Update 421


Those Who Are Called

On December 5, 2009, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Those Who Are Called.”

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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What Do You Want?

by Norbert Link

Jesus was never too timid or shy to express the truth in the strongest terms. Sometimes, He spoke purposefully in figurative language to test His disciples’ commitment to God. On other occasions, He struck to the core of their innermost motives and hidden feelings, to let them know that He understood their thoughts and could read their hearts.

Christ did not go on a crusade to gain a following, knowing that God the Father must call and draw people to Him. At times, He even dissuaded people from walking with Him. He was more concerned with the quality, rather than the quantity, of His disciples. He did not perform public signs or miracles to be accepted or admired. He shocked people by saying and doing things which were unexpected.

Many of the early followers of Christ fell into the carnal trap of pursuing wrong goals and giving in to distracting desires, craving for recognition, power, or doing “great things.” How about us today? Are we interested in spiritual growth–in gaining a better understanding of the true values of Christian living–or are we content with the “knowledge” that we think we have? Are we frozen in time, refusing to follow Christ wherever He leads us? Or, are we anxious to come up with and teach “something new,” in order to “reach” and “attract” those with itching ears who are always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth–let alone accepting the love of the truth?

Are we really focusing on God’s Kingdom and His righteousness–or are we concerned about how well people like and accept us? Do we look at “Church assembly” as a place for social activities–for “fun and games”? Is our Church attendance dependent on how few or how many members show up, and who in particular? Is our Christian life only worthwhile to us, when we are prosperous or financially secure, or healthy, or accepted by others, or successful in our physical endeavors? Are we happy and relaxed when things go “our way,” but do we fall into depression and despair when our wishes don’t correspond with God’s perfect Will for us? Are we conditioning our doctrinal understanding on how it affects our personal life?

Are we determined to carry on with the work or responsibility which God has given us–individually and collectively–no matter how our task is viewed or received by others? Do we measure our “favor” or “success” with God by how many people respond to our message–or, how many other groups might want to merge with our particular organization? Are we willing to compromise or “re-evaluate” our beliefs, so we can become part of “something bigger”? Are we desperate to be able to “report” some spectacular healings–imagined or real–in order to “prove” that God is with us? Do we think we must preach some “new truth,” proclaim some prophetic speculation, or set dates for Christ’s return, in order to gain or maintain attention?

God wants to see in us strong and unwavering convictions. He wants us to stay focused and to allow Him to build His righteous character in us. He wants us to fulfill our duties, and to follow Him gladly and thankfully in “good times and in bad times.” He wants us to concentrate on the true goals and values–not on cheap and passing “substitutes.” He wants us to learn more and more how to follow Christ’s example in everything. Is that what you want?

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We begin with several articles on Afghanistan–and the futile and lost war that the Western powers are waging in that country. Both in the USA and in Europe, the tide is turning against prolonging this war. Der Stern wrote that the situation is “unsolvable”; the Financial Times stated that the Afghan war will decide whether President Obama “succeeds or fails,” arguing that it is “not a necessary war” and speculating that “one spectacular Taliban strike might flip the balance of opinion – and, with or without extra forces, the US would then be back on the path to defeat.”

We also show how Israel is upset with the EU; how Iran continues to defy the world; and how public opinion in Switzerland–and also in Germany and other European countries–is erupting against the spread of Islam in Europe. Commenting on the referendum in Switzerland to ban the construction of Muslim minarets, the German mass tabloid Bild wrote that Germans would probably vote the same way, continuing, “Large parts of the Islamic world don’t share our basic European values… Nowhere is life made harder for Christians than in Islamic countries. Those who are intolerant themselves cannot expect unlimited tolerance from others.”

At the same time, Germany’s constitutional court, following the request of the Catholic and Protestant Church, upheld the general prohibition against Sunday shopping. As one commentator said: “Strange isn’t [it] how some people accept this law on grounds of religion and social unity, yet are outraged at the thought of a minaret because Islam and sharia law may have similar laws restricting freedoms.”

Turning our attention to the elections of the EU Commissioners, new facts evolved pertaining to EU President Herman Van Rompuy, and especially Great Britain is unhappy with the nomination of French minister Michel Barnier as Commissioner for the key internal market post. The Daily Mail wrote that “Mr Barnier is expected to push hard to give Brussels the power to regulate financial institutions [in Britain] instead of the British authorities.” At the same time, the paper speculates whether Britain is on the brink of bankruptcy.

We conclude with a few articles pertaining to the horrible practice of flagellation in the Catholic Church and with the despicable methods employed by scientists to support global warming. These articles show how far this world has drifted away from the true God of the Bible and His values and teachings.

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Afghanistan–the Gordian Knot

Der Stern wrote on November 26 about “Obama’s dangerous decision” to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The paper said that “he does not know a way out” and that the situation appears more and more like the “Gordian knot”–that is, “unsolvable.” It also wrote:

“For eight years, the USA and NATO are fighting, but the Taliban is as strong as never before. For eight years, money flows into the country for reconstruction, but the drug traffic tops all records. For eight years, President Karzai is supported, but he only won the election through massive fraud…”

Afghanistan is a lost cause for the Western World. The attempt to bring democracy to that country–especially with the use of weapons–was destined to failure from the outset. The declared goal to capture Osama Bin Laden and to defeat the Taliban has been a total debacle–the incompetence of Western powers to achieve this goal is utterly astonishing and embarrassing.

Afghanistan–President Obama’s Biggest Test

The Financial Times wrote on November 29:

“Even more than healthcare, the war in Afghanistan will decide whether Barack Obama succeeds or fails… Mr Obama already owns this ‘necessary’ war, as he has called it, contrasting this battle with his predecessor’s supposedly needless war in Iraq… If health reform goes wrong, there will be others to blame. If this war goes wrong, it will be all his fault. It is Mr Obama’s biggest bet by far…

“At the moment the US and its allies are losing. It is that simple. Mr Obama’s options are essentially to pull out altogether, conceding defeat in his necessary war; maintain roughly the existing commitment… or provide the resources his military commanders say are needed…

“A point may come when the US is doing more harm than good, or when the Afghans themselves want us out. The case for gradual withdrawal, starting now, is not obviously wrong. This is not a necessary war. It is a war of choice, and a finely balanced choice at that. This makes Mr Obama’s political difficulty acute.

“Parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam are impossible to ignore. The most pressing is that the US loses wars like this at home. A bigger effort in Afghanistan can be sustained only as long as the country supports it… As with Vietnam, most Americans are unsure why their sons and daughters are dying in Afghanistan. The administration’s unduly protracted debate over what to do has sent the message that it too is unsure. Shallow support for the war suggests that one spectacular Taliban strike might flip the balance of opinion – and, with or without extra forces, the US would then be back on the path to defeat.

“It gets worse. Mr Obama’s own party opposes the policy he seems to have chosen. Last week leading Democrats called for a war tax to cover the cost of the country’s expanding commitments. Not exactly helpful: but they are right that operations in Afghanistan are enormously costly, in financial as well as human terms. The administration says it costs $1m a year for every extra soldier. An additional 35,000 troops would cost $35bn a year – enough to buy a lot of health reform.

“For his narrow margin of support on extra forces Mr Obama relies on Republicans, with whom he has fallen out bitterly on every aspect of domestic policy. The president’s approval rating continues to slide. The mid-term elections are in sight, and Democrats are anxious. They have reason to be. In short, the test for Mr Obama could hardly be more demanding. Having made his decision, he must get the country behind it, without making promises he cannot keep or sending messages that encourage the enemy…

“Since taking office, Mr Obama has been a less effective leader than many of his admirers, myself included, had hoped. On many issues, he has simply chosen not to try. On Afghanistan, standing aside is not an option. We will see what kind of president he is.”

On December 3, 2009, The Financial Times added:

“Instead of posing as a visionary, Obama played the role of a sober realist in his West Point speech. He no longer spoke of a victory in Afghanistan, rather he talked of bringing ‘this war to a successful conclusion.’ It was a clear recognition of the facts on the ground. Afghanistan is not a classic war in which one can ‘break the enemy’s will’ as Republican Senator John McCain is now demanding.

“The situation in Afghanistan is so confusing and — for foreign powers — so uncontrollable that it will be difficult enough for the Western alliance to achieve even its most modest of aims. NATO has failed to reach the formerly espoused goal of introducing a stable, Western-style democracy to Afghanistan. Obama’s West Point speech was an admission of this failure.”

Afghanistan–President Obama’s Devastating and Untruthful Speech

Der Spiegel Online reported on December 2:

“Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America’s new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric — and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught… Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond ‘enthusiastically’ to the speech. But it didn’t help: The soldiers’ reception was cool.

“One didn’t have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama’s speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly… US strength in Afghanistan will be tripled relative to the Bush years, a fact that is sure to impress hawks in America. But just 18 months later, just in time for Obama’s re-election campaign, the horror of war is to end and the draw down will begin. The doves of peace will be let free.

“The speech continued in that vein. It was as though Obama had taken one of his old campaign speeches and merged it with a text from the library of ex-President George W. Bush. Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the ‘world’s great religions.’ He promised that responsibility for the country’s security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai — a government which he said was ‘corrupt.’

“… the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama’s magic no longer works… In his speech on America’s new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught. The American president doesn’t need any opponents at the moment. He’s already got himself.”

Most Controversial Promises

On December 1, The Washington Post commented in particular on one segment  in President Obama’s speech. The President said: “I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”

The paper wrote:

“This is likely to be the most controversial notion in the speech — that the president can flood the zone with troops, and that in the same breath he can talk about removing them from the country… Obama is careful to offer a caveat — ‘we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground’ — but that date is likely to linger in viewers’ minds. This administration has had real trouble meeting deadlines — witness the difficulty with closing the detainee facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — so it will be interesting to see how much of an albatross this date becomes.

“Obama’s timeline for the start of a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is likely to stir some concerns in military circles, even though the pace of that eventual drawdown remains vague. Many in the military will recall how both in Iraq and Afghanistan previous predictions about the need for fewer troops proved overly optimistic and destabilizing when drawdowns were undertaken without regard for deteriorating security. In addition, some U.S. military officers may worry that the Obama timeline, while a warning to the Karzai government, could also encourage Taliban insurgents who seek simply to outlast the military offensive.”

The Left Attacks Obama

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 2:

“As expected, US President Barack Obama promised a large increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan. But at the same time, he promised to begin pulling them out already in 2011. His speech offered many details, but little vision. And Obama failed to adequately explain a war that many no longer support…

“This mixture of retreat and advance is also making it more difficult for Obama to convince perhaps the most important group of constituents: his supporters… Controversial film maker Michael Moore… was harsh in his criticism. ‘With just one speech … you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics,’ he wrote… In the letter he asked whether Obama really wanted to be the new ‘war president’… Meanwhile the president’s advisors were busy trying to put a positive spin on the decision, arguing that the trust of the Afghan people would be strengthened through the increased troop numbers. But it’s the trust of Americans that Obama should be most worried about.”

No Substantial Help from Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 2:

“The US government is looking for up to 7,000 additional troops for Afghanistan from its NATO allies. But few countries in Europe are rushing to fill the void. Germany and France want to wait until the Afghanistan conference at the end of January… Indeed, the only countries which immediately offered to up their troop contingent were Britain, Poland and Italy. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the UK would send an additional 500 troops with Poland likely to up its contribution to 2,600 from 2,000. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country would send more as well, but avoided a concrete pledge, saying only that Rome would ‘do a lot.'”

Germany in Political Upheaval Over Afghanistan

The Financial Times wrote on November 27:

“Angela Merkel was forced to reshuffle her cabinet less than one month into her second term as German chancellor on Friday after Franz Josef Jung resigned his portfolio as labour minister. Mr Jung, defence minister in Ms Merkel’s first government, stood accused of playing down the high number of civilian casualties caused by a German-ordered Nato air strike in Afghanistan in September. The controversy could undermine already fragile support for the German mission in the country. Mr Jung’s departure… is the latest and most serious setback for the new centre-right coalition, which has spent much of its first weeks in office squabbling over economic policy… this week’s revelations about the controversial air strike could have more negative repercussions for the government.”

Der Spiegel Online added on November 29:

“The furore centers on Jung’s immediate claims following the Sept. 4 airstrike that no civilians had been killed. At the time, he announced that it was only members of the Taliban who had been killed when a German colonel called in a US air strike on two tankers that had been seized by the insurgents in Kunduz, near a German military base. However, it has subsequently emerged that civilians were most likely among the victims, with estimates ranging from 17 to 142 casualties.

“Jung said on Thursday that he had told the public and parliament what he knew at the time regarding the events in Afghanistan. But a Thursday report in the tabloid Bild suggested that reports about civilian casualties had reached his ministry by the evening of Sept. 4, reports that he then forwarded to NATO headquarters. He claimed on Thursday that he did not read the report before sending it further and had not knowingly lied to the German public and parliament…

“The debacle has made things difficult for Germany’s new Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. He is reported to have ‘exploded’ when he first learned of the report… He immediately called in the General Inspector Schneidhan to see if he was aware of the report. Once it was clear that he had known about it, there was little choice but for him to resign. Peter Wichert, the deputy defense minister, was also fired.

“Guttenberg was in effect left hanging by his staff. After coming into office, the young minister had quickly said he regretted any civilian casualties but stated that, having seen the NATO report into the incident, the air strike had been ‘appropriate militarily.’ He now says he may have to reassess that statement. It now appears that the Bundestag’s defense committee will establish a parliamentary investigation into the affair.”

EU Provokes Israel

The EUObserver wrote on December 1:

“EU plans to call for East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state have been described as a ‘provocation’ of Israel’s right-wing government by a key figure in the history of the Middle East Peace Process. Israeli daily Haaretz on Tuesday (1 December) published a leaked copy of a draft statement on Israel to be adopted by EU foreign ministers next week.

“The text – which is likely to undergo changes during internal EU discussions in the run-up to the ministerial meeting – said that peace talks should lead to: ‘an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital.’ ‘The European Union will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders,’ it added, in reference to Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank following the so-called Six Day War…

“The Israeli foreign ministry reacted angrily to the Haaretz leak on Tuesday… But a number of EU officials voiced surprise that the provisional statement evoked such a hostile reaction. ‘Jerusalem should be the shared capital of two states. I think this is a position which has been stated often enough,’ Lutz Gellner, the spokesman of the EU’s new foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, said.”

Israel and Iran

Der Spiegel wrote on December 2:

“Iran’s leaders continue to reject compromises over their nuclear program and are rebuffing the IAEA. The West is likely to respond with tighter sanctions, but that is unlikely to satisfy Israel, which has attack plans already drawn up…

“Netanyahu has said often enough that he will never accept an Iranian nuclear bomb. He doesn’t believe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he insists that Iran’s nuclear program is intended solely for civilian purposes. But he does take Ahmadinejad — a notorious Holocaust denier — at his word when he repeatedly threatens to wipe out Israel. Netanyahu draws parallels between Europe’s appeasement of Hitler and the current situation. ‘It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany,’ he says. This time, however, says Netanyahu, the Jews will not allow themselves to be the ‘sacrificial lamb’…

“A narrow majority of the Israeli population currently favors bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities, while 11 percent would consider leaving Israel if Tehran acquires nuclear weapons.”

How Iran Defies the World

BBC News reported on November 29:

“Iran’s government has approved plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants… The government told the Iranian nuclear agency to begin work on five sites, with five more to be located over the next two months. It comes days after the UN nuclear watchdog rebuked Iran for covering up a uranium enrichment plant… Sunday’s announcement is a massive act of defiance likely to bring forward direct confrontation over Iran’s nuclear programme.”

With the exception of Israel, the Western World has demonstrated its unwillingness to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The time is drawing nearer when we can expect an Israeli attack on Iran. 

Switzerland Votes to Ban Minarets

AFP wrote on November 29:

“Over 57 percent of Swiss voters on Sunday approved a blanket ban on the construction of Muslim minarets… A final tally of 26 cantons indicates that 57.5 percent of the population have voted in favour of the ban on minarets… Only four cantons rejected the proposal brought by Switzerland’s biggest party — the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which claims that minarets symbolise a ‘political-religious claim to power.’

“The SVP had forced a referendum under Swiss regulations on the issue after collecting 100,000 signatures within 18 months from eligible voters. The Swiss government was firmly against the call, arguing that accepting a ban would bring about ‘incomprehension overseas and harm Switzerland’s image.’ Switzerland has an uneasy relationship with its Muslim population of some 400,000 in a country of 7.5 million people. Islam is the second largest religion here after Christianity.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 30:

“Switzerland’s decision to ban the construction of minarets in a referendum on Sunday has drawn condemnation from politicians across Europe and from Muslim leaders, but far-right politicians have welcomed it as a courageous step that should be copied by other countries. Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top cleric, called the ban an ‘insult’ to Muslims across the world… The right-wing populist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is famous for his anti-Islam views, called the result ‘great’ and said he would push for a similar referendum in the Netherlands.

“… mass circulation Bild, which can claim to have its finger on the nation’s pulse more than other newspapers, said Germans would probably vote the same way if they were allowed a referendum on the issue: ‘The minaret isn’t just the symbol of a religion but of a totally different culture. Large parts of the Islamic world don’t share our basic European values: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the equality of man and woman, the separation of church and state, a justice system independent of the Bible or the Koran and the refusal to impose one’s own beliefs on others with “fire and the sword.” Another factor is likely to have influenced the Swiss vote: Nowhere is life made harder for Christians than in Islamic countries. Those who are intolerant themselves cannot expect unlimited tolerance from others’…

“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘… the collapse of Swissair and other objects of Swiss national pride was also painful, as was the humiliating treatment by Libya’s dictator Moammar Gadhafi who has been holding two Swiss nationals as hostages for more than a year. The global economic crisis has also left clear marks on Switzerland. The perfectly devised campaign for a ban on minarets provided a suitable bogeyman for those who were unsettled by this general uncertainty and whose self-confidence has been shattered…'”

BBC News wrote on November 30:

“In Switzerland the soul-searching has begun following Sunday’s nationwide referendum in which voters surprisingly backed a plan to ban the construction of minarets… What many Swiss politicians are beginning to realise this morning is that they underestimated the concern among their population about integration of Muslims in Switzerland, and about possible Islamic extremism…

“Swiss cabinet ministers who had advised, and confidently expected, voters to reject a ban, have woken up to newspaper headlines calling the referendum a slap in the face for the government, and a ‘catastrophe’ for Switzerland. They are now facing the delicate task of explaining the voters’ decision to Muslim countries with whom Switzerland has traditionally good trade relations. Within government circles, there is the expectation that these relations will be damaged and that the Swiss economy may suffer as a result.

“So concerned is the government by the decision that Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer Schlumpf, watching the results come in on Sunday afternoon, apparently told her advisers there ought to be some restrictions on what the general public can actually vote on. This, for Switzerland, is political dynamite. The country’s system of direct democracy is sacrosanct. The people are allowed to vote on any policy and to propose policy themselves, which is what they did on minarets… The real issue is that there was clearly unease among the Swiss population, particularly among rural communities, about Islam.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 1:

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Switzerland’s vote to ban the construction of minarets was a ‘sign of an increasing racist and fascist stance in Europe’… Islamophobia was a ‘crime against humanity,’ just like anti-Semitism, Erdogan said. Turkish President Abdullah Gül… said the vote was a ‘disgrace’ for the people of Switzerland and showed how far Islamophobia had advanced in the Western world… In Cairo, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top cleric, said the ban was an attack on freedom of religion and an attempt to ‘hurt the feelings of the Islamic community inside and outside Switzerland.'”

The EU will develop into a “Christian” power bloc–returning to its very “roots” of “orthodox Christianity.” Islam will be perceived more and more as a “foreign” institution which should have no legitimate place in Europe.  

No German Shopping on Sunday

Following a law suit by Germany’s main churches, the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Church, Germany’s highest constitutional court has upheld the ban against Sunday shopping–at least in general–while at the same time ignoring the religious beliefs of those who don’t want to keep Sunday. In addition, the main tragedy is that the Bible nowhere demands Sunday worship–in fact, it condemns it.

Der Spiegel wrote on December 2:

“Germany’s highest court has ruled that Sunday should be kept as a day of rest and has overturned a Berlin law easing restrictions on Sunday shopping…

“Yet many of Germany’s 16 states have already made some exceptions, allowing stores to open a few Sundays a year. And in Berlin the city government had gone the furthest in chipping away at the ban on Sunday trading. In 2006 the German capital gave the green light for retailers to open on 10 Sundays a year, including the four Advent Sundays preceding Christmas.

“However, Germany’s Constitutional Court has now upheld a complaint made by the country’s Catholic and Protestant churches, based on a clause in the German constitution that Sunday should be a day of rest and ‘spiritual elevation.’ The court on Tuesday decided in favor of the churches, saying that Sunday opening should not take place four weeks in a row. The ruling will not affect shopping this December, but would come into force next year. However, the ruling did not overturn completely the principle of limited Sunday store opening.

“The labor unions had joined the churches in their campaign to ring-fence Sunday as a day off for the nation. However, their focus was not on protecting the right to practise religion, but rather on protecting workers in the retail sector from having to work on Sundays, sometimes the only day they might get to spend with other members of their family…

“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘The churches have argued correctly that employees in the retail sector are not given the possibility of organizing their Advent Sundays according to Christian principles: going to church, being involved in the community, singing and reading aloud. It is part of religious freedom to be able to do these things…’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… It may sound old fashioned but it is still correct: Sunday is Sunday because it is unlike other days. This is not about tradition or religion or a social heritage… It is a day to synchronize society, that is what makes it so important…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The ruling by the Constitutional Court has revived the emotional debate about opening hours of shops on Sundays. That alone is annoying. But even more annoying is that with its strong emphasis on the religiously based day of rest on Sunday, it is interfering in individual and economic freedom. Without a doubt the freedom to practise religion is of great value… In the public debate there is too little mention of the freedom of shop owners to keep customers through opening on Sundays, who would otherwise order online. And the freedom of towns to use Sunday opening hours to attract tourists. Or the freedom of customers to decide for themselves if they would rather spend Sundays amidst the crowds in the shopping malls or walking in the forest…’

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung, which is based in Berlin, writes: ‘Sunday as a day off is a great gift. The treadmill is closed for 24 hours. The court has given relaxation, rest and ‘spiritual elevation’ precedence over the thirst for profit and the right to a consumer fix. However, it made it clear in its ruling that Sunday was not just for those who wanted to practise their religion undisturbed. It is also to play cards, go for a walk or simply to laze around. After all even the strictest atheist needs the switching off that Sundays allow.'”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 1:

“Sunday is enshrined in Article 140 of Germany’s Basic Law as a day of rest and ‘spiritual edification’… The idea that traders need particularly stringent regulation remains firmly anchored in German law, according to Berlin Retail Association head, Nils Busch-Petersen. ‘Boozing and waging war is allowed on Sundays, but retailers are looked on very critically. Shining through this ruling is an unfortunate tradition with Occidental-Christian roots that discriminates against traders,’ he commented…”

The Local wrote on December 1:

“Citing the so-called Weimar Church Article of the German Reich’s constitution from 1919, [which is now part of Germany’s basic law, Art. 140], the justices said that Sunday had a special protected status to ensure Germans could rest from work and have time for spiritual rejuvenation. Shops in Berlin will now only be allowed to open a few Sundays a year deemed in the ‘public interest’ by the city government, as well as a handful [of] other days for special events such as street festivals or anniversaries.

“Both church and trade union officials welcomed the verdict as a victory for families and workers. Katrin Göring-Eckardt, head of Germany’s main Protestant lay organisation, called it a ‘gift to society from Christians’… But Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit called the ruling a ‘real step backwards’ that did not take into consideration modern lifestyles.”

The reaction to the ruling by readers is interesting. Here are a few excerpts, as published by The Local:

“Yes, the Church is protecting us from ourselves… Unfortunately we don’t live in a free world. Religious beliefs still continue to dictate to the rest of us what we can or can’t do… How can the church expect to get any money in their collection baskets on Sunday when people are out buying food instead?… This is supposed to be a secular state, so the church ‘shouldn’t’ have a say – but religion is nothing more than fancy dressed politics… I work away from home so only have the weekend available to me to do shopping, see friends, do housework… etc I might have to do. Wouldn’t it be great if I could choose to do some of those things on a Sunday instead of being dictated to that I have to do those on a Saturday?… Strange isn’t [it] how some people accept this law on grounds of religion and social unity, yet are outraged at the thought of a minaret because Islam and sharia law may have similar laws restricting freedoms… As if Jesus would not like to buy his bread, fish and wine supplies on a Sunday!… after laws against home schooling, this is one of another crazy law i have ever seen,,,churches attendance in Germany is already so low, how could this help?”

More News on EU President Herman Van Rompuy

WorldNetDaily wrote on November 24:

“Jerome Corsi, senior WND staff writer and author of the New York Times best-seller ‘The Obama Nation,’ has issued an alert… The report cited a speech from Herman Van Rompuy, as he was appointed the first permanent president of the European Council of the European Union, saying he believes a new world order will be dominated by international organizations that will seek to destroy the last vestiges of nation-states.

“The speech was captured by BBC and posted on YouTube. In it, Van Rompuy proclaimed ‘2009 is the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis.’ He continued, ‘The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step toward the global management of our planet.’

“In another widely viewed YouTube video, Mario Borghezio, a member of Italy’s Lega Nord, who is also a member of the European Parliament, pointed out in a speech to the European Parliament that Van Rompuy is a frequent attendee at Bilderberg Group and Trilateral Commission meetings.”

EU Commissioners Nominated

The EU published the nominations of their 27 commissioners. If approved in January by the European Parliament, they don’t include any spectacular candidates. But some tendencies seem to emerge–especially the involvement of Eastern nations (including the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria) in potential relationships with Russia; the roles of France, Germany and Spain; and the diminished influence of an “Anglo-Saxon voice.”

BBC News reported on November 27:

“France will take charge of the key internal market post in the new 27-strong European Commission… Former French agriculture minister Michel Barnier got the job… Joaquin Almunia from Spain will become EU Competition Commissioner – another much-coveted post in the EU’s executive arm… Timothy Kirkhope MEP, the UK Conservative leader in Brussels, said that ‘the loss of an Anglo-Saxon voice in the commission’s top economic team is of concern, given the recent spate of over-prescriptive economic and financial legislation to come from Brussels’…

“A Czech politician, Stefan Fuele, will take charge of the EU’s enlargement job. He will also be in charge of the EU’s neighbourhood policy concerning Ukraine and other former Soviet states. Germany’s Guenther Oettinger was named Energy Commissioner, a reflection of the policy’s growing importance for the EU…

“The biggest countries in Eastern Europe also got plum jobs – budget for Janusz Lewandowski from Poland and agriculture for Romania’s Dacian Ciolos… [The post for] International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response was assigned to Rumiana Jeleva [from Bulgaria].” 

Britain Unhappy with Nomination of French Michel Barnier

The Daily Mail wrote on November 28:

“The power to oversee the City of London was yesterday given to a Frenchman known for his dislike of the free market and love of a strong EU. The unveiling of former French foreign minister Michel Barnier was seen as a severe blow for Gordon Brown. Mr Barnier is expected to push hard to give Brussels the power to regulate financial institutions here instead of the British authorities. He helped draw up the original European constitution and has called for an end to Britain’s EU budget rebate…

“French government officials are on record as saying they want Paris to become ‘a rival’ to London, which is Europe’s dominant financial market and vital for the UK economy. City insiders fear tighter regulations could drive British-based finance firms offshore or push them to list on the New York stock market instead…

“The Commissioner has significant leeway to set the EU agenda for financial services and is responsible for drafting new legislation. The EU is already creating a single regulator of financial markets with the power to overrule national regulator.”

Brussels is tremendously unpopular in Britain, and the perception that a Frenchman will decide on British economic issues will only pour oil onto the fire. It is very likely that Britain will exit the EU. 

Britain on the Brink of Bankruptcy?

The Daily Mail wrote on November 27:

“A year ago, the world reacted with astonishment as Iceland technically went bust. It seemed inconceivable that a modern democratic nation could have such parlous finances that only an emergency $6billion bail-out from the International Monetary Fund enabled its economy to keep functioning. This week, we witnessed a similar crisis in the Middle East but on a far, far more dangerous scale, as Dubai effectively defaulted on £48billion of loans… Which leads us to a haunting question: as the country in the world hardest hit by the credit crunch, with gross domestic product (GDP) projected to decline by almost five per cent in 2009, could Britain be next?…

“Even before the financial crisis, the British Government spent roughly £30billion more per year than it earned in tax revenues. This money, of course, had to be borrowed from international investors. Today, the Government needs up to £200billion a year for at least the next three years in order to meet its spending commitments… There may be other, hidden, liabilities. After this week’s shocking revelation of secret loans of £62billion made by the Bank of England to the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS at the height of the credit crunch, who knows how many other skeletons remain in the Treasury’s closet? It is wise to assume that the true size of Britain’s debts could be much bigger than we all think…

“If international lenders begin to doubt the creditworthiness of UK plc, they will downgrade our credit rating and dramatically increase the rates of interest they charge. UK banks will have to follow suit to match these rates, putting unsustainable pressure on our struggling economy. Thousands of businesses already hit by the recession will go bust. Trapped by soaring unemployment and welfare benefits, the Government will have to borrow more. And so the vicious debt cycle will continue to spiral down towards national insolvency – and, potentially, social anarchy…”

If Britain should go bankrupt, continental Europe might ultimately not react in friendly terms. The Bible strongly indicates an outright war between continental Europe and Great Britain in the not-too-distant future. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Flagellation in the Catholic Church

Newsmax wrote on November 24:

“As Pope John Paul II’s beatification cause moves forward, more is coming to light about the late pontiff’s life… John Paul II often put himself through ‘bodily penance,’ said Sister Tobiana Sobodka, a Polish nun who worked for the Pope in his private Vatican apartments and at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome. ‘We would hear it,’ said Sister Sobodka, who belongs to the Order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. ‘We were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he would flagellate himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own.’ Emery Kabongo, a secretary of John Paul II, also backed up the claim. ‘He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests,’ he said…

“The Catholic Church’s tradition of corporal mortification is founded on the Christian belief that Jesus Christ, out of love for mankind, voluntarily accepted suffering and death as the means to redeem the world from sin. The church teaches that Christians are called to emulate Jesus and join him in his redemptive suffering… John Paul II used to whip himself, according to the recent testimonies…

“Many of the church’s greatest saints flagellated themselves, including St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Blessed Mother Teresa, and St. Thomas More…”

The practice of flagellation is a horrible perversion of the teaching of the Bible. Christ died and suffered for us; He never sinned, but He paid the penalty for our violating physical and spiritual laws of God. We read that we can obtain forgiveness of sins and healing of our sicknesses because of His sacrifice for us. To voluntarily inflict oneself with bodily harm is a wrong attempt to usurp authority and responsibilities which were only given to Christ, and it is in total contradiction to God’s expressed love for us. 

Despicable Methods of Scientists to Support Global Warming

Whether one believes in man-made global warming or climate change, or not, the following article’s description of methods by leading scientists to support their claim would be outright despicable. If the allegations in the article are correct, then lying and cheating and attacking and suppressing the opinions of others constitute a terrible indictment against “academic freedom.” Totalitarian governments are famous for their willingness to brainwash and control the minds of their subjects. Now leading scientists are accused of the same “crime”! Of course, similar methods have been used for decades by some scientists desirous to support their idle belief in Darwin’s false theory of evolution–and we suspect, this may be true in many other areas of life which most people take for granted.  

The Telegraph wrote on November 28:

“A week after my colleague James Delingpole, on his Telegraph blog, coined the term ‘Climategate’ to describe the scandal revealed by the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, Google was showing that the word now appears across the internet more than nine million times. But in all these acres of electronic coverage, one hugely relevant point about these thousands of documents has largely been missed.

“The reason why even the Guardian’s George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated. What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“[Professor Philip Jones’] global temperature record is the most important of the four sets of temperature data on which the IPCC and governments rely – not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert it… Since 2003, however, when the statistical methods… were first exposed as fundamentally flawed by an expert Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre, an increasingly heated battle has been raging… [calling] into question the entire statistical basis on which the IPCC and CRU construct their case…

“There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious… is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws. They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.

“This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones’s refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got ‘lost’. Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence.

“But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to ‘adjust’ recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. This comes up so often… that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story…

“The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods – not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics’ work. It seems they are prepared to stop at nothing to stifle scientific debate in this way, not least by ensuring that no dissenting research should find its way into the pages of IPCC reports…

“In light of the latest revelations, it now seems even more evident that these men have been failing to uphold those principles which lie at the heart of genuine scientific enquiry and debate… Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.”

The Daily Express wrote on December 2:

“THE scientific consensus that mankind has caused climate change was rocked yesterday as a leading academic called it a ‘load of hot air underpinned by fraud’. Professor Ian Plimer condemned the climate change lobby… In a controversial talk just days before the start of a climate summit attended by world leaders in Copenhagen, Prof Plimer said Governments were treating the public like ‘fools’ and using climate change to increase taxes. He said carbon dioxide has had no impact on temperature and that recent warming was part of the natural cycle of climate stretching over ­billions of years.

“His comments came days after a scandal in climate-change research emerged through the leak of emails from the world-leading research unit at the University of East Anglia. They appeared to show that scientists had been massaging data to prove that global warming was taking place. The Climate Research Unit also admitted getting rid of much of its raw climate data, which means other scientists cannot check the subsequent research. Last night the head of the CRU, Professor Phil Jones, said he would stand down while an independent review took place.

“… mining geology professor Plimer said there was a huge momentum behind the climate-change lobby. He suggested many scientists had a vested interest in promoting climate change because it helped secure more funding for research. He said: ‘The climate comrades are trying to keep the gravy train going. Governments are also keen on putting their hands as deep as possible into our pockets.'”

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How did John the Baptist fulfill going “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” as prophesied by Gabriel and recorded in Luke 1:17?

The answer to this question has far reaching implications! First, consider that the people in the time of Jesus Christ looked for the prophetic Elijah—the one promised in the Book of Malachi.

By way of background, here is the reference in question, in fuller context—quoting Luke 1, verses 15-17:

“‘For he [John] will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink [indicating that he was a lifelong Nazarite]. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,” and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”

Gabriel applies a portion of a prophecy of Malachi to John. Here are the relevant statements of that Old Testament book, as recorded in Malachi 4: 4-6:

“‘Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse [“utter destruction”].’”

What John accomplished in his relatively brief public ministry did indeed fulfill prophecy, but his work was a part of an even greater fulfillment that would culminate in the generation alive to witness “‘the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD’” (Malachi 4:5). The time of John’s preaching did usher in—prepare for—Jesus Christ and His first appearance (compare Malachi 3:1); however, his witness was limited, foremost, to the population of Judah.

We have John’s own testimony about his role, for when he was directly asked who he was, his response was unequivocal:

“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said I AM NOT.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No’” (John 1:19-21).

The people of that time anticipated the literal appearing of Elijah, but that understanding was erroneous. John himself knew that he was fulfilling the Elijah-like commission, and his direct answer to those sent was to apply a prophecy given in Isaiah 40:3—here is the rendering found in John 1:23: “He said, ‘I am, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD,” as the prophet Isaiah said.’” John knew that his preaching was a forerunner to the Messiah (compare John 1:29-34).

Following the vision of Christ appearing in glory with Moses and Elijah, His disciples were puzzled. They, too, thought that the original Elijah must appear, and here Jesus gives the true understanding and application of the Malachi prophecy:

“And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed Elijah is coming [first] and will restore all things. (NOTE: The precise answer given by Jesus, in earlier manuscripts, does not include the added word, “first.”) But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and THEY DID NOT KNOW HIM but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands’” (Matthew 17:10-12).

Based on what Jesus told them, the disciples now understood that John had indeed—as the angel Gabriel stated—come “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Note this statement in Matthew 17:13: “Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.” Also, consider that the people likewise wondered if Jesus Christ might be Elijah. In addressing this belief, Jesus very specifically taught His disciples about His true identity (compare Matthew 16:13-20).

WHY, then, is Elijah used as a focal point in the biblical record?

Initial mention of Elijah is found in 1 Kings 17, and his pivotal role as God’s prophet to the rebellious House of Israel finds its focus in chapter 18 of 1 Kings. He confronts the people about their pagan practices. Furthermore, he challenges the powerless false prophets and executes all of them.

What Elijah did with God’s miraculous help was to turn the people of that day away from false worship and back to the God of Israel. In later accounts, we find that both the Houses of Israel and Judah continued to rebel—to such an extent that they would not listen to prophets like Elijah, and they both went into national captivity (compare 2 Kings 17:13-18; 2 Chronicles 36:15-16).

A vitally important fact for us to understand—and this directly relates to the nature of John the Baptist’s ministry—is that Elijah’s prophetic commission was a CONTINUING one, both in actual fact and in type!

During his lifetime, Elijah was given three specific duties to carry out:

“Then the LORD said to him: ‘Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place’” (1 Kings 19:15-16).

Elijah only personally carried out one of his assignments—that was to anoint Elisha (compare 1 Kings 19:19-21). Anointing Hazael as king over Syria was accomplished by Elisha (compare 2 Kings 8:7-16). The third commission given to Elijah to anoint Jehu was actually fulfilled by “one of the sons of the prophets”—at the direction of Elisha (compare 2 Kings 9:1-10).

Elisha also fulfilled his role of prophet “in the spirit and power of Elijah”—quite literally! When the time came for Elisha to take the office as prophet in place of Elijah, Elisha asked for this remarkable gift: “‘…Please let A DOUBLE PORTION OF YOUR SPIRIT be upon me’” (2 Kings 2:9). Remember that Gabriel said of John the Baptist—even before his birth—that, “‘…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb’” (Luke 1:15). ALL of the true servants of God are empowered by God through His Holy Spirit in order to accomplish His purpose (compare Ephesians 4:7-16).

The MESSAGE that John preached, like that of Elijah, was to “‘turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers…’” (Malachi 4:6). We have this record of John, found in Matthew 3:1-3: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.”’”

The MESSAGE that followed John the Baptist was brought by Jesus Christ, and what He preached continued “the spirit and power of Elijah,” of Elisha and of all the preachers of righteousness: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).

Concerning what it means to come “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” let’s understand that John the Baptist PERFORMED NO MIRACLES (compare John 10:41)! What John did do was to preach the TRUTH of God (compare John 5:33). Jesus said this of the messenger who preceded Him: “‘Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’” (Matthew 11:11).

The Church of God carries on this commission, as is shown by Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost (compare Acts 2:37-39). The job remains of preparing a people—the elect, likened to the seven thousand of Elijah’s day by Paul in Romans 11:1-7. This is also what Jesus Christ appointed His Church to accomplish (compare Mark 16:15-18).

Note that both Peter and Paul restored life to the dead through God’s Power! In the beginning record of the Church of God, remarkable miracles occurred; however, we must also consider that no leader of the Church since that time has left a record of these kinds of miracles! However, in these last days, the Church has been preaching and is continuing to preach the GOSPEL of the kingdom of God in all the world.

Still lying ahead of us is a continuing fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5: “‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD.’” Likewise, this ”Elijah” work will witness powerfully to the world, “‘And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with [utter destruction]’” (Malachi 4:6).

This continuation of the Elijah work will be accompanied by mighty miracles and signs, just prior to Christ’s return; it will far exceed anything that has yet happened in modern times in terms of miracles (compare, for example, Revelation 11:3-6).

Elisha CONTINUED the work of Elijah—including having double the spirit of Elijah. John the Baptist came in “the spirit and power of Elijah” through the message he preached. The Church of God continues, “to make ready a people prepared for the LORD”–the elect– and to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God. And it will be Jesus Christ–the final “Elijah”–who will restore all things, with the help and assistance of His Church (Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:19-21).

For more information, please read chapter 9 of our free booklet, “Human Suffering–Why… And How Much Longer?”, Norbert Link’s Editorial in Update #55, dated September 7, 2002, as well as our Q&A in Update #143, dated May 14, 2004. You might also want to listen to Dave Harris’ sermon, dated November 7, 2009, titled, “The Spirit and Power of Elijah,” which is posted on the audio page of our website (www.eternalgod.org).

As prophecy very emphatically reveals, there remains much to be accomplished—IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH!

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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Counting My Blessings

by Simon Akl

Recently, during my fall break, I turned twenty-one and was able to spend Thanksgiving with family and long-time friends, whom I consider as part of the family. The week’s activities were absolutely amazing and thrilling. As I reflect on them, it seems that the best memories are not those when I was blessed to enjoy physical materials such as food and games; but instead, the instances when we all sat together talking, laughing, and sharing stories.

In a week that can easily turn into a materialistic-driven focus because of the many delicious meals and activities; I found myself being thankful for more than just the temporary thrills like food. I was able to take a step back and be thankful for the things which I can sometimes take for granted, such as relationships with family and friends, health, and even each opportunity to laugh and smile, among many others.

My mom is always telling me to be thankful and exclaiming to me that her cup is overflowing. I have found that when I am not as focused spiritually as I should be, I stumble into thoughts of helplessness, despair and self-centeredness. The example of my fall break served as a great reminder to me that when I take the time to thank God for all blessings in my life, small or big, I start to change my outlook and perspective; focusing on how my cup is constantly overflowing. Therefore, I work to strive consistently on being thankful for each and every single blessing that God gives me! 

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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

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