Update 322


The Glory of God

On December 15, 2007, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The Glory of God.”

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.

Back to top

Always Looking For Fault

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

The vast majority who read our Update seem to appreciate all of the information and the considerable amount of work that goes into producing this publication on a weekly basis. We know that there are a few who also read our Update looking to try to find fault.   Any difference in understanding, however minute, can be seized upon as justification of a personal stance as this information is circulated to their own audience.   And as often happens, it can be slanted to suit a particular position.   The outcome is often that of division and can be used as self justification.   A little more study of God’s Word and a little less of personal opinions would do the world of good.   The people of God should know better, but the lessons of history never seem to be learned.

Unfortunately, some very basic Biblical admonitions and instructions are completely ignored in this process.   The Bereans (compare Acts 17:10-11) adopted the position of trying to find out “whether these things were so,” indicating a positive approach.   It is the negative approach that is always looking for fault.   The Scriptural approach is set out in many places, and one of the wise sayings of Solomon, found in Proverbs 10:12, is helpful in this regard: “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”   This should be the way that one should react–to soften, to cushion, to heal–not to try and broadcast any real or imagined differences which may inflate, in one’s eyes, his own ego, importance or position, but which does precisely nothing to enhance unity in the Body of Christ.   Paul writes: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).   This instruction by Paul is well known to Church of God members but can just as easily be either forgotten or ignored.   We are told to live in peace (2 Corinthians 13:11), but that cannot be achieved when someone is always looking for faults.  Christ told the accusers of the woman caught in adultery that “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).

Scripture clearly reveals that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12) and that “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).   So we shouldn’t be surprised at the attitudes of those who are always looking for fault which is probably a precursor for much worse to come.

Next time you see negative criticism emanating from a Church of God member, website or church organization–ask yourself why this is being done and whether it is something that is pleasing in the sight of God.   The answer should be inescapable; otherwise, our knowledge of God’s Word is deficient.   Rather than following the negative example of those who criticize, let us take the right approach and try, at all times, to be a thoroughly positive influence.   God will surely be pleased with that–and with us.

Back to top

Church Killings in Colorado

The Associated Press reported on December 10:

“Five people, including a gunman, died in the attacks Sunday at a megachurch in Colorado Springs and at the Youth With a Mission missionary center in the Denver suburb of Arvada. Five others were wounded… Police in Arvada said they believed the shootings–which occurred 12 hours and about 65 miles apart–were probably linked…

“The violence began about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when a man opened fire at the Youth With a Mission office after he had been denied a request to spend the night there. Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who had a handgun. More than 12 hours later, at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a gunman with a high-powered rifle entered the church’s main foyer and opened fire…

“The gunman was killed by a member of the church’s armed security staff before police arrived… New Life, with about 10,000 members, was founded by… Ted Haggard, who was dismissed last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him…”

Armed Security of Churches and Problematic Texas Law

The Associated Press reported on December 11 about church members serving as armed security guards. Even though many–and even some within the Church of God communities–will undoubtedly support such measures, what does the LAW OF GOD say about it? You might want to read our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?”

The article of the AP also pointed out another troubling development–that “Under a new Texas law, all nonprofits must use licensed security guards.”

Here are some additional excerpts from the above-mentioned article:

“When a black-clad gunman walked into New Life Church on Sunday and started shooting, he was met with the church’s first line of defense: a congregant with a concealed-weapons permit and a law enforcement background. The armed volunteer… shot the gunman … Some of the nation’s estimated 1,200 megachurches–places where more than 2,000 worshippers gather each week–have been quietly beefing up security in recent years, even using armed guards to protect the faithful…

“The security plan at New Life Church may seem extraordinary. The church’s volunteer security force is stocked with people with military or law enforcement experience, they carry radios and weapons… At a news conference Monday, [the security guard at New Life Church] said that she prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide her, and that her hands never shook…”

Terrible Weather Conditions in America

The Associated Press reported on December 13:

“A deadly winter storm brought snow and sleet to the Northeast on Thursday, while crews in the Plains and Midwest worked to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people left in the dark in its ice-coated wake… Schools in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced closures…”

AccuWeather.com added on December 13:

“… nearly 500,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma were still without power, while more than 200,000 were still in the dark from Nebraska to Illinois. Utility officials stated it could be as much as 10 days before power is fully restored.”

It also stated:

“A potent winter storm moving through the Northeast today will be followed this weekend by a powerful nor’easter that will bring wind-whipped rain and snow to much of the Northeast… The second storm that will slam the Northeast this weekend will blossom tonight and Friday over the Four Corners. According to the Southwest Regional News story,  the system will be fueled by moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The developing storm will bring snow to Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Kansas and a mix of rain and snow across parts of Oklahoma and Texas.”

Iran–How Could the U.S. Intelligence Have Been So Wrong?

WorldNetDaily reported on December 9:

“Israel has ‘incriminating’ information Iran has continued its nuclear weapons program, a senior Israeli security official told WND, directly contradicting last week’s U.S. intelligence report stating Tehran suspended its ambition in 2003.

“‘The Iranians continue their push for nuclear weapons in specific ways, including the acquisition and development of missiles,’ said a senior Israeli security official who has access to classified Israeli defense material and intelligence reports on Iran.

“‘Iran hides its nuclear weapons program but it continues nonetheless,’ he told WND, indicating the U.S. estimate may have been ‘politically motivated.’…

“Numerous news reports in recent days have attempted to punch holes in the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] report.

“London’s Sunday Telegraph quoted a senior British official stating the UK believes Iran deliberately fed misinformation to the U.S. about its nuclear program… Editorials in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times also questioned the NIE report… Meanwhile, at today’s Knesset session, lawmakers here blasted the report and questioned America’s commitment to Israel and its front against Iran.

“‘It cannot be that Bush is committed to peace as was declared at Annapolis, and then the Americans propagate such an intelligence report which contradicts the information we have proving Iran intends to obtain nuclear weapons,’ stated Minister Yitzhak Cohen, a member of the Shas party, a key coalition partner in Olmert’s government. Cohen compared the NIE report to what he said were faulty reports released by the U.S. during the Holocaust that Jews were not being killed in spite of information possessed by American intelligence of the existence of concentration camps.

“‘In the middle of the previous century the Americans received intelligence reports from Auschwitz on the packed trains going to the extermination camps. They claimed then that the railways were industrial. Their attitude today to the information coming out of Iran on the Iranians’ intention to produce a nuclear bomb reminds one of their attitude during the Holocaust,’ stated Cohen.”

Reuters reported on December 11:

“An Iranian exile group accused Tehran on Tuesday of pursuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons, dismissing as incomplete a U.S. intelligence report that Iran’s nuclear arms program was frozen in 2003… The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which first exposed Iran’s nuclear fuel program in 2002, said it published information three years ago alleging that Tehran had restarted weapons-related work after a short break. NCRI officials said they checked back with sources inside Iran after the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released, and those informants reported that work on nuclear weapons was still being pursued at three sites…

“NCRI agreed with the NIE assessment that activities were suspended in 2003, and specified that in March 2003 Iran closed down a weaponization site in Lavisan, northeast Tehran, fearing it might be detected. But it transferred the weapons activities to a new site in Lavisan and later to two additional sites, information the NCRI had made public from November 2004 onwards, he said.”

No More Iranian Oil Transactions in U.S. Dollars

AFP reported on December 10:

“Major crude producer Iran has completely stopped carrying out its oil transactions in dollars, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Saturday, labeling the greenback an ‘unreliable’ currency. ‘At the moment selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies,’ Nozari was quoted as saying…

“The world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, Iran has massively reduced its dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of U.S. pressures on its financial system… Iran has reduced its assets in dollars held in foreign banks and urged OPEC to take collective action to price oil in other currencies such as the euro, instead of the U.S. currency which is used across the world at present.

“The decline of the dollar, which has weakened considerably against the euro and other currencies in the past 12 months, has affected the revenues of OPEC members because most of them price and sell their oil exports in the U.S. currency.”

New European Treaty Signed

On December 13, AFP reported as follows:

“Leaders of the 27-nation European Union signed a landmark treaty Thursday to revitalise EU decision-making, but the new unity was marred by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s absence from the ceremony.

“‘History will remember this day as a day when new paths of hope were opened to the European ideal,’ Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said at the elaborate ceremony in a historic Lisbon monastery. However the British leader’s failure to sign the treaty with the other leaders — a week after boycotting an EU-Africa summit — led to new accusations that Britain is too lukewarm toward Europe.

“Brown, who attended a British parliamentary committee hearing in the morning, eventually arrived at the official lunch venue after most of the other leaders had left. He signed the 250-page text, which has been widely criticised in Britain as handing more powers over to Brussels, and was whisked away without commenting to reporters…

“The treaty must still be ratified in each member state before it can come into effect, as planned, in 2009. Ireland is to hold a national referendum and polls indicate that Irish voters have mixed feelings about the treaty. ‘Maximum political commitment on all sides is now necessary,’ said European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering. ‘Through your signing of the treaty today, we are all committing ourselves to its early ratification. We would like this treaty to come into force by 1 January 2009 at the latest,’ he added.

“Like the rejected constitution, the treaty proposes a European foreign policy supremo and a permanent president to replace the cumbersome six-month rotating presidency system. It cuts the size of the European Parliament and the number of EU decisions which require unanimous support, hence reducing national vetoes. It also includes a European charter of fundamental human and legal rights, which Britain and Poland have refused to make binding.

“However it drops all references to an EU flag or anthem, which had fanned eurosceptic fears of another step towards a federal Europe. ‘For the first time, the countries that were once divided by a totalitarian curtain, are now united in support of a common Treaty that they had themselves negotiated,’ said EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in a speech.”

Der Spiegel Online added on December 13:

“The new treaty, the details of which were agreed in October, replaces the system of rotating six-month presidencies with a president who will serve a two-year term. There will also be a stronger foreign policy chief… British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been sharply criticized for not holding a referendum in the United Kingdom. The country is one of the most Euro-skeptic in the bloc and would be unlikely to approve anything that smacks of a loss of sovereignty. In what has been derided as a somewhat empty gesture, Brown has refused to attend today’s ceremony and will sign the treaty later at a private lunch instead.”

CNN stated the following on December 13:

“The lack of referenda in other member nations [than Ireland] has caused controversy, mostly in Euro-skeptic countries like Britain, where vocal critics have been demanding a public vote. The headline in Thursday’s edition of The Sun tabloid in Britain read, ‘Never have so few decided so much for so many’… The UK campaign group ‘I Want a Referendum’ says that for Britain, the treaty would weaken the country’s ability to veto EU laws and give Britain less control over matters including foreign policy, defense, and immigration.”

Is Israel Willing to Abandon Parts of Jerusalem?

On December 9, WorldNetDaily reported the following:

“A top member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government today [Vice Premier Haim Ramon] announced Israel ‘must’ give up sections of Jerusalem for a future Palestinian state, even conceding the Palestinians can rename Jerusalem ‘to whatever they want.’… Positions held by Ramon… are largely considered to be reflective of Israeli government policy… Ramon’s statements follow last month’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit at which Olmert committed to aim at completing negotiations by next year to create a Palestinian state, with Israel expected to evacuate swaths of Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank.”

Surprise Surprise–How Putin Wants to Stay in Power

 AFP reported on December 11:

“Months of uncertainty over Russia’s future power structure ended Tuesday when President Vladimir’s handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, said Putin should become prime minister on quitting the Kremlin. Medvedev, the soft-spoken technocrat endorsed by Putin to succeed him as Russian president, said Putin, 55, should switch to become head of the government after stepping down.

“‘I consider it of utmost importance for our country to keep Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in the highest post of executive power, the post of head of government of the Russian Federation,’ Medvedev said in an address on national television. The stunning statement meant that Russia in the space of 24 hours appeared to have resolved the two biggest questions facing the country: who will win the March 2 presidential election to replace Putin, and what Putin will do on leaving office.

“Putin’s endorsement on Monday makes Medvedev, a 42-year-old trained lawyer and first deputy premier, all but certain to win an election in which there are no other heavyweight candidates. Medvedev’s call means Putin — who has long said he wanted to retain an important role after leaving the Kremlin — will likely from next year become a powerful premier.”

As Der Spiegel Online reported on December 11, much of the German press criticized Putin and Medvedev:

“… The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘… it would be completely wrong to take his election as signaling a change in direction. Medvedev may hold a few more liberal views than those in the cadre of the soviet-schooled intelligence service. But he is a long way from being a liberal who wants to steer Russia back toward reforms and introduce a new Perestroika based on purely democratic principles…’

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“‘… for Putin the control freak, there remains an insecurity that should not be underestimated. Within a brief period, Medvedev will need to go from being an unknown to a highly celebrated candidate so that he can succeed in getting the majority he needs at the beginning of March and doesn’t hand Putin an embarrassing defeat….The larger and less controllable danger for Putin, though, is this: Once he is president, a compliant Medvedev might just learn to like ruling and exercising power. >From today’s point of view, that might be hard to imagine. But Putin himself is the best example of how the position (of president) can change its occupant. Back in 2000, when Putin became a first deputy prime minister, he too was just a bland apparatchik. Today he is a hard-nosed power politician who doesn’t take nonsense from anyone, especially not from his successor.’

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“‘It was apparently more important for Putin to position himself than for his successor to be appointed. But his position is still unclear. Will he be a super-president? Will he be a “national leader?” Nobody knows. The root of the English word successor is success, and it means somebody who is handed success from somebody else. But as a triumphant successor, Dmitry Medvedev is surely miscast…'”

How Putin Crushes the Opposition

AFP reported on December 12, 2007:

“The Russian opposition leader and chess legend Garry Kasparov told journalists on Wednesday he was abandoning his presidential election campaign… ‘In all Moscow we have not been able to find a hall where our supporters could meet,’ he said… Kasparov has accused Putin of crushing democratic opposition through the Kremlin’s dominance of the media, election laws that sideline smaller parties and heavy-handed police tactics in dispersing demonstrations… ‘We pay and the people agree. There are no problems. And then they call us to say they are refusing, can’t give us the hall any more,’ Kasparov said on the sidelines of a gathering of Russian reformist parties and non-governmental organisations. ‘They refuse to give us the hall for technical reasons.’…

“Election law requires that a candidate who is not nominated by a political party with seats in parliament must get the support of an ‘initiative group’ meeting of at least 500 people… Touring around Russia, Kasparov has frequently been refused venues to speak and has blamed this on interference by the security services. He earlier described a December 2 parliamentary election ahead of next year’s polls as a ‘farce,’ citing allegations of vote-rigging and unequal access to the media. He spent five days in jail last month after a court found him guilty of public order offences at a rally.”

Argentina’s Sovereignty Over Falkland Islands “Non-Negotiable”

AFP reported on December 10:

“The first woman to be elected president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, 54, was sworn in on Monday, receiving the sash of office from her husband, the outgoing head of state… In her first speech as president, Kirchner vowed to wage war on poverty… She again received thunderous applause as she insisted Argentina’s ‘sovereignty’ over the Malvinas — the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands — is non-negotiable.”

Sarkozy Invites Kadhafi… and Is Strongly Criticized

AFP reported on December 11:

“French opposition lawmakers Tuesday boycotted a meeting with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on day two of a visit marked by harsh criticism of his rights record and multi-billion dollar trade deals. Kadhafi was received at the National Assembly by parliamentary speaker Bernard Accoyer, but deputies of the Socialist Party and some members of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement refused to attend in protest over Libya’s human rights record…

“On Monday, Kadhafi was welcomed by Sarkozy at the Elysee presidential palace, where he initialed trade deals worth more than 10 billion euros (14.7 billion dollars), including contracts for Airbus airliners, a nuclear-powered water desalination plant and construction projects. In an important breakthrough for French arms manufacturers, Libya also undertook to negotiate exclusively with France on a range of planned military purchases, including Rafale jets, helicopters, armoured vehicles and patrol-boats…

“Sarkozy’s invitation to the former international pariah continued to come under attack from rights groups and the political left, who accuse the president of betraying France’s commitment to defend human rights. The government’s own human rights minister Rama Yade has added her voice to the attacks, denouncing the use of torture and arbitrary arrest in Libya and saying France should not be a ‘doormat on which a leader — terrorist or otherwise — can wipe off the blood of his crimes.'”

Sarkozy’s unilateral invitation of Kadhafi incurred the wrath of the European press as well. Germany’s mass tabloid BILD wrote the following on December 11, under the headline, “Looser”: “Torture, censorship and people who simply disappear–Libya is far from being a democracy. Regardless, Sarkozy spreads a red carpet for his guest Kadhafi, invited him to Paris for five days, and wants to sell him a nuclear facility. Even his own human rights minister objects. Bild thinks: We can only shake our heads over this President.”

Germany’s Fight Against Unpopular Organizations

Germany’s fight against politically incorrect organizations and unpopular churches becomes more and more disturbing. As the German press reported on December 7, 2007, Germany’s interior ministers of all German states are unanimous in their opinion that Scientology is to be prohibited because it is allegedly incompatible with the German Constitution.

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 7:

“Germany’s interior ministers announced on Friday that they considered Scientology to be unconstitutional and said they would seek to ban the organization.

“Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting told reporters that the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states and the federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble ‘consider Scientology to be an organization that is not compatible with the constitution.’ The ministers, who are meeting for a two-day conference in Berlin, now plan to charge the country’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, with preparing a dossier to pave the way for a possible ban next year.

“The agency has had the organization under observation for over a decade. Germany does not consider Scientology to be a religion but a money-making cult. Scientologists counter that the state surveillance is an abuse of their right to freedom of religion. The group, which opened a six-story headquarters in the heart of Berlin in January, has intensified its efforts to attract members in Germany in recent years.”

Most certainly, one can have different opinions about Scientology, but declaring it unconstitutional seems to be really pushing the envelope, as the next article explains.

Not Enough Evidence to Ban Scientology in Germany

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 10:

“A plan by Germany’s state interior ministers to attempt to ban Scientology appears to have little chance of success. According to an assessment made by officials at the country’s state and federal intelligence agencies, the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution, there isn’t enough evidence at the moment to ban the controversial organization.

“Reacting to a request made by the state of Hamburg to ban the organization, German Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his counterparts at the state level ordered domestic intelligence agencies on Friday to start collecting material that could be used in efforts to ban the organization, which is considered a religion in the United States but a business in Germany. Domestic intelligence agencies were set up in post-war Germany to protect the country from the threat of neo-Nazis, dangerous right- and left-wing radicals and other threats to a free democratic order.

“In an interview published in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Schäuble described Scientology as an ‘unconstitutional organization.’ ‘Fundamental basic and human rights like the dignity of man or the right to equal treatment are restricted or abrogated. It rejects the democratic system,’ Schäuble told the paper… In the run-up to Friday’s meeting, domestic intelligence agencies determined that the organization does indeed operate in ways that are hostile to the country’s constitution. The dangers presented by the group they found, however, were limited because Scientology has had little success ‘infiltrating’ German society. The group’s membership numbers have also stagnated.

“Domestic intelligence agencies at the state level are advocating against trying to seek sanctions against Scientology for violating a provision of the country’s right of association law that excludes groups that break the law or seek to undermine democratic order. Some politicians have also expressed skepticism that the ban effort will succeed. ‘I doubt they will be able to find sufficient evidence to ban Scientology,’ Sebastian Edathy, the Social Democratic Party chief of the German parliament’s domestic affairs committee, told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel. He described Scientology as problematic, but said it was ‘not really applying the axe to democratic order.’

“Back in 2002, several researchers commissioned by the state of Bavaria completed a comprehensive report that concluded that Scientology’s structure stood ‘in contradiction to central principles of (Germany’s) legal order,’ but researchers spoke only of ‘indications’ that the organization might violate the German right of association law. State and federal interior ministries now say they will conduct more intensive surveillance of the organization through autumn of 2008 and see how Scientology develops before deciding whether to take further steps against it.”

If the current German law is applied correctly, then an attempt to ban Scientology because of alleged unconstitutional activities appears to be doomed to failure. But the fact that Germany’s state interior ministers and Germany’s federal interior minister are prepared to consider such a ban is a frightening development. With enough political pressure, the powers to be might actually be ultimately successful in banning Scientology and other unpopular organizations. This is especially regrettable for a country which should have learned from its Nazi past.

For more information as to what the Bible says regarding upcoming events in Germany and other European nations, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Christmas Trees for China

Der Spiegel Online reported on December 10:

“A combination of rising Chinese demand and the biofuel boom is pushing up Christmas tree prices in Germany. Producers say they just can’t keep up with demand from Asia’s economic giant… The Nordmann fir is proving particularly popular with the export market. The airline Lufthansa is already flying trees to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while freshly felled trees are being transported in refrigerated containers to China. A Christmas tree decked out in the American style has become a status symbol in China, and many retail stores there are adopting the tradition. ‘We don’t have enough goods to keep up with Chinese demand,’ says Christian von Burgsdorff, who runs a Christmas tree company in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. Around 28 million Christmas trees were sold last year in Germany, the highest figure on record.”

Interesting–isn’t it? Christmas trees are being exported to China–a country with a totally different religion than that of Christianity. Why would Chinese want to celebrate Christmas? Is there, perhaps, an unrealized connection between Christmas and Christmas trees and non-Christian religions? Is Christmas and its symbols “Christian” after all? The answers might surprise you. Please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”

… And Now–The Pope Enters the Global Warming Debate

The Daily Mail reported on December 12:

“Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

“The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement… The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind… His remarks reveal that while the Pope acknowledges that problems may be associated with unbridled development and climate change, he believes the case against global warming to be over-hyped.

“A broad consensus is developing among the world’s scientific community over the evils of climate change. But there is also an intransigent body of scientific opinion which continues to insist that industrial emissions are not to blame for the phenomenon.”

Europe Threatens USA on Climate Change Talks

The Associated Press reported on December 13:

“European nations threatened Thursday to boycott U.S.-sponsored climate talks next month unless the Bush administration compromises and agrees to a ‘road map’ for reducing greenhouse gases blamed for global warming… The United States, Japan, Russia and several other governments refused to accept language in a draft document suggesting rich nations consider cutting emissions 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, saying specific targets would limit the scope of future talks… All sides agree it is impossible to deal with climate change unless the United States is involved. It is the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and the only major industrial country that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

“President Bush views his own climate talks as the main vehicle for determining action by the U.S. — and, he hopes, by others. The Jan. 30-31 session in Honolulu is a continuation of September talks at the White House called the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change. The U.S. has invited 16 major economies, including European countries, Japan, China and India, to discuss a program of what are expected to be nationally determined, voluntary cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions. But the EU warned it would stay away unless Washington drops its opposition to mandatory cuts.”

Religious Confusion Galore–Evangelical Christians, Mormonism…

The Associated Press reported on December 5 about the religious beliefs of Mormonism and Evangelicals–and where they agree and disagree. The article stated:

“The fundamental issue: the nature of God… Mormons… disavow belief in the Trinity–that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one–instead believing the three to be individuals united in a single purpose.

“Many non-Mormons dispute claims that the faith’s central text, the Book of Mormon, is a valid account of Jesus’ dealings with ancient Americans. Mormons believe the book was translated through revelation by founder Joseph Smith from a set of buried golden plates. It’s one of three texts from Smith, who also drafted his own version of the Bible, altering many of its passages in light of what he said were errors that had crept into modern translations…

“Culturally, socially and politically, Mormons and evangelical Christians should have no trouble finding common ground. Mormon culture centers on faith and family, with church activities and callings–from teaching Sunday School to leading Boy Scout troops–filling the calendar. A patriarchal society, Mormons hold up the traditional family as the ideal, with women encouraged to raise children instead of work outside the home. Healthy lifestyles are promoted through the faith’s ‘Word of Wisdom,’ which warns against the use of alcohol, tobacco and ‘hot drinks,’ including coffee and tea. Mormons tithe 10 percent of their incomes to their church and are encouraged to serve proselytizing missions. Mormons oppose gay marriage and denounce gambling. They’ve largely supported the war in Iraq and twice voted overwhelmingly for President Bush. The church opposes abortion, except when the health of the mother is at risk…

“Aside from continuing revelation, there are a host of Mormon beliefs that evangelicals find hard to swallow. Mormons, for example, believe in a Heavenly Mother–God’s female partner–a pre-existence in heaven before birth, a hereafter that includes a three-level heavenly kingdom. They wear religious undergarments that some say possess protective powers; they bar non-Mormons from entering their temples; practice posthumous baptism and believe that man can progress to a God-like state in Heaven.”

… and Catholicism

Religious confusion and thoroughly unbiblical teachings are not limited to Evangelical Christians or Mormons. Please notice the following report about the Catholic faith, as published on December 5 by the Catholic news agency, VIS:

“According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti… [Pope] Benedict XVI will grant the faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. [The decree referred to the] ‘forthcoming 150th anniversary of the day in which Mary Most Holy, revealing herself as the Immaculate Conception to Bernadette Soubirous, wished a shrine to be erected and venerated in the place known as ‘Massabielle’ in the town of Lourdes…’

“[The decree stated:] ‘Indeed the succession, over time, of marvelous events … enables us to glimpse the joint operation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church: in the year 1854 the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was defined,’ and ‘in the year 1858 Mary Most Holy showed herself to … Bernadette Soubirous using the words of the dogmatic definition: ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’

“‘In order to draw increased fruits of renewed sanctity from this holy anniversary,’ the decree adds, ‘the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decided to concede the gift of Plenary Indulgence’ to the faithful under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), in the following way:

“… ‘If between December 8, 2007 and December 8, 2008 they visit, preferably in the order suggested: (1) the parish baptistery used for the Baptism of Bernadette, (2) the Soubirous family home, known as the ‘cachot,’ (3) the Grotto of Massabielle, (4) the chapel of the hospice where Bernadette received First Communion, and on each occasion they pause for an appropriate length of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, … and the jubilee prayer or other Marian invocation.’

“… ‘If between February 2, 2008 … and February 11, 2008, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the apparition, they visit, in any church, grotto or decorous place, the blessed image of that same Virgin of Lourdes, solemnly exposed for public veneration, and before the image participate in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least pause for an appropriate space of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, … and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’

“The decree concludes by recalling that faithful who ‘through sickness, old age or other legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence … if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the usual three conditions, on the days February 2 to 11, 2008, in their hearts they spiritually visit the above-mentioned places and recite those prayers, trustingly offering to God, through Mary, the sickness and discomforts of their lives.'”

For more information on the true Nature of God and the unbiblical worship of Mary, please read our free booklets, “Is God a Trinity?” and “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery.”

Back to top

Does God require an individual to tithe on the gross or on the net? Also, is an individual required to tithe on the sale of investments, such as real property, including a house or a condominium?

The answer to this question depends on many different circumstances.

As a general statement, God makes it very clear that His tithing laws are still in force and effect today, and that He commands us to tithe to Him. For a full explanation and discussion of this vital question, please read our free booklet, “Tithing-Today?”

In our booklet, we also discuss how to calculate God’s tithe. We state the following, which sets forth the teaching of the Church of God for many years:

“MONEY—a sensitive subject for many people. Those who have money, don’t want to part with it. Those who don’t have it, long for it. Yet from the time of man’s creation on this earth, God has given instructions on tithing—paying ten percent of our income to God who gave it in the first place…

“The question has been asked many times whether we are to pay tithe from the gross (before taxes are deducted from our paychecks) or from the net (after deduction of taxes). It has been the long-standing policy of the Church to advise that there is no duty to tithe on the gross, as this would be impossible in certain countries, where taxes are so high. At the same time, the Church has always emphasized that it is up to the individual whether he or she wants to tithe from the gross or the net. Many tithe from the gross, following the principle as expressed in Luke 17:10, but this is a personal decision, based on personal circumstances. God looks at the heart of a person. If one chooses to tithe from the net, he would then be obligated, of course, to pay tithe on any tax refunds he might receive in the next year…

“God requires that we pay tithe from our increase. This would include everything that we have acquired through our own labor or our own money (such as salaries and profits from our business, as well as profits from capital investments, interest from savings accounts, or money from renting out property). We are permitted to deduct from our [tithable] income the amount we need to use in order to achieve the increase. For instance, if we own a business, we are permitted to deduct all the costs we spend to run the business. We are only required to pay tithe from the actual increase or profit…

“God requires that we tithe from our increase—what we ourselves produce through our efforts or investment. Gifts or inheritances are not acquired through our own labor and don’t have to be tithed on. The same is true for money given to us in the form of unemployment benefits, pensions or social security. However, it would be advisable, at least in some of those cases, to consider whether a generous special offering would be appropriate. If in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of generosity, again, showing God where our heart is.”

The general guidelines are clearly revealed: We are to tithe from our profit–which is Biblically defined as the increase from our labor and investments. To determine the amount of increase, we are allowed to deduct our expenses. Increase from our labor or our money does not include gifts and inheritances. Therefore, if a person inherits real estate, such as a house or a condominium, or if they are received as gifts, there is no obligation to tithe on them. If a person sells his own house or condominium and uses the proceeds to buy another house or condominium of equal or higher value, there is no tithable increase, either.

Generally speaking, houses or condominiums are paid for over a long period of time. Also, for many, these homes are paid for out of money that was tithed on–if the person has known of this Godly command and has practiced it. Due to increasing values over the years, most homes are sold for more than their original purchase price, and it is this increase that involves tithing considerations.

If a person is selling his house without buying another one–because, for example, the person may own more than one house–then, generally, the person is obligated to tithe from the increase, while being allowed to deduct the amount for any existing mortgage; expenses which were incurred over the years for the upkeep of the house; as well as any loss or decrease in value incurred due to inflation or depreciation. If someone buys a house for $200,000.00, and sells it ten years later for $500,000.00, then the increase would be $300,000.00, minus deductible expenses, as described above. If the calculated final increase turns out to be $200.000.00, then the amount to be paid as tithe would be $20,000.00.

As mentioned, these are very general guidelines, but the principle of paying tithe is clear. God warns all of us not to rob Him by refusing to pay tithes and offerings. He says in Malachi 3:8-9:

“‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me…'”

Surely, no one–and especially no true Christian–would want to be called a cursed robber–and not only an ordinary thief, but one who robs from God and is guilty of defrauding Him.

If in doubt, a Church member should counsel with a minister of God about this matter, before assuming that a tithing obligation exists –or that no such obligation exists–regarding the sale of a house or condominium, or any other matter related to tithing.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

Back to top

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was placed on StandingWatch and on Google Video, titled, “Christmas and Worldwide Peace.” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the paradox that Christmas tells us that Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago to bring peace to this world. If so, why don’t we have peace today amongst all nations? And why did Jesus say that He did not come to bring peace, but the sword? Did He want His disciples to fight others in war? What WAS the purpose of Christ’s First Coming, and what did He really teach and promise mankind?

We have begun to post our StandingWatch programs on You Tube. So far, 25 programs have been posted, including the recent programs on the Law of God, the Origins of Britain and America, Halloween, the Mystery of Revelation, Ghosts, Alcoholism, Christmas, Sunday-keeping, World Conditions, and others. In addition to Google Video, You Tube provides us with a diverse international audience, specifically in Europe.

Our Internet advertisement campaign in the USA has, so far, produced 51 requests for our booklet, “Human Suffering…Why, and How Much Longer?”, and 15 requests for our booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.” Most requested additional booklets, which we are offering with the Christmas booklet, i.e., “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery,” “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” and “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

Back to top

Choice or Confusion?

by Robb Harris

When the first two people walked the earth, God gave them the ability of choice.  He made it clear what the consequences of their choices would be, based upon the simple act of eating or not eating a fruit.

When I fill up my car with gas, I have to select the grade from the many different ones available, and I have to decide on a station of the few which are usually clustered next to each other.

On a recent supermarket trip I had vanilla extract on my list.  When staring at the spice aisle, I was confronted with many brands of the same item, and lingered for a minute or two, figuring out which one I really needed.

Although these are mundane tasks, they are indicative of the many choices that confront us on a daily basis.  The effect of having all these choices can turn into time-consuming irritation and confusion, because this is a world entangled in Satan’s many diverse beliefs and ideologies.

The simple choice of right or wrong that Adam and Eve were given so many years ago, is still applicable today.  Satan has given us a world of grays with no easy answers.  The more time we spend in the avalanche of mundane choices, the less time we spend in the simplicity God has given us.

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

©2023 Church of the Eternal God