Update 389


Proofs for God’s Existence

On Saturday, April 11, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Proofs for God’s Existence”.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, is the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from California.

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 am and 3:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.


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Being Different — for the Right Reason

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Many today do not like to conform. They like to be “different,” but so many can fall into a particular non-conformist category that they actually do conform to that particular group or rebellious ideal! Conformity is going along with the group, and peer pressure is a manifestation of this.  

Wikipedia defines peer pressure as follows: “Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to the group.” There are those who may be too shy or retiring or want to avoid ridicule that they conform and give into such pressure. These are problems that we can all face.

But when we become church members, we do become different from the world (James 4:4), because the church is not of the world. It is not whether or not we WANT to be different – we are left with no alternative!

We have just kept the Passover and are now keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread. The world has no idea what this is all about. Had anyone entered our services where we were footwashing, they could have easily wondered what we were doing. And not eating leaven for seven days? Whether we like it or not, our calling makes us different – but we are different, not for personal, egotistical or rebellious reasons – but purely and simply for the right reasons.

We should thank God that we are different; otherwise, we would not be on the road to eternal life in God’s Kingdom. It is a privilege to be different.   We are different because we have a marvelous calling. It is according to God’s instructions, and because we are happy to follow that lead.

Being different–for the right reasons–should suit us just fine!

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The Week in Review

Our lead article deals with this week’s powerful earthquake in Italy, 70 miles northeast of Rome–just a day before this year’s Feast of Passover. Sadly, the Bible reveals that a most powerful earthquake will strike and utterly devastate Rome in the not-too-distant future.

Powerful earthquakes also struck this week on the political scene, even though some of them were not that clearly recognized. The G-20 summit was not only an utter failure for the USA, but its decisions could have set in motion worse things to come. Turkey’s blackmail approach and President Obama’s meddling have angered Europeans, including Germany and France.

In addition, Mr. Obama’s non-committal towards a U.S. missile defense system in Europe; his acknowledgment of Europe’s leadership role in the world; his paralysis regarding the North-Korean launch of a rocket; his inability to convince Europeans to play a more active role in Afghanistan; his hint that he might give in to Iranian demands; his talks on nuclear disarmament; and his statement of appreciation for Islam have further raised not a few eyebrows abroad and in the USA.

A German law authorizing nationalization of banks brought back painful memories of the Nazi era, and both Tony Blair and Angela Merkel have shown strong interest in becoming the first permanent EU President.

Turning our attention to the USA, governmental “scrutiny” is now directed towards compensation of nonprofit organizations’ executives, while the U.S. Taxpayer cost for bailout is much larger than first announced. The Iowa Supreme Court reinterpreted the Iowa Constitution regarding marriage, and the US is warned not to repeat Argentina’s embrace of socialism, which, as a consequence, went from being one of the richest to one of the poorest countries under the Perons.

We conclude with revealing quotations from widely-accepted sources regarding the origins and customs of Easter.

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Central Italy

Der Spiegel Online reported on April 6:

“A powerful earthquake struck central Italy early Monday morning. At least 90 bodies [on Wednesday, April 8, the number was reported as at least 250] have been recovered from beneath the rubble and authorities are warning that at least 50,000 may have been left homeless. [This estimated number was later reduced to about 17,000.] Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared a state of emergency.

“A massive earthquake caught many in their sleep in Italy on Monday morning in the city of L’Aquila at 3:32 a.m. People scrambled in panic into the streets and buildings several stories tall toppled like houses of cards. Hours after the disaster, survivors wandered about in a trance-like state, covered in blankets as they made their way through streets that had been completely destroyed. Many have lost everything: relatives and friends, a roof over their head as well as their belongings…

“The earthquake hit around 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Rome, and the epicenter was reported to be near L’Aquila, a city in the mountainous Abruzzo region with a population of 70,000. The US Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 6.3 on the Richter scale, although Italian seismologists said it was 5.8.

“Thousands of buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed and many are believed to be at risk of collapsing… The earthquake didn’t last longer than 30 seconds, but it was still enough to completely destroy L’Aquila’s historic city center. Eyewitnesses said the sound of the buildings crumbling was like ‘a bomb exploding’… Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi… canceled a planned visit to Russia to focus on the crisis…

“The quake is Italy’s worst since a 1980 temblor in the south of the country which killed 2,735 people. Earthquakes in Italy often have particularly severe impacts due to the large numbers of centuries-old buildings.”

Several aftershocks occurred, including some with the magnitude of 5.7 on the Richter Scale.

Why the G-20 Summit Is Responsible for the Next Bigger Crisis

Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 3:

“The G-20 has agreed on plans to fight the global downturn. But its approach will only lay the foundation for the next, bigger crisis. Instead of ‘stability, growth, jobs,’ the summit’s real slogan should have been ‘debt, unemployment, inflation.’ Now they’re celebrating again. An ‘historic compromise’ had been reached, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the conclusion of the G-20 summit in London, while US President Barack Obama spoke of a ‘turning point’ in the fight against the global downturn…

“When the celebrations have died down, it will be easier to look at what actually happened in London with a cool eye. The summit participants took the easy way out. Their decision to pump a further $5 trillion (€3.72 trillion) into the collapsing world economy within the foreseeable future, could indeed prove to be a historical turning point — but a turning point downwards. In combating this crisis, the international community is in fact laying the foundation for the next crisis, which will be larger. It would probably have been more honest if the summit participants had written ‘debt, unemployment, inflation’ on the wall.

“The crucial questions went unanswered because they weren’t even asked. Why are we in the current situation anyway? Who or what has got us into this mess?…

“There are — even in the modern world — two things that no private company can do on its own: wage war and print money. Both of those things, however, formed Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many column inches have already been devoted to Bush’s first mistake, the invasion of Baghdad. But his second error — flooding the global economy with trillions of dollars of cheap money — has barely been acknowledged. No other president has ever printed money and expanded the money supply with such abandon as Bush. This new money — and therein lies its danger — was not backed by real value in the form of goods or services…The US had begun to hallucinate…

“The addiction to new cash injections was chronic. The US had allowed itself to sink into an abject lifestyle. It sold more and more billions in new government bonds in order to preserve the appearance of a prosperous nation. To make matters worse, private households copied the example of the state. The average American now lives from hand to mouth and has 15 credit cards. The savings rate is almost zero…

“The president and the head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, knew about the problem very well. Perhaps the Americans even knew just how irresponsible their actions were — at any rate, they did everything they could to hide them from the world. Since 2006, figures for the money supply — in other words, the total number of dollars in circulation — have no longer been published in the US…

“Only on the basis of independent estimates can the outside world get a sense of the internal erosion of what was once the strongest currency in the world. These estimates report a steep rise in the amount of money in circulation. Since the decision to keep the figures confidential, the growth rate for the expansion of the money supply has tripled. Last year alone, the money supply increased by 17 percent… Barack Obama has continued the course towards greater and greater state debt — and increased the pace. One-third of his budget is no longer covered by revenues. The only things which are currently running at full production in the US are the printing presses at the Treasury.

“At the summit in London, delegates talked about everything — except this issue. As a result, no attention was given to the fact that the crisis is being fought with the same instrument that caused it in the first place. The acreage for cheap dollars will now be extended once again…

“The International Money Fund was authorized to double, and later triple, its assistance funds — by borrowing more. The World Bank is also being authorized to increase its borrowing. All the participating countries want to help their economies through state guarantees, which, should they be made use of, would result in a huge increase in the national debt.”

“With Obama’s Approval, Europe Has Done It”

On his Website, DickMorris.com, Dick Morris wrote on April 6:

“On April 2, 2009, the work of July 4, 1776 was nullified at the meeting of the G-20 in London. The joint communiqué essentially announces a global economic union with uniform regulations and bylaws for all nations, including the United States. Henceforth, our SEC, Commodities Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Board and other regulators will have to march to the beat of drums pounded by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), a body of central bankers from each of the G-20 states and the European Union…

“The FSB is… charged with ‘implementing…tough new principles on pay and compensation and to support sustainable compensation schemes and the corporate social responsibility of all firms.’ That means that the FSB will regulate how much executives are to be paid and will enforce its idea of corporate social responsibility at ‘all firms’…

“Obama, perhaps feeling guilty for the US role in triggering the international crisis, has, indeed, given away the store. Now we may no longer look to presidential appointees, confirmed by the Senate, to make policy for our economy. These decisions will be made internationally.

“And Europe will dominate them. The FSF [“Financial Stability Forum”] and, presumably, the FSB, is now composed of the central bankers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus representatives of the World Bank, the European Union, the IMF, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“Europe, in other words, has six of the twelve national members. The G-20 will enlarge the FSB to include all its member nations, but the pro-European bias will be clear. The United States, with a GDP three times that of the next largest G-20 member (Japan), will have one vote. So will Italy.

“The Europeans have been trying to get their hands on our financial system for decades. It is essential to them that they rein in American free enterprise so that their socialist heaven will not be polluted by vices such as the profit motive. Now, with President Obama’s approval, they have done it.”

Obama Acknowledges Europe’s Leading Role in the World

USA Today reported on April 3:

“In office just over two months, Obama was in the midst of his first European trip as president as he sought to strengthen the United States’ standing in the world while working with foreign counterparts to right the troubled global economy. Obama said the United States shares blame for the crisis, but that ‘every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead — especially now.’

“Back home, his administration was trying to weather the fallout of another dismal monthly jobs report that was announced as Obama spoke in France. The jobless rate jumped to 8.5%, the highest since late 1983, as a wide range of employers eliminated a net total of 663,000 jobs in March…

“Obama bluntly said the relationship between the United States and Europe has gone adrift, with blame on both sides. In America, he said, ‘there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. There have been times when America’s shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,’ Obama said. Yet in Europe, he said, there is an anti-America attitude that seems casual but can also be insidious. He said America can be unfairly blamed for many problems.”

“Obama Fails to Win NATO Troops He Wants for Afghanistan”

The Times wrote on April 4:

“Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to America’s allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, warning that failure to do so would leave Europe vulnerable to more terrorist atrocities. But though he continued to dazzle Europeans on his debut international tour, the Continent’s leaders turned their backs on the US President.

“Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister. Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama’s host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request.”

Obama Intervenes at NATO’s 60th-Anniversary Summit–but at What Cost?

The Associated Press reported on April 4:

“The alliance risked arousing hostility in the Muslim world by choosing the prime minister of Denmark as secretary-general after overcoming Turkish objections over Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s support of a Danish newspaper’s right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad…

“Turkey said Obama was essential to negotiations that overcame its objections to Fogh Rasmussen and ended with all 28 NATO leaders unanimously approving the Danish Prime Minister as the new civilian leader of the alliance.

“Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government’s requests had included the closure of a Kurdish satellite television broadcaster based in Denmark; the establishment of contacts between NATO and Islamic countries; appointment of a Turk as an aide to Fogh Rasmussen and senior NATO command positions for Turkish generals.”

The EUObserver added on April 4:

“NATO on Saturday (4 April) named Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as its new secretary general, overcoming Turkish opposition during difficult talks which caused fresh tension in EU-Turkey relations… The stalemate saw EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn suggest to Finnish state broadcaster YLE that Ankara may be unfit to join the EU because it does not respect freedom of speech… Politicians in the circle of German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attacked Turkey. ‘Whoever puts Islamic propaganda above the future of NATO and our European system of values, has nothing to look for in the EU,’ Alexander Dobrint, the secretary general of Ms Merkel’s sister party, the Christian-Social Union, told German press.

“Turkish President Abdullah Gul did not take kindly to the remarks, calling the EU commissioner’s intervention ‘unfortunate’ and ‘unpleasant’ and warning that it would increase anti-EU sentiment in Turkey… The Turkish president explained that promises made by US President Barack Obama, rather than the veiled threats on EU accession, finally secured Ankara’s approval for the Danish appointment…”

Obama Angers Europeans By Pushing for Turkey Membership in EU

The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 5:

“President Barack Obama arrived in Turkey late Sunday, after riling the European Union by urging its leaders to accept the large and mainly Muslim nation as a member. Washington has long supported EU membership for Turkey, a prickly yet strategic U.S. ally. Mr. Obama said Sunday at an EU-U.S. summit in Prague that pushing forward with membership would ‘ensure we continue to anchor Turkey firmly in Europe.’

“But coming just a day after Turkey forced a series of concessions from fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization before accepting their choice of a Dane to head the alliance, Mr. Obama’s appeal drew a sharp response from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. ‘I have been working hand in hand with President Obama, but when it comes to the European Union it’s up to member states of the European Union to decide’ on membership, Mr. Sarkozy told French television from Prague. ‘I have always been opposed to this entry, and I remain opposed.’

“Turkey has started membership talks with the EU, but the process has been partially frozen because of opposition from members including France, Germany and Cyprus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, otherwise effusive about Mr. Obama’s performance in Prague on Sunday, also said coolly that there were ‘different opinions’ on how to strengthen the relationship between Turkey, a nation of 70 million, and the EU…

“A European Union diplomat familiar with the talks said the attitude of EU members toward Turkish membership had darkened noticeably after the NATO dispute. Some EU countries’ leaders saw that as confirmation of their suspicion that Turkey wouldn’t act as a team player once inside the EU. ‘More and more EU countries have doubts about Turkish accession,’ said the diplomat. ‘The mood at the table was grumpy.'”

Deutsche Welle added on April 5 that “Obama hits French and German nerves over Turkey’s EU bid.” It continued: “The US stance that Turkey belongs firmly in the EU took some of the gloss off a largely harmonious EU-US summit in Prague with France flatly rejecting the idea and Germany voicing reservations about it.”

Germany Unhappy With Obama Over Turkey

Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 7:

“US President Barack Obama says Turkey’s future is in the European Union. Not everyone agrees. Numerous politicians in Germany have gone on the attack, and even French President Sarkozy is unimpressed. Turkey’s role at the NATO summit has soured the mood…

“On Monday, a number of politicians, particularly in Germany, went on the offensive. ‘It is a meddling in the internal affairs of Europe,’ Bernd Posselt, a member of the European Parliament from Bavarian’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), blustered in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. ‘The EU is not Obama’s plaything. … He should accept Turkey as America’s 51st state instead,’ he continued.

“Markus Ferber, the CSU’s lead candidate in European Parliament elections set for early June, echoed his party colleague. ‘There is no question that the US has a voice in NATO. But when it comes to membership in its own club, the EU decides by itself,’ he said. ‘We don’t need any tutoring from abroad.’

“Party head Horst Seehofer said that Europe’s ‘internal harmony’ is dependent on ‘common cultural and spiritual roots.’ He went on to say that ‘Turkey, as self-proclaimed representative of the Muslim world, clearly doesn’t fit in’…”

Obama’s “Turkey” in Turkey

The New York Post wrote on April 8:

“The real climax of President Obama’s Spring Apologies Tour wasn’t his photo op with our troops in Baghdad or even his ‘American Guilt’ concerts in Western Europe. While fans in the press cheered wildly at every venue, the real performance came in Turkey. And it was a turkey… the road to embassy takeovers and strategic humiliation is paved with good intentions — coupled with distressing naivete.

“On every stage, Obama draped Lady Liberty in sackcloth and ashes, drawing plentiful applause but no serious economic or security cooperation in return. Then, in Turkey, he surrendered our national pride, undercut our interests and interfered in matters that aren’t his business. On the latter point: Suppose the European Union president went to Cuba and insisted that the world’s sunniest concentration camp should be welcomed into NAFTA? That’s the equivalent of what our president did in Ankara on Monday when he declared that he supports Turkey’s bid for EU membership.

“The Europeans don’t want Turkey in their club. Because Turkey isn’t a European state, nor is its culture European. And it isn’t our business to press Europe to embrace a huge, truculent Muslim country suffering a creeping Islamist coup. The Europeans were appalled by Turkey’s neo-Taliban tantrum on-stage at last week’s NATO summit. The Turks fought to derail the appointment of a great Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as the new NATO secretary general. Why? Because he didn’t stone to death the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed.

“Which brings us to the even bigger problem: Obama has no idea what’s going on in Turkey. By going to Ankara on his knees, he gave his seal of approval to a pungently anti-American Islamist government bent on overturning Mustapha Kemal’s legacy of the separation of mosque and state.

“Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, means headscarves, Korans, censorship and stacked elections. The country’s alarmed middle class opposes the effort to turn the country into an Islamic state. Obama’s gushing praise for the AKP’s bosses left them aghast. Obama’s embrace of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now orchestrating show trials of his opponents) was one step short of going to Tehran and smooching President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“What was Obama thinking? He wasn’t. He relied on advice from State Department appeasement artists who understand neither Turkey, Islam nor the crises raging between the Bosporus and the Indus… Insisting that America’s always guilty, Obama omitted any mention of Turkey’s wartime betrayals of our troops, its continuing oppression of its Kurd minority or the AKP’s determination to turn a state with a secular constitution into a Wahhabi playground. When it came to the Armenian genocide, Obama bravely ducked…”

Obama Appreciates Islamic Faith

On April 6, The Associated Press reported the following:

“Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States ‘is not and will never be at war with Islam.’

“Calling for a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al Qaida as extremists who did not represent the vast majority of Muslims… ‘America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida,’ he said. ‘… We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country,’ Obama said.”

Obama Might Give in to Iran

The Financial Times wrote on April 3:

“US officials are considering whether to accept Iran’s pursuit of uranium enrichment, which has been outlawed by the United Nations and remains at the heart of fears that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability. As part of a policy review commissioned by President Barack Obama, diplomats are discussing whether the US will eventually have to accept Iran’s insistence on carrying out the process, which can produce both nuclear fuel and weapons- grade material.

“’There’s a fundamental impasse between the western demand for no enrichment and the Iranian dem­and to continue enrichment,’ says Mark Fitzpat­rick, a former state depart­ment expert now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. ‘There’s no obvious compromise bet­ween those two positions’…

“’There is a growing recognition in [Washington] that the zero [enrichment] solution, though still favoured, simply is unfeasible,’ says Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. ‘The US may still have zero as its opening position, while recognising it may not be where things stand at the end of a potential agreement.'”

Nuclear Disarmament?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 6:

“What Mr. Obama wants to kill specifically is the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which the Bush Administration supported over Congressional opposition, and which Mr. Obama now opposes despite the support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the military… The irony is that Mr. Obama’s opposition is making substantial reductions in the total U.S. arsenal that much riskier…

“The thinking here is that somehow the American example will get Russia, as well as North Korea, Pakistan and perhaps Iran, to reject nuclear weapons. In fact, a U.S. nuclear arsenal that is diminished in both quantity and quality would be an incentive for these countries to increase their nuclear inventories, since the door would suddenly be opened to reach strategic parity with the last superpower. Mr. Medvedev, for one, recently announced Russia would pursue ‘large-scale rearmament’ of its army and navy, including nuclear arsenals. France also plans to deploy new sea-based nuclear missiles next year, even as it reduces the overall size of its arsenal.”

USA and EU Condemn North Korea’s “Provocative Act”

Deutsche Welle reported on April 6:

“North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket has drawn a ‘strong condemnation’ from the European Union. The UN Security Council ended an emergency session without agreeing to an immediate response to the missile launch… The EU called on Korea to ‘immediately suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner…’

“The North Korean rocket launch will test US President Barack Obama, who announced soon after his arrival in France on Friday that he wanted to move towards ‘a world without nuclear weapons’… Obama blasted the rocket launch on Sunday morning and promised he would push for action at the upcoming Security Council meeting. ‘With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations,’ Obama said.”

Russia and China Prevent Sanctions Against North Korea

On April 8, RIA reported:

“Moscow is concerned by Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch, but believes that imposing sanctions against North Korea would be counterproductive, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“North Korea launched a multistage rocket that it said was carrying a communications satellite on Sunday morning, defying pressure from the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries, which suspect the launch was a cover for a test of a Taepodong-2 long-range missile…

“The 15-member Security Council convened for an emergency meeting late on Sunday at Japan’s request, to discuss sanctions against Pyongyang following the launch, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation…

“The U.S. and other countries argued for sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that the launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, but Russia and China called for restraint on the grounds that the resolution does not prohibit the launch of satellites.”

No Clear U.S. Commitment for Missile Defense System in Europe

The EUObserver reported on April 5:

“US President Barack Obama gave no clear commitment to building missile defence bases in Europe… The US leader thanked a ‘courageous’ Poland and Czech Republic for agreeing with the previous White House administration to host US anti-missile facilities despite Russian opposition. But he repeated doubts over the value of the multi-billion dollar scheme and linked construction to the evolution of a ballistic threat from Iran.

“‘As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defence system that is cost effective and proven,’ Mr Obama said. ‘If the Iranian threat is eliminated …the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe at this time will be removed.'”

Why Obama’s Policies Won’t Work

The Guardian wrote on April 6:

“History may one day record it as a stark irony… that on the very day that Barack Obama was sketching out to an adoring throng in Prague his vision of a post-nuclear world, North Korea launched a rocket that may one day give it the capacity to fire a nuclear warhead as far as 3,700 miles. This means, to get down to brass tacks, that it could hit Alaska…

“Many people want to believe… that Obama can change the world dramatically in the next four years. It’s been a long time since a US president has been so admired. And it’s never been the case that a president so admired has directly succeeded a president so reviled. So the idea has taken root, in America and to a considerable extent elsewhere, that the rest of the world should be so grateful to be dealing with Obama and not Bush that they’ll at least come to the table and see reason…

“North Korea, like any state, has national interests… the North Koreans are going to do what they think they need to do… they couldn’t care less who the American president is.

“Neither could the Iranians, and neither, probably, could the Syrians… Neither [could] the Pakistanis and the Indians. Nor [could] Likud and Hamas. And we learned last week that adoration has its limits even among the closest of friends. Europe is not helping out much militarily on Afghanistan. This isn’t because Obama wasn’t persuasive enough. It’s because nations have interests as they perceive them, and they will act to protect those interests (and because democratic societies have public opinion, which is strongly against such assistance across Europe)…”

Tony Blair–the Next European President?

The Independent wrote on April 5:

“Tony Blair has emerged as the leading candidate to become the first permanent president of the European Union after Gordon Brown gave his grudging blessing to the plan. The former prime minister has stepped up his campaign for the job, which he wants to use to build a bridge between Europe and the new Obama administration. His return to the global stage would be a shock to his critics over the Iraq war and dismay many in Europe… Other European leaders are also broadly supportive because they want a high-profile figure to represent the 27-nation bloc in the new alliance with the US administration. Mr Blair remains a popular figure in the US.

“After initially trying to block Mr Blair as a possible candidate last year, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has thrown his weight behind the former prime minister. As the eyes of the world were on London’s G20 summit last Wednesday, Mr Blair held private talks with the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in Brussels. The talks focused on his work as Middle East envoy to the quartet of world powers, but it is almost certain that the two men discussed his candidacy. The former premier also visited Sweden last week, where he shared a platform with Bill Clinton at a climate change conference.

“The presidency job is dependant on Ireland voting ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty, which creates the position. The Irish referendum will take place in the autumn. But Mr Blair’s plans could still be scuppered if Angela Merkel loses the German general election in September. She is thought to have a strong desire for the job in the event of defeat.”

Painful Memories of Nazi Seizures

Thelocal.de reported on April 3:

“Germany adopted a highly controversial emergency law on Friday allowing the government to nationalise stricken banks by seizing investors’ shares if necessary. It was passed by the Bundesrat, the country’s upper house of parliament after being passed last month by the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house…

“Berlin has stressed it would only forcibly seize… shares ‘as a last resort’ and would compensate investors based on the share’s stock market value, but some critics say the legislation has stoked painful memories of Nazi seizures of Jewish property in the 1930s and communist moves following World War II.”

And Now–Compensation of U.S. Nonprofit Executives Under Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 6:

“An Internal Revenue Service official warned nonprofits to be mindful of executive-compensation practices amid public ire over large bonuses at insurer American International Group Inc. and other Wall Street firms that have received federal aid.

“Lois Lerner, the IRS’s director of tax-exempt organizations, told a gathering of lawyers representing charities Monday that scrutiny of nonprofits’ pay practices is likely to increase. Nonprofit leaders should be sure to practice due diligence in making sure their executive pay can be justified through data on comparable practices at similar organizations, she said…

“Nonprofit pay packages pale in comparison to some of those doled out to Wall Street executives. But a series of charity scandals in the past few years has focused attention on executive pay… Ms. Lerner of the IRS said the agency’s redesign of charities’ annual tax form – known as Form 990 – will make it easier for people to find information on executive pay… The new form, redesigned for the first time in some 20 years, triggers detailed disclosures of various compensation perks under certain circumstances, such as when an employee makes more than $150,000. Among the compulsory disclosures: First-class air travel, expense accounts, housing allowances and the use of bodyguards, chauffeurs and personal lawyers.

“Ms. Lerner urged charities to make certain governance practices public, to assure Americans they’re using their tax-exempt money appropriately. Ms. Lerner added that the IRS’s exempt organizations division is about to get more staff, who will provide guidance to nonprofits on complying with new regulations, among other things. The staff… also decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to organizations. Critics have long pointed to staff shortages at the IRS as one reason some charities fail to comply with various rules.”

“Estimated U.S. Taxpayer Cost for Bailout Jumps”

Reuters wrote on April 4:

“U.S. congressional budget analysts have raised their estimate of the net cost to taxpayers for the government’s financial rescue program to $356 billion, an increase of $167 billion from earlier estimates… The additional cost, which applies to TARP spending for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, was included in the CBO’s March projection of a $1.8 trillion deficit for fiscal 2009, which ends September 30.”

Marriage Not Limited to One Man and One Woman in Iowa

The Des Moines Register reported on April 3:

“The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry. ‘The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,’ the justices said in a summary of their decision. The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24… The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages.”

Is America Copying Argentina’s “Disastrous Path”?

The Washington Times wrote on April 4:

“The disastrous path on which America is currently embarked was tried in another country. A fact not well known is that Argentina, prior to World War II, was an economic powerhouse. Beginning in the 1880s and continuing through the 1920s and 1930s, it was regarded as one of the most prosperous and advanced nations in the world. Then Juan Peron and his wife, Eva, took control in the 1940s until a coup in 1955 ousted them from power.

“Argentina had a strong industrial base, thriving agricultural exports, huge cattle ranches, and a broad and expanding middle class. Like America, it served as a magnet for immigrants from all over the world, especially Italians. Within 15 years under the Perons, Argentina, however, went from being one of the richest to one of the poorest countries. To date, it has never fully recovered.

“Upon coming to office, Peron, along with his popular beautiful wife, Eva, created a state characterized by lavish social spending, elaborate welfare programs, protectionism, confiscatory taxation, and runaway deficits. Juan Peron used class warfare rhetoric. He attacked big business, the banks, the private corporations, and the propertied class. He gave the labor unions power and made them pivotal allies of his regime. Then Peron expanded the bloated government bureaucracy to intervene in every aspect of business and life, which led to internal corruption.

“Peron’s central socialist economic planning destroyed industrial productivity and growth. The world’s investment capital fled. Taxes, inflation, unemployment, and interest rates soared and the middle class was wiped out. Finally, an independent judiciary and media ceased to exist. Eva’s cult of supporters fostered a climate of violence and political enemies of the regime were exterminated. Argentina degenerated into the typical debt-ridden Latin American country that it still is today.

“The failure of Argentina under Peron should serve as a warning to us. Socialism and a sky-rocketing debt can permanently impoverish even the  wealthiest of nations and America is not immune from the laws of economics. Obama is taking the first dangerous steps toward an American version of Peronism. His followers see him as a political messiah and a revolutionary change agent. He and the Democrats are plundering the country, using it as a vehicle to reward supporters and punish foes. They plan to confiscate wealth by taxing the rich and successful business class. Obama’s plan to do away with secret ballets will strengthen the labor unions. His wife, Michelle, is the Eva Peron of our time, a glamorous, chic, socialist fashion trend-setter who is beloved by the media.

“Just remember, ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.'”

Interesting Facts on Easter and Its Customs

The Encyclopedia Britannica wrote in its 27th edition, 1959, volume 7, about Easter:

“The English word, ‘Easter’… corresponding to the German Ostern, reveals Christianity’s indebtedness to the Teutonic tribes of central Europe. Christianity, when it reached the Teutons, incorporated in its celebrations of the great Christian feast many of the heathen rites and customs which accompanied their observance of the spring festival… The customs and symbols associated with the observance of Easter have ancient origins, not only in the Teutonic rites of spring but also far back in antiquity… the conception of the egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who also had the custom of colouring and eating eggs during their spring festival… Like the Easter egg, the Easter hare… came to Christianity from antiquity… 

“And those families who, by custom, eat ham on Easter Sunday are unwittingly following an old practice of the Roman Catholics of England, who ate a gammon of bacon on Easter to show their contempt for the Jews, to whom pork is forbidden…

“In England… the Puritans… refused to celebrate Easter. Thus at first in the U.S… Easter was not observed. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century, particularly during the Civil War, that the Protestant churches, other than the Lutheran and the Episcopalian, began to mark this day by special services… The Protestant churches also followed the [pagan] custom of holding sunrise services on Easter morning.”

The Reader’s Digest Publication, “Why in the World,” copyright 1994, states the following about Easter and its customs, on pages 199-201:

“Originally, Easter had nothing to do with the Christian calendar. Our word for the festival comes from Eastre or Ostara, the goddess of spring among Germanic tribes of northern Europe. Pagan tribes rejoiced at the coming of spring, which is why many of our Easter customs, such as the giving of eggs, have pagan not Christian origins…

“Hares are born with their eyes open and are nocturnal. Because of this, the Egyptians made them sacred to the Moon. Later, ancient Britons gave the hare magical powers, using it in rites such as fortune-telling. Some villagers in Ireland refused to kill or eat hares, believing that they carried the souls of their grandparents. Later, Germanic tribes who worshipped Eastre (or Ostara), associated the fecund hare with her, their goddess of life and spring…

“Just as pagan customs figure in our Christmas festival, so too they have become associated inextricably with Easter. Long before the beginnings of Christianity, Egyptians and Romans gave gifts of eggs as symbols of life. Easter was originally a pagan festival to celebrate the coming of spring, which marked the rebirth of life in plants, a time when many birds mated and produced young. The hen’s egg, from which new life could spring, was a potent sign of regeneration. Often its shell was decorated with colours representing certain flowers and aimed at encouraging their regrowth…

“Traditionally, hot cross buns are eaten on Good Friday, but their origins, like many Eastertide and Christmas customs, go back to pagan times… The baking of special bread, flavoured with spices, was part of pagan celebrations to greet the spring and worship the sun. The ancient Greeks stamped their festival bread with a horned emblem in honour of Astarte, their goddess of love and fertility. The word ‘bun’ comes from ‘boun,’ an ancient word for a sacred ox. Cakes stamped with horns became buns marked with a cross.”

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Why do some Christians eat fish on "Good Friday"?

It is a Catholic custom to abstain from eating meat on “Good Friday” and to eat fish instead. Where did this custom originate?

First, let us examine the precise nature of this custom.

We are quoting from an Internet Website:

“Prior to reforms in the [Catholic] Church in the 1960s, Catholics were expected to refrain from consuming meat on all Fridays throughout the year and in advance of certain holy days. However, in 1966, Pope Paul VI limited the number of days that required fasting and abstinence and allowed local bishops to modify certain details. In the U.S. it is still expected that all Fridays are [days] observed with abstinence, but one may be permitted to replace abstaining from meat with another form of penitence or by performing some spiritual act. During Lent [which lasts for forty days, beginning with “Ash Wednesday” and ending with “Holy Saturday,” preceding “Easter Sunday”], which is the most penitential season of the year, the obligation to abstain from meat may not be substituted.

“It is common practice for Catholics to substitute fish for meat in their Friday meals. In Islam and Judaism, as well as Christianity, fish is not regarded as meat, thus the popular custom of fish fries throughout Lent… As a result of this identification of ‘meat’ based upon its behavioral characteristics, all manner of animals, including shellfish, beavers, and alligators, are classified as ‘fish’ for the purposes of dietary laws… Pope Pius XII granted American Catholics a dispensation from abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving to allow them to consume the leftovers from the day before.”

Another Website quotes the Catholic Code of Canon Law 1250, 1251, as follows:

“‘The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday’… The application of this precept varies from country to country. For example, American bishops allow individual Catholics to substitute another penance if they could not abstain from meat.”

The Catholic publication, “The New Question Box,” 1988, states on page 367:

“In most places in the United States today, Catholics over 14 years of age must abstain from meat (and soup or gravy made from meat) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. On two days–Ash Wednesday and Good Friday–those over 18 and under 59 should fast. This means only one full meal, and only liquids like milk and fruit juices between meals.”

The idea of fasting during Lent stems from the concept that Christians would have committed sinful practices during Carnival (ending with “Ash Wednesday”) and needed therefore to repent or give penance during the subsequent time until Easter.

The reason for “fasting” on Good Friday is explained by “The New Question Box” in the sense that “Friday commemorated the day of Jesus’ death.”

However, as we explain in our free booklet, “Jesus Christ–a Great Mystery,” Christ was NOT crucified on Friday. Further, spiritual fasting, according to the Bible, is observed quite differently than how it is taught by the Catholic Church. For more information on that important issue, please read our free booklet, “The Meaning of God’s Fall Holy Days,” Chapter 2–The Day of Atonement, beginning with page 17.

The real origins of Catholic “fasting” during Lent, including on Good Friday, and the custom to eat fish instead, especially on Good Friday, are to be found in antiquity.

Alexander Hislop writes in “The Two Babylons,” on pages 104-106:

“The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess (Astarte or Ishtar)… Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt… Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing [compare Ezekiel 8:13-14]… [T]o conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated… Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown.”

Ralph Woodrow writes in “Babylon, Mystery Religion,” copyright 1981, on pages 142 and 143:

“… each Friday, many Catholics abstain from meat–substituting fish in its place–supposedly in remembrance of the Friday crucifixion. Roman Catholics in the United States are no longer required by their church to abstain from meat on Fridays (as formerly)–except during Lent–nevertheless many still follow the custom of fish on Friday.

“Certainly, the Scriptures never associate fish with Friday. On the other hand, the word ‘Friday’ comes from the name of ‘Freya,’ who was regarded as the goddess of peace, joy, and FERTILITY, the symbol of her fertility being the FISH. From very early times the fish was a symbol of fertility among the Chinese, Assyrians, Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and others. The word ‘fish’ comes from ‘dag’ which implies increase or fertility…

“The goddess of sexual fertility among the Romans was called Venus… Friday was regarded as her sacred day because it was believed that the planet Venus ruled the first hour of Friday and this was called dies Veneris. And… the fish was also regarded as being sacred to her…

“The fish was regarded as sacred to Ashtoreth… In ancient Egypt, Isis was sometimes represented with a fish on her head… Considering that Friday was named after the goddess of sexual fertility, Friday being her sacred day, and the fish her symbol, it seems like more than a mere coincidence that Catholics have been taught that Friday is a day of abstinence from meat, a day to eat fish!”

But there is even more historical evidence for the custom of eating fish on Friday–especially on “Good Friday,” when Christ ALLEGEDLY was killed–according to Roman Catholic tradition, that is.

Woodrow explains, on pages 84 and 85, the following about the fishgod DAGON:

“Dagon was actually but a mystery form of the false Babylonian ‘savior.’ The name Dagon comes from ‘dag’ (a word commonly translated ‘fish’ in the Bible) and means fishgod. Though it originated in the paganism of Babylon, Dagon worship became especially popular among the heathenistic Philistines…

“Layard, in Babylon and Nineveh, explains that ‘the head of the fish [depicted as being worn by the fishgod Dagon on Mesopotamian sculptures] formed a mitre…’ A famous painting by Moretto shows St. Ambrose (in the sixteenth century) wearing a mitre shaped like the head of a fish.”

Woodrow also shows in his book pictures of Pope Paul VI, wearing the fish-shaped mitre.

To summarize, the Catholic custom to eat fish on Good Friday is not Scriptural. It is clearly derived from pagan customs and concepts and is also connected with the wrong teaching that Christ was crucified on a Friday–which He was not.

Of course, it would not be wrong to eat fish on any day of the week–including on a Friday–as long as it is not done with the false idea that eating fish on “Good Friday” honors God or Christ in any way. As Paul explained, we could even eat meat sacrificed to idols–as idols are nothing–as long as we don’t do it “with consciousness of the idol” (1 Corinthians 8:7), thereby giving a wrong impression that we agree with the correctness of those pagan customs, or by defiling the conscience of others (compare verses 10, 12; 1 Corinthians 10:28-29).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program, titled, “A Single Nuclear Bomb Could Destroy America,” was posted on StandingWatch, GoogleVideo and YouTube. In the program, Norbert Link asks the question whether the Obama Administration is still willing to provide American leadership to the Western World. How should we explain Mr. Obama’s giving in to German-French demands at the G-20 summit? How should we understand Mr. Obama’s acknowledgment of Europe’s leading role in world affairs? And how should we interpret Robert Gates’ comments regarding North Korea and Iran? But do we understand that a nuclear attack on America with the potential of killing 90% of all Americans is a distinct possibility?

A German program was recorded, titled, “Ist Amerika noch bereit zu führen?” [“Is America Still Willing to Lead?”]. It discusses the G-20 summit, North Korea’s satellite, Robert Gates’ comments on North Korea and Iran, and the fact that the EU will fill the vacuum left by the USA. It is posted on our Website (“AufPostenStehen.de”) and on You Tube.

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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:

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