Update 294


The Son

On May 19, 2007, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Son.”

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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All The Credit

by Dave Harris

Where does the credit belong and to whom will it be given?

In wars won and wars lost, who is honored and who is blamed? Is it the generals or the soldiers—the leaders or the citizens? In endeavors great and small, there is responsibility and accountability along with either rewards or punishment.

Currently at issue in America’s corporate world is the stunning financial disparity between workers and “bosses”—the CEO’s, presidents and other board members. Often, the complaint is that those most closely associated with the hands-on, day-to-day activities receive the least pay and rarely even the proper credit or a genuine “thank you!”

Carried to other settings and magnified into your own particular circumstances, where do you stand? Do you receive the credit you desire and actually deserve? And more importantly, do you give credit to those who have earned it?

The Way of Christian living sorts these questions out! Here is what Jesus told His disciples:

“…Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:42-45).

Jesus often emphasized this approach, and we find this very direct example in Luke 14:11: “‘For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’” (Also, compare Luke 18:9-14).

One way in which we can humble ourselves is to make certain that our focus is on Jesus Christ. For if we seek to please Him, to follow His perfect example and to love one another as He instructed, then our lives will reflect the kind of serving humility that exalts and GIVES credit: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

Here is the answer to the opening question: The credit belongs to Jesus Christ and it has already been given to Him! Note what is recorded in Philippians 2:9-11:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We need to very carefully learn from Jesus Christ the kind of true and selfless humility that pleases God. If we do, then this promise awaits us: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

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“When Will They Ever Learn…?”

The popular song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” asks the pertinent question, after describing the horrors of war: “When Will They Ever Learn?” Sadly, prior to the return of Jesus Christ, man will not understand that his wars will NEVER bring peace, but they will ONLY produce MORE wars! Because of man’s attempts to establish “peace” through war, man will find himself at the brink of self annihilation and total destruction, which can and will only be prevented by Almighty God. Once Christ rules on this earth, as the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), THEN man will LEARN war NO MORE (Isaiah 2:1-4).

Cheney Threatens Iran…

The International Herald Tribune wrote on May 11:

“Vice President Dick Cheney used the deck of an American aircraft carrier just 240 kilometers off Iran’s coast as the backdrop Friday to warn the country that the United States was prepared to use its naval power to keep Tehran from disrupting oil routes or ‘gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.’… the symbolism of sending the administration’s most famous hawk to deliver the speech so close to Iran’s coast was unmistakable… the speech Friday was not circulated broadly in the government before it was delivered, a senior American diplomat said. ‘He kind of runs by his own rules,’ the official said… Oil seemed to be on Cheney’s mind Friday, when he told an audience of 3,500 to 4,000 American service members on the Stennis that Iran would not be permitted to choke off oil shipments through the waters of the region.”

… and So Does Bolton

On May 16, The Daily Telegraph published the following report:

“John Bolton, who still has close links to the Bush administration, told The Daily Telegraph that the European Union had to ‘get more serious’ about Iran and recognise that its diplomatic attempts to halt Iran’s enrichment programme had failed. Iran has ‘clearly mastered the enrichment technology now… they’re not stopping, they’re making progress and our time is limited’, he said. Economic sanctions ‘with pain’ had to be the next step, followed by attempting to overthrow the theocratic regime and, ultimately, military action to destroy nuclear sites…

“President George W Bush privately refers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has pledged to wipe Israel ‘off the map’, as a 21st Century Adolf Hitler and Mr Bolton, who remains a close ally of Vice President Dick Cheney, said the Iranian leader presented a similar threat.

“‘If the choice is them continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you’re at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point. If you don’t stop it then, the future is in his hands, not in your hands, just as the future decisions on their nuclear programme would be in Iran’s hands, not ours.’ But Mr Bolton conceded that military action had many disadvantages and might not succeed. ‘It’s very risky for the price of oil, risky because you could, let’s say, take out their enrichment capabilities at Natanz, and they may have enrichment capabilities elsewhere you don’t know about.’…

“Although he praised Tony Blair for his support of America over the Iraq war, he criticised the Prime Minister…’ for persisting with supporting EU attempts to negotiate with Iran that were “doomed to fail”… Blair just didn’t focus on it as much as [Jack] Straw [former Foreign Secretary] did, and it was very much a Foreign Office thing because they wanted to show their European credentials, wanted to work with the Germans and the French to show “we’ll solve Iran in a way differently than those cowboy Americans solved Iraq.'”

“Mr Bolton, a leading advocate of the Iraq war, insisted that it had been right to overthrow Saddam Hussein and that the later failures did not mean that military action against rogue states should not be contemplated again.”

To Nobody’s Surprise, US Senate Fails to End the Iraq War…

On May 16, The Associated Press reported:

“The Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 31, 2008. The vote was a loss for Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and other Democrats who want to end the war. But the effort picked up support from members, including presidential hopefuls previously reluctant to limit war funding — an indication of the conflict’s unpopularity among voters… The Senate agreed only on a nonbinding resolution expressing the need to pass a war spending bill by Memorial Day.”

In a related article, The Associated Press stated on May 16:

“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton voted Wednesday to advance legislation cutting off money for the Iraq war, then refused to pledge to support the measure if it came to a vote, then said she would.

“At lunchtime, the New York senator and presidential candidate was asked repeatedly by reporters whether she favored the troop withdrawal legislation that had just come up for a procedural vote on the Senate floor. Her answer: ‘I’m not going to speculate on what I’m going to be voting on in the future. I voted in favor of cloture to have a debate.’ By supper time, she had a different answer. ‘I support the underlying bill,’ she said. ‘That’s what this vote on cloture was all about.’

“A rival Democratic camp quickly criticized Clinton’s evolving — and possibly revolving — statements. ‘We’re as confused as anyone on Senator Clinton’s position,’ said Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd’s campaign spokeswoman, Christy Setzer. ‘Frankly, it’s hard to know whether it’s indecision, miscommunication or simple word games and political gamesmanship we’re dealing with. Our troops in Iraq don’t have time for poll-tested word games,’ Setzer said.”

Reuters added on May 17:

“The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed an interim Iraq war funding bill that promised support but gave no specific dollar figure, enabling congressional negotiators to begin work on a compromise they hope to send to President George W. Bush next week. By voice vote, the Senate approved vague language expressing the need to support U.S. troops. The measure reflected the Senate’s inability to bridge differences between Democrats and Republicans on war funding legislation that Bush would sign.”

…And Prince Harry Will Not Be Sent To Iraq

The Associated Press reported on May 16:

“Britain’s Prince Harry will not be sent with his unit to Iraq, Britain’s top general said Wednesday, citing specific threats to the third in line to the throne. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt said the changing situation on the ground exposed the prince to too much danger… Harry would have been the first member of the British royal family to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands conflict with Argentina in 1982.”

Sky News added on May 17 that “the Prince was ‘very disappointed’ that he would not be going with his squadron in the Household Cavalry. But a spokesman insisted that he would not quit the Army.”

Blair-Bush Whitehouse Swansong

AFP wrote on May 17, 2007:

“US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday staged a White House swansong for their tumultuous double-act, defiant to the last over the Iraq war which sunk their political fortunes. Taking turns to lavish praise on each other’s leadership, they said history would be the judge of their decision to invade Iraq in search of elusive weapons of mass destruction and to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime… Iraq dealt a fatal blow to Blair’s popularity in Britain, but the prime minister remained adamant that he had no regrets over backing Bush in the bitterly controversial enterprise… all roads led back to Iraq, with Blair insisting that he would take the same course of action all over again.”

Reuters added on May 17:

“Blair’s final visit to Washington as prime minister underscored the political price he has paid for embracing Bush and enlisting in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, for which critics at home derided him as ‘Bush’s poodle.’ Blair will leave office in mid-term, under pressure from within his own Labour Party to step aside before the next general election expected in 2009… Bush was also apparently looking for further assurances that Blair’s successor, finance minister Gordon Brown, will not lessen Britain’s resolve in Iraq… Brown has accepted that mistakes were made in Iraq but has ruled out an immediate pullout… Brown is considered unlikely to form the kind of close personal bond Blair has with Bush. The two have seemed an odd couple — Bush the rich Texas Republican with strong conservative views and Blair the head of a center-left party with socialist origins… But Blair was quick to join the war on terrorism that Bush declared after the September 11 attacks, and he later stood by the U.S. leader when many other European leaders distanced themselves from the Iraq war or openly criticized it.”

More Conflicts and Problems Worldwide

Just prior to the return of Christ, we are to expect the increase of wars and rumors of wars, national and international conflicts and tensions, troubles and problems between governments and individuals on a worldwide scale (Luke 21:9-10; Matthew 24:6-8). And so, events of this past week are no surprise…

NATO, EU and the USA Don’t See Eye to Eye

AFP reported on May 14:

“German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said Monday that he had complained to NATO about the increased number of civilian casualties during US-led military operations in Afghanistan. ‘I have told the NATO Secretary General … that we have to make sure that such operations are not carried out in the future,’ said Jung, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency until the end of next month. ‘We must ensure that operations do not develop this way. It would not be a victory to set the (Afghan) people against us,’ he said, after talks between EU defence ministers in Brussels. Some 20 Afghan villagers were killed last week in an operation by US-led coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials…

“NATO is leading a force of some 37,000 troops from 37 nations in Afghanistan which is trying to extend the political reach of President Hamid Karzai’s weak central government to more lawless outlying regions. The US-led coalition is a separate force around 10,000-strong which, while it does coordinate with the NATO-led contingent, is mainly involved in ‘anti-terror’ operations.”

US and EU Bicker Over Privacy Issues… And EU Air Travelers Are About to Suffer

 On May 17, Der Spiegel Online published an article, titled: “US Shuns European Privacy Concerns.”

The magazine wrote:

“The post-Sept. 11 flight data sharing agreement between the US and EU expires in July. But a new agreement is nowhere in sight. The Americans want to know even more, and the Europeans want to tell them even less… If no new agreement is reached by July 2007, the simplified process through which millions of EU citizens enter the US could become a thing of the past. The unpleasant task of finding a compromise falls on the Germans, since they currently hold the rotating EU presidency…

“Even the existing agreement is seen with some skepticism in the European Parliament. And the myriad concerns and questions raised… showed just how deep that skepticism runs… For the moment, no one in Berlin is expecting to come to a quick agreement…  If no new agreement is reached by the end of July, the procedure for EU citizens entering the United States will be completely unclear.”

Germany Slams Wolfowitz… While USA Fails

The Associated Press reported on May 17 that “World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz will resign at the end of June, he and the bank said late Thursday, ending his long fight to survive pressure for his ouster.” For all practical purposes, the EU and especially Germany won this battle for power and influence, while the USA clearly lost.

Here is what transpired this week, leading to Wolfowitz’s resignation:

Reuters reported on May 16:

“Paul Wolfowitz made an emotional appeal to stay on as World Bank president, but Germany stepped up pressure on him to resign, saying he would not be welcome at a forum the bank is holding next week in Berlin… a bank panel found that he violated ethics rules in pushing through a promotion and pay rise for his bank-employee companion Shaha Riza.

“‘He would do the bank and himself a great service if he resigned,’ German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, one of Wolfowitz’s strongest critics, told reporters. ‘It would be the best thing for all concerned.’ Should he fail to give up his post, she advised him not to take part in a two-day World Bank forum on development aid for Africa which starts Monday in the German capital…

“Wolfowitz has been a controversial figure at the World Bank since his nomination by President George W. Bush in 2005 and has fought misgivings by European member countries over his role in the Iraq war while U.S. deputy defense secretary.

“The U.S. government has failed to rally support among its key allies for a strategy aimed at saving Wolfowitz his job. The Bush administration found support only from Japan in a conference call of officials from Group of Seven industrial nations for a plan to separate consideration of Wolfowitz’s ethics violations from credibility issues. A G7 source said it was clear that most participants on the call wanted a quick resolution to a protracted and messy battle over whether Wolfowitz should stay on, step down or be fired. The G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, the United States and Japan — are the bank’s biggest funders and dominate its decision making.”

AFP added on May 17:

“A fresh call [for Wolfowitz’s resignation] came Thursday in the Slovenian capital of Bled, where an annual World Bank conference on development economics opened. Wolfowitz, who had planned to deliver the keynote address Thursday night, cancelled his appearance. ‘Now this scandal has been dragging on for too long, which is undermining the credibility of the institution,’ Slovenian Finance Minister Andrej Bajuk told journalists on the sidelines of the meeting. It would be best if ‘the gentleman should withdraw,’ he was quoted as saying by the STA news agency…

“The Bush administration had been resolutely backing Wolfowitz — one of the key architects of the Iraq war — despite mounting calls for him to resign during the month-old scandal. But that support began to crumble this week after the internal report found he had breached the bank’s ethics rules.”

The article added that “White House support waned in recent days as the controversy has deepened.”

Friday’s Russia-EU Summit–Don’t Expect Much, If Anything

The EUObserver wrote on May 16:

“German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s trip to Moscow failed to produce any result on EU-Russia trade disputes but saw some friendly words, foreshadowing what is set to be an equally substance-free summit in Samara, Russia on Friday (18 May)… The German minister spent one hour talking with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, foreign minister Lavrov and farm minister Gordeyev as well as one hour alone with Mr Putin, but the talks ended with Moscow upholding its ban on Polish food imports.

“Russia’s 18-month old import ban has been called groundless by the European Commission and has seen Poland veto starting talks on a new EU-Russia treaty in a position backed this week by Lithuania and Estonia, which have political gripes of their own with Moscow.

“Russian diplomats on Tuesday (15 May) also called into question a recent EU deal on ending $300 million a year worth of Siberian overflight fees for European airlines. The deal was due to be one of the few things the pair could claim success on at the unlucky summit…

“The mood was made slightly darker by Russian complaints about EU handling of the Russia-Estonia dispute over Tallinn’s removal of a Soviet-era statue. Senior Putin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky accused the EU of ‘hypocrisy’ in supporting Tallinn…

“The Samara meeting will also try and tackle big international issues such as Kosovo and Iran, but Russian and EU officials warned not to expect much from the summit in terms of results on specific EU-Russia issues.

“Another Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the Moscow Times that ‘the summit is unlikely to bring about any breakthroughs…’ An EU official told the paper ‘there will be less and less substance’ at the Samara gathering. The Russian press was less circumspect, with the Vedomosti daily writing ‘The EU-Russian summit will either be a relative failure or a scandalous failure…The participants may not even be able to agree on a joint declaration.'”

And Now–Cyberwarfare Between Russia and Estonia?

Der Spiegel Online reported on May 17:

“A massive denial-of-service attack on Estonian servers has brought down Web sites belonging to government ministries, banks and news outlets. Russia denies waging cyberwar, but the assaults look connected to a real-world spat between Moscow and its former satellite state.”

The article continued:

“A bickering match between Russia and one of its Soviet-era allies, Estonia, may have spilled over into cyberspace. NATO, at least, has been worried enough to send cyber-terrorism experts to the capital of Tallinn to investigate a major three-week “denial of service” assault on both official and private Estonian Web sites as well as the country’s cell phone networks.

“Estonia says the attacks — which involve massive volleys of data fired at the servers of government ministries, newspapers, banks, and other corporations with the intention of crashing their sites — originated in Russia…

“The cyberattacks… came in waves, peaking around significant dates like May 8 and 9 (V-E Day, a major holiday in Russia). Hackers… need a vast host of machines to send the volumes of data needed to overwhelm server and bandwidth capacities for the targeted sites. Estonian officials claim that some attackers were traceable to Kremlin institutions.

“‘When there are attacks coming from official IP addresses of Russian authorities and they are attacking not only our Web sites but our mobile phone network and our rescue service network, then it is already very dangerous,’ said Estonia’s foreign minister, Urmas Paet, to The Times of London. ‘It can cost lives. I hope they will stop it but the attacks are continuing.’

“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that the allegations were ‘completely untrue.’ An unnamed NATO official said to the Guardian, ‘I won’t point fingers. But these were not things done by a few individuals. …This clearly bore the hallmarks of something concerted.'”

“Breakthrough” in U.S. Illegal Immigration–But Is It Really?

The Associated Press reported on May 17 about a proposed compromise which–by all standards and no matter where one might stand on the “political spectrum”–is far from achieving Godly justice and fairness. It is highly disappointing and can hardly be viewed as a positive breakthrough.

The article explained:

“Key senators in both parties and the White House announced agreement Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border.

“The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S and a separate program to cover agricultural workers. Skills and education-level would for the first time be weighted over family connections in deciding whether future immigrants should get permanent legal status. New high-tech employment verification measures also would be instituted to ensure that workers are here legally…

“The accord sets the stage for what promises to be a bruising battle next week in the Senate on one of Bush’s top non-war priorities… The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a ‘Z visa’ and–after paying fees and a $5,000 fine–ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first. They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed…

“In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end ‘chain migration’ that harms the economy, while some Democrats and liberal groups say it’s an unfair system that rips families apart. Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card–except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. New limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.”

Another Round of Fighting Has Begun…

The Associated Press reported on May 17:

“Israel targeted Hamas with airstrikes Thursday, destroying a compound and a car carrying senior commanders of the Islamic group and killing six people in a new layer of violence added to Palestinian infighting that has paralyzed the Gaza Strip. In all, 45 Palestinians have been killed in the infighting between Hamas and the rival Fatah since Sunday, including three on Thursday, in the worst round in more than a year… The raging street battles have turned the densely populated seaside city into a war zone and endangered the Palestinian unity government.

“Israel unleashed the air campaign — a hit on a Hamas command center, on a trailer housing bodyguards and two vehicles — after Gaza militants fired more than 50 rockets on the Israeli border town of Sderot in three days… Jordan’s King Abdullah II told a gathering of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian peace activists he was ‘very concerned’ by the wave of inter-Palestinian fighting in Gaza and warned that more will follow unless progress is made in the peace process.”

Do Politics and Christian Religion Mix?

According to Scripture, they should not mix at all. As Christians, we are not to be part of this world and its evil politics. Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we await the return of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20), to end man’s misrule and to set up the Kingdom and Government of God here on earth (Revelation 11:17-18). We are commanded to come out of the Babylon of this world and its political and religious alliances (Revelation 18:4). Modern Babylon is described as “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18), and with which “the kings of the earth have committed [spiritual] fornication” (Revelation 18:3). But God will judge that great city–including those who have political or religious affiliations with it–“who corrupted the earth with her [spiritual] fornication” (Revelation 19:2).

For more information on the identity of “that great city” and its influence on the entire world, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Falwell Dies–How Religion Makes Politics…

The Associated Press reported on May 15:

“Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73… Falwell credited his Moral Majority with getting millions of conservative voters registered, electing Ronald Reagan and giving Republicans Senate control in 1980…

“Falwell had once opposed mixing preaching with politics, but he changed his view and in 1979, founded the Moral Majority. The political lobbying organization grew to 6.5 million members and raised $69 million as it supported conservative politicians and campaigned against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and bans on school prayer…

“With Falwell’s high profile came frequent criticism, even from fellow ministers… Billy Graham once rebuked him for political sermonizing on ‘non-moral issues.’… Days after Sept. 11, 2001, Falwell essentially blamed feminists, gays, lesbians and liberal groups for bringing on the terrorist attacks. He later apologized. In 1999, he told an evangelical conference that the Antichrist was a male Jew who was probably already alive. Falwell later apologized for the remark but not for holding the belief. A month later, his National Liberty Journal warned parents that Tinky Winky, a purple, purse-toting character on television’s ‘Teletubbies’ show, was a gay role model and morally damaging to children.

“Falwell was re-energized… in the 2004 presidential election. He formed the Faith and Values Coalition as the ’21st Century resurrection of the Moral Majority,’ to seek anti-abortion judges, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and more conservative elected officials.”

EU Plans Won’t Make the Pope Very Happy

The EUObserver reported on May 15:

“German chancellor and Christian Democrat Angela Merkel has voiced regret there will be no reference to Christian roots in the revised EU treaty…

“‘You know what my personal view is. I would have liked the constitution to deliver such a reference. But as president of the European Council, I see there is not much of a chance,’ she said on the prospects of God appearing in a preamble to the EU text.  ‘I can’t hold out any hope,’ she added.

“Her statement comes in the context of Germany’s push to fix the broad outlines of a new EU treaty – still called a ‘constitution’ by some – in late June, following months of bilateral consultations with EU states after the rejection of the original EU constitution in 2005.

“The God debate is at least as old as the 2002 EU convention that wrote the original constitution, with Roman Catholic states like Poland and the Vatican pushing for the reference, but with France and the UK worried over national secularist traditions or damaging relations with Islamic EU candidate Turkey. The EU’s 50th birthday declaration in March rejuvenated the discussion. But in the end the birthday text made no reference to Christianity, while praising ‘identities and diverse traditions of member states’ and how the EU is ‘enriched’ by a ‘variety of languages, cultures.’

“When the German chancellor, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering met Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders at the EU capital on Tuesday (15 May), they stuck to safe ground on ‘universal’ EU values such as ‘human dignity.’ … But the meeting was not entirely free of controversy, with Ms Merkel at the final press conference saying the EU ‘can’t close its eyes’ to violations of ‘human dignity’ in ‘particular terms’ such as ‘the fact religious property is being damaged [by Turkey] in Northern Cyprus.'”

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What is the meaning of the Biblical term, "elder"?

The Bible uses the word “elder” in many different connections. In each case, the context will show, however, how the word is to be understood.

“The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W.E.Vine, gives a fairly accurate description of the meaning of the word “elder,” with the exception of several related or unrelated blatant mistakes, as will be pointed out by us through annotations in brackets:

Vine’s commentary states the following:

“A. Adjectives

“1. PRESBUTEROS…, an adjective, the comparative degree of ‘presbus,’ an old man, an elder, is used

“(a) of age, whether of the elder of two persons, Luke 15:25, or more, John 8:9, ‘the eldest’;

“or of a person advanced in life, a senior, Acts 2:17;

“in [Hebrews] 11:2, the ‘elders’ are the forefathers in Israel [including spiritual teachers]; so in [Matthew] 15:2; Mark 7:3,5;

“the feminine of the adjective is used of elder women in the churches, 1 [Timothy] 5:2, not in respect of position but in seniority of age;

“(b) of rank or positions of responsibility,

“(1) among Gentiles, as in… [Genesis] 50:7; [Numbers] 22:7;

“(2) in the… nation [of Israel; Vine says here, “Jewish nation,” which is too restrictive, as the nation of Israel consisted of more than just Jews; “Jews” referred originally to just ONE of the TWELVE tribes of Israel],

“firstly, those who were the heads of leaders of the tribes and families… [Vine refers here to passages such as Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 27:1– it should be noted, however, that here the word “elders” clearly includes RELIGIOUS responsibilities, not JUST political leadership], and those assembled by Solomon;

“secondly, members of the Sanhedrin, consisting of the chief priests, elders and scribes, learned in Jewish Law [both the inspired Word of God and Jewish human traditions which were sometimes in conflict with the Word of God], e.g. [Matthew] 16:21; 26:47;

“thirdly, those who managed public affairs in various cities , Luke 7:3;

“(3) IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES, those who, being raised up and qualified by the work of the Holy Spirit, were APPOINTED to have the spiritual care of, and to exercise oversight over, the churches. To these the term bishops [episkopoi], or overseers, is applied (see Acts 20, ver. 17 with ver. 28, and [Titus] 1:5 and 7), the latter term indicating the nature of their work; ‘presbuteroi’ their maturity of spiritual experience… the duty of elders is described by the verb ‘episkopeo.’ They were appointed according as they had given evidence of fulfilling the Divine qualifications, [Titus] 1:6 to 9; [compare] 1 [Timothy] 3:1-7 and 1 [Peter] 5:2;

“(4) the twenty-four elders enthroned in Heaven around the throne of God, [Revelation] 4:4, 10; 5:5-14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4… the word ‘elder’ is nowhere applied to angels. [This is one of Vine’s terribly wrong conclusions, based on the erroneous teaching that we go to heaven when we die. NOWHERE DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT MAN ASCENDS TO HEAVEN WHEN HE DIES. Therefore, the word “elder” in the context of Revelation CLEARLY applies to angelic spirit beings–and NOT to humans. For instance, we find that God Almighty is described in Daniel 7:22, as “the Ancient of Days”–referring to the fact that He has ALWAYS existed. Even though angels were created by God and had a beginning, they are nevertheless much “older” than any human being; therefore the term “elder,” in describing them, is very appropriate.]

“2. SUMPRESBUTEROS… a fellow-elder (‘sum,’ with), is used in 1 [Peter] 5:1.

“3. MEIZON… greater, the comparative degree of ‘megas,’ great, is used of age, and translated ‘elder’ in [Romans] 9:12, with reference to Esau and Jacob.”

“B. Noun

“PRESBUTERION…, an assembly of aged men, denotes

“(a) the Council or Senate among the Jews, Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5;

“(b) the elders or bishops in a local church, 1 [Timothy] 4:14…”

Addressing now the word “elder” within the confines of the Church of God, Peter called himself a “fellow elder.” But he was also an apostle. In addition, John, who was also one of the original apostles, called himself “the elder” (2 John 1; 3 John 1). However, we also read about a clear distinction, at times, between apostles and elders (Acts 15:4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4).

Christ gave different ranks, roles and functions to the ministry.

In Ephesians 4:11, Paul writes:

“And He Himself [Jesus Christ] gave SOME to be apostles, SOME prophets, SOME evangelists, and SOME pastors and teachers…”

The word for “pastor” here is “poimen,” meaning “shepherd or “feeder”–who “leads” or “takes” care of the “sheep,” the flock of God,” and who “feeds” them with God’s Word.

Although the passage in Ephesians 4:11 addresses “ranks or positions of responsibility” (Compare Vine, p. 21, under “Elder, Eldest”), it also clearly talks about functions.

In addition, we read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:28-29: “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues [languages]. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?”

Note that “evangelists” and “pastors” are not mentioned in that Scripture. But Paul says that God has appointed “teachers” in the “third” position. If Paul was addressing ranks here, as distinguished from functions, he would have had to list them in the “fifth” position, in order to not contradict his statements in Ephesians 4:11-12.

Paul calls himself “an apostle,” “a preacher” and a “teacher” (1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11), describing his functions and responsibilities. In addition, he, as well as Barnabas, who would become an apostle (Acts 14:14), are also designated as “prophets and teachers” (Acts 13:1-3).

On the other hand, the word “bishop” simply means “overseer.” The Greek word is “episkopos” and is applied to “elders,” as Vine correctly points out (compare again Acts 20:17 with Acts 20:28, and Titus 1:5 with Titus 1:7, describing “elders” as “bishops” or “overseers”–in Greek, “episkopos.”). 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7 describe the qualification of a “bishop” or an “overseer”–that is, an elder. In its ultimate sense, the word “bishop” is also applied to Jesus Christ (as is the word “Apostle”; compare Hebrews 3:1), as we read about Christ’s FUNCTION as a “Bishop” in 1 Peter 2:25:

“For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and OVERSEER [Greek, “episkopos,” i.e. Bishop] of your souls.”

At one time, the Church of God distinguished between “local” elders (not employed by the Church) and “preaching” elders (employed by the Church). Even though they were both understood to be “elders,” with full ministerial credentials, the role of a local elder was perceived as mainly overseeing a local church, under a more experienced elder or pastor, while the function of a preaching elder included additional preaching responsibilities. However, as such designation cannot be specifically found in Scripture, we distinguish today in the ordained ministry between elders, pastors, evangelists, prophets and apostles–regardless, of whether or not they are employed by the Church. At the same time, we realize that an evangelist would also have the function and responsibility of a pastor and an elder–and that a pastor would have the function and responsibility of an elder.

As of today, we do not find that God has presently ordained a minister to the office of apostle or prophet, but we cannot rule out the possibility that He will do so in the future. We DO believe that the late human leader of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, who died in 1986, was in fact fulfilling the role and function of an apostle, and that he held such spiritual rank. If God chooses to appoint ministers as apostles in the future, this will have to become very obvious and manifest, by the FRUITS of such individual(s). It stands to reason that the TWO WITNESSES (compare Revelation 11:3-7, 11-12) will fulfill the office, rank and function of both apostle and prophet (as some of the early apostles, such as Paul and Peter, fulfilled several functions, roles and responsibilities, including the function of “prophet,” “preacher,” “teacher” and “elder”).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

The following announcement was sent out on May 17, pertaining to our new StandingWatch program:

Progress Report
New Format

We just wanted to keep everyone abreast of the changes that we are making to the StandingWatch program.  By clicking on the link below, you will see that the efforts of all involved are beginning to make a big difference.

We do ask for your continued prayers as the project comes to fruition.

“Are You an Alcoholic?”

In the above-mentioned program, Norbert Link discusses the following: Many famous people and celebrities have been battling with alcoholism. The list seems to be endless–from Alexander the Great to Josef Stalin, Ernest Hemingway and modern-day Hollywood actors and singers. What is the right approach to alcohol? How can you determine whether you are becoming addicted to alcohol? Where should you turn for help?

On May 10, 2007, Cali L. Harris of Louisville, Colorado, graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with double majors–one in Ethnic Studies and the other in Journalism. Our heartfelt congratulations to Cali in reaching this milestone in her life! Cali is the youngest daughter of Peggy and David Harris of Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Life’s Shadows

by Manuela Mitchell (23)

While I was growing up, I faced many different trials and problems in my life.  Some of these problems, I was able to overcome and take my stand very quickly, while others took more work, meditation and prayer.  Even though many trials were only temporary and built strong character in me, others remained like a shadow, changing the silhouette of an outline every time it moved. I learned that there are many trials in life, they come and go, but some are truly never gone. Problems tend to keep their shadow and unless the problem is completely eradicated, the shadow will make its dark and lifeless form visible again.

Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to recognize and overcome a problem. No matter how minor it seems, it does take effect in my life and will soon become apparent to the people who know me best.  It is very simple to disregard the fact that I may be having a problem, or because of pride, choose to not take advice or talk to those close to me.

 I used to believe that things would get better with time. That is not always true, especially with problems. I learned that I should deal with a problem while still fresh. If left for too long, a shadow will soon disfigure and block the object that was once so clear. Life doesn’t get easier, it gets harder with each new day, and old problems, if not worked on, will only be made more difficult by the new ones.

Through God, I am blessed with a new opportunity every day to take advantage of my life. I am thankful that I have the understanding to recognize problems in my life and will continue to pray for the reconciliation of the shadows around me.

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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