Should a Christian Smoke?

The Bible has nothing to say specifically about smoking, as during biblical times it was unknown. Let us quote briefly (and selectively) from the website which has this to say about the history of tobacco:

“Tobacco has a long history in the Americas. The Mayan Indians of Mexico carved drawings in stone showing tobacco use. These drawings date back to somewhere between 600 to 900 A.D. Tobacco was grown by American Indians before the Europeans came from England, Spain, France, and Italy to North America.

“Tobacco was the first crop grown for money in North America.  In 1612 the settlers of the first American colony in Jamestown, Virginia grew tobacco as a cash crop. It was their main source of money. Other cash crops were corn, cotton, wheat, sugar, and soya beans.  By the 1800’s, many people had begun using small amounts of tobacco. Some chewed it. Others smoked it occasionally in a pipe, or they hand-rolled a cigarette or cigar. On the average, people smoked about 40 cigarettes a year. The first commercial cigarettes were made in 1865 by Washington Duke on his 300-acre farm in Raleigh, North Carolina. His hand-rolled cigarettes were sold to soldiers at the end of the Civil War.

“It was not until James Bonsack invented the cigarette-making machine in 1881 that cigarette smoking became widespread.”

It will be self-evident that this was not a problem that Christians may have faced until the 19th century but it has subsequently become a problem for quite a number of those who have been called to God’s Way of Life. Today, people may smoke cigarettes, pipes or cigars or they may chew tobacco because they have become addicted to it; or because they feel depressed or suffer from anxiety and look for stress relief or a way to calm down. Also, they may smoke because they think this might help them to lose weight, or because their friends and relatives smoke. Whilst the Bible has nothing to say about a habit that would arise about 200 years or so ago, basic biblical principles apply.

Let us look, first of all, at some Scriptural principles.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 we read the following: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

True Christians are those who have repented of their sins, believe in Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice and the gospel of the Kingdom of God, have been baptised by full immersion for the remission of their sins and have received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands of God’s true ministers (see Acts 2:38).   In such cases, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God which we read about in Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”   These principles are further reinforced in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 where we read: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who (better “which”) is in you, whom (better “which”) you have from God, and you are not your own?   For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

It seems reasonable to assume that in a literal temple smoking would be prohibited and why should the body be any different when explained in the verses quoted above?   In all that we do, in all of our activities, our emphasis should be on honouring God, rather than ourselves.

As one commentator opined: “Does tobacco smoke coming out of your nostrils glorify God?   Does the smell of tobacco on your body offer a good testimony for Jesus Christ?”   The answer should be obvious.

However, this injunction is not to be limited to converted Christians. Someone who wants to become a Christian should take this principle to heart as well and not begin or continue with a habit which clearly violates God’s instructions of right living.

1 Corinthians 10:30-31 states the following: “But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?   Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”   Can it be to the glory of God to inhale smoke with all of the health problems associated with it (to be covered later) and set a good example of Christian behaviour by breathing smoke over those close by?   In verse 32 we read: “Give no offence, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God”, and there is no doubt that many would be offended in the world, let alone Church members.

On the website of the American Heart Association in an article entitled “Why is it so hard to quit?”, the following comments are made: “It’s hard to tackle the physical addiction to nicotine. Cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance found naturally in tobacco.  It travels quickly to the brain when it is inhaled and can cause a feeling of temporary relaxation and/or stress relief. Nicotine can also elevate your mood and your heart rate. But this feeling is only temporary. After your body rids itself of the drug, you start to crave another cigarette.  Shortly after you finish smoking a cigarette, your body starts to show signs of withdrawal. You start to crave another cigarette to overcome these symptoms, starting a vicious cycle of dependency.”

Based on the above comments about addiction, Romans 6:16 ought to be taken very seriously: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”   It can be very difficult to give up smoking as many find out when attempting to do so and it can enslave those who have this habit.   It can lead to lust for more of the same and thus it is breaking the 10th Commandment.   In Romans 6:12 we read: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”

Over the years there have been a few Church of God members who have smoked, even after baptism.   They know that it is wrong but the addictive nature of smoking can cause them great difficulty in giving up the habit.  In Romans 14:23 we read: “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”   By knowing that something is wrong but doing nothing about it, or trying to give up the habit and not succeeding, is sin.

The following quote is from Wikipedia: “A smoking ban in England, making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England, came into force on 1 July 2007 as a consequence of the Health Act 2006. Similar bans had already been introduced by the rest of the United Kingdom before this — Scotland on 26 March 2006, Wales on 2 April 2007 and Northern Ireland on 30 April 2007.” This all came about because of the serious health risks associated with smoking.

The health risks of smoking are many.   Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK.   From the website is the following information:

“Every year around 100,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.  Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. Some may be fatal and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health.

“Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers. It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the mouth, lips, throat, voice box (larynx), the oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), the bladder, kidney, liver, stomach and pancreas.  Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).

“Smoking also damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which incorporates bronchitis and emphysema and pneumonia.”

Reading all of those health risks, it is a wonder that anyone smokes at all, particularly a few Church members who have had this habit over the years.   But as this same website observes: “You can become ill if you smoke yourself or through other people’s smoke (passive smoking).   Second hand smoke comes from the tip of a lit cigarette and the smoke that the smoker breathes out. Breathing in second hand smoke – also known as passive smoking – increases your risk of getting the same health conditions as smokers. For example, breathing in second hand smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer by about a quarter.”

Those comments bring us on to further biblical principles that we should take seriously in all areas of our lives. This would certainly include those who smoke and here are the verses that talk about it:

In Mark 12:28-31 we read Jesus Christ’s reply to a question from a scribe:

“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’”

We are told to love our neighbour and that is certainly not accomplished by smoking in the presence of others who may have personal health difficulties with cigarette smoke, whilst others may resent the smell of smoke on their own clothes even though they may be a non-smoker themselves.   Such action by a smoker is not looking to the best interests of others – just satisfying their own addiction to something that is a serious health hazard.   We read in other verses how we should have care and consideration for others as part of our Christian Way of Life.

These comments are directed to those self-centered individuals who smoke and who thereby violate God’s command of love towards themselves and their neighbours. When it comes to passive smoking, those who are potentially affected should try to do the best they can, within reason, to avoid becoming victims of second-hand smoking. We realize, of course, that this is not always entirely possible—for instance, when they are in a work environment where people may smoke or when they find themselves in other unavoidable situations, but they can always pray to God to give them wisdom and protection from physical harm.

In brief summary, there are enough principles to lead us to the conclusion that smoking is a sin and must not be a habit of any Church member and that it is also addictive and has numerous health risks both to the smoker and those who, in their company, become passive smokers.   We should be well aware of the effect that it can have on others both by example and by potential health risks even to non-smokers.   As a side issue, it is a waste of good money which could be spent more usefully elsewhere.

We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ and, based on the evidence of Scripture, He would not have smoked if cigarettes, cigars or pipes had been available in His day; nor would He have chewed tobacco.   That, together with all of the evidence in this Q&A, should be more than good enough to teach us that smoking is wrong and a sin. For further information, please view Norbert Link’s recent sermon, “What Does the Bible Say About Smoking?” 

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

This Week in the News

USA Responds to Most Recent North Korean Provocations

The Associated Press wrote on September 3:

“North Korea claimed ‘perfect success’ in an underground test of what it called a hydrogen bomb — potentially vastly more destructive than an atomic bomb… The precise strength of the underground nuclear explosion had yet to be determined. South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five tests.”

The Telegraph added on September 4:

“America has warned that North Korea is ‘begging for war’… Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, on Monday afternoon told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that ‘enough is enough’…

“Military leaders in South Korea claim to have seen indications that the North is preparing an attack and believe it has successfully miniaturised a nuclear weapon to fit onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

According to The Associated Press, dated September 3, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday that “the U.S. will answer any North Korean threat with a ‘massive military response.’”

However, most feel that such a military response would be devastating for all sides concerned.

Newsmax reported on September 7:

“President Donald Trump has given military orders for U.S. forces to shoot down and destroy any missile launched from North Korea and moving towards the continental United States, Hawaii and Guam.”

China and USA Destined to Fail?

The Guardian wrote on September 3:

“Experts say Beijing is wary of placing too much pressure on Pyongyang for fear of causing regime collapse and a calamitous regional crisis that might ultimately bring US troops even closer to Chinese soil

“Shen Dingli, an international relations expert from Shanghai’s Fudan University, said Sunday’s test underlined the futility of both Washington and Beijing’s policies towards North Korea… ‘North Korea will get nuclear weapons just like China did in the 1960s … China is destined to fail.’”

But there is another important reason as to why China is unwilling to put too much pressure on North Korea, as the next two articles show.

China COULD Stop North Korea… But Won’t!

Piers Morgan wrote in The Daily Mail, dated September 4:

“Jong-un must be stopped in his nuclear tracks, that much is clear… North Korea needs to be attacked financially in a way so devastating it is rendered economically impotent, and the most lethal administer of such an attack is its biggest trading partner, China.

“A staggering 90% of all North Korea’s trade is done with China. China has thus become the great enabler of the world’s most despotic regime. It is Chinese money that pays for much of North Korea’s military and it is therefore Chinese money that de facto fuels North Korea’s nuclear weapons program…

“[China] should cut off his crude oil supply. No modern military can function without oil; it is the very lifeblood of any armed force. This dramatic move, which would need Russia’s assistance, would also cripple North Korea’s economy…

“Donald Trump yesterday ramped up the pressure on China by threatening to stop US trade with any country who continues doing business with North Korea. China’s foreign ministry issued a statement branding such a move ‘unfair’. It read: ‘We cannot accept a situation in which, on the one hand we work to resolve this issue peacefully, but on the other hand, China’s own interests are subject to sanctions and are damaged. This is neither objective, nor is it fair.’…

“What is neither objective nor fair is China’s on-going pathetically supine weakness in dealing with North Korea… The biggest threat to world peace right now is North Korea and the one country that can most effectively neutralise this threat is China.”

With or Without North Korea… No Trade with China!

Breitbart wrote on September 4:

“America cannot morally justify trade with China…

“Critics will contend that the scale of America’s business ties to China are so astronomical – $648.2 billion in 2016… – that ending trade with China is impossible without a devastating effect on both economies

“China… is one of the most egregious human rights violators in the world… Strict population control laws force women who become pregnant after having two children to undergo forced state abortions. Dissidents have reported being used for medical experiments, cut open, and forced to sell their organs for the government’s profit.

“‘Torture, disappearances, imprisoning peaceful advocates, destroying religious communities, internet censorship – President Xi has plenty to answer for on these subjects,’ Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, asserted in April.

“Since then, the U.S. State Department has released reports finding that China severely limits freedom of worship for citizens who do not want to pray at state-controlled temples and churches, whether Buddhist, Christian, or Muslim…

“Christians… face arrest, torture, and beatings if they do not belong to the ‘Three-Self Patriotic Church,’ the state-approved Christian institution. Many are arrested and tortured for starting ‘house churches,’ underground assemblies to study the Bible without a government-approved clergyman adding communist interpretations to their readings. The government has begun… bulldozing churches they can no longer control. This week, video surfaced of Chinese police officers beating priests who attempted to prevent the demolition of a church building…”

In this evil world, money rules. Sadly, the same terrible violations occur in Russia as well… But greed and fraudulent money transactions can also be found in the USA. Note the next article.

Wells Fargo’s Problems Much Worse

CNN wrote on August 30:

“Wells Fargo’s problems are worse than the bank previously admitted… Wells Fargo… now says it has found a total of up to 3.5 million potentially fake bank and credit card accounts, up from its earlier tally of approximately 2.1 million… About 190,000 accounts were slapped with unnecessary fees for these accounts [and 528,000] customers were… enrolled in online bill pay without their authorization…

“Wells Fargo said it will now pay a total of $6.1 million to refund customers for unauthorized bank and credit card accounts… The bank also promised to pay $910,000 to refund customers for the… improper online bill pay enrollments… Additionally, Wells Fargo has agreed to a $142 million national class action settlement to cover fake accounts that were opened back to 2002…

“In late July, Wells Fargo admitted to forcing up to 570,000 borrowers into unneeded auto insurance. About 20,000 of those customers may have had their cars repossessed due to these unnecessary insurance costs…”

Dreamers under Attack

The Guardian wrote on September 5:

“Donald Trump thrust the fate of nearly 800,000 young, undocumented migrants into uncertainty on Tuesday by terminating the Obama-era program that protects the so-called Dreamers from deportation. In response, Barack Obama said the decision was ‘self-defeating’ and contrary to ‘basic decency’…

“The 2012 policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) will be phased out by 5 March 2018, leaving Congress with six months to enact new protections for Dreamers through legislation. New applications will no longer be accepted, while those currently in the program will all lose their status by March 2020, with the first permits expiring in March 2018 – unless Congress passes legislation allowing the young immigrants to stay… Trump… said he had advised the Department of Homeland Security that Daca recipients were ‘not enforcement priorities [for deportation] unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang’…

“There are around 800,000 Daca recipients living in the US, who qualified by having been under the age of 31 as of 15 June 2012. Those applying were vetted for any criminal history or threat to national security and had to be students or have completed school or military service. Their status must be renewed every two years…

“In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, senior DHS officials said they would allow anyone with a Daca permit expiring between now and 5 March to apply for a two-year renewal, so long as the application is submitted by 5 October. But other Dreamers whose permits do not expire within the next six months would be poised to lose their status as early as 5 March, exposing them to the threat of deportation. The administration also declared that new applications for Daca dated after 5 September will not be considered, shutting down access to the program for those who are not already beneficiaries.

“The specifics of what legislation Trump would be willing to sign to protect Dreamers remained unclear…  Trump’s decision was swiftly condemned by immigration advocates, business leaders and Democrats, while attorneys general from New York and Washington state said they would take legal action against the administration… ‘This is a sad day for our country,’ Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement…

“House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of committing ‘a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America… The president’s cruel and heartless decision to start deporting Dreamers in six months demands an immediate response from the Republican Congress,’ she said.

“Republican House speaker Paul Ryan, who in recent days expressed his hope that Trump would not terminate Daca, responded to Tuesday’s announcement by characterizing Obama’s policy as ‘well-intentioned’ but ‘a clear abuse of executive authority [and] an attempt to create law out of thin air… Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches,’ Ryan said in a statement…

“The highly partisan atmosphere in Congress will make the passage of any legislation to protect Dreamers an uphill battle…”

Bild Online wrote the following on September 6:

“The Catholic Bishops conference in New York condemned the decision, stating that it showed a lack of mercy. It emphasized that the immigrants are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church… Several of Trump’s conservative evangelical advisors rejected the decision as well.”

The undocumented migrants under DACA are those who came with their parents to this country, being, on an average, six years old, who have lived in this country for about 19 years on an average. Paul Ryan had promised repeatedly in public, including in a town hall meeting, that under Trump, dreamers would not be deported. President Trump stated that he will “revisit” the issue if Congress cannot pass legislation within six months.

Republican Governor John Kasich (Ohio), whose parents were of Czech and Croatian descent, made a most impassionate plea on CBS on September 6, blasting the decision and encouraged reasonable Republicans and Democrats in Congress to pass legislation within six hours… not within six months, while encouraging political radicals on both sides to step aside.  He stated that President Trump should have taken on the threats of certain governors to sue him if he would not cancel DACA, elaborating that he should have fought them in court, rather than giving in to their demands.  He also invited all Dreamers to come to Ohio, as his state values their contributions.

According to Der Stern, dated September 6, economic and Internet giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Wells Fargo and General Motors condemned the decision, pointing at massive economic repercussions for the country. JTA added that many Jewish groups rejected the decision.

Trump Suffers Another Setback on His Travel Ban

Newsmax reported on September 7:

“President Donald Trump suffered another setback on his embattled travel ban, with an appeals panel leaving in… place a lower-court ruling that forces the administration to accept people with grandparents, cousins and other relatives in the U.S. Thursday’s decision… further frustrates the Trump administration as it heads toward an Oct. 10 showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court over the broader legality of the president’s executive order temporarily barring travelers from six mostly Muslim nations. The Ninth Circuit panel also said Trump was wrong in how he interpreted an earlier order by [the] high court to apply restrictions to thousands of refugees seeking entry into the U.S.”

Trump Angers and Upsets Republicans

The Week reported on September 7:

“President Trump surprised Democrats and infuriated Republicans on Wednesday when he agreed to a Democratic proposal to attach $7.9 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid to a three-month spending package and debt-limit increase. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reluctantly agreed to the deal and turned it into legislation Wednesday night… The Senate is expected to approve the package as early as Friday, then it would go back to the House…”

Newsmax reported on September 7:

“President Donald Trump and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have agreed to work toward a permanent repeal of the debt ceiling [removing] the requirement for Congress to repeatedly raise the debt ceiling, or the limit on federal borrowing…

“Such a measure would be very difficult for many Republicans in Congress to swallow… House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday he opposes any effort to do away with the role of Congress in approving increases to the federal debt limit.”

The Opinion Page of The Washington Post published the following article on September 7:

“Trump’s betrayal of the Republican leaders should surprise no one…  First, Ryan tells reporters that a short-term, three-month extension on the debt ceiling, tied to relief funds for Hurricane Harvey… was ‘ridiculous and disgraceful.’ Then, in the Oval Office meeting, Trump stuns everyone by endorsing the Schumer-Pelosi plan — and agrees to work with the Democrats on repealing the debt ceiling altogether…

“Trump is many things, but he is not, nor has he ever been, a committed Republican. He seized control of the party in a hostile takeover. His campaign positions on trade, health care, entitlements and other issues bore no resemblance to GOP orthodoxy…  Ryan, McConnell and many of their Republican colleagues in Congress convinced themselves that Trump could be a useful instrument — that he would sign whatever legislation they sent him…”

Largest Wildfire in Los Angeles’ History

Reuters reported on September 2:

“A wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles rapidly grew on Saturday into what the mayor called the largest blaze in the city’s history

“Wildfires in the U.S. West have burned more than 7.1 million acres (2.9 million hectares) since the beginning of the year, about 50 percent more than during the same time period in 2016…”

“Florida Declares State of Emergency as Caribbean Girds for Hurricane Irma”

 AFP wrote on September 5:

“Hurricane Irma surged to a dangerous ‘Category Four’ storm Monday as it churned toward the Leeward Islands, sparking alarm and alerts from the Caribbean to Florida, which declared an emergency…

“A Category Four storm [which was subsequently upgraded to a Category Five storm, see next article]… is capable of doing widespread major structural and infrastructure damage… Category four strength was the maximum attained by Hurricane Harvey, which recently devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana…”

USA Today wrote on September 6:

“Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, made its first landfall in the Caribbean early Wednesday as the Category 5 storm rolled toward a likely strike on the south Florida coast this weekend.

“The eye passed over Antigua and Barbuda around 2 a.m. ET. Residents said over local radio that phone lines went down as the eye passed. ‘May God protect us all,’ local authorities said… Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, tweeted the islands may have been spared the worst.

“Michel Magras, senator on the small French-speaking island of St.Barts, sent a text describing the ‘monster that passes over us’… ‘It is apocalyptic, a lot of damage, a lot of roofs torn off,’ he texted…

“The National Hurricane Center said Irma was maintaining sustained winds near 185 mph as it lashed the Leeward Islands with exceptionally strong winds and heavy rain and was heading west-northwest on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. It could reach Florida as early as Friday.”

Considering the wicked lifestyle of many people, we should not be surprised when we hear about terrible “natural” disasters. At the same time, many innocent people suffer as well. We need to pray to God to restore His Government on earth as soon as possible, which will ban Satan [the “monster” or the dragon, also called the serpent of old] and his demons—the real rulers of this present evil age—and which will end all misery and pain.

Brexit Negotiations… From Bad to Worse

Forbes wrote on August 31:

“The negotiations between the U.K. and the EU are going from bad to worse… the EU’s principal negotiator, Michel Barnier, lambasted the U.K.’s attitude…  he went on to complain about U.K. breaches of trust.

 “The first breach concerned citizens’ rights. Recently, the U.K.’s Home Office sent letters to over 100 EU/EEA citizens living in the UK, telling them to leave the country. As the UK has not yet left the EU, these letters were illegal. The Home Office quickly corrected its mistake, apologizing to the people concerned and telling them to put the letters in the bin. But according to M. Barnier, this is not the first time an incident like this has happened. ‘This reinforces the need to ensure that citizens’ rights are directly enforceable in front of national jurisdictions under the control of the European Court of Justice,’ he said. ‘This is a point on which we disagree today.’

“Today, and probably every day. Ending the direct jurisdiction of the ECJ in the U.K. is one of the U.K. Government’s ‘red lines.’ Its position paper on EU migrants is uncompromising: … ‘After we leave the EU, we will create new rights in U.K. law for qualifying EU citizens resident here before our exit. Those rights will be enforceable in the U.K. legal system and will provide legal guarantees for these EU citizens… The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the U.K.

“But M. Barnier’s comments are damning. They amount to condemnation of the entire U.K. justice system. If the U.K. courts cannot be trusted to enforce the rights of EU migrants living in the U.K., they cannot be trusted to enforce any other laws pertaining to the EU either…

“Barnier then went on to discuss what he regards as a second breach of trust, namely the U.K.’s behavior over the Brexit financial settlement:

“In July, the U.K. recognized that it has obligations beyond the Brexit date. But this week, the U.K. explained that these obligations will be limited to their last payment to the EU budget before departure…”

“The UK seems to have dug itself into a deep hole. This is not looking good…”

The Telegraph added on September 3:

“The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has [said] Brexit will be used to ‘teach the British people and others what leaving the EU means’. In highly inflammatory comments made to a conference in Italy on Saturday, Mr Barnier said it was his job to ‘educate’ the UK about the price of leaving the EU ‘club’. ‘There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market, and they haven’t been explained to the British people. We intend to teach people … what leaving the single market means.’”

The Brexit negotiations will indeed have devastating results for the UK.

Ditching “Boys” and “Girls” Labels to Avoid “Enforcing Gender Stereotypes”

The Daily Mail wrote on September 3:

“John Lewis has become the first major retailer to ditch ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ labels from its children’s clothing range. The chain has also removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs from its childrenswear departments to avoid ‘einforcing gender stereotypes’. Instead, new genderless labels say either ‘Boys & Girls’ or ‘Girls & Boys’, and are on all own-brand clothing from newborn to 14 years. Even floral dresses and skirts have unisex labels. The only exception is school uniforms, which will switch to unisex labels soon…

Parents have praised John Lewis on social media for its move towards gender-neutral clothing… But the retailer faced accusations that it risked taking political correctness too far and was pandering to campaigners…

“Asda was pilloried for selling boys’ T-shirts with slogans such as ‘Future Scientist’, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and ‘Rock N Roll Star’ while putting logos such as ‘Ponies Rock’, ‘Pretty Rock’ and ‘Hey Cutie’ on its girls’ range. But critics pointed out that adult clothing sections differentiate between the sexes and questioned why childrenswear should not do the same.

“Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this.’”

The use of the word “possess” is interesting. This is such blatant nonsense and ridiculous insanity, but it shows how stupid our Western societies have become.

Non-Voters in Germany

Deutsche Welle wrote on September 2:

“Like most democracies, Germany has a huge non-voting population. In 2009, more people didn’t vote at all than voted for Merkel’s conservatives… In Germany’s 1972 election, voter turnout was 91.1 percent. In the last two parliamentary elections in 2009 and 2013, only 70.8 and then 71.5 percent of citizens exercised their right to vote.

“… people were asked how they saw themselves, and one common trend among respondents was to reject the idea of being a ‘non-voter.’ Many claimed that they truly wanted to vote, but were taking an enforced break, waiting for a time when they could return to the urns…

“Peters [founder of the Non-Voters’ Party, stated:] ‘Merkel… has absolutely no concept of how to move forward. She lives this system, and she does very well in its confines. But it’s a case of a one-eyed king in the land of the blind.’”

To vote for a candidate in our corrupt political systems would indeed support the system, and even voting for a “lesser evil” means, giving our voice of support to something or someone evil. God’s people WILL vote or give their voice of approval to THE future true and righteous leader and KING when He sets up His Kingdom—Jesus Christ.

Merkel Wins TV Debate Against Schulz

Deutsche Welle wrote on September 3:

“Chancellor Angela Merkel made the more convincing case to lead Germany for the next four years… Forty-nine percent of viewers… viewed Merkel as more credible over the course of the debate, compared to just 29 percent who favored Social Democrat (SPD) candidate Schulz. More than half of those surveyed (55 percent) said the chancellor also outperformed her rival, compared to just 35 percent who thought Schulz came out on top.

“Merkel reportedly scored particularly high marks when it came to credibility, grasp of the issues and likability

“Merkel [announced] that she will seek to end EU accession talks with Turkey… Merkel said ‘it is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union.’ Merkel’s statement on Turkey came just minutes after Schulz said he would similarly move to halt Turkey’s EU membership talks were he elected chancellor. The chancellor said… that she didn’t ‘see (Turkey) ever joining and I had never believed that it would happen.’…

“Schulz said that US President Donald Trump’s ‘unpredictability’ made him the wrong person to deal with the rogue regime [of North Korea]. While she stressed that she disagreed with Trump on many issues, Merkel said the North Korean crisis was not something that could be solved with the US, adding that ‘one must say in the clearest terms that for us, there can only be a peaceful diplomatic solution.’…”

The Telegraph wrote on September 3:

“Angela Merkel was forced to defend her controversial decision to open Germany’s borders to more than 1m asylum-seekers on Sunday as she [came] under pressure in a televised election debate. Martin Schulz, the main challenger, accused the German chancellor of a ‘serious mistake’ with her ‘lone decision’ and said she should have worked with European allies to find a common approach.

“But a defiant Mrs Merkel insisted Germany had been faced with a ‘very dramatic situation’ and had no choice but to act… [While he] landed some telling blows against the long-serving chancellor, Mr Schulz failed to deliver the knock-out punch his campaign badly needed.”

Europe Unprepared for Russian Aggression

Politico wrote on September 3:

The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is under-equipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies…

“The analysis comes to light as Russia gears up for one of the largest military exercises in the post-Soviet era — a weeklong war game called Zapad that could involve as many as 100,000 troops and will be held later this month in Belarus…”

This is another reason why Europe will become more and more convinced in the “necessity” of creating its own army.

Catholic and Protestants Have Much in Common

On August 31, Christian Today wrote the following:

“Protestants and Catholics across the West now agree on so much… that Christians of past centuries would be shocked

“In every European country surveyed, roughly nine-in-ten, or more, Protestants and Catholics say they are willing to accept members of the other tradition as neighbours, and large majorities of both groups say they would be willing to accept members of the other group into their families.

“For example, 98 per cent of German Protestants say they would accept Catholics as members of their family, and a similar share of German Catholics (97 per cent) say the same about Protestants.”

The Bible prophesies that the Protestant or Evangelical daughter churches will return to the fold of their “mother church”—the Roman Catholic Church.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

Current Events

by Norbert Link

In this issue, we report on the frightening developments pertaining to North Korea and the extremely limited options which the USA seems to have—short of military actions—while China could do something about North Korea’s ongoing provocations, but seems to be unwilling to do so, due to its economic interests. We also quote several articles, asking the pertinent question as to whether the USA should even have any trade with China in the first place.

We are addressing some of America’s domestic problems, including outrageous fraudulent activities of employees of the Wells Fargo Bank; President Trump’s controversial announcement to cancel DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as the “Dream Act” or “Dreamers”), and devastating natural disasters of wildfires and hurricanes. In this regard, please view our new StandingWatch program, “WHY Unprecedented Hurricanes and Wildfires?”

We focus on the hostile Brexit negotiations with no friendly relationship in sight; and speak on the insane nonsense of retailers in the UK [and elsewhere] to create genderless labels for young children to avoid enforcing gender stereotypes.

We speak on the upcoming parliamentary elections in Germany; address the interesting phenomenon of the multitude of “non-voters” in Germany; and point out that Europe seems to be unprepared militarily to meet any Russian aggression.

We conclude with an article about the surprising degree of agreement between Catholics and Protestants, which would have “shocked Christians of past centuries.”

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

 A new Member Letter (September 2017) has been mailed to our subscribers and is now posted on our webpage. In this letter, Pastor Brian Gale points to the upcoming fall Holy Days with a heartfelt and sobering reminder of the many who are no longer observing any of God’s Holy Days.

“WHY Unprecedented Hurricanes and Wildfires?” is the new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Hurricane Harvey—a Category 4 Storm! Hurricane Irma—a Category 5 Storm and the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history… Largest wildfire in LA history… Wildfires in the U.S. West have burned 50 percent more than during the same period in 2016! WHY? Can all of these “natural disasters” be explained by mere coincidence? Or are spiritual reasons involved?

A Tech Team meeting was conducted on Sunday morning, September 3rd, via SKYPE. Hosted by Eric Rank, items discussed included further development of the French web pages, podcasts, backup plans for our websites and various equipment needs both locally and for the Feast.

The US Feast Brochure (2017) and the German Feast Brochure (2017) are now posted on our websites.

We have recently added graphic accents to draw attention to what we feel are very important aspects of news articles and our own Editorials and Question and Answer features. We note the following comment received this week:

“The underlined portions are very visually appealing.”

Our 2018 Church Conference will be held in Fort Collins, Colorado, with arrival on April 18th and departure on April 24th.

“Du Sollst (Nicht) Begehren, Teil 1,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “You Shall (Not) Covet/Desire.”

“The Place,” last Sabbath’s sermonette presented by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

God puts great importance in the very specific instructions He has given concerning our worship of Him—locations are designated and even our individual roles are defined.

“Giving Up is Not Quitting!” last Sabbath’s sermon presented by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

We must be willing to give up everything our carnal eyes see as precious in order to gain what truly is important.  But giving up our old ways isn’t a one-time action as we begin our spiritual career.  We must purge, on a daily basis, anything that draws us nearer to our carnal desires and away from God.

Here are the dates for the 2017 Fall Holy Days:

Feast of Trumpets—September 21
Day of Atonement—September 30
Feast of Tabernacles—October 5-11
Last Great Day—October 12

Living Waters

I was in the backyard and noticed that one of the squash plants in a planter looked somewhat bleak. Its leaves had drooped to the ground and were all withered. I thought the plant might have actually died, but I took the hose and gave it a good watering to see if that would help. When I looked at the plant on the next day, it had totally revived. The leaves were no longer drooping but were upright and looked good.

It is amazing what water will do to a plant. Water is a crucial element for human and plant survival. Humans consist of a little over 70% water. They can survive longer without food, when they have water, than without any food and water.

We have a garden which gets watered twice a day, but because of restrictions, the lawn only gets watered three times a week. We have a sprinkler in the garden which waters it but also some grass on each side. Since this grass is watered twice a day, it is much greener then the grass a little beyond it which only gets watered three times a week. We notice a big difference between well-watered grass and partly-watered grass. One is green and looks bright, while the other looks faded.

In the Millennium, a river of living water will flow from the temple in Jerusalem, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 47:1-9. These waters will be crystal clear and free of pollutants. They are not just healing waters but restorative waters in that they heal and also restore life, since all fish and many plants will have been destroyed just prior to Christ’s return.

Christ also mentions living waters in John 7:37-38: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, [which] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

In the incident at the well, in John 4:7-14, Christ said that those who drink the water that He gives them shall become fountains of living waters leading to eternal life. He is referring to God‘s Spirit flowing from true Christians, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. The closer we are to God, the more these living waters will flow from us.

Clean and Unclean; What Satan CANNOT Do!

On September 9, 2017, Michael Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Clean and Unclean,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “What Satan CANNOT Do!”

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.

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