Update 186


Wisdom Has Built Her House

On Saturday, March 26, 2005, J. Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “Wisdom Has Built Her House.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Hello Kettle!


The book of Romans starts with an endearing introduction (Romans 1:6-13) where Paul tells the recipients of the letter, God’s chosen people, how renowned their faith is in the whole world. Also he tells how he would love nothing more than to come and see them and he prays such. Then Paul, who doesn’t mince words, gets serious right away talking about the way of the sinful, evil and wicked, and the acts that betray them. This is the way chapter 1 ends.

Romans 2:1-3 then comes to the heart of the matter. Here Paul tells them, the ones he regards so highly, that they are doing what they accuse others of doing. This has to cut to the quick. If you can imagine them reading this letter for the first time, they were, no doubt, echoing Paul’s sentiments about the state of the world that they were living in (Romans 1:21-32), that was up to the point that he accused them of doing the same thing. What a shock it must have been for these people called of God, to be compared with those whom God disdains.

The Passover season is now upon us. As we know, it is a time for introspection and self-assessment. Paul has given us some insight into making our efforts a little more profitable. During the course of the year we won’t have many people, if any, come up to us and tell us our faults and sins. So it is up to each one of us to try and take an honest inventory of who and what we are. ONE hint in doing this is to ask ourselves what it is that annoys and irks us in others…and then truthfully look into the mirror and see if we are guilty of what we accuse another. Do we get upset with others because it is a reflection of what we are doing? Is it a means of diverting attention away from the exact same thing that we are doing?

Instead of us being the Pot that calls the Kettle black, let’s realize that when we “point the finger” we need to be cognizant of where the 3 other fingers are pointing.

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Easter 2005

As you may be aware, the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates in Canada and the UK do not celebrate Easter, for Biblical reasons, as taught both in the Old and in the New Testament. For a full explanation, please re-read our
Editorial in Update #89 (for the week ending April 18, 2003), titled, “Why We Don’t Celebrate Easter.”

A Temple in Jerusalem?

In our last Update, we discussed from the Scriptures, whether the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return. We saw that the Scriptures indicate that they might do so.

In this light, the following report by the BBC is quite remarkable. As was stated on March 15, 2005, on www.news.bbc.co.uk, “Jewish extremists are plotting to take over the Temple Mount in an attempt to thwart Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, an Israeli TV station has reported. Channel Two showed a video of the plotters, including rabbis and far-right extremists, in a meeting to discuss ways to occupy the holy site… The meeting took place at a secret location in the Old City of Jerusalem, the TV station said. It involved representatives from 30 different groups. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei has appealed to Israel to stop any action against the compound. ‘We warn that the region will explode if there is any attack against al-Aqsa,’ Mr Qurei told reporters.”

The article continued to point out: “The Temple Mount compound, in the old city in East Jerusalem, covers an area of 35 acres. The site is holy to Jews because it is the site of the First and Second Temple in ancient times. It is known in Jewish tradition as the ‘abode of God’s presence.’ The same area is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). It is of deep religious, political and national significance to Palestinians and to Muslims around the world.”

In this context, another article posted on www.templemount.org, which is dated March 18, 2005, is quite interesting. The rather lengthy article is titled, “Preparations for a Third Jewish Temple.” In the article, it is pointed out:

“Number 20 of the 613 commandments in the Torah (according to Maimonides) calls for the building of a Temple… in Jerusalem if one does not exist or orders the maintenance of a Temple if it exists. Orthodox Jews during the diaspora call for the eventual building of the Temple in Jerusalem.”

The article continued: “For centuries the Jews did not possess their homeland—they were forced to wander as strangers and vagabonds across the face of the earth. Deep within the Jewish heart has been a longing for a return to the land and a rebuilding of the Temple. The Temple is also a symbol of prosperity granted them from heaven, and a reminder of better days that the nation had in the days of David and Solomon. Desire for the restoration of the Temple has been the prayer of the Orthodox Jew since the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70.

“A rebuilt temple could also be a unifying force for this small beleaguered nation… In 1982, after years of disagreement about methods of approach, three groups of devout Jews, The Jerusalem Temple Foundation, To the Mountain of the Lord, and The Faithful of the Temple Mount combined their forces to plan for and build the Third Temple. More recently The Temple Institute has begun to build the sacred vessels to be used in the Third Temple… If a new Temple is to be constructed then there must be a functioning priesthood to perform the proper rites and ceremonies. Such a priesthood is now in the works…

“The problem of restoring the sacrificial system is one that devout Jerusalem Jews have been researching with great zeal and diligence…. According to Rabbi Goren, a 1967 survey of the Temple Mount shows the exact location of the First and Second Temples as well as the site of the Ark of the Covenant. By elimination, the rabbi determined the exact areas on the Temple Mount where a Jewish sanctuary could be constructed without violation of the ancient decree not to tread on holy soil… Most Orthodox Jewish believers in Jerusalem who are working towards the building of the Third Temple believe that the Ark of the Covenant is safely hidden in a chamber under the Temple Mount. They feel certain God has preserved the Ark for 25 centuries and that it will be available when the Temple is restored…”

In addition, as we reported before, a Sanhedrin was also recently re-established, which is another interesting development in light of the possibility for the rebuilding of a Third Temple.

Earthquake in Japan

As The Associated Press reported on March 20, 2005, “a powerful earthquake jolted southern Japanese islands on Sunday… The magnitude-7.0 temblor, which hit west of Kyushu Island at 10:53 a.m., was centered at an unusually shallow depth of 5.5 miles below the ocean floor, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said. At least one aftershock with a magnitude of 4.2 was recorded. Minutes after the shaking began, the agency warned of the possibility of a 20-inch tsunami triggered by the seismic activity. Such waves can grow to towering heights as they approach land, and authorities cautioned residents near the water to move to higher ground. But the agency withdrew the warning after about an hour…. On Dec. 26, a magnitude-9.0 quake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated Asian and African coastlines in nearly a dozen nations, killing at least 174,000 people… On Oct. 23, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck Niigata, about 160 miles northwest of Tokyo, killing 40 people and damaging more than 6,000 homes. The jolt was the deadliest to hit Japan since 1995, when a magnitude-7.3 quake killed 6,433 people in the western city of Kobe.”

US vs. Europe?

On March 21, 2005, the EUobserver reported about yet another controversy between the United States and Europe. It titled its article: “EU-US air row escalates.” The report continued: “The EU and US dispute over the state subsidies to major aircraft producers has escalated over the weekend. Newspaper reports indicate that an hour-long tense phone call between the EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and outgoing US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick ended abruptly on Friday evening (18 March), with both of them suggesting the other had finished it unexpectedly. Both parties are now threatening to take their case to the World Trade Organisation, despite their previous deal to avoid a costly legal clash over the government support for Airbus and Boeing. The tension is rising mainly due to the impending deadline–11 April–for finding a compromise solution that the two parties agreed on in January. US officials are complaining that the Europeans are not sufficiently willing to eliminate subsidies. On the other hand, the Europeans suggest that they want ‘an equivalent contribution’ from the US for putting on the table the launch aid it provides for the development of Airbus aircraft, according to AFP.”

Drug Treatment of Depression?

In a controversial article, Dr. Nathaniel S. Lehrman maintained that “The Drug Treatment Of Depression Is One Of The Greatest Fallacies In The History Of Medicine.” In his article, which was published on August 15, 2002, on redflagsweekly.com, he pointed out:

“Depression is not a disease, such as pneumonia or malaria. Rather, depression is usually a psychophysiological reaction to an individual’s current psychosocial interactions. Depressive reactions are also seen in animals exposed to continuing levels of stress from which they cannot escape. When thinking of depression, think of fever, which is also a reaction of mind and body to a set of complex conditions… It has been known for centuries that talking with a caring counsellor can help depressed people. If the counsellor is cheerful and confident (which seems less frequent today), and conveys that confidence to his client, the latter’s chances of relief will be greater. Religion and its officiants have provided these services over the years. And personal caring has been seen as an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship and is known to have a considerable impact on medical interactions; in psychiatry, that impact may be even greater… I found depressed patients relatively easy to treat after we established the current causes of their distress.”

Dr. Lehrman continued to point out the importance of the counsellor’s correct diagnosis of the patient. He explained that a correct diagnosis necessitates, or may depend on the patient’s interaction with a doctor, rather than on just biology. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Lehrman, this fundamental premise has been more and more overlooked or ignored by medicine in recent years. He pointed out in his article:

“Today’s psychiatrists listen less to patients’ problems, focus more on their reactions (anxiety, depression, disorganization), and then, on the basis of those reactions, ‘diagnose’ – and medicate – much more quickly. But while these drugs may make patients feel better (too often they have the opposite effect), they will not help the patients in the long run unless they produce more effective energy in the patients so they can then solve their problems better. And this is quite rare.”

Dr. Lehrman concluded his article, as follows: “We find ourselves in this increasingly difficult situation because psychiatry has badly mishandled depression in its all-consuming reliance on drugs as the first line of treatment.”

Israel Erased from Canadian Passports

It almost sounds like a scene from a bad science fiction movie. But it appears to be incredible reality! As WorldNetDaily reported on March 15, 2005, “Under a new passport policy in Canada, ‘Israel’ cannot be specified as the country of birth for Canadian citizens born in Jerusalem. Canadian Jews are being told by their government to surrender their passports so the word ‘Israel’ can be removed if it appears next to the name of the Jewish state’s declared capital, according to a report by Israel National News.” The article continued to point out:

“A 2004 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. mirrors the Canadian policy. The court ruled American consular offices in Israel need not register the birthplace of an American citizen born in Jerusalem as ‘Jerusalem, Israel,’ but merely as ‘Jerusalem.”’

The unanswered question is, “Why?” What is the motive and rationale behind this strange policy?

A Time to Mourn

We reported in our last Update about the terrible mass murder in Wisconsin during a church service. One of the best editorials in newspapers and magazines,which we have seen, was published on March 13, 2005, in the Journal Sentinel. We are bringing you the following excerpts from that editorial:

“Words are inadequate to describe the horror that took place Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield. Some 80 people came together from communities scattered in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois to worship, as they were wont to do on Saturdays, when a member of their ranks pulled out a pistol and started firing. Eight died, including the assailant, who turned the pistol on himself. Another four were wounded. The tragedy brings to mind Ecclesiastes, which says there is a time and a place for everything. This is the time to mourn, rather than to make sense of it all. In truth, this tragedy makes no sense, except perhaps to the gunman…

“Now we express our most profound sorrow to the survivors, in the spirit of the strangers who spontaneously expressed their condolences by decorating a snowbank on the hotel grounds with flowers – a gesture that symbolizes the pervasiveness of hope amid bleakness. Notably, some who left the flowers told reporters they did not know those attending the service.

“Saturday’s incident goes to show that gun madness may erupt anywhere. Surely, few situations feel as safe as a church service, where you put yourself in the hands of a higher power in communion with others. Yet a gun-wielding man disturbed that sacred haven and rained down death and destruction on the congregation.

“Saturday’s carnage followed on the heels of two other shooting incidents that got national play. A man who held a grudge against the judicial system allegedly shot to death the mother and husband of a Chicago federal judge and then shot himself to death last week as police were closing in on him in West Allis. And in Atlanta a man being brought to court for a rape trial overpowered a deputy and took her gun, then entered the courtroom and killed the presiding judge and court reporter, a deputy who tried to stop him and a federal agent during his flight from authorities.

“At a later time, we must try to decipher the lessons of the tragedy. The authorities should trace how [the assailant in Wisconsin] got his gun. Did he do so legally? Are there any safeguards that can be put in place to keep guns out of the hands of would-be mass killers? Gun violence has dropped in America. Can it drop more drastically? Can the nation improve the detection and treatment of mental illness to the point of preventing mass killings? Those are questions to explore in the future. But right now we mourn.”

More Senseless Murders in Minnesota

As The Associated Press reported on March 22, 2005, “A heavily armed teen accused of killing his grandparents [actually, he killed his grandparent, a former police officer, and his female companion] later smiled [a survivor subsequently denied this and stated that the killer did not smile, but that he had a mean face] and waved during a rampage at a high school as he gunned down seven more people, brushing off pleas to stop and asking one of his victims whether he believed in God… [The killer subesquently took his own life.] The rampage at Red Lake Indian Reservation in far northern Minnesota was the nation’s worst school shooting since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 that left 13 people dead. When the rampage was over, 10 people were dead, including the gunman’s grandfather; a woman who may have been his grandfather’s wife or girlfriend [in fact, she was his girlfriend]; a school security guard; a teacher; and five other students. At least 14 others were wounded, officials said… Relatives told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Weise was a loner who usually wore black and was teased by other kids. Relatives told the newspaper his father committed suicide four years ago, and that his mother was living in a Minneapolis nursing home because she suffered brain injuries in a car accident…. The rampage in Red Lake was the second fatal school shooting in Minnesota in 18 months. Two students were killed at Rocori High School in Cold Spring in September 2003. Student John Jason McLaughlin, who was 15 at the time, awaits trial in the case.”

It was also reported in the national and international news that the killer, 16-year-old Jeff Weise, posted numerous messages in 1984 on a talkboard hosted by a Neo-Nazi organization, identifying himself as “Todesengel” (angel of death). He admired Hitler and his ethnic cleansing program, loved to watch video games and listened to punk rocker Marilyn Manson, according to Bild Online, Der Spiegel Online and Stern Online. Survivor Cody Thunder stated in a televised interview on March 24, 2005, that Weise had talked about guns and shooting people, and that he wore, on occasion, his hair like “devil’s horns,” to “appear to be evil.”

EU and China

As Reuters reported on March 22, 2005, “China’s tougher stance on Taiwan threatened to derail European Union efforts to boost ties with Beijing on Tuesday and delay lifting the EU’s arms embargo… Any delay would be warmly welcomed by the United States, which has pledged to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack and urged the EU to retain the ban… French President Jacques Chirac sees boosting trade and diplomatic ties with China as a way of counter-balancing U.S. power in the world and won the backing of other EU leaders last December to prepare the lifting of the embargo by June 30… Opposition to the move is strong in Germany, with rights groups and others pointing to continued abuses in China. ‘This is no time to open up arms trade to China. There should be no withdrawal of the embargo because of the human rights situation,’ Elmar Brok, a German conservative in the European Parliament, told Reuters.”

However, as The Associated Press reported on March 23, 2005, “Maintaining the European Union’s 15-year arms embargo against China… is ‘unfair,’ and European leaders are leaning toward lifting it, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said Wednesday… Washington, meanwhile, has hardened its opposition to European arms sales to China and urged the EU to maintain the embargo in the wake of Beijing’s new law authorizing a military attack on Taiwan.”

This development is not surprising at all, given the fact that economic interests seem to play a major role in European thinking. As the Associated Press remarked:

“Chirac, in an interview published in Wednesday’s editions of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, said lifting the embargo was aimed at improving relations with the Asian economic giant, not selling weapons.”

This issue could, however, become another nail in the coffin of deteriorating U.S.-E.U. relationships.

Legal Battles Surrounding Ms. Terry Shiavo’s Fate

As AFP reported on March 23, 2005, “A federal appeals court turned down an emergency request by the parents of a severely brain-damaged woman in Florida to have her feeding tube reinserted [Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the federal appeals court’s decision, and a Florida state court refused to grant custody to the state of Florida for the purpose of reinserting her feeding tube]… The US Congress passed an extraordinary bill over the weekend changing the jurisdiction of the case from state to federal courts, which President George W. Bush signed into law early Monday. The law allowed Schiavo’s case to go before a federal judge.” In an interview with Fox on March 24, 2005, Judge Robert Bork called this bill “highly problematic,” as it was singling out the Terry Schiavo situation.

Emotions are running high in this case, which lead to renewed discussions, nationally and internationally, on the correct or incorrect conduct in cases like the one of Ms. Terry Schiavo. Schiavo suffered severe brain damage 15 years ago. Her husband says Schiavo told him that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. Her parents say she needs treatment and another opportunity for life.

The above-mentioned article continued:

“Throughout the dispute, political leaders have brushed aside concerns of overstepping their constitutional limits and government intrusion into family affairs with the passage of the bill. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that Americans supporting the decision to stop feeding Schiavo outnumbered those opposed by 56 to 31 percent. A nationwide poll conducted for ABC News found that 70 percent of Americans considered Congress’ intervention in the case ‘inappropriate.’

On March 22, 2005, Maggie Gallagher published an editorial on the Web, discussing some of the complex issues of this case. Apart from the disagreement as to what Ms. Schiavo’s wishes were or would have been, the question still remains about what Ms. Schiavo’s health conditions really are. Gallagher voiced the following opinions:

“‘Persistent vegetative state’ was a diagnosis invented in order to cope with patients who are not brain-dead, but severely mentally disabled. The claim is that such people have no cognition, no self-awareness at all, but of course we cannot know for sure what such patients experience. The fact that a number of patients have emerged from persistent vegetative states after many years ought to be a flashing warning sign: There’s still someone there, even if that person is unable to communicate. Does that person have a right to life? Is her life sacred too? Or if we find her condition sufficiently repulsive, do we have the right to kill her?

“Nor is there agreement that Terri is in a vegetative state right now. Her family disputes it, saying she sometimes responds to their loving gestures and words. Their perceptions are dismissed as wishful thinking. But a neurologist who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1999 (and who examined Terri Schiavo several years ago) told BP News that Terri is not in a vegetative state. She sometimes responds. Terri (he says) has been able to swallow pudding in the past, and can swallow her own saliva right now. With therapy, she might not even need the feeding tube. ‘They are truly withholding food from a person who is awake, alert, and can eat and swallow.'”

At the same time, the Miami Herald stated on March 22, 2005, in its editorial that Congress probably violated the U.S. Constitution:

“Congress’s intervention in the Terri Schiavo case is an extraordinary and probably unconstitutional intrusion into a personal family matter that traditionally has been the province of state courts. Simply put, Congress and the president didn’t like the outcome of a case that already had been fully vetted in state court. So they challenged the case in federal court, alleging a violation of Ms. Schiavo’s civil rights… Congress’ action is disturbing in many ways.

“Anyone even superficially aware of the Schiavo case knows that it involves a family’s most difficult decision: When to terminate medical support to a loved one who cannot sustain life on their own… for most, the decision to stop or continue life-sustaining support is made without public fanfare by a surviving spouse, child, parent or relative… On its face, Congress’ decision seems to violate a basic division of our governing structure, which assigns certain duties to the state and others to the federal government. The state court, not Congress, is empowered to hear family and probate matters. Yet Congress has passed a law, applicable to one person, without having considered the factual evidence on which the courts’ decisions were based… For Congress to intrude so wantonly in a family dispute is astonishing. For Congress to substitute its judgment — unvarnished by the evidence and facts of the case — for that of Florida’s courts is wrong.”

On March 22, 2005, the Catholic Church issued a formal statement on the case, as reported by The Associated Press: “The Vatican pressed its campaign to keep Terri Schiavo alive Tuesday, saying that pulling the plug on the brain-damaged Florida woman amounted to capital punishment for someone who has committed no crimes. In a front-page editorial, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano… said [the federal court] had condemned Schiavo to an ‘atrocious death: death from hunger and thirst.’ ‘After all, Terri’s destiny appears not unlike that of many men and women who in the United States get capital punishment for their crimes,’ said the paper. ‘But Terri has committed no crimes, if not that of being “useless” to the eyes of a society incapable of appreciating and defending the gift of life. Of any life,’ said the paper.”

The discussions in this highly controversial case will continue. However one may want to look at this issue — it is very important that one makes his or her wishes known ahead of time, in a formal document, such as a “living will,” so that at least no doubts remain in that regard. As experts have pointed out, it is important to state in the document, not only what not to do in such a case, but also, what to do.

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Would you please explain 1 Corinthians 5:11?

The passage reads: “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person.”

It is important to see the context of that passage. Paul had explained, beginning in verse 1, that he had received reports that there was sexual immorality among the local church members — such a terrible perversion, “as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife.” Whether this intimate sexual relationship was between mother and son, or stepmother and son, is debatable. Paul continued in verse 2: “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” They were actually “glorying” about this evil conduct (verse 6), feeling that they needed to be so tolerant and liberal with the law of God that this man’s public action was acceptable in God’s Church. But Paul concluded in verse 13: “Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.'”

From the second letter to the Corinthians, we know that the members followed Paul’s instruction, and that the evildoer was disfellowshipped. But now, Paul had to address a different problem–that of an unwillingness of the local members to forgive the evildoer. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 2:6-11:

“This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him… Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

As we pointed out before, forgiveness requires repentance. The Nelson Study Bible comments: “Punishment… is a reference to the church discipline Paul had instructed the Corinthians to use on the person… It was tough love, but it worked. The man repented… The purpose of church discipline is repentance and restoration. Forgiveness should always follow the correction.”

How did Paul know that the person had repented? There is no indication that he actually talked to the person — we might assume that perhaps reports reached him about the person’s changed conduct. But how could he know that these reports were accurate? It appears that Paul was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. He was willing to err on the side of mercy, and that “for your sakes” — the sakes of the local Church members. Apparently, they did not want to forgive, so Paul gave them an example to follow his lead.

He stated that the brethren were to “reaffirm” their love to the sinning member. As the Broadman Bible Commentary points out, “it is presumed that the Corinthians had not ceased to love the sinful member, either in his offense or in their infliction of discipline upon him. Yet… it was desirable that the man should know without doubt the continued love of the fellowship for him.”

It is true that Paul was saying that as long as someone calling himself a brother continued in the PRACTICE of sexual immorality, idolatry, or covetousness, among others, [including, by extension, of causing division contrary to the doctrine of God, compare Romans 16:17], they should not fellowship with such a person. In other words, “the Corinthians were not to have fellowship with those who claimed to be Christians but whose lives were dominated by sin” (The Nelson Study Bible).

But Paul was not saying that we must avoid the person until he or she expresses to us his or her repentance, by saying the magic words, “I’m sorry for what I have done. I repent. Please, forgive me.” Although this would be the most desirable and clear course of action, some have just not the personality to express their repentance in such a way. They might rather show their repentance through acts of kindness — perhaps through invitations to a dinner or to a movie, or to some other social activity. Many times, repentance can be seen in the conduct of the person — in deeds, rather than in words. When the father saw the prodigal son returning to his house, he ran toward him and embraced him. At that moment in time, the son had not yet expressed his remorse. But it was sufficient for the father to see that he was coming back.

The Broadman Bible Commentary correctly explains: “… if the man were treated too harshly… he might be lost to the community and to faith. As in converting men from sin, so in restoring the erring church member, God’s people need the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help to take wise and right actions.”

This includes, not holding grudges against anyone, and not hating the person. We might think that we are not guilty of either, but again, our actions might speak louder than our words and even our thoughts. When someone who has offended us writes us a card, or tries to call us, this must be sufficient for us to be willing to work toward reconciliation. In fact, we may and should not even have to wait for the other party to take the first step. But, if we don’t have a forgiving attitude all along, we might not be willing to respond quickly, or at all, to an offender’s first step toward reconciliation (even if it was in the form of a card or a phone call), as we are unwilling to forgive that person “that easily.” But then, how can we say at the same time that we don’t harbor any grudges in our hearts against such a person?

God tells us that we have to become peacemakers. We have to seek peace and pursue it. That means, if it is at all reasonably possible, it behooves us to initiate the first contact by writing a card or a letter, or trying to call the person.

Paul did not say, in 1 Corinthians 5:11, that we are not to eat with a person who engaged in sinful conduct in the past. He is only addressing a person who is CONTINUING IN THE PRACTICE of the same. If a person who committed a sin toward us in the past, contacts us in an attempt to reconcile, we have a duty to respond to such a request. We cannot say that Paul is instructing us not to have anything to do with such a person or to eat with him; therefore, we just have to ignore his advances.

Just the opposite is correct! As true Christians, we have a duty, as much as depends on us, to make and maintain peace with everyone. God’s ministers are even to look after the lost sheep; what greater responsibility would fall on the ministry to respond to an attempt by a disfellowshipped person to gain access to his former fellowship?

What Paul was instructing the members of the Corinthian Church was of course in accordance with what Jesus taught! For instance, Jesus said: “‘…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you'” (Matthew 5:44). Paul, in quoting Proverbs 25:21-22, stated this about those who stand in opposition to us–that is, our enemies: “‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink…'” (Romans 12:20). Paul continues (in the same verse): “‘For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.'”

The emphasis is for the righteous to do what is right–to set the example of showing the sincere love that emanates from God, and it is this love that God continues to maintain as He brings all of us to “…a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Whether or not even a brother makes himself an “enemy” through actions that are clearly in opposition to God, we still must be, as God is, readily entreatable for reconciliation when the true possibility presents itself.

But how can we know that the sinning brother has actually repented, so that we can socialize with him? The answer is, we meet with him to find out. That includes, eating with him. So we see, Paul, in taking all the Scriptures together, is actually saying the exact opposite from what some people think.

When we have a meeting with such a person, we had better show love, mercy and compassion. We are told that love covers a multitude of sins and that mercy triumphs over judgment. We are also told that we ourselves will be judged without mercy, when we judge without mercy– and when we speak evil of our brother (or think evil of him in our hearts), we are actually judging the law of God (James 4:11-12). James asks us who we think we are, that we judge our brother — including, perhaps, wondering about the sincerity of his repentance?

When the prodigal son returned, his older brother was not willing to receive him back. He was angry and had grudges in his heart toward his younger brother, who had lived in sin, while he had lived a right life. Now, he did not want to make it that easy for his younger brother — he wanted him to pay first for his sinful life, to go through some penance. But his father told him: “It was right that we should make merry and be glad” (Luke 15:32).

Let us be very careful that we do not withhold mercy and forgiveness where it is due, because if we are unwilling to forgive others their trespasses, God won’t forgive us our trespasses, either. And when we judge too harshly and severely regarding whether or not the offender has really repented, let us also keep in mind that God might judge us equally harshly, then, regarding whether or not WE have really repented of our sins. If we need to err, let us err on the side of mercy and forgiveness.

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Two new StandingWatch programs were recorded this week, dealing with the most recent Shootings in the US and the celebration of Easter.

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Youth Forum

Missing Out
by Manuela Link (21)

I have spent my life growing up in God’s Church and have learned the principles of Sabbath-keeping. In doing so, I have restrained myself from participating in activities such as parties, games or sports during the holy day.

One of my favorite activities, if not my favorite activity, is showing my dog(s) at shows. Dog shows take place around the country just about every weekend, on Saturdays and Sundays. I have never attended a show on a Saturday. Because I don’t show my dog on Saturdays, he will never accumulate enough points to become a really recognized show dog. Competitors question my actions all the time, wondering why I don’t bring my beautiful Labrador out more often. It is hard, knowing that I won’t ever be able to show him on a full weekend.

At the same time, I also have to remember that if everyone in the world obeyed God’s commandments, we would have equal opportunities, and dog shows would not be held on Saturdays. I can’t get let down by the things I am not able to do on Saturdays. I have to remind myself that I should be uplifted because of the blessing I have for knowing that I am following God and that He rules everything.

Right now, I am missing out on showing my dog and earning points, awards and recognition, but many in the world are missing out on God’s true way of life. For now, their rewards may be medals, but one day, I will inherit the earth.

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