Update 398


The Wisdom of Solomon

On June 13, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Wisdom of Solomon.”

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.

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Extra! Extra!

by Dave Harris

We are expected to do what is required of us. There is little wiggle room for us to offer excuses or to justify ourselves when we fail to do the basics.

But is merely fulfilling our duties enough?

Jesus taught that our service to God must go above and beyond what we are commanded: “‘So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'”‘(Luke 17:10). Jesus also said, “‘And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two'” (Matthew 5:41).

Applying these principles takes extra effort on our part.

For example, consider this command given to Christians by Jesus: “‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you'” (Matthew 5:44).

This kind of action requires a much different approach than our normal inclinations: “‘For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?'” (Matthew 5:46-47).

Loving others in a godly fashion will take extra effort on our part–especially in a time “‘…when the love of many will grow cold'” (Matthew 24:12).

One area in which we can endeavor to become truly profitable servants of God is to love others, as He loves us. We need, more than ever before, to be examples of brotherly and godly love in the extraordinary way that Jesus loves us: “‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another'” (John 13:34-35; compare John 15:12).

Christ desires that the same love which God had and has for Jesus, the Son of God, would be in His disciples. Notice that Christ prayed to God the Father: “‘… that the love with which You loved Me may be in them'” (John 17:26).

Since we have been given these commands, let’s endeavor to do them in ways that go over and above what we might otherwise be satisfied with–let’s make the extra efforts needed to become profitable servants of God!

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President Obama’s visit to the concentration camps at Buchenwald in Germany could not hide the fact that the rift between Germany and the United States is widening. The subsequent commemoration of D-Day in France contained some embarrassing moments. Many in Israel feel betrayed by Obama. The rift between the USA and Israel is widening as well.

At the same time, according to the supreme religious leader of Iran, Muslim nations continue to hate America, in spite of Obama’s speech in Cairo and his fascination with Islam. As the interview with one of his advisors for Muslim affairs reveals, his Cairo speech was clearly politically motivated. Iranians vote for a new President tomorrow, Friday, June 12. But as Der Spiegel writes, regardless as to who wins, not much will change regarding Iran’s ambitions to become a nuclear power.

While Governor Palin points at real risks in the approach taken by the Obama administration, former Vice-President Cheney’s comments become more and more controversial and incredible. And North Korea–one of the world’s secretive, communist, dictatorial and suppressive regimes–continues to antagonize the West, which appears to be helpless in view of consistent dangerous North Korean aggressions.

The outcome of EU elections has shown that most Europeans reject big business and stimulus packages. As newspaper columns have expressed it: While the USA moves left under Obama, Europe goes right under Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi. Movements can be observed in Europe and elsewhere, advocating mandatory voting and fining those who won’t vote. In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, some German politicians claim that the church’s policy against voting violates the German Constitution. 

Finally, the WHO designated the swine flu as a global pandemic. And pigs DO make people sick–and the medical community knew this for a long time, without revealing it, due to pressures from the pork industry. 

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In Spite of Obama Denial–Rift Between Germany and USA Widening

The New York Times reported on June 5 about a widening rift between Germany and the USA. Mr. Obama’s denial of this rift, when visiting Buchenwald, sounds less than credible in light of the following facts:

“A rift has quietly opened up between Germany and the United States, marked by official statements of harmony and private grumbling. It is not an outright crisis in relations, but there are underlying tensions and disagreements on matters ranging from the global economic crisis to the future of inmates held at Guantánamo Bay.

“On a more basic level, there is a sense that the Obama administration is ignoring the needs and counsel of longtime allies. Divided Germany was once at the center not only of the cold war, but of American foreign policy as well, which is no longer the case. Yet the United States can ill afford to alienate Europe’s largest economy and its most important intermediary in the strained relationship with Russia…

“Mr. Obama arrived in Dresden, in the former East Germany, on Thursday night for a visit… to Buchenwald… The German news media have questioned why Mr. Obama was not going to Berlin, suggesting the omission might have been intended as a snub to Mrs. Merkel…

“While Mr. Obama enjoys tremendous personal popularity among the German people, relations with Mrs. Merkel have been bumpy from the beginning. In Germany much symbolic weight is attached to Mrs. Merkel’s decision not to travel to Washington to meet with Mr. Obama in March, but to talk by video conference instead.

“But signs of discord were evident even last summer, when Mrs. Merkel rejected Mr. Obama’s request during the presidential campaign to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate, saying it was not an appropriate location for a candidate’s address. Mr. Obama drew more than 200,000 people to hear his speech at a nearby monument.

“The president’s high standing with the German public adds to the strain in his relationship with Mrs. Merkel… Angela Merkel is seen as the exact opposite of a charismatic leader like Obama, and that is difficult to accept… At the same time, Mr. Obama’s popularity with the left-wing Social Democrats, rivals to Mrs. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union in parliamentary elections in September, also helps amplify his and Mrs. Merkel’s differences…

“Relations were already frosty as the economic crisis deepened and the German government and Obama administration took sharply differing views on how far to push stimulus spending… Germans remain surprised that an ambassador to their country has not been named more than four months after Mr. Obama’s inauguration. There is a sense that, with his focus split between domestic concerns and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new president is taking his staunchest European allies for granted…

“German government officials were outraged that a low-ranking American official was sent for the negotiations to find a way to keep the traditional automaker Opel going despite the bankruptcy of its parent company, General Motors, in the United States. The potential failure of an important industrial employer before parliamentary elections is no laughing matter for German politicians, including Mrs. Merkel…”

One Way to “Spend” Money…

The Netzeitung reported on June 9:

“US President Barack Obama’s brief visit to Dresden last week cost the state of Saxony EUR 13 million… The steep price tag is mostly for heightened security measures before and after the 17-hour stay. There were a total of 6,000 policemen from across Germany in Dresden. But Obama’s Secret Service guarded the areas visited by the president.”

Obama and Merkel in Buchenwald

The Los Angeles Times wrote on June 5:

“It was one of the horrific sights of World War II, the concentration camps at Buchenwald, Germany, where more than 50,000 people, mostly Jews, were starved or gassed to death in deplorable conditions. Today, one day after a historic treach [sic] to Muslims, and with Nobel Prize laureate and camp survivor Elie Wiesel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his side, President Obama toured the sight that still chills the memory… Obama told NBC that he has no patience for those who deny the Holocaust, like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who again this week called the murder of 6 million Jews ‘a great deception.’… ‘He should make his own visit,’ Obama said of Ahmadinejad…

“Noting that Germans have a special burden to never forget the mass murder of 12 million during the Holocaust, Merkel, thanking America for helping restore Germany after the war, pledged that Germany would fight anti-Semitism, racism and extremism in any quarter… Obama said he would not forget what he saw there today… More than 50 years later, he said… the perpetrators were also human, reminding us to ‘stand guard’ against the evil within us.

“Then Wiesel, who was liberated from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, spoke..”

We are setting forth below excerpts from Wiesel’s remarkable speech:

“… every war is absurd and meaningless… But the world hasn’t learned.  When I was liberated in 1945, April 11, by the American army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least one lesson will have been learned — that never again will there be war; that hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid; and the will to conquer other people’s minds or territories or aspirations, that will is meaningless… Had the world learned, there would have been no Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.

“Will the world ever learn?  I think that is why Buchenwald is so important… It’s enough — enough to go to cemeteries, enough to weep for oceans.  It’s enough. There must come a moment — a moment of bringing people together.”

65th Anniversary of D-Day

Deutsche Welle reported on June 6:

“The leaders of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the US have reminded the world of the sacrifices that World War II heroes made on the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago… Earlier in the day, the French and US presidents met privately to talk about thwarting Iran’s disputed nuclear ambitions and bringing about peace in the Middle East… Sarkozy agreed with Obama’s call for Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank…

“The Allied attack at Normandy was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s Germany. More than 130,000 soldiers landed in Normandy and began the liberation of Nazi-occupied France. Estimates suggest that by the evening of that day more than 4,000 of the Allied troops had died. More than 110,000 soldiers are buried in the military cemeteries in Normandy…

“Britain’s Prince Charles also attended the event, defusing an embarrassing diplomatic tussle over whether Queen Elizabeth should attend or not. Amid reports that the queen had not received an invitation from France, British media lashed out at Paris for the supposed snubbing of the crown.”

Politico added on June 6:

“[President Obama] was accompanied by Michelle Obama. Also onstage were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain’s Prince Charles and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“In Brown’s remarks, he referred to ‘Obama Beach,’ then corrected himself to ‘Omaha Beach’ a few words later, after a stir in the crowd. Brown may have been confused by the French tabloid Liberation, which marked the president’s visit by splashing an ‘Obama Beach’ on the cover of its weekend edition.”

Will US Government Control the People?

CNN reported on June 5:

“In a speech introducing Michael Reagan — the son of former President Ronald Reagan — to an audience in Anchorage, Palin warned that the government is planning to ‘bail out debt ridden states’ so it can ‘get in there and control the people. Since when can you get out of huge national debt by creating trillions of dollars of new debt?’ Palin asked.”

Newsmax added on June 9:

“Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says the U.S. under President Obama is headed toward socialism… The problem is excess spending, she says… Others accuse Obama of leading the nation to socialism too. Newsmax columnist Dick Morris writes in TheHill.com, ‘President Obama’s vision of the future is, apparently, an economy guided, steered and — when the occasion demands — commanded by the federal government.’”

Cheney More Controversial Still

The Los Angeles Times wrote on June 2:

“Former Vice President Dick Cheney waded into another roiling public debate Monday, saying he supports same-sex marriage as long as the issue is decided by states rather than the federal government. Cheney, whose youngest daughter has a longtime lesbian partner, said at the National Press Club that ‘people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish’…

“Cheney also defended the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, despite faulty intelligence about its nuclear weapons program and links to the Sept. 11 attacks. He asserted that Saddam Hussein could have helped terrorists acquire nuclear weapons. Once the U.S. invaded, it could find no evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

“On Monday, Cheney disavowed intelligence reports he once cited suggesting that Hussein had collaborated with Al Qaeda on Sept. 11. The information ‘turned out not to be true,’ Cheney said. He added that a long-standing relationship existed between Hussein and terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, that justified the U.S. invasion… On whether Hussein helped Al Qaeda carry out the 2001 terrorist attacks, Cheney said, ‘I do not believe, and I have never seen any evidence, that he was involved in 9/11.'”

While US Moves Left, Most of Europe Goes Right

The Associated Press reported on June 7:

“Europe leaned to the right Sunday as tens of millions of people voted in European Parliament elections, with conservative parties leading or favored in many countries amid a global economic crisis… right-leaning governments edging the opposition in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and elsewhere. Conservative opposition parties were tied or ahead in Britain, Spain and some smaller countries…

“In Germany, the conservatives of German Chancellor Angela Merkel were headed for a center-right majority and her center-left rivals faced a crushing defeat, exit polls showed, less than four months before a national vote.

“With most votes counted in Austria, the main rightist party gained strongly while the Social Democrats, the main party in the governing coalition, lost substantial ground. But the big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform, with posters proclaiming ‘The Occident in Christian hands.’

“In the Netherlands, exit polls predicted Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic party would win more than 15 percent of the country’s votes… Exit polls in Bulgaria showed the governing Socialist-led coalition facing defeat and the country’s right-wing opposition party winning most of the votes…

“In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party has steadily held the lead in polls… Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Freedom People’s Party held a two-digit lead over his main center-left rival in the most recent polling despite a deep recession and a scandal over allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old model…”

Der Spiegel Online added on June 8:

“The June 4-7 European Parliament elections delivered a setback for the European left and gains for center-right and right-wing parties across the continent…

“In Denmark, the right-wing populist, anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party (DVP) led the election. The party increased its share of the vote from 6.8 percent in the last EU election to 15 percent… In Hungary, the conservative opposition won a landslide victory…

“In Ireland, the incumbent conservative Fianna Fail party of Prime Minister Brian Cowen won only 24 percent, a loss of about 6 percentage points, which means it is no longer the strongest Irish political force in Brussels. Opposition party Fine Gael managed 29 percent. Observers see the results as a condemnation of the Cowen government’s domestic policies; the financial crisis has hit Ireland hard. The head of the Libertas party, Declan Ganley, who wants to build momentum for a euroskeptic movement across the entire EU, won just over 5 percent, leaving Libertas in sixth place. The businessman has said he would end his campaign against the Lisbon Treaty if it were to fail at the polls. A referendum planned in Ireland for the fall to ratify the Lisbon Treaty now has a better chance of success…

“In Poland, the center-right incumbent parties have maintained their edge. Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) earned around 45 percent…

“In Spain, the conservative People’s Party won over 42 percent of the vote, gaining 23 seats…

“In Sweden the opposition Social Democrats came first, with 25 percent of the vote, while Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderate Party (MS) earned about 19 percent. The Greens doubled their support to about 11 percent. But the Pirate Party won the most spectacular victory — by earning its first seat in Brussels with an 8 percent share of the vote. The Pirate Party wants more rights for Internet users and free flow of data on the Web. Support for the party rose in polls after a court verdict against the Internet data-swap site The Pirate Bay, which is based in Sweden. The four men in charge were sentenced to a €2.7 million fine and one year in jail for abetting data piracy.

“Among the election’s biggest losers was the Labour party in the United Kingdom, which saw its support drop from 19 seats in 2004 to 11 and won just 15.3 percent of the vote — its worst post-war election result. It finished in third place behind the Conservatives (24 seats) and the euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party (13 seats). The vote is seen as a damning verdict on Labour, whose leader Gordon Brown is under increasing pressure to resign as prime minister amid an ongoing expense account scandal in the House of Commons…The far-right British National Party won four seats — the first time Britain has elected right-wing extremists to the European Parliament.”

Europeans Speak Out Against Big Government and Stimulus Measures

Bloomberg wrote on June 7:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy led pro-business parties in defeating socialists in European Parliament elections, lessening the pressure for more stimulus measures to fight the deepest recession since World War II.

“Amid signs the economic slump is bottoming out, the continent’s top two leaders escaped the drubbing in European Union-wide elections that was handed to U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and socialists in smaller countries including Spain, Austria, Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

“Overall, the center-right group known as the European People’s Party remained the strongest in the Parliament… ‘It is a very sad night for Social Democrats in Europe, we’re very disappointed, we had hoped for better results,’ Martin Schulz of Germany, the socialists’ floor leader, said. ‘It’s a very bitter evening’…

“Merkel resisted President Barack Obama’s pleas for additional pump-priming measures, criticized the European Central Bank for buying assets, and was the first to reflect publicly on rolling back the stimulus.”

These sentiments were echoed in several German papers.

Mass circulation Bild wrote: “… the majority of people don’t want more government, more taxpayers’ billions for ailing companies in this crisis. That’s the message of the European election — especially to the SPD [the Social Democrats of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier].”

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung wrote: “In the middle of the crisis the Germans are placing their trust in parties that stand for neo-liberal ideas rather than parties that defend big government… The crisis makes people conservative…”

Depression Is Quietly Deepening…

The Telegraph wrote on June 8:

“The establishment Left had been crushed across most of Europe, just as it was in the early 1930s… I still fear that this depression is quietly deepening… we may lose three or four governments in Europe in coming days or weeks — or even worse, they may survive. The drama is unfolding… Half way through the depression, we are facing… exactly the sort of political disintegration that occurs in times of profound economic rupture.

“Remember, the dangerous phase in the Great Depression was Stage II, after the collapse of Austria’s Credit-Anstalt in mid-1931 set off a disastrous chain-reaction that Autumn (until then, most people thought they faced no more than a bad recession, like today).”

Europeans Beware!–Fines for Non-Voters?

Der Spiegel Online reported on June 9:

“Across the 27-member bloc, just 42.9 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots [in the European elections]. That marks the lowest turnout since direct voting began in 1979. In a number of Eastern European countries, the total was well below even that…

“German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble repeated an idea he has voiced before of allowing Europeans to have a direct vote for a European Union president. ‘If the campaign included a race for a person at the head of Europe, that would clearly generate attention across Europe,’ Schäuble, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told the tabloid Bild on Tuesday…

“Germany’s SPD parliamentarian Jörn Thiessen has an idea of his own to confront the problem: Fine voters who don’t cast their ballots. ‘We politicians are required to vote in parliament,’ he told Bild. ‘One can require the same of voters in an election. Those who don’t cast their ballots should be fined €50…’

“Thiessen’s idea is not quite as outlandish as it may sound. Australia has enforced compulsory voting since 1924 and fines people between 20 and 70 Australian dollars should they provide no good reason for not having cast their ballots. Argentina is also a member of the elite, mandatory voting club.

“There are also a few European members in that club, including Luxembourg and Belgium. Their turnouts in the European elections: 91 percent and 90.4 percent, respectively.”

Rising Tensions Between USA and Israel

The New York Times wrote on June 8:

“Under mounting American pressure to define his intentions regarding peace efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Sunday that he would make a major policy speech next week mapping out the government’s ‘principles for achieving peace and security.’

“The announcement came against the background of rising tensions with the Obama administration, which has demanded that Israel freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank. The Netanyahu government insists that construction within existing settlements should continue.

“In another point of contention, Mr. Netanyahu has refused to endorse explicitly the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state, a cornerstone of American and European policy on the Middle East…

“Ben Caspit, a columnist, wrote Sunday in the newspaper Maariv that Mr. Netanyahu, ‘who opted to squander his period of grace on meaningless “reassessment” meetings, is now going to have to be particularly creative if he wants to renew trust between the United States and Israel.’

“Israeli officials say they expect the Obama administration to respect understandings they say were reached — some written and some oral — with the Bush administration on building within existing settlements. The Obama administration has bluntly dismissed Israel’s argument. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that ‘there is no memorialization of any informal and oral agreements’ on construction in settlements. ‘If they did occur, which, of course, people say they did, they did not become part of the official position of the United States government,’ she said.”

“Supreme Leader of Iran: Muslim Nations ‘Hate America'”

The Washington Post wrote on June 4:

“Iran’s supreme leader dismissed President Obama’s speech at Cairo University Thursday, saying the Muslim world continues to ‘hate America.’… Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that ‘beautiful speeches’ could not remove the hatred felt in the Muslim world against America… ‘People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa — people of these regions — hate America from the bottom of their heart,’ Khamenei said… He added, ‘Even if [Obama] delivers hundreds of speeches and talks very sweetly, there will not be a change in how the Islamic countries perceive the United States’…

“Khamenei also denounced Israel as a ‘cancerous tumor in the heart’ of the Islamic world, and he accused the U.S. military of ‘bombing innocent civilians’ in Afghanistan…

“Regarding Iran’s nuclear program, the main issue of contention between his country and the United States, Khamenei reiterated Tehran’s assertions that it seeks only to generate electricity, and he referred to a religious edict, or fatwa, that he issued at least four years ago in which he declared that the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons was prohibited under Islam…

“Khamenei, who served as president of Iran for eight years in the 1980s, succeeded Khomeini as supreme leader in 1989, becoming the nation’s highest-ranking political and religious authority. As such, he is more powerful than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and appoints many key leaders, including the commanders of the armed forces and members of national security councils dealing with defense and foreign affairs.”

Israeli Reactions to Obama’s Cairo Speech

IsraelNationalNews.com wrote on June 4:

“As the Israeli government convenes to discuss the ramifications of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, other Israeli politicians have lost no time in responding to it. Excerpts:

“MK Danny Danon (Likud): ‘The president has crossed all lines. His implied comparison between the Israeli government and the Nazi regime said everything. He has made a covenant with the Arab world and rewarded it for more than 60 years of aggression.’

“MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union): ‘Obama makes a shocking parallel between the destruction of European Jewry and the suffering that the Arabs of Israel brought upon themselves when they declared war on Israel’… Regarding Obama’s praise of Islam, Eldad said, ‘Obama spoke more from his own heart and less from genuine understanding of the direction Islam is taking around the world. Whoever thinks that the establishment of a Palestinian state will stop the war in Darfur, India, Chechnya, and Europe will apparently soon learn that Israel is not willing to be the “pound of flesh” that he wants to throw to the Muslims.’

“MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said: ‘The Zionist vision of the rebuilding of the Land of Israel is stronger than any president or government. We outlasted Pharaoh, and we will outlast Obama’…

“MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home): “The speech arouses fears and concerns regarding the future of American relations towards Israel. I fear an erosion of the traditional American commitment to Israel’s security needs and its very existence and independence…'”

The Source for Obama’s Cairo Speech

On June 8, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim, born in Cairo, who advises Barack Obama on Muslim affairs as a member of the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. We are bringing you the following excerpts from her statements in the interview:

“I suggested three main themes. One is to continue building on the theme of mutual respect. My recommendation was to recognize that Islam has made and makes a positive contribution to civilization. The second major theme was that of cooperation and the idea of equal partnership. A third theme that I referred to was empathy: Even if we do not share their opinion, we should try to understand their point of view…

“I really felt very satisfied, because much of what we recommended made it into his speech. The president tried to heal a deep wound that Muslims have. But at the same time, he didn’t deny what America stands for. His tone and his respect exceeded the expectations of most Muslims. He got a standing ovation in Cairo. People were yelling out: We love you, Obama. Actually, it reminded me of Obama’s inauguration in Washington. It was the same excitement… From the minute he came on stage, I knew that it was an historic moment, especially because he began the speech by saying (the Arabic greeting) ‘assalaamu alaykum.’ I knew that it has never happened before — and perhaps it won’t happen again — that an American president addresses the people like this…

“We have carried out the largest, most comprehensive survey on Muslim opinions ever and that research and the conclusions from that research were conveyed and were taken into account in the formulation of the speech. All of my recommendations were based on the polls and studies at Gallup. It was in some ways a response to what people have said. The messages and the concepts in that speech were targeted towards what people think, rather than dictating to them what we want them to think. It was very much the beginning of a dialogue with Muslims around the world.”

Iranians Vote Friday for Their New President

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 11:

“Iranians go to the polls Friday to elect a new president after an unusually heated election campaign. But even if reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi beats the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will it make any difference to the country’s nuclear ambitions?

“If the Israeli Air Force were to bomb Iran, it’s a safe bet that the top-secret Iranian nuclear facility near Isfahan would be at the top of its list of targets… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hardline government are already believed to have decided to attack Iran. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu plans to give the new US government’s efforts to achieve a negotiated solution until the end of the year to produce results. If they are unsuccessful, the paper writes, the Israelis will strike — even without Washington’s approval, if necessary.

“Mohammed ElBaradei, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has warned that such an attack could ignite a catastrophic conflagration throughout the Middle East. US expert David Albright believes that it will be virtually impossible to wipe out Iran’s nuclear program militarily. The Israelis would have to bomb Iran for weeks, and yet would still not have eliminated a large number of facilities, according to Albright. Instead, he says, such attacks would only achieve one thing: They would unite Iranians behind their leadership and convince them, once and for all, of the need to build the bomb.

“Officials in the West are clinging to the remote hope that Holocaust denier and Israel-hater Ahmadinejad will be voted out of office in Friday’s presidential election. Nevertheless, the differences among the four candidates running for president are minimal when it comes to the nuclear issue… The Iranian economy and the morality debate — not the nuclear conflict that threatens world peace — is at the center of the challengers’ campaign platforms…”

More Hostile North Korean Moves

The Washington Post reported on June 8:

“A North Korean court sentenced two U.S. journalists to 12 years in a labor camp Monday, as the government of Kim Jong Il continued to ratchet up tension with the United States and its neighbors. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, television reporters detained in March along North Korea’s border with China, received harsher sentences than many outsiders had expected. But several experts in South Korea predicted that talks will begin soon to negotiate their release.

“The U.S. government said it was ‘deeply concerned.’ The five-day trial of Ling and Lee was held in Pyongyang’s Central Court, the top court in North Korea. Outside observers were not allowed. ‘The trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing,’ the official Korean Central News Agency said… The ‘grave crime,’ however, was not explained…

“The detention and sentencing of the two journalists has coincided with — and become entangled in — a series of provocative acts by North Korea that this spring have angered its neighbors, its historical allies and much of the world. The heavily armed, secretive state — in the throes of a succession process, as the country’s ailing leader prepares to hand power over to his youngest son — launched a long-range missile in April, detonated a nuclear bomb in May and has renounced the truce that ended the Korean War.

“On Monday, North Korea warned fishermen and boat captains to stay away from the country’s east coast, Japan’s coast guard said. The North is planning to launch several medium-range missiles from the region, according to reports in the South Korean press.

“The U.S. government, which last year lifted some sanctions against North Korea and delivered large amounts of food aid, has become increasingly exasperated by the North’s behavior… Led by the United States and Japan, the U.N. Security Council is considering new sanctions against North Korea for exploding a nuclear device in defiance of a U.N. resolutions. If the sanctions are approved, North Korea threatened Monday that it would retaliate with ‘extreme’ measures…

“The long prison term given the journalists adds a new complication… Ling and Lee were working for Current TV, a cable and Web network co-founded by former vice president Al Gore, when they were detained March 17 by North Korean soldiers along the border with China… There are believed to be about 200,000 political prisoners in North Korean camps, where former inmates say conditions are often brutal, hunger is widespread and attempts to escape usually result in a public execution.”

Air France Flight AF 447 — Did Terrorists Do It?

Sky News reported in June 10:

“Two passengers with names linked to Islamic terrorism were on the Air France flight which crashed with the loss of 228 lives, it has emerged. French secret servicemen established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the doomed Airbus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 31. Flight AF 447 crashed in the mid-Atlantic en route to Paris during a violent storm.

“While it is certain there were computer malfunctions, terrorism has not been ruled out. Soon after news of the fatal crash broke, agents working for the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure)… were dispatched to Brazil. It was there that they established that two names on the passenger list are also on highly-classified documents listing the names of radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic… There is a possibility the name similarities are simply a ‘macabre coincidence’, the source added, but the revelation is still being ‘taken very seriously’.

“France has received numerous threats from Islamic terrorist groups in recent months, especially since French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan. Security chiefs have been particularly worried about airborne suicide attacks similar to the ones on the US on September 11, 2001.”

The Sun added on June 10:

“An Air France long-haul pilot claims it is ‘highly likely’ the Airbus 330 was blown up as it flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris… Four days before the crash, a flight from Buenos Aires to Paris was delayed by two hours because of a bomb threat. And a pilot claimed… the way debris was strewn over a vast area, pointed to a bomb.”

Swine Flu Has Become Global Pandemic

The Wall Street Journal wrote on June 11:

“The World Health Organization has told its member nations it is declaring an H1N1 flu pandemic — the first in 41 years. The move came Thursday as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere. In a statement sent to member countries, WHO says it decided to raise the pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6, meaning that a global outbreak of H1N1 has begun… The pandemic declaration will require all countries, including the dozens that haven’t yet reported any cases, to launch pandemic-prevention plans…

“On Wednesday, WHO said 74 countries had reported nearly 27,737 cases of H1N1, including 141 deaths. About half the world’s confirmed cases, or 13,217, are in the U.S., including 27 deaths… In Australia, the number of the new disease, also known as swine flu, has more than tripled in the past week, reaching 1,263 on Thursday.”

Pigs Cause Sickness

Reuters wrote on June 4:

“Global health officials underestimated the risk that pig herds might be a source of new influenza strains, choosing instead to focus on the threat of bird flu, researchers in Mexico said on Thursday. They analyzed samples from people infected with the new H1N1 swine flu virus, which has been confirmed in more than 19,000 people in 64 countries, killing about 120. U.S. health officials say this number reflects only a fraction of the true number of cases.

“‘This virus most likely evolved from recent swine viruses,’ Gerardo Nava of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and colleagues wrote in their report, published in the online journal Eurosurveillance. ‘These findings indicate that domestic pigs in North America may have a central role in the generation and maintenance of this virus.’

“The global pork industry has rushed to defend pig products, saying pig meat is no danger to people. But health experts have also noted there is very little surveillance done to track influenza among pigs — even though the virus is very common in the animals and just as transmissible as it is among people. Flu viruses have also been shown to pass from pigs to people and from people to pigs. ‘These observations also reiterate the potential risk of pig populations as the source of the next influenza virus pandemic,’ Nava and colleagues wrote.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses–Ongoing Religious Discrimination in Germany

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 10:

“Several German states are trying to prevent the Jehovah’s Witnesses from gaining the same official status as the main church faiths… Followers of the religion, close to 166,000 in Germany, believe the end is near for this world of sin. But they also believe that there are only 144,000 places available in heaven for a few chosen ones who proved to be particularly pious and true to the bible in life…

“For years, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been seeking to obtain legal recognition as a church from the German government so that they can enjoy the same rights and privileges as the Catholic and Protestant churches. They have already had success in the states of Hesse, Bavaria and Lower-Saxony. But the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg have resisted the church.

“In Rhineland-Palatinate, Governor Kurt Beck of the center-left Social Democrats is dreading a situation in which the group would get church tax revenues in his state or set up businesses in which trade unions aren’t given a say. In Germany, tithing for religions recognized by the government is handled by the state in the form of a church tax.

“A few weeks ago, Beck called on all [divisions] of his state government to ‘intensively seek out arguments’ that could help hinder any official recognition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Beck said he had ‘the most considerable doubts as to whether it could be defined as a religious community that is in keeping with Germany’s constitution.’ After all, the intellectual leaders of the centrally organized group discourage members from voting or participating in elections…

“Marc Ratajczak, an expert on sects for the conservative Christian Democratic Union party’s group in the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia, argues that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are ‘very clearly a sect’ who ‘damn’ and ‘suppress’ any other religions or attitudes about life as ‘Satan’s work’…

“Three years ago, Berlin became the first German state to be forced to award the organisation official recognition as a church…The Witnesses filed separate applications for recognition in Germany’s 15 other states immediately after that. They were able to point to the Berlin court decision as a precedent that gives the other states very little legal leeway… Recently even the government in Catholic Bavaria quietly recognized the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as did Saxony and Hamburg. In Baden-Württemberg, Culture Minister Helmut Rau had drafted a government document recognizing the church before Governor Günther Oettinger of the CDU stopped it…

“The head of the CDU parliamentary group in the Baden-Württemberg regional parliament, Stefan Mappus, went further. ‘A religious community that rejects democratic elections, looks down on individual freedoms and rejects blood transfusions for example, can’t be regarded as loyal to the constitution in our opinion.’ Oettinger now plans to discuss the matter with the big churches.

“The Jehovah’s Witnesses have so far reacted calmly to such announcements. The legal situation is ‘unambiguous,’ says Gajus Glockentin, lawyer for the German Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in the Hesse town of Selters… The Witnesses’ policy of abstaining from voting wasn’t an effective argument either, Glockentin says. After all, declining to vote isn’t aimed at weakening democracy, he argues. It’s simply the result of an ‘apolitical attitude to life.'”

Darwin’s Evolution Theory–a Blessing for Mankind?

Welt-On-Line wrote on June 9:

“The theory of evolution and its author are of a popularity that is rare in the world of science… At the same time, the theory implies a view of the world that remains both fascinating and controversial… That the existence of complex life forms can be explained without the agency of an omnipotent creator… is deeply disturbing for every religious person, and remains so today.
“But the absence of an intentional God is only the most striking side effect of Darwin’s theory… It is indeed a wonderful world that Darwin’s argument unfolds. Suddenly, the beauty of flowers is no longer God’s gift to mankind and proof of his benevolence, but a device aiming to attract those insects that support their cross-fertilization. In other words, the flower’s colorful blossoms are the stimulant of an odd, insect-based sexuality…

“In Darwin’s view, all beings belong to one family tree. Humans, animals and even plants all stemmed from one common ancestor, he speculated, and the recent advance of genetics has supported this hypothesis… It is thus that Darwin’s work questions the very core of Victorian culture – and ours…”

The hypothesis of Evolution is an unproven and improvable human fantasy–the idle attempt of agnostic or atheistic scientists and other would-be intellectuals to “prove” a creation without a Creator. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults?”

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Our new booklet, “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today!” is being finalized and will be sent to the printer shortly.

A new member letter was sent out this week. In the letter, Dave Harris discusses the commission of the Church of God and our individual responsibilities. A reprint of a recent Editorial by Norbert Link, titled, “The Last Days,” was attached to the letter.

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Nationalization of GM–Good or Bad?” In the program, Norbert Link asks the question, why is not everybody happy about the government-orchestrated filing of bankruptcy by General Motors? Why is there serious concern about the nationalization of GM? Will the U.S. government really play only a passive role? Commentators don’t believe that that promise is credible. They are afraid, in light of President Obama’s actions so far, that GM will become a pawn in his hands.

A new related German “AufPostenStehen” program, titled, “General Motors in Staatshand,” has been posted on YouTube.

A new German sermon (“Die Weisheit Salomos”) was recorded this week, discussing the wisdom of Solomon. It will be posted shortly on the Internet.

Two recent video-recorded sermons, Is Jury Duty Really That Bad?, Norbert Link, May 23, 2009 and This World and God’s Holy Spirit, Norbert Link, May 31, 2009 were posted on the Sermon page of our Website (under “Audio”).

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by Laura Hannity Harris

I recently listened to an audio book, entitled “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. The word “Outliers” in the title refers to a statistical term for a phenomenon that lies outside of everyday experience, something that cannot be explained through the normal rules. “Outliers” can further be defined as something or someone that is situated away from the main body.

Although the author’s primary focus is on the career achievements of successful individuals, the concept of being an “Outlier” resonated with me because of its parallels to my Christian life. As a Christian, I often make choices that go against the “normal rules” of human reasoning in order to abide by God’s biblical principles. To an uncalled individual, my actions may seem strange and unorthodox. As a result, I sometimes feel ostracized from others because of my decisions. 

I’ve had many “Outlier” experiences since being called to God’s Way of Life–losing a dream job because of my unwillingness to work on the weekends, excluded by friends for not socializing on Friday nights or holidays, or ending a romantic relationship because of my unwillingness to convert to another religion. The initial sting of rejection often hurts me, but God has always provided me with better jobs, better friends and a better mate.  

It has been so encouraging for me to understand that God has set me apart from others by calling me out of this world now, setting me up for success to reach the Kingdom of God. Knowing this, it motivates me to embrace my “Inner-Outlier.” 

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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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