Update 244


Deliver Us From Evil

On May 20, 2006, Norbert Link will give the sermon from Colorado, titled, “Deliver Us From Evil.”

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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The Same to You!

by Dave Harris

Have you ever said or heard it said, “The same to you”? Was this stated with good intentions or as a spiteful retort?

The Bible presents this concept in a much more personal form. Here is what Jesus taught: “‘For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you’” (Matthew 7:2). He adds this emphasis: “‘Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 7:12).

You see, then, the responsibility we have for others begins with how we treat them—not with how they treat us!

This takes predetermined action on our part. It begins with how we think, and it transitions into our words and actions. Christians are to become like Jesus Christ—to learn to even think as He does (compare Philippians 2:5). In doing that, they grow toward godly perfection. There is no more forthright way of directing their thoughts than to do all that they do based on love, and they can establish their lives in love because they have the Holy Spirit of God—for God IS love! (1 John 4:8, 16).

Do you want to be loved? The Father shows us how through His own example: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).

To be loved, we must love, and as Christians, we are to be the FIRST to love others. Love is the light we bring into this world of darkness: “‘But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil’” (Luke 6:35).

The next time a “the same to you” moment arises, be Christ-like! Whether you are responding or whether you initiate the first move, you do the unexpected—you act in love!

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President Bush Speaks To Germany

In an unprecedented move, President Bush gave two interviews on German television and in the German press. On May 8, 2006, Der Spiegel Online published the English translations of the two interviews.

We are setting forth below excerpts from President Bush’s Interview on German TV (The “Sabine Christiansen” show, which is the German political talk show with the highest ratings):

“I had a good relationship with Chancellor Schröder. The problem was, of course, that there was a disagreement over a very difficult decision I had to make, and that was Iraq. I fully understand why a government or a people would be, you know, I guess disappointed in me in a way, and not understand why somebody would commit troops to achieve an objective. And I like to remind people that September the 11th for us was a change in our history, and it certainly changed the way I thought. And for others, it was just a moment in passing. So there was a disagreement. On the other hand, U.S.-German relations were always important, and now we have a chance to turn a new chapter in our relationship, strengthen that alliance, strengthen that relationship, and work on matters that will make this world a better place. So I’m thrilled with my relationship with Chancellor Merkel…

“… if I were an Israeli, I’d be concerned about the combination of a president [from Iran] that said, I want to wipe Israel off the map, and had a nuclear weapon. And so, obviously, Israel is a factor. It’s a little country that will defend herself… Saddam Hussein was a very dangerous person in the world. Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, we didn’t find them like everybody thought we would, but we did know he had the capacity to make them. He had harbored terrorists. He had invaded his neighborhood. And the removal of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do… “

Set forth below are excerpts from President Bush’s Interview with Germany’s mass tabloid, Bild:

“… there needs to be more understanding between the Muslim world and the Western world. There needs to be a better understanding of the true beliefs of their respective religions… I take great comfort in knowing that the true Muslim — Islam, itself, is a peaceful religion, and those who adhere to Islam are people that respect the rights of others. And there’s common values in the great religions. And what we cannot allow [to] happen is for these totalitarians, these Islamic extremists to distort a great religion and define the nature of that religion…

“The partnership between the United States and Europe is a vital partnership that transcends the war on terror. Part of our relationship is working together in the war on terror. But there are many other areas where we can and will continue to work together… when the United States and Europe cooperate, we can achieve security for our people, and enhance the prosperity for our people, as well — as well as do our duty. See, I believe there’s a duty to help ease the suffering in the world. I believe in the admonition that to whom much is given, much is required. And the United States — the people of the United States have been given a lot. We’re a blessed nation. And same for the people of Europe. And we have a duty to work together to help relieve the suffering of those who are less fortunate…

“Germany plays a vital role in the war on terror. Germany is in the heart of Europe. Germany is — whether it’s this current administration or the previous administration, we have had a, amongst our intelligence services, as well as our law enforcement services, a close coordination and a close discussion. Germany’s will is important. When the German Chancellor stands up and says the war on terror must be won, or is a vital part of the security of our peoples, people around the world listen. Germany plays a very important role… I’ve come to realize that the nature of the German people [is] such that war is very abhorrent, that Germany is a country now that is — no matter where they sit on the political spectrum, Germans are — just don’t like war. And I can understand that. There’s a generation of people who had their lives torn about because of a terrible war… Germany is vital for the European Union’s vitality…

“… when al Qaeda speaks, I take their words seriously. When bin Laden says we’ll bring harm to the West, I take them seriously. When Zarqawi says it’s just a matter of time for the U.S. to get out of Iraq so we can have safe haven, I take him seriously. Zawahiri, the number two man in al Qaeda, he’s constantly speaking about their grand designs to spread their ideology. And when Ahmadinejad speaks, we need to take it seriously, and when he says he wants to destroy Israel, the world needs to take that very seriously. It’s a serious threat. It’s a threat to an ally of the United States and Germany. But what he’s also saying is, if he’s willing to destroy one country, he’d be willing to destroy other countries. And, therefore, this is a threat that has got to be dealt with…

“You know, it’s interesting that the last two Holy Fathers were from the same neighborhood. The Holy Father who just passed away, who was a great man, came from Poland and really helped rally the spirits of the people to challenge the tyranny of communism. And the current Holy Father came from a country torn asunder by war and is witness to a renewal of a united Germany. And I think it helps the world to have that perspective in a very important position of leadership. I admire the two Popes. These are strong, capable men who challenge the concept of moral relevancy.”

The Pope will play an important role in the future, and Germany is indeed the most important and influential country of Europe. Sadly, the relationship between Europe and the USA will deteriorate in time. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Putin vs. USA?

AFP reported on May 11:

“Russia faces a growing arms race against a ‘fortress’ United States which cares more about its own interests than democracy or human rights, President Vladimir Putin said in his annual state of the nation speech… his most biting comments targeted the United States, which has become increasingly critical of Russia’s human rights records, with Vice President Dick Cheney claiming last week that ‘opponents of democracy’ were seeking to roll back post-Soviet gains… [Putin] was adamant over Russia’s rights to look after its own interests, saying that Russia would join the World Trade Organisation only on its own terms… ‘We see negotiations on entering the World Trade Organization only on terms that support Russia’s economic interests.'”

America’s Illegal Immigration–Is There Any Solution?

USA Today published the following article in its edition of May 10:

“As an immigration attorney with 25 years of experience, I’m fascinated by all the misinformation regarding the immigration debate. For example, the question, ‘Why don’t illegal immigrants just come here legally?’… The modern system has quotas, backlogs, preferences, family-based visas, employment-based visas. If you don’t fit into the right peg, you can’t get in. Most of the undocumented lack a qualifying relative to petition them. Even if they do, they might have to wait years to come in. The brother of a U.S. citizen from the Philippines, for example, has to wait at least 23 to 30 years. (They are processing cases filed before Oct. 15, 1983.) The wait for Mexico is 15 to 20 years… You are penalized if you have lived illegally in the USA. The penalty is either three years or 10 years, depending on your time illegally in this country. Pardons are available but are hard to get. If, for example, you are the mother of a U.S. citizen and you lived illegally in the USA for more than a year – forget about it. You must wait a decade before you can come into the country legally. There is no pardon for the parents of a U.S. citizen… It is a lie to tell Americans that the massive numbers of undocumented immigrants could come here legally… Comprehensive immigration reform is needed that balances justice with compassion.”

We would like to clarify that the concept of “illegal aliens” in the USA includes those foreigners who came into this country legally, but overstayed.

The Chicago Tribune filed this report on May 10:

“Nearly half of the nation’s children under 5 are racial or ethnic minorities, and the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic population is growing so rapidly… Hispanics accounted for 49 percent of the country’s growth from 2004 to 2005, the report shows, driving 70 percent of the growth in children younger than 5. Forty-five percent of U.S. children in that age range are minorities. The census figures show that the number of Hispanic and Asian children younger than 5 grew by double-digit percentages since 2000. The number of black children grew more slowly. The number of non-Hispanic white children younger than 5 declined for two years this decade before increasing again.”

In light of these statistics and predictions, the question is raised what to do with illegal aliens, and, more importantly, how to prevent additional illegal foreigners from entering this country.

AFP reported on May 16:

“A plan by President George W. Bush to deploy 6,000 troops along the US-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants brought a mixed response in the United States and concern from the Mexican government. Bush announced in a national speech late Monday that up to 6,000 National Guard soldiers could be deployed along the… southern border beginning next month for up to one year… Senator John Kerry, the beaten Democratic candidate in the 2004 presidential election, said tightening border security was needed, ‘but putting another burden on the backs of men and women who are serving their second tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t the right answer.’

“And some in Bush’s own Republican party said they feared the president was not being tough enough on illegal immigration, which has sparked a fierce political debate ahead of looming US congressional elections in November. ‘A few weeks ago, the administration announced a crackdown on illegal employers, arresting more than 1,100, nationwide. But by the next morning, more than half of those arrested were released,’ said Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo, one of the president’s harshest critics on the immigration… California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, also voiced concern, suggesting the plan might provide a temporary fix, but not a remedy. ‘Border state governors were not consulted about this proposal in advance,’ Schwarzenegger said in a statement. ‘I am concerned asking National Guard troops to guard our nation’s border is a Band-Aid solution and not the permanent solution we need.’ Bush said any effort to tighten US borders must be coupled with a temporary guest-worker program for the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, more than half of whom are from Mexico.”

According to the Drudge Report of May 12, 2006, Schwarzenegger also stated:

“Going the direction of the National Guard, I think is maybe not the right way to go because I think that the Bush administration and the federal government should put up the money to create the kind of protection that the federal government is responsible to provide. Not to use our National Guard, soldiers that are coming back from Iraq, for instance, and that have spent a year and a half over there and now they are coming back. I think that we should let them go to work, back to work again.”

On May 18, 2006, The Associated Press reported the following: “The Senate agreed to give millions of illegal immigrants a shot at U.S. citizenship and backed construction of 370 miles of triple- layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday… The vote to build what supporters called a ‘real fence’–as distinct from the virtual fence already incorporated in the legislation–was 83-16. The fence would be built in areas ‘most often used by smugglers and illegal aliens,’ as determined by federal officials. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimated the cost at roughly $3.2 million per mile, more than $900 million for 300 miles. The provision includes a call for construction of 500 miles of vehicle barriers, adding to a system currently in place.”

The Bible prophesies that ultimately, foreigners, legal or illegal, will become the most powerful force in the USA. Deuteronomy 28:43-44 predicts:

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.” Why will this happen? Verse 47 explains: “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything…”

A new StandingWatch program has been recorded, titled, “America’s Illegal Aliens,” which addresses the overlooked reason for America’s ongoing battle with illegal immigration.

Has Orwell’s “Big Brother” Arrived?

USA TODAY reported on May 11:

“The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans – most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity… ‘It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,’ said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation.

“The agency’s goal is ‘to create a database of every call ever made’ within the nation’s borders, this person added. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made – across town or across the country – to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others… The NSA’s domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop – without warrants – on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA’s efforts to create a national call database.

“In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. ‘In other words,’ Bush explained, ‘one end of the communication must be outside the United States.’ As a result, domestic call records – those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders – were believed to be private. Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers’ names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA’s domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.”

The Associated Press reported on May 13:

“Telecommunications giant Qwest refused to provide the government with access to telephone records of its 15 million customers after deciding the request violated privacy law… In a written statement, the attorney for former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio said the government approached the company in the fall of 2001 seeking access to the phone records of Qwest customers, with neither a warrant nor approval from a special court established to handle surveillance matters. ‘Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act,’ attorney Herbert J. Stern said from his Newark, N.J., office… Two New Jersey public interest lawyers sued Verizon on Friday for $5 billion, claiming the phone carrier violated privacy laws by turning over customers’ records. The lawsuit asks the court to stop Verizon from supplying the information without a warrant or the subscriber’s consent.”

As will be pointed out below, other news agencies reported that all three named companies (Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth) were named in a lawsuit, seeking $220 billion in damages.

AFP elaborated on these lawsuits and the potentially devastating financial consequences in its article, dated May 13:

“The lawsuit in New York was filed under the 1986 Stored Communications Act, which expressly forbids the companies from turning over client records to the government without a warrant. The statute also gives consumers the right to sue for violations of the act and allows claims of at least 1,000 dollars for each violation. ‘If you’ve got 50 million people, that’s potentially 50 billion dollars,’ said Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University and a former White House adviser on privacy issues.”

Der Stern Online reported on May 12 that in addition to Qwest, “T-Mobile” likewise refused to comply with a request from the NSA to share its records with the NSA. According to Der Stern, T-Mobile is a daughter company of the German firm, “Telekom.”

AFP reported on May 16:

“President George W. Bush appeared to acknowledge his government had collected millions of US telephone records in its war on terrorism but insisted the privacy of Americans was not threatened. At a news conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Bush again defended phone and e-mail monitoring as necessary to ‘connect dots to protect the American people’ against Al-Qaeda terrorists… A reporter asked: ‘You’ve said that the government is not trolling through the lives of innocent Americans, but why shouldn’t ordinary people feel that their privacy is invaded by the NSA compiling a list of their telephone calls?’ The president responded, ‘The program he’s asking about is one that has been fully briefed to members of the United States Congress in both political parties. They’re very aware of what is taking place.'”

Subsequently, both BellSouth and Verizon denied that they gave information to the NSA.

USA Today reported on May 17:

“Verizon said in a statement Tuesday that it is not providing customer calling information to the National Security Agency. ‘One of the most glaring and repeated falsehoods in the media reporting,’ the statement said, ‘is the assertion that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon was approached by NSA and entered into an arrangement to provide the NSA with data from its customers’ domestic calls. This is false.’… On Monday, BellSouth denied providing records to the NSA. AT&T has refused to confirm or deny that it gave records to the NSA… For the initial story, Verizon issued a statement saying, ‘We do not comment on national security matters, we act in full compliance with the law and we are committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy.’ Since then, the three companies named in the story have been named in a lawsuit seeking $200 billion in damages. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan claims the companies violated telecommunications law and the Constitution by allowing the government to have call information… In response to the Verizon statement, Steve Anderson, USA TODAY’s director of communications, said: ‘We will continue to investigate and pursue the story. We’re confident in our coverage of the phone database story. We will look closely into the issues raised by the BellSouth and Verizon statements.”

Why is this discussion so important? Isn’t it immaterial whether or not the government has access to your phone records? Maybe not. As MSNBC repeatedly pointed out on its television show, it is not inconceivable that a government with such knowledge could have prevented journalists from uncovering the Watergate scandal. USA Today voiced the following opinion in its editorial, dated May 13:

“… this database will be compiled, updated and expanded into the indeterminate future, through countless administrations with who-knows-what interests and motives. Only the most naive and unsuspicious soul could trust that it will remain safe, secured and for the eyes only of those hunting terrorists. One need look no further than past abuses of power to be uncomfortable about the future. Richard Nixon during Watergate. Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War. J. Edgar Hoover during his long reign as FBI director… Is it legal?… The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires a court order to gather a person’s current phone records. A 1934 law requires phone companies to protect customers’ privacy. And the Fourth Amendment forbids ‘unreasonable searches and seizures.’

“Is it useful? Taken as a whole, such a database is of dubious utility… Looking for suspicious patterns among billions
of phone numbers seems like the ultimate search for a needle in a haystack. Is it foolproof? These types of databases invariably have errors. The federal terrorist ‘watch list,’ which is used to screen airline passengers, has ensnared a number of innocent travelers – among them Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and a 23-month-old toddler – whose names are similar to, or the same as, suspects on the list [We might also remind the reader of the recent episode when famous British pop star Cat Stevens found himself on the watch list, preventing him from entering the United States.] Once you’re mistakenly targeted, the error can be nearly impossible to fix and your life can be turned upside down. Will it be abused? Maybe not at first. Over time, however, this vast quantity of data is a potentially irresistible tool for government officials who want to zero in on individual Americans… Creating a huge, secret database of Americans’ phone records does far more than threaten terrorists. It is a deeply troubling act that undermines U.S. freedoms and threatens us all.”

Our recent StandingWatch program, titled, “America’s Latest Phone Scandal,” which was recorded on May 12, discusses further questions relevant to the issues at hand.

Germany’s Sunday Laws

Der Spiegel Online published the following article on May 14, discussing Germany’s blue laws. It is interesting that the magazine makes the common mistake–which is not unheard of in the USA and Europe–to confuse the Biblical Sabbath with Sunday. Sunday is NOT–and never has been–the Biblical Sabbath. The Biblical Sabbath is the seventh day of the week–the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset–whereas Sunday is the first day of the week. However, many Germans. Europeans and Americans have been deceived in thinking that Sunday is the Biblical Sabbath.

The magazine, being a victim of that same deception, points out:

“Germans, of course, aren’t nearly as serious about observing the Sabbath as the Maccabees were — that ancient group of faithful Jews who allowed themselves to be slaughtered rather than fight on the day of rest. But just try picking up a frozen pizza or a carton of milk on a Sunday in most parts of Germany. Unless you live in a big city or next door to the train station, Sunday starvation is a serious risk… Sundays remain strictly off limits for shopaholics, chronic consumers and those who find it difficult to remember a pharmacy errand on Saturday before its doors slam shut at 1 p.m… After all, about the only thing you can do on Sunday here is relax, eat a lot, or head to a museum. With the streets empty of big trucks (by law) and building sites silent, a ride through the city or countryside also makes for a pleasant escape. If you get a flat though, don’t count on finding a bike shop open to help you fix it….

“Torturing consumers with anemic opening hours has a long tradition in Germany. The first such law came into existence in 1900, but was soon strengthened. By 1919, it was illegal to open up shop on Sunday and stores on workdays could only be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.”

An Era Is Coming to an End

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 15:

“Meanwhile the president, whose approval ratings have reached record lows, is being compared with former president Richard Nixon, a man who is still viewed as the epitome of a rogue occupying the country’s highest office… Only 31 percent of Americans now approve of Bush’s performance. An era is coming to an end. The man who once dictated the West’s response to the challenge from al-Qaida with unwavering self-confidence appears to be losing friends and allies daily… some Republican leaders in Congress continue to distance themselves from their president. When Bush implored his fellow conservatives not to approve a budget that would worsen the country’s already massive deficit, his pleas fell on deaf ears. The Republican legislators, concerned mainly with saving their own skins come November, instead took the opportunity last week to distribute plenty of pork to their constituents.”

Venezuela on the Attack

On May 14, 2006, The Observer reported:

“Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez arrives in London today with an extraordinary promise to offer cut-rate heating oil for needy families in Europe, modelled on a similar campaign in the US which has been seen partly as a bid to embarrass President George Bush. Last night Chavez also issued a taunting obituary for the ‘American empire’ on the eve of a visit where he will be shunned by Downing Street but welcomed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Chavez said in Vienna yesterday that the ‘final hours of the North American empire have arrived … Now we have to say to the empire: “We’re not afraid of you. You’re a paper tiger.” Referring to his supply of heating to poor American families last winter, Chavez told a meeting of political supporters: ‘I’d like to do the same here in Europe.’… he said that Venezuela has two refineries in Germany and one in Britain…

“Livingstone said that one reason he was keen to welcome Chavez was because of the potential benefit for the capital from a strong financial and economic relationship with Venezuela… ‘They’re looking for allies in Europe and Asia and it’s very much in London’s interests that as Venezuela’s companies go, they should see London as a natural home every bit as much as Madrid.’… The Venezuelan leader… angered Downing Street by declaring that the Falkland Islands rightly belonged to Argentina.”

AFP reported on May 16 that “The United States imposed military sanctions on Venezuela, a main oil supplier, accusing President Hugo Chavez’s leftist government of failing to cooperate in the US-led ‘war on terror.'” The Associated Press added: “Venezuela is considering selling its fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to another country, perhaps Iran, in response to a U.S. ban on arms sales to President Hugo Chavez’s government, a military official said Tuesday.”

On May 17, The Associated Press reported: “Venezuela’s anti-American president was given a warm welcome in the Libyan capital Wednesday by Col. Moammar Gadhafi, whose authoritarian regime was removed only this week from Washington’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism… Chavez said Washington ‘has a great capacity to do harm to the countries of the world.'”

Da Vinci Code Movie Fails

The Associated Press reported on May 17:

“‘The Da Vinci Code’ drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world’s toughest movie crowd: critics at the Cannes Film Festival… The Cannes audience clearly grew restless as the movie dragged on to two and a half hours and spun a long sequence of anticlimactic revelations… One especially melodramatic line uttered by Hanks drew prolonged laughter and some catcalls, and the audience continued to titter for much of the film’s remainder.”

Newsbusters.org added the following remarks on May 17, about comments by one of the Da Vinci Code actors, during an interview with Matt Lauer of the “Today’s Show”:

“Lauer took the bull of controversy… by the horns when he interviewed the cast and director Howard today. Said Lauer: ‘There have been calls from some religious groups, they wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie saying it is fiction because one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear, if Christ survived the crucifixion, he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected. What I’m saying is, people wanted this to say “fiction, fiction, fiction”. How would you all have felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie? Would it have been okay with you?’

“There was a pause, and then famed British actor Ian McKellen [Gandalf of Lord of the Rings], piped up: ‘Well, I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction. I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith…’ With the camera focused on McKellen, one could hear a distinctly nervous laugh in the background, seeming to come from either actor Tom Hanks or director Howard. McKellen’s stunning bit of blasphemy is likely to test the adage that all publicity is good publicity.”

Sadly, many people, including nominal or professing “Christians,” believe that the Bible is a book of fiction. However, if we reject the Bible as God’s revelation to man, we have NO HOPE for the future. The Bible is the ONLY book which has the answers to man’s timeless questions, and which can give us HOPE. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Mysteries of the Bible.”

Iran Won’t Concede

AFP reported on May 17 about the increasingly volatile situation involving Iran:

“Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ridiculed a European Union plan to offer trade and technology incentives in exchange for his country agreeing to halt sensitive nuclear work. ‘They say they want to give us incentives. They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange,’ Ahmadinejad told a rally in the town of Arak. In a confident speech carried live on state-run television, he also vowed the Islamic regime would not bow to demands it freeze uranium enrichment work — at the centre of fears the country could acquire atomic weapons… In his speech, Ahmadinejad confidently asserted that the Western powers were doomed to fail. ‘As long as the nation is pious, it will overcome all problems and will humiliate the enemies,’ said Ahmadinejad, who managed to give a rousing speech despite an apparent [sore] throat. The firebrand president also repeated a warning that Iran could follow the path of North Korea.”

World Faces Nightmarish Prospect

Newsmax.com reported on May 16 about a strong warning from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

“‘The world is faced with the nightmarish prospect that nuclear weapons will become a standard part of national armament and wind up in terrorist hands,’ warns former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger… Writing in Tuesday’s Washington Post, Kissinger insisted that the current standoff about nuclear weapons between the United States and Iran and the United States and North Korea ‘is a nuclear test for diplomacy.’ Observing that the negotiations on Korean and Iranian nuclear proliferation ‘mark a watershed,’ Kissinger wrote that a ‘failed diplomacy would leave us with a choice between the use of force or a world where restraint has been eroded by the inability or unwillingness of countries that have the most to lose to restrain defiant fanatics. One need only imagine what would have happened had any of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Istanbul or Bali involved even the crudest nuclear weapon…

“‘Failure to work out a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would have ominous consequences… The issue before the nations involved is similar to what the world faced in 1938 and at the beginning of the Cold War: Whether to overcome fears and hesitancy about undertaking the difficult path demanded by necessity,’ he concluded, warning that ‘The failure of that test in 1938 produced a catastrophic war; the ability to master it in the immediate aftermath of World War II led to victory without war.'”

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When should a person be baptized?

Baptism is not for children. But once a person is old enough to comprehend the meaning of baptism, when should his baptism occur? We have answered this question in our free booklet, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation,” beginning on page 24. We are quoting the relevant sections below. Following these quotes, we will also quote from the writings of the Worldwide Church of God, under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, to show that our position today is exactly identical with what had been taught under Mr. Armstrong.

In our free booklet, “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation?“, the following is pointed out on pages 25-27, under, “When To Be Baptized”?

“Consideration for baptism requires an in-depth personal examination. It is not something to rush into. It is not a decision to be made based on emotions. We don’t simply “give our heart to the Lord.” We need to understand, repent and believe, as previously discussed. Why? Because baptism is a covenant—a contract—with God. Baptism represents an agreement that we make with God to obey Him—a promise to live by His requirements for the remainder of our lives. If we break that promise later, God certainly holds us accountable for doing so.

“God does require us to be baptized in order to receive His Holy Spirit. The question of whether or not to be baptized depends on whether or not a person is old enough to understand and believe in the gospel. This includes the following: an understanding of what sin is; the fact that the death penalty hangs over our heads because of our own sins; the fact that Christ died for us so that we can have forgiveness of our sins when we truly repent of them and accept His sacrifice as payment for our sins; the fact that we need to put our carnal nature into the watery grave, and leave it there; the fact that we can acquire God’s divine nature ONLY through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; and the fact that we must be baptized in order to receive God’s power to be able to change the way we think, speak and act. If you can grasp the meaning of the aforementioned and genuinely believe these things, then we say, ‘yes, you ought to go ahead with baptism as soon as possible.’

“True, we must not rush into baptism. On the other hand, once we understand what sin is and have truly repented of our sins, and once we believe in the gospel message of Jesus Christ and all that it entails, we are to be baptized immediately. We must not make the mistake of lingering and avoiding our responsibility to be baptized. Thoughts and ideas can easily come into our mind to discourage us from doing so. You can be sure that these ideas DO NOT come from God.

“God WANTS us to be baptized. He COMMANDS us to be baptized. Satan, on the other hand, HATES nothing more than seeing one of “his children” leave him in order to place him- or herself under the government and rule of God. Satan will attempt to thwart our intentions by putting into our minds certain concepts, ideas and arguments in order to make us think that we should not get baptized—at least ‘not yet.’

“These diverting ideas come in different disguises. For instance, we may think that we don’t even need to be baptized because, after all, we are not such a bad person. Make no mistake, EVERYONE SINS, and EVERYONE MUST REPENT. Another argument might be that, if we are baptized now, then all the fun stops, so, let’s have our fun now and repent of it and get baptized later. A third line of reasoning may go this way: ‘I need to be perfect before I can get baptized. I am still trying to get rid of a particular bad habit or a sin and I don’t want to get baptized before I have got rid of it.’

“All of these arguments miss the entire point as to WHY we must get baptized. Perfection will not be achieved in this life based on our own strength. That is why we MUST HAVE GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT OF POWER to help us to overcome our problems. We must, of course, WANT to change. That means, we must not engage deliberately in wrong conduct, knowing that it is wrong. Our weakness and inability to overcome our bad habits only proves that we must get baptized and that we must receive God’s Holy Spirit to HELP us with our battle against our sins.

“If we reason that we don’t want to get baptized yet because we don’t want to miss the fun, then our concept of what ‘fun’ is must be corrected immediately. If baptism is a hurdle to us because we don’t want to give up ‘fun,’ then we are, indeed, missing the point. Perhaps we have a false concept of what it means to be a Christian. For instance, some teach that a Christian must not dance, watch television or movies, drink alcohol, or play cards. None of these prohibitions, however, are biblical. Rather, they are based on human traditions and simply constitute self-imposed religion. On the other hand, if baptism would be contrary to certain habitual actions of ‘fun,’ then our concept of ‘fun’ is contrary to God’s word—with or without baptism. Anyone, who KNOWS better, actually SINS by engaging in sinful ‘fun.’ When we know to do good and to avoid evil, and don’t live accordingly, we sin, whether baptized or not. As we explained before, SIN must be repented of BEFORE our baptism. To delay repentance is dangerous. God holds us accountable for what we know and what we do with the knowledge we have been given.

“When we examine the biblical record, we find that when people were ready for baptism, they were baptized immediately. They did not delay, nor did the ministers have the disciples go through time-consuming ‘courses’ of baptismal ‘requirements’ before they were willing to baptize the person.

“We find that on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 believers were baptized the same day when they heard Peter’s inspired sermon and were motivated to come to genuine repentance (Acts 2:41). We find that Philip immediately baptized the eunuch who had worshipped God in Jerusalem, and who was studying the Bible on his return to Ethiopia (Acts 8:35–38). Philip explained to him the Scriptures as they relate to Jesus and the eunuch was baptized within a few hours. Paul—formerly Saul—was baptized by Ananias within a few days of Paul’s encounter with Christ. Later, Paul described his experience with these words, ‘Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law…came to me; and he stood and said to me…“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord”’ (Acts 22:12–16). Paul baptized the jailer and his household ‘the same hour of the night’ (Acts 16:33).

“When an adult person has genuinely repented and believes, he or she should be baptized without the necessity of prior laborious requirements. A person who has repented and believes and obeys the gospel, who believes in, and keeps the Sabbath and the Holy Days, who has shown fruits worthy of repentance in his or her life, who tithes and gives offerings according to God’s commandments, and who understands the future that God has in store for us, should get baptized. It is simply unconscionable to require of such a person—as some ministers have done—to first study a laborious Bible course or watch lengthy biblical videos that begin with a simple lesson as to whether or not ‘God’ exists!”

As will be seen from the following quotes, our position is exactly the same as the one that Mr. Armstrong taught.

In his Autobiography, Volume 1, Mr. Armstrong wrote about his own experience regarding his baptism in the hard cover edition on page 319, under “Begotten of God”:

“Finally the study of the subject of baptism was completed. There was no longer doubt. Peter had said: ‘REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38). To Cornelius and his house, who already had received the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Can any man forbid WATER, that these should not be baptized, which have received the H
oly Spirit as well as we?’ And he COMMANDED them to be baptized in the name of the Lord’ (Acts 10:47-48).

“It was a command. There was no promise of receiving the Holy Spirit until after being baptized–although Cornelius, the exception to the rule, had been begotten by the Holy Spirit prior to baptism. Yet even he was commanded to be baptized IN WATER. What I had learned in this study on baptism is recounted in our free booklet, ‘All About Water Baptism.’

“And so I was baptized forthwith and without delay.

“Immediately upon coming up out of the water, I definitely experienced a change in attitude and in mind generally. I had already repented and surrendered to God’s rule over my life. The natural carnal hostility to God and His Law already had gone. Yet, now, for the first time, I felt CLEAN! I knew, now, that the terribly heavy load of sin had been taken off my shoulders. Christ had paid the penalty for me. All past sins were now blotted out by His blood. My conscience was clean and clear.

“For the first time in my life I experienced real inner PEACE of mind! I realized, as never before, how futile and useless and foolish are the ways of this world, on which most people set so much store. There was a quiet, wonderful happiness of mind in the sure knowledge that now I was actually a begotten son of GOD! I could really call God Father! …

“For six months I had struggled night and day, with a carnal mind, to learn the truth about one single doctrine in the Bible. Prior to that my wife and I had read the Bible clear through–but I had not understood a WORD of it!… I simply could not UNDERSTAND the BIBLE! But now, from this point of baptism on, a strange, wonderful, delightful new thing took place. I could read the Bible and UNDERSTAND what I read Of course I could not understand the WHOLE Bible in five or ten minutes. I still had to study it a doctrine at a time. But it was UNDERSTANDABLE! It MADE SENSE!”

In his Autobiography, Mr. Armstrong referred to his booklet, “All About Water Baptism.” In it, he addresses in more detail when a person should be baptized. We are quoting from pages13 and 14 of his booklet (copyright 1948, 1954, 1972). Under the heading, “How Long Should We wait,” Mr. Armstrong wrote:

“One or two denominations insist to be put off until the candidate has PROVED HIMSELF–has proved he has the Holy Spirit and is living a righteous life–or has come to certain spiritual KNOWLEDGE. One denomination will not baptize people until they come to ‘see’ and accept God’s Law, and many of this denomination’s doctrines, and usually there is a six-months’ probation period.

“Paul says God’s Law ‘is spiritual,’ and that the carnal (unconverted) mind is not subject to the LAW and CANNOT be (Rom. 7:14 and 8:7). The order of God is: 1st) preach the Gospel, leading to a conviction of sin in the hearts of those God calls, leading to REPENTANCE and FAITH in Christ; 2nd) BAPTISM; and 3rd) they shall receive the HOLY SPIRIT, which renews their minds, teaches them, reveals spiritual truth. Since one cannot spiritually understand God’s spiritual Law or spiritual things UNTIL he receives the Holy Spirit, and he must be baptized before he has a promise of the Holy Spirit, he should be baptized FIRST. EVERYONE knows he has sinned, and lived contrary to God’s will, though he may not have spiritual understanding of God’s will. God can grant repentance to a carnal mind BEFORE the conversion of that mind. One does not need a spiritual college education in Bible knowledge to repent and be baptized into Christ. Jesus’ order of events was, 1st) PREACH THE GOSPEL, 2nd) BAPTIZE repentant believers, 3rd) TEACH THEM THE COMMANDMENTS (Matt. 28:19-20).

“Therefore, how long should baptism be put off?

“The answer is, just as soon as one has been convicted in his heart of his past sins and sinful life–just as soon as one realizes his own way of life has been WRONG, and becomes sick and tired of it, and turns FROM his own ways and wants to find GOD’S WAYS and live them, truly REPENTS of his past life of sins, and BELIEVES in and ACCEPTS Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and the One whom he must obey henceforth, and WANTS TO TURN TO THE CHANGED, DIFFERENT, NEW AND HAPPY LIFE OF FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS, and to become a child of God. Then that person should be baptized IMMEDIATELY if possible–and if this is not possible, then AS SOON as a true servant of God is available to perform the baptism. In every case recounted in the New Testament, repentant believers were baptized IMMEDIATELY.

“On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were baptized THAT SAME DAY. Philip baptized the eunuch AT ONCE. God sent Ananias to baptize Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, the apostle. Immediately on meeting him, Ananias said: ‘And now WHY TARRIEST THOU? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord’ (Acts 22:16). Paul baptized the Philippian jailer and those in his house ‘the same hour of the night’–and it was after midnight (Acts 16:33). They did not even wait until daylight!

“But this does not mean that God’s ministers should be hasty in baptizing one until there is evidence of a REAL CHANGE of mind and heart–a real surrender to God and the will of God. God’s ministers must be assured of a genuine repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as personal Savior. The minister must be assured that the individual is genuinely called of God (John 6:44), has fully repented and really wants to turn his life over into the hands of the living God. Many tragic circumstances have occurred because of failure to be sure of these points, interpreting temporary remorse for true repentance. But when the conditions Christ set are all met, one should be baptized immediately.”

This same understanding was taught–however, not always applied over the years–in Lesson 10 of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course (copyright 1977). We read on page 13, under “How Long Should You Wait?”:

“Many put off baptism. They feel they are too infirm, too old, too weak–or they feel they are ‘not ready’ yet spiritually. Some even think they must be perfect before being baptized. But how could a person be ‘perfect’ before he receives God’s Holy Spirit, which helps us to become perfect? Then there are those who hesitate to request baptism because they do not feel they ‘know enough.’ This fear is usually unfounded.

“Sincere, heartfelt repentance and belief are the only prior conditions for baptism given in the Bible! It is NOT necessary to know all the books of the Bible in their order, the acrostic psalms, the background of the minor prophets, and have a complete understanding of the political situation in the cities Paul traveled!

“It should be obvious that the 3,000 people who were baptized on that day of Pentecost in Acts 2 were not all Bible scholars. They undoubtedly, for the most part, knew only the basics–the ‘milk’ of the Word–and perhaps not even that much. But they readily accepted the word of God (Acts 2:41); they were not in doubt; they were sincerely and deeply repentant (verse 37).

“One simply cannot ‘know it all’ when he is baptized. It is a matter of a lifetime of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ AFTER one is baptized… If a person knows that God commands baptism, knows he should be baptized, and his conscience convicts him–then he SHOULD BE BAPTIZED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

“Notice now several examples from the Bible:

“1. When the Ethiopian eunuch came to understand Christ was his Savior, did he hesitate about being baptized? Did he put it off? Acts 8:35-38

“2. When Paul was first converted, and learned that Christ was the Son of God whom he had been persecuting, did he procrastinate about being baptized? Acts 9:1-18, especially verse 18.

“COMMENT: Neither of these men put off water baptism. They saw their own personal need. They knew they needed Christ as their Savior and desperately wanted their sins blotted out by His shed blood. They felt dirty and despicable before God, as long as they stood before Him in their sins. They kn
ew they were the slaves of sin, and did not have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

“Therefore, as soon as was possible, they were baptized.

“Old age makes no difference with God. Circumstances make no difference. There simply is no acceptable excuse for not being baptized when a person UNDERSTANDS this vital, urgent spiritual truth and is physically able to obey it.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Eric and Shana are pleased to announce the birth of Gideon Emerson
Rank. Gideon was born during the early morning of May 14th. He weighs 9
pounds 15 ounces. Everyone is doing very well.

Please don’t
forget to pray fervently for success of our Public Bible Lecture on
Sunday evening, May 21, at the Hilton Fort Collins in Colorado.

Our StandingWatch program, titled, “America’s Latest Phone Scandal,” was posted on the Web.

Set forth below is the summary of the program:

new scandal is plaguing America, which involves more than 200 million
American citizens. We are referring to records of domestic phone calls
which big phone companies have turned over to the National Security
Agency (NSA), according to an article in USA Today. The national and
international reaction to this latest revelation has been one of
outrage and furor. George Orwell’s famous novel, “1984” and the concept
of “Big Brother, ” which is described in his novel, are mentioned in
the press, and the question is asked how much a government should be
allowed to intrude into the private affairs of its citizens, whether
the action itself is legal or not. What, if anything, does the Bible
have to say about these most recent developments?

A new StandingWatch program was recorded on May 18 and will be posted soon. It is titled: “America’s Illegal Aliens.”

Here is the summary of the program:

battle with illegal immigration will go on. Whatever temporary
solutions are being proposed by some to prevent foreigners from
crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, they are immediately criticized and
condemned by others. This would include the concept to send 6000
National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border; to build a 300 miles
fence which would cost in excess of 1 billion dollars; or to construct
500 miles of vehicle barriers. In addition, no consensus exists as to
what to do with the more than 12 million illegal aliens already in the
country. Should they be allowed to obtain U.S. citizenship, under
certain conditions, or would this be tantamount to amnesty? Throughout
this hotly contested and emotional debate, the most important question
has been overlooked.

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Why Worry?

Michael Link (25)

Sometimes it may seem natural to worry when we find ourselves in certain situations that seem too tough for us to handle. Things could happen in our lives that we may not be used to, and we would not know how to cope with them. We may have problems with work or school, or with our friends and loved ones, and sometimes even with ourselves. Naturally, we start to worry, thinking it’s too tough, and we may even start to forget how to react to these situations and sometimes may react the wrong way.

I have been there before, many times. When something got too tough, I began to worry and develop a bad attitude, even though I knew it was wrong. I forgot about the bigger picture and where I had to put my faith and trust. For the past 3 months, work had become slow for me, and in past experiences I would have started to panic a little bit. I could honestly say that this time I didn’t worry at all. I knew that God would provide as He says He will do, and I prayed about it and before I knew it, I got another job. The things that I least expected finally started to happen.

This wasn’t the only good thing that started happening, but several things happened and I have God to thank. Not only did I have the faith and confidence that God would provide, but I also had to have patience. Of course I had to do my part as well, but God tells us He will fulfill our needs when we ask, and only He knows what is best for us.

With God being in our lives, we know that we are in good hands. He tells us that we will be blessed far more than we can ever imagine, if we trust in Him, and He knows everything that we go through. He knows when we are in need and when we need help. So why do we worry?

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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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God