How God Directs Our Lives

by Erica Bourque

On a recent Friday afternoon, we decided to “go for a drive.”  My husband Joe felt very strongly about a certain route and a particular picnic spot for the afternoon.  He wanted to drive our van, which we usually do not take on shorter day trips.  The temperature was barely above freezing, and it was partly cloudy, so a raging fire and hot dogs for a late lunch sounded like a great plan.  Dry wood was packed, along with our small propane heater, extra goodies to eat and hot water for hot chocolate.

A short distance into our trip, the paved forest road became intermittently covered in ice, and due to my uneasiness, we debated whether to turn around.   We reached a mutual determination to continue, so we stopped at a picnic area which was much closer; one we were well familiar with.  We arrived around 3pm, about 20 miles up the mountain.  When our fire was “just right” to start cooking, Joe turned to me and said he thought he heard someone.  How could that be?  We listened again and again.  A distinctive “help” was heard in a man’s voice, along with the faint voice of a woman.  A little skeptical, we decided to walk up the road toward the voices.  Sure enough, a young man and a woman in their 20s, along with their dog, were walking towards us, waving their hands, crying and asking for help. They were in despair; stating they had been stranded for a week in the snow further up the mountain.  Their only clothing was jeans and a sweatshirt, and their hands and face were red from the cold. We were able to provide warmth inside our van, hot food and drinks, and we safely transported them off the mountain into the nearest town.

We truly feel God had directed our actions that day and that He had prepared beforehand an opportunity for good works to walk in them. We just had to be there, because we feel that otherwise, the couple might not have survived the night, as the closest cell reception was at least 10 miles away. Upon reflection, we stand in awe of God’s mercy and how He directs our lives.  We were able to fulfill the couple’s physical needs, as God’s Spirit of love was guiding us, and we gained much spiritual insight. Experiencing firsthand the despair this couple felt, we were also reminded of the many people who will be led out of captivity in the future, and we are thankful to have been given this opportunity to learn more perfectly how to respond to people in such dire circumstances.

Current Events

America is in turmoil, and the world hates it more and more. In less than two weeks, President Donald Trump, due to controversial executive orders, has managed to turn the world upside down, defiantly seeing to it that America’s already bad reputation in the world has reached an unparalleled low point.

The following information is discussed in our new StandingWatch program, The World Condemns Trump—Why?”  and also in our German AufPostenStehen program, Die Welt Verurteilt Trump—Warum?

Mr. Trump’s executive order blocks for 120 days all refugees from entering the country, with an indefinite ban on those from Syria, and prevents for 90 days entry into the United States by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Confusion abounded as to whether the ban includes green card holders. First, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security stated that it does, according to Reuters. This was confirmed by the fact that persons with green cards were detained at American airports. Subsequently, courts in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington ruled that detentions of persons with visas or green cards were unconstitutional, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly affirmed Sunday night that the ban would not apply to permanent residents. He said that: “In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.”

This declaration came after Washington stated the exact opposite earlier on Saturday, according to Bild, dated January 30. But even after Kelly’s “clarification,” it was apparently stated (according to Bild) that even green card holders needed to undergo a personal interview at the American consulate, before permission could be granted to travel into the USA. Then, on Wednesday, it was stated by the White House that legal permanent residents, or green card holders, “no longer need a waiver because if they are a legal permanent resident they won’t need it anymore.” Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, on Sunday contradicted himself in stating whether the ban applied to permanent residents. He first told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them.” But minutes later, he said, “Of course it does.”

The Times of Israel reported on January 29 that “The administration walked back the initial inclusion of green card holders in the travel ban, as the United States was hit Sunday by a second day of protests denouncing Donald Trump’s policy of banning travelers from seven Muslim countries. Meanwhile, the president stood unrepentant in the face of judicial stays and global outrage.”

This reversal and backpedaling over the initial inclusion of green card holders must be viewed as an embarrassing defeat of parts of Mr. Trump’s confusing executive order.

It also emerged that the travel ban applied initially to those persons who have dual citizenship. This fact sparked further worldwide outrage. AFP reported on January 29 about the situation in Britain:

“Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said it was ‘divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality’… But later on Sunday Johnson won an exemption for British citizens and dual nationals after he discussed the matter with Washington.

“The foreign ministry subsequently announced the order would only apply to individuals travelling directly to the US from one of the seven listed countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan. ‘If you are travelling to the US from anywhere other than one of those countries (for instance, the UK) the executive order does not apply to you and you will experience no extra checks regardless of your nationality or your place of birth,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement. ‘If you are a UK national who happens to be travelling from one of those countries to the US, then the order does not apply to you — even if you were born in one of those countries.’

“The foreign ministry added that dual nationals might have extra checks if they are coming from one of the seven named countries, ‘for example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US’.”

As this is worded, it should also include waivers for persons in Germany and France, who have dual citizenship—another stated concern in those countries which caused additional outrage and condemnation of Mr. Trump’s new policy. Die Welt reported on January 31 that Germans with dual citizenship are indeed exempted from the ban, but uncertainties remain, as our articles point out. In addition, the statement from Die Welt came one day after a statement from Bild, dated January 30, setting forth the opposite. Both Die Welt and Bild quoted statements from the Trump Administration for their respective reports. This confusion, reversal and backpedaling over the inclusion and ban of persons with dual citizenship must be viewed as another embarrassing defeat of parts of Mr. Trump’s confusing executive order.

Many employers and attorneys advised or instructed their clients or employees with passports from any of the affected countries NOT to leave the USA, even though they may have valid visas, as it is unclear as to whether the practical application of the executive order includes or excludes travelers with temporary visas. In addition, in light of the incredible chaos and confusion caused by Mr. Trump’s executive order, it might be too premature to fully rely on Washington’s current stated position regarding green-card holders and persons with dual citizenship.

The order also includes biometric tracking for all travelers when they arrive and leave the United States. This could see all tourists being finger printed not only when they arrive in the USA, but also on departure.

To clarify, the order suspends immediately the Visa Interview Waiver Program, not the Visa Waiver Program. Quartz wrote on January 27: “The Visa Interview Waiver Program allows travelers to renew travel authorizations without an in-person interview. The action is not expected to have any effect on the widely popular Visa Waiver Program, familiar to many by its front-line system, ESTA. That program allows nationals of 38 countries—including much of Europe—to enter the US without securing a visa at a consulate first.”

But Die Welt Online explained on January 31 that the Visa Waiver Program does not apply to Germans (and arguably to other nationals) who have dual citizenship. They must instead apply in person for a visa.

Many Americans are angry, in uproar and stunned by these new developments. Even though Mr. Trump said very clearly on his campaign trail what he intended to do, many did not take him seriously; thinking that he could not possibly resurrect measures reminiscent of the darkest days in the 20th century. Others cheered and voted for him, not realizing the real consequences of his proposed actions. Then, there were and are many who approve of his conduct. So, we can add another reason for God’s anger against those in the USA with arrogant, unmerciful and ungodly hearts.

It is also widely felt that the order is in compliance with Mr. Trump’s earlier promise during his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the US. President Trump now slammed the media for “dishonestly reporting” that his order constituted a Muslim ban, even though his order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, while potentially excluding persons of a minority religion (i.e. Christian). In addition, after repeatedly using the word “ban” in describing the order, the Trump Administration subsequently denied that it is a ban, and blamed the media for using this word.

The following sets forth the worldwide confusion and condemnation which Mr. Trump has caused by his executive order. We will also quote articles about the initial ban of green-card holders and persons with dual citizenship, just to show the incredible confusion of the Trump Administration and the worldwide anger against Mr. Trump, even though he later backpedaled on those categories of people, at least to an extent, as the picture is still somewhat confusing. At the same time, the outrage remains pertaining to the remainder of his order which is viewed by many as unconstitutional for numerous reasons, allegedly including the overstepping of his authority and his applying a religious test; and many lawsuits in this regard are expected to be filed.

We can be very thankful that in the world tomorrow, when Jesus Christ rules this earth, such confusing, unjust, contradictory and unmerciful policies will NEVER be enacted.

Prophetic Developments in the USA and Europe; Establish Our Hearts

On February 4, 2017, Norbert Link will present a special report, titled, “Prophetic Developments in the USA and Europe,” and Michael Link will present the sermon, titled, “Establish Our Hearts.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

God Supports Us

For as long as I can remember, I have had a certain weakness. It’s an innocuous one, but regardless, I’ve been affected by it numerous times in my life, and I will probably continue to be affected by it. My weakness is that whenever someone tells me that he or she thinks that I would be good at doing something, I’m inclined to believe that I can do it too. In addition, almost every sincere claim results in me giving it a try, as long as it is not an ungodly venture, of course. The statements don’t even need to be based on much. I once joined a soccer team because the coach saw me kick a single ball, and asked if I would like to play. Sometimes my attempts at an endeavor that begins with another’s belief in me result in success, but quite often failure.

I recall an early example when I was a member of a Tee-ball team at my grade school. My best friend’s father was the coach of the team, and he told me that he thought I would be a good catcher. In Tee-Ball, the batters hit a baseball from a tee instead of from a pitch, so the role of a catcher only involves catching a ball when a runner is coming into home base. Because of this, I really didn’t have to do very much. I thought that I would be a good catcher too, so I gave it a try. After losing our first couple of games, I was moved to the position that I was destined for—right field. Since I didn’t have to actually catch many balls in that position, I did much better. In this case, I really wasn’t very good at what someone thought that I would be, but I recall giving it my best effort because someone believed in me.

Something that I have become aware of through experience is that when others express their faith in me, I feel like I’m not alone in a pursuit of success. When someone else is involved in my own personal achievement, the support is a huge motivator. As a result, the activities that I get involved in are more meaningful, fulfilling, and even easier when I know that I have someone else standing behind me. I’m sure that many of those reading this share the same feeling – being supported in the pursuit of a virtuous endeavor is extremely motivating.

While I may find that the support and belief of other people in my abilities might sometimes be misplaced, God’s belief in me and His support are not. God’s faith gives me confidence that I can achieve the tasks He sets before me. This is true for all of us. If we find motivation when we are supported by another person, how much more should we be encouraged when we read this, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).  God is faithful in us! Knowing that the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth believes in us should give us all the support, encouragement, and edification that we need to continue trying our best to answer the call that He has given us! God has faith that we can succeed in the great task of overcoming sin through Jesus Christ.  We can do this because God the Father believes that we can!

The proof of this godly support abounds in the Bible, and when it is all taken together, it should offer us tremendous and unquenchable encouragement. God calls us to perform a job for a purpose, and not for the purpose of failure. No, we must be encouraged to succeed, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). If God has blessed us with the understanding of the Truth, this gives us the evidence that He has faith in us, individually.

With the faith of God supporting us, and with His Holy Spirit working within us, we have all the raw materials that we need to succeed in turning away from sin to live a life that seeks the Kingdom of God. If we neglect the support that God provides, this is tantamount to choosing death. God can do nothing more to help us if we turn away from Him. However, if we accept His support and allow His Spirit to lead us to righteousness, we are promised salvation. We must always remember, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“The Fall and Rise of the Jewish People,” our newest booklet, is now being printed. We have published this on our website: If you would like to receive a printed copy, please send your request. Those who regularly receive our Member Letter and other printed material will be sent a copy once printing is complete.

The translation of a new German booklet, “Do You Know the Jesus of the Bible?,” has been printed and received from the printer.

“The World Condemns Trump—Why?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

America is in turmoil. In less than two weeks, President Donald Trump, due to controversial executive orders, has turned the world upside down. This program discusses in detail his order and its practical application pertaining to refugees, immigrants and non-immigrants from designated countries, which has been described by some as a Muslim travel ban. Great uncertainties developed regarding green card holders and persons with dual citizenship, as well as persons with non-immigrant visas.  Major American tech firms oppose the order, as do many Jews and virtually all countries around the world. Federal Courts have issued temporary restraining orders pertaining to most of the new rules, but will they be followed? Especially the European reaction has been very forceful, which is telling in the light of biblical prophecy.

“Die Welt Verurteilt Trump—Warum?,” is the German title of a new AufPostenStehen program in which Evangelist Norbert Link’s presentation covers the same topic as described above.

“Die Kirche Weiden—Warum die Kirche des Ewigen Gottes?” (Teil 5), is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon. Title in English: “Feed the Church–Why the Church of the Eternal God?” (Part 5).

A NEW Video clip, promoting the German booklet “Kennen Sie den Jesus der Bibel?” (a translation of our English booklet, “Do You Know the Jesus of the Bible?”), has been produced by Michael Link and posted on the Web.

Inauguration 2017 – The Hidden Meaning,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Michael Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

There was a lot said during the Inauguration of 2017, including anticipations, goals, blessings and prayers for this nation. But what does the Bible have to say about the future of this nation? What is prophesied and are we prepared for what is coming?

“The Weightier Matters,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:

In a world that is ripe with self-importance, self-justification and disregard for God,  what is our charter?  What is it that God really expects from us as true Christians and eventually from the entire world?  What truly matters in God’s view?

The Church Conference for 2017 will be conducted in Escondido, California, with arrivals on March 23 and ending on March 28.

This Week in the News

Worldwide Condemnation of Trump Immigration Ban

Deutsche Welle reported on January 28:

“Airlines across the globe are turning back would-be passengers from countries affected by a US immigration ban that bars them from entering the United States. Leading political and business figures moved quickly to condemn the ban… keeping citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. The executive order has also been applied to people with permanent residence permits, known as green cards.

In Europe, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel decried the order during a press conference with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Paris. Gabriel said Trump’s refugee policy contradicted America’s Christian traditions of ‘love thy neighbor.’ During the same press conference, Ayrault said the policy ‘can only worry us,’ and that ‘welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty.’…

“In the United States, Democrats called the measures ‘un-American.’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted late on Friday, ‘Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped upon.’… In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Saturday ‘To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. Welcome To Canada.’…

“A study from the US Cato Institute found that foreigners from the seven nations affected by the immigration ban have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on US soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.”

Bild wrote on January 28 that a high official within the Trump Administration confirmed that the seven countries listed are probably just the beginning, and that the government was considering very aggressively which countries were to be added. See also the next articles.

More to Come

The New York Times wrote on January 27:

“Announcing his ‘extreme vetting’ plan, the president invoked the specter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries is on Mr. Trump’s visa ban list.”

The Los Angeles Times wrote on January 27:

“President Trump signed an executive order Friday that temporarily halts the nation’s refugee program and ushers in the most sweeping changes in more than 40 years to how the U.S. welcomes the world’s most vulnerable people… Trump’s action, seen as part of his campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country, sparked an international outcry, given the historic role that the U.S. and other industrialized nations have long played in embracing victims of war and oppression. The last major change in U.S. refugee policy came during the Vietnamese resettlement programs of the mid-1970s.

“In the ABC interview, Trump said… residents of countries left out of the ban – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia – will nonetheless face what he calls ‘extreme vetting’…

“Critics called Trump’s order a betrayal of long-held American ideals…  Several of those who condemned Trump’s order noted that it was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a reminder that thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany were denied safe harbors in the United States and elsewhere, forcing them back to Nazi-controlled territory, where many were murdered. ‘Donald Trump is retracting the promise of American freedom to an extent we have not seen from a president since Franklin Roosevelt forced Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II,’ said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York City.”

Will Even “Dreamers” Be Affected?

Reuters reported on January 30:

“Divisions have emerged among advisers to President Donald Trump over whether to rescind a signature policy of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, that shields young immigrants from deportation, according to congressional sources and Republicans close to the White House. Even though Trump campaigned on a promise to roll back Obama’s executive orders on immigration, the Republican has so far left intact an order safeguarding 750,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, known as the ‘dreamers.’

“The issue has become a flashpoint for White House advisers divided between a more moderate faction such as chief of staff Reince Priebus and immigration hardliners Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, said a former congressional aide who has been involved with immigration issues in Washington.

“Priebus has said publicly that Trump will work with Congress to get a ‘long-term solution’ on the issue. Meanwhile, Miller, said to have mastered the thinking of his former boss and anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, as well as Bannon, former head of right-wing Breitbart News, have pushed Trump to take a harder approach and rescind the protections…

“House Speaker Paul Ryan told a woman protected by DACA, at a townhall hosted by CNN Jan. 12, that there should be a solution for people like her to get ‘right with the law’ and not be separated from their families. Just two days prior, Sessions, a Senator, told a Senate panel considering his confirmation that it would ‘certainly be constitutional’ to repeal DACA…”

British, French and German Citizens Affected by Trump Ban

The Telegraph wrote on January 28:

“The US State Department said that Britons with dual nationality with the countries Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen will be stopped at the American border for the next 90 days…

“Politicians said tens of thousands of Britons could be caught up in the border chaos as Mr Trump’s new immigration rules impact on holidays and business trips.

Der Spiegel added on January 28 that Trump’s ban includes tens of thousands of Germans with dual citizenship, including a parliamentarian of the Green party, who has a German and an Iranian passport. In this context, Bild Online added on January 29: “Horror at Ban: Trump also Locks out Germans.” Subsequent developments changed this picture somewhat, but we still can’t be sure as to what extent, as some of the following articles discuss.

Merkel Slams Trump over Muslim Travel Ban

The Local wrote on January 29:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday slammed the restrictions on immigration imposed by US President Donald Trump, saying it was ‘not justified’ to target people based on their background or religion… Merkel’s condemnation comes a day after she spoke by phone with the new US president, when they discussed a range of issues from relations with Russia to the situation in the Middle East and NATO.

“Statements released by both sides after the call made no mention of the immigration ban, but Seibert on Sunday said Merkel had reminded the US billionaire of his human rights responsibilities.”

The Local wrote on January 30:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday reaffirmed her criticism of a US travel ban slapped on travellers from seven countries, saying it smacked of anti-Muslim bias. ‘The essential and also resolute fight against terrorism in no way justifies general suspicion against people of a specific faith, in this case people of the Muslim faith or people of a certain background,’ she told reporters in unprompted remarks about measures enacted by US President Donald Trump. ‘This approach in my view contradicts the basic tenets of international aid to refugees and international cooperation,’ she said…”

Schulz Slams Trump

Deutsche Welle wrote on January 29:

“Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat’s nominee to challenge Angela Merkel… has also slammed US President Donald Trump’s clampdown on minorities as an ‘intolerable’ taboo breach… Schulz accused US President Donald Trump of attacking minorities in the United States with ‘shameless and dangerous’ statements… Germany and Europe… had to make it clear to Trump that international human rights also apply to him, Schulz insisted…”

Trump Retaliates by Attacking Germany—“Top Trump Aide Blasts Germany for ‘Exploiting’ US on Trade”

AFP wrote on January 31:

“A top economic adviser to US President Donald Trump bashed Germany for exploiting an undervalued euro to take advantage of its trading partners, the Financial Times reported Tuesday. The public rebuke of a major trading partner is the latest example of the brash tactic that has become a feature of the new US administration, with Trump himself using public attacks and Twitter to criticize businesses and allies, including Mexico.

“Peter Navarro, who advised Trump during the campaign and heads the White House’s new National Trade Council, said in an interview with the FT that Germany ‘continues to exploit other countries in the EU as well as the US with an “implicit Deutsche mark” that is grossly undervalued.’…

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking in Stockholm, deflected the criticism, saying the currency value is the responsibility of the European Central Bank… France’s Finance Minister Michel Sapin hit back saying, ‘The decisions of the new US administration pose a serious risk to the world trade order.’ He warned that ‘history reminds us that protectionist retreats are the worst of solutions,’ and said neither France nor Europe ‘will be able to watch helplessly what might risk being a dislocation of our economic institutions.’”

“Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Trump’s Refugee Ban ‘Makes Us Look Stupid’”

Newsmax wrote on January 30:

“Arnold Schwarzenegger… said that the new president’s executive order on refugees and immigration was poorly vetted and that it ‘makes us look stupid’ when the White House ‘is ill-prepared to put this kind of’ directive out there. Schwarzenegger [was] was governor of California from 2003 to 2011…

“‘To go and ban people who have a green card, that means that the United States of America has given you permission to work here permanently and you are on the way to permanent citizenship. … I was in that position. … It’s crazy. It’s crazy and makes us look stupid when the White House is ill-prepared to put this kind of executive order out there,’ he said. Schwarzenegger is an immigrant from Austria, who came to the United States in 1968.”

These statements were run in European papers as the “quote of the day.” How “stupid” and “crazy” we look can be seen in the next article.

US Handcuffs Five-Year-Old Boy for Hours

The Mirror wrote on January 30:

“The White House says a five-year-old boy was held for five hours and reportedly handcuffed because he could have been a ‘threat’ to the United States. The boy was one of more than 100 people detained for hours at airports across the country, after Donald Trump signed an Executive Order banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries.

“In a briefing tonight, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer said: ‘To assume that just because of someone’s age and gender that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.’ The boy, who was identified by Senator Chris Van Hollen as a US citizen who lives in Maryland, was detained at Washington DC’s Dulles airport on Saturday. He was seen being showered with kisses by his mother, who is believed to be Iranian-born, after they were reunited.

“Senator Van Hollen said it was ‘outrageous’ that the boy had been held for so long – adding that he was detained despite giving the authorities advance notice of his arrival. When he called to see if he had been released, Senator Van Hollen said airport authorities refused to say.”

Major Tech Firms Oppose Trump’s Executive Order on Travel Ban for Muslims

Forbes wrote on January 29:

“Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is adding his voice to those who are alarmed and upset by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration — and he’s upping the ante on corporate responses, vowing to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years. Trump’s executive order… has sparked an outpouring of criticism, including from chief executives and founders across America.

“Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky said his company will offer free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S.; Google co-founder Sergy Brin joined a protest at San Francisco International Airport; and the CEOs of Tesla, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft have tweeted, emailed or otherwise publicly voiced disapproval.”

Wired added on January 30 that in addition, the following tech firms are opposing the order, so far: Viber, Uber, Slack, Elon Musk, Facebook, Twitter and Lyft.

Google Asks All Travelling Employees to Return to USA Immediately

Newsmax wrote on January 28:

“Alphabet Inc.’s Google delivered a sharp message to staff traveling overseas who may be impacted by a new executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump: Get back to the U.S. now. Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai slammed Trump’s move in a note to employees Friday, telling them that more than 100 company staff are affected by the order…

“The comments underscore a growing rift between the Trump administration and several large U.S. technology companies, which include many immigrants in their ranks and have lobbied for fewer immigration restrictions. Pichai’s note echoed similar statements from tech peers voicing concerns about the harm such policies could have on their businesses… ‘We are advising our clients from those seven countries who have green cards or any type of H-1B visa not to travel outside the U.S.’ said Ava Benach, a partner at immigration law firm Benach Collopy LLP…”

“It Took Her Long Enough”—May Disagrees

The Independent wrote on January 29:

Theresa May ‘does not agree’ with a contentious ban on immigration implemented by Donald Trump, Downing Street has said. In a statement released late on Saturday evening, and responding to mounting anger from within her own party, the Prime Minister passed judgment on the President’s executive order on immigration…”

The Times of Israel added on January 29:

“Iraqi-born MP Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that he had had ‘confirmation that the order does apply to myself and my wife as we were both born in Iraq,’ even though the pair have British passports. ‘A sad, sad day to feel like a second class citizen! Sad day for the USA,’ he added… Olympic champion runner Mo Farah, born in Somalia, was another British citizen potentially affected by the ban…

“Tory MP Sarah Wollaston called Trump ‘a sickening piece of work’ and demanded that he not be allowed to address both of Britain’s Houses of Parliament when he makes a state visit later in the year, when he will be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II…”

“Clearly a Muslim Ban”

The Mirror wrote on January 30:

“Tonight, British MPs passed a motion calling on Donald Trump to repeal the Muslim ban. It came after former Labour leader Ed Miliband was granted an emergency debate on the Muslim ban. In a passionate speech during the debate, Mr Miliband said: ‘It clearly is a Muslim ban. Why do I say that? Because it was the president’s original intention.’”

Many Jews Strongly Oppose Trump’s Immigration Ban by Referring to the Holocaust

The Times of Israel wrote on January 29:

“… many Jews saw something akin to what their forebears endured as they attempted to flee Nazi-occupied Europe. Some noted cruel irony in the president’s order coming down on Friday, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Chava Brandress, a corporate lawyer, said she belongs to a pro-bono legal listserv, and her email ‘began exploding’ Saturday afternoon with tales of foreign nationals being detained after landing at Dulles. ‘I felt, “I can’t understand how this is happening again,”’ said Brandress, 36, recalling how Jews, fleeing Nazi persecution, were turned away from US shores…”

Newsmax wrote on January 26:

“Anne Frank and her family – led by father Otto Frank’s late and futile attempts – were denied entry visas into the U.S. during World War II… Otto Frank’s efforts to get his family to the United States ran afoul of restrictive American immigration policies designed to protect national security and guard against an influx of foreigners during time of war…

“Anne Frank died at the age of 15 in a German concentration camp, but… Anne Frank could be a 77-year-old woman living in Boston today – a writer.”

The Travel Ban and Green Card Holders

JTA wrote on January 31:

“Among the travelers delayed for hours by the Trump administration’s executive orders banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries were seven people with ties to the Syrian Jewish community… federal authorities had detained the seven people for over six hours disembarking at Port Canaveral from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. At least three of them were U.S. born… One woman, the mother to the three U.S. natives, was Syrian but was not a citizen. She had permanent residency – a green card – and had lived in the United States for 20 years.

“… there have been multiple instances since President Donald Trump issued the order last Friday of authorities detaining green card-holding travelers who have citizenship in one of the seven banned countries, one of which is Syria…”

Israelis with Dual Citizenship Still Affected

The Times of Israel wrote on January 31:

“The US Embassy in Tel Aviv has clarified that President Donald Trump’s travel ban will largely not affect the tens of thousands of Israeli Jews born in Middle Eastern countries.  A Tuesday statement said the controversial executive order would not be enforced against Israelis from those countries unless they possess a valid passport from one of the seven Arab countries banned under the directive.  ‘If you have a currently valid US visa in your Israeli passport and were born in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, and do not have a valid passport from one of these countries, your visa was not cancelled and remains valid,’ the statement said.

“Regarding those Israelis born in the seven countries who do have a valid passport from one of those countries, the embassy did not have definitive information, but seemed to indicate this would be handled on a case-by-case basis. ‘Authorization to enter the United States is always determined at the port of entry’, it said in the statement. ‘Similarly, we continue to process visa applications for applicants born in those countries, so long as they do not have a valid passport from one of those countries…’

“… Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the Trump order, including around 45,000 Iranians and 53,000 Iraqis… The majority are over the age of 65 and many fled persecution. Their Israeli passports say where they were born, but most do not retain citizenship in their birth country. Israel has no diplomatic relations with any of the seven countries…

“Trump’s order was met with near-immediate condemnation from world leaders across the globe, with presidents, prime ministers and senior government members from the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Iran and a host of other countries panning the initiative.”

However, this ruling regarding Israelis with two valid passports creates further confusion, as nothing was said before in this respect regarding other nationals with dual citizenship, including Brits, Germans, French, Canadians or Swiss nationals.

Foreign Airlines React

AFP wrote on January 28:

“Foreign airlines are barring Iranians from traveling to the United States following President Donald Trump’s temporary order barring visas for seven Muslim countries, travel agents in Tehran said Saturday.  Two agencies told AFP they had been instructed by Etihad Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines not to sell US tickets or allow Iranians holding American visas to board US-bound flights… An Iranian studying in California who was visiting home said Saturday that she could not return because her ticket had been cancelled under the new restrictions.”

Affected Countries Retaliate

Reuters reported on January 28:

“Iran said on Saturday it would stop U.S. citizens entering the country in retaliation to Washington’s visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries announced by new U.S. President Donald Trump. ‘While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,’ a Foreign Ministry statement said.

“‘The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America… are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists,’ said the statement, carried by state media. The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States.”

Newsmax wrote on January 30:

“Iraqi lawmakers voted Monday to call on the government to enact a reciprocal travel ban on Americans if Washington does not withdraw its decision to bar Iraqis, officials said… The travel restrictions, which come on the heels of repeated assertions by Trump that the US should have stolen Iraq’s oil before leaving in 2011, risk alienating the citizens and government of a country fighting against militants the president has cast as a major threat to America.”

Nomination of Supreme Court Judge Receives Mixed Reactions from Jewish Community

JTA wrote on January 31:

“President Donald Trump nominated to the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge known to favor protections of religious belief in the public square and for business owners. The nomination, likely to trigger a vigorous confirmation battle, is already splitting the organized Jewish community, with the Reform movement expressing concerns and an Orthodox Union official describing his record as ‘encouraging.’…

“Gorsuch, 49, is on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver covering six Western states. He would replace one of the high court’s most stalwart conservatives, Antonin Scalia, who died last year.

“Among his opinions most attracting Jewish interest was Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby in 2013, when the appeals court upheld the right of a private business to reject the government mandate to provide contraceptive care under employee health plans. The Obama administration had offered leeway on such coverage to faith-based nonprofits but would not extend them to private businesses.

“Gorsuch joined the majority in the appeals court ruling, which was upheld the next year by the U.S. Supreme Court… Gorsuch has also favored displays of crosses on public lands, and has tended in his rulings toward the rights of gun owners, in favor of the death penalty and against abortion rights…

“The nomination is likely to face a fight, with Democrats suggesting they may filibuster. Democrats are still stung by the refusal of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to allow a hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, a moderate judge… Garland, had he been confirmed, would have brought to four the number of Jewish justices on the court.”

Newsmax added on January 31:

“Gorsuch has strong academic qualifications, with an Ivy League education: attending Columbia University and, like several of the other justices on the court, Harvard Law School. He also completed a doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford University, spent several years in private practice and worked in George W. Bush’s Justice Department…

“As long as Kennedy and four liberals remain on the bench, the court is not expected to pare back abortion rights as many U.S. conservatives fervently hope. The Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. In June, the justices ruled 5-3 to strike down a Texas law that restricted abortion access, with Kennedy and the liberals in the majority… If any of those three is replaced by a Trump appointee, conservatives would be eager to bring cases challenging the Roe v. Wade ruling in the hope it would be overturned, long a goal for many Christian conservatives.”

Trump’s First Military Attack Since Becoming President

Deutsche Welle reported on January 29:

In the first confirmed US raid under Donald Trump’s presidency, at least 14 militants were killed in Yemen, along with a US soldier and several civilians…

“The raid targeted the homes of three tribal chiefs linked to al Qaeda, tribal sources told AFP… But Apache helicopters also targeted a school, a mosque and a medical facility…

“It was the first military attack… attributed to the United States since President Donald Trump took office on January 20. Yemen was one of the seven Muslim-majority countries listed on Trump’s immigration ban. “

Trump’s Safe Zones—a Declaration of War?

Global Research wrote on January 28:

“A… draft EO authorizes the establishment of safe zones for Syrian civilians, saying ‘(p)ursuant to the cessation of refugee processing for Syrian nationals, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement.’…

“It lacks details of where they’ll be located, how they’ll be protected, how much the scheme will cost, whether a no-fly zone will be implemented, and the risk of US/Russia confrontation over this very sensitive issue. Safe zones will illegally redraw Syria’s map, violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity, what Damascus and Moscow strongly oppose.

“Last year, Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph (‘fighting Joe’) Dunford said implementing safe and no-fly zones ‘require(s) us to go to war with Syria and Russia.’ Former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey warned about greater intervention in Syria, including the perils of establishing safe and no-fly zones, saying it could involve thousands of US troops.

“Costs could run ‘in the billions.’ The plan requires ‘hundreds of ground and sea-based aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare support, and enablers for refueling and communications.’ Dempsey estimated over $1 billion a month in cost, explaining around 70,000 US troops would be needed, warning the entire scheme could backfire. Greater regional conflict could follow, turning a bad situation into potential disaster.

“Syria needs humanitarian aid, peace, stability, reconstruction, and employment for its displaced people so they can begin rebuilding their lives. Obama’s war wrecked them. Greater US intervention for the wrong reasons risks escalated conflict instead of all-out efforts to resolve it. Trump’s safe zones scheme sounds more like a declaration of war than a good faith effort to end it.”

Donald Trump the Least Popular US President in at Least 40 Years

Yahoo News reported on January 30:

“It took former President George W. Bush 1,205 days to reach a majority disapproval rating. Former President Barack Obama crossed that threshold in 936 days. And President Donald Trump did it in just over a week.

“The Republican, who was sworn in on Jan. 20 as the least popular president in at least 40 years, hit majority disapproval in a record eight days, a new Gallup poll… finds. As of Saturday, 51 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump.

“Trump’s majority disapproval rating comes after a tumultuous first week in office… By contrast, it took at least several hundred days for the majority of Americans to disapprove of the past five presidents…”

“Stocks Fall Most This Year”

Newsmax on January 30:

“Major U.S. stock indexes posted their largest drop so far in 2017 on Monday as investors worried that a curb on immigration ordered by Donald Trump was a reminder that some of the U.S. president’s policies are not market-friendly. An executive order issued by Trump on Friday banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries…

“Airline stocks fell, with American Airlines down 4.4 percent and United Continental down 3.6 percent. At least one analyst cited worries over the travel ban to the United States. ‘The concern is that (Trump’s) travel ban starts to encompass more countries or that there are more stringent restrictions on travel to the U.S.,’ or other countries retaliate, said Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi…”

Brexit Under Way

BBC News reported on February 1:

“MPs have voted by a majority of 384 to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way. They backed the government’s European Union Bill, supported by the Labour leadership, by 498 votes to 114. But the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrat leadership opposed the bill, while 47 Labour MPs and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke rebelled.

“The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law. The prime minister has set a deadline of 31 March for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks with the EU started… Talks with the EU are expected to last up to two years, with the UK predicted to leave the 28-member organisation in 2019.”

Tusk Attacks Trump, Pleads for European Unity

Deutsche Welle wrote on January 30:

“The Trump administration has joined Russia, China and radical Islam as a geopolitical challenge for the European Union, EC President Donald Tusk said in a letter. Tusk also called on EU member states to stand together. In a letter to the European Union’s (EU) national leaders, European Council (EC) President Donald Tusk said Tuesday that the bloc’s current challenges ‘are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome 60 years ago.’

“Tusk highlighted an ‘assertive China,’ ‘Russia’s aggressive policy’ in Eastern Europe, and ‘radical Islam’ as key external threats to the EU. These factors ‘as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable,’ he said, referencing the Trump administration.

“Tusk’s [letter] reflects the worries of many European national leaders regarding the Trump presidency. ‘Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,’ Tusk wrote.”

Der Spiegel wrote that Tusk did “right” in responding in this way to the “provocations of the White House,” and that it is hoped that the European leaders will support Tusk in this and not shy away from it.

“EU Needs Strong Military Force”

The Prague Daily Monitor wrote on January 30:

“The European Union cannot further rely on doing without a military force if it wants to keep influence on the international scene, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek [said]. The EU has too long believed that it can do with ‘soft capabilities’ only, but it needs to enhance its defence capability in future, otherwise its influence will decline, Zaoralek said. A similar effect could be seen in connection with the recent peace talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan, to which the EU was not invited, Zaoralek said.

“‘A ceasefire is being discussed by those who have weapons and are present in Syria, but we are unwilling to make a military intervention in the country. As a result, we have been ousted from [the negotiations] that concern us immensely. All of us know that the fate of Syria, its peace and reconstruction are crucially tied with the safety and fate of Europe,’ Zaoralek said.

“The EU has not intervened in the Syrian conflict by sending in soldiers, but mainly by providing humanitarian aid to the afflicted regions. This, however, will not be enough in [the] future, if the EU is to keep influence on the international scene, Zaoralek said… He said he would welcome it if the EU started to intensively work on forming its own military units…

“The debate on forming a European military has been promoted in Brussels by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka… and the idea was jointly supported by the Visegrad Group (V4) comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

“Europe’s capability of making a military intervention and acting unitedly is also crucial in relation to the USA, Zaoralek said. A number of EU countries, many of which are members of NATO, consider their NATO membership a guarantee of their safety. However, the new U.S. president, Donald Trump, previously said the USA would ponder on whether to help them as a NATO ally, if attacked, if their spending on defence failed to meet their promises…”

Trump–Nightmare for Europe?

Deutsche Welle wrote on January 30:

“The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said Donald Trump’s presidency is the newest threat to the European Union. Speaking to a group of scholars at a public policy institute in London, Guy Verhofstadt said the EU is facing a three-pronged attack from radical Islamists, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and now US President Trump. ‘I have just come back from US and my view is that we have a third front that is undermining the EU… and that is Donald Trump,’ Verhofstadt said in a speech at the Chatham House think-tank…  Verhofstadt was the prime minister of Belgium for nine years, and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009…

“In addition to Verhofstadt’s recent trip to the US, Trump’s choice for ambassador to the EU – Ted Malloch, a long-time EU critic – raised eyebrows when asked by a BBC presenter on Friday why he wanted to be the US ambassador to the EU. ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union, so maybe there’s another Union that needs a little taming.’”

Will Trump Make Europe Great Again?

ETF Daily News reported on January 30:

“Donald Trump’s promise to put America first might actually help make Europe great again.

“First, while the new U.S. administration aims to discourage imports into the U.S. and boost domestic production, European exporters should still be able to increase their market share in the U.S. for some time…

“Switching demand away from foreign to domestic goods could work eventually, but in the near term, there simply isn’t enough quality and capacity in U.S. manufacturing to fill the gap. Most of the ‘Make America Great Again’ hats that Trump supporters were sporting at the inauguration were manufactured in China or Vietnam, and it will take a while, and a major relative price change, before we see the more affluent Americans favor Chevrolet, Lincoln, Chrysler and Jeep over BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Range Rover.

“Second, the prospect of a more protectionist U.S. administration, together with existing local pressures from populist movements, will likely provoke policy responses in Europe aimed at stimulating domestic demand and potential growth…

“Third, a more isolationist U.S. foreign and defense policy could catalyze a new joint European defense initiative. Committing to a common defense budget, financed by joint issuance, to counter actual or perceived external threats is a much easier sell than other forms of fiscal union…”

Is Ivanka Trump Really Jewish?

The Times of Israel wrote on January 26:

“Last summer, Israel’s religious authorities issued a ruling that raised doubts about her conversion to Judaism… President Donald Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism under a prominent Orthodox rabbi in Manhattan before her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner, an observant Jew.  In its ruling last July, an Israeli state religious court rejected the legitimacy of another conversion by the same rabbi. Although it didn’t directly affect Ivanka Trump, it raised questions as to whether Israel’s powerful religious establishment would recognize her as being Jewish.

“But in early December, just weeks after Trump’s election victory, Israel’s chief rabbis said they would work to change the rules for recognizing conversions performed abroad – and they singled out Ivanka Trump… Israeli activists say the sudden policy change appears to be an attempt to curry favor with the new US president. Ivanka Trump’s husband has been appointed a senior adviser to Trump and is expected to focus on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts… ‘The timing is certainly suspicious,’ said Rabbi Seth Farber, director of ITIM, an organization that represents converts seeking recognition from the rabbinate. ‘My biggest fear is that the rabbinate will find some way to find Ms. Trump kosher, to recognize her conversion, but leave thousands of other converts behind, simply saying they’re not Jewish enough for us.’

“… Israel’s Orthodox establishment does not recognize conversions performed by the more liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, to which most American Jews belong… Secular Israelis often wed in civil ceremonies abroad to avoid the rabbinate, while many ultra-Orthodox Jews dismiss the rabbinate’s certification of kosher food as too lax…”

Is Jared Kushner’s Influence Diminishing?

JTA wrote on January 31:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been called the two most influential Jews in America, owing to their proximity to Ivanka’s dad. But is Shabbat preventing them from having the president’s ear? That’s the contention of an article in Vanity Fair, which claims that Jared and Ivanka were unaware of the growing protests over President Trump’s ban on refugees and other travelers from predominantly Muslim countries because Trump signed the executive order close to sundown on Friday. Shabbat observance includes abstaining from electronics from Friday at sundown until Saturday night, and usually renders observant Jews incommunicado for that 25-hour period.

“The article says Shabbat may also have been to blame for Ivanka’s tweet, posted just after midnight Sunday morning, showing her and Jared in the formal wear they wore during that night’s exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner, at the same time that protesters were massing in airports nationwide against what critics were calling a ‘Muslim ban.’ Because Shabbat had just ended, the article says, Ivanka was only ‘obliquely’ aware of the unrest…

“Trump signed the order at 4:42 p.m. Friday. Candle-lighting, the moment when many observant Jews begin Shabbat observance, came in at 5:06. Sundown, the latest possible time by which Shabbat must begin, was 18 minutes later, at 5:24. Shabbat ended Saturday at 6:08 p.m…

“Shabbat hasn’t been an obstacle to other observant Jews in senior government roles. Jack Lew, a Shabbat observer who served as President Obama’s chief of staff and treasury secretary, would get on the phone during moments of crisis…

“Perhaps the most famous Orthodox Jew in government, former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, also made Shabbat observance work with his obligations to the country. During the debate over universal health care in 2010, Lieberman once walked five miles across Washington, D.C. so he could attend synagogue and then participate in a vote, according to The Hill. The article also said Lieberman answered his phone during ‘times of national emergency.’

“Even Jared and Ivanka themselves have reportedly bent the rules of Shabbat in deference to their new advisory roles. The couple allegedly received a rabbi’s permission to travel in a car after sundown on January 20 so they could safely attend post-inaugural events… Jewish law prohibits the observant from discussing their business matters on Shabbat, although wide latitude is giving for those involved in public safety or life-saving professions.

“Others have speculated in the past that Shabbat has undermined the moderating role Jared and Ivanka are expected to play within Trump’s inner circle. A September Huffington Post profile of Ivanka posited that some of Trump’s most inflammatory tweets came on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, when similar restrictions apply…

“The Vanity Fair’s most significant contention, at least from the perspective of Jared and Ivanka watchers, is that the couple’s influence in the nascent administration is ‘flagging.’ ‘Less than a fortnight into his new post, Kushner appears unable to control both his father-in-law and those around him. (On the same day as Trump’s visit to the Pentagon, the White House acknowledged International Holocaust Remembrance Day in a statement that omitted mention of the Jews.),’ according to the article.”

The Vanity Fair’s article of January 30 also stated this:

“Kushner appears unable to control his father-in-law—and is ‘furious’ that his efforts are being undermined… As the work week came to a close, Trump quietly announced from a wooden desk what would surely be the most controversial measure of them all: a ban on refugees from around the globe. Trump would temporarily halt migration, in particular, from seven predominantly Muslim countries, such as Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan. Saudi Arabia, where the plotters behind the 9/11 attacks had hailed, was notably absent, among other nations. As others have noted, Trump has business interests in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates…

“Last week, the president personally called the Park Service on the morning after his inauguration to inquire about the size of the crowds who came to watch him take the oath of office. He subsequently delivered a widely derided speech at C.I.A. headquarters that afternoon, during which he blathered on about the media’s treatment of him and his inaugural crowd size. He then sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, into the briefing room to falsely claim that it was the largest audience for an inauguration in history. During the tumult, some noticed the conspicuous absence of Kushner’s allegedly calming presence. ‘He wasn’t rolling calls on Saturday when this happened,’ one person close to Kushner told me last week. ‘To me, that’s not a coincidence.’…

“… his most pivotal role within Trumplandia may have been his ability to manage the more severe messages being pushed out by the likes of Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller. As one source put it to me last week, Kushner has been the ‘secure line’ into the White House… Kushner’s influence on his boss may be flagging. Last week, Kushner spent 24 hours trying to broker a meeting between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto… Ultimately, Peña Nieto agreed…  Less than 12 hours later, though, it all fell apart… the meeting was canceled. ‘Kushner was… furious,’ the source told me…”

The Vanity Fair article has received great attention in Germany as well. Bild Online published a lengthy article about the perceived fall-out between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner, while providing a link to the article of Vanity Fair.

The Pig-Human Embryo

National Geographic write on January 26:

In a remarkable—if likely controversial—feat, scientists announced today that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids. The project proves that human cells can be introduced into a non-human organism, survive, and even grow inside a host animal, in this case, pigs… The team created what’s known scientifically as a chimera: an organism that contains cells from two different species…

“In the past, human-animal chimeras have been beyond reach. Such experiments are currently ineligible for public funding in the United States… Public opinion, too, has hampered the creation of organisms that are part human, part animal.

“But for lead study author Jun Wu of the Salk Institute, we need only look to mythical chimeras—like the human-bird hybrids we know as angels—for a different perspective. ‘In ancient civilizations, chimeras were associated with God,’ he says, and our ancestors thought ‘the chimeric form can guard humans.’ In a sense, that’s what the team hopes human-animal hybrids will one day do…”

“Weird” is the right word… and an understatement.

How Does the Church of the Eternal God and its International Affiliates Differ From Other Christian Churches? (Part 5)

In this installment, we will discuss the remaining aspect of the commission given to the Church, which is, as stated in our Statement of Beliefs under The Church’s Commission, “… to feed the flock of Christ—the Church—spiritually and physically.” The correct understanding of properly feeding the flock distinguishes us substantially from most other Church organizations.

To begin with, we will address the responsibility of the Church to feed the flock spiritually. This task is foremost assigned to the ordained ministry of God’s Church. We discussed in previous installments that the Church of God is a spiritual organism, which is physically organized.

We read in John 21:15-17:

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.'”

The task of feeding Christ’s lambs and feeding and tending His sheep, is primarily accomplished through the ministers’ inspired speaking and teaching of God’s Word, and through ministerial counseling. In this regard, the ministry is to look after and protect Christ’s disciples by “feeding” and “tending” the flock”—which includes, standing up to savage wolves which might come in with the attempt to spiritually destroy and devour the sheep (Acts 20:29; compare also John 10:11-13).

Matthew 24:45-46 adds this admonition: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them FOOD IN DUE SEASON? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find SO doing.”

Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 11, says in the Revised Standard Version: “And His [Christ’s] gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for THE WORK of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” As Spirit-begotten children, we must grow in the knowledge and understanding of the truth (2 Peter 3:18). We are desirous of the pure milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2), being nurtured by our “mother” (Galatians 4:26)—the church of God—as a new-born human child is being fed and cared for by his or her human mother. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11-16 that Christ gave to His Church ministers to feed and edify the flock, so that “we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (verse 14).

Brethren need Christ’s ministers to be fed. Romans 10:14-16 tells us that we cannot hear “without a preacher.” We are also told, however, that God must send the “preacher.” We are encouraged to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets [or preachers] have gone into the world” (1 John 4:1).

In the first part of this series, we warned against deception which is prophesied to occur—including in the Church of God. Feeding the flock includes a warning against deception, lying spirits and the falling away from the Truth. In part 2, we continued to address the importance of not deviating from the Truth. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, the ministry of God’s Church has the duty to feed the flock by preaching the Truth in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

In part 3, we discussed the Church’s commission of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness. Having explained what the gospel is, it is clear that this commission is not to neglect the Church membership; rather, preaching the gospel constitutes a necessary part of feeding the flock. In addition to the preaching of the gospel, the Church members are to be taught more fully by the ministry (Matthew 28:19-20).

We also stated in part 4 that a warning message must go out to members and prospective members of the Church of God, including a message about prophecy which should help us to see more clearly how close we are to Christ’s return.

All of this requires a sincere, honest, dedicated and functioning ministry. In this context, the doctrine of laying on of hands (Hebrews 6:2) is extremely important, as it is an integral part of the Church’s commission to feed the flock.

There is no promise in the Bible that since the foundation and establishment of the New Testament Church in 31 A.D., someone would receive the Holy Spirit without prior proper baptism as an adult—after repentance and belief in Christ’s Sacrifice and the gospel—and the laying on of hands by God’s ordained ministers (Acts 8:12-17; 19:5-6). This symbolic act sets the baptized person aside or sanctifies him or her for the divine purpose of receiving from God His Holy Spirit. Therefore, only ordained ministers of God should perform baptisms. Unordained members who decide to baptize others and “lay hands on them” (Acts 8:17-18; 19:5-6) should realize that they would not have a biblical basis to justify their action. This would be true, even if their particular Church organization, or a particular minister, may “authorize” such behavior, as it would not be supported by God’s written Word, and we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29; 4:19).

Further, only God’s ministers were given special authority from God to lay their hands upon the sick, when praying for them (while anointing them with oil). This is clearly taught in many passages, including James 5:14-15; Mark 6:13; Mark 16:18; Acts 9:17-18; and Acts 28:8. In addition, if a personal ministerial visit is not possible, then God’s ordained elders are permitted to use and pray over a cloth, anointing it with a drop of oil as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, laying or placing their hands on the cloth, and asking God to heal the sick person who will receive this cloth. This is based on numerous passages in the Bible, including Acts 19:11-12 which shows that “God worked unusual miracles BY THE HANDS OF PAUL, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.” The reference to the “hands of Paul” seems to indicate that Paul laid his HANDS on the apron, anointed it with a drop of oil and prayed over it, before sending it to the sick. This is the exact method used by God’s ministers today.

In the case of a proper Church wedding, the minister emphasizes the purpose of marriage, and that the couple is entering into a life-long COVENANT with God. He places his hands on the couple, while asking God in prayer to sanctify the marriage and to set aside the couple for the holy purpose of the marriage relationship.

The Church of God sets aside a time during the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebrations to bless little children, by the ministers placing their hands on them, asking God to grant them His protection and guidance (compare Mark 10:16; Matthew 19:13-15).

Ordinations of deacons and deaconesses and elders are done strictly through the ministry, and they are always accompanied by the laying on of hands—setting the ordained person aside for the godly office of a deacon or deaconess or a minister (Acts 6:2-6; 1 Timothy 4:14; compare also 1 Timothy 5:22). Notice especially 2 Timothy 1:6: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you THROUGH THE LAYING ON OF MY HANDS.” This procedure is also applied when a deacon is raised to the office of an elder, and when an elder is raised to a higher rank within the ministry, such as pastor or evangelist.

The doctrine of laying on of hands requires and demands a functioning godly ministry, who are God’s representatives (Malachi 2:7), if they are truly chosen and ordained by God (Hebrews 5:4). God has decreed that an ordained minister of God is necessary for proper baptism (leading to the receipt of the Holy Spirit); healing; Church weddings; the blessing of little children; and ordinations as deacons and elders. All of this serves the purpose of feeding the flock.

But to carry out this responsibility of feeding the flock, there must be a willingness of the Church members to be fed. One cannot feed someone if that person rejects the food. The ministry of God is here to serve and feed God’s sheep. God’s sheep will recognize the voice of God, as it is being preached through His shepherds, and they will follow them (John 10:1-5). This is the attitude we ought to have toward God’s ministry, as so strongly and boldly put by John, an apostle of Jesus Christ: “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us” (1 John 4:6). Didn’t Christ Himself say: “If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20)? And: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20)?

Someone who rejects God’s ministers, thinking that he has no need of them, is in mortal spiritual danger. Someone who is unwilling to submit to the ministry of God is guilty of rebellion, which is as bad as sorcery and witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). Paul encouraged the brethren to follow him, as he followed Christ. He URGED the brethren to follow or imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:16). He said: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). He reminded the Thessalonians that they “became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). As it is the duty and responsibility of God’s ministers to feed the flock and protect it from harm, the “sheep” and the “lambs” are told by God to accept and obey the guidance and protection from God’s true ministers (Hebrews 13:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).

In addition to the commission to feed the flock spiritually, God’s Church needs to feed those within the flock physically who are in need of such help. We say in our Statement of Beliefs, under Tithing:

“We believe in the godly institution of tithing to enable the Church to carry out its commission of preaching the gospel and feeding the flock. We believe that needy members are to be helped and taken care of, including through the tithing system described in the Bible, by other members of the Church (Luke 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:8; James 2: 15-16).”

This is talking about two different types or categories of tithing. The one type deals with the payment of 10% of our income or increase for the purpose of preaching the gospel. It is commonly referred to as the “First Tithe.” First Tithe is the first ten percent of one’s “increase,” referring to his or her job earnings and/or other income, such as proceeds from rental, interest or gains from stocks or other investment. It is to be sent to God’s Church in furtherance of the preaching of the gospel (compare Malachi 3:8-10; Matthew 23:23, note especially the last sentence). It is up to the member to decide whether to pay tithe from the gross (before taxes are deducted from our paychecks) or from the net (after deduction of taxes).

There is a different type of tithe which should be paid to the Church by those who are able to do so, for the purpose of helping needy members. (In fact, there is still another type of tithe, but that tithe is not to be paid to the Church, but it is to be saved by the members for themselves to enable them to participate in observing God’s annual Holy Days. More about that in the next installment.) The tithe for those in need of support is commonly referred to as the “Third Tithe.” It is FOR the poor and needy, not BY the poor and needy. It is, therefore, not necessary for a “poor” person to pay third tithe. Someone who receives assistance from the government does not have to pay Third Tithe (nor does he have to pay First Tithe from such assistance). Additionally, it would also be following a wrong principle to take out a loan in order to be able to pay Third Tithe. However, each individual is responsible before God to determine whether he or she is “poor” or “needy” and therefore excused from paying Third Tithe. The ministry is available to help with questions relating to such determination.

At the time of Moses, Third Tithe was paid on the third and sixth year out of a cycle of seven years. On the seventh year, no Third Tithe was to be paid, as the land rested during the seventh year, Leviticus 25:4. The principle of paying Third Tithe on the third and sixth year out of a cycle of seven years still applies today. Many members begin counting their Third Tithe years from the annual festival (usually the Feast of Tabernacles) nearest the date of their baptism. It is the responsibility of each member to decide when he or she should begin the cycle, and the observance of that cycle should be carefully maintained. (The ministry would be available to answer any questions as to how to determine someone’s individual seven year cycle.) God promises us His blessing if we pay Him His Third Tithe during the appropriate times (compare Deuteronomy 26:12-15).

Paying First and Third Tithe to the Church of God enables the ministry to fulfill the Church’s commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which includes a warning message to all nations, and to feed those of the flock who are in need of financial help.

In the next installment, we will continue pointing out substantial differences between most of the Christian churches and organizations and the Church of the Eternal God and its international affiliates, when discussing the biblical command to observe the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days.

(To be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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