However, as we can assist those in Africa for a lot less per person than those in the West (the African cost is about 95% less), we plan to provide some assistance. Currently, we do not have enough funds to cover what they think they need over there, but we will try to provide some basic support. We have many orphans, widows, and poor people in that part of the world.
Helping needy members attend is a practice we are trying to continue.To help these individuals be with us at the Feast, in addition to the tithe of the tithe, some may contribute excess second tithe after the festival season is over, which will help next year.
You can designate ‘festival tithe’ or ‘tithe of the tithe’ on your check, money order, or any other way you make contributions to the church.
Used Computers to Africa
A supporter on the east coast of the USA was able to send around 11 used computers to CCOG Pastor Evans Ochieng in Kenya for distribution over there. This individual contacted me about his idea and raised extra money on his own to do so.
When I went to Kenya this past Spring, I had hoped to bring several computers with me, but because of costs and space, was only able to bring one laptop for Pastor Evans and a Galaxy tablet (plus a lot of literature).
It is my hope and prayer that the computers will help improve communications as well as assist in getting our literature translated into more languages such as Ekegussi and Dholuo (we currently have materials in English and Kiswahili).
Additionally, a camera, some pens, and calculators were also included in the shipment. While we cannot support all the physical needs for those in Africa, we try to assist where we can, especially where we believe it will also help the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.
World News Events
A report came out this week that points out that the potential of the supervolcano in Yellowstone park in the USA to cause severe damage is significant (see Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption Would be Devastating For U.S.). While few expect this to happen in their lifetimes, no one on earth knows that for sure. It may well be that there will be a supervolcanic explosion in Yellowstone, major earthquakes, severe hurricanes, severe tornadoes, and/or other ‘natural’ disasters to hit the USA and Canada prior to the start of the Great Tribulation. Such events could put those nations into positions that they would be weakened enough to embolden the final Beast power to strike, which will come to pass (Daniel 11:39).
The USA, itself, has been dropping bombs in Iraq and Somalia (see US bombs Somalia) to attempt to weaken terroristic Islamic organizations in various areas. While the hope is that this will decrease the risk of terrorist attacks, the reality is that more terrorism will come. This is not the way of peace. And that ties in with the recommended sermonette for the week: Middle East Peace? When?
A court in India banned religious animal sacrifices as ‘barbaric’ (see India court bans religious animal sacrifices: will this impact the Jews?). The Bible tells of a time when animal sacrifices in Israel (which have not occurred for many years) will be stopped per Daniel 9:27 and 11:31 by the King of the North. It may well be that supporters of the final King of the North will point to the court decision in India as a precedent for stopping the ones the Jews are hoping to do (see also The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World).
Russia and Ukraine remain in the news. NATO is meeting to try to decide how to deal with the Islamic State as well as the situation involving Russia and Ukraine (see NATO chief dismisses Putin’s peace plan, Ukraine wants a cease-fire, Russia warns NATO about Ukraine, and USA has military technology concerns).
There is something that I would like to add to this section this week, and that is that I noticed that we have reached a lot more people over the internet in Ukraine this year than ever before. The situation in Ukraine has been difficult and tense over the past year.
For many people, it takes a crisis to start to question traditions and beliefs that they have. The coverage at the www.cogwriter.com website, along with articles such as Russia and Ukraine: Their Origins and Prophesied Future and videos such as Ukraine in Prophecy? are providing “meat in due season” (Matthew 24:45-46, KJV) to those in Ukraine, as well as others who are concerned about wars and economic disruptions.
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 is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for most who receive this emailed-letter will be a recorded one: Middle East Peace? When? A related written item would be: How Will Middle East Peace be Brought About? 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 who receive this emailed-letter will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Priority of the Philadelphia Work.There is a related written article titled: Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? 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. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options that we list each week.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
We have a fantastic calling and we need to do all things in love. We all need to be thankful to God the Father for this calling.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God