Update 214


Our Calling–A Privilege

On October 8, 2005, Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled, “Our Calling–A Privilege.”

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.

The Day of Atonement is next week–from Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset. Date: October 13.

There will be one service that day, covering the meaning of that special annual Holy Day. Dave Harris will give the sermon from Colorado, at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time).

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org. Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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by Rene Messier (Canada)

Some time ago, I watched an interesting program, which showed how deserts like the Sahara only required water to blossom like a rich oasis. One could notice various grasses, herbs and plants growing without first having to plant or sow them. The reason is that the seeds are there now–being preserved in the dry sand until moisture arrives in order for them to germinate. The seeds from grasses, plants, herbs and trees are carried there by the wind. It is interesting that seed will keep “alive” for a long time if kept in a dry location. Scientists have found wheat in the pyramids of Egypt, which was over 3,000 years old. When they planted the seed in soil and watered it, it grew and produced more wheat. The same applies to seed in the desert. All that is required is water.

From this example, we can draw an analogy with humans. We know, of course, that God does the calling. When we respond, repent and are baptized, we then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The human mind has now been seeded by God with the fruit of His Spirit, and all that is required to bring the fruit to fruition is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in us. The process begins for us to produce and manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are all character attributes of our loving Father and Jesus Christ.

The more water you give to a parched desert, the more vegetation it will produce. The more of God’s Spirit we receive, the more fruitful we become. The key is to ask for more of God’s Spirit in order to produce more fruit to the glory of God. Luke 11:13 tells us: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” We must ask and God is faithful to give. Then we are in a position to produce the fruit of the Spirit to the benefit of our fellow man, so that, when they see these manifested in and through us, they may give glory to God.

Remember the principle: The more Holy Spirit is flowing through us, the more fruit we will produce. The real question is: How are we doing?

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Credit Card Payments at Record High

The Associated Press reported on September 28, 2005, about an alarming trend in the USA:

“The percentage of credit card payments that were past due shot up to a record high in the second quarter as surging gasoline prices strained budgets and made it difficult for some people to pay their bills… the seasonally adjusted percentage of credit card accounts 30 or more days past due rose in the April-to-June quarter to 4.81 percent. That followed a delinquency rate of 4.76 percent in the first quarter and was the highest since [such information was collected] in 1973… With personal savings rates dismally low, people have less of a cushion to absorb the big jumps in energy prices… The personal savings rate dipped to a record low of negative 0.6 percent in July. Rising borrowing costs also probably contributed to the spike in credit card delinquencies…”

Who Controls the Internet?

The Herald Tribune reported on September 30, 2005, about the world’s attempts to isolate the USA and to create a new international body to govern and control the Internet:

“The United States and Europe clashed…Thursday in one of their sharpest public disagreements in months, after European Union negotiators proposed stripping the Americans of their effective control of the Internet. The European decision to back the rest of the world in demanding the creation of a new international body to govern the Internet clearly caught the Americans off balance and left them largely isolated at talks designed to come up with a new way of regulating the digital traffic of the 21st century. ‘It’s a very shocking and profound change of the EU’s position,’ said David Gross, the State Department official in charge of America’s international communications policy. ‘The EU’s proposal seems to represent an historic shift in the regulatory approach to the Internet from one that is based on private sector leadership to a government, top-down control of the Internet.’… Political unease with the U.S. approach, symbolized by opposition to the war in Iraq, has spilled over into these technical discussions, delegates said. The EU and developing nations, they added, wanted to send a signal to America that it could not run things alone.”

The Associated Press added on September 30, 2005:

“EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important ‘because the Internet is a global resource. The EU … is very firm on this position.'”

The World Against Israel?

On October 1, 2005, the Washington Times published the following article, expressing the view that Israel’s continuous unilateral concessions are the surest way to war and violence in the Middle East:

“It took just 12 days from Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza before rockets started raining down on the Western Negev area from the now-unoccupied territory. The attacks late Friday might have occurred sooner if the terrorists had not been preoccupied with torching synagogues and destroying flower-growing operations in Gaza that could have produced income for Palestinians. Their hatred of all things Jewish prompted them to act against their self-interest… A Reuters story about the Israeli attacks on Saturday said, ‘The upsurge in violence was a blow to international hopes that the pullout could revive peacemaking.’ The concept of international ‘hopes’ is founded on the false premise that peace depends only on Israel’s behavior. Every time Israel offers concessions, withdrawals, confidence-building measures and other ‘good faith’ gestures, the response is more terror, more death and no peace. Will there ever be a time when the U.S. and the international community concludes that forcing Israel into making unilateral concessions is not a prescription for peace, but a guarantee of more war?”

The article continued:

“The ‘quartet’ of the U.N., the United States, Russia and the European Union has succeeded only in pressuring Israel to give and give and give. Whatever pressure it has applied to the Palestinian-Hamas-Fatah side has produced no cessation of violence, no disarmament and, in fact, no concessions at all… It is frustrating that no one pays attention to the terrorists’ pronouncements. Hamas announced it would flood Gaza with its soldiers once Israel withdrew. Islamo-fascist clerics call for annihilation of Israel and tell jihadists it is their religious duty to kill Jews and Christians.”

Oil vs. Human Rights

AFP reported on October 1, 2005, about the apparent relationship between American economic interests and a lack of diligence to end violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia:

“The United States has put off a showdown with Saudi Arabia over its alleged violations of religious minority rights as skyrocketing oil prices threatened to crimp US economic growth. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice decided to postpone by six months imposing sanctions against the desert kingdom in the wake of a US finding that the Saudi government denied residents some of the most basic religious freedoms… US officials acknowledged that the kingdom has so far failed to make major strides in re-establishing the rights of its religious minorities…”

According to AFP, the postponement of sanctions was prompted by America’s need for Saudi Arabian oil. The article pointed out:

“Saudi Arabia controls one-fourth of the world’s proven oil reserves and, as a leading OPEC member, has a major say in determining production quotas and, subsequently, prices. During the first five months of this year, the kingdom supplied the United States with 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, which is roughly 15 percent of all US oil imports… Twelve refineries accounting for nearly one-fifth of the country’s oil-processing capacity remain shut down following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the US Congress reported, warning that half of them could remain closed for several months. Deutsche Bank analyst Adam Sieminski said it was a ‘staggering loss of product’ that is likely to reverberate through the US economy as gas prices, already topping three dollars a gallon in many regions, lurch even higher.”

SARS and Bats

Reuters reported on October 1, 2005:

“Many species of bats found across China are infected with viruses similar to the SARS virus… This would support the idea that bats are the reservoir — the natural host — of the virus. Animals that act as reservoirs carry and spread a virus without themselves becoming ill… Animals such as palm civets were found to be infected but study showed they were not the true reservoir of the SARS virus… an infected bat could have been kept in a cage next to a civet in a market with the civet becoming infected and passing the virus to humans. Bats are hosts of several other new viruses, including Hendra and Nipah viruses, and rarely become ill.”

Marriage on the Rocks in Britain

Breitbart.com reported on September 30, 2005, that “Marriage is on the rocks in Britain, with the proportion of unmarried people set to exceed that of married people within 25 years as more men and women opt to live together without constraints… The proportion of married men is expected to fall from 53 percent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2031, while the percentage of married women will decline from 50 percent to 40 percent… The ‘Population Trends’ report predicted on the other hand that the number of unmarried couples living together will almost double from two million in 2003 to 3.8 million in 2031… The projections are based on the recent steep fall in marriage rates for people aged under 30. As the older generation dies, a new generation of people who prefer living together to marriage will take their place… Further, more people will choose never to marry at all. By 2031 almost half of all adult men in the country will have never married, compared with 35 percent two years ago… While divorce rates are expected to drop among the 35 to 44 age group due to a smaller pool of married people, divorce rates will rise slowly in many age groups and sharply among the elderly. The proportion of divorced men and women aged over 65 is expected to more than double by 2031.”

What To Do With The Ice?

The New York Times reported on October 2, 2005, about another example of apparent mismanagement and pilfering of taxpayers’ money by FEMA:

“When the definitive story of the confrontation between Hurricane Katrina and the United States government is finally told, one long and tragicomic chapter will have to be reserved for the odyssey of the ice. Ninety-one thousand tons of ice cubes, that is, intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm. It would cost taxpayers more than $100 million, and most of it would never be delivered.”

The article continued:

“In the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina… [and partly] because of the mass evacuation forced by [the hurricane], and partly because of… a broken system for tracking goods at FEMA, the agency ordered far more ice than could be distributed to people who needed it. Over about a week after the storm, FEMA ordered 211 million pounds of ice for Hurricane Katrina… Officials eventually realized that that much ice was overkill, and managed to cancel some of the orders. But the 182 million pounds actually supplied turned out to be far more than could be delivered to victims. In the end… 59 percent of the ice was trucked to storage freezers all over the country…

“Of $200 million originally set aside for ice purchases, the bill for the Hurricane Katrina purchases so far is more than $100 million–and climbing… Under the ice contract, the government pays about $12,000 to buy a 20-ton truckload of ice, delivered to its original destination. If it is moved farther, the price is $2.60 a mile, and a day of waiting costs up to $900.”

Recent Hurricanes Acts of God?

On October 3, 2005, ABC News published the following article:

“Most Americans rule out either a deliberate act of God or the effect of global warming as direct causes of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes… Broad majorities across demographic groups don’t think the hurricanes are a deliberate act of God. But one in three evangelical Protestants think they are, compared with 13 percent of non-evangelical Protestants, 15 percent of Catholics and 17 percent of non-religious people… Alabama State Sen. Hank Erwin… recently called Hurricane Katrina a punishment from God, saying New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast ‘have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness. It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God.’ … among people who think the hurricanes are a deliberate act of God, just 8 percent see it as a punishment. About half instead see it as a warning sign, just over a quarter say it’s for a reason we cannot understand and 14 percent say it’s a test of faith.”

Hollywood and No Consequences?

On October 3, 2005, The Associated Press published the following article about dangerous concepts endorsed by and portrayed in Hollywood movies:

“Hollywood might be bad for your health, according to a new study, which concludes that blockbuster movies paint a consequence-free view of sex and drugs. Dr. Hasantha Gunasekera, the study’s lead author from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, said the findings are troubling, ‘given the HIV and illicit drug pandemics in developing and industrialized countries.’ … The Australian researchers studied a September 2003 list of the 200 biggest box-office successes of all time [excluding animated features and movies with G and PG ratings] as ranked by the Internet Movie Database… [According to the study] Only one film… contained a suggestion of condom use, which was the only reference to any form of birth control. There were no depictions of important consequences of unprotected sex such as unwanted pregnancies, HIV or other STDs… Eight percent of the films contained depictions of marijuana use, and 7 percent other non-injected drugs, the researchers said. Just over half the marijuana scenes 52 percent showed use of the drug in a positive way. In the other 48 percent of cases it was depicted as neutral.”

Heavy Rains, Floods and Volcanic Eruption in El Salvador

On October 3, 2005, the Associated Press reported the following story about another series of natural disasters–this time in El Salvador:

“Heavy rains triggered landslides that killed at least 31 people in El Salvador on Monday, while rising rivers forced the evacuation of dozens of people there and in neighboring Guatemala. Both countries put their Pacific coasts on alert as a tropical weather front swept over Central America, unleashing downpours and causing principal rivers to overflow… The floods and landslides came two days after the newly active Ilamatepec volcano in El Salvador erupted, sending ashes and hot rocks down its flanks… The volcano, 40 miles west of San Salvador, last erupted in 1904. It became active again in June 2004.”

The Catholic Church Rejects Parts of Bible as UNTRUE!

On October 5, 2005, The Times On Line published the following article about the terrible attempts of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Britain to discredit God’s Word–the Bible–and to warn against those who take the Bible literally:

“The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect ‘total accuracy’ from the Bible. ‘We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,’ they say in The Gift of Scripture… They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its ‘intransigent intolerance’ and to warn of ‘significant dangers’ involved in a fundamentalist approach…

“As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing. Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb. The bishops say: ‘Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world.'”

The article of The Times On Line continued to publish a list of the following Scriptures, which, according to Catholic understanding, are UNTRUE:

“Genesis ii, 21-22– ‘So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.'”

“Genesis iii, 16– ‘God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”‘”

“Matthew xxvii, 25–The words of the crowd: ‘His blood be on us and on our children.'”

“Revelation xix, 20–‘And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.'”

It should not be surprising that the Catholic Church dismisses the Book of Revelation as a figurative allegory, which is not to be taken literally. Otherwise, they would have to find themselves in the uncomfortable position of explaining to their followers why the Bible describes very clearly in the book of Revelation the unflattering history of the Catholic Church, as well as its prophesied destruction and punishment from God at the time of Christ’s Return. However, the Bible teaches that “ALL Scripture is given by INSPIRATION OF GOD” (2 Timothy 3:16). Christ explained that He did not come to “destroy the Law or the Prophets,” and that not “one jot or one tittle will… pass from the law till ALL is FULFILLED” (Matthew 5:17-18).

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Does the Bible encourage us to become surety for another person?

Even though we might sometimes be tempted to become surety for another person, especially a Church member, a close friend or a relative, the Bible contains strong warnings against such conduct.

Proverbs 6:1-5 reads:

“My son, if you become surety [margin: guarantee or collateral] for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of a fowler [margin: one who catches birds in a trap or snare].”

The Bible warns against becoming surety for both a “friend” and a “stranger.” According to the Ryrie Study Bible, the word for “stranger” is a neutral term and simply designates the borrower. The Soncino Commentary explains that the word “stranger” refers to another person, and that it is identical with neighbor.

This means, then, that Proverbs 6:1-5 cautions us against becoming surety for ANYONE. The Ryrie Study Bible states:

“The master teacher warns against becoming liable for the financial obligations of another. The one solution he offers is, deliver thyself.”

The New Student Bible explains: “Proverbs warns against ‘putting up security’ for a neighbor–something like co-signing a loan for a friend who doesn’t otherwise qualify. Proverbs supports generosity, but not open-ended charity in which the amount you must give and the timing are determined by circumstances beyond your control. Too often it leads to disaster.”

Fritz Rienecker states in his Commentary of the Bible: “The Book of Proverbs warns strongly against becoming surety for another… Each surety… remains uncertain for both parties, as the future is not within the control of men. That is why only God can truly be surety (Job 17:3).”

It is widely understood that the Biblical term for “surety” includes co-signing for the debt of another. The Ryrie Study Bible defines “surety” as “a cosigner, one responsible for a debt should the borrower default.”

The Nelson Study Bible points out:

“These verses [in Proverbs 6:1-5] warn against putting up surety… or cosigning a loan. This does not mean we should never be generous or helpful if we have the means, only that we should not promise what we cannot deliver… inability to pay a debt is still a form of bondage and can be a serious problem…”

As many commentaries recognize, the Biblical warning refers foremost to becoming surety for more than one is able and willing to pay. We know that in New Testament times, Church members sold their possessions outright and gave the proceeds to the Church (compare Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37). They sold what they could sell–they did not sell what they did not have. By the same token, they did not promise to pay someone else’s debts, if they did not have the means to do so.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary points out:

“It is every man’s wisdom to keep out of debt as much as may be, for it is an encumbrance upon him, entangles him in the world, puts him in danger of doing wrong or suffering wrong. The borrower is servant to the lender, and makes himself very much a slave to the world. A man ought never to be bound as surety for more than he is both able and willing to pay, and can afford to pay without wronging his family.”

In addition, Proverbs 11:15 explains:

“He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure.”

Soncino comments that the better translation of this passage is “for another,” rather than, “for a stranger.” The commentary continues to explain: “There is no limitation implied. The practice is condemned unreservedly.”

Proverbs 17:18 states:

“A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety [margin: guarantee or collateral] for his friend.”

Commentaries like Rienecker point out that the practice of shaking hands in a pledge confirmed the surety. Job 17:3 also makes reference to such a practice. Today, the equivalent to shaking hands in a pledge would be signing a surety or guarantee agreement.

Proverbs 22:26-27 adds the following caution:

“Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, One of those who is surety for debts; If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take away your bed from under you?”

Soncino remarks that the phrase “for debts” literally means, “for (another man’s) loan.” The warning expressed is abundantly clear: We are not to become surety for the debts of another, for IF WE HAVE NOTHING WITH WHICH TO PAY at the time of the borrower’s default, we will be in deep trouble. This is not to say, of course, that the Bible prohibits husbands and wives to co-sign for a house loan. In God’s eyes, husbands and wives are no longer two persons, but “one flesh,” compare Matthew 19:4-6. In this context, please read our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families.”

Sometimes, we desperately may want to help others in need. And we should–but we must do so by following God’s Way and directives. To become surety, guarantee or collateral for another person–by co-signing for his or her debt–is generally not in accordance with God’s wise principles of right living. Even though we may have the means to pay when we cosign, we don’t know what the future brings (compare James 4:13-16), and whether we can pay the borrower’s debt when he defaults. Although it may seem right to us to become surety for another person, the Bible and experience caution us against such conduct.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program has been posted on the Web, titled, “How Close Are We?”

Our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” has been received from the printer. We will distribute a hard copy to the attendees at our Feast sites in the USA and England, and we will mail it to others after the Feast.

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An Illustration

An Illustration
by Cali Harris (22)

Main Entry: joy

1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: DELIGHT

b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion: GAIETY

It seems almost silly to read Merriam Webster’s definition of “joy”; the structured, rigid dictionary definition hardly conveys the real sense of the word. I imagine joy to be illustrated in so many different ways: in a positive attitude, in kindness among brethren, in laughter–even in a smile.

As I’ve been spiritually and physically preparing for the Feast this year, it’s like Satan is hiding around the corner to try and trip me up at every turn. This makes it particularly challenging to focus on having a joyful attitude. But we are actually instructed by God to be joyful–especially during His weekly and annual Sabbaths.

In spite of Satan’s efforts to try to derail us, it is so exciting to know what we have in store for our short-term AND our long-term futures! Merriam Webster’s definition may be lackluster, but it does point us in the right direction to being joyful in the way that God commands us.

How would we illustrate the best Feast of Tabernacles we’ve ever attended? Would it be filled with spiritual growth, appreciation for God’s beautiful creation, and building friendships with brethren? Would our Feast be illustrated by joy?

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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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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