Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.

We have been doing a lot of work related to booklets and other literature.  We finally received the Continuing History of the Church of God from the printers, and plan to mail those to our subscribers later this month with the next edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine, which is still at the printers.

We also worked on various other language matters related to booklets and magazines.

Currently, it is our intent to have two brand new booklets out in 2016 (on the Holy Days and the Gospel of the Kingdom), as well as probably a second edition to one of our existing booklets.

We also have another distribution strategy that we are looking at for 2016 to hopefully reach more people with some of our literature and in a more cost-effective way for some areas.

Additionally, we are working on six additional languages that we expect to put our Bible News Prophecy magazine out in next year.

We will make more announcements on these projects as they get closer to fruition.

Pastor in Ghana Dies

We were saddened to receive the following email Monday:

Dear in Christ, I regret to announce the sadden death of Elder APPIAH Justice who was knocked by a Kia Truck last Friday . He was 58 years. Pastor Samuel writes from Ghana. Regards

I did not know Pastor Justice Appiah, but have prayed that those who did will learn the right lessons from him and be comforted by God.  After asking Pastor Samuel Fosu, I learned that Pastor Appiah was married. He had four children with one at the university/college in Ghana.

Ndhiwa, Kenya Youth Camp

All youth from CCOG congregations in Kenya were  invited to come to Ndhiwa for youth camp that started yesterday December 16, 2015.  A similar camp was held last year.

Pastor Evans Ochieng had the following in an email yesterday:

Also I need to inform you that we have started the youth camp today. We have 103 youths who have arrived already.

We hope to provide photos from the camp after they are sent to us in the USA and Canada.

Support to Africa

In addition to the financial support we provided to Kenya, this week we were able to supply some funds for the orphanage in Nigeria and the impoverished in Ethiopia.

Let me thank all who contributed on behalf of those in need. I know many of you in the USA and elsewhere have your own financial struggles, and do appreciate that you have not hardened your hearts and are willing to assist the more impoverished.

Perhaps I should mention that the woman who processed the Western Union funds transfer to Ethiopia yesterday politely tried to warn me that my sending of funds like this will likely one day get Western Union to want to investigate or stop me from doing this.  In this regulated and terror-stricken world, many have difficulty with realizing that God’s people are to help the poor (Deuteronomy 15:11; Galatians 2:9).

While we do not have vast amounts to do this for our impoverished brethren, it is something that the Continuing Church of God does as we can.

Radio

Unexpectedly ended up on domestic and international radio Wednesday over the Genesis Communication’s Network. Topics covered included Islamic terrorism, the USA, and the Bible prophecies related to it.

Currently, I am scheduled to be on the Nutri-Medical Report program Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 12:05 PST, over the Genesis Communication’s Network. This program has a massive reach, but because the host covers his own theories a lot, it is sometimes difficult to keep to the topic and get the true biblical points in. But, as this has no financial cost to us and it reaches people around the world, it is a venue that I often take advantage of when it is offered.

Internet Campaign

Got an email from Google about our advertising campaign with them to reach people around the world to learn more about the CCOG.

Google reported that our advertising campaign over the internet reached 2,462, 211 computers last month.  This is down slightly from October.

Through our websites, even apart from Google, we have reached people in pretty much all nations and territories in the world.  We want to provide as thorough of a witness of the gospel of the kingdom as we can (Matthew 24:14).

Income Tax Matters

As mentioned last week, those who live in the United States are reminded that for contributions to be eligible for tax deduction for calendar year 2015, all donations mailed must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2015.

All contributions received via US mail for residents of the United States should be processed based upon the postmarked date on the envelopes.

For contributions received via PayPal, we use the date that PayPal gives us.

In New Zealand and Canada the rules may be slightly different for mailed and other contributions, so if you want the tax deduction for calendar year 2015, you may wish to make your next contribution relatively soon.

World News Items

Yesterday, the US Federal Reserve voted to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade (see Federal Reserve votes to raise interest rates; M&M discounts idea of hyperinflation, plus claims Europe to be torn to pieces by 2020).  The USA has been able to keep interest rates artificially low through various forms of financial sleight-of-hand.  The Federal Reserve realized that gradual rate increases are basically necessary to prevent a more dramatic rise later. These interest rate increases will likely also result in interest rates rising in many other parts of the world.  The time will come when the world will learn more about the truth of the economy of the USA (Habakkuk 2:6-8), and the USA will find its future interest rates unaffordable.

A member in the USA tipped me off to the fact that National Geographic magazine named ‘Mary’ as the most powerful woman in the world (see National Geographic named ‘Mary’ as the most powerful woman in the world).  Since Jesus’ mother Mary is dead, mainly they are referring to the influence of false views and apparitions claimed to be Mary. Marianism seems to be prophesied to increase (cf. Nahum 3:4-5; cf. Isaiah 47) and many are unaware that we are seeing more of the foundations for this.  Should apparitions become publicly seen, more will be deceived (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  Pope Francis has been a big promoter since he took office and mentions ‘Mary’ frequently.  Presuming Satan plans to use his version of ‘Mary’ more, expect to see more acceptance of Marianism in many parts of the world.

On other matters, a United Nations’ climate meeting was going on in Paris much of this month.  While it looked to many that this conference was going to fail, the Church of Rome worked behind the scenes (see Role of Pope Francis ‘transformative’ for COP21 climate change conference) and an agreement was reached.  US President Barack Obama then declared,  “This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got” (see COP21′s proposal gets unanimous approval from 195 nations; Barack Obama says it is ‘the best chance to save the one planet we’ve got’).  Expect to hear more and more rhetoric that international cooperation and agreements will bring real peace and prosperity to the world.  Many leaders, including the current USA President, Pope Francis, and the current Secretary General of the United Nations (Ban ki-Moon) believe that humanity will bring a real utopia to the planet.  Eventually, more and more will believe that after some very rough patches that are ahead.

Pope Francis was very pleased that the climate agreement happened.  He stated this agreement was part of  “an ever-growing sense of solidarity.”  This is one more step towards his and the Vatican’s global agenda.

The climate change agreements are intended to reduce pollution and one day eliminate the need for fossil fuels.  In an indirectly-related story, a German company announced that it was successful in tests it ran to produce energy through helium fusion (see German helium fusion stellarator may help propel Europe to dominate the world).  This type of German-technology has the ability to revolutionize the world, while also helping Germany and Europe in the process.  The Bible teaches that a successful militaristic power will arise in Europe (Revelation 13:1-4), and we in the Continuing Church of God have been teaching that technology will be a key factor in this.  Expect to see more technological breakthroughs in Europe, some of which will also have military potential.  And there are likely to be breakthroughs along those lines that will not be announced to the public.  While there will be more problems in Europe (cf. Daniel 2:41-43), the Beast power will rise up and we keep seeing additional support for that in parts of the news.

On Vatican-related news, a new report to push the interfaith agenda with the Jews came out, and again the Church of Rome is teaching that salvation apart from accepting Jesus is possible (see Vatican pushing climate change and interfaith agendas: It still does NOT realize that the Old Covenant was replaced and Jesus must be confessed to be saved).  While cooperation can be a good thing, the type of ecumenical and interfaith agenda being pushed is consistent with the agenda of Mystery Babylon the Great, mother of harlots that the Bible condemns (Revelation 17:1-5).

The Middle East and terrorism remain in the news.  The so-called Islamic State hopes to successfully attack Rome and get predominantly Islamic nations to support it (see Islamic State’s ‘Armageddon’ plan to destroy Rome and the West).  Its members are terrible and misguided.

The Bible warns:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  (2 Timothy 3:1-6)

While the above has multiple applications, much of this applies to the thugs at the Islamic State.  They are brutal, unloving, etc.  It was reported this week that they issued a FATWA (an Islamic order) to kill those who have Down Syndrome (Angela Merkel calls for LESS refugees; Islamic State orders those with Down Syndrome to be killed).  The brutality of the Islamic State is a factor for more rising up against it.

Tuesday it was reported that, “Saudi Arabia Announces 34-Nation Islamic Alliance Against Terrorism” for the purpose to protect the ‘Islamic Nation’” (see ‘Saudi Arabia Announces 34-Nation Islamic Alliance Against Terrorism’ to Protect the ‘Islamic Nation’: Is the King of the South starting to form?).  The peoples mentioned as being part of the coalition are consistent with those the Bible says will support the final King of the South (Daniel 11:40-43).  It should set off prophetic bells when we read that the 34 nations have agreed that they have “a duty to protect the Islamic nation.” Of course, we in the Continuing Church of God have repeatedly stated that something like this would happen because of biblical prophecies.

Westerners may be surprised that despite differences, many Muslims believe in the existence of an Islamic nation.  The use of the term Islamic-nation is consistent with the view in Islam that the world is divided into two parts:  The House of Islam and the House of War (all non-Muslim nations), often referred to as the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-harb.  Non-Muslims are the “house” that Islam says it is at war with.

An odd ‘sign-of-the-times’ is that we are seeing more Western censorship directed towards those who point of negative aspects of Islam.  In addition to YouTube’s temporal suspension of a Protestant YouTube channel less than three weeks ago (see YouTube censorship of Protestant channel), Facebook pulled a post from radio host Michael Savage who included some published photographs of Muslims caring sign with written threats (see Facebook censors Michael Savage for showing photos of Islamic demonstrators).

Another ‘sign of the times’ is that political leaders in the East and the West keep wanting more control over the internet (see Republican Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jingping want control over the internet).  They want to both monitor it more and be better able to suppress its content.

The Bible tells of a coming famine of the word of God (Amos 8:11-12) and more leaders have made statements confirming my view that internet censorship, to block the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God that we proclaim, will become a reality.  That is part of why we must continue and prepare for the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28.

Time was spent on that again on aspects of preparing for that short work this week.

 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 1974Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one titled: 10 Safest Nations to be in During WWIII. Other sermonettes are available at theBible News Prophecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Terrorism, Christianity, and Islam. 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. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN‘ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOGchannel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE Bible News Prophecy channel.

Concluding Comments

Notice the following from the Book of Psalms:

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (Psalm 91:1-6)

Brethren, we live in a dangerous world. But if God is your refuge that you truly trust, He will keep terrors away from you.  God will complete the work He has started in you (Philippians 1:6).

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer