Update 396


Pentecost–a Revelation For Us; This World and God’s Holy Spirit


On May 31, 2009, is the Feast of Pentecost.

Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning, titled, “Pentecost–a Revelation For Us.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org. The times for the morning services are 9:00 am Pacific Time; 10:00 am Mountain Time; 11:00 am Central Time; 12:00 am Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon, titled, “This World and God’s Holy Spirit.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org. The times for the afternoon services are 1:00 pm Pacific Time; 2:00 pm Mountain Time; 3:00 pm Central Time; 4:00 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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If I Were Me

by Dave Harris

Actually, the way we normally say or hear it said is, “If I were you…” What follows is usually advice for us—from others—to choose wisely or to avoid making a stupid or even dangerous mistake.

From the standpoint of helping us, God puts it this way: “‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!’” (Deuteronomy 5:29).

Before we do or say something, are we able to consider the counsel available to us? To do so in a way that is beneficial, we must learn to govern ourselves by God’s wisdom—to think spiritually (compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). That perfect knowledge is available through God’s written Word and by having the same approach to life as that of Jesus Christ (compare Philippians 2:5). This is possible because we have the gift of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us (compare John 14:23; Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:13).

The purpose for God making available His Holy Spirit is for us to learn to think as His Son thinks, and we are taught to be “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5); and, to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Learning to think in a Godly fashion is a tremendous battle. The contrast between our ways and God’s could not be more starkly opposite:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:5-7).

The next time—and every time—we are faced with choosing our own way, that is, to think in terms of, “if I were me,” let’s remember the true spiritual approach of Jesus Christ, “‘… not as I will, but as You will'” (Matthew 26:39).

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This world is not becoming a safer or more prosperous or more “Godly” place–at least not for a while. This sober realization was highlighted this week by North Korea’s underground explosion of a nuclear bomb, causing a 4.5-magnitude earthquake, as well as subsequent short-range missile tests; Iran’s refusal to freeze its nuclear program and its decision to send warships to international waters; Israel’s announcement that settlements in the West Bank will continue; and ongoing frictions between Russia and the EU.

Economically, President Obama admitted that the USA is already out of money, and experts predict that the worst is still to come for America. As Der Spiegel reports, the situation in the USA affects Europe negatively and does not make the Europeans–and especially the Germans–very happy.

Focusing on California, the Wall Street Journal asked how California’s disastrous economic condition could have been averted or at least improved IF Governor Schwarzenegger had carried out his promises; and WorldNetDaily reported about an outrageous case of governmental religious persecution in San Diego, with frightening prospects for the increasing suppression of religious freedom in the USA. That religious persecution is also an ongoing issue of discussion in Europe can be seen in an article reporting about developments in France.

In other news, we are reporting about President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice, as well as Hans-Gert Pöttering’s view on the future of Europe. Mr. Pöttering serves as the president of the European Parliament.

We conclude with three articles pertaining to the ongoing controversy related to the gay community. While it is claimed that Israel is more tolerant of homosexual behavior than the USA, using the defeat of an openly gay contestant in the “American Idol” show as an example, and while the Supreme Court of California, because of a legal technicality, banned new same-sex marriages, the Church of Scotland approved the appointment of an openly gay minister, insinuating that “the Bible does not directly address homosexual relationships, which are now ‘essentially a feature of modern society.'”

Biblical statements in the Old and New Testament leave no doubt how God views homosexual practices. You might just want to look at passages in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; and Romans 1:26-27.

Note, too, the passage in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, stating: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The margin of the New King James Bible explains that the term “homosexuals” refers to “those submitting to homosexuals,” while the word “sodomites” refers to “male homosexuals.” The list, which is by no means exclusive, also includes additional sexual sins such as adultery [extra-marital sex] and fornication [pre-marital sex], as well as non-sexual sins.

Notice, however, how Paul continues, in verse 11, showing that homosexuals, as well as fornicators, adulterers and others living in sin, CAN change, with the help of God’s Spirit: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.”

For more information on how GOD looks at the matter of proper and improper sexual conduct, please read our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families.”

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North Korea’s Missile Test–“As Powerful as Hiroshima Bomb”

The Guardian wrote on May 25:

“North Korea today risked further international isolation after it claimed to have successfully tested a nuclear weapon as powerful as the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The test comes less than two months after the North enraged the US and its allies by test firing a long-range ballistic missile…

“Officials in South Korea said they had detected a tremor consistent with those caused by an underground nuclear explosion… [It] created an earthquake measuring magnitude 4.5…

“Today’s test will add to fears that the North is moving closer to possessing the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on long-range missiles that are capable, in theory, of reaching Hawaii and Alaska…

“Today’s test is a direct challenge to attempts by Obama to engage the North and stem the spread of nuclear weapons. Despite promising a fresh start to bilateral relations, Obama… has so far failed to persuade North Korea to enter into negotiations.

“Kim Myong-chol, executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace in Tokyo… said the test was a reminder that North Korea ‘is going it alone as a nuclear power. North Korea doesn’t need any talks with America. America is tricky and undesirable… We are not going to worry about sanctions. If they sanction us, we will become more powerful. Sanctions never help America; they are counter-productive … We don’t care about America and what they say.'”

North Korea Fires More Short-Range Missiles

Reuters wrote on May 26:

“North Korea, defiant in the face of international condemnation of its latest nuclear test, fired two more short-range missiles off its east coast on Tuesday and accused the United States of plotting against its government. In a move certain to compound tensions in the region, South Korea said it would join a U.S.-led initiative to intercept ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, something Pyongyang has warned it would consider a declaration of war… North Korea fired off three short-range missiles on Monday…

“The U.N. Security Council condemned the nuclear test [on Monday] and is working on a new resolution… But analysts say North Korea’s giant neighbor China, one of five permanent members of the Council, is unlikely to support anything tough.”

No Nuclear Freeze for Iran?

Reuters reported on May 25:

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to ‘freeze’ its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue. The comments by the conservative president, who is seeking re-election in a June 12 presidential vote, are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically…

“‘Our talks (with major powers) will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else…’, Ahmadinejad said. ‘The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us,’ he told a news conference.”

Iran Prepares for War

Reuters reported on May 25:

“Iran has sent six warships to international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to show its ability to confront any foreign threats… putting Israel and U.S. bases in the area within reach…

“Iranian waters stretch along the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil is shipped, if it were attacked over its nuclear programme… Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal. Seven percent of world oil consumption passed through the Gulf of Aden in 2007…

“On May 20, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran had tested a missile that defence analysts say could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, a move likely to fuel concern about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.”

No Settlement Freeze in the West Bank

Reuters reported on May 24:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rebuffed U.S. calls to impose a freeze on all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, setting the stage for friction with President Barack Obama… The note of defiance came less than a week after Netanyahu held talks in Washington with Obama, who wants Israel to halt all settlement activity, including natural growth…

“Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War. The World Court says all are illegal. The United States and European Union regard them as obstacles to peace. Palestinians see the settlements as a land grab meant to deny them a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

Russia vs. EU

BBC News reported on May 22:

“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned the European Union not to turn a proposed partnership with former Soviet countries against Moscow. Mr Medvedev was speaking at the end of a Russia-EU summit held against a background of deep divisions over security, trade and energy supplies…

“The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Moscow says divisions between Russia and the European Union seem to be growing ever wider, and this latest summit, held in the far east of Russia, made that abundantly clear, with little sign of progress on any significant topic… Moscow has accused the 27-member bloc of creating new dividing lines in Europe by offering closer ties to six former Soviet republics…

“On the divisive issue of energy supplies, President Medvedev raised questions about whether Ukraine can afford billions of dollars to top up its gas stocks… Russia supplies 42% of EU gas imports. Its decision to cut all gas to Ukraine – a vital transit country – meant that many EU member states also lost their supplies of gas for two weeks in January… European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned there should be no more disruptions to gas supplies from Russia.”

The Future of Europe?

On May 25, Der Spiegel Online published the following article:

“The president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), spoke out against Turkish membership in the European Union on Tuesday, two weeks before EU parliamentary elections are to take place. ‘It is my deep belief that — politically, culturally, financially and geographically — it would be too much to have Turkey as a member of the European Union,’ Pöttering said… At best, he said, he could imagine a ‘privileged partnership’ on an economic, environmental and security policy level.

“With his statements, Pöttering underscored one of the central demands being made during the European election campaign in Germany by the Christian Democrats and their sister party in the state of Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Both parties are calling for a “consolidation phase’ in the European Union and for Turkey not to be given full membership… The position puts the CDU on a direct confrontation course with its coalition partners in the German government, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). For years, the SPD has pushed for full membership for Turkey in the EU…

“Pöttering… regretted that the EU ‘does not always have a united position in foreign and security policy… Pöttering also called on the EU to use all its strength to help promote a solution to the Middle East conflict. One of the major subjects for the EU, he said, is to promote peace on the basis of a two-state solution, ‘with Israel in safe borders and a state of Palestine in safe borders as well’…

“The CDU politician also warned against allowing the European Union to become overly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies… Russia should just be one of the sources used by the EU…

“Commenting on the Treaty of Lisbon, the successor to the failed EU constitution that still hasn’t been ratified by every member state, the 63-year-old said: ‘I am confident that the Lisbon Treaty will come into force.’ He said he believed the Irish would also approve the treaty in a second referendum. ‘Ireland has no interest in a two-speed Europe which excludes other countries,’ he said. ‘We are a Union to which all 27 countries belong.'”

Germany Unhappy with USA Over Opel and GM

Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 28:

“Despite an entire night of non-stop negotiations in Angela Merkel’s Chancellery, there is still no plan in place to save Opel from following GM into bankruptcy…

“The talks, as quickly became clear, had failed… and… the flash of anger was likewise unmistakable — anger at Germany’s negotiating partners from the US. Roland Koch, governor of the state of Hesse, which plays host to Opel headquarters, complained that the American role in the negotiations ‘was not exactly helpful’…

“With the US automobile giant General Motors facing imminent bankruptcy in the US, Berlin is doing what it can to prevent its German subsidiary Opel from going down with the ship… But on Wednesday night, General Motors made a surprise demand for an additional €300 million ($415 million), catching German negotiators off guard. To make matters worse, the US had only bothered to send a low level representative who frequently had to confer with his superiors in Washington…

“The issue has attracted massive attention in Germany, first and foremost because of the risk that thousands of jobs could be lost. Opel employs 25,000 people in Germany with many thousands more dependent on the company for their livelihoods. All of the potential investors currently courting Opel and Berlin have said that some job cuts would be unavoidable.

“And they wouldn’t just be in Germany. GM’s Europe division employs a further 25,000 people elsewhere in Europe… The sports car icon Porsche, for example, is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and may need public help. The ball-bearing giant Schaeffler and the retail conglomerate Arcandor, both large employers in Germany, are likewise far from healthy. And with the economic crisis still in full swing, there may be more to come…

“For now, though, the US has managed to succeed where Berlin’s political elite has failed for months: getting the CDU and SPD to agree. Both parties are unified in their excoriation of America’s role in Opel negotiations thus far…”

US Economy–“Further Disaster to Come”

Haaretz wrote on May 25:

“Many Americans have been led to believe that the worst of the financial crisis is over, but last week the U.S. economy was dealt another heavy blow that may signal further disaster is still to come.

“The Financial Post reported last Wednesday that ‘…the U.S. dollar slid against most major currencies… hitting a five-month low of US $1.3775 against the euro…’ The day after, Florida’s Bank United FSB was seized by Federal regulators in the largest U.S. bank failure so far this year.

“The sudden dollar decline and seizure of Bank United is a flashback to the U.S. economic turmoil of late 2008, and a brutal reality check for many who thought the worst was over…

“As investors become more willing to play stocks again, they are taking money out of the U.S. dollar because it is losing its status as a safe-haven currency. Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, recently cautioned that we are at the start of a ‘serious case of dollar damage,’ adding that his organization ‘long warned about the day of reckoning for the dollar emerging at the next economic recovery.’

“Laidi’s prediction may not be too far off. Russia has ditched the dollar in favor of the euro, Pravda reported last week… Other nations are apparently following suit. The Financial Times quotes top Brazilian officials as saying that Brazil and China are also working toward ‘using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the U.S. dollar…’ This scenario, says economic commentator Peter Schiff, is ‘not only a possibility, it’s inevitable.'”

Obama: “We Are Out of Money Now”

The Drudge Report wrote the following on May 23:

“In a sobering holiday interview with C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: ‘We are out of money.’

“C-SPAN host Steve Scully broke from a meek Washington press corps with probing questions for the new president.

“SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

“OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits.. we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem…

“SCULLY: States like California in desperate financial situation, will you be forced to bail out the states?

“OBAMA: No. I think that what you’re seeing in states is that anytime you got a severe recession like this… their demands on services are higher. So, they are sending more money out. At the same time, they’re bringing less tax revenue in. And that’s a painful adjustment, what we’re going end up seeing is lot of states making very difficult choices there…”

Two More US Banks Closed

Press TV wrote on May 24:

“Two Illinois banks have been closed by regulators, bringing to 36 the total number of US bank failures so far this year. The closure of Citizens National Bank and Strategic Capital Bank is estimated to cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) around $279 million… The Wall Street Journal study published on Tuesday found that more than 900 small and midsized US banks could face losses of $100 billion by the end of 2010 if the economy continues its fast freefall.”

Biggest Federal Tax Revenue Drop Since 1981

USA Today wrote on May 28:

“Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion… the biggest April drop since 1981… 6 million people lost jobs in the 12 months ended in April — and that means far fewer dollars from income taxes. Income tax revenue dropped 44% from a year ago… Big revenue losses mean that the U.S. budget deficit may be larger than predicted this year and in future years.”

Obama Nominates Supreme Court Judge

“President Barack Obama on Tuesday moved to place his imprint on America’s judiciary by nominating Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice – the first Hispanic and only the third woman to be put forward for America’s apex court… Republicans issued a guarded response to her nomination, suggesting the party has yet to decide on how hard to oppose her nomination. Any filibuster of Ms Sotomayor’s nomination would require total Republican unity to be sustained.

“’The party is deeply split on this issue between the ideologues and the pragmatists and it’s unclear yet which will prevail,’ said Frank Luntz, a leading Republican consultant. ‘The conservatives want to use her appointment to rally their base but there will be others who want to show they can cooperate with the President’…

“Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative group which monitors judicial appointments, described Ms Sotomayor as ‘liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important than the law as written.’ Democrats have a big enough Senate majority to override Republican opposition but conservatives could make it a bruising process for the nominee…”

The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 26:

“A judge’s job, Mr. Obama said, is ‘to interpret, not make, law’… Conservatives have said Mr. Obama’s emphasis on a justice with ’empathy’ would ensure that his nominee would be an activist, seeking judgments that favor underdogs without deference to the facts and law…

“Ms. Sotomayor was nominated to the federal bench by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush, and later elevated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York by a Democrat, President Bill Clinton. Her experience, as a lawyer, a prosecutor, a trial judge and an appellate justice, would make her more experienced in the law than any other sitting justice, the president said.

“But it is her life story – and the presence of her aging mother – that choked up much of the audience in the East Room. Her parents arrived in New York from Puerto Rico during World War II and took up residence in a public housing project in the shadow of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Her father, a factory worker with a third-grade education and no knowledge of English, died when Ms. Sotomayor was 9. Her mother worked two jobs as a nurse to raise her family, bought the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood, and helped her daughter win a scholarship to Princeton University and her son, Juan, to become a physician…

“She also acknowledged that her life experiences influence her judicial philosophy, a plus, she said, but a potential negative to Republicans…”

The Washington Times wrote on May 27:

“With Judge Sonia Sotomayor already facing questions over her 60 percent reversal rate, the Supreme Court could dump another problem into her lap next month if, as many legal analysts predict, the court overturns one of her rulings upholding a race-based employment decision…

“In 2002, in a speech in California, Judge Sotomayor said race or sex does affect a judge’s rulings, and said because of that, a minority woman is a better decider than a white man: ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.’

“Three years later, at a panel discussion at Duke Law School, she seemed to endorse judicial activism on the appeals courts, telling students considering clerkships: ‘Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know – I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know.'”

On May 27, USA Today published its opinion on the matter. We are quoting the following excerpts:

“The tougher question, the one likely to define the political fight over her nomination, is the degree to which her ‘life experience’ as a 54-year-old Latina divorcée who grew up [as a Catholic] in the Bronx projects should shape her legal opinions… Republican critics — who hardly need provocation to be skeptical of any Obama nominee, particularly one likely to align with the court’s liberal wing — quickly insisted that the Senate assure itself that Sotomayor would not make rulings based on her ‘personal politics, feelings and preferences.’

“To some extent, the entire argument is overblown. People inevitably are the product of their experiences, and they can hardly shed their history and character at the courthouse door. That is why the court is enriched by having an eclectic mix of justices who can bring differing perspectives to bear on the case at hand — but always in the context of the Constitution and court precedent.

“Earlier this year, for example, the court was asked whether school officials should be allowed to strip-search students — in this case a humiliated young girl — to make sure they weren’t bringing drugs to school. After the male justices argued the case with a lack of sensitivity that bothered the court’s only female member, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [said]… that it was obvious her colleagues ‘have never been a 13-year-old girl.’

“If experience can help illuminate legal questions, however, relying too much on life lessons risks distorting the impartial justice the court is expected to mete out. Sotomayor has given critics much to work with…”

What Could Have Happened in California…

The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 25:

“… what might have been had Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately pushed for reform upon taking office in 2003… Mr. Schwarzenegger did offer a plan to revamp state government during his honeymoon phase in 2004. But his approach — the ‘California Performance Review,’ or CPR — was a metaphor for his political failure. It involved a 275-member task force that produced a 2,500-page proposal. That report, which offered upwards of $32 billion in savings, never caught anyone’s fancy. It was dead on arrival because it was too complicated for voters to rally behind and legislators didn’t want to see it enacted…

“Instead of reform, the man who promised to ‘blow up the boxes’ of government nearly six years ago embarked on a crusade to save the planet in an attempt to win re-election in 2006. If Arnold’s political obituary were to be written today its narrative would turn on environmental issues, such as solar roof panels, hydrogen cars and curbing emissions. Missing would be the issues that got him elected in the first place — tax cuts, fiscal discipline and restoring dignity to Sacramento…

“Last year was supposed to be, according to a declaration from the governor, ‘the year of education.’ Before that, we were in the year of health reform.’ In 2005, his theme was ‘the year of reform.’ None of these slogans translated into tangible changes — 2005 culminated in a special election in which all four of the governor’s proposals… failed spectacularly…

“Where is Mr. Schwarzenegger’s core? Is he the free-market, antitax candidate of the recall? The right-of-center union buster of the 2005 special election? The humbled, bipartisan eco-warrior of the 2006 re-election campaign? The tax-and-spend-and-cut Sacramento insider?… Today, Republicans running for governor in California go out of their way to point out where they differ with Mr. Schwarzenegger. Maybe Mr. Schwarzenegger will be able to mount another political comeback. In the meantime, he must wish life could imitate art, and like the Terminator he too could go back in time.”

Religious Persecution in San Diego

WorldNetDaily reported on May 22:

“A  San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home. The couple… told their attorney a county government employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people. ‘Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say “amen”?’ the official reportedly asked. ‘Do you say, “Praise the Lord”?’ The pastor’s wife answered yes.

“She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding ‘religious assemblies’ until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars. And if they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, ‘and then it will get ugly’…

“[Attorney] Dean Broyles… [who] has been retained to represent the couple, told WND the county’s action not only violates religious land-use laws but also assaults both the First Amendment’s freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. ‘The First Amendment, in part, reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”‘ Broyles said. ‘And that’s the key part: “prohibiting the free exercise.” We believe this is a substantial government burden on the free exercise of religion.’

“He continued, ‘If one’s home is one’s castle, certainly you would think the free exercise of religion, of all places, could occur in the home.’ Broyles confirmed the county official followed through on his threat. The pastor and his wife received a written warning ordering the couple to ‘cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain a major use permit.’

“‘The Western Center for Law and Policy is troubled by this draconian move to suppress home Bible studies,’ said the law center in a statement. ‘If the current trends in our nation continue, churches may be forced underground. If that happens, believers will once again be forced to meet in homes. If homes are already closed by the government to assembly and worship, where then will Christians meet?’

“On a personal note, Broyles added, ‘I’ve been leading Bible studies in my home for 13 years in San Diego County, and I personally believe that home fellowship Bible studies are the past and future of the church…

“Broyles also explained to WND that oppressive governments, such as communist China or Nazi Germany, worked to repress home fellowships, labeling them the ‘underground church’ or ‘subversive groups,’ legally compelling Christians to meet only in sanctioned, government-controlled ‘official’ churches. ‘Therein lies my concern,’ Broyles said. ‘If people can’t practice their religious beliefs in the privacy of their own homes with a few of their friends, that’s an egregious First Amendment violation’…

“Broyles said the WCLP is nearly ready to file a demand letter with the county to release the pastor and his wife from the requirement to obtain the expensive permit. If the county refuses, Broyles said, the WCLP will consider a lawsuit in federal court. Broyles also told WND the pastor and his wife are continuing to hold the Bible study in their home.”

Religious Persecution in France?

The Independent wrote on May 25:

“The Church of Scientology in France went on trial today on charges of organised fraud. Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult. The group’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined €5 million ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France. Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines…

“In a trial that has revived a debate about religious freedom in secular France, the defence is expected to argue the court should not intervene in religious affairs. Scientology has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.”

We don’t want to give any misimpression that we agree with much of the teaching of Scientology. Nevertheless, the issue is whether Europe’s treatment of this clearly religious group is tantamount to religious persecution. Regarding their rather weird teaching, notice the following news clip from Press TV, dated May 25:

“According to Scientology teachings, 75 million years ago, an evil galactic overlord named Xenu collected all the billions of people from 76 planets, brought them to earth and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their spirits now infest our bodies.”

“American Idol” Contest–Israel “More Tolerant” Than America

Haaretz wrote on May 25:

“If it had been up to Israelis, ‘American Idol’ runner-up Adam Lambert would have won. Not because he’s Jewish. Because he can sing…

“I should state at the outset that [this] is not a column about music. This is, at heart, about deviance, and how societies respond to the deviants in their midst… Seldom has a singing contest been so clear-cut a case of no contest. In a final duet alongside eventual winner Kris Allen, Adam Lambert sang him off the stage. And no one knew that better than Kris Allen.

“So what was it about Lambert that moved tens of millions of Americans to make sure that he would not win? Some, at least, decided to take a stand. It was time to cast a vote against deviant behavior… ‘The battle of good versus evil, dark versus light, played out in the context of a culture war,’ wrote Danielle Berrin in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. ‘The nation’s conservatives changed the game by voting their conscience, not their common sense…’

“Which brings us to Israel… the mass-circulation Maariv newspaper published an extensive article detailing how ‘Over the past decade homosexuals have turned from an exotic detour… to the kings of prime-time’… Say what you will about Israel, this place has developed an exceptional tolerance for behavior traditionally deemed deviant. One of the judges on Kochav Nolad (A Star is Born), Israel’s version of American Idol, is Dana International, a post-op transsexual singing star whose unapologetic exuberance persuaded Israelis to choose her as their representative to the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest, in which she took first place…

“A recent online poll commissioned by Channel 2 Television showed that 52 percent of all Israelis (and 76 percent of secular Israelis) favor civil marriage for gays; 51 percent of all Israelis back full equal rights for gays and lesbians; and 80 percent of all Israelis would be willing to be neighbors to gays and lesbians. The military in Israel has also shown more openness to gays than its American counterpart. As one observer noted, ‘The policy in the IDF is, “Don’t ask, and nobody cares.”‘

No New Same-Sex Marriages in California–for the Time Being…

The Associated Press reported on May 26:

“The California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed. The 6-1 decision written by Chief Justice Ron George rejected an argument by gay rights activists that the ban revised the California constitution’s equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature’s approval. The court said the people have a right, through the ballot box, to change their constitution…

“The announcement of the decision set off an outcry among a sea of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the San Francisco courthouse awaiting the ruling… Gay rights activists immediately promised to resume their fight, saying they would go back to voters as early as next year in a bid to repeal Proposition 8…

“The state Supreme Court had ruled last May that it was unconstitutional to deny gay couples the right to wed. Many same-sex couples had rushed to get married before the November vote on Proposition 8, fearing it could be passed. When it was, gay rights activists went back to the court arguing that the ban was improperly put to voters. That was the issue justices decided Tuesday.

“‘After comparing this initiative measure to the many other constitutional changes that have been reviewed and evaluated in numerous prior decisions of this court, we conclude Proposition 8 constitutes a constitutional amendment rather than a constitutional revision,’ the ruling said.”

Church of Scotland Appoints Gay Minister

CNN reported on May 24:

“A gay minister at the center of a row about his appointment to a church in a Scottish city said he was ‘humbled’ after the Church of Scotland upheld his appointment. In a ground-breaking move, the church’s ruling body voted by 326 to 267 in support of [the appointment]… provoked opposition from traditionalist members of the church and has led to fears it could cause a damaging split…

“Papers lodged with the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly in Edinburgh claimed scriptures in the Old and New Testament describe same-sex activity as a ‘wrong choice,’ the British Press Association said. However… supporters [of the appointment] argued that the Bible does not directly address homosexual relationships, which are now ‘essentially a feature of modern society.'”

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Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father, from the Son, or from both?

This question has been the cause of controversy for many centuries and generations. While one major Christian denomination teaches that the Holy Spirit only proceeds from the Father, but is given us through the Son, another major Christian denomination holds that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

To answer this question from the Bible, we must first of all realize that the Holy Spirit is not a Person or a Personage, but the POWER and the MIND of God. It is through the POWER of the Holy Spirit that God creates and acts, and mightily sustains what He has created. For more information on this vital subject, please read our free booklet, “Is God a Trinity?

On the other hand, God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, are powerful Personages or God beings. Both the Father and the Son ARE God. And it should therefore come as no surprise that both the Holy Spirit of God the Father AND the Holy Spirit of God the Son are dwelling in converted Christians. The Bible clearly teaches, then, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son, and that BOTH are bestowing THEIR Holy Spirit on us.

Notice the following excerpts from our free booklet, “Is God a Trinity?”:

“Acts 2:33 states: ‘Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [Christ] poured out this which you now see and hear.’

“Notice, it says here that Christ received the Holy Spirit from the Father, and that Christ then poured out the Spirit from the Father. This is confirmed, too, in John 15:26, where we read Christ’s words: ‘But when the Helper comes, whom [better: which] I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who [better: which] proceeds from the Father, He [it] will testify of me.’ Again, we are told here that Christ sends us the Holy Spirit from the Father (cp. also John 16:7).

“Notice also Christ’s words in John 14:16-17: ‘And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He [better: it] may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…for He [it] dwells with you and will be in you.’ Here we see that it is the Father who will give us the Holy Spirit. He does so through Christ, as we read earlier…

“Titus 3:5-6 confirms that the Father gives us the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ: “[God] saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom [better: ‘which,’ cp. Authorized Version] He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

“We also see, however, in John 14:26, that the Father Himself sends us His Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ. Christ said: ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom [better: which] the Father will send in My name, He [it] will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.’

“Notice that it is not only the Holy Spirit of the Father that dwells in us. We also see that it is the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us. Gal. 4:6 tells us: ‘And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father.”‘ We see here that God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son, Jesus Christ, in our hearts, and because it is the Spirit of His Son, we can call God our Father. Notice it, too, in Phil. 1:19: ‘For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.’ Again, it is the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us…

“That the Spirit of the Father and of Christ dwells in us becomes very clear when reading Rom. 8:9: ‘But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.’ Here we read that the Spirit of God dwells in us, and when we do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, we are not even Christians.

“So putting all those passages together, we can see that the Spirit of God the Father and of Christ dwells in us, and that both God the Father and Jesus Christ send us, or pour into us, the Holy Spirit. But how can that be? Isn’t there only ONE Spirit?…

“There is clearly only one Spirit, just as there is only one baptism, one faith, one hope and one body (cp. Eph. 4:4-5). But consider this: Although there is only one baptism, there are many individuals being baptized. And even though there is only one body, there are many members in that body (cp. 1 Cor. 12:14). And we know that the ONE God consists of the Father and the Son, that is, God is not just one person.

“The same is true for the Holy Spirit. There is ONE Spirit, but both God the Father and Jesus Christ are Spirit beings, and the Holy Spirit emanates from both of them. That is why we read about the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ. When we read that there is one Spirit, then the reference is to the oneness or harmony between God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is exactly the same when Christ said, ‘I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:30). Christ did not mean, the Father and He were ‘one’ being—but that they were ‘one’ in purpose and goal and mindset and character. When Christ spoke these words, He was clearly a separate person from God the Father. Christ said in John 17:11, that we all should be one, as the Father and Christ are one in spirit—not in the sense that we all would become one being, but rather, that we all be of the same spirit. God the Father and Christ are one in spirit, and so are we to become one in spirit.

“Notice Christ’s words in John 14:23: ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ Both the Father and Jesus Christ live in us. John 14:16-18 confirms too that not only the Father, but also Jesus Christ live in us, through the Holy Spirit, when Christ told His disciples, ‘I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper…, the Spirit of truth…[that] will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.’ God the Father and Jesus Christ have both come to us, and they both have made their home with us. They do this through the Holy Spirit that flows from both of them into us.”

The Bible teaches that both the Father and the Son live in converted Christians. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul encourages us to examine ourselves to make sure that Christ is in us. We read in John 15:4 that Jesus “abides” or “lives” in true Christians. As Christ abides or lives in us through the Holy Spirit, so God the Father abides or lives in us through the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed in 1 John 3:23-24: “And this is His commandment that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ… Now he who keeps His [God the Father’s] commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He [God the Father] abides in us, by the Spirit [which] He has given us.”

In addition to the passages quoted above, please note that we are specifically told that God the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). Acts 15:8 reiterates that God the Father gives the Holy Spirit.

More clearly, 1 John 4:12-13 explains: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and HE IN US, because He has given us OF His Spirit.”

We are called the sons of God when we are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14)–as Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit of God the Father (Luke 4:1).

When we are called upon to defend ourselves in courts for what we believe, then the “Holy Spirit” (compare Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12) will speak through us. The Holy Spirit is specifically defined, in this context, as the Spirit of the Father, as Matthew 10:19-20 says: “… For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit OF YOUR FATHER [which] speaks IN you.” But we also read t
hat it is CHRIST who will speak through us in that hour. Luke 21:14-15 states: “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer. I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

That the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, is both the Spirit of the Father AND of the Son, and that–through the indwelling Holy Spirit–we have become children of God and members of the Family of God, is also revealed in Ephesians 3:14-19:

“For this reason I bow my knees to the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that HE would grant you… to be strengthened with might through HIS Spirit in the inner man, that CHRIST may DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS… that you may be filled with all the FULLNESS OF GOD…”

To summarize, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son. The Father gives us OF His Holy Spirit, through or in the name of Jesus Christ–Christ being the only Mediator between God the Father and man. In addition, Christ Himself also gives us OF His Spirit, and so both the Father and the Son abide, dwell or live in us.

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God, and God consists of two Beings–God the Father and God the Son. From this it follows that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father AND of God the Son, and when the Holy Spirit of God dwells in us, then God the Father and God the Son–Jesus Christ–dwell or live in us THROUGH the Holy Spirit OF GOD.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Does “Ida” Prove Human Evolution?”

In the program, Norbert Link points out that the mass media and the boulevard press have hailed “Ida”–a fossilized skeleton of a monkey–as the “common ancestor” of all later monkeys, apes and men; the “missing link” in the evolution of man; the “eighth wonder of the world”; and as a confirmation of Darwinism. But is it? Learn the truth about “Ida” and the theory of evolution in this eye-opening program.

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on the Internet. It is titled, “Regiert der Zufall Ihr Leben?” The English translation of the German title is, “Is Your Life Ruled by Time and Chance?” The program deals with “Ida” and raises related questions pertaining to the existence of God and His dealing with His people.

A new German sermon was recorded and will be posted soon on the Internet. It discusses the important issues of mercy and forgiveness.

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Spiritual Gifts

by Louise Amorelli

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an illness that severely limits my activities, including working outside the home. This illness causes extreme mental and physical fatigue along with muscle pain and sleepless nights. What is even more frustrating is that there is no known cure and the doctors do not seem to know what causes it. It has been one of the hardest and debilitating challenges I have ever experienced in my entire life. I often ask myself… why?? Why does God allow me to experience this? What am I to learn from this overwhelming health trial?? 

For a while, I was feeling sorry for myself… and at times I still do. But I have learned so many important lessons, including drawing closer to God.  Not only to continually ask for His healing power, guidance and more of His faith, but drawing closer to Him to know Him better and accept whatever His Will is for me. I know that I have God’s promise that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Instead of asking why, I now seek to have more spiritual understanding. I have learned and am still learning patience, empathy, longsuffering, never to give up and to put all things into God’s Hands, not my own. I am learning to completely give myself over to Him.

I have also pondered on how am I to help God’s work… to help my brethren in need, if I am in this condition? What can I do to help?? I have realized that accepting the illness, instead of constantly battling with it, has given me great insight. I realized that I might not be physically able to do things as I would like to, but I can be a light to those around me by striving to live God’s Way. Through the sufferings I can show God’s joy and peace. This enables me to comfort others and to be uplifting to those in need, by writing cards, emails and phone calls. It enables me most of all… to pray for others!! Although it can be very difficult at times, I strive to live by the understanding that spiritual gifts can be more valuable than the physical ones!

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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

©2023 Church of the Eternal God