Update 452


To the Ephesians, Part 6

On July 24, 2010, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “To the Ephesians, Part 6.”

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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Vengeance IS God’s!

by Dave Harris

How should you and how do you react when another person hurts you and deeply offends you?

Fortunately for us, our private, most intimate thoughts in these kinds of situations rarely become public. Unfortunately, sometimes they do!

Wanting retribution, payback or even taking vengeance might be the all-too-human recourse. However, we who walk as Christians are enjoined by a much different provision: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

How did Jesus Christ apply and live by this command? Quite simply, He approached everything He did with an attitude of love—outgoing concern even for those who mistreated Him and then even caused His death. Furthermore, He left it to God—He submitted Himself completely to God’s perfect Will, to God’s promise of ultimate justice!

The Church of God was founded with procedures that govern the relationships we all have—whether among the body of believers or those who are on the outside. Ask yourself (please, make this very, very personal): “Am I taking from God what is His? Am I trying to get back at someone for something that they did to me? Is there a person or are there people to whom I would wish harm or even death?”

Consider once again Romans 12:17-21, but this time in its broader context:

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceable with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Just imagine that an example such as this might help someone to change, to be sorry, to right his or her way of living! Just think about the impact that godly love might have on someone who isn’t obedient to God. In fact, it is our opportunity to perhaps even assist God in that which is His ultimate goal for humankind:

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

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We begin reporting on the “miraculous” economic recovery of Germany and the euro. Notwithstanding all gainsayers and self-proclaimed prophets who declared and still declare Europe’s and Germany’s economic collapse, Germany is once again the “number one in Europe”–signifying an end-time development which the Church of God has announced for more than seventy years. And while the EU becomes more assertive in political matters, Angela Merkel is being pushed into isolation, and her days of political survival may be numbered. It will be interesting to see who might replace her in the office of German Chancellor.

In other news, the British paper, The Telegraph, published a biting editorial listing President Obama’s failures; USA Today voiced the opinion that the special relationship between the USA and Britain is over; and unless repealed soon, Obamacare is visibly becoming a nightmare and surely a contributing factor to this nation’s economic downfall. BP’s attempts to stop the Oil Spill may or may not be successful; and an unsettling report in the Washington Post reveals the extent of incredible and problematic secrecy within the US government.

The sex scandal in the Catholic Church–and now also in the Lutheran Church–is continuing, and the Vatican is scrambling to undo damage caused by the announcement of its new rules, which view the ordination of women as priests and the sexual abuse of minors by clerics as “crimes.” An interesting article by the New York Times discusses the weekly Sabbath–but unfortunately, it confuses the “Christian” Sabbath–Sunday–with the “Jewish” Sabbath. If we follow the Bible, then there is only ONE weekly Sabbath–and it is neither called the Jewish nor the Christian Sabbath. Rather, God established His Sabbath and He made it holy. It is the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, made the Sabbath for man, when He made man (Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27; John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:16).

While a report shows that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, we conclude with an article in the New York Times, reporting on soldiers who want to become conscientious objectors. As the paper points out correctly, they will only be recognized when they are “conscientiously opposed to participating in war in any form, based on a sincerely held religious, moral or ethical belief. And the person must have had a change of heart since joining the military, when the person signed a form saying he or she was not a conscientious objector and did not intend to become one.” With that standard, those won’t qualify who want to become conscientious objectors because they are only opposed to homosexuals serving in the army, or who are only opposed to fighting in certain wars. 

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Merkel in China

Deutsche Welle reported on July 16:

“Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU is not yet ready to recognize China as a fully fledged market economy after a meeting with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Friday… Wen said China would continue to invest in the euro as part of its currency reserves… Merkel described China’s commitment to the currency as a ‘very important signal.’

“‘We support the fact that the EU and the IMF have taken collective measures to ensure the stability of the eurozone,’ Wen said in their joint press conference…

“After spending two days in Russia overseeing major business deals between Russia and Germany, Merkel is in China on the second stop of her five-day trip… ‘The relations between China and Germany haven’t been that stable in the last two years,’ said Adrienne Woltersdorf, head of Deutsche Welle’s Chinese service. ‘I think Angela Merkel is mainly there to stress the economic aspect of the two countries’ relations…’, she adds.

“A delegation of 25 top-ranking German business leaders is accompanying Merkel on her trade-focused trip. Daimler, one of the firms represented on the trip, has signed a joint enterprise deal with China’s Beiqi Foton, allowing the German auto giant a foothold in the growing Chinese heavy goods vehicle market… Engineering company Siemens has also sealed a deal with the Shanghai Electric Power Generation Equipment Company – founding a joint venture to manufacture steam and gas turbines, and also involving cooperation in the renewable energies sector.

“A German tech company is also looking to work together with a Chinese company to produce a GPS system for monitoring CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

“Meanwhile, the governments in Berlin and Beijing are signing a host of bilateral deals to cooperate in areas ranging from plant safety and chemicals management to preserving water resources, energy-saving, electric mobility, and renewable energies.

“While business deals shall remain in focus during Merkel’s talks with Chinese leaders, the environment, the Korean peninsula, Iran and Afghanistan are also said to be on the agenda… China is Germany’s largest trading partner in Asia, and Germany is the biggest European trading partner for China. Bilateral trade was valued at 82 billion euros ($105.7 billion) last year, accounting for more than a quarter of the total trade between China and the EU…”

“Germany’s New Economic Miracle”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 19:

“During the worst of the global financial meltdown, Berlin pumped tens of billions of euros into the economy and spent hundreds of billions propping up German banks. Now, the country is reaping the benefits as Germany is once again Europe’s economic motor…

“Peter Löscher, the CEO of electronics giant Siemens, was sitting on a throne-like chair in the governor’s palace in the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg… Siemens had secured Russian orders worth about €4 billion ($5.2 billion)…

“The German economy has indeed come roaring back to life this summer. Two years after the outbreak of the financial crisis, the auto industry is adding extra shifts once again. The machine building, electronics and chemical industries are all reporting a rapidly growing number of orders. Total unemployment is expected to drop below the 2.8 million mark this fall, the lowest level since 1991.

“For the first time in decades, the former ‘sick man of Europe’ is back to being an engine for economic growth. According to an internal government assessment, the country’s gross domestic product increased by more than 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year… If the trend continues, say the experts, the German economy will grow by well over 2 percent this year, or almost twice as much as in most neighboring countries. Economists are already proclaiming a second economic miracle, while a former French foreign minister is complaining that Germany is ‘number one in Europe’ once again.”

Merkel in Isolation

Deutsche Welle reported on July 18:

“The popular 55-year-old mayor of Germany’s second largest city, a state in its own right, is… the latest in a line of leading members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) to throw in the towel…

“Merkel’s popularity has sunk to its lowest level since she was elected chancellor in 2005, and an exodus of senior CDU politicians has hardly helped steady the ship as she walks the tightrope of trying to cement Germany’s economic recovery while simultaneously cutting national public spending.

“Von Beust is the sixth Christian Democrat state premier to leave his post in the last 10 months. Although Christian Wulff quit his job in Lower Saxony to be promoted to the role of German president, he was replacing perhaps the highest profile CDU-affiliated deserter of all, former President Horst Koehler…”

Deutsche Welle added on July 19:

“Von Beust claims his resignation was motivated only by personal reasons, but it came on the same day as his Hamburg government – a rare coalition between Christian Democrats and Greens – was defeated in a high-profile school reform referendum… In truth, the political fallout from von Beust’s resignation is difficult to measure as yet… ]Merkel] hardly has any real deputies left…”

Der Spiegel Online added on July 19:

“The resignation of Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust has dealt German Chancellor Angela Merkel yet another blow… German commentators on Monday wonder what the future holds…

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘… The CDU is threatened with the kind of erosion within the party base that plagued the Social Democrats in the last decade. … Beust’s departure has sweeping ramifications for the chancellor. It shows that it is not just the party base that is crumbling, but also the perspectives for Merkel’s style of politics. No other politician better embodies the idea of a modern conservative who can be attractive to urban voters than prudent Beust…'”

The Comeback of the Euro

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 16 that the confidence in the euro was returning that it was celebrating a “resurrection” or a “revival.” The magazine continued that even though the danger was “not totally averted,” the euro was at times higher than 1.30 dollars. It also wrote that the recovery happened “surprisingly quick,” since “experts” had prognosticated a grim future for the euro.

According to the Financial Forecast Center, dated July 22, the value of the euro is perceived to steadily increase in comparison with the US dollar, from, on an average, 1.27 in July to 1.3 in September; 1.32 in October; and 1.37 in January.

Europe Has Their Say

Haaretz reported on July 16:

“Israel should ease its Gaza blockade further and allow Palestinians to resume exports from the territory, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said on Sunday during a visit to the Hamas-controlled enclave.

“‘The position of the EU is very clear: We want the opportunity for people to be able to move around freely or to see goods not only coming into Gaza but exports coming out of Gaza,’ Catherine Ashton told a news conference… The EU plans to offer 22 million euros in grants to some 900 Gaza businesses to help them start up again.”

Europe a Force for Peace in the Middle East?

On July 22, Deutsche Welle published an interview with “Veteran German politician Hans-Gert Poettering,” who is “currently in charge of the European Parliament’s working group for the Middle East.” We are bringing you the following excerpts:

“‘In politics more generally, and especially in the Middle East, we can never abandon hope of an eventual solution. To give an example: The European Union recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Robert Schuman Declaration from May 9, 1950. This sparked the process of reconciliation in Europe. At the time it seemed unthinkable that the peoples of Europe – and especially the French and German populations – could put their differences behind them and build a united Europe, but the process turned out to be very successful. If there is the necessary goodwill, something similar could be achieved in the Middle East.

“The European Union in particular must be a strong motor driving towards this goal… a two-state solution is possible… And we can never cease in our efforts to achieve this, the EU must do its part along with the US, Russia and the UN… we can’t give Hamas the cold-shoulder. That’s why other bodies – albeit not the European Union – are negotiating with Hamas, with Israel’s support. Egypt is an important actor in this process… The EU already provides a lot of money for both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. However, we need to go beyond humanitarian aid… There must be possibilities for development in Gaza once again. And if that can be achieved, it will also improve the prospects for peace in the region.”

“Mr. Cameron, Don’t Follow Mr. Obama”

On July 16, in light of British Prime Minister Cameron’s visit this week to the USA, The Telegraph published the following editorial by Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the ‘Wall Street Journal’ and speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan:

“Dear Mr Cameron… Do not imitate Mr Obama. He has been a disappointment; learn from his mistakes… In Mr Obama’s poll numbers this week, CBS News reports 13 per cent of the people think his economic leadership has bettered their lives. That means 87 per cent do not – that is rather a lot. The Rasmussen Reports’ daily tracking poll yesterday showed 43 per cent strongly disapprove of his leadership and 26 strongly approve. This is low…

“Here are the things he got wrong. In the middle of an economic crash, and in the middle of record-breaking federal budgets and budget deficits, Mr Obama started a new entitlement. This struck people, by which I mean almost everyone, as off-point. We are in a crisis, part of the crisis involves spending money we don’t have, and our answer is to spend more? It wasn’t a policy, it was a non sequitur.

“Moreover, the President’s decision to focus his entire first year on health care, when the voters were focused on the economy, on unemployment, on deficits, demonstrated, in the end unhappily for him and frustratingly for his fellow citizens, that he simply wasn’t thinking about what they were thinking about…

“To make it all worse, just before he went down the health care pass, he put forward, and saw passed, a stimulus Bill that shockingly – I am not being ironic – could not draw the support of a single Republican congressman. Not one… Finally, he confused business with Wall Street…

“Advice on your visit? Love America. It not only deserves it, at the moment it needs it. Our morale is low… speak of your love for this great nation. We don’t, not in a deep way and not enough. Even our President doesn’t. He tries, but he can’t get it right because it’s all so abstract to him. He associates patriotism with nationalism. But patriotism springs from legitimate love and gratitude, nationalism from shallow aggression and conceit. Obama confuses the two, can’t get them straight in his head…”

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is very well put. While the one is right and Godly, the other one is wrong and Satanic.

US-GB Relationship No Longer that Special

USA Today published the following opinion on July 21:

“As British Prime Minister David Cameron set off for his visit to the USA this week, he said Britain was not dependent upon America and did not owe it ‘blind loyalty.’ This comes, of course, in the wake of months of President Obama’s tongue-lashing of ‘British Petroleum’ — a name BP had not used for many years. The British people took the president’s words very much amiss, suspicious that he was unfairly singling out BP for blame as a proxy for bashing Britain itself.

“The British public sourly noted that the role of the two U.S. firms involved in the managing of the Deepwater Horizon rig was ignored, as was the fact that 39% of BP is owned by Americans. The president’s aggressive rhetoric… was blamed for wiping billions of pounds off the company’s value. This directly threatened British pension funds, which are heavily reliant on the company’s dividend payments.

“But there was also something rather deeper and more atavistic in the British response. Obama’s aggression seemed to bring to the fore a British resentment of the U.S. that is never far from the surface. This comprises a toxic mixture of intellectual snobbery; a historic fury at America’s late entry into World War II, after which it was perceived to lay claim to the glory; and perhaps most important of all, a DEEP ENVY of American wealth and power by a country that decades ago lost not only its empire but also its cultural way and sense of purpose.

“Nevertheless, Britain has some cause for complaint from the disdain that Obama has displayed well before the Gulf oil spill. First, he pointedly returned to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that a previous government had bequeathed to the White House as a gift; then he sided with Argentina in its calls for U.N.-brokered negotiations with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

“His perceived scapegoating of BP blew the cap off this deep well of bubbling British national affront. A YouGov poll conducted in June found that only 54% of British respondents said they felt favorably toward the United States — down from 66% one month previously. When asked specifically about how Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill had affected the relationship between Britain and the U.S., 64% said it had weakened it. And 45% said they thought that the relationship has gotten worse since Obama took office in November 2008 — a dramatic increase from the 25% who responded this way the previous month.

“As a result, Cameron was criticized for backing the president in his attack on BP for failing to stem the flow of oil, saying he understood Obama’s ‘frustration.’ This was almost certainly because, although he is a Conservative leader, Cameron has taken his party to the left by adopting a green and anti-Big Business agenda.

“With feeling in Britain running so high, however, eventually Cameron did publicly warn that BP’s survival was important, and he was credited here with getting the U.S. president to agree that the oil giant must not go under. Even though the sound and fury over the disaster has calmed, however, the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States has not returned to normal. Something has changed. And the situation is replete with irony.

“When President Obama was elected, the British were delighted. They believed he would usher in a repudiation of the George W. Bush years and end what they saw as America’s tendency to throw its weight around the world… Yet even though they have become disillusioned with Obama, the agenda with which they associate him — to end American exceptionalism — is gathering steam in the U.K. It is hard to overestimate the poisonous belief that Britain was dragged on America’s coattails into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were against its national interest…

“In part, the Cameron/Liberal Democrat coalition government is reacting to the public’s anti-Americanism. But it also seems to have concluded that Obama is a weak president who has proved indecisive against his country’s enemies while lashing out at its allies.”

ObamaCare–Lost in Taxation

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 17:

“National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency’s new mission in her annual report to Congress last week… with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for ‘the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.’ And without ‘sufficient funding’ it won’t be able to discharge these new duties.

“That wouldn’t be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance ‘as required by law’ and collecting penalties from Americans who don’t. Companies that don’t sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will ‘involve nearly every division and function of the IRS,’ Ms. Olson reports…

“Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon. The IRS says it hasn’t figured out how much extra money and manpower it will need but admits that both numbers are greater than zero.

“Ms. Olson also exposed a damaging provision that she estimates will hit some 30 million sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations, two million farms and one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations. Prior to ObamaCare, businesses only had to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase. But starting in 2013 they will also have to report the value of goods they buy from a single vendor that total more than $600 annually—including office supplies and the like… Ms. Olson says that the tracking costs for small businesses will be ‘disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance’…

“In a Monday letter, even Democratic Senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Evan Bayh (Indiana) denounce this new ‘burden’ on small businesses and insist that the IRS use its discretion to find ‘better ways to structure this reporting requirement.’ In other words, they want regulators to fix one problem among many that all four Senators created by voting for ObamaCare.

“We never thought anyone would be nostalgic for the tax system of a few months ago, but post-ObamaCare, here we are.”

Unless repealed, ObamaCare will prove to become a nightmare for this country, and it will greatly contribute to its economic downfall.

BP Successful?—Not So Fast!

Reuters reported on July 19:

“Engineers monitoring BP’s damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico detected seepage on the ocean floor that could mean problems with the cap that has stopped oil from gushing into the water… The worst oil spill in U.S. history has caused an economic and environmental disaster in five states along the Gulf Coast, hurt President Barack Obama’s approval ratings and complicated traditionally close ties with Britain.”

Bild Online added on July 19:

“There are fresh problems for BP in the fight against the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster: The US government has said there might be a new leak in the vicinity of the capped well. Engineers have reportedly discovered seepage on the sea floor, and there are also ‘undetermined anomalies’ at the top of the leak source. Latest results from recordings indicated an increase in hydrocarbons rising from the seabed, according to US officials. Since hydrocarbons occur in crude oil, this has sparked fears of a possible leak…

“Experts had previously been surprised by the test results because the pressure at which the oil gushes from the spring was lower than expected. This may indicate a previously unknown leak, or it could be a sign that even more oil has flowed into the sea than previously feared… Since the accident on the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ drilling rig on April 20, up to 8,200 tonnes of crude oil flowed into the sea every day. It is the worst oil spill in US history.”

These articles show again man’s inability to deal with his Frankenstein monster. Man’s pride, vanity and greed would ultimately cause the utter destruction of this planet, unless God would intervene in time to prevent the unthinkable to occur.

Top Secret America

The Washington Post wrote on July 19:

“The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

“The investigation’s other findings include:

“Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

“Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored…

“In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials – called Super Users – have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work…

“The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 21/2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn’t include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.

“At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending.”

This is a frightening report. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing… and the public most certainly has no clue what their government is up to. Based on the history and “accomplishments” of our past and current governments, this is indeed terribly unsettling. As God says: Trust no man–and don’t have any trust or confidence in your political leaders!

The Vatican’s Mixed Signals

Reuters reported on July 15:

“The Vatican on Friday denied accusations that it viewed the ordination of women as priests and the sexual abuse of minors by clerics as equally criminal.

“On Thursday, the Vatican issued a document making sweeping revisions to its laws on sexual abuse, extending the period in which charges can be filed against priests in church courts and broadening the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them. But while it dealt mostly with pedophilia, it also codified the ‘attempted ordination of a woman’ to the priesthood as one of the most serious crimes against Church law…

“But Monsignor Charles Scicluna, an official in the Vatican’s doctrinal department, said there was no attempt to make women’s ordination and pedophilia comparable crimes under canon (Church) law… They are in the same document but this does not put them on the same level or assign them the same gravity,’ said Scicluna, who helped formulate the revisions…

“While sexual abuse was a ‘crime against morality,’ the attempt to ordain a woman was a ‘crime against a sacrament,’ he said, referring to Holy Orders (the priesthood). The revisions also updated crimes against the faith such as heresy. ‘This should not be interpreted as considering all these crimes to be equal,’ he said. ‘They are crimes of a different nature’…

“Jon O’Brien, president of the U.S.-based group Catholics for Choice, said the Vatican ‘feels threatened’ by a growing movement in the Church that is in favor of a female priesthood… ‘If there is an opportunity for authorities in the Vatican to shoot themselves in the foot, they do so in both feet,’ O’Brien told Reuters.”

However, the Vatican seemed to have said the exact opposite in a prior press release. USA Today had reported on July 14:

“The Vatican issued a revised set of in-house rules Thursday to respond to clerical sex abuse, targeting priests who molest the mentally disabled as well as children and priests who use child pornography, but making few substantive changes to existing practice… One new element included lists the attempted ordination of women as a ‘grave crime’ subject to the same set of procedures and punishments meted out for sex abuse… despite arguments that grouping the two in the same document would imply equating them…

“Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said the question of ordaining women priests… is not up for discussion. The Vatican in 2007 issued a decree saying the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the woman and the priest who tries to ordain her. That is repeated in the new document, adding that the priest can also be punished by being defrocked.

“At a briefing Thursday, Scicluna defended the inclusion of both sex abuse and ordination of women in the same document as a way of codifying two of the most serious canonical crimes against sacraments and morals that the congregation deals with. ‘They are grave, but on different levels,’ he said, and noted that the document also lists crimes against the sacraments including apostasy, heresy and schism for the first time.”

Sexual Abuse in the Lutheran Church

The Local reported on July 16:

“The world’s first female Lutheran bishop resigned Friday after abuse accusations in her diocese of Hamburg, the latest casualty of a scandal to have rocked Christian churches in Germany. Maria Jepsen, 65, came under fire for bungling the case of a pastor accused of abusing young boys and girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

“She reportedly knew for several years about the case but failed to act… In 1992, Jepsen became the first woman to be appointed as a Lutheran bishop and was subsequently elected to a second 10-year term in 2002.”

The Bible predicts that the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church will ultimately reunite. It is interesting to see that they are already “united” in their history of sexual child abuse through their priests or pastors, and in their unwillingness to deal with the problem.

What’s Wrong with the Sabbath?

The New York Times wrote on July 16:

“There are people for whom the Sabbath never went away — Seventh-day Adventists, Hutterites, Jews whose fathers and mothers never stopped walking in the ways of their fathers and mothers. And then there are the rest of us. The Sabbath, Jewish or Christian, is a distant memory for many Americans, the recollection of a quaintly tranquil day when stores were closed, streets were quiet and festive dinners were had. The Sabbath would seem to have no place in our busy, beeping world. The very word tastes musty in the mouth, as if it were a relic from another place and time.

“But what if you wanted to revive something like the Sabbath today? What if you coveted some of that sweetness and slowness and went looking for ways to get it? What would you do? Would you commit yourself to the Sabbath’s rituals and laws? Would you transform yourself into an Orthodox Jew or latter-day Puritan? How much would you be willing to change?…”

Sadly, the author is confused regarding “the Jewish Sabbath” and “the Christian Sabbath.” The true Sabbath is God’s Sabbath, which is to be kept from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. It was made for man, not only for the Jew and not only for the Christian. For more information, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”

Situation Deteriorating in Afghanistan

Bild Online wrote on July 16:

“Germany’s Defence Minister was at the centre of a scare after heavy fighting in Afghanistan forced a trip to visit troops to be aborted – after his helicopter had taken off!… Guttenberg said: ‘This shows how unpredictable the situation here is at the moment.’ Landing in the disputed area would have been life threatening. The incident involved some of the heaviest fighting between Germans and the Taliban in recent weeks. And it was further proof that the situation in Kunduz and in the Baghlan region has been sharply deteriorating since the beginning of the year…

“Guttenberg will not shy away from the visit in Afghanistan, however. He has been to the war zone several times since he took office to show the fighting troops his solidarity. More often than any Defence Minister before him! He also wouldn’t shrink back from being deployed to Afghanistan… Guttenberg served his military service with the Gebirgsjäger (Mountain Huntsmen) in Mittenwald, Bavaria. He is currently a reserve sergeant.”

It will have to be seen how long the German government will support its war in Afghanistan, given the overwhelming disapproval of the German people.

The “Afghanistan Conference”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 21:

“The last few months have been the most violent in the nine-year-old war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Karzai has proven unable to gain the upper hand against corruption despite repeated pledges to fight the scourge. Tuesday’s conference seemed to reflect such doubts, with NATO allies declining to subscribe to a strict timeline for withdrawal and likewise remaining vague about the much-touted handover of security responsibility. Indeed, the only solid commitment made was that of adjusting how foreign aid gets distributed to Afghanistan. Fifty percent of funding from abroad will now be funnelled through the state budget rather than being sent directly to Kabul ministries, as has been the practice thus far.

“Still, there is a growing domestic pressure for countries involved in Afghanistan to begin withdrawing their troops. US President Barack Obama pledged last year that he would begin looking for ways to reduce the US presence in Afghanistan. And pressure for withdrawal is becoming difficult to ignore in a number of European capitals as well…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The conference in Kabul was said to stand for transition. It refers to the Afghan government’s aim to take over control of the country’s security and reconstruction step by step — once foreign troops begin departing the country next year. Tuesday’s conference named 2014 as the end point of that transition. That, though, is likely to remain in the realm of fantasy… Corruption in Afghanistan is endemic…’

“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘… Afghanistan’s military and police forces are far, far away from being able to stand on their own two feet. It is unclear just what the military support, promised by NATO, is to look like. And nobody believes that the omnipresent corruption will disappear by 2014.’

“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘The specification of 2014 as the date by which Afghanistan will take over responsibility for its own security was first and foremost an effort to mollify the Western public who have become increasingly tired of the war. It has little to do with a realistic assessment of the situation in Afghanistan… For the Taliban, there is little motivation to lay down their weapons and become a constructive partner for peace as envisioned by the West. On the contrary, they see victory — both ideologically and militarily — as being increasingly within their grasp.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… In Germany, the US and elsewhere, voters are tired of the war in Afghanistan… The security situation in Afghanistan… is so [unstable] that a few years will likely not be enough to build up the Afghan military and police forces to the strength necessary.'”

Conscientious Objectors in the Military

The New York Times wrote on July 16:

” Answering the G.I. Rights Hotline for the last 11 years, J. E. McNeil has counseled thousands of soldiers who want to become conscientious objectors and get out of the service. But when the House of Representatives voted May 27 to allow the repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, paving the way for gay men and lesbians in the military to be open about their sexual orientation, Ms. McNeil got a hot-line call that raised a new issue: the caller said he considered homosexuality an abomination and wanted to be a conscientious objector because he could not serve in the military alongside gay soldiers… 

“For Ms. McNeil, a Quaker lawyer committed to helping anyone with valid legal grounds get out of the military, the call presented a legal and personal conundrum… Ms. McNeil concluded that there was no legal basis for a conscientious objector claim. The legal standard, she said, is that the person must be conscientiously opposed to participating in war in any form, based on a sincerely held religious, moral or ethical belief. And the person must have had a change of heart since joining the military, when the person signed a form saying he or she was not a conscientious objector and did not intend to become one.”

This is correct, based on the legal, and more importantly, on the godly standpoint. As true Christians, we must be conscientiously opposed to any of this world’s war which are fought by human beings, however “just” and “necessary” they might appear to the human mind. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?”

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Please explain the passage in Habakkuk 1:5

Even though most scholars feel that the prophet Habakkuk ministered during the “death throes” of the ancient nation of Judah–just prior to their Babylonian captivity–nothing is known about the prophet, including his age or his family.

It is clear, however, that Habakkuk’s writings are not limited to the time of ancient Judah. Rather, the book of Habakkuk is a prophecy about our times today. For instance, we read in Habakkuk 2:1-3:

“I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But AT THE END it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”

Another prophecy regarding God’s final wrath and the beginning of the Millennium can be found in Habakkuk 2:14-16:

“‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea. Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also–drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The CUP OF THE LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory!'”

For the end-time fulfillment of these prophecies, compare Isaiah 11:9 regarding the Millennium, and Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-8; 14:8; regarding God’s final wrath on modern Babylon.

Another prophecy, describing the Second Coming of the Messiah to destroy those who destroy the earth and to fight those who are willing to fight Him (compare Revelation 11:18; 19:11-16, 19, 21), can be found in Habakkuk 3:3, 4, 6, 10, 12-13, 15-16:

“God came from Teman… His brightness was like the light… He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations… The mountains saw You and trembled… You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled [or threshed] the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people… You walked through the sea with Your horses… When I heard, my body trembled… That I might rest [or be protected] in the day of trouble, When he [a military leader] comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops…”

With this background, let us now focus on Habakkuk 1:5, which quotes the words of God, as follows:

“‘Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

That this prophecy is not limited to the days of ancient Habakkuk, can be seen by the fact that Paul later quotes these words and applies them as a warning to the people in his time and age who would reject the gospel message. We read in Acts 13:32-41:

“‘And we declare to you glad tidings–that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He raised up Jesus… David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. BEWARE therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets COME UPON YOU: “Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'””

Paul quotes Habakkuk’s prophecy as a warning to the people of his time, indicating that the final fulfillment is still in the future. Indeed, this is true. We read in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel of the kingdom will again be preached in the end time–as it was preached at the time of the early apostles — just prior to the return of Jesus Christ (compare Mark 13:10; 16:15-16). It will be then that the prophecy of Habakkuk will find its ultimate fulfillment. In that context, we read in Habakkuk 3:2: “O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, REVIVE YOUR WORK in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.”

God also said through Habakkuk that His work–the end-time preaching of the gospel–would be powerful, but short. Romans 9:28 confirms this, saying: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a SHORT WORK upon the earth.”

People will be surprised when they see the revival of God’s work in its full dimensions. To His servants, God says today: Stand watch and make plain what you see!

But Paul quoted the passage in Romans 9:28 in connection with the end-time punishment and subsequent salvation of the children of Israel, compare verse 27: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved.”

And so, Habakkuk makes the same connection. When he speaks in Habakkuk 1:5 of the work that God would work in our days which “you would not believe, though it were told you,” he continues to describe, in symbolic terms, modern warfare and the destruction of the modern houses of Israel and Judah (Our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” explains in detail the identity of the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah). We read, beginning in Habakkuk 1:6:

“For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful… Their horses also are SWIFTER than LEOPARDS, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers [literally, horsemen] charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They FLY as the EAGLE that hastens to eat. They all come for violence… They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings…”

Even though a partial fulfillment of this prophecy can be seen in ancient Judah’s captivity through the Babylonians, due to Judah’s transgressions (compare verse 4), Habakkuk’s prophecy of Babylonian warfare is clearly awaiting an end-time fulfillment, COINCIDING with the powerful, but short, revival of the preaching of the gospel. The Bible prophesies that modern Babylon will rise one last time in Europe as the seventh and very SHORT-lived resurrection of the ancient “Holy Roman Empire”–a combination of church and state, when the (religious) fallen woman will be once more riding the (political and military) beast (compare again Revelation 17, especially verses 10 and 12).

God will use modern Babylon in a literal SWIFT blitzkrieg to punish the modern houses of Israel and Judah for their transgressions (compare also Isaiah 29:13-14). But God will then punish modern Babylon (Habakkuk 2:8)–a system less righteous than modern Israel and Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:12-13). In ancient times, the Chaldeans were Babylon’s religious leaders, astrologers and magicians. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says about the ancient Chaldeans:

“A people still of late mean and low, famous only for their soothsaying, divination, and judicial astrology; but now become a powerful and warlike people, rising up under the permission of Providence to universal monarchy, and who would quickly add Judea to the rest of their dominions…”

Isaiah 23:13 tells us that the ancient Assyrians founded the land of the Chaldeans. And it will be the modern Assyrians–mainly the German-speaking peoples–who will lead the final resurrection of the “Holy Roman Empire” (For instance, the German Otto the Great and the Austrian Charles V. were previous Emperors of the “Holy Roman Empire” or “the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.” Arguably this is also true for Charlemagne or Charles the Great, who was crowned as Emperor in the German city of Aachen and who is viewed [by the Germans] as a German and [by the French] as a French. In addition, the collaboration of Hitler and Mussolini with several popes constituted the sixth revival of the “Holy Roman Empire”).

We are seeing right now the beginning stages of this final revival in Europe (compare our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy”). God tells us that the end-time revival of His work–of the preaching of His gospel–will go hand in hand with it. In both cases, people will be astonished when they finally realize what is happening.

Looking at the signs of the time, we should understand that Christ’s return is near. How much more effort should we exert, then, to make sure that we are found worthy servants, doing the work of God.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled,  Our Economic Demise–Why?:  The economic downfall of Great Britain and the USA is inevitable, and the Bible has long ago prophesied that it would occur. Why is this going to happen, and what are the spiritual reasons for it?

A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Sex in der Bibel, Teil 2” (“Sex in the Bible, Part 2”).

Our booklet, “Europe in Prophecy,” has been translated into German. It will soon be finalized and posted on the German Web (www.aufpostenstehen.de). Translation work into German is also being conducted for our booklets, “Are You Predestined to Be Saved?” “Baptism–a Requirement for Salvation” and “Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery.”

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Patience Patience!

Bill Koeneke (Great Britain)

I confess!  One of my problems is putting up with other people—not all people, mind you—and not all the time, but I find it difficult to cope especially with the unthinking, arrogant person. And yes, I am meeting such people from time to time.

For example, I have a problem with those young mothers who propel their baby buggies at 10 mph aimed straight at me without any discernable intention of altering course!  As a result I am faced with a challenge: Do I alter my course and give way, or do I invite the lady to slow down and alter her course by standing my ground? Decision-making on my part! And then there are those who walk four-abreast on a narrow pavement and likewise aimed directly at my approach with no apparent intention of giving way.  So occasionally I come to a dead stop, effectively forcing them to split up and allow me through.

Where I live in the south of England, there are many elderly retirees [like me], and quite a number of them drive a battery-driven mobility scooter on the pavement. Too dangerous to drive them in the road, yet woe unto the pedestrians! And more woe when these pseudo race-track enthusiasts team up two-abreast! There have been occasional accidents where the injured party was pummelled by one of these rather heavy vehicles, ending up in hospital with a smashed foot or deep vein thrombosis in their right leg!  What upsets me most, however, are bicycle riders on the pavement (where they shouldn’t be), silently zooming up from behind without bell or horn to warn me, and who are seemingly oblivious that they are about to scare the life out of my fragile body! So far I’ve managed to escape injury, but only narrowly.  Rarely do any of these incidents evoke an apology.

So I have to remind myself, in view of my calling, that I need to be patient with these people and give way to prevent a nasty argument or injury. And not surprisingly, it takes a lot of patience for me to live up to this Godly responsibility.

My problem in all this is that I effectively quell the light I should be shining when I’m faced with this trinity of insolence, the “me-myself-and-I” syndrome and sometimes loud-mouthed profanity, all of which seem to prevail in our society today. So, what’s the solution for me when I experience such provocations?  Blurt out something like “Hey buddy. You weren’t brought up very well!” or keep my tongue in cheek? The answer is obvious: Keep my tongue in cheek, and exercise a kindly portion of forgiveness and lots of patience. That’s the Godly way.

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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

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©2023 Church of the Eternal God