Update 318


All Joy?

by Dave Harris

James opens his letter with a statement that is dumbfounding! Here it is: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” (James 1:2).

Trials? Rejoice in trials?

This is hard to do, and if you are like me and the countless others who do have trials far more often than we might choose, then you also realize that being tested drives us into some deeply profound soul-searching! And it might just bring us a little bit closer to God.

Jesus suffered. He endured His trials, because He had an ultimate goal that was unshakeable (Compare Hebrews 4:14-15; 12:1-2). A significant part of why He underwent what He did was for us! He is our High Priest and the One who can and who does help us!

Jesus had to have help in His trials. He found it by yielding to His Father’s will and by asking for help, as we read in Hebrews 5:7: “… who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…”

James adds: “… knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [endurance or perseverance]” (James 1:3).

It does then seem that our trials can bear a positive outcome, but that “endurance” is the fruit of staying the course of our calling and persevering in the testing of our faith.

Qualitatively, it is our faith in Jesus Christ and in our Father that is being refined and perfected through trials. If we, like Jesus Christ, come to God for help, then we will also endure unto eternal life: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

God’s help in time of need–in times of seemingly unbearable trials–is the greatest assurance we could possibly have, and it is the reason we can count even the testing of our faith with “all joy”!

Back to top

The US Dollar Crisis–A Pearl Harbor Without War

On November 13, Der Spiegel Online published a thought-provoking article, explaining the imminent danger of an “attack on the US economy.” This is a “MUST-READ” article for all who want to be aware of the problems awaiting this country. The magazine stated the following:

“The dollar crisis has politicians alarmed worldwide. The US currency has lost 24 percent of its value since the introduction of the euro, and now there is even a chance that China could abandon its policy of pegging its currency to the dollar — a problem the United States should take very seriously… The most important country in the world for the United States isn’t Great Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia or Iraq. China holds that dubious distinction, because it is also the country the US can least do without. Without its willingness to buy an almost unlimited supply of US treasury bonds, there would be no American spending miracle. Without a spending miracle there would be no economic growth. In other words, without China the US superpower would lose a significant share of its economic clout…

“For the United States, a Chinese decision to abandon the dollar would be tantamount to Pearl Harbor without the war. It would represent a challenge to the world’s biggest economy by the world’s fastest growing economy. Millions of people would see their standard of living suffer as a result, and American self-confidence, already shaky, would crumble even further. The United States would suffer a serious blow on its very own turf, the economy…

“For years the US economy has suffered one dramatic setback after another… The United States, a once-proud exporting nation, became the world’s biggest importer. In only 15 years, from 1992 to 2007, the US balance of trade deficit has surged from $84 billion to $700 billion. Within a single generation, the world’s biggest lender has become its biggest borrower, a circumstance the United States has made no serious attempts to change.

“… an attack on the US economy is probably the most easily predictable event of the coming years. And if it happens, the attacker will even be able to justify its actions as self-defense.

“What is the difference between the US government in 1941 and the administration in Washington today? Perhaps there is none. A Japanese attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was unimaginable, even though US intelligence had picked up clues that it could happen. Washington, at the time, was convinced that the Japanese wouldn’t dare stage an attack on a target 5,000 miles away, and that they wouldn’t succeed if they did. The crews on America’s ships were sleeping as the Japanese bombers approached Pearl Harbor.”

Georgia Prays for Rain

The Associated Press reported on November 12:

“As Georgia descends deeper into drought, Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle and asked President Bush for help. On Tuesday, the governor will call on a higher power. He will join lawmakers and ministers on the steps of the state Capitol to pray for rain.

“While public prayer vigils might raise eyebrows in other parts of the nation, they are mostly shrugged off in the Bible Belt, where turning to the heavens for help is common and sometimes even politically expedient. ‘Christianity has more of a place in the culture here than in some other region,’ said Ray Van Neste, a professor of Christian studies at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. ‘And it’s only natural, in a way, for the public to pray for rain.’

“Perdue won’t be the first governor to hold a call for public prayer during the epic drought gripping the Southeast. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as ‘Days of Prayer for Rain’ to ‘humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty.’…

“Political heavyweights outside the U.S. are known to occasionally plead to the heavens for rain. In May, Australian Prime Minister John Howard asked churchgoers to pray for rain in hopes of snapping a drought that has devastated crops and bankrupted farmers Down Under.

“In the U.S., public expressions of faith are often discouraged as a breach of the separation of church and state.

“Thomas Jefferson, for one, resisted calls for a federal day of prayer. But he was an exception. From George Washington, who declared ‘a day of prayer and thanksgiving,’ to Harry Truman, who established a National Day of Prayer, American politicians have not been shy about associating themselves with petitions to the Almighty.”

… and the Rain Came, But Might Not Have Helped Much …

On November 15, The Associated Press reported:

“A storm crashed through the Southeast and brought up to an inch of rain in parts of drought-stricken Georgia, but forecasters said the storm likely did little to ease the state’s historic drought. ‘The ground probably sucked it all up,’ said Vaughn Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. ‘The ground is so dry, I seriously doubt if any of the lakes rose any.’

“The Wednesday storm packed lashing rain and powerful gusts, injuring at least nine in Tennessee. The roof of a Baptist church in Tennessee’s Marion County was heavily damaged…

“More than a quarter of the Southeast is covered by an ‘exceptional’ drought — the National Weather Service’s worst drought category. With water levels low, many Georgia residents are under conservation orders — such as a ban on watering lawns.

“The rainfall came two days after Gov. Sonny Perdue led a prayer service on the steps of the state Capitol to beg the heavens for an end to the drought.”

America’s Obsession With Weapons

AFP reported on November 11:

“For the first time in 70 years, the US Supreme Court may decide next week whether to examine the question of the right to bear arms, something which is fiercely upheld by millions of Americans. The US capital of Washington, which is trying to stem a wave of violence in its seedier neighborhoods, has lodged a case with the nine Supreme Court judges seeking to maintain its three-decade ban on individuals carrying handguns… The case goes right to the heart of the American constitution, which in its second amendment declares that: ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’

“Washington, which is also home to the president and the government, has interpreted the amendment to mean that there is a collective right to bear arms for those who are part of a police force or a security force. But since 1976, it has banned residents from carrying handguns, although they are allowed to keep a rifle or hunting gun in their homes, providing it is locked and not loaded. For millions of Americans though, and especially the powerful gun lobby represented by the National Rifle Association, the second amendment guarantees the right of every American citizen to own any gun, with few limits…

“Washington officials… lodged a case with the Supreme Court in September insisting that it must rule on the extent of access to handguns, the weapon of choice in two-thirds of robberies and assaults.Handguns are also used in half of the 15,000 murders across the country every year, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations…”

Incredible Waste of Money

The Associated Press reported on November 13:

“The economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion — roughly double the amount the White House has requested thus far, according to a new report by Democrats on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee… The $1.6 trillion figure, for the period from 2002 to 2008, translates into a cost of $20,900 for a family of four, the report said. The Bush administration has requested $804 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, the report stated.

“For the Iraq war only, total economic costs were estimated at $1.3 trillion for the period from 2002 to 2008. That would cost a family of four $16,500, the report said. Future economic costs would be even greater. The report estimated that both wars would cost $3.5 trillion between 2003 and 2017. Under that scenario, it would cost a family of four $46,400, the report said.

“Oil prices have surged since the start of the war, from about $37 a barrel to well over $90 a barrel in recent weeks, the report said… Meanwhile, ‘the sum of interest paid on Iraq-related debt from 2003 to 2017 will total over $550 billion,’ the report said. The government has to make interest payments on the money it borrows to finance the national debt, which recently hit $9 trillion for the first time.”

Merkel’s Visit With Bush–“Nothing of Substance”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 12:

“There was lots to discuss during Chancellor Merkel’s visit to President Bush’s Texas ranch… But was anything of substance accomplished by Merkel’s visit to Crawford? German commentators take a closer look at what the talks mean for the Iran dispute.

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘If Bush promises the German chancellor that he will stick to the diplomatic approach of isolating Iran, if the two of them agree on sanctions as the next stage of escalation and get their plan approved by the United Nations (Security Council), then all this means nothing less than the following: The president has chosen to go against Vice President Dick Cheney and instead go with the solution favored by the Europeans of cautious but persistent escalation. It would also mean that the US needs Europe’s influence, also to have enough pressure to bring to bear on Russia, which is playing a strange double game over Iran. This is the right strategy for this phase of the dispute…’

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:

“‘Merkel is a few steps ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who only really started bringing his country back on to a US-friendly course last week (when he paid his first official visit to Washington). Bush is grateful to his two new friends because internationally there are not many governments that are so ready to cooperate with the current American administration, much less act in concert with the US. The US now needs Germany and France on its side, much more than in the past, when Germany was America’s junior partner. The US’s ill-considered warmongering and its bumbling diplomacy have weakened Washington in terms of international crisis management — and strengthened the Europeans… If the situation in Iran gets worse and Washington decides after all that it’s wise to respond to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions with air attacks, then the French and Germans could quickly find themselves again in a situation like at the beginning of the Iraq war.'”

Germany–Still A Divided Country

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 9:

“Friday (November 9) marks the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall… 18 years after the fall of the Wall, there is still no such thing as a truly unified Germany.

“Eastern Germans are less satisfied with and less optimistic about their situation than those living in the states that made up the former West Germany. They are also less convinced about the virtues of democracy than their western counterparts — with many believing that socialism is a good idea that just hasn’t been implemented well in the past.

“Indeed, the biggest differences in the survey come when eastern and western respondents are asked to share their views on life in the former East Germany. The communist state gets far higher marks from those living in the east than from those in the west. A full 92 percent of 35- to 50-year-old eastern Germans believe that one of the greatest attributes of the former East Germany was its social safety net… There is a silver lining in the report in that despite major divergences in views between the older eastern and western Germans, those differences appear to be shrinking with the younger generation in the east and west. Slowly, the country appears to be coming back together.”

Stoiber’s Battle in Brussels

The EUObserver wrote on November 11:

“An expert group charged with advising the European Commission on cutting the unnecessary laws coming out of Brussels has run into difficulty – even before its first official meeting later this month. The red tape-busting committee, led by the centre-right former Bavaria leader Edmund Stoiber, is meeting opposition within its target institution, the European Commission, for its extensive demands… Stoiber has asked for the group to have more powers as well as many more members than just the secretarial assistance the commission had intended… The whole issue has a separate element of political frisson because of German internal politics. The man Mr Stoiber is supposed to be helping out with his bureaucracy-cutting suggestions is industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen, a fellow German but a rival socialist… As yet it remains unclear who will be on the 15-strong committee, supposed to have its first meeting on 20 November. Die Welt notes that Mr Stoiber is already looking for support from Munich, Bavaria’s capital and has asked business consultant Roland Berger to be part of the group.”

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Resigned

AFP wrote on November 13:

“Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Franz Muentefering, a key figure holding together the country’s fractious left-right government, has resigned for personal reasons, his ministry said Tuesday.His departure is likely to increase tensions in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s already unwieldy, two-year-old ‘grand coalition’ government with the Social Democrats (SPD)… Tensions within the coalition have mounted in recent weeks over reforms of Europe’s biggest economy. But officials from both parties have said they have no desire to call early elections before 2009 because neither could win a majority with their coalition partner of choice.

“Muentefering’s departure is… likely to lead to more clashes between the two parties, which are traditionally fierce rivals. The vice-chancellor, nicknamed the general for his loyal and stoic style, suffered a number of political defeats in recent weeks… He remains a popular figure, however, and won a standing ovation at an SPD congress in Hamburg last month… The party, however, has sunk to historic lows in the polls since the 2005 election, scoring about 30 percent — 10 points behind Merkel’s conservatives.”

“Spain’s King Puts Chavez in his Place”

AFP reported on November 12:

“Spain’s King Juan Carlos won praise back home on Sunday after telling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to ‘just shut up’ before storming out of an Ibero-American summit. Spain’s monarch was applauded by Spanish media for his angry reprimand Saturday of Chavez, after the Venezuelan leader described a former Spanish prime minister [Jose Maria Aznaras] a ‘fascist’ and launched into a wide-ranging tirade.

“‘The king has put Chavez in his place in the name of all Spaniards,’ the centrist El Mundo newspaper said, noting that it was ‘an act without precedence.’ It said the monarch’s rebuke was ‘something that should have been said to him (Chavez) a long time ago.’

“[Chavez’s] mentor, ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, hailed Chavez for his critique of European governments in a commentary published Sunday in Juventud Rebelde…

“Chavez earned the ire of the Spanish delegation upon his arrival on Friday… and on Saturday… [when] the Venezuelan leader [attacked Aznaras and then] carried on, attacking the United States (a favorite target of his), the Catholic Church in Venezuela and the pope. He also accused the United States and Europe of having approved of the failed coup against him in 2002… Chavez’s outburst and King Juan Carlos’ admonition to ‘shut up’ was replayed again and again late Saturday on Spanish television news programs to the delight of viewers.”

“Something Is Rotten in the State of Italy” — The “Whole Country Lacks Leadership”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 13:

“Italy is scrambling to deal with the aftermath of riots this weekend sparked by the accidental shooting of a football fan… The violence that spread across Italy was in reaction to the death of Gabriele Sandri, a 26-year-old DJ, who was killed after police officer Luigi Spaccatorella fired warning shots to stop a brawl among rival fans at a motorway rest stop. The policeman is now under investigation for manslaughter.

“Soccer authorities said on Monday…  they would suspend matches scheduled for next Sunday, and Italy’s Interior Ministry slapped a ban on large groups of violent fans traveling to certain games… However, according to Clarence Seedorf, a player with AC Milan, football is being made a scapegoat by the government for deeper problems in Italian society. ‘They cannot blame football every time,’ the Dutch player told Britain’s Sky Sports News. ‘The people are not happy. They are coming to the stadiums to express their feelings and their feelings are not positive. … The whole country lacks leadership.’…

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘The Italians are always caught up in a power struggle. Nothing in that country has a secure position — not the parties which are constantly splitting up and being refounded … not the institutions which pass from the clutches of one party to another, not the church which wants to control domestic politics.’…

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘Italy likes to call itself the bel paese, the beautiful country…. But there is another side to Italy: the ugly side… The fact that this kind of rage can flare up so quickly across the whole country is an indication that there is something rotten in the state of Italy.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘What began as a brawl between football fans in Tuscany could lead to the fall of the already crisis-ridden Italian government. Giuliano Amato, Italy’s interior minister, has said he carries the political responsibility for the death of the fan, who was shot by a police officer. The fact that it was a tragic accident can minimize the guilt of the shooter. But that doesn’t absolve Amato from the fact that the security forces operate in a chaotic manner, and that the one stray bullet led to riots by thousands of thugs in several cities… If Amato resigns then Romano Prodi’s center-left government could break apart. Amato has been one of its few supporters. But the end of the government would only be the smaller problem, in comparison to the effect of unrestrained football fanaticism on Italian society.'”

British Conservatives in Disarray Over EU Treaty

The EUObserver reported on November 13:

“The question of Europe was once again riding high in British politics last night after a senior member of the opposition Conservatives indicated that the party would not accept parliamentary ratification of the new EU Reform Treaty. William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, caused a political rumpus on Monday (12 November) by appearing to say that the conservative party – long known for its strongly eurosceptic streak – would press for a referendum on the treaty even if it has been ratified by British MPs…

“Mr Hague’s comment [has] broken open the [Conservatives’] uneasy stance on Europe. Under its new leader David Cameron, the party has tried to move away from being defined by its anti-Europe position. But it retains a core of members and supporters who are strongly in favour of changing Britain’s relations with Europe and who believe the Reform Treaty – introducing a long-term president of the EU and a foreign minister – goes too far. The party has been putting substantial pressure on prime minister Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the treaty – particularly since the Labour government under Tony Blair had promised a poll on the now-shelved but similar EU constitution.

“Mr Brown has so far resisted the calls arguing Britain’s interests have been upheld in the Reform treaty… If all goes to plan, the EU treaty is to enter into force at the beginning of 2009 – but has to be ratified by all 27 member states first.”

“European Defense Absolute Priority”

The EUObserver wrote on November 13:

“France will next year push for a Europe of defence, proposing Brussels-based EU planning staff, exchanges between professional soldiers and a harmonization of military education – ideas which are likely to raise concern in the UK. In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, French defence minister Hervé Morin said that Paris will put defence high on the agenda when it takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2008. Mr Morin described European defence as an ‘absolute priority’ which is at least as important for European integration as the EU’s common currency, the euro.

“‘With the common currency, we have created a strong symbol for Europe. But nothing can better express the European community of fate than common defence, a common sense of Europe’s threats and security interests,’ he said. ‘A kind of European conscience can grow over the question where, if need be, we want to defend our values with weapons,’ he stated. ‘This is why during the presidency of the European Council in the second half of 2008 we would like to press ahead with a Europe of defence.'”

“Apocalyptic Scenario” For Israel

The Jerusalem Post wrote on November 8:

“Egyptian and Saudi Arabian intentions to begin or revive their nuclear programs in the face of Iran’s continued race toward nuclear power present an ‘apocalyptic scenario’ for Israel as well as for the rest of the world, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“Lieberman’s remarks came a week after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced a decision to restart his country’s nuclear program. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country had begun operating 3,000 centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium… Lieberman also said Pakistan was a major threat to Israel due to the political instability there and the fact that the country had ‘missiles, nuclear weapons and a proven capability.’ ‘We hope there will be stability and the [Pakistani] nuclear weapons won’t fall into radical hands,’ he said. ‘If the Taliban or [al-Qaida leader Osama] bin Laden get control [of Pakistan] they will have nuclear weapons for terror use and they don’t hide their opinions about Israel.’ … On Tuesday, Military Intelligence said Iran could produce a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009.”

The Jerusalem Post wrote on November 15:

“Israel is preparing for the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, the Reuters news agency reported Thursday. According to the report, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has instructed his ministers to draft proposals on how to cope with a nuclear Iran. The report was later denied by a senior Prime Minister’s Office official, Israel Radio reported… Reuters reported that Israel was developing its defense systems to fend off a possible Iranian attack. It added that Israel was constructing a fleet of German-made submarines which could possibly carry nuclear missiles, sending a clear message that there would be retaliation for any Iranian attack.”

Historic Visit of Israel’s President in Turkey

AFP reported on November 12:

“Israel’s President Shimon Peres arrived in Ankara on Sunday, where he will become the first Israeli head of state to address a majority-Muslim country’s parliament, a report said… On Monday, he holds talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. A highlight of the trip is to occur when Peres addresses Turkish lawmakers in Hebrew on Monday.

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also expected in Ankara Monday, where he will similarly address the Turkish parliament and meet Peres and Gul on the sidelines of an economic forum gathering Turkish, Israeli and Palestinian business people. The three sides are expected to conclude a deal to establish a joint industrial zone in the West Bank, according to Turkey’s Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, the forum’s founder.

“In an interview published Sunday by Turkey’s Sabah newspaper, Peres described his visit as ‘historic’ and said Ankara had a key role to play in establishing peace in the Middle East. Turkey is perhaps Israel’s most important strategic ally after the United States, and economic cooperation between the two took off after the signing of a key military cooperation accord in 1996.”

Turkey is a descendant of the Biblical Esau or Edom, twin-brother of Jacob or Israel. Both were sons of the Biblical Isaac. The relationship between Edom and Israel has been strained throughout their history, and the Bible shows that Edom or Turkey will turn against Israel in the near future.

Murder in Turkey

The Eastern Star News Agency reported on November 13:

“On January 19th, 2007, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered outside the newspaper Agos’ office in Constantinople (Istanbul). A couple of days after the murder, the 17-year old Ogun Samas was arrested. The police treated the murderer like a national hero and posed proudly with him in front of cameras with a Turkish flag in their hands and boasted with taking pictures with the murderer.

“The murdered Hrant Dink’s son, Arat Dink, was convicted on the 12th of October 2007, together with the responsible publisher of the magazine Agos, Serkis Seropyan, to [a] one year conditional prison sentence for desecrating ‘turkishness’. The sentence was based on the same paragraph that Hrant Dink was sentenced for, paragraph 301 [of] the Turkish penal code… This is happening in a country that applies for membership in the European Union!”

The EU Warns Ethiopia

AFP wrote on November 12:

“Joint Ethiopia-Somali government forces on Monday descended into Mogadishu’s main market and scoured for weapons in a bid to stem an escalating insurgency. However, the European Union urged the warring sides to spare civilians in the latest clashes that have killed dozens of people and displaced at least 114,000 while others remain trapped in Mogadishu… Civilians have complained of indiscriminate shooting by Ethiopian forces, involved in their toughest crackdown against the insurgents. But the government says it is only targeting rebels.”

It is possible that Ethiopia is the last revival of the “king of the South,” as mentioned in Scripture. If so, we can expect increasing confrontation between Ethiopia and the EU–the modern revival of the Roman Empire, to be lead soon by a military leader–the “king of the North.”

Russian-Indian Ties

AFP wrote on November 12:

“Arms and energy were on the agenda Monday as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin to buttress ties between the veteran allies… India was a key ally of the former Soviet Union in the Cold War era.

“New Delhi is expected to make a bid for an increased share of Russia’s oil and gas exports as Russia fights to retain its position as India’s top arms supplier amid Western competition… In a statement released ahead of the talks, the Russian presidential administration said the two sides would work on intensifying the country’s ‘strategic partnership’ on international relations, with a particular focus on the Middle East. The two sides aim to boost bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars (6.8 billion euros) a year by 2010 from four billion dollars in 2006, the Kremlin said.

“Trade between Russia and India has long been dominated by Indian military spending. Russia accounts for 70 percent of Indian military hardware while India currently accounts for 30 percent of Russian arms sales… ‘Russia is India’s most important partner in defence,’ Singh said… Business daily Vedomosti on Monday reported that Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport could soon sign a contract for 450 million dollars to buy 80 Mi-17 helicopters… Interfax news agency, meanwhile, reported that the two would sign agreements for the joint development of the Ilyushin 214 military transport plane.”

AFP added on November 13:

“The leaders of veteran allies Russia and India agreed Monday to launch a joint unmanned mission to the moon during Kremlin talks on boosting military and trade ties… During the talks the Russian and Indian leaders also ‘paid particular attention to cooperation in nuclear energy and in military-technical cooperation,’ Putin said… Singh thanked the Russian president for assisting in efforts to lift international restrictions on nuclear cooperation with India.”

The Bible reveals that Russia and India, as well as countries such as China and Japan, will form a mighty military and economic power bloc, in competition to the EU.

15-Day State of Emergency in the Country of Georgia

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 9:

“Georgia’s parliament has rubber-stamped the state of emergency declared by President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday. While German papers concede that the country does face interference from Moscow, they also decry the heavy-handed repression of peaceful protests that reflect real concerns among the population.

“Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili seemed to bow to international pressure Thursday by announcing snap presidential elections for Jan. 5. But with parliament voting in favor of the state of emergency on Friday and independent media still off the air, it is unlikely that the move will be enough to repair the damage done by the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations on Wednesday…

“While many Georgians support Saakashvili’s attempts to take the former Soviet Republic into the European Union and NATO and to shake off Russian influence, the president is regarded as increasingly authoritarian… his move has been met with sharp criticism in the West. The United States has expressed its disappointment and NATO has warned that Georgia’s aspirations to join the alliance have been jeopardized… German commentators seem united in the opinion that while there is undoubtedly Russian interference in Georgia, this does not justify ditching democratic values such as the right to protest and freedom of speech.

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… The harsh tone coming from NATO and the European Union is the only correct reaction: If Georgia wants to be a part of the West, it has to respect its values and rules.’…

“The business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘… His style of government has become authoritarian, and the number of corruption cases and scandals has increased… With the brutal use of the police force and the declaration of a state of emergency, he seems to have adapted the role of autocrat.’…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘By striking down the peaceful demonstrations, Saakashvili has made Georgia’s path toward NATO more difficult than all the provocations from the Kremlin in the past few years could have achieved.'”

According to AFP of November 14, “Georgia will lift a state of emergency on Friday, a top official said Wednesday, but doubts remained about whether one of the country’s main television channels would be allowed back on the air.” It added on November 15 that the Georgian “Parliament has approved a decision to lift the state of emergency on Friday at 7:00 pm.”

Pakistan–End of Chaos in Sight?

On November 9, The Daily Telegraph published a strong  editorial regarding the situation in Pakistan and the failure of the West to stop its escalation. Pakistan’s reaction to the editorial was one of anger, fright and terror, and has only escalated the situation even more.

In the editorial, the paper wrote:

“Despite George W Bush’s rhetoric about freedom, the struggle against terrorism is provoking a reaction familiar from the Cold War and nowhere is that clearer than over Pakistan… General Pervez Musharraf… has failed to stamp out extremist groups and close the madrassas that inspire them. He has allowed the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to fall into the hands of assorted jihadis. And he has sacked independent-minded judges for fear that the Supreme Court declare illegal his re-election as president last month.

“Yet, despite this combination of incompetence and brutality, America and Britain continue to back him as head of what has a strong claim to be the most dangerous country in the world… In short, the relationship between Gen Musharraf and the West is bankrupt. Valued as an ally after 9/11, he is now part of the problem. Under his dictatorship, Pakistan has become an increasingly ungovernable country in which moderate, secular forces have been sidelined to the advantage of the Islamists.”

AFP reported on November 11 about Pakistan’s reaction to the article:

“‘The Telegraph has withdrawn its correspondents in Pakistan after they were threatened with expulsion by the government,’ a two-paragraph article in the newspaper read… Britain’s foreign ministry earlier on Sunday said that the three journalists were on their way back to Britain, and said that the British high commissioner had complained to Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri about the journalists’ treatment.”
The International Herald Tribune wrote on November 11:

“In another signal that the general was strengthening his grip on power, the government announced Saturday that it had amended an army law so that civilians could be charged and prosecuted before military courts.”

On November 12, the Associated Press reported that “Foreign ministers from the Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies said that Pakistan would be suspended from the organization unless the state of emergency was repealed and Musharraf stepped down as army chief by Nov. 22.”

On November 13, AFP stated “Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto called on President Pervez Musharraf to quit Tuesday in her most direct challenge yet to his rule, vowing never to serve under him in government…

“Holed up under house arrest with close aides in Lahore as more than 1,000 police manned barbed wire barricades outside, she urged the world to abandon the president… ‘It is over with Musharraf,’ she told AFP in an interview from inside the residence where she has been detained to stop her leading a mass procession against emergency rule… ‘General Musharraf must quit. He must quit as president and as chief of army staff. I call on the international community to stop backing him — to stop backing the man whose dictatorship threatens to engulf this nuclear-armed state in chaos.’…”

On November 15, AFP reported that “Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said that he will step down as army chief before December 1… Musharraf named former spy chief Ashfaq Kiyani as the heir apparent to the post of chief of army staff in October… [It was further announced that] Pakistan’s incoming caretaker government would take an oath on Friday morning after the current parliament dissolves at one minute before midnight.”

“Christian” Cult In Russia–What Insanity!!!

Reuters reported on November 15:

“At least 30 members of a Russian doomsday cult have barricaded themselves in a remote cave to await the end of the world and are threatening to commit suicide if police intervene, officials and media said on Thursday… The cult members, who include 29 adults and four children, are hidden inside a snow-covered hillside in the Penza region of central Russia…

“They are thought to have taken food and fuel supplies in with them… ‘They are simple Christians,’ a local priest, Father Georgy, told NTV television station. ‘They say: “The church is doing a bad job, the end of the world is coming soon and we are all saving ourselves.”‘

“Media reports said the cult members believed the world would end sometime in May next year. Police expected them to emerge when their supplies ran out.

“After decades of state-enforced atheism under Soviet rule, many Russians and other ex-Soviet nationals have come under the influence of homegrown and foreign sects. Many Russians have refused new passports and taxpayers’ personal identification numbers, saying the figures contained ‘satanic’ combinations of numbers. Izvestia newspaper said the leader of the cult, Pyotr Kuznetsov, had been detained by police. It said he was a 43-year-old who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that in the last few months he had been sleeping in a coffin.”

Unfortunately, such insane conduct and these kind of false doomsday predictions give TRUE Christianity a bad reputation. It is Satan’s way of convincing people to reject the truth, by pointing at such terrible examples as set by the cult in Russia.

Earthquake in Chile

AFP reported on November 14 that “A strong earthquake measuring 7.7 rocked arid northern Chile Wednesday, killing at least two people, injuring others, sparking panic and causing power outages… Meanwhile separate earthquakes also hit Argentina and Central America on Wednesday. An earthquake, which US geologists measured at magnitude 5.3, rocked Guatemala and neighboring El Salvador, with no reports of casualties.”

The news agency also reminded the readers on November 15 that “In August, southern Peru was struck by a powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake that left 600 people dead and 300,000 homeless.”

The Associated Press added on November 15 that “Strong aftershocks [including one of magnitude 6.2 and another of magnitude 6.8] from a powerful earthquake hit northern Chile on Thursday as the government erected a working military hospital and promised hundreds of other portable dwellings for 15,000 left homeless by the quake… A 1939 quake in Chile killed 28,000 people and in 1960, a magnitude-9.5 quake — the strongest recorded in the 20th century — killed 5,700 people. On June 13, 2005, a magnitude-7.8 quake… in northern Chile killed 11 people and left thousands homeless.”

Cyclone Forces Bangladesh Evacuations

The Associated Press reported on November 15:

“Ten of thousands of coastal villagers took shelter inland Thursday as a cyclone rapidly approached Bangladesh’s southwestern shores, spawning cold drizzles, strong winds and high waves, a weather official said. Tropical cyclone Sidr was expected to make landfall late Thursday… The cyclone, which began brewing Tuesday in the Bay of Bengal, was producing winds up to 140 miles per hour, and may trigger tidal surges as high as 20 feet…”

What Killed the Dinosaurs?–It Was Not Evolution, For Sure!

LifeScience wrote on November 12:

“The Age of Dinosaurs ended roughly 65 million years ago with the K-T or Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, which killed off all dinosaurs save those that became birds, as well as roughly half of all species on the planet, including pterosaurs. The prime suspect in this ancient murder mystery is an asteroid or comet impact, which left a vast crater at Chicxulub on the coast of Mexico.

“Another leading culprit is a series of colossal volcanic eruptions that occurred between 63 million to 67 million years ago. These created the gigantic Deccan Traps lava beds in India, whose original extent may have covered as much as 580,000 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers), or more than twice the area of Texas…

“Both an impact from space and volcanic eruptions would have injected vast clouds of dust and other emissions into the sky, dramatically altering global climate and triggering die-offs.”

Cloned Human Embryos?

The Independent wrote on November 12:

“A technical breakthrough has enabled scientists to create for the first time dozens of cloned embryos from adult monkeys, raising the prospect of the same procedure being used to make cloned human embryos… It is the first time that scientists have been able to create viable cloned embryos from an adult primate – in this case a 10-year-old male rhesus macaque monkey…

“The monkey-cloning technique is the same basic procedure that resulted in Dolly the sheep. The nucleus of a healthy, unfertilised egg is removed and another nucleus from the mature skin cell of an adult animal is placed inside the egg. With careful timing and the use of electrical pulses, an embryo can be created which is a genetic clone of the skin tissue donor. It is possible to implant embryos created in this way into the womb to produce cloned animals. This so-called ‘reproductive cloning’ of humans is illegal in Britain and many other countries. However it has been applied to a range of animal species, including:

“Cow: Many domestic cattle have been successfully cloned. First attempt to clone an endangered species was Noah, a rare gaur ox, which was cloned in the US in 2001 but died 48 hours after birth.

“Mouse: Cumulina was a common brown house mouse, cloned from adult cells at the University of Hawaii in 1997. She survived to adulthood and produced two litters, before dying in May 2000.

“Horse: Called Prometea, the first cloned horse, born in Italy in May 2003.

“Cat: A kitten called CopyCat was born in 2002 in Texas, and gave birth to three kittens by a natural father in September 2006.

“Dog: Snuppy, born in South Korea. Doubts about its authenticity were dispelled by DNA tests. The group has also cloned two wolf cubs, called Snuwolf and Snuwolffy using the same procedure. Cloned Afghan hounds named Bona, Peace and Hope have also been born.”

Back to top

Does Galatians 3 teach that the Law of the Ten Commandments is abolished?

Even though many professing Christians believe that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding on us today, and although some Biblical “scholars” quote, amongst other Scriptures, the book of Galatians as evidence for such assumptions, the Bible totally rejects and disproves such ideas.

In fact, if you are a truly converted Christian, you have received the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in you, and through the Holy Spirit, you have received the love of God (Romans 5:5). The love of God is defined as keeping the commandments. 1 John 5:3 says: “For this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Paul tells us that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). Love does not do away with it; quite to the contrary, it FULFILLS or KEEPS it. Rather than thinking that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, God’s Holy Spirit in you reveals to you that they are still binding for you, and God’s love in you will motivate you to KEEP them.

One good way for a person to determine if he has really responded to his call to repentance and conversion, is to analyze and examine himself to find out whether he is willing to keep ALL of God’s Ten Commandments–including the Seventh-Day Sabbath. If a person believes that these laws are no longer required and that he is “free” to ignore or break them, then it is extremely unlikely that he is truly converted, and that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in him. If this applies to you, then you need to pray to God that He may open your understanding to the truth, REPENT of your errors and sins; ACCEPT and BELIEVE IN the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; understand that Christ DIED for YOUR transgressions of His LAW; and become baptized to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To help you, please read our free booklets, “And Lawlessness Will Abound” and “Baptism–A Requirement for Salvation.”

Some teach and believe that you will automatically do what is right, if you have God’s Holy Spirit living within you–and that you do not need “rules” to tell you what to do. First of all, this concept is a contradiction in terms. If God’s Holy Spirit “tells” you to do what is right and how to live a “holy” life, then it tells you to keep God’s Law of the Ten Commandments, as God’s Law is “holy, just and good” (Romans 7:12). For instance, Paul explains to us in Ephesians 6:1 that it is “right” that children obey their parents, continuing that such conduct is in conformity with the “first commandment with promise” (verse 2).

Secondly, you don’t know, by yourself, what is right. In fact, God chides those who live by their own standards, doing what is right “in their own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8; compare Judges 17:6; 21:25). You might think, if you “love” your neighbor, you won’t do him any harm, but that is a false assumption. With that rationale, people have killed others in war; they have aborted their unborn children; they have engaged in “alternate lifestyles”; and they have committed fornication and adultery (after all, isn’t it “love” to have an “affair” with a “misunderstood” or “unloved” woman?). Without God’s love in you, you don’t really love God, either. People may think they do, but, again, they are wrong–and so, they have created idols for themselves, believing they serve God thereby; they have created their own weekly “day of worship” and their annual religious holidays; and they have trampled God’s Sabbath under foot, thinking that God does not care whether we keep it or not. Man’s “love” is a misguided counterfeit of the true love of God, which, we repeat, is DEFINED as KEEPING the commandments of GOD!

The apostle James silenced those who claim that we today do not have to keep all of God’s Ten Commandments. We read in James 2:8–12: “If you really fulfill [that is, keep] the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep [or, fulfill] the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”

James tells us that we sin if we break just one provision of the “whole” law. He makes it clear that the “law” he is talking about is, in fact, the Ten Commandments. He illustrates this point by selecting two of the Ten Commandments—the law against murder and the law against adultery. He explains to us that, if we violate even one of the Ten Commandments, we are still a “transgressor of the [entire] LAW.”

How, then, are we to understand Galatians 3?

In Galatians 3:17–19, 22, 24–25, Paul states the following: “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator… But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in [of] Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe… Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

Does this passage teach us that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, as some claim? Does Paul even have the Ten Commandments in mind when he talks about the “law” that “was added because of transgressions”?

In order to understand this passage properly, we must recognize that the Bible sometimes uses the word “law” for just a portion of the entire law system. We must consider the context of the particular passage in order to ascertain whether the word “law” refers to the entirety of God’s law system, or just a portion, and if just a portion, which portion. We do the same today in human affairs. We might say, “the law requires you to do this or that,” and we may be speaking about a particular provision in the Civil Code, or the Criminal Code, or some administrative law.

We learned from Galatians 3:17 and 19 that “the law” was “added” “four hundred and thirty years” after God’s covenant with Abraham. This “law” was added “because of transgressions.” We also learned in verse 22 that the Scripture confined everybody “under sin.” Sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). The physical law referred to in Galatians 3 was added because people had sinned—because they had transgressed God’s spiritual Law (Romans 7:14) of the Ten Commandments.

Paul’s use of the word “law” in the third chapter of the book of Galatians then does not relate to the Ten Commandments at all, but to an altogether different set of rules–the sacrificial law SYSTEM which was added some time after Moses had brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt (compare Jeremiah 7:21-23).

Paul uses the same language in Romans 5. A careful analysis shows that he speaks there, again, about two sets of law–the Ten Commandments and the sacrificial system which was ADDED because of sin. In Romans 5:12-14, Paul says: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin [death came through sin, because death is the penalty for sin, compare Romans 6:23], and thus death spread to ALL men, because ALL SINNED–(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. NEVERTHELESS death REIGNED from Adam to Moses…).”

Notice carefully, and don’t be deceived by those who teach falsely that the Law of the Ten Commandments has been abolished. Paul says here that ALL sinned; that all incurred the DEATH penalty BECAUSE they had sinned; and that there is no penalty if there is no law. THEREFORE, SINCE there was a death penalty, there had to be a LAW. But then, Paul says that that situation already existed before the “law” was in the world. How clear–he is talking about TWO different sets of law! The law which came into the world had to be different from the law which already existed from the time of Adam.

Paul continued in verse 20: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.” What law entered? What law was added? NOT the Law of the Ten Commandments, which was in force and effect since Adam, but the sacrificial law system which “entered” or was “added” more than 430 years after Abraham’s covenant with God.

The Bible does not contradict itself. One Scripture does not “break” or “make of no effect” another Scripture (John 10:35). A law was added because of transgressions. This law cannot be the Ten Commandments. Rather, because people had transgressed the Law of the Ten Commandments, an additional law was given to the people. Paul’s statement that the law was added because of transgression (Galatians 3:19), and that a law “entered” the world AFTER sin and death were already in the world (Romans 5:12-14, 20), refers to that part of the physical law which has to do with sacrifices and other rituals. Because the people had sinned by transgressing the spiritual LAW of the Ten Commandments, as well as those statutes and judgments which embellish those righteous commandments, ANOTHER “law” was ADDED and came into the world — the temporary physical law dealing with sacrifices and other rituals.

Professing Christians are deceived, as is the rest of the world (Revelation 12:9). If you think you are free to break God’s Law, you ARE deceived–no matter what Christian group or denomination you may claim to be a member of. “Christian” commentaries of worldly scholars add to the deception, by concocting ridiculous “explanations” in their terrible desperate attempts to contradict the clear and timeless message of Jesus Christ, which is beyond debate for those who are willing to believe and OBEY their Master. Read for yourself Christ’s words in Matthew 19:17: “But if you want to enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

Back to top

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the StandingWatch Web and on Google Video, titled, “The Origins of Britain and America, Part 4.” In the program, Norbert Link is asking the following questions:

How COULD the peoples of the United States of America and Great Britain be descendants of the ancient House of Israel? Why did prominent personalities, like the former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, believe that some of the Lost Ten Tribes ended up in Ireland? HOW did God fulfill His unconditional promise to make the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, a great nation and a company of nations, as He did NOT fulfill this promise in ancient times?

We have begun a new Internet Advertising campaign, on Google, in the USA, Canada and the UK, promoting our booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.” In the USA and Canada, we are also, at the same time, advertising our booklet, “Human Suffering–Why, and How Much Longer?,” while in the UK, we are still promoting the booklet, “America and Britain in Prophecy.”

In the USA and in the UK, the Internet ad for our Christmas booklet also offers, for the time being, three additional booklets, namely “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” and “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery.”

Our ad campaign in Canada for our booklet, “The Mysteries of the Bible” has ended and resulted in 118 requests (with several follow-up’s), including 76 initial requests from Canada, 36 from Nigeria, 5 from Ghana and 1 from Malaysia.

Back to top

My Long Distance Connection

by Louise Amorelli

We have the luxury of living in today’s society, where getting in touch with loved ones is only a phone call away.   I appreciate this even more, after moving away from family and friends to another state. Establishing a long distance phone connection was one of the most important first steps in bridging that distance between us.  Keeping the lines of communication open for continuing the family bonding, as well as for emergencies, was of utmost importance. 

With the most recent California fires, bridging that gap of distance was of extreme importance with church members who lived in those pivotal areas.  My husband and I live quite a distance from church brethren and it was difficult to know exactly what to do in these emergency situations, especially with many miles between us.  We felt totally helpless when we first heard the news.  So many emotions were going on inside…fear, helplessness and discouragement. What if we could not get through…what if their phone or internet connections were not working??  Where would they go if they had to evacuate and we could not get through to them??

Needless to say, we utilized our long distance connection to the fullest during those recent California fires.  Thankfully we were able to get in touch with the brethren on a continued basis through our phone lines. But through it all, I realized that there was only ONE long distance connection that is MOST important….that is prayer!!  I knew that the most important thing I could have done was pray!   Praying would bridge that gap of mileage between us, with no interruptions! God certainly did intervene and my husband and I are ever grateful to the Eternal who heard our fervent prayers. It gave me a sense of peace, knowing that God’s method of long distance communication will never fail. 

I know that  no matter where or how far apart our families, friends or church brethren may be, the distance may be long, but the connection will ALWAYS be there…thanks to our Heavenly Father!! 

Back to top

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