Update 511


Correction from Disobedience

 On October 1, 2011, Robb Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Correction from Disobedience.”

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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by Bill Koeneke

From time to time, and perhaps in some cases daily, we pray for those of our brethren who are sick or who mourn or who are experiencing one problem or another, and of course, we pray for God to eliminate or ease the problems we ourselves may encounter. But how many times do we pray for those outside the Church? And I refer not only to family and friends.

I watch a number of newscasts on television and I find myself thinking about the events broadcast, including, for example, updates on the plight of the little Scottish girl Madeleine McCann kidnapped in Portugal over four years ago and yet still not found. One might blame the parents for being remiss in looking after this innocent little girl, now 8 years old, leaving her alone in their holiday apartment while they dined nearby. Yet that does not excuse the kidnapper nor lessen the agony of the parents or the child. I have prayed that God will give the Portuguese and British and other authorities who are looking for her an extra portion of insight and police intelligence in being able to find Madeleine and that she may be brought home to her parents and the kidnapper(s) brought to justice.

Occasionally I also view other programs on TV such as Children’s Hospital here in the UK, and my heart and prayers go out for the child’s aches and pains and to the parents for their concern when their child succumbs to injury or disease or death. There are numerous other incidents broadcast depicting victims of accidents, of monetary “scams” and criminal acts such as all-too-frequent knifings and the mugging of old ladies. The plight of those caught up in the extreme drought conditions such as in Kenya and Somalia come to mind, and I pray to God that He would mercifully ease their problems of disease and starvation and their desperate need for medical aid and clean water. Certainly we all recall the atrocious and senseless slaughter of more than 70 young people in Norway recently, and I’ve prayed that God would console the parents.

As I quite often jest, if there wasn’t so much crime and bad news these days there wouldn’t be any newspapers!… Wars in the Middle East and North Africa, volcanic eruptions here and there, increasing budget and inflationary pressures, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts and famines etc. all come to mind. It seems we are swamped with all sorts of bad news—and we in the Church know the reasons why—and our prayers should plead for the return and intervention of Jesus Christ to alleviate the suffering and death which continue to strike mankind in all sorts of ways and with greater frequency.

In the light of all these disturbing events, we in the Church need to avoid being insular or oblivious to the problems of those outside the Church.  Here in the UK where I live I quite often come upon old people having to cope with a cane or walking frame or mobility cart or who are deformed in some way, or blind, and I thank God that I am not likewise encumbered while sympathising with such people and praying silently for them as I walk on by.

As we ourselves suffer trials, such trials can help us to become more sympathetic and empathetic with others going through similar difficulties. When was the last time you expressed your thoughts and prayers in sympathy with such people and in absolute faith that God heard your prayer? David tells us: “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion… and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8; compare Philippians 2:4). Should we not, as God’s called-out ones, likewise be compassionate?  Indeed, for there is, truly, so many for whom we can, and should, offer our prayers in heartfelt sympathy.

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In this segment, we are focusing on the increasing deterioration of the relationship between the USA and EU, which, according to The Daily Mail, “has become frightening.” While The Daily Mail alludes to the “euro crisis” in this context, Der Spiegel Online contends that the “euro crisis” does not even exist.

We are also reporting at length on America’s isolation in the Arab World. The media from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and of course the Middle East and even Israel is taking sides with the Palestinians, against America.

Anti-American headlines are becoming the norm, such as “The USA Cannot Be Relied On…” “USA, Australia and Israel on the Wrong Side of History,” “USA Betrays Palestinians,” “Pax Americana Is Over,” and “Arab Countries Disappointed by Obama.”

We report on Putin’s controversial reemergence and manifestation of Russia’s true power; speak of the pope’s refusal to present an “ecumenical gift” to Protestants and his demand of German Catholics to be obedient to Rome; and conclude with a rather remarkable article on America’s controversial warfare with drones.

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“America Has Lost Patience with Europe”

The Daily Mail wrote on September 24:

“As the markets went into freefall over the last few days, the deterioration in relations between the U.S. and the countries of the single currency has become frightening. The Americans believe that if the world were to tumble back into recession or a prolonged depression, as looks increasingly likely, it would be the euro area to blame… All the hard work done in the U.S., Britain and other countries in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse three years ago… will have been wasted.

“… the falls in share markets around the world… are not the result of some Anglo-Saxon plot to bring down the single currency. The reality is that months of appalling indecision, driven by some of the mini-countries within the monetary union, had in fact underlined the need for Germany and France to seize the political opportunity to bring the crisis to an end…

“The big lesson of the Great Depression of the 1930s is that governments and central banks around the world were too slow to act… Britain cannot divorce itself from events given that up to 80 per cent of our trade is with euro-area nations. Without a eurowide rescue, the prospects of heading off a prolonged slump – which will devastate every British household and business – will be remote…”

It is interesting that while America blames the Eurozone for the present economic disaster, continental Europe blames America. In fact, anti-American feelings are again very much on the rise in continental Europe. The statement in the above article that “the deterioration in relations between the U.S. and the countries of the single currency has become frightening,” should give us pause to think and reflect on biblical prophecies for these end times. Please also note the next articles.

America vs. EU

The Washington Post wrote on September 24, 2011:

“Major economic powers and the International Monetary Fund on Saturday boosted pressure on leaders of the euro zone to resolve their lingering financial crisis, leveling criticism that included a sharp new economic warning from the United States… In an address to the IMF’s chief oversight committee, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner starkly outlined the worst-case scenario if the 17 euro nations don’t succeed soon: ‘Cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk’… The treasury secretary has been pushing for Europe to take dramatic steps to prove that the region’s governments and its central bank will stand behind weaker nations like Greece and prop up the financial system as needed…

“The European Central Bank is… concerned about taking on responsibility for government debt. Former German ECB board member Jürgen Stark… fired back at Geithner that it wasn’t fair to blame the euro zone for a crisis with roots in the United States…

“Chinese officials, their nation’s growth linked to exports to Europe and the United States, joined the criticism, arguing that the ongoing sense of crisis showed the shortcomings of western-style democracy and culture. ‘The issue is whether Europe can make a decision,’ given the 17 parliaments that must approve an expansion to the euro’s bailout fund, Gao Xiqing, president of the state-owned China Investment Corp., said at an IMF panel discussion on Europe…”

Apart from the emphasis on disagreements between the USA and the EU, what this article also suggests is that even the Eurozone is too big to make decisive and timely decisions. This concern is obviously shared by others, and will ultimately prompt a transfer of power to a smaller group of ten Eurozone countries and their transfer of authority to one charismatic leader.

Germany vs. USA

The Telegraph reported on September 28:

“Germany and America were on a collision course on Tuesday night over the handling of Europe’s debt crisis after Berlin savaged plans to boost the EU rescue fund as a ‘stupid idea’ and told the White House to sort out its own mess before giving gratuitous advice to others.

“German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble… told Washington to mind its own business after President Barack Obama rebuked EU leaders for failing to recapitalise banks and allowing the debt crisis to escalate to the point where it is ‘scaring the world’. ‘It’s always much easier to give advice to others than to decide for yourself. I am well prepared to give advice to the US government,’ he said.”

Der Spiegel Online added on September 28:

“US President Obama has given the Europeans a harsh lecture on the dangers of their ongoing debt crisis… On Wednesday, German media commentators slam Obama’s criticism of Europe.

“The mass-circulation Bild writes: ‘Obama’s lecture on the euro crisis … is overbearing, arrogant and absurd. … In a nutshell, he is claiming that Europe is to blame for the current financial crisis, which is “scaring the world.” Excuse me? The American president seems to have forgotten a few details. The most important trigger of the financial and economic crisis was US banks and their insane real-estate dealings. The US is still piling up debt … The American congress is crippled by a battle between the right and the left. The banks are gambling just as recklessly as they did before the crisis. The president’s scolding is a pathetic attempt to distract attention from his own failures. How embarrassing’…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Dark clouds have gathered over the American president. The gloomy state of the economy is putting a dampener on Obama’s future prospects. The optimism of the past is gone, replaced by a cheap search for a scapegoat. Obama thinks he has found one. He blames the Europeans for reacting too late to the debt crisis. We Europeans are apparently taking on too little new debt to get out of the crisis. But we are already feeling the wonderful effects of borrowing too much money.’

“The financial daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘That’s not how friends talk to each other. That applies particularly to friends who have themselves failed to get a handle on their own, self-made crisis. Barack Obama governs a country where, despite billions in state aid, the economy is stagnating, companies refuse to invest despite calls for patriotism, and which gets embroiled in one political trench war after another … Now this country is dispensing advice, suggestions and finger-pointing… In the desperate battle for his re-election he’d rather construct myths, such as claiming that the Europeans alone are responsible for the American mess. Not only is this fundamentally wrong, but — coming as it does from a friend — it’s downright pitiful and sad.’”

“The Euro Is Doomed”… Really???

We are quoting the following article to show you what seems to be logical and right in the eyes of human beings, who do not know biblical prophecy nor understand the mind of God.

The Daily Express wrote on September 25:

“Instead of accepting that the eurozone has failed, EU bosses want to spend even more money trying to sustain their disastrous project… Squandering trillions will do nothing to address the fundamental weaknesses of the eurozone, which meant it was doomed from the start… The Greek crisis should sound the death knell of the Eurozone…”

This article stands in stark contrast to the next one, which comes much closer to the prophesied truth. It strongly indicates what we have said from the outset; namely, that the current economic problems will not lead to the abrogation of the euro.

What Euro Crisis?

Der Spiegel wrote on September 23:

“The talk is and always has been of a ‘euro crisis’… Where, pray tell, is this supposed euro crisis?… What we are seeing is a crushing sovereign debt crisis, not a currency crisis. The intrinsic value of the euro — despite the talk about the dangers of massive inflation — is as stable as that of many other currencies.

“…compared to the dollar… the exchange rate has remained stable. Measured in terms of purchasing power, the euro is even overvalued against the US currency… A united Europe and the euro are the most important political projects of the postwar period. It would be a disaster if they were damaged by taking the wrong course of action.”

The Bible shows that the coming United States of Europe and the euro will not fail until they have fulfilled their prophetic purpose for these end times. It is interesting that mainly Angela Merkel is being “guided” to do whatever must be done to save the euro.

Merkel Prevails Again on Europe…

The Local wrote on September 29:

“The Bundestag approved the expansion of the eurozone bailout fund by a huge majority on Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel breathed a sigh of relief as 315 government MPs voted her way… the German parliament voted to increase the scope and scale of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). 523 MPs voted in favour of the measure, 85 voted against, with three abstentions…

“Opening the lively, at times fraught debate, Volker Kauder, who heads Merkel’s parliamentary group of conservatives, said it was a pivotal moment in the spiralling eurozone debt crisis. ‘Today in the Bundestag, we have an important decision for the future of our country and for the future of Europe,’ he said, as he called on rebels within the centre-right coalition to toe the line.”

“The USA Cannot Be Relied On…”

On September 23, Canada’s Globe and Mail and France’s AFP published an article by Prince El Hassan bin Talal, brother to Jordan’s late King Hussein and uncle to King Abdullah II, stating the following:

“On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that Palestine, which was under a British Mandate since 1922, be divided into two new independent states – one Arab and one Jewish. Arguments over the division of the land continued. It was against this context that the Jewish Agency, perhaps understandably but also pre-emptively and unilaterally, declared the State of Israel. That declaration was immediately recognized by Harry Truman, and accepted by the UN a year later. It also marked the beginning of the Arab-Israeli wars, as five Arab armies crossed the borders of what had formerly been British Mandate Palestine.

“The decisions made 64 years ago continue to haunt us. For two decades, peace negotiations have failed… it is becoming harder and harder to believe that the United States is capable of negotiating a peace between the parties… the U.S. can’t be relied on to guarantee Palestinian rights as assiduously as it does Israeli rights, and… it lacks the heart and moral conviction to be a sincere and impartial partner for peace…”

“USA, Australia and Israel on the Wrong Side of History”

On September 22, Australia’s Today’s Zaman published the following article by Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister from 1988 to 1996, and chancellor of the Australian National University:

“For all his deep emotional attachment to the idea of Israel embracing all of historical Judea and Samaria, [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin knew that the only way to ensure a democratic Jewish state with viable, secure borders was to accept a Palestinian state alongside it, equally secure and viable. They would share Jerusalem as a capital, and find a mutually acceptable solution to the enormously sensitive issue of the return of Palestinian refugees.

“Rabin’s murder was a catastrophe from which the peace process has never recovered. No Israeli leader since has shown anything like his far-sighted vision, commitment and capacity to deliver a negotiated two-state solution. Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert came close, but not close enough. And since then Binyamin Netanyahu has lived down to every expectation of his statesmanship…

“Now, with negotiations at an impasse, settlement building continuing unabated, no end in sight to the never-ending humiliation of occupation, and all other forms of leverage evidently exhausted, the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to seek recognition in some form of their statehood. They want full UN membership, but — facing inevitable veto of that option by the United States in the Security Council — are willing to accept as a fallback a majority vote by the General Assembly recognizing Palestine as a non-member ‘observer state,’ the status now enjoyed by the Vatican…

“But being on the wrong side of history is never a comfortable position. And that is exactly where the US, Israel and its closest friends — including my own country, Australia — will be if they resist the tide of international sentiment in favor of moving now to recognize Palestinian statehood.”

“USA Betrays Palestinians”

On September 24, the Arab News, claiming to be “the Middle East’s leading English Language Daily,” published an article with the following introduction:

“[The] US has once again betrayed Palestinians and abdicated its global leadership [role].”

The article continued:

“The United States was presented with a historic opportunity this week to demonstrate it believes in what it preaches and it blew it. President Barack Obama’s UN address on Wednesday will go down in history as one of the most disgraceful examples of a US leader’s self-serving groveling before Israel and abdication of leadership…

“If the world community expected better of Obama, after eight years of George W. Bush’s wars and destruction across the Muslim world, he had given it enough reasons to do so. In his own words, Obama sought a ‘new way forward’ with the world’s Muslims, reaffirming the message in his speeches in Ankara and Cairo.

“The US leader squandered it all at the United Nations on Wednesday, in the ultimate betrayal and sellout of the cause of Middle East peace. It was a completely different side of Obama that the world saw at UN General Assembly. He talked of the Israeli suffering surrounded by hostile Arab neighbors and suicide bombers. No mention anywhere of the Palestinian dispossession and persecution under Israeli occupation over the past six decades.

“Even as he hailed the Arab Spring and people power from Tunisia to Egypt to India and their democratic choices, he lashed out at Palestinians for their audacity to make the same choices. Freedom is welcome in South Sudan but not in occupied Palestine. Could there be a more shameful instance of double standards and hypocrisy?…

“Clearly, facing his re-election battle just 14 months from now, Obama has realized that he cannot afford to upset the powerful Zionist lobby and moneybags who run the show in Washington D.C. Whatever the cause for Obama’s turnaround, America is going to pay dearly for this political opportunism and historic folly of its president. By undermining the Palestinian aspirations, the US risks turning the whole of Arab and Islamic world against itself and deepening the dangerous gulf between the West and Muslim world. The US has once again proved that it’s incapable of providing leadership and acting as an honest-broker when it comes to [the] Middle East.

“So where do we go from here? It’s high time the world community took charge of the Middle East situation initiating bold measures to deliver justice to the Palestinians. There’s merit in French President Sarkozy’s suggestion that Arabs and Europeans work together to resolve this long festering conflict. However, it’s not possible without the involvement of the rest of the world. It’s time to show who stands for justice, freedom and equal rights of all men…”

The suggestion that Arabs and Europeans should work together is quite revealing, in the light of biblical prophecy. As the next article shows, Europe is presently divided on the Palestinian question. This means, on the other hand, that Europe is not united in their support for Israel, either.

Europe Divided on Palestinian Question

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 28:

“The EU is further removed than ever from a common position in the Middle East conflict. The Europeans couldn’t even agree on a joint declaration in the UN Human Rights Council. Some backed Israel, others stood behind the Palestinians, while Germany avoided adopting a clear position… Though there are currently only eight European countries represented on the UN Human Rights Council, the position was meant to speak for the entire EU…

“Chances of a European agreement seemed good on Monday, particularly because the last version of the text had a balanced tone. Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip was condemned, as were the most recent Palestinian terrorist attacks on the Israelis. The document also pilloried executions carried out by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.

“But this turned out to be too much for some of Israel’s friends in Europe. Just one hour before the official debate began in Geneva, the Netherlands representative reported that his country could not back such a resolution. In a quickly arranged emergency meeting the Dutchman whipped out his iPhone, reading off a number of required revisions, without which he said his country would unfortunately be unable to approve the document. The corrections obviously came directly from the Dutch ambassador’s boss, Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, known for his pro-Israeli policies. The member of the conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is himself Jewish, though not religious, and is married to an Israeli woman.

“He instructed his diplomats in Geneva to strike a number of formulations from the statement, among them numerous references to a ‘two-state solution’ — that is, the foundation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The foreign minister also didn’t want any mention of Israel’s arrests of peacefully demonstrating human rights activists or their destruction of homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that forced the affected Palestinians to resettle elsewhere.

“And this despite the fact that a report for the UN Human Rights Council confirms that the Israeli government has increased orders for the destruction of homes since the beginning of the year. According to the report, some 387 buildings have been destroyed since January, among them 140 residential buildings, turning out 755 Palestinians. Furthermore, more Palestinians have been displaced in the first half of 2011 than all of last year, the report adds.

“The changes from The Hague were not well-received by the other European diplomats… Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic all declared they were ready to accept the demands, in order to enable a unified European position. Meanwhile Sweden, Austria, Romania and Slovenia declared this was unacceptable. Thus just before the start of the council meeting, the EU representative leading the crisis meeting could do nothing but declare the debate had failed.

“In the end, the text the group had originally agreed upon was signed by only six European countries, among them those who are currently not even on the Human Rights Council. Germany could have signed on, but preferred not to take a position… It’s the latest example of how EU coherence is being sacrificed to national interests. Already hardly anyone expects the EU to present a unified vote if the Palestinian status comes before the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Meanwhile the four countries currently sitting on the UN Security Council — Britain, France, Germany and Portugal — are also unlikely to agree on a single stance…”

Still, what we are seeing in Europe is a constant shift away from support for Israel and towards acceptance of Palestinian positions. The Bible shows that the coming United States of Europe, under German leadership, will become very supportive of Arab demands and very hostile towards the state of Israel. At the same time, even the ten European core nations or groups of nations, which will unite to form a United States of Europe, will be divided; it will be partly strong and partly fragile, and the core nations will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay (compare Daniel 2:41-43).

“Pax Americana Is Over”

The Jewish paper, Haaretz, which is very critical of President Netanyahu, wrote on September 23:

“On Friday afternoon, February 21, 1947, the British ambassador to Washington, Lord Inverchapel, showed up at the State Department and informed Under-Secretary of State Dean Acheson that his country could no longer continue providing financial and military support to Greece and Italy. The British ‘are abdicating from the Middle East,’ Secretary of State George Marshall told President Harry Truman… Britain adjusted to the new geopolitical realities by ending its prized mandate of Palestine in May 1948, less than a year after giving up the ‘jewel in the crown’ of India.

“The transition from Rule Britannia to Pax Americana in the Middle East was completed during the 1956 Suez Crisis, when the United States threatened to withhold financing that Britain desperately needed unless its forces withdrew from the Suez Canal. And the United States attained what amounted to the dominant position in the Middle East in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War and the ensuing victory in the first Gulf War, in 1991.

“Like Great Britain in 1947, the United States is finding it more and more difficult to maintain its military and diplomatic status in the Middle East. Its defense expenditures constitute close to a third of its overall budget, at a time when the burden of its fiscal debt is becoming unsustainable.

“The failure to defeat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the specter of a nuclear Pakistan turning into a failed state, rising concerns about the decline of Iraq into a civil war after the U.S. withdrawal, the growing power of Iran and its regional satellites, the threat that the Arab Spring is posing to regimes that were willing at least to accept the U.S.-backed status-quo, and the deadlocked Israel-Palestinian peace process – all these are clear indications that the era of Pax Americana in the Middle East is over…

“And all this is happening as Turkey and other regional actors try to form a post-American order in the Middle East that even under the best-case-scenario will include support for an independent Palestinian state, and will certainly not be compatible with the positions of the current Israeli government…”

Arab Countries Disappointed by Obama

Lebanon’s The Daily Star wrote on September 22:

“U.S. President Barack Obama… told the countries of the world that Israel is surrounded by people who have launched attacks against it… Obama and his advisers will have to work against the decades-long portrayal of Israel as the eternal victim, when it in fact flouts international law and U.N. resolutions on a daily basis. But the task isn’t impossible – it’s only in the U.S. and Israel where minds must be changed, since the rest of the world backs the Palestinian point of view…

“The American president should realize that while he should be worried about his re-election chances next year, there is the matter of this year to contend with. Popular uprisings have broken out in a number of Arab countries, where people have been paying attention to what Washington has said and done. For the most part, they have been disappointed, and they are certainly going to be disappointed by Obama’s latest stance on the region, a flagrant declaration of bias toward Israel and the kind of ‘same old’ policy…”

Much To Do About Nothing…

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, wrote on September 24:

“He kept the most dramatic statement for the end. ‘We have one goal,’ he said. ‘To be. And we will be.’ With these prophetic words, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ended a 35-minute speech which will probably be seen as the highlight of his political career. Then, amid thundering applause from the delegates of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he held up a copy of the application for recognition of an independent Palestinian state and for full membership of the United Nations which he had submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier…

“Abbas’ successful speech will do little to advance the Palestinians’ cause. It seems certain that the Security Council, which has to approve the Palestinians’ membership application, will postpone its vote for months, if not years… The application is opposed by Israel and by the US, which holds a veto as a permanent Security Council member…

“On Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed that there are… concrete plans for… negotiations under the auspices of the Mideast Quartet, which consists of the European Union, the UN, the US and Russia. The plan foresees the resumption of negotiations within a month, Sarkozy said. An agreement on borders and security should be reached within six months, with a final settlement being reached within a year…

“But achieving peace within a year seems an ambitious goal. Then-US President George W. Bush tried the same thing with the so-called Annapolis process — without success…

“Not wanting to leave the stage to Abbas alone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced in advance that he wanted to respond to the Palestinian leader’s statement. The stage was set for a rhetorical duel which would do little to advance the peace process but would earn points for the winner. In the end, Abbas was the clear winner of the hotly anticipated showdown. The Palestinian leader avoided rhetorical tricks and made a convincing impression as an honest representative of a just cause.

“In contrast, Netanyahu came across as arrogant and aggressive. Right at the beginning of his speech, the Israeli prime minister called the UN General Assembly a ‘theater of the absurd’ that ‘for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.’ Netanyahu compared the United Nations to a ‘house of many lies.’  He also made strong remarks aimed at Abbas and the Palestinians, claiming they had rejected or failed to respond to Israeli offers of peace. Netanyahu attacked Abbas’ words about the ‘hopes and dreams’ of the Palestinians, satirically recasting them as ‘hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran.’”

It is amazing how preconceived ideas and concepts may cloud objectivity. To us, it was Abbas who came across as arrogant and unbelievable, while Netanyahu gave a convincing presentation on what the future for Israel would mean, if Abbas and supporters had their way. Note also the next article.

Conflict between Israel and Palestinians Escalates

On September 23, 2011, Israel’s Ynetnews.com wrote the following:

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people, accusing Israel of engaging in ethnic cleansing in his United Nations speech… ‘Israel issues building permits to settlers so they can build in occupied Jerusalem, while it keeps confiscating lands in eastern Jerusalem and driving away Palestinians from their ancestral lands,’ he said in his address… ‘Our people will continue their popular, peaceful resistance,’ Abbas declared…

“Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, walked out in protest during Abbas’ address. He later told Ynet that the Palestinian leader delivered a ‘speech of incitement’ that included ‘harsh threats.’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not present during Abbas’ speech to begin with… On Friday afternoon, Abbas said he was adamant about not recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

“‘They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state,’ Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the US… Meanwhile, Hamas said Friday that Palestinians should liberate their land, not beg for recognition at the United Nations, firmly rejecting President Abbas’ quest for statehood. Speaking hours before Abbas was due to ask formally that the UN recognize a Palestinian state, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this would not bring independence.”

But let us ask, since when were the Palestinians entitled to “ancestral lands” in “eastern Jerusalem”? It is very clear that according to the Bible, these lands were given by GOD to the houses of Israel and Judah. Abbas’ comments are also quite revealing in that Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, in light of the fact that the PLO has recently announced that no Jew will be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. In his address, Netanyahu responded that it was time for the Palestinians to acknowledge that “Israel is a Jewish state”—something which Palestinians are unwilling to do. Further, Abbas’ description of suicide bombers and other terrorist activities as “peaceful resistance” is quite a stretch.

On September 20, The Blaze wrote this:

“In a weekend interview, an Iranian official described the effort as merely another step in a much broader plan. Mojtaba Amani, Iran’s ambassador to Egypt, openly conceded in an interview with Al-Watan al-Arabi, that the PA’s push for full membership as a UN member state ‘is a step towards wiping out Israel,’ and that ‘the Palestinians must follow a correct example and complete all the measures to prevent the Zionist Entity from depriving them their rights.’”

Putin’s Return to Power

Deutsche Welle reported on September 25:

“The often tricky relationship between Russia and the West could get stickier if a planned leadership reshuffle goes through, putting former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin back in the presidency, but both the US and German governments have pledged to maintain a strong relationship with Moscow, regardless of who governs Russia. Constitutional restrictions forced Putin to step down in 2008 after two terms in office, but after the single term of his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, Putin is free to run in 2012 elections.

“He announced that he would on Saturday at his United Russia party conference. Putin is widely expected to win that election as his United Russia party dominates the political landscape. A change to the constitution now means presidential terms last six years, meaning Putin could remain in power until 2024…

“US-Russian relations frayed towards the end of Putin’s presidency and that of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. But under Obama and Medvedev the two countries have hammered out a new nuclear arms reduction treaty and greater cooperation on issues like Iran’s nuclear program… Merkel was quoted as saying that she works well with Medvedev, in a tweet from her spokesman Steffen Seibert. ‘Cooperation will be good with every Russian president,’  Seibert continued, ‘because Germany and Russia are connected by a strategic partnership.’…

“If Putin were to take over the presidency, it’s expected that Medvedev would then become his prime minister, a role more focused on domestic policy… Russia’s opposition is deeply concerned about Putin’s potential return to the presidency, with Boris Nemtsov, who served as deputy foreign minister in the late 1990s, describing it as a ‘horror scenario.’  ‘Putin returns and everyone else leaves,’  he said. ‘Foreign capital will flee and people will emigrate.’”

The Local added on September 25:

“In a first reaction to Putin’s nomination to presidential candidate for his United Russia party – which effectively crowns him Russian leader – Merkel was less than warm about the prospect, but diplomatically optimistic… The likely return of the former KGB agent who served in East Germany, to the head of the Russian government will be accompanied by ambitious plans.  He told his party conference that Russia’s economy must grow by up to seven percent a year, and should become one of the five biggest national economies in the world. He said he intended to create 20 million new jobs in modern industry over the coming 20 years.”

Pope Disappoints Protestants

The Local wrote on September 23:

“Benedict… met leaders of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), but disappointed those who had hoped for a signal of reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

“Speaking at the Augustine Monastery where Luther had lived 500 years ago, he said, ‘Prior to the pope’s visit there was some talk of an “ecumenical gift” which was expected from this visit. There is no need for me to specify the gifts mentioned in this context. Here I would only say that this reflects a political misreading of faith and of ecumenism’… he did not take part in a joint Catholic and Protestant Eucharist, remaining firm in the separation of the two churches… The pope had said he was not prioritising the idea of bringing the two churches closer together, leaving many disappointed…”

Still, “reconciliation” between the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches will come, but only under Catholic terms. Please also note the next articles.

Be Obedient to Rome

Deutsche Welle reported on September 25:

“[The pope] called on German Catholics to challenge themselves to form a closer relationship with God… ‘The Church in Germany will overcome the great challenges of the present and future and it will remain a leaven in society, if the priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful … work together in unity,’ he said… Benedict alluded to the dissent in the Church on Saturday night, saying that ‘damage to the Church comes not from opponents, but from uncommitted Christians.’

“He went further on Sunday, urging Catholics to remain faithful and obedient to Rome in ‘this time of danger and radical change’ and a ‘crisis of faith.’ ‘The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world if she remains faithfully united with the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles,’ he said… Also on the schedule for the pope’s last day in Germany is a lunch with religious leaders [and] a meeting with judges from Germany’s Constitutional Court…”

Catholics and Orthodox Closest

VIS wrote on September 24:

“[The pope] met with fifteen representatives from the Orthodox Churches in Germany gathered in the main hall of the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau. Germany has a total of 467 Byzantine Orthodox communities with some 1,300,000 faithful belonging to various autocephalous Churches… the Pope reaffirmed that ‘among Christian Churches and communities, the Orthodox are theologically closest to us; Catholics and Orthodox both have the same basic structure inherited from the ancient Church. So we may hope that the day is not too far away when we may once again celebrate the Eucharist together.’”

American Warfare with Drones

The Vancouver Sun wrote on September 23:

“The United States administration of President Barack Obama is dramatically extending the reach of its program using missile-armed remote-controlled drone aircraft to assassinate terrorist and militant group leaders.

“The focus of the operation to hunt down and kill senior figures in al-Qaida and linked groups is shifting from Pakistan, where 581 of the more than 600 people killed in the 118 drone strikes launched last year were hiding, to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

“The movement to deploy the Predator and Reaper drones to a U.S. base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, an un-named Arab state, and the Indian Ocean islands nation of Seychelles is in response to the rising presence of al-Qaida and its affiliates in the failed states of Somalia and Yemen…

“The program is controversial not least because of the hazy legal authority under which U.S. officials… remotely control the drones and fire their Hellfire missiles at people intelligence information identifies as militants in Pakistan or elsewhere. The drones… [have] been equipped with missiles they are known to have been used in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia as well as Pakistan.

“As well as the cloudy legal authority for assassinating people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war, there is the matter of killing innocent bystanders. In Pakistan in particular, there has been much public outrage at so-called ‘collateral damage’ when missile attacks have killed women, children and other people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…

“Since April, the drone-fired attacks in Pakistan have all been launched from Afghanistan. It is the success of this assassination program… that has precipitated the move to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula… In Ethiopia, the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is being… cautious before playing host to Obama’s killer drones.”

This kind of warfare is not finding much support. It is also interesting that Ethiopia keeps showing up in one way or another, either in friendly or not-so-friendly relationships with Western powers.

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Do you have guidelines for proper appearance and conduct in your worship services?

In previous Q&As, we published guidelines for opening and closing prayers, and for preparing and giving sermonettes. We pointed out that our weekly and annual Sabbath services begin with a song service (usually by singing three congregational hymns), followed by an opening prayer, a sermonette or short spiritual message of about 10 to 15 minutes, the singing of another congregational hymn, announcements, followed (occasionally) by a special music presentation (especially during the Feast of Tabernacles), the sermon or main spiritual message of about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, and we conclude with a final congregational hymn and the closing prayer.

As all of these elements are part of a worship service in honor of and dedication to God, it is important that we always appear before God in the proper attire and with the right attitude, and that we exemplify correct behavior throughout the entire service. In the past, we have published numerous Q&As, setting forth the principles and guidelines as to how men and women should dress in general; what should be the proper hair length for men and women; and especially, how we should properly dress at Church services and social functions during the Feast of Tabernacles, including at pool or beach parties.

Here are a few selected excerpts from the above-cited Q&As, as they apply to worship services:

“That we ought to appear properly dressed for worship services, has been the long-standing teaching of the Church of God, and for good reason:

“We must understand that we are appearing before GOD. God is a great King. God is the Creator of everything that is good and costly and priceless. He is the Creator of beauty. He most certainly is the Creator of quality. He owns all the gold and silver, and it is He who made it all. If we were to be invited by an earthly king, how would we appear in front of him?… Would you want to appear in unwashed, dirty clothing, wearing washed-out jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers?

“How much more should we appear before GOD, the KING over His creation, in proper clothes! The famous parable in Matthew 22:10-13 about the king’s wedding feast for his son contains a spiritual lesson, but it also describes a physical principle–that we dress appropriately for the occasion. It DID matter to the king–God the Father–how the guests were dressed for the wedding of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“In this context, we must not neglect culture. In the Western World, it is normally appropriate for men to wear a suit, or a nice combination, with a shirt and a tie… In the U.S.A., Canada or in England [and we might include continental Europe as well], men don’t dress up, when they appear in worship services with an open shirt, a T-shirt or jeans.

“Ladies should also wear appropriate clothing, of course. In addition, their dresses should not be too short or too tight or too revealing–but this principle would also apply in general, not just during Church services…

“God gives us the freedom to determine what is appropriate clothing, within the acceptability of proper dress in our cultures, but to clarify, God does not give us the freedom to violate His specific instructions so that we can follow our culture. For example, God has told us how to wear our hair. We are told that it is a shame for a man – young or old – to wear long hair…

“In addition, some brethren are scattered. They cannot physically join with other members on the Sabbath, so they listen to sermon tapes, or they sit in and listen to live Internet worship services (In passing, those who can physically attend are commanded to do so, and they are not permitted to just use Internet access as a substitute and as an excuse for not ‘having’ to attend Church services in person). If scattered brethren have Sabbath worship services ‘in their home,’ while listening to tapes or to live Internet Church services, they still appear before God during that time, and again, we don’t want to appear before God uncombed, unshaved and unwashed, or by just wearing our pajamas…”

“When God gave instructions for the creation of ‘holy garments’ for the priests of Israel, He specifically wanted them made ‘for GLORY and for BEAUTY’ (Exodus 28:2)… Regarding how both men and women dress when attending Church services, we find a meaningful example in the time when the children of Israel were commanded to wash their clothes in advance of appearing before God (Compare Exodus 19:10,14). Likewise, the priests were to wash themselves when appearing before God (Compare Exodus 30:19-20); and, they were to wear special clothing (Compare Exodus 28).

“It has been the practice of the Church of God to recognize that we are appearing before God when we assemble for Sabbath services along with other special commanded assemblies as given by God [such as commanded worship services throughout the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, even though only the first day is a Holy Day]. As such, we do recommend that each person present himself or herself in the best apparel they have available. The foremost idea is to specially prepare to appear before God to honor HIM!…

“God takes great exception to the self-absorbed and self-willed practices of people who lose all restraint. This applies to inappropriate sloppy appearance, as well as to the over-emphasis on wealth and riches… Our responsibility is to dress modestly and yet to dress with quality garments that reflect our honoring of God…”

It is critically important to understand that we appear in front of God during the entirety of our worship service; and this means that every aspect of the service is to reflect our worship of God. This is true whether we are attending together with our brethren in a Church hall, or whether we are, due to necessity, listening in to live Church services from our homes. This means we stand up respectfully and humbly when participating in the opening or closing prayer, and we stand up and participate joyfully in the singing of the congregational hymns.

We concentrate on and listen carefully to the messages (including the announcements, as well as the sermonette and sermon). It is understood, of course, that parents will have to take care of their babies and young children, which might even require at times to take them out of the Church hall, when they get too loud and disturb others. But apart from these sometimes inevitable distractions, there is no excuse for not paying close and undivided attention to services. It would be highly inappropriate to engage in jokes or unnecessary conversation during services (except for unavoidable situations, such as when our technical staff may at times have to communicate with each other to make sure that the services are being properly broadcast, etc.). It would also be offensive to God if someone were to get up during services (whether in a Church hall or at home) to walk to the kitchen for a snack or a meal, or even a cup of coffee or tea or water (excepting necessary circumstances), or to take a nap during services.

In services, most of us do not have many opportunities to audibly participate, except for saying “Amen” to the opening and closing prayers, after having listened carefully and attentively to every word of the prayers, and for singing joyfully during the song service. We cannot overemphasize the importance of participation in the song service with all of our heart, concentrating on each word which we are singing, and agreeing with it completely, knowing that we are not doing so to impress others, but because we are worshipping God when we sing out loud. There have been rare occasions when a brother or sister was told not to sing so loud, but this would be highly inappropriate “advice.” In fact, the song leader should encourage the congregation in words and by his own example to sing out loud and with enthusiasm.

Notice what we read about singing songs and hymns to God:

“Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious” (Psalm 66:1-2, AV).

Consider Psalm 95:1-3 (AV):

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King…”

Notice Psalm 149:1-5 (AV):

“Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King… let them sing praises unto him… Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud…”

And take note of Psalm 150:1-6 (AV), showing that God expects of us to sing to Him with emotion and with our whole heart:

“Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary… Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel…  praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbrals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”

Whether we are speakers (giving sermonettes, sermons, opening or closing prayers, or announcements) or whether we are part of the “listening” congregation, we must all appreciate the truth that we are appearing before God and His holy angels, as well as with His chosen holy people. Speakers have to conduct themselves appropriately, when speaking from the pulpit; they are not to engage in improper comments or “foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (compare Ephesians 5:4).

The saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” must never be applicable to our conduct in Church services. This is one of the reasons why our speakers will generally refer to other brethren as Mr. and Mrs., when addressing them publically, rather than using their first names. Church services ARE FORMAL WORSHIP services, in dedication to God and in fellowship with His holy people, and all of us must always keep this in mind throughout the entirety of the service.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new member letter was written and posted on the Web. It will  be sent out tomorrow. In the letter, Dave Harris examines the question as to how Philadelphia perseveres and stays faithful in these evil times.

A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “UK Enslaved and USA Rejected.” The relationship between the UK and Europe is deteriorating, and so is the friendship between the USA and the EU. The UK is fed up with Europe and has become a slave to the EU, according to the Telegraph. The EU rejects advice from Tim Geithner; and while Germany and France don’t care about opposition from the UK and the US, Sarkozy breaks with Obama in New York. The Pope’s visit in Germany has revived the hope for Church unification, which will come, but not in the way that most expect. This won’t be good news for the USA and the UK.

A new German AufPostenStehen program was posted on our Web site (www.aufpostenstehen.de) and on YouTube, titled, “Kommt die Oekumene doch noch?” [“Is Church Unification Still Coming?”]

A new German sermon was recorded and posted on YouTube and on our German Web site (www.aufpostenstehen.de). It is related to the Feast of Trumpets and titled, “Gottes Warnung an Uns” [“God’s Warning to Us.”] It is also the third part of our German series on the USA and Great Britain in the Bible.

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God