Update 413


Letter to the Galatians, Part 3

On September 26, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Letter to the Galatians, Part 3.”

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

On September 28, 2009, we will celebrate the annual Holy Day of the Day of Atonement. Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Our Fight with Satan.”

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.


There will be no Updates for the next two weeks, due to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. Our daily services during the annual Festival will be broadcast over the Internet. The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org.

The Feast brochure for the Festival in San Diego, with the time of our daily services and daily activities, is posted on the Web.

For more information on the annual Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, please read our free booklet, God’s Commanded Holy Days.

The regular publication of our weekly Update will resume on October 15.

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The Desires of Our Heart


I remember going to my first Feast of Tabernacles as a child of 12. I did not have a clue what we were getting ourselves into, especially since we had only been attending church services for a few months. We went to our assigned feast site which was Big Sandy at the time, and camped in Piney Woods.

As a child, with no money, one of the first Scriptures that caught my eye and had great personal meaning for me was Deuteronomy 14:26 where it speaks of the Feast of Tabernacles, saying, “And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.”

You may have to constantly tell your child to clean up his room, brush his hair before he goes to school, take a bath after playing in the mud, BUT you will not have to tell him twice that when he goes to the Feast, he can have WHATEVER his heart desires.

For me that year, breakfast consisted of chocolate milk and a six-pack of chocolate Donettes… every day! This was not because we were poor or that there were no other choices, but simply this was what my heart desired. Since I am older, my eating habits have changed. Now, during the feast, my heart desires a thick juicy premium cut of steak (and only one Krispy Kreme every morning).

Most of us have found that as we have matured, what we digest has changed. We started out with milk and moved on to heartier meats. In the same way, our spiritual lives should parallel this. We start with the milk of the Word and move on to the meat of God’s Word. We start with the simple principles, the ones a child can understand, and grow in grace and knowledge of the deeper understanding of the Ways of Righteousness, even being able to teach others as situations may permit.

We cannot afford to be as those Paul addressed in Hebrews 5:12-13: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”

At the Feast of Tabernacles this year, we can and should take our second tithe and spend it on the desires of our heart as is commanded. But far more importantly, at this precursor to the Kingdom of God, we should desire and seek to be fed and nourished by the rich and plentiful spiritual banquet that will be available and be filled with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

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We begin this section with an interesting legal analysis by two constitutional attorneys, who were formerly employed by the Department of Justice, concluding that the proposed federal legislation of mandatory health insurance is unconstitutional. It would be indeed a political disaster for President Obama and his entire administration if new health care measures were approved by Congress and later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

President Obama’s decision, which was supported by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to abandon the defense missile shield in Europe, resulted in extremely mixed responses. The overwhelming concern in Germany is that Mr. Obama’s decision is a big gamble–with no guarantees from Russia. The underlying idea–as reportedly expressed before by Vice President Joe Biden and now echoed by Russia–that Iran does not pose a real threat appears to be just incredibly naive, at the very minimum. At the same time, we are quoting conflicting reports about Israel’s intentions towards Iran.

Even though President Obama promised change in regard to prisoner abuse, the sad reality is that such abuses are still continuing in the Bagram military prison in Afghanistan–and apparently in a much worse way than in Guantanamo. But as two articles point out, most of the detainees in that classified prison camp have been declared by the Pentagon to be “innocent” and could be released “immediately”–but they are not, while the Obama administration keeps very quiet about it. 

We are publishing several articles reflecting worldwide disappointment with President Obama, and also a widening rift between the USA and Europe on quite a number of issues, including in the area of “climate change” or “global warming” (even though not all Europeans agree with the concept of man-made global warming). The Financial Times states that “relations between the US and Europe…near breakdown,” and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung feels that there is no more trust in American leadership, while the Guardian opinionates that the leadership role of the USA is gone. At the same time, a rift is also developing between Europe and Israel, and the view is forcefully expressed that a “core Europe” is inevitable.

For more information on the future players on the world scene, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

We conclude with an article about the condemnation by the European Parliament of a Lithuanian law banning discussion of homosexuality from schools and potential restriction of publication of gay and lesbian magazines and prohibition of pride marches. The EU is showing increasingly its political muscles–including in areas of social behavior which the Bible declares to be wrong and “abominable” (compare Romans 1:18-32).

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Mandatory Health Insurance Unconstitutional

On September 18, The Wall Street Journal published the following legal analysis by Messrs. Rivkin and Casey, Washington D.C.-based attorneys, who served in the Department of Justice during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations:

“Federal legislation requiring that every American have health insurance is part of all the major health-care reform plans now being considered in Washington…

“The elephant in the room is the Constitution. As every civics class once taught, the federal government is a government of limited, enumerated powers, with the states retaining broad regulatory authority. As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers: ‘[I]n the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects.’ Congress, in other words, cannot regulate simply because it sees a problem to be fixed. Federal law must be grounded in one of the specific grants of authority found in the Constitution.

“These are mostly found in Article I, Section 8, which among other things gives Congress the power to tax, borrow and spend money, raise and support armies, declare war, establish post offices and regulate commerce… If the federal government has any right to reform, revise or remake the American health-care system, it must be found in this all-important provision. This is especially true of any mandate that every American obtain health-care insurance or face a penalty…

“The Supreme Court construes the commerce power broadly… But there are important limits… Health-care backers understand this and… have framed the mandate as a ‘tax’ rather than a regulation. Under Sen. Max Baucus’s (D., Mont.) most recent plan, people who do not maintain health insurance for themselves and their families would be forced to pay an ‘excise tax’ of up to $1,500 per year—roughly comparable to the cost of insurance coverage under the new plan.

“But Congress cannot so simply avoid the constitutional limits on its power. Taxation can favor one industry or course of action over another, but a ‘tax’ that falls exclusively on anyone who is uninsured is a penalty beyond Congress’s authority. If the rule were otherwise, Congress could evade all constitutional limits by ‘taxing’ anyone who doesn’t follow an order of any kind—whether to obtain health-care insurance, or to join a health club, or exercise regularly, or even eat your vegetables.

“This type of congressional trickery is bad for our democracy and has implications far beyond the health-care debate. The Constitution’s Framers divided power between the federal government and states—just as they did among the three federal branches of government—for a reason. They viewed these structural limitations on governmental power as the most reliable means of protecting individual liberty—more important even than the Bill of Rights…”

Obama’s Big Political Gamble

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 18:

“US President Barack Obama has scrapped his predecessor’s plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. German editorialists hope the move will encourage Russia to back tougher sanctions against Iran. But while some praise the decision as hopeful and brave, others dub it naive and dangerous…

“Germany’s Green Party interpreted the decision as an embarrassment for Merkel and her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party… Guido Westerwelle, the candidate for the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), welcomed the decision… and he called on Germany’s government to capitalize on the moment to push for the removal of US nuclear weapons based in Germany by 2013…

“German commentators focused on the political risks facing Obama. As they see it, Russia might not interpret the move as a conciliatory gesture to improve strained US-Russian relations but, rather, as a sign of weakness and green light to continue with its aggressive and uncompromising foreign policy…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘That the president can venture to cancel the program shows courage, a willingness to take risks and decisiveness, though it might also mean that he’s taking a big political gamble. Obama’s biggest challenge is this: He has to quell the suspicion that he has buckled in the face of Russia. And he has to succeed in doing this not only in the US Congress, but also when it comes to America’s allies in Eastern Europe. They are afraid that some people in Moscow will be able to misinterpret the decision to cancel the missile defense shield as a sign of weakness and to be emboldened to promote their interests with tanks in other places in the same way they did in Georgia…’

“The center-left Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… Obama might have been thinking that canceling the plan would elicit some sort of quid pro quo from Moscow. The Russians are very happy about it… Russia’s claim that the planned missile defense system harmed strategic stability was never meant seriously. It was rather intended as propaganda and a way to influence a public that was very touchy about this issue. So this means it pays to play hardball.’

“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘… it does raise the question of whether this policy is naïve and, in the end, dangerous. The other problem is that it leaves much of Central Europe disappointed. … People there are afraid of being abandoned again… After Obama’s failure to appear at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the beginning of World War II in Gdansk [Note: The White House declined to send a senior figure to Poland’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary outbreak of World War II on 1 September], this will be the second blow to their hopes…’

“Left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘… Poland’s goal was to get an American military base. With such a base, the US would have had to defend Poland not only because it was a member of NATO, but also because its military base was there. The majority of Poles are not convinced that NATO lives up to its name of being a “defensive alliance” anymore. And Poland’s government doesn’t have much faith in NATO either. If Poland were attacked, NATO members would debate things for two weeks before doing anything to help. With no missile shield, there will be no US base in Poland. As a result, Poland’s dream of having the US as a power that would protect it is shattered.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘What’s truly unusual about Obama’s decision is that he is taking a huge step toward Russia without having any guaranteed quid pro quo to show for it. It’s a rare thing for a US president to make a down payment like this. It either shows great courage in the face of risk or pure naiveté. Just how risky Obama’s bet is can be seen from Moscow’s celebrations of the cancellation of the missile plans. Diplomats are pounding their chests and boasting that Obama’s buckling was the logical consequence of their refusal to compromise on this issue. For Obama, it will be a very expensive decision. In terms of domestic politics, he is exposing himself to accusations of being a wimp and damaging the country’s security. In terms of foreign politics, he is snubbing two allies — the Czech Republic and Poland — who view the cancellation of the missile shield as a betrayal… Moscow has the upper hand now.'”

The Wall Street Journal added on September 18:

“President Barack Obama’s decision to drop plans to deploy a ballistic-missile defense shield in Central Europe — drawing immediate cheers in Moscow and criticism elsewhere — is a gamble by the U.S… The move fits into a broader Obama administration strategy of attempting to win over opponents through engagement. But as with the effort to engage Iran, the strategy runs the risk of appearing to give away too much to tough negotiating partners who may simply pocket any concessions…

“Russian officials insisted they hadn’t agreed to any quid pro quo to secure the U.S. policy shift… Moscow doesn’t see abandonment of the Bush administration’s missile plans as a concession to respond to, but as ‘a mistake that is now being corrected,’ said Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO… ‘This is a recognition by the Americans of the rightness of our arguments about the reality of the threat, or rather the lack of one,’ from Iran’s missiles, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, told state television. ‘Finally the Americans have agreed with us,’ he said.”


Will Russia Impose Sanctions on Iran?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 24:

“President Obama scored a potential victory in his diplomatic engagement with Iran by gaining what appeared to be a commitment from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to exact economic sanctions against Tehran if it doesn’t compromise on its rapidly expanding nuclear program. The severity of sanctions Russia would agree to remained unclear, however… Russian support for sanctions is viewed as crucial in pressuring Tehran to relent. ‘The Russian position is simple…Sanctions rarely lead to productive results. But in some cases sanctions are inevitable,’ Mr. Medvedev said following a meeting with Mr. Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.”

Iran No Threat?–Get Real!

Reuters reported on September 18:

“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a lie on Friday, raising the stakes against Israel just as world powers try to decide how to deal with the nuclear ambitions of an Iran in political turmoil… Ahmadinejad’s anti-Western comments on the Holocaust have caused international outcry and isolated Iran, which is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear programme… Germany said Ahmadinejad was a ‘disgrace to his country.’… White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Ahmadinejad’s comment ‘only serves to isolate Iran further from the world.’

“Ahmadinejad won support from Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006. ‘Our belief and creed … remain that Israel is an illegal entity, a cancerous tumour, that must cease to exist,’ Nasrallah said in a televised address…

“Ahmadinejad repeated on Thursday that Iran would ‘never’ abandon its disputed nuclear programme to appease critics… Next month’s major powers talks with Iran offer no clear relief to Israel, which wants world powers to be prepared to penalise Iran’s vulnerable energy imports but sees Russia and China blocking any such resolution at the U.N. Security Council… Russia, which has veto power in the U.N. Security Council, last week ruled out oil sanctions against Iran…

“At home, Ahmadinejad is facing strong opposition which erupted into unrest following his disputed re-election in June… The June vote, which was followed by huge opposition protests, plunged Iran into its worst political crisis in three decades and revealed deepening rifts within its ruling elites.”

Israel and Iran–What’s Going On?

Reuters reported on September 21:

“Israel has not given up the option of a military response to Tehran’s nuclear programme, senior officials said on Monday, after Russia’s president said his Israeli counterpart assured him it would not attack Iran.

“Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was asked by Reuters if that comment by Israeli President Shimon Peres [whose role is largely ceremonial], as reported on Sunday by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was a guarantee there would be no Israeli strike on Iran. Ayalon replied: ‘It is certainly not a guarantee. I don’t think that, with all due respect, the Russian president is authorised to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table.’

“Echoing that, the chief-of-staff of Israel’s armed forces, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, later told Army Radio when pressed on whether Israel could attack Iran: ‘Israel has the right to defend itself and all options are on the table’…

“Russia plays a role in the stand-off between Israel and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made an unannounced visit to Moscow this month, has been keen that Russia not sell anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran and also that Moscow support international sanctions against Iran. Last week, a former senior Israeli defence official told Reuters that Israel would be compelled to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if the international powers had not agreed by the end of this year on crippling sanctions to force Tehran’s hand.”

Prisoner Abuse Continues in US Prison Camp

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 21:

“US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge… Bagram is ‘the forgotten second Guantanamo,’ says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School… And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America’s mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo…

“The Bagram detention facility, by now the largest American military prison outside the United States, is not marked on any maps. In fact, its precise location… is classified… Bagram is located in the middle of the Afghan war zone… all the detainees there have been classified as ‘enemy combatants’ rather than prisoners of war, which would make them subject to the provisions of the Geneva Convention… ‘In my view, having visited Guantanamo several times, the Bagram facility made Guantanamo look like a nice hotel,’ says military prosecutor Stuart Couch, who was given access to the interior of both facilities…

“From the beginning, Bagram was notorious for the brutal forms of torture employed there… At least two men died during imprisonment. [In regard to one] of them, a 22-year-old taxi driver named Dilawar… his interrogators had already known — and later testified — that there was no evidence against [him]…

“To this day, there are hardly any photos from inside Bagram, and journalists have never been given access to the detention center… According to an as-yet-unpublished 2009 Pentagon report, 400 of the Bagram inmates are innocent and could be released immediately… Some have been there for years, without knowing why…”

“Obama Administration Has Completely Failed…”

On September 21, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with New York-based human rights lawyer Tina Foster, “who began representing Guantanamo inmates in 2005. She realized that many of them had spent time in Bagram prison and had been seriously abused there. In 2005, she travelled to Afghanistan for the first time. There, she met hundreds of relatives of Bagram inmates who asked why the world was interested in Guantanamo but nobody seemed to care about abuses at Bagram. Since then she has worked exclusively with Bagram detainees.”

In the interview, Foster stated that the “Obama Administration has completely failed” to keep their promises. She explained:

“Unfortunately, the US government did not change its position on Bagram when Obama took office. The government still claims that our clients are not entitled to any legal protections under US law. It maintains that even those individuals who they brought to Bagram from other countries, and have held without charge for more than six years, are still not entitled to speak with their attorney, and they are arguing now that they are not entitled to have their cases heard in US courts…

“There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights. They have made much ado about nothing, in the hope that the courts and the public will not examine the issue more closely… Some of our clients have been at Bagram since its early days, and they still are not being told what the charges are against them, or given the ability to challenge those allegations in any fair legal proceeding…

“What most people don’t realize is that Bagram has always been far worse than Guantanamo. One thing that has not been stressed enough in media accounts regarding Guantanamo is that much of the abuse that the Guantanamo prisoners suffered actually happened at Bagram. Many of our former clients were subjected to sexual humiliation and assault akin to Abu Ghraib-style torture. In terms of torture and abuse, Bagram has a far worse history than Guantanamo. There are at least two detainees who died there after being tortured by US interrogators… according to the military’s own autopsy report… Bagram has always been a torture chamber…

“I think General Stone’s report [saying that many of the detainees in Bagram are innocent] confirms what we have learned over the years from our clients — most of the people at Bagram are being imprisoned unjustly. General Stone reviewed the military’s own records and determined that, of the 600 current detainees at Bagram, there are 400 innocent people that the US government should not be detaining… What is completely baffling is why these 400 innocent individuals have not been released…

“I voted and campaigned for Obama, like all the other folks here in the US who wanted to see this country recover from the illegal and unjust policies of the Bush administration. When I heard Obama’s announcement to close Guantanamo, I breathed a sigh of relief that perhaps this extremely ugly chapter of American history was finally being put to an end. Unfortunately, since then, the Obama administration has completely failed in delivering the change that was promised… The reality is that the Bush and the Obama administrations have the same position on the rights of detainees in Bagram.”

“Obama the Impotent”

The Guardian wrote on September 22:

“Much hope has been invested in Barack Obama’s ability to strike a new course for the US following eight years of Bush administration unpopularity. Yet many in the US and abroad are impatient with the pace of progress under the Obama administration…

“Besides the ongoing battle over healthcare, this week sees two showdowns between Europe and the US that will reveal further slippage in American global leadership. The first showdown comes today at a UN special session on climate change in New York City; the second will come at the end of the week at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, where America and Europe will butt heads over financial system reforms designed to ensure that the AIGs of the world can never again cause an economic collapse.

“Europe has been increasingly critical of America’s failures to live up to its global responsibilities… On the campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to reverse the Bush administration’s terrible ecological record. Yet so far the world has seen more symbolic gestures from the Obama administration than accomplishments. Its biggest achievement so far has been an example of disappointment…

“That’s the start of President Obama’s week. At the end of it, President Obama will appear at a meeting in Pittsburgh of the G20, a bloc of both developed and developing nations, representing 85% of the world’s economic output and most of its population. On the table will be what reforms to help avoiding a repetition of the financial panic and global economic collapse that is perceived as having originated on Wall Street… Here again, Europe is leading, while the Obama administration is dragging its feet…

“The world is about to enter a challenging phase where the US – the undisputed leader of the free world for the past 60 years – is going to rapidly cede its place at the head of the line. It appears that the wheels may be coming off the world’s post-war leader, and not even Barack Obama can stop it happening.”

Everyone Is Saying No to Obama

The Jerusalem Post wrote on September 22:

“Everybody is saying no to the American president these days. And it’s not just that they’re saying no, it’s also the way they’re saying no. The Saudis twice said no to his request for normalization gestures towards Israel… The North Koreans said no to repeated attempts at talks, by test-launching long-range missiles in April; Russia and China keep on saying no to tougher sanctions on Iran; the Iranians keep saying no to offers of talks by saying they’re willing to talk about everything except a halt to uranium enrichment; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is saying no by refusing to meet with Binyamin Netanyahu until Israel freezes all settlement construction; the Israelis said no by refusing to agree to a settlement freeze, or even a settlement moratorium…”

EU Unhappy With USA Over “Climate Change”

The Financial Times wrote on September 21:

“A growing rift between the US and Europe is overshadowing Tuesday’s United Nations climate change summit in New York… The downgrading of expectations comes as relations between the US and Europe, which started the year of talks as allies, near breakdown. In Brussels, European Union officials have grown increasingly frustrated at the US stance, saying it has fallen short on both its level of ambition to reduce emissions and on offering aid to developing nations… European officials say the Obama administration lacks focus because its top talent is wrapped up in the all-consuming debate over healthcare.”

Der Spiegel Online added on September 22: “… the climate debate has run aground in the US… Even President Obama’s own party is withholding its support…” It added on September 23:

“Chances of Climate Success in Copenhagen ‘Headed Toward Zero’… The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘Disenchantment with Obama reigns at the UN. And understandably so… criticism of Obama — and particularly those coming from European governments — ranges between hackneyed and dishonest…’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘On his trip through Europe in April, Obama’s message of change and hope put many under a spell. But now, six months later, there is disenchantment among the majority of Americans and — though to a lesser degree — also among people around the world… In Copenhagen, people will put about as much trust in American leadership as they do in believing that the US will live up to its promise to close Guantanamo by January.'”

Czech President Klaus Against Climate Change Campaign

Reuters wrote on September 22:

“Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticized a U.N. meeting on climate change on Tuesday… ‘It was sad and it was frustrating,’ said Klaus, one of the world’s most vocal skeptics on the topic of global warming. ‘It’s a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem,’ he said. ‘It’s simply not dignified.’ At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change.

“Klaus said there were increasing doubts in the scientific community about whether humans are causing changes in the climate or whether the changes are simply naturally occurring phenomena. But politicians, he said, seem to be moving closer to a consensus on climate change. ‘The train can’t be stopped and I consider that a huge mistake,’ Klaus said… However, new proposals by China and a rallying cry from U.S. President Barack Obama did little to break a U.N. deadlock about what should be done.

“Klaus published a book in 2007 on the worldwide campaign to stop climate change… In the book, Klaus said global warming has turned into a new religion, an ideology that threatens to undermine freedom and the world’s economic and social order.”

Relations Between EU and Israel Getting Worse

The EUobserver wrote on September 21:

“Relations between Sweden, the EU presidency-in-office, and Israel have gone from bad to worse after Israel accused Sweden of breaking an EU ban on contact with Hamas… Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad on 14 September told EUobserver that high-ranking officials from EU countries, including people ‘very close’ to EU leaders and foreign ministers, meet with the militant group on a weekly basis. He mentioned visits from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Luxembourg, but not Sweden… Swedish-Israeli relations already suffered in August, when Sweden declined Israeli demands to censure a Swedish newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of selling the bodily organs of dead Palestinians.”

Core Europe Inevitable

The EUobserver wrote on September 21:

“Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has suggested that if the Irish people vote against the Lisbon Treaty a second time, a group of European Union member states should move to create a ‘core Europe’ in order to implement the treaty… The concept of a ‘core Europe’ moving ahead toward further integration rears its head regularly when movement forward on a particular policy is blocked by a minority of member states.

“Various politicians and academics have advocated the idea that an inner core of EU member states drive forward with deeper integration via the development of a new organisation, often described as a European Federation, alongside the existing European Union. Some experts believe that even if the Irish approve the treaty, such a move remains inevitable as the union expands beyond 27 member states… The UK’s foreign secretary in this period, Jack Straw, backed the idea that the UK should be part of this core…”

The EU Has Their Say on Homosexuality

The EUobserver reported on September 17:

“A Lithuanian law banning discussion of homosexuality from schools and that could restrict publication of gay and lesbian magazines and proscribe pride marches has been condemned by the European Parliament. A firm but not overwhelming cross-party majority adopted a resolution criticising the Baltic country’s new [law]… The bill, which goes into force in March next year, covers all manner of outlets such as websites, exhibitions, demonstrations and other public events if they can be accessed by children… A total of 349 [EU] deputies voted in favour of the resolution [condemning the bill], with 218 against and 46 abstaining.

“UK Green MEP Jean Lambert, a co-signatory to the resolution said: ‘The European Parliament has sent a clear message to the Lithuanian government that homophobia has no place in the European Union… This law contravenes the EU Treaties, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, and should be urgently repealed on these grounds.'”

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Could you give us some guidelines as to how to properly dress at Church services and social functions during the Feast of Tabernacles, especially at pool or beach parties?

We will be trying to answer this question as best as we can. In the past, the Worldwide Church of God attempted to strike a proper balance as to what is appropriate and inappropriate clothing, but in the process, some might have gone overboard at certain times by leaning too much to the “right” or to the “left.” Occasionally, the Church was even accused of promoting a yard-stick religion, while at other times, it was perceived to allow for appearances which were clearly not in line with biblical standards.

The following write-up is a conglomeration of discussion and communication, between the ministry and their wives, of the Church of the Eternal God and their corporate affiliates, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, and the Global Church of God in the UK. We believe that it will be sufficient for the wise, but if particular additional questions should arise on an individual basis, please address those to the ministry and their wives (or widows of late ministerial husbands). We also need to keep in mind that we must NEVER condemn or judge self-righteously our spiritual brother and sister for what is being worn (compare James 4:11-12; 2:1-4, 13). If a matter needs to be addressed on an individual basis, the ministry will do so. We are all learning to become more and more perfect in the eyes of God, and to increase in stature with people, and this process requires time and patience.

We have generally addressed, in a previous Q&A, proper attire during Church services. In this Q&A, we will add a few more explanatory specific comments.

As a general principle regarding proper clothing, we need to reflect God’s standards at all times, when appearing in public. As Church members today, we have to ensure that we are not conformed to this world in any way (Romans 12:2). We are to concentrate on things which are “noble” (Philippians 4:8). God’s people are to abstain from fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:11). We read that we are to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). Christ warned men not to look at a woman with evil thoughts or “to lust for her” (Matthew 5:27-28). Even though degrees of this tendency might vary, it should be common knowledge that especially men are more “attracted” and receptive to the outward “appearance” of women, from a sexual standpoint, than women might be to men in that regard. Christian women must be aware of this “male” tendency at all times, and should not dress in such a way as to be causing or contributing to “evil desires” arising in the minds of men. God warns us that we sin against our brother when we create a stumbling block for him (Romans 14:13; Matthew 18:6).

In addition, especially ladies should be aware of the fact that human nature (which we ALL still have) may want to parade the physical beauty of their bodies to others. But this would be contrary to God’s definition of true love (compare 1 Corinthians 13:4). [This tendency can also be found in men, of course, which would be equally wrong.] As one minister’s wife stated:

“As a teenager, my parents helped me understand why my peers chose clothing and makeup that would attract attention. Many girls felt powerful and enjoyed it when they drew male attention. At the root of the matter was vanity and self-centeredness. Whom was I trying to impress? It was difficult to be a non-conformist when you just wanted to fit in. The power of peer pressure is a strong influence, and a paradigm shift was required to make the decision to ensure undue attention wasn’t directed to myself. I needed to be concerned with what God thought rather than my peers and replace that false sense of self-esteem. More important than the habit of appearing modest that my parents instilled in me was the fundamental lesson of keeping God at the core rather than vanity and self-centeredness. I really grew emotionally and developed some positive character traits and a dress sense that I continued into adulthood.”

The over-riding questions that we should ask ourselves are why are we dressing the way that we are, and is it modest and becoming of the example that we should be setting for those around us? Whether we are at a pool party or at Church services, there are standards that we should be living up to. We need to ask ourselves brutally honest questions, such as, is what we are wearing too revealing or too diverting? While human nature enjoys the attention that inappropriate dress can bring, this should not be our focus. We are to be looking inwardly and developing the mind of God.

All of this means that ladies must avoid dressing in a manner that encourages immoral and wrong thoughts in men and sets a poor example for other women. This applies to proper clothing in public at all times, and not just at Church services or social Church functions. We read that everything should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). It is important to realize that God is always watching us, including, how we dress outside the privacy of our homes.

On the other hand, we also need to strike a balance between being “cutting edge” in fashion and so far behind that we draw undue attention to ourselves. Once our dress and appearance becomes distracting in either sense, it has gone astray from God’s purpose of pleasing Him and of becoming “a Jew to the Jew and a Gentile to the Gentile,” in order to win some (1 Corinthians 9:19-20; 10:32-33). However, this is not to say that we should wear inappropriate clothes just because “everybody else” in the world may do so. We are to come out of the world and be different (compare 2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

The moral decline of society has brought about immodest fashions. We hasten to add that this is true for clothes worn by both women AND men.

For instance, Christian men should not wear clothes which might give the impression that they might be homosexuals. For example, in certain parts of Europe, it is perceived as being perfectly alright for men to wear flimsy bathing suits, which would be looked at as offensive in large parts of the USA, except for certain communities. So, appearance, especially of men, is important for the additional reason of not wanting to give wrong impressions to others–lest people draw wrong conclusions.

The bigger problem, however, is without doubt the clothes not to be worn by Christian women, and since we were asked by several ladies to give specific guidelines, we are setting forth the following, for your prayerful consideration:

It may be difficult to find tops that don’t reveal cleavage, but great care should be exercised in that area. If a blouse is too low, it can be layered with a tank top underneath. Women should stay away from clothing that is skin-tight (top or bottom), and if the dress or skirt is above the knee cap when she is standing upright, then it is too short. Skirts should come just below the knee cap; otherwise, when a lady sits down, the skirt rides up mid-thigh and too much skin is showing. Dresses that have low necklines are to be avoided at all times and care should also be exercised in regard to dresses that could be revealing when bending forward. This is especially true when a lady has to bend over to care for a child or pick up something off the floor.

Bathing suits worn at the beach or at a pool should preferably be one-piece (barring extraordinary circumstances), as most two-piece bathing suits are just too revealing. However, a one-piece bathing suit can also be quite revealing (or even more so); so again, great care and honest evaluations should be exercised in this matter. In addition, the overall physique should be taken into consideration as well. There comes a point, especially in obese or old(er) people, when it is unpleasant [or perhaps even somewhat embarrassing] to look at their far-too-revealing clothing.

As we said, these are guidelines which should be taken into consideration by Christian men and women at all times. The overall goal for us as God’s spiritually begotten children is to please Him and not to give offense to anyone, and to overcome our carnal human nature (which is oftentimes motivated by the “pride of life,” 1 John 2:16); the society around us and its evil influences on us; and Satan the devil who wants to conquer us with fiery darts of (self-)deception and temptation. We are told that God resists the proud, but that He gives grace to the humble; and that we are to submit to God and to resist the devil (James 4:6-7). Then Satan will have to flee from us, while God will enlighten us more and more with His understanding (2 Timothy 2:7) as to how to live “circumspectly” and conduct ourselves properly in this present evil society (Ephesians 5:15-16).

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Our Feast brochure for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day was completed and will be printed to be distributed to Feast attendees upon their arrival at the Feast site in San Diego. The brochure has also been posted on the Web, for your initial review.

A new StandingWatch program was posted this week on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Carter’s False Charges of Racism.” In the program, Norbert Link asks the question: Are you a racist because you disagree with President Obama’s policies? Former President Jimmy Carter seems to feel that way. He said in an NBC interview that an “OVERWHELMING PORTION of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” and that there is “a belief among MANY WHITE PEOPLE, not just in the South but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.” Why are these charges so wrong, insulting, damaging and counter-productive?

Norbert Link’s new video-recorded sermon, “The Time of God’s Wrath,” was posted on the Internet.

Norbert Link’s new video-recorded German sermon, “Der Sinn des Fastens” (“The Meaning of Fasting”), was posted on the Internet.

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God