I Think, Therefore I Am–Not Good Enough / The Fruit of Labor
On December 16, 2023, Frank Bruno will present the sermonette, titled, “I Think, Therefore I Am—Not Good Enough,” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “The Fruit of Labor”.
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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
Pinecones and Faith
by Frank Bruno
During the fall months of the year, my wife Shelly and I are tasked with collecting pinecones from the lawn. The cones can make mowing up the leaves more difficult, and so we get to work. The pinecone is a seed-bearing organ that is woody and has signature scales. These scales are arranged as a protective umbrella that close, when necessary, to protect the tender seeds, and open when the time comes for the seeds to take to the breeze to find hospitable soil. As children, my friends and I would pretend that the cones were mini-American-style footballs and play epic games.
Pinecones are yet another example of God’s perfect design. They have a purpose and are a beautiful reminder of the growth that occurs for all of God’s creations. God created trees of all kinds for their beauty, shade, and the wood as a resource for construction and for heating, and more. My point is that the pinecone nurtures the seeds, and, over time, enables them to mature.
When we moved to our town years ago, Shelly and I wanted to contribute to the community. We did not have a lot of money to donate, but we met with a colleague of mine who ran a community foundation. She described a fund that we could contribute to—we would give a specific amount each year for ten years and could then help guide the uses of the fund that grew with our contributions and the interest from investment earnings. The foundation referred to these as Pinecone Funds because they are protected and grow over time.
We appreciated the idea that something modest could be nurtured and become significant. Turning to Scripture for a powerful analogy, Philippians 1:9 reads: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Paul wrote this to the Church at Philippi, a former gold-mining area, to counter what he saw as a growing problem of disunity among Church members. He wanted the Church to continue to grow and the members to focus on the mind of Christ. Paul believed that this was the only way to address the divisive nature of humans and have the Church thrive.
We know that Jesus Christ was and is not limited in any way. In Matthew 17, we read the account of Jesus, Peter, James, and John encountering a crowd. A man came to Jesus and fell to His knees and begged Him to heal his son and drive out the demon that possessed him. The three apostles were troubled that they had previously been unable to drive out the demon. They asked Jesus about this, and we see His response in Matthew 17:20: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Faith as small as a seed, and yet with the power to move a mountain. Imagine then what we can do when we focus on the mind of Christ and increasingly discern His power and majesty. As carnal beings, we cannot compel ourselves to follow God—we must first be drawn by Him and, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we, as true Christians, can begin to grow if we obey and follow His commandments.
The key therefore to growing in faith is to obey God and study the Bible to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God and His Son through the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11:1, we read: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Let’s continue reading in verses 2 and 3: “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
Let’s reinforce this and consider the following biblical examples of the power of faith as the enduring foundation of our lives. In Hebrews 11:7-12, we read:
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
Much like the pinecone releasing its charge to the soil, as true Christians, we must nurture our faith through our obedience to God and His Son, sincere prayer, and our study of the Scriptures.
I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ who perfectly captured the importance of our working to perfect our faith. Let’s read John 20:29: “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” This is a glimpse into the mind of Jesus and the importance He places on faith.
by Norbert Link
We begin with the indictment of Hunter Biden which seems to be further proof of a continuing massive coverup by the Justice Department and the Attorney General in an attempt to protect Joe Biden (please view our new StandingWatch program, “Hunter Biden’s Indictment—the Coverup Continues.”; speak on a controversial case in Texas involving a somewhat unusual request for an abortion; and report on a scandalous case in Colorado involving a transgender student.
We address new hysterical recommendations by health “experts” regarding Covid; and the incredibly insane idea of introducing carbon passports for tourists. We also address the anticipated changing situation in Poland under Prime Minister-designate Donald Tusk.
We speak on European countries and the UN ganging up on Israel by demanding a permanent ceasefire and a two-state “solution”, America’s efforts to undermine Israel’s military success; Israel’s commitment to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacking Israeli ships if America does not act; and a highly controversial movement in Germany demanding that applicants for German citizenship declare “loyalty” for Israel.
We address increased European military spending and the drive towards Germany’s preparedness for a defensive war with Russia; the controversial agreement of Germany’s coalition parties regarding a new budget; and we conclude with the conduct of certain companies allegedly responsible for inflation.
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
Hunter Biden Indicted… Sort Of…
The Associated Press wrote on December 8:
“Hunter Biden was indicted on nine tax charges in California as a special counsel investigation into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son intensifies against the backdrop of the 2024 election. The new charges filed Thursday — three felonies and six misdemeanors — are in addition to federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Hunter Biden broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018. They come after the implosion of a plea deal over the summer that would have spared him jail time, putting the case on track to a possible trial as his father campaigns for reelection.
“Hunter Biden ‘spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills,’ special counsel David Weiss said in a statement. The charges are centered on at least $1.4 million in taxes Hunter Biden owed during between 2016 and 2019, a period where he has acknowledged struggling with addiction…
“If convicted, Hunter Biden, 53, could receive a maximum of 17 years in prison. The special counsel probe remains open, Weiss said… The charging documents filed in California, where he lives, detail spending on drugs, strippers, luxury hotels and exotic cars, ‘in short, everything but his taxes,’ prosecutor Leo Wise wrote…
“Hunter did eventually file his taxes in 2020, while facing a child support case in Arkansas, and the back taxes were paid by a ‘third party’…”
We wonder who that third party was. It is not to be expected that Hunter will spend one day in prison, and in any event, that his father would not pardon him. He said he would not, but Joe Biden has been known to lie repeatedly.
The DOJ’s and AG’s Cover-Up to Protect Joe Biden Continues
The New York Post published the following article by Attorney and Law Professor Jonathan Turley, on December 8:
“The 56-page indictment of Hunter Biden for tax evasion makes for racy reading, with the special counsel describing a four-year criminal pattern directed at maintaining Biden’s ‘extravagant lifestyle.’ That lifestyle included massive expenses for strippers, sex clubs, fast cars and other distractions.
“The steps taken by Hunter to evade taxes are impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the efforts of the Justice Department to evade any direct implications for his father, President Biden. In that sense, the indictment itself is a marvel of evasion.
“There are… glaring omissions in the indictment that tend to shield critical payments and conduct that implicate the president. First, the special counsel only indicts tax evasion that occurred in recent years. That’s because the long ‘investigation’ into Hunter inexplicably allowed the statute of limitations to expire on the most controversial payments from Ukraine gas company Burisma. Recent testimony from IRS whistleblowers suggests that wasn’t an accident. Investigators were stonewalled, they claimed, and the Justice Department was previously moving to reject any charges against Hunter Biden. Exploring those earlier Ukrainian payments opens up questions about Hunter’s influence peddling and would have highlighted the conflict in his father’s extraordinary move to force the Ukrainians to fire a prosecutor investigating Burisma by holding back a billion dollars in aid for the country. There is still no explanation why special counsel David Weiss would allow the statute of limitations to run out. But this recent indictment keeps the focus squarely on taxes not paid, not how the money was ‘earned’ in the first place…
“Also missing in the indictment is any charge against Hunter Biden as an unregistered foreign agent… The problem with charging Hunter with FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) is obvious. It opens up questions about the millions of dollars going to the Biden family from foreign sources, a topic that Attorney General Merrick Garland has spent years avoiding. In the second indictment, Weiss spends more time detailing the salacious use of this money rather than how and why it was given to the Bidens. He just matter-of-factly describes millions flowing through these accounts from China, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and other countries. By focusing on tax evasion alone, Weiss again avoids any direct reference to the focus of the influence-peddling used to raise these millions of dollars.
“Even without mentioning the president, the implications of the indictment are devastating for the narrative and denials of Joe Biden. The president has continued to maintain that he had no knowledge or interaction with these dealings. Those statements are clearly and knowingly false. The president also maintained that his son has ‘never done anything wrong’ and never accepted any money from China. That is also untrue, according to the Justice Department and Hunter himself.
“Yet Weiss continues to avoid any need to address the person who was the selling point of the influence peddling. It was the same person [Joe Biden] who repeatedly called in to dinners and meetings, repeatedly attended events, and held meetings and photo shots for these clients. Instead, Weiss indicts the failure to pay taxes on the proceeds of these dealings without addressing that underlying corruption. It is akin to arresting a bank robber for speeding away from the crime scene without mentioning the reason for his flight. In a scandal with dozens of references to the president and millions sent for influence and access, it took a steady hand for Weiss to avoid ever touching on President Biden’s role. It takes perfect aim not to avoid any contact… It is itself the very model of evasion.”
It’s clearly a coverup, which is supported by Democrats and the left-liberal mass media, falsely claiming that there is no evidence for Joe Biden’s misconduct. The evidence is overwhelming, which is being willfully ignored by those who want to protect Joe Biden.
Newsmax wrote on December 8:
“Donald Trump Jr. panned the timing of the nine criminal charges brought against Hunter Biden on Thursday night, saying it was ‘planned’ in order to skirt Biden’s scheduled deposition next week… Biden is under subpoena to sit for a deposition before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. ‘Mark my words this was planned and they’re going to use this as the excuse to not testify before Congress… he’ll end up with nothing or [a] slap on the wrist but it’ll make sure he evades the thousands of things (Oversight Committee) is looking at…’
“One former U.S. attorney predicted Biden will now plead the fifth. Brett Tollman agreed with Trump Jr., that the DOJ’s timing on this is transparent in its attempts to protect the Bidens. ‘They could have brought these charges much earlier,’ Tollman told Fox News. ‘They didn’t because they wanted to try to slip one past the American public. This is an effort to also protect Joe Biden…’”
If so, then this would be scandalous and incredibly corrupt.
Hunter Biden Defies Subpoena
Breitbart wrote on December 13:
“House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) initiated contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden after the president’s son failed to appear for a subpoenaed closed-door deposition Wednesday. If prosecuted and convicted for contempt of Congress, Hunter Biden’s punishment could be up to a $100,000 fine and imprisonment. ‘We will not provide special treatment because his last name is Biden,’ Comer and Jordan wrote. ‘As our committees were today prepared to depose Hunter Biden, he chose to make a public statement on Capitol Hill instead where he said his father, Joe Biden was not financially involved in his family’s business dealings.’
“‘Exactly how was Joe Biden involved?’ they questioned. ‘Evidence shows Joe Biden met with Hunter’s business associates and his name was at the center of the family business strategy.’ …
“House investigators opened a probe into the Biden family in November 2022. They revealed Joe Biden received money from James Biden and Hunter Biden. They also showed that nine additional Biden family members received payments from the family’s foreign business ventures, including two of the president’s grandchildren.”
The New York Post published the following article by Miranda Devine on December 10:
“It’s as if they live in a cave without access to modern communications. The reason the president has gone unmentioned after a five-year investigation into Hunter’s role in the family influence-peddling racket is that the DOJ, like most of the media, corruptly protected him… Protecting Joe Biden is a longstanding whole-of-government enterprise…”
The conduct and the lies of Hunter Biden and of those Democrats who support him are beyond “shameless.” Note our new StandingWatch program, “Hunter Biden’s Indictment—the Coverup Continues.”
Impeachment Inquiry Against Joe Biden Approved
Breitbart wrote on December 13:
“The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden by a vote of 221 to 212. The formally adopted status will enable House investigators to enforce subpoenas and gather evidence about whether the president is compromised and ‘traded official acts for foreign dollars,’ according to House Speaker Mike Johnson…
“Republicans unanimously voted to adopt the resolution… Democrats voted in a block to oppose the resolution’s adoption.
“The White House failed to provide investigators:
“Information about two loan agreements Joe Biden allegedly executed with James Biden for a total of $240,000. 99.98 percent of requested records from President Joe Biden, including alias emails. Documents about an alleged $5 million bribe Joe Biden accepted. Materials related to Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
“The vote was a test for House Republicans, who only hold a slight majority that will shrink further this month after Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announced resignation. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-FL) is also expected to leave in the new year to take a university post. Speaker McCarthy opened an ‘impeachment inquiry’ into the president on September 12, but lawmakers did not vote to approve the measure until Wednesday…
“Recent polling shows Americans are highly skeptical of Hunter and Joe Biden:… A plurality of Americans are not confident about how the Justice Department handled the investigation into Hunter Biden… A majority of voters believe President Joe Biden committed a crime with Hunter Biden… 63 percent say Joe Biden violated FARA by assisting Hunter Biden in [the] Ukraine deal…”
The impeachment inquiry could lead to an impeachment process with the possible result that Biden could be found guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which can lead to his removal from office if convicted in a Senate trial. The possibility that this could happen with a Senate dominated by fact-defying Democrats is next to none.
The New York Post wrote on December 9:
“Megyn Kelly said that former President Trump had lost ‘multiple steps’ mentally and was no longer the same man he was in 2016. The podcast host and former Fox News anchor said the 77-year-old former president was starting to show his age — and it wasn’t pretty…. ‘He is confusing Joe Biden for [Barack] Obama … I know he’s now saying he intentionally did that — go back and look at the clips, it wasn’t intentional.’
“The reference about how somebody is going to get us into World War II, confusing countries, confusing cities where he is, and it’s happening more and more,’ she said… ‘if it’s between Trump and Biden, I don’t think there’s any question who’s more fit and more capable. But are we really going to pretend that Donald Trump is just as vibrant and mentally sharp as he was in ’16?’…
“Kelly and Trump have a long personal history dating to the 2016 presidential election…”
Controversial Case in Texas Involving Abortion
The Associated Press wrote on December 9:
“The Texas Supreme Court on Friday night put on hold a judge’s ruling that approved an abortion for a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal diagnosis, throwing into limbo an unprecedented challenge to one of the most restrictive bans in the U.S. The order by the all-Republican court came more than 30 hours after Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from the Dallas area, received a temporary restraining order from a lower court judge that prevents Texas from enforcing the state’s ban in her case…
“Cox was 20 weeks pregnant this week when she filed what is believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that overturned Roe v. Wade… Cox learned she was pregnant for a third time in August and was told weeks later that her baby was at a high risk for a condition known as trisomy 18, which has a very high likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rates, according to her lawsuit.
“Furthermore, doctors have told Cox that if the baby’s heartbeat were to stop, inducing labor would carry a risk of a uterine rupture because of her two prior cesareans sections, and that another C-section at full term would endanger her ability to carry another child.
“Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton…warned three hospitals in Houston that they could face legal consequences if they allowed Cox’s physician to provide the abortion…”
Austin American-Statesman reported on December 12:
“The Texas Supreme Court in a highly anticipated decision on Monday evening ruled that Kate Cox, a Dallas area mother carrying a fetus with a fatal condition, does not qualify for an abortion under state laws based on her doctor’s ‘good faith belief’ that she needs the procedure.
“‘The statute requires that judgment be a “reasonable medical” judgment, and Dr. (Damla) Karsan has not asserted that her “good faith belief” about Ms. Cox’s condition meets that standard,’ the opinion reads… Justices indicated they were not inclined to broaden the exception, stating doctors must adhere to a standard of ‘reasonable medical judgment’ rather than a “good faith belief” that a patient needs a life-saving abortion…
“Nancy Northrup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Cox in the suit, said Cox had no choice but to leave the state to get the procedure [and apparently did so on Monday.]”
Note that we are dealing to a large extent with probabilities and likelihoods, but not with certainties. In any event, the question is, can the killing of innocent human life ever be justified?
Scandalous Conduct of Colorado School Regarding Transgender Policy
Fox News wrote on December 9:
“The parents of an 11-year-old girl who was reportedly assigned to share a bed with a transgender student while on an overnight school trip are speaking out about the incident, saying they were not informed of the decision. Serena and Joe Wailes… are taking [action] against Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS)… after chaperones on the June trip allegedly told their daughter to ‘lie’ about the reason why she wanted to switch rooms… [She] was supposed to be assigned to a room with three girls. [Allegedly, the Wailes] were assured in multiple parent meetings leading up to the trip that male and female students would be staying not only in different hotel rooms but also on completely different floors…
“The Wailes’ daughter, who is identified as “D.W.” in the press release, said she found out one of the students she was assigned to share a room with, “K.E.M.,” was transgender – a biological male who identifies as a female… D.W. was understandably uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a bed with a male student, so she snuck into the bathroom and quietly called her father and then her mother… The chaperones asked D.W. if she could simply move to another bed rather than a new room, and while she was still uncomfortable, she agreed to try it for one night so that she could get some sleep. But the chaperones, consistent with district policy, told D.W. to lie about the reason and say she needed to switch beds to be closer to the air conditioner…”
Covid Hysteria on the Rise Again
Daily Express wrote on December 8:
“Masking up is recommended for those who are sick and want to take precautions… according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… with Covid and pneumonia cases especially on the rise… The CDC’s mask wearing guidance… states: ‘People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a high-quality mask or respirator when indoors in public.’
“The CDC recommends that people take additional precautions to protect themselves against viruses, like getting the Covid vaccine, the flu vaccine and the RSV vaccine for those over the age of 60… other layers of protection include… wearing a mask.
“Masking recommendations eased up over the summer, but the CDC seems to be tightening guidance on mask wearing this winter as viruses spread.”
This hysteria seems to take hold of other countries as well; it could be and probably is a concentrated effort. In Germany, for example, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recommended immediate vaccination against Covid and the flu at the same time, to get a Covid test, if in doubt, and to wear masks in buses and trains (Bild, December 12).
How More Insane Can It Get? Carbon Passports for Travelers
CNN published on November 27 an opinion piece with [at least] a disclaimer:
“Tourism is part of the problem [of “climate change”]… The negative impacts of tourism on the environment have become so severe that some are suggesting drastic changes to our travel habits are inevitable. In a report from 2023 that analyzed the future of sustainable travel, tour operator Intrepid Travel proposed that ‘carbon passports’ will soon become a reality if the tourism industry hopes to survive.
“The idea of a carbon passport centers on each traveler being assigned a yearly carbon allowance that they cannot exceed.. the idea of personal carbon allowances is not new. A similar concept (called ‘personal carbon trading’) was discussed by UK Parliament in 2008, before being shut down because of its perceived complexity and the possibility of public resistance…
“Some European countries are beginning to take measures to reduce air travel. As of April 1, 2023, passengers on short-haul flights and older aircraft in Belgium have been subject to increased taxes to encourage alternative forms of travel. Less than two months later, France banned short-haul domestic flights where the same trip can be made by train in two-and-a-half hours or less. Spain is expected to follow suit.
“A similar scheme could also be on the horizon for Germany… 70% of Germans would support such measures to fight climate change if alternative transport routes like trains or ships were available.
“It’s not just air travel that’s being criticized… Amsterdam’s council banned cruise ships from docking in the city center… [Venice banned] large cruise ships entering the city’s waters…”
Will this green woke nonsense ever end?
Poland Still in Uncertain Waters
Deutsche Welle reported on December 13:
“The new government of Polish Prime Minister-designate Donald Tusk won a vote of confidence on Tuesday. It comes a day after a majority of Polish MPs elected Tusk as the county’s new prime minister when the proposed conservative government of acting PM Mateusz Morawiecki failed to win lawmakers’ backing… He previously served as Poland’s prime minister from 2007 to 2014 before taking over as European Council president from 2014 to 2019.
“Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday… Tusk expressed a vote of confidence in the European Union… Tusk has vowed to improve Warsaw’s relations with Brussels, which have been plagued by tensions during the past eight years… Tusk said he would go to Brussels this week and ‘bring back billions of euros,’ referring to the frozen funds [based on the condition that Poland changes its justice system.]. Still, laws to amend the justice system will need the assent of the president… Duda. If Duda vetoes the legislation, Tusk’s coalition doesn’t have the three-fifths majority in the lower house of parliament to override it.
“Duda will remain in office until the next presidential election, which is expected to take place sometime in 2025…
“Furthermore, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Monday that judicial reform legislation which Warsaw needed to pass in order to access the EU funds was unconstitutional.
“As Tusk promised close ties with the EU, he also underlined that he opposes any changes to EU treaties that are not in line with Polish interests… On Ukraine, Tusk said on Tuesday Warsaw will demand the full mobilization of the West to help the war-ravaged country… Tusk also stressed that Poland would remain a loyal ally of the United States.”
EU Grants Ukraine Membership Talks in Midst of War
Reuters wrote on December 14:
“European Union leaders made a historic decision on Thursday to open membership talks with Ukraine, bypassing objections from Hungary to give Kyiv a major political boost as its war against Russia’s invasion grinds on… The move came at a critical time for Ukraine, after its counter-offensive against Russian forces has failed to make major gains and with U.S. President Joe Biden so far unable to get a $60 billion aid package for Kyiv through the U.S. Congress.
“The EU took the decision in a highly unorthodox fashion: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who cultivates close ties with Moscow, agreed to leave the room while his peers from the EU’s 26 other members agreed the move…
“Orban stood by his objections to membership talks for Ukraine even after the decision was taken. ‘Hungary’s stance is clear, Ukraine is not prepared for us to start talks on EU membership,’ he said, calling the decision to start talks ‘irrational’ and ‘inappropriate.’… But membership talks will likely take years and will not start immediately.
“First, the EU will have to agree to a negotiating framework for the talks – which will require another unanimous decision. The leaders said they would take this step once Ukraine meets outstanding requirements on democracy and the rule of law…”
We don’t think it will happen. In any event, Ukraine and Russia will unite to fight Europe.
Spain, Belgium, Ireland and Malta Gang On Israel
Newslite wrote on December 10:
“The president of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; and the prime ministers of Belgium, Alexander de Croo; Ireland, Leo Varadkar; and Malta, Robert Abela, have asked by letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to demand an ‘urgent’ ceasefire in Gaza, as well as the protection of civilians residing there in the face of the ‘seriousness of the situation’ and the ‘possibility of the conflict escalating in the West Bank and throughout the region.’
“The letter comes after the UN Secretary General activated Article 99 of the United Nations Charter for the first time to request this humanitarian ceasefire. The four countries point out that since the conflict began, ‘the number of fatalities and the terrible humanitarian situation have reached alarming levels.’ However, the resolution presented to the UN Council was finally vetoed this Friday by the United States. [In addition, only the UK abstained.]
“The four leaders consider that, although the humanitarian pauses and hostage exchanges between Israel and Palestine are positive, the parties should be asked ‘urgently to declare a lasting humanitarian ceasefire that could lead to the end of hostilities’…
“The third of their requests to Michel is the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine… while concluding that this ‘is the time for the European Union to act’: ‘Our credibility is at stake.’”
Warmonger and antisemite Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey stated after the United States vetoed the UN ceasefire resolution for Gaza that peace with the USA is impossible.
Sanctions Against Israeli Settlers?
RTE wrote on December 11:
“European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said he would propose sanctions against Jewish settlers responsible for violence against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Ban… While much international attention has focused on the cross-border assault [by Hamas on October 7] and Israel’s subsequent war against Hamas in Gaza, European officials have also expressed increasing concern about rising violence against Palestinians in the West Bank…
“The situation in Gaza is ‘catastrophic, apocalyptic’, with destruction proportionally ‘even greater’ than that which Germany experienced in World War II… Borrell has said. Israel’s military response to Hamas’s 7 October attacks has resulted in ‘an incredible number of civilian casualties’, Mr Borrell said after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
“He… condemned the Israeli government’s decision to approve 1,700 more housing units in Jerusalem, in what Brussels considers a violation of international law.”
Ireland stated it would be “very open” to imposing sanctions and travel bans on extremist settlers if there is no agreement at the EU level.
UN General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly for Ceasefire
Aljazeera wrote on December 12:
“The 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in war-torn Gaza. Tuesday’s resolution passed with 153 countries voting in favour, 23 abstaining and 10 countries voting against, including Israel and the United States. While the resolution is non-binding [unlike a UN Security Council resolution which was vetoed by the US on Friday], it serves as an indicator of global opinion.”
The ten countries vetoing the resolution included Israel, the USA, Austria, Czechia, Liberia, Guatemala, and Paraguay, among others.
The 23 countries abstaining included, among others, Argentina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
The 153 countries voting in favor included, notably, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.
The anti-Israeli front becomes more focused. Some joining it are somewhat surprising; others are clearly expected.
America Is Undermining the War Effort
Israel Today wrote on December 11
“… under American pressure, the Israeli war cabinet was forced to discuss an increase in fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, essentially supplying oxygen to Hamas terrorists fighting our soldiers through terror tunnels… a spokesperson for the State Department announced that the United States would oppose the creation of a buffer zone in the Gaza Strip, thus adding more constraints on Israel’s actions, particularly the options at its disposal when it comes to protecting towns near the border. There were also US statements that the duration of the war is not unlimited, along with pressure on Israel before the renewal of hostilities in southern Gaza to reduce the intensity of the fighting and increase humanitarian aid… the US has been imposing limitations that prevent Israel from achieving these goals without heavy losses.
“Moreover, the limitations imposed by the US will undoubtedly prolong the conflict, which is something Washington doesn’t want. The best way to ensure a quick and effective military operation with minimal risk to the uninvolved population is to temporarily relocate this population outside the combat zones. However, there are also objections to this.
“… Israel cannot compromise on achieving its goals while minimizing the burden on its fighters—regardless of how long it takes… Those who insist on getting answers from the Israeli government over what happens ‘the day after’ are doing so despite knowing full well that there are no good options in Gaza. If there were, they would have presumably been implemented during one of the many opportunities to do so over the years….”
Trump Wishes Happy Hanukkah
Israel 365 News wrote on December 11:
“Former President Donald Trump released a video wishing the Jewish people a ‘happy Hanukkah’… ‘The miracle of Hanukkah began more than 2000 years ago when a proud band of Jewish patriots courageously stood up and reclaimed their freedom, their faith and their traditions from an oppressive tyrant. After that great victory the Jewish heroes prepared to rededicate the holy temple but found only enough oil to light the lamp for one night. Yet by the grace of the Almighty, the flames radiated for eight days and eight nights, ever since then the menorah has been a symbol of Jewish perseverance in the face of oppression, and of God’s hope, mercy and love in times of hardship,
“[T]his Hanukkah season, Jewish Americans and people all over the world are still reeling from the monstrous Hamas terror attacks on innocent men, women and children. To everyone touched by these barbaric atrocities we pray that God will bring you healing comfort and peace. We recommit ourselves to extinguishing the evil of anti-Semitism from the earth. We reaffirm the everlasting solidarity with the Jewish people, and we go forward confident with God’s help. In the end, light will overcome this horrible darkness once again. Happy Hanukkah and God bless you all.’”
Israel To Take Military Action If the USA Does Not
Israel Today wrote on December 10:
“Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels announced on Saturday night that they will target every Israel-bound ship in the Red Sea regardless of the vessel’s ownership… The United States has been consulting with Gulf allies about potential military action against the Houthis in response to their attacks…
“The talks are at a ‘preliminary stage’ as Washington and its partners still favor diplomacy over direct confrontation… On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration has asked Israel not to respond to Houthi attacks lest it spark a wider regional conflict. Israel’s Cannel reported on Saturday night that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nevertheless told US President Joe Biden that Jerusalem would take military action against the Houthis if the Americans did not act first.”
To ask Israel not to “respond” to mass murders by terrorists while Biden is engaging in some kind of “diplomacy” is beyond belief.
Highly Problematic Requirement of Declaration of Loyalty to Israel for German Naturalization
Deutsche Welle reported on December 8:
“Effective immediately, those applying for German citizenship in the east-central state of Saxony-Anhalt must declare their support for Israel’s right to exist. This ‘commitment’ is part of new language that state interior minister, Tamara Zieschang, informed relevant authorities about in a ministerial decree this week.
“Failing to do so would deny naturalization to foreigners who otherwise fulfill the necessary conditions… Under the new guidelines, applicants would have to sign a declaration that they ‘recognize Israel’s right to exist and condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the state of Israel.’
“A more thorough check of ‘antisemitic attitudes’ would also be part of the naturalization process.
“Naturalization law is made at the federal level, but it’s up to each of the 16 states to implement it. A similar Israel clause is currently under consideration in the Bundestag, the German parliament, which would then apply nationwide… While both the state-level decree and federal-level debate have been put forward by the center-right Chrisitan Democrats (CDU), it has met widespread approval from other parties, including those in power. However, the three-party government coalition has expressed skepticism over how much such a statement could really do to combat anti-Israel sentiment…”
Even apart from the question of the legality of such a requirement and the little chance of success to combat “home-grown” Antisemitism, this whole approach, even though “typically German,” appears quite preposterous and completely unbalanced and could very well backfire.
Increased EU Military Spending
Euronews wrote on November 30:
“Military spending in the European Union hit a record €240 billion in 2022 – up 6% on the previous year… This is the eighth consecutive year of growth in the bloc, with many states defending the need for a significant increase due to the Russian threat and Ukraine war. Six out of 27 EU countries increased their military spending by more than 10% last year. Sweden saw a rise of more than 30%, as the country awaits NATO membership…
“Despite the increased spending, Europe’s defence industry cannot meet demand from Ukraine as it battles the Russian invasion.”
Alarm Grows Over Weakened Militaries and Empty Arsenals in Europe
The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 11:
“The British military—the leading U.S. military ally and Europe’s biggest defense spender—has only around 150 deployable tanks and perhaps a dozen serviceable long-range artillery pieces. So bare was the cupboard that last year the British military considered sourcing multiple rocket launchers from museums to upgrade and donate to Ukraine, an idea that was dropped.
“France, the next biggest spender, has fewer than 90 heavy artillery pieces, equivalent to what Russia loses roughly every month on the Ukraine battlefield. Denmark has no heavy artillery,…”
Germany Must Be Ready for “Defensive” War with Russia
Yahoo!News wrote on December 10:
“Germany may have to wage a defensive war against Russia in the future, German televisions news program Tagesschau reported on Dec. 9, citing Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) Inspector General Carsten Breuer… Asked whether the Bundeswehr would be able to cope with a possible Russian attack on NATO after the war in Ukraine, Breuer replied, ‘Yes. Period. We have no alternative. We can defend ourselves and we will defend ourselves.’
“However, he also admitted that the Bundeswehr is currently not well equipped for ‘national and allied defense’ because it has been focused on resolving international crises, adding that there are ‘structures that make quick and targeted decisions almost impossible.’
“Europe fears the United States might withdraw from NATO if U.S. Republican politician Donald Trump wins the 2024 U.S. presidential election, media reported on Dec. 9.
“Russia will attack NATO countries if it conquers Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Dec. 6. Russia is rebuilding its forces and capabilities and preparing for a potential confrontation with NATO, said Lieutenant General Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart, NATO Multinational Corps Commander on Dec. 5….”
According to the Bible, Germany will not only be ready for a defensive war, but it will launch a preemptive offensive war against Russia, which will be met with swift retaliation.
German Government Agrees on Budget
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 13:
“Germany’s ruling… coalition has managed to strike a political deal on the federal budget for 2024… The agreement comes after a court ruling threw government finances into disarray and exposed deep rifts between the three governing parties… It blew a big hole in public finances. For the 2024 budget, the government has had to find an additional €17 billion ($18.3 billion) to fill the hole…
“While the SPD and the Greens sound in favor of increasing taxes, the FDP has ruled out tax hikes and instead suggested welfare cuts. The SPD and the Greens are staunchly against any cuts to social benefits; they instead want to suspend the debt brake again for 2024 to allow for increased government borrowing. But the FDP opposes this move…
“[Chancellor Olaf] Scholz said the government will reinstate the debt brake in 2024… Scholz also stressed that the climate and transformation fund will remain a key instrument for the climate-friendly transformation of the German economy. But the fund will be cut by €12 billion for 2024, he said. Addressing the Bundestag on Wednesday, Scholz said: ‘We have agreed to prioritize spending without putting the social security of our country or its transformation at risk…’
“[Green Climate Minister Robert] Habeck said the ruling coalition agreed to end financial incentives to buy electric cars sooner than previously planned, without revealing the exact date for when they would expire. He also said that subsidies for the expansion of solar power will be cut…
“[FDP Finance Minister Christian] Lindner… noted that the government will slash climate-damaging subsidies to the tune of €3 billion… Scholz stressed Germany would have to react should the Ukraine conflict worsen next year. If the situation worsens, for instance, due to other supporters cutting back their aid to Ukraine or a further increase in threat levels faced by Germany and Europe, ‘we will have to react to this,’ he said.”
Especially the agreement to raise taxes might prove to be the final nail in the coalition’s coffin. According to Bild, this means that customers will have to pay more for gasoline, heating and domestic flights (due to a tax on kerosene fuel). Demands for new elections are getting louder.
Hiked Prices Far Above Costs Responsible For Inflation
The Guardian wrote on December 7:
“Profiteering has played a significant role in boosting inflation during 2022… Analysis of the financial accounts of many of the UK’s biggest businesses found that profits far outpaced increases in costs, helping to push up inflation last year to levels not seen since the early 1980s… business profits rose by 30% among UK-listed firms, driven by just 11% of firms that made super-profits based on their ability to push through stellar price increases… Excessive profits were even larger in the US, where many important sections of the economy are dominated by a few powerful companies. This surge in profits happened as wage increases largely failed to keep pace with inflation, and workers suffered their largest fall in disposable incomes since the second world war.
“Researchers said the energy companies ExxonMobil and Shell, mining firms Glencore and Rio Tinto, and food and commodities businesses Kraft Heinz, Archer-Daniels-Midland and Bunge all saw their profits far outpace inflation in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… After the analysis of 1,350 companies listed on the stock markets in the UK, US, Germany, Brazil and South Africa, the report said firms in the technology sector, telecommunications and the banking industry also pushed through significant price increases that raised their profit margins… Four food companies – the listed suppliers Archer-Daniels-Midland and Bunge, plus the privately owned Cargill and Dreyfus – control an estimated 70%–90% of the world grain market.”
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.
How do you regard the culture of the time argument when it comes to biblical matters? (Part 2)
On christiantoday.com, we read a typical repudiation of the order that God has set in the Church. Here is a brief extract:
“Another context we need to take into consideration was the cultural background of the time and proximity. The church of Corinth is not a congregation that was born two weeks ago. It was a church built by people of a different time and a different culture all together. What may mean something to us will mean something completely different to the people of that time.
“What was ancient Corinth like? It existed in a day and age and in a culture where it was more beneficial and secure for women to refuse certain cultural and societal roles — and leadership was one of them.
“But today, that’s no longer the case. It’s now safe and beneficial for women to lead. That gives all women just as much right to spiritually and strategically lead as men.”
What a flimsy argument that is, to be able to negate clear Scriptural instruction in order for women to do what they want to – and this article was written by a man!
1 Corinthians 14:37 is clear. The apostle Paul wrote:
“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”
He did not state his own opinion and he did not repeat the thoughts and ideas of another human being – but he proclaimed “the commandments of the Lord.”
On placefortruth.org, Joseph Hamrick in June 2019 wrote an excellent article about the “Argument from Culture.” Below are a few selected comments from this presentation.
“There is an argument, not exactly new, that has been making its way through the church today. The argument from culture, let’s call it the argumentam ad culturam, is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy and primacy of Scripture for Christian living, while claiming to honor the Scripture for what ‘it really says.’ It is the basic hermeneutical assumption of the culturalists.
“This argument states that since Christ (or Peter, or John, or Paul, etc.) addressed people bound by a certain place, time, and culture, the message’s proscriptions and prescriptions are likewise bound by a certain place, time, and culture. Scripture does not utter statements once and for all authoritative; rather, it records statements held to be authoritative once upon a time. Following proper and sometimes extensive adjustments, some authority may still hold for us (e.g., support orphans and widows); largely, however, that authority is now gone with the wind–as are the place, time, and culture in which they were uttered.
“The problem with argumentum ad culturum is those who use it miss the scriptural context they try to gloss. For them, misapprehension of the scripture hinges on a failure to understand a preposition. That is, they are blind to the difference between making an argument to a culture and arguing from one. Christ, Paul, and others took the former route. Progressive Christians take the latter.
“As has been argued, Paul’s words, and Christ’s, are not merely cultural arguments, they are more. They are the very word of God, which cannot change.
“Culture cannot, and must not, dictate the word of God.”
The points made by Mr Hamrick are very well taken when he states that culture cannot “dictate the word of God.”
In a speech in 2022 to the Oxford Union debate on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, in opposition against “This House Supports Same-Sex Marriage in Church,” Calvin Robinson, an Anglican deacon, and Dr Ian Paul went up against the Bishop of Buckingham, the Bishop of Dudley and the Bishop of Worcester. Again, we will quote excerpts from this presentation.
Mr Robinson said: “We are up against the authorities – three bishops from the Established Church. That means either I am wrong – and Christians have been teaching incorrectly on marriage for 2,000 years – or we have Church leaders attempting to drag the Church into apostasy.
“Suffice to say we lost the debate: 186 for, 41 against. I would like to thank those 41 sound students at Oxford who braved the lion’s den. It must be a very lonely place for them.
“… Paul describes marriage as, ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh,’ in which he is mirroring the language of Genesis, where God tells man and wife to ‘Be fruitful and multiply’.
“People will argue, ‘we know more about homosexuality now than we did then,’ maybe so. But are you then suggesting God knew less than we do now? For either all Scripture is God-breathed, or it isn’t. Either we believe Christ, or we don’t.
“Are we looking to alter the catechism of just the Anglican Church, or should the Catholic Church ‘get with the times’, too? 2,000 years of Christian doctrine and 4,000 years of Jewish doctrine cannot be altered at the whim of a few liberal bishops. What is God-ordained cannot be adjusted to suit our liberal progressive worldviews. Marriage is heterosexual and monogamous and should be open to the possibility of children.
“… Jesus talks of marriage in Mark and Matthew, both in the context of heterosexual union.
“So my question to the bishops would be, do we not believe in the authority of the Scriptures any more? Can we pick and choose which parts of the Gospel we adhere to?
“We are directly talking about undermining God’s plan as he has revealed it to us. We are replacing his authority with our own.
“Another one, we’ll hear plenty of is ‘inclusivity’. Shouldn’t the Church be more inclusive?
“Again, it’s a play on words people use to virtue signal. To appear good rather than being good.
“As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of the world.”
Mr Robinson has also opposed the ordination of women. His ordination in the Church of England was blocked after several bishops had expressed concerns about his outspoken views. In essence, as his views were from the Bible and not politically correct in today’s permissive woke culture, he was “cancelled”.
On epm.org, we read: “After all, we are all influenced by the values of the times in which we live. A quick note, though. If we are rejecting the time-bound values of the Bible because we now have new values, how do we know that ours aren’t time-bound? In fact, how do we know that our culture’s values are not even worse? These are questions worth pondering.
“But to claim that the Bible simply reflects the viewpoints of its time is to misunderstand the Bible entirely. Far from simply being a product of its time, the teachings of the Bible consistently confront readers with counter-cultural messages. Even the creation narrative itself stands in contrasts to other ancient creation myths.”
One person wrote that “Many things in the Bible are unacceptable to modern Christians. Why? Because they do not sit right with contemporary moral sensibilities.”
In 2021, a report headed “Social media manipulation by political actors an industrial scale problem” offered these findings:
“Oxford Internet Institute team warns the level of social media manipulation has soared, with governments and political parties spending millions on private sector ‘cyber troops’, who drown out other voices on social media. Citizen influencers are used to spread manipulated messages. These include volunteers, youth groups and civil society organisations, who support their ideologies. This activity has become professionalised, with private firms offering disinformation-for-hire services.”
In other words, the manipulating of people’s views and understanding on many issues can be shaped and activated to lead many down the path of the loudest and most influential voice. It is almost inevitable that this will be against the clear teachings from the Word of God which is derided, dismissed, disparaged and ridiculed as being of non-effect in such an “enlightened” society. Conformity is usually required.
It can be seen from even “Christian” sources that, allegedly, “many things in the Bible are unacceptable to modern Christians. Why? Because they do not sit right with contemporary moral sensibilities.” In other words, in order for Christianity to be relevant to some/many people today, the Way of God has to be moulded and shaped to the requirements of contemporary society.
In conclusion, it seems that counterfeit Christianity is determined to be the arbiter of what is right and wrong—not the great Creator God (the Father) who created all things through Jesus Christ. The extraordinary arrogance and ego of man who thinks that he knows best is truly amazing!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Hunter Biden’s Indictment—the Cover-up Continues,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
It has been described as a blatant attempt “to evade any direct implications of President Biden,” “a marvel” and “a model of evasion”; but that it is still devastating for the narrative and denials of Joe Biden which have been characterized as being “clearly and knowingly false” and “untrue.” Who and what can save us from this terrible corruption?
“Hunter Biden angeklagt—und die Vertuschung setzt sich fort,” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Norbert Link. This German language program covers the same topic as described above.
A new booklet for youth has entered its first review cycle.
A Tech Team meeting was conducted on December 3, 2023. Hosted by Eric Rank, the primary focus was on our ad campaigns, especially regarding the new one for The Rise and Fall of Germany and Europe. An advertising campaign for the German booklet, “Aufstieg und Fall von Deutschland und Europa,” will follow soon.
“Wie und wofür beten Sie?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermonette, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “How and for What Do you Pray?”
“Wie sicher sind Sie sich Ihrer Zukunft?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Michael Link. Title in English: “”How Sure Are You of Your Future?”
“Der Weisheit auf der Spur,” last Sabbath’s first split sermon in Germany was presented by Marc Voeller. Title in English: ‘On the Trail of Wisdom.”
“Frucht bringen,” last Sabbath’s second split sermon in Germany was presented by Daniel Blasinger. Title I English: “Bear Fruit.”
“Sweet Smelling Aroma,” last Sabbath’s sermonette presented by Michael Link, is now posted.
“Can You Forgive God?” last Sabbath’s sermon presented by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:
A controversial title! God cannot sin, so why this question? And yet…what about our reactions when things don’t go the way we would like? Do we then perhaps question God’s justice, knowledge and power, as some righteous people in the Bible have done? And if we react like this, what will help us to get out of this dilemma?
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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