Update 475


The Days of Punishment

On January 15, 2011, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, respectively, “The Days of Punishment.”

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

On January 16, 2011, Norbert Link will officiate the memorial service for Lois Bargar.

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

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Whom God Uses

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

On the 16th January 1986, Mr Herbert W Armstrong died. As many of you may know, until his death, he was the human leader of the Church of God, known at that time as the Worldwide Church of God. Some 25 years later, the Church of God is organisationally split asunder with many off-shoots. This was, in part, caused by apostasy that came to a head in the mid 1990’s when it became obvious that the intention of the new leadership was to dismantle the Church to suit a mainstream approach.

This was not new but it would be fair to say that one might have been expecting problems and persecutions from the outside, but not from the inside, as it turned out to be. As we take the Bible as our guide to life, we ought to consider what had happened to the Church in the first century, when there was clear evidence of problems even at that time.

Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 that Church members were to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” The doctrines taught by Christ and His disciples are to be safeguarded by “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (foundation) of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). We know that Paul had to admonish the Corinthian Church about the many problems that plagued it, and we read in 3 John, verses 9 & 10, that Diotrophes loved to have the preeminence among the brethren and forbade true believers to attend the local Church congregation.

There is much more biblical evidence of false leaders and those being led away from the truth. However, we should also note that God uses and approves of those who are submissive to His Will and prove to be good leaders (not perfect of course), and whose hearts are right with God.  A number of God’s followers in the Old Testament would fall into that category, as well as the disciples and early apostles and leaders in the New Testament Church. But often, when a leader dies, things change and not always for the best. The history of Israel and Judah are testament to that.

In the 20th  century, there can be no question that Mr Armstrong submitted to God’s Will to be used in a mighty way in the Church of God. Since the apostasy after his death, so many have thought themselves to become experts, discounting this, dismissing that and generally trying to diminish the Church’s heritage, history and doctrinal understanding. What such people forget is that had God the Father and Jesus Christ not used Mr Armstrong, these same people would not have been drawn to the Church of God and given the understanding that they had received. It is true, of course, that God could have used someone else to restore the truth that had been lost to the Church of God in the 20th century, but He didn’t.

Then there are those who almost worship Mr Armstrong, giving him almost a status of being “divine” or a “pope,” saying that nothing could be changed after his death. But Mr Armstrong emphasized again and again that we must change when in error. He stated that such willingness was one of the signs of a true Christian. If it were otherwise, there could have been no personal growth in any Church member in the last 25 years, but we are instructed to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Balance is needed instead of swinging from one ditch into the other. Mr Armstrong was a man of God but not one to be worshipped. If he were alive today, he would be amazed as to what has happened to the Church since his death. Or would he? Perhaps he had the vision of what would occur, as he made mention on several occasions that he didn’t think many or even most Church members “got it”.

God has used and will use whom He will. And He wants to use each and every one of us today, in extraordinary ways, preparing us to become glorified members in the Kingdom and Family of God. The question is, Are you allowing God to use you to do HIS Will?

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Jared Loughner, 22, was charged with the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in which six people were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, and more than a dozen injured. Some on the political left were anxious to blame “the right” for these horrendous murders. These reactions are not only ludicrous and irresponsible, they are also devoid of any facts. It appears that Loughner dabbled in the occult and devil worship, as well as alcohol and drugs, and he might very well have been demonically inspired, if not possessed, to carry out these heinous crimes.

Our “sophisticated” modern western world does not (want to) believe in a devil and his forces of evil, and while biblical standards are torn down and pushed aside (see our article, “No More Father and Mother in US Passports”), biblical “teachers” discredit the Bible when such abominable and blasphemous conduct helps their political agenda (see our article, “How Religious Liberals Violate Scripture.”). Even the memorial service in Tuscon, Arizona, which was conducted on Wednesday, January 12, for the victims of the shooting, began with the “blessing” of a Native American Indian!

We also observed this week the continuing dismantling of America’s special relationship with Britain, while core Europe–especially Germany and France—proceed to show and use their muscles. We report on the crisis in Lebanon and conclude with articles on floods in Australia and the ongoing worldwide mass deaths of many birds and fish. Despite “scientific speculatory explanations” and attempts by the mass media to “downplay” the issue, the mystery remains.

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How Some on the Left Lose All Decency…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 10:

“Saturday’s assassination attempt on Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a tragedy… only hours [later], the debate showed signs of derailing. Of all people, it is precisely those who have complained the loudest about the culture of debate — about the rhetoric of the Tea Party, the right wing’s harsh words and the baseless Obama-Hitler comparisons — who are now poisoning the debate with their own baseless insinuations. With little reliance on facts, they began searching for scapegoats for the attack and they found them, selectively, among the right wing, the Tea Party, Republican Party boss Michael Steele and Tea Party heroine Sarah Palin.

“… commentator Keith Olbermann called for Palin to be ousted from the Republican Party if she didn’t repudiate her role in ‘amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics.’ In his column in the New York Times, Paul Krugman sought to link the ‘toxic rhetoric’ coming from right-wing preachers of hate with the assassination attempt…

“What little is known about the perpetrator does not suggest that he was a supporter of the Tea Party or an admirer of Palin’s — he doesn’t even appear to have any clear political convictions. His favorite books include the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ and ‘Peter Pan’… So far, there is no evidence that there were any political motives behind the crime. Indeed, the massive criticism of Sarah Palin is misguided. This is not only due to the fact that the accusation is baseless, but also because the calculated attempt to weaken Palin in this manner could ultimately backfire.”

Occult and Devil Worship the Real Cause?

Yahoo reported on January 10:

“The 22-year-old Arizona shooter who attacked Rep. Giffords and 17 others on Saturday (Jan. 8, 2011) initially appeared to be motivated by political beliefs… Now, though, it appears that Jared Loughner was also inspired by devil worship or some other occult practice. Investigators have discovered a tent in the back yard of Jared Loughner’s home, containing an altar. Atop the altar there is a skull on a pot of charred oranges. Candles and potting soil sit nearby. These items are reportedly common elements of occult rituals…

“If Jared Loughner’s actions were truly motivated by devil worship or some other occult belief system, then his political rantings might have been intentional misdirection or an irrelevant sideline. This news also once again raises the possibility that Loughner might belong to some group that advocates killing – perhaps an occult group of some kind”.

USA Today reported on January 11 that the shooter had “a curious, dark change,” continuing, “the nice, skinny kid some classmates remember from Tucson’s Mountain View High School appears to have transformed into an oddball with psychological problems… former friends, co-workers and mental health specialists suggest a personality gone awry… Paul Ragan, a professor of psychiatry… says news reports about Loughner strongly suggest he was a paranoid schizophrenic….

“‘Being psychotic is not like a light switch where you’re OK one moment and then you’re suddenly psychotic,’ says Ragan… ‘People talk about descending into psychosis. They experience this ego disintegration.’… Loughner’s demeanor may have changed as he began dabbling in alcohol and drugs…Loughner took a job at a Quiznos sandwich shop a year or so ago. Manager Jose Landeros… says he seemed normal at first but underwent a sort of personality transformation that led to his firing.”

Many do not believe that Satan and his demons can actually motivate or even possess humans to induce them to carry out most despicable acts. They might even dabble in the occult, thinking it is “harmless fun.” The Bible shows, however, that the devil and evil spirits exist; that trying to get in touch with them in some way, even “inadvertently” or “ignorantly,” is terribly dangerous; and that demonic activity will increase in these last days. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”

No More Father And Mother in US Passports

Newsmax reported on January 9:

“In what seems to be a diplomatic effort at extreme political correctness and a nod to gay rights groups, the Obama administration is removing the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from U.S. passport applications and replacing them with ‘gender neutral’ terminology. Mom and dad will now be referred to rather coldly as ‘parent one’ and ‘parent two.’

“Conservative Christian groups are outraged over the decision… Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote: ‘… This is clearly designed to advance the causes of same-sex “marriage” and homosexual parenting without statutory authority, and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act.’

“… A statement on the State Department website noted: ‘These improvements are being made to provide a gender neutral description of a child’s parents and in recognition of different types of families’… Gay rights groups are applauding the decision.”

How Religious Liberals Violate Scripture

The left-liberal Huffington Post published the following incredible article by a “Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge” on the Bible and homosexuality. This article is not only a disgrace and postulates totally wrong concepts, it shows the kind of wrong religious “leadership” within U.S. Christianity, which is so rampant today. Be warned: Reading excerpts from this article will probably make you upset and even somewhat angry—and it should!

The author makes the following outrageous claims:

“There are several reasons that gays and lesbians should never argue scripture… Those who are anti-gay are more likely to see the Bible as the infallible ‘Word of God’ — which means the words literally dripped from the lips of God through the pens of the scribes and onto the page. Each jot and tittle is God-breathed and never to be contradicted. (Never mind that much of the Bible is full of contradictions and much of it we disregard with impunity these days. Those sorts of inconveniences never actually apply to the argument around homosexuality.)

“Those who argue from the pro-gay side are generally those who see the Bible as inspired by God, but not the literal, infallible words of God. This means they are more open to different interpretations and approaches to scripture…

“The most important reason, however, that gays and lesbians should never, ever argue about scripture is because the Bible has nothing much to say about homosexuality. We have to remember that this is an ancient book… we cannot extract modern ideas from an ancient book. The writers of the Bible no more understood homosexuality than they understood that a spherical Earth orbited the sun…. Why on earth would we take [the Bible] as an authority on sexual orientation?…

“Humanity has moved from seeing God as a harsh judge and lawmaker to… seeing God as full of grace, mercy and love.  We don’t learn about God by pulling out tiny details of the book and proclaiming them as true for all time…

“The reason gays and lesbians should never argue over scripture is because, not only does scripture not condemn homosexuality, arguing over it produces nothing but strife, division and hatred. Anything that does not promote love is not of God. Instead of arguing, let us love one another, even those with whom we disagree. This is God’s message to us. Nothing else matters.”

This incredibly foolish article overlooks and denies myriads of truisms, one of which is the definition of love: “This is the love of God that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). The Bible clearly condemns homosexual practices–please read the first chapter in the book of Romans. Religious teachers who write articles like the one excerpted above are of no value to God’s people or to this nation. In fact, they are deceivers who mislead those who listen to them.

If you want to prove to yourself what value the Bible should have in your life today, and that it is indeed inspired by God to be taken quite literally, please read our free booklet, “The Authority of the Bible.”

Special US Relationship with Britain in Jeopardy?

Mail On Line wrote on January 11:

“Barack Obama has declared that France is America’s greatest ally, undermining Britain’s Special Relationship with the U.S. The President risked offending British troops in Afghanistan by saying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is a ‘stronger friend’ than David Cameron. The remarks, during a White House appearance with Mr Sarkozy, will reinforce the widely-held view in British diplomatic circles that Mr Obama has less interest in the Special Relationship than any other recent American leader.

“The comments follow a pattern of coldness towards the UK. When Gordon Brown was prime minister, Mr Obama snubbed his requests for meetings in the U.S. He also denounced Britain during his inauguration speech.

“The UK has lost nearly 350 troops in the war against the Taliban – seven times as many as France. And there are more than 10,000 British soldiers serving in Helmand province, compared with just 3,850 Frenchmen. Mr Obama’s stance was swiftly condemned in Westminster… The remarks also angered conservatives in Washington.

“Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre For Freedom at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said: ‘Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the U.S. President is difficult to fathom. And if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in foreign policy.’

“Dr Gardiner… added: ‘To suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous. Such a remark is not only factually wrong but insulting to Britain, not least coming just a few years after the French knifed Washington in the back over the war in Iraq.’”

The Bible reveals that the relationship between the USA and Great Britain will indeed continue to deteriorate. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Book of Zechariah—Prophecies for Today!”

Core Europe Pressures Portugal

The EUObserver wrote on January 10:

“Reports over the weekend quote senior European sources as saying Berlin, Paris and other core eurozone capitals are leaning heavily on Lisbon to apply for a financial rescue…

“The eurozone core fears that if a firewall is not built around Portugal, investor nervousness could spread to Spain, a much larger economy than those of the two states – Greece and Ireland – that have already been bailed out.”

The Bible prophesies the emergence of a core Europe, led by Germany, which will consist of ten nations or groups of nations. This core Europe will have great economic, political, military and even religious influence on the entire world. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is that in the Bible—the Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

Crisis in Lebanon

The Associated Press reported on January 13:

“The collapse of Lebanon’s government plunged the country into deep political uncertainty Thursday after a year of relative stability, as the president began the process of putting a new administration together.

“President Michel Suleiman asked Saad Hariri to stay on as caretaker prime minister after the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah and its allies resigned Wednesday and brought down Hariri’s government. The crisis was the climax of tensions that have been simmering for months over the U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“The tribunal is widely expected to indict members of Hezbollah soon, which many fear could rekindle violence in the tiny nation plagued for decades by war and civil strife… The collapse of the government ushers in the worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.”

In a related article, The Associated Press noted on January 13 that “Israeli troops in the north were on alert Thursday over worries that the political turmoil in Lebanon might spill over into renewed violence on their shared border, following the collapse of the Lebanese government.”

Floods in Australia

Reuters wrote on January 13:

“The floods across the state of Queensland have killed at least 19 people, 12 of whom died in the Toowoomba area inland, and 61 were missing, the state government said. Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley region, west of state capital Brisbane, were devastated by tsunami-like flash flooding on Monday. Large parts of Brisbane have become muddy lakes, with an entire waterfront cafe among the debris washing down the Brisbane River, a torrent that has flooded 12,000 homes in the city of 2 million and left 118,000 buildings without power…

“Officials warned of the risk of further severe flooding in the coming weeks, with two months of the wet season ahead and already overflowing dams requiring seven days to empty to normal levels to cope with more heavy rains…

“The floods could cost insurers nearly $1 billion and some economists expect $6 billion in damage from the deluge that began last month in Queensland, crippling the coking coal industry and destroying roads, railways and bridges.”

Mysterious Mass Deaths of Animals Continues

On January 6, 2011, The Huffington Post wrote the following:

“On Wednesday, GeaPress reported hundreds — possibly thousands of dead and dying birds in Italy. Countless turtle doves were found scattered in the streets, in flower beds and hanging tragically from trees… in the town of Faenza. Many of the birds that fell dead from the sky were discovered with a mysterious blue stain in their beaks.

“In the past week, similar incidents of mass animal death have been reported across the world. Thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, and similar incidents were reported on different days in Louisiana, Kentucky and Sweden. Two million fish were discovered dead in Maryland, with other fish kills also reported in Brazil, New Zealand and Arkansas — approximately 100 miles from the bird incident. 40,000 crabs washed up on England beaches in the past few days, as well.

“While the events are likely unrelated, most still remain a mystery.”

CBS wrote on January 11:

“A bizarre scene is evolving on the Chicago lakefront, with Canada geese and mallard ducks gulping down dead or dying gizzard shad… Thousands, perhaps far more than that, of dead gizzard shad in the 3- to 5-inch range are frozen in the ice of Chicago harbors or floating around in open patches of water.”

Please view our new StandingWatch program, “Birds and Fish Will Waste Away.”

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

On Sunday, January 16, we will be conducting a memorial service for Lois Bargar in Ramona, California. The services will begin at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.

Our new member letter was sent out this week and posted on the Web.

New pocket Holy Days calendars were enclosed with the member letter and are also posted on the Web, under “Feasts.”

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

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