Update 356


The Book of Malachi

On Saturday, August 9, 2008, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Book of Malachi.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Spider Solitaire

by Rene Messier (Canada)

There is an interesting game of solitaire on most new computers, called “Spider Solitaire,” which has a rather neat feature–an undo button. This feature allows you to undo a move when you realize that you could have made a better move or that you have just made a rather dumb move, and then you can carry on playing the game. The other nice part about the undo feature is that if you reach a point when you cannot play and would normally have to resign and quit the game, you can undo several moves which allows you to take a different path, make different moves and at times even win the game.

Life is not like that where we can undo things we have said that were perhaps harsh or unkind, or when we have done things which were somewhat disastrous in our life and which might have impacted someone else in a very negative way. Like the saying goes, “You can’t unring a bell.” If we make cutting remarks to someone, we cannot take them back. That is why it is so important to put our brain in gear before we open our mouth. There is an old carpenter’s saying that it is better to measure twice and cut once. Once a board is cut too short, it cannot be used for the intended application.

The Bible tells us to curtail our tongues. James 3:2-5 reads: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.   Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.   Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.   Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!”

This admonition should not be viewed as limited to the things we say, but we should also apply it to the things we do. We really have to use wisdom and ponder our path as it were before acting, because we have to  live with the consequences–sometimes for a very long time.  For example, a person can work for a company for thirty years and no one may notice him, but if he makes one mistake that costs the company a lot of money or lost time, everyone will remember that. They will not recall the good work he did, but they will focus on the disastrous mistake he made.

There are consequences for the things we do, and we have to live with them. I have heard statements like, “That wasn’t the smartest thing to do,” or, “If I had to do it again, I would do it in a different manner.”

 It is important to think twice before acting or reacting too quickly in word or deed. We need to meditate, seek counsel and ask God for wisdom to make correct decisions.  Proverbs 1:5 says: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Proverbs 2:6 adds, “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Life offers us many challenges and opportunities to ensure that the things we say and do are in accordance with God’s Word, instruction and wisdom. We have to live with the consequences of our words–be they kind or harsh–and our actions–be they wise or foolish. After all, life is not a “Spider Solitaire” game which offers us automatic undo buttons.

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“The USA Has Won the Iraq War”?–NO WAY!!!!

In a polemic and highly opinionated piece, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on August 5, stating that the USA has won the Iraq war. Here is what it said: “No matter what happens in November, the war in Iraq will not be brought to an end by either Barack Obama or John McCain. The war in Iraq is over. We’ve won.”

This is utter nonsense, and it totally defies the expert opinions of competent commentators and prominent world leaders–such as former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, as reported in the Current Events of Update 351 (“Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt–‘Both Sides in the Grips of Insanity'”). Schmidt stated that the USA has NOT won, and CANNOT win the Iraq war. The reasons are clear: IF the USA would withdraw its ground troops at once–which, according to Schmidt, are not even sufficient at this point–absolute chaos would ensue in Iraq. Therefore, both U.S. presidential candidates agree that the troops will have to be withdrawn carefully and slowly, depending on the conditions in Iraq. What we are witnessing, then, is an implied or expressed admission of DEFEAT, NOT of victory, with the goal to save face as much as possible under the circumstances.

Notice this article from The Associated Press, which was published on August 7:

“Two Iraqi officials say the U.S. and Iraq are close to a deal under which all American combat troops would leave by October 2010 with remaining U.S. forces gone about three years later. A U.S. official in Washington acknowledges progress has been made on the timelines for a U.S. departure but offered no firm date. Another U.S. official strongly suggested the 2010 date may be too ambitious.

“A timetable is part of a security agreement being negotiated by U.S. and Iraqi officials. Both sides stress the deal is not final and could fall apart over the issue of legal immunity for American troops.”

As we have said so many times, the USA will NOT win another war, according to the clear prophecies of the Bible, UNLESS all of us drastically and fundamentally REPENT of our ways. We have said the same regarding the terrible USA economy–even though some continually DENIED the indisputable fact THAT the U.S. economy is in an awful condition.

When we point out these things in our publications and video presentations, many scoff or become irate and hostile. National repentance does not seem likely, but DENIAL of the true facts will get us nowhere.

Interestingly, the following was reported by AFP on August 7:

“Iraq on Thursday postponed provincial elections due in October after MPs failed to agree the necessary legislation in time, in a blow to US-backed efforts to consolidate national reconciliation… Thursday’s decision was a major setback for both Washington and the United Nations which viewed the ballot as critical to consolidating Iraq’s fledgling political process and reconciling its deeply divided ethnic groups…

“The disagreement centres on an article of original draft legislation that would have divided power amongst the province’s Arab, Kurds and Turkmen communities, but is opposed by the Kurds on the basis of their superior numbers and historical claims to the city. Ethnic tension has dogged Kirkuk since the US-led invasion of 2003 that ousted now executed dictator Saddam Hussein… At least 22 people were killed more than a week ago in a suicide bombing during a protest rally held by Kurds over the same issue in Kirkuk and in gunfire in the panic that followed.”

For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

How American Presidential Campaigns Are Run

On August 5, The Associated Press published an article with the following headline: “Negativity the norm in presidential campaign.”

In the article, it was stated:

“For all the talk about John McCain’s hard-hitting politics, Barack Obama is hardly innocent. Both candidates and their allies are fully engaged in creating unflattering caricatures of each other that they hope will stick in voters’ minds for the next three months. Obama and his Democratic allies argue that the Republican is negative and offers nothing new, while McCain and his Republicans claim the Democrat is presumptuous and ill-prepared… Nevermind that at the outset of the general election Obama and McCain each expressed a desire for a courteous campaign focused on issues and free of the negative politics that have marked – and marred – presidential races.”

Preparations for Strike Against Iran

The Associated Press reported on August 6:

“Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran’s atomic program, even if it can’t destroy it… The Jewish state has purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran… It has bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads — in addition to the three it already has…

“America’s ability to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities is far superior to Israel’s. Unlike Israel, the United States has cruise missiles that can deliver high-explosive bombs to precise locations and B-2 bombers capable of dropping 85 500-pound bombs in a single run.  Yet the cost of an attack — by the U.S., Israel or both — is likely to be enormous. Iran could halt oil production and shut down tanker traffic in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which could send the price of crude skyrocketing and wreck Western economies.”

News24.com reported on August 6:

“Amid the continued tensions, Iran said on Monday it had successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile with a range of 300km that would allow it to close the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman. ‘Given the equipment our armed forces have, an indefinite blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be very easy,’ said the commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. But Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said that any move by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz would be ‘self-defeating’ because its economy is so heavily dependent on income from oil exports.”

German Papers Comment on Potential War With Iran

Der Spiegel Online reported on August 7:

“Following Iran’s non-committal response [earlier this week]  to join in talks over its nuclear enrichment program, UN diplomats are fuming and threatening a fourth set of sanctions… The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘It is incomprehensible that the West continues this senseless game with Iran about nuclear issues. … This strategy of sticks and carrots only hurts the West’s economy and pushes Iran even further into the arms of Russia and China. And it’s also a dangerous game to be playing because it could lead to war. The consequences of such a war would be gruesome not only for Iran and the region, but also for Europe and the United States…’

“The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel writes: ‘Without even a blush, Germany is doing business with the world champion of anti-Semitism and undermining international efforts aimed at imposing sanctions on Iran — such is the tenor of the critique aimed at Berlin for the last week. The source of the criticism is the planned and supposedly “harmless” delivery of three liquefied natural gas plants to Iran by the firm Steiner-Prematechnik Gastec (SPG)… The case makes it clear that the government is disengaged and lacking in any sense of responsibility. And it has also become obvious that the current sanctions and export restrictions on Iran are completely insufficient… The only remaining alternative to military strikes has yet to be tried in earnest: imposing the most targeted and painful economic and political sanctions possible on the regime. Diplomacy without real pressure is just asking for failure. Tehran is just playing for time.'”

The “Conscience of Russia” Is Dead

Reuters reported on August 4:

“Russians on Monday mourned Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the author and dissident whose criticism of the tyranny of Soviet rule made him one of the bravest figures of the 20th century… a chorus of voices across the world expressed grief at the death of a man whose struggle exposed the horror of Josef Stalin’s camps and made him the conscience of Russia… Mikhail Gorbachev… President Dmitry Medvedev and top Russian officials as well as global leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President George W. Bush sent their condolences.”

Der Spiegel added on August 4:

“Solzhenitsyn’s unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the gulags provoked persecution by the Soviet authorities and forced him into an unhappy exile in the West… Solzhenitsyn was arrested in 1945 while fighting Hitler’s forces as a captain in the Red Army. His crime — writing a letter criticizing Stalin — earned him eight years in the slave labor camps, where tens of millions of people perished. He was released in 1953, suffering from stomach cancer, and in 1962, as part of Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin, he was allowed to publish his scathing account of his gulag experiences ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.’

“His acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 earned him the wrath of the new hardline regime of Leonid Brezhnev. He managed to smuggle out his epic work ‘The Gulag Archipelago,’ to be published in Paris. The book’s searing description of the brutal repressiveness of the Soviet system changed the way many Western intellectuals viewed the USSR. It also forced Solzhenitsyn into exile. He was arrested in 1974, stripped of his Soviet citizenship and then expelled to West Germany, where he stayed for a time with the German writer Heinrich Böll. He eventually settled in the US state of Vermont with his wife Natalya.

“The writer became a leading critic of the Soviet Union but he also attacked the West for its materialism and what he saw as the shallow obsession with individualism and liberty. He returned to Russia in 1994 and was outraged by the huge gap between rich and poor, refusing to accept an honor from then President Boris Yeltsin because of his disgust with post-Soviet society.

“Solzhenitsyn gradually warmed to Yeltsin’s successor Vladimir Putin, despite his background as a former KGB officer. Some Western critics began to accuse the writer of becoming an apologist for the increasingly authoritarian rule in Russia and he was also dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism.”

Some German Writers Not Happy With Solzhenitsyn

Especially Solzhenitsyn’s friendship with Vladimir Putin and his support of modern Russia’s policies caused severe criticism in parts of Germany. The Financial Times Deutschland wrote on August 5:

“… to Western observers, he was always an alien figure, and this says a lot about the relationship between established democracies and Russia. As courageous as the maverick Solzhenitsyn may have been in the Soviet era, after his return from exile in 1994 he expressed an opinion that would come to be shared by millions of Russians: Namely, that the Western model of the market economy and democracy nearly destroyed Russia. Coming from the minds of simple Russians who lost their jobs as a result of the unbridled capitalism of the 1990s, that’s an understandable position. But it’s different coming from an intellectual who lived for years in the US.

“For most in Western Europe and America, it is accepted as fact that socialism itself led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, making the re-emergence of Russia possible. But the majority of Russians do not share this viewpoint. And Putin often enjoyed support not because he supported democracy, but because of his anti-democratic tendencies. The Russian people have an arcane yearning for an all-powerful leader. With his vision of a village-like Russian solidarity, Solzhenitsyn nourished and supported Putin. Though Solzhenitsyn contributed significantly to the fight against Stalinism, he had little interest in democracy.”

The Süddeutsche Zeitung echoed these sentiments on August 5, stating:

“For too long, the West overlooked the Solzhenitsyn’s reactionary, anti-modernist tendencies. …the West confused Solzhenitsyn’s hatred of the Soviet powers as a commitment to democracy… Of all people, it was former KGB chief Vladimir Putin who was finally accepted by Solzhenitsyn. Putin… had once again turned the media into an uncritical government mouthpiece… But that didn’t seem to matter to Solzhenitsyn — after all, Putin had restored Russia’s greatness. That was merit enough for the author.”

“Mikhail Gorbachev, who the author despised, praised Solzhenitsyn for his battle for a ‘truly free and democratic country.’ But it was a misunderstanding. The tragedy in Solzhenitsyn, this man of the century, is that he has never recognized his people’s greatest historical achievement: That they liberated themselves from Bolshevism without any bloodshed. Nevertheless, he did help them to achieve this victory — and that’s a lot to accomplish in one lifetime.”

Will Russia Renew Its Ties with Cuba?

Reuters reported on August 4:

“The Kremlin is angry at U.S. plans for a missile defence system in Eastern Europe, and last month a news report suggested Russia might use Cuba, a thorn in America’s side for half a century, as a refueling stop for nuclear-capable bombers… ‘We need to reestablish positions on Cuba and in other countries,’ news agency Interfax quoted Putin as saying…

“Just 144 km (90 miles) from the coast of U.S. state of Florida, Cuba still has no formal diplomatic ties with Washington D.C. At the height of the Cold War in 1962, a two-week crisis over Soviet missiles on the island nearly led to full-blown war.

“Putin’s remarks came after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin reported on a recent three-day visit to Cuba, where he discussed a raft of trade and investment issues and met with Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and now the island’s leader.”

France Accused of Participation in Mass Genocide in Rwanda

On August 5, Der Spiegel Online reported the following:

“Rwanda’s government has released a report into France’s alleged role in the 1994 genocide on Tuesday. It accuses senior French political and military officials of involvement in the mass murder — a charge Paris denies… Those named by the report include former French Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin and late President Francois Mitterand.

“‘The French support was of a political, military, diplomatic and logistic nature,’ the report said. The commission named 33 French political and military officials, Reuters reports. ‘Considering the gravity of the alleged facts,’ the report reads according to Reuters, ‘the Rwandan government asks competent authorities to undertake all necessary actions to bring the accused French political and military leaders to answer for their acts before justice.’…

“The commission spent nearly two years investigating France’s alleged role in the genocide which saw some 800,000 people killed in just 100 days in 1994. It heard testimonies from genocide survivors, researchers and reporters. Kagame’s government has repeatedly accused France of arming and training the Hutu extremists, the Interhahamwe, who perpetrated the genocide — a charge France denies.

“Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations with Paris in 2006 after a French judge implicated Kagame, former leader of the Tutsi rebels, in the downing of then President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane in 1994. The incident unleashed the mass killings of members of the Tutsi minority.”

The French press agency, AFP, added the following on August 5:

“‘French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis… French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors,’ said a justice ministry statement released after the report was presented in Kigali. The 500-page report alleged that France was aware of preparations for the genocide, contributed to planning the massacres and actively took part in the killing. It named former French prime minister Edouard Balladur, former foreign minister Alain Juppe and then-president Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996, among 13 French politicians accused of playing a role in the massacres. The report also names 20 military officials as being responsible.”

The Olympics in China–A Drastic Mistake

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 4:

“Just days before the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies usher in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, reporters from around the world who are in China to cover the games are pulling their hair out. Two things in particular are driving them nuts: not knowing what they will be able to cover and not knowing how much the Chinese government will censor their online coverage…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Now, just a few days before the Olympics start, there is wave upon wave of outrage because Chinese officials are practicing censorship and are trying to put some controls on the freedom of the press. But they are only doing what authoritarian and dictatorial regimes always do. No one can really be unclear about the true character of the Chinese system of rule.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘Seven years ago, it was already clear what is now becoming even clearer: The Olympics cannot be held in a country ruled by a dictatorship without having to play by its rules.’

“Right-leaning Die Welt writes:

“‘… The Chinese leadership continues to bully and even imprison its critics. Dissidents are exiled into the countryside. Journalists are threatened and even denied visas…. The true spirit of the Olympics is dead…'”

German Firms Leave China

Der Spiegel wrote on August 4:

“China lost its status as the world’s cheapest country for manufacturing some time ago. The momentum now seems to be shifting away from outsourcing to the Far East, with one in five Germany companies pulling production out of the country… Some are searching for countries with lower wages while others are returning production to Germany…

“Rising energy costs, stricter environmental rules, the elimination of many tax incentives, a dearth of skilled workers and the increasing strength of the yuan against the dollar have all pushed production costs up in China. In addition, the country’s 8-percent inflation rate has also driven up wages in the past year by as much as 20 percent… For some companies and industries, China is already getting to be too expensive… Chinese companies, too, are increasingly outsourcing production abroad…

“Four years ago, Steiff, a world-famous German company that makes high-quality teddy bears, moved part of its production to China. In early July, though, the company announced it would return all manufacturing to Germany… Steiff CEO Martin Frenchen… said it took six months to train workers to produce the teddy bears’ complicated stitching and to meet the company’s standards for quality. ‘By then you might have already lost them to an automobile factory next door that pays more,’ he added. Despite the company’s arduous efforts to produce high quality products in China, Steiff executives weren’t satisfied with the end result, [Frenchen] said.

“The company also complained of the length of delivery times. Sometimes the ships carrying the company’s stuffed animals would take up to three months to get to Germany. For sales successes like the company’s stuffed Knut polar bear, of which 80,000 were sold, that waiting period was just too long. Following a major scandal last year in which researchers discovered that some toys made in China were coated in toxic lead paint, the public’s faith in production in the country was shaken, and Steiff decided to end its production in Asia.”

Haider To Run for Austrian Chancellor?

The International Herald Tribune wrote on August 2:

“Right-wing politician Joerg Haider said Saturday that he will return as leader of the slumping breakaway party he formed in 2005. Haider, now serving… as governor of the province of Carinthia, said he would replace Peter Westenthaler, who was convicted of providing false testimony about a brawl involving his former bodyguard. Haider also said he was also considering to become the party’s leading candidate for the Sept. 28 elections, but would only vacate his post as governor to serve as chancellor…

“Haider founded the Alliance for the Future of Austria three years ago after breaking away from the extreme-right Freedom Party. That party joined Austria’s coalition government in 2000 after an election campaign tinged with anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic rhetoric, which led to seven months of punitive EU sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Haider handed over the alliance’s leadership to Westenthaler in 2006.”

The Knights Templar Sue the Pope

The Register reported on August 4:

“The Knights Templar are demanding that the Vatican give them back their good name and, possibly, billions in assets into the bargain, 700 years after the order was brutally suppressed by a joint venture between the Pope and the King of France… The Daily Telegraph reports that The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has launched a court case in Spain, demanding Pope Benedict ‘recognise’ the seizure of assets worth €100bn…

“This might come as a surprise to those who believe that the order of warrior monks – also credited with possessing the Holy Grail and laying the foundation of the European banking system – was smashed in 1307 by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France…  it appeared that the order’s suppression was more a piece of realpolitik on the pope’s part to pacify Philip, who was somewhat irked by the prospect of the powerful order increasing its continental activities after Jerusalem fell to the Turks.”

Royal Seal Discovered–Proving Once More the Accuracy of the Bible

WorldNetDaily reported on August 5:

“A team of archaeologists in Israel has unearthed what’s believed to be the royal seal of an Old Testament prince who is said to have tossed the prophet Jeremiah down a well. The stamped engraving, known as a ‘bulla,’ was discovered earlier this year about 600 feet south of the Temple Mount, but is just now making headlines.

“Team leader Dr. Eilat Mazar of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University says the imprint was found in clay, astonishingly well-preserved, bearing the name of Gedaliah, the son of Pashur. ‘How absolutely fantastic and special this find is can only be realized when you hold in your hand this magnificent one-centimeter piece of clay and know that it survived 2,600 years in the debris of the destruction, and came to us complete and in perfect condition,’ Mazar said.

“Gedaliah is mentioned by name in Jeremiah 38:1 as he served Judah’s King Zedekiah in the final days before Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. The prophet’s writings tell of the actions that Gedaliah and his fellow princes took against him:

“‘Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.’ (Jeremiah 38:6) The prophet was rescued after an Ethiopian eunuch pleaded with the king on Jeremiah’s behalf, saying, ‘he is like[ly] to die [from] hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.’ (38:9) The king then ordered 30 men to hoist up the prophet before the city fell to the Babylonians.

“The letters on the seal are in ancient Hebrew… This is actually the second recent discovery of an ancient bulla from the time of Jeremiah. In 2005, Mazar found another seal with the name of Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, who is mentioned twice in the prophet’s book. That artifact was found in a stone structure Mazar believes was part of King David’s ancient palace. She added, ‘It is not very often that such a discovery happens to archaeologists in which real figures of the past shake off the dust of history and so vividly revive the stories of the Bible.'”

Muslims Deny Jewish and Christian Access to Temple Mount

Israel Today wrote on August 1:

“In an interview with Israel Today, Azzam Khatib, director of the Islamic Trust (or Waqf) that safeguards the mosques that sit atop the Temple Mount, said that Jews and Christians who try to pray at the ancient holy site are effectively declaring war. Any non-Muslim ‘who seeks such an approach is really seeking a religious war,’ said Khatib, who insisted that the Temple Mount is an exclusively Muslim site and that Jews and Christians should not even want to pray there…

“Khatib refused to consider the possibility that the site was once home to the First and Second Jewish Temples, calling such claims unsubstantiated myths. When presented with a citation from a 1929 tourist guide published by the Supreme Muslim Council that acknowledged the Temple Mount as the site of Solomon’s Temple, Khatib rejected the idea that such a book was ever published by a Muslim authority… Various Waqf officials also failed to provide a single, cohesive answer as to why the gate on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, known in the Bible as the Golden Gate, is sealed shut. Historical Muslim sources state that the gate was sealed and a cemetery planted in front of it to prevent Jesus’ prophesied return.”

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Would you please explain Hebrews 10:25. Why does Paul warn against "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together"?

Hebrews 10:24-26 reads, in context:

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”

We can clearly see from this passage that Paul warns us not to forsake the “assembling of ourselves together,” as the consequence of doing so could lead to our committing the unpardonable sin.

What is meant by, “assembling of ourselves together”?

Note the following renderings, which make the intended meaning clearer:

The Berkely Version of the New Testament says: “… not neglecting our own church meeting.”

J.B. Phillips writes in The New Testament in Modern English: “And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings.”

The Living Bible states: “Let us not neglect our church meetings…”

The Jewish New Testament, by David H. Stern, renders it in this way: “… not neglecting our own congregational meetings, as some have made a practice of doing so, but, rather, encouraging each other…”

These renditions state correctly that we are not to forsake assembling for CHURCH SERVICES. The following commentaries support this understanding:

The Nelson Study Bible writes:

“Evidently some believers had stopped attending the worship services of the church… [Paul] uses a compound form of the word ‘synagogue,’ which specifically means the local, physical gathering of believers (see Ps. 40:9, 10; 42:4)… The local assembly is where the gospel message is preached, but also where the word of God is applied to the circumstances of our lives… Knowing that Christ’s return is imminent, the believers [are] to encourage each other even more to remain faithful to Him.”

The Ryrie Study Bible writes that the term “assembling” describes “the gathering of Christians for worship and edification,” and that “the Day” describes “the day… of Christ’s coming (also v. 37; 1 Cor. 3:13; Phil. 1:10).”

Some have stated that Paul had public gatherings in mind, when speaking about “assembling together,” rather than private Church worship services. However, this does not seem correct. In any case, as Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains, the difference is of little consequence. Clarke points out:

“Whether this means public or private worship is hard to say; but as the word is but once more used in the New Testament [compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1], and there means the gathering together of the redeemed of the Lord at the day of judgment, it is as likely that it means here private religious meetings, for the purpose of mutual exhortation: and this sense appears the more natural here, because it is evident that the Church was now in a state of persecution, and therefore their meetings were most probably held in private.”

Clarke continues to warn against deserting regular Church attendance, for whatever reason:

“For fear of persecution, it seems as if some had deserted these meetings… They had given up these strengthening and instructive means, and the others were in danger of following their example… Those who relinquish Christian communion are in a backsliding state; those who backslide are in danger of apostasy…”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains that “assembling” describes “their act of meeting together in some one place to attend his [God’s] worship, word, and ordinances. Now to ‘forsake’ such assembling, signifies a great infrequency in attending with the saints, a rambling from place to place, and takes in an entire apostasy. It is the duty of saints to assemble together… on the account of the saints themselves, that they may be delighted, refreshed, comforted, instructed, edified, and perfected… And an assembling together ought not to be forsaken; for it is a forsaking God, and their own mercies, and such are like to be forsaken of God; nor is it known what is lost hereby; and it is the first outward visible step to apostasy, and often issues in it… in our day, this evil practice [of forsaking the assembly of the saints] arises sometimes from a vain conceit of being in no need of ordinances…”

Gill states correctly that forsaking the assembly means forsaking God [as we don’t obey His command to assemble for Church services]. Gill also mentions one important “human justification” for forsaking Church services–the wrong idea that we don’t need the Church; that we can stay at home on our own, doing our own Bible studies and gaining thereby the same kind of knowledge which we might have received by attending Church services. This wrong concept is dangerous. It also ignores the fact that we are not only to assemble to be instructed, but also to fellowship with and encourage and help other members.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains:

“The Greek, ‘episunagoge,’ [for “assembling”] is only found here and [ in 2 Thessalonians 2:1] (the gathering together of the elect to Christ at His coming)… The assembling or gathering of ourselves for Christian communion… is an earnest of our being gathered together to Him at His appearing. Union is strength; continual assemblings together beget and foster love, and give good opportunities for ‘provoking to good works,’ by ‘exhorting one another’… To neglect such assemblings together might end in apostasy at last…”

Jamieson points out correctly that assembling with other members at Church services demonstrates our love to God and to our neighbor–to God, as we DO what He instructs us to do, and to our neighbor, as we show him or her that we care enough for them to assemble and fellowship with them.

The New Bible Commentary:Revised supports this concept:

“There should also be among Christians mutual ‘provocation’… to active good works by deliberately taking notice of each other’s needs… they should not, therefore, copy the custom of some and cease attendance at Christian meetings, but rather use such opportunities for mutual encouragement, and the more so in the light of the approaching consummation and judgment of the Day that is coming.”

In other words, one reason for assembling at Church services is to encourage one another, and to look after the needs of other brethren. Staying at home does not fulfill any of these requirements.

The Life Application Bible gives the following and most helpful analysis:

“We have significant privileges associated with our new life in Christ: (1) we have personal access to God through Christ and can draw near to him without an elaborate system…; (2) we may grow in faith, overcome doubts and questions, and deepen our relationship with God… ; (3) we may enjoy encouragement from one another…; (4) we may worship together (10:25)… To neglect Christian meetings is to give up the encouragement and help of other Christians. We gather together to share our faith and to strengthen one another in the Lord. As we get closer to the ‘Day’ when Christ will return, we will face many spiritual struggles, and even times of persecution. Anti-Christian forces will grow in strength. Difficulties should never be excuses for missing church services. Rather, as difficulties arise, we should make an even greater effort to be faithful in attendance.”

There may always be “legitimate” reasons to the human mind for not attending worship services regularly and in person–reasons such as inconvenience, just not feeling like it, feeling too tired, staying with visiting relatives or friends, persecution, high costs of transportation or distance, as well as the idea that we don’t really “need” to attend. Rather, as the reasoning may go, we might as well stay home today and listen to sermon tapes or live services which are broadcast over the Internet.

However, based on the PURPOSE of PERSONAL CHURCH ATTENDANCE with other members, the means of broadcasting services of the Church of the Eternal God (CEG) over the Internet was developed for those brethren who are scattered, or who might be sick, and who therefore cannot attend regular CEG Church services. It was never meant to be a replacement for personal attendance. Listening to live Internet Church services or listening to sermon tapes does NOT constitute an equally valuable alternative to personal CEG Church attendance. Those who can physically attend CEG Church services are commanded by God to do so, for their own good and for the benefit of other Church members. Listening to Internet services and participating in the chatlines before and after services may only be the second-best option; personal attendance is always the preferable course of action.

The practice of meeting together for religious services that was observed by the New Testament Church of God and that has been faithfully continued to this time is based on God’s command regarding the weekly and annual Sabbath Days. Note how the weekly Sabbath is addressed in Leviticus 23:3: “‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a HOLY CONVOCATION…'”

Focusing on the annual Holy Days, which are also called “Sabbaths” (compare for example Leviticus 23:32, 39), notice the instructions regarding “holy convocations” in Leviticus 23:7-8, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36-37, pertaining to the annual Holy Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.

Concerning the concept of a “holy convocation,” God very carefully commanded His people to assemble for worship services according to His instructions and in the place He chooses (compare Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 14, 18, 21; 16:6, 11, 15-16). Upon the founding of the Church, Jesus Christ established the ministry and holds them strictly responsible to continue guiding His people in obedience to God’s commands–including, “…the assembling of ourselves together” (compare Ephesians 4:11-16).

Acts 2 reports that Christ’s disciples were all assembled in one room on the Day of Pentecost, and that is when they received the Holy Spirit. Would God have given the Holy Spirit to those, using modern terms, who had decided to stay home and listen over the Internet, while they could have assembled in person with the other disciples?

Paul’s warning to us today rings loud and clear: We are NOT to forsake REGULAR PERSONAL Church attendance, if we can reasonably do so. Our attitude towards this command tells God quite a lot about our whole make-up as Christians. How dedicated and zealous are we? How diligent are we to OBEY His command? How much LOVE do we have for God and our brethren? Remember, what we have done for the least of our brethren, that we have done for God. If we decide that it is not important enough for us to personally attend Church services, for whatever reason, then we are walking on dangerous ground. Paul tells us that if we are not careful, such an indifferent neglectful attitude might very well lead to the point that we commit apostasy–the unpardonable sin.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “WHY Is Our Economy THAT Bad?” In the program, Norbert Link discusses that the fact that the U.S. budget deficit will reach $500 billion in 2009. A new law raises the nation’s debt limit to $10.6 trillion. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued $5 trillion in debt. Ford Motor Co. posted the worst quarterly performance in its history. General Motors lost $15.5 billion in the second quarter. So far, seven banks have been shut by regulators in 2008, with many more to follow. 463,000 jobs were lost so far this year. An economic recovery is not expected any time soon, if at all. WHY should this happen to the greatest nation on earth? Is GOD really pleased with how we are living today?

Set forth below are the numbers of all-times views on Google Video, as of August 1,  pertaining to our five most successful sermons:

Bible Study–The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Part 1, 3,525 views and 78 downloads

Bible-Study–Day of Atonement: Mystery of the Atonement Rituals, 2,585 views

Bible Study–Christian Suffering, 2,234 views and 71 downloads

Bible Study–Sin, a Powerful Enemy, 1,465 views and 32 downloads

Bible Study–The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Part 2, 1,141 views and 24 downloads

Set forth below are a few selected comments received from viewers of our StandingWatch programs, as posted on YouTube:

“Why do you keep going on about the Law knowing you yourself cannot live up to all of it? Don’t you know that if you are guilty of breaking one law you are guilty of breaking them all? THAT is the reason for Jesus’ death on the cross, YOUR inability to keep the law. It seems you can’t accept the cross of Christ for what it is. You have not been made complete by grace. Just accept it man, Christ fulfilled the law and then died in your place because YOU(WE) could not fulfill it. Dude read Romans!”

“I agree with you. As it says in the psalms, ‘The law of the Lord is perfect.'”

“Useless preaching. No hard facts.”

“Blessed are those, whom God instructs.”

“The Bible does not mention the peak oil crisis, nor does it mention climate change, world wide human overpopulation, soil degradation, fiat-money and many other cataclysms of the modern world faces. Why should an ancient scripture be appropriate in today’s world? Sorry, but the Bible? has no appeal to me at all. It’s a document of a past ancient world.”

“I thought it was a serious video and then the guy goes on talking about the Bible… Don’t waste your time watching this…”

“Thank you for another outstanding program. Prophecy is falling into place right before our eyes. And it seems that there are still too many ignorant people out there who think they know everything. But instead they know nothing and could not care less what is being said in those programs. They rather listen to any other book inspired by man. But I believe that the time will come when most of them will wake up–hopefully–I know that you are doing your part.”

“The status quo of the US economy is the product of a greedy money culture, that has no moral or social values anymore. We are witnessing the fall of great nation.”

“Things are going to get worst. I urge everyone to accept Jesus Christ !!!!”

“Dude, hope all that listen to this will listen. Man, this is no joke!”

“I agree. God bless you.”

“Put up your treasures in heaven. I like that. It’s a great message.”

“I’ve watched your video on ‘Will Your Soul Go To Heaven?’ I was overwhelmed to learn that you agree with me. I do not believe man has an immortal soul.”

“Everyone needs to hear this message about Halloween. Thank you for revealing the truth about this festival. People need to stop following tradition and ask themselves about origins and customs of holidays they celebrate.”

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Blind Faith

by Louise Amorelli
My husband and I live in a very rural area with mountainous terrain and unpaved narrow country backroads.  We moved here to leave the “rat race” of urban life and drink in the serene and breathtaking views of the two mountain ranges that surround our home.  Quite a difference from the fast-paced thrill-seeking drivers on the New Jersey turnpike that seem to enjoy leaving those drivers in the dust who take life in stride in the slow lane. 

But as laid back as these West Virginia roads can be, there is still danger and uncertainty.

As I drive my “city” car ‘round these country roads with spectacular views, I realize that I need to use wisdom.  Many roads are two lanes with no dividing yellow line, with just enough space between two passing cars to barely squeeze through.  When the road bends, you just don’t know how fast the other car will be coming.  You also hope that the oncoming driver will use his or her expert and cautious driving skills to judge where his or her side of the road begins and ends.

One of the scariest driving situations I encounter is when I have to drive over a one-lane-bridge with poor visibility that I can’t even see the oncoming car!! I still cringe when I have to make it to the other side of that one-lane-bridge.  Each time I do, I pray that God will guide me to the other side safely.  I am totally in His hands and each time,  I realize what blind faith really means.  Since moving here, there have been many trials that have tested my faith, not knowing what awaits me on the other side.  But I have and will put my faith in God, knowing that He will get me through to the other side, safely.  I know that I have to continue to humble my life to Him and to His lead, no matter what lies ahead.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God