Update 519


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

On December 10, 2011, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

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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Encouragement from an Unsuspected Source

by Andrew Burns (Great Britain)

“Never before, in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so MANY to so FEW.”  These words were spoken by the late Sir Winston Churchill, who served Great Britain as prime minister during World War II. He said this in tribute to the pilots and air crew who gave and even lost their lives during the battle for the defence of the British Isles. These men and some woman were the “FEW.”

With “THE MANY,” Churchill referred to the main populace of the British Isles, and the generations that would follow, who were allowed to enjoy their inherited physical blessings and freedoms a little while longer.

Winston Churchill also spoke of  “THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT.” What did he mean by that? He was a noted and respected historian. He is author of the major work, “History Of The English Speaking Peoples” – written in four volumes. He was very familiar with the many HUMAN CONFLICTS and wars that involved the birthright peoples of the British Isles.

It may be interesting to apply his words to our Christian warfare. Many times in God’s Word, parables and analogies are used to help us understand something important. And so, Jesus referred to His people as “the little flock.”  That is how it has been down through the eras of Church history. Compared to the main populace of this world who have not yet been called, we are the “FEW.”

As Christians, we are required to do battle in the field of conflict. We refuse to fight against human beings, and we do not fight with tanks, guns and planes, but we are to put on the spiritual armour of God, including His mighty power, to fight against evil spirits in high places. 2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.” Our “field of human conflict” is spiritual. The battles are very real and very difficult. Victory requires the protection and power of God, enabling the “FEW” to be winners! 

In God’s great and wonderful plan of salvation, only few are called in this day and age. The “MANY” have not yet been called. They will be given their first opportunity to obtain salvation during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment period. Jesus Christ is the forerunner and perfect example, but He will be assisted by the “few”—the pioneers—who were called in this life and who overcame and qualified for the Kingdom of God. As pilgrims, strangers and foreigners, they had to come out of this world of hate and war and misunderstood “peace” and “freedom.” They had to become living sacrifices, to prepare for the wonderful world tomorrow. Some even lost their lives quite literally in the process. In the future, the “MANY” will realize how much they “OWE” to the FEW—and especially Jesus Christ, the Captain of their salvation. Such indebtedness will “never before” have been so great! 

Even though Winston Churchill spoke merely about physical warfare, with the goal of protecting human life and temporary physical freedom, his words, if rightly applied, can give us great encouragement and motivation to continue in our spiritual battle for eternal life and true and enduring freedom.

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We begin with reporting on the international consensus that Germany must lead to solve the European debt crisis, and that Germany is perceived to be the only country that can do so. Grudgingly, France is submitting to Germany‘s lead. At the same time, Britain comes under sharp attacks for allegedly sabotaging EU unification, thereby “infuriating” her allies.

Britain’s “younger” brother, the USA (as the Bible treats him), is coming under increased pressure and is facing threats of isolation. Apart from “Obama’s Culture of Corruption,” 33 leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean formed a new bloc, including every nation in the hemisphere except the USA and Canada. Afghanistan demands of the USA to stop their very successful night raids; Israel is offended by some of Hillary Clinton’s comments; and Iran claims that they shot down a highly sophisticated and sensitive drone. The USA confirmed that Iran is in possession of the missing drone, without admitting that Iran shot it down. We are also discussing the religious beliefs of the American President and his most successful Republican challengers, pointing out that their beliefs and practices are not in harmony with the Bible.

Turning again to Britain, we see that Iran’s anger with their former colonial “conqueror” is not abating, and while Iran suffered a major setback in its nuclear program—which might have bought the world a little time before the outbreak of a devastating war in the Middle East—we see that Israel has every reason to feel threatened by the developments in Egypt.

We conclude with reporting on events in Russia. Even though Putin’s party suffered a major electoral setback, it still received almost 50% of the votes (apparently with the help of major election fraud and corruption), and it is also still fairly certain that Putin will be the next Russian President. Given Putin’s ambitions of creating an undemocratic Russian empire, this cannot be good news for the West.

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Germany Must Lead

The Associated Press and USA Today reported on December 3:

“For more than half a century, the legacy of World War II has meant that the mere mention of a new rise of German power sent shudders through European nations. Now, Germany is increasingly calling the shots for the entire continent — and few seem to mind. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski — whose nation lost millions of people in the Nazi invasion and occupation — shocked many this week when he made a dramatic appeal for greater German influence. ‘You know full well that nobody else can do it,’ he told a largely German audience in Berlin. ‘I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.’

“European leaders are panicked over unsustainable debt that could take down the entire global economy. From the streets to the halls of power, all eyes are trained on Germany — by far Europe’s biggest economy — to lead the continent out of crisis… On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed forward with a Berlin-engineered action plan for containing Europe’s crisis, calling for tougher rules to keep national budgets under control… At the same time she talked down any fears of German preeminence in Europe… Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, whose nation often lives in the shadow of its giant northern neighbor, dismissed out of hand any worries about renewed German dominance…

“Some Europeans have also contemplated with horror what would happen if Germany got fed up with Europe’s debt shambles and simply walked away. ‘What is left of the euro if Germany says goodbye? A house of cards,’ Lennart Sacredeus, a lawmaker with the Christian Democrats in Sweden’s governing coalition, wrote…Throughout the crisis, Merkel has worked closely with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the other heavyweight leader among the nations that share the euro. But Sarkozy, slumping in polls ahead of elections next year, has recently proven much more willing to bend to the chancellor’s way of thinking. In particular, he has embraced German ideas of countries ceding control of a chunk of their budgets to a central authority, even at the expense of some national sovereignty…

“Europeans seem increasingly inclined to support Germany’s leadership — or at least to go along with it… While former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi bristled at German interference, new Prime Minister Mario Monti has called the German culture of stability one of its ‘better exports.’… Likewise, incoming conservative Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seen as much more open to Germany’s leadership than outgoing socialist Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.”

And so, Germany will lead… and the continental European countries will follow.

“Germany Dubbed ‘Master of Europe’”

The Local wrote on December 8:

“Germany is emerging as the master of Europe, analysts said on Thursday ahead of a make-or-break summit on the euro – as the European Central Bank (ECB) set the scene by cutting its key interest rates.

“‘For the first time in the history of the EU, Germany is the unquestioned leader, and France is number two,’ said Charles Grant, of the Centre for European Reform think tank, citing growing inequality ever since the financial crisis struck in 2008… ‘France has been “forced” to bow to German leadership on economic policy… The high stakes for all EU institutions were highlighted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy who said in Paris that the risks of the EU exploding had never been so great. There would be no ‘second chance’ if the summit failed to come up with a convincing solution, he said…

“Under intense pressure to deal with the contagious debt crisis, European governments are moving towards radical changes on the road to fiscal, economic and political union. In the future, governments that overspend and so increase the risk of market penalties for currency partner governments could be fined or see automatic ‘corrections’ imposed by the European Commission…”

New European Plans to Save the Euro

BBC News reported on December 5:

“The leaders of France and Germany say the EU needs a new treaty to deal with the eurozone debt crisis… Mr Sarkozy said talks on a new treaty should be completed by March, to ensure such a crisis never happened again. The Paris talks come ahead of an EU summit on Friday that is being seen as crucial for the future of the single currency… Mrs Merkel said France and Germany wanted to see ‘structural changes which go beyond agreements. This package shows that we are absolutely determined to keep the euro as a stable currency and as an important contributor to European stability…’

“If these measures are approved the eurozone will have taken a giant stride to becoming both a monetary and fiscal union… As for Britain, the PM will face a tough decision over whether he tries to win back powers from Europe in exchange for British support for treaty change… The two leaders said they wanted treaty changes to be implemented by all 27 EU member states, but if that was not possible, [by] just the 17 states which have adopted the euro… They also rejected the idea of single currency ‘eurobonds’ being introduced to help ease the debt crisis, with Mr Sarkozy saying they were ‘in no case a solution’.”

We see that Mrs. Merkel prevailed with her rejection of eurobonds, which were recently endorsed by Sarkozy. Also, the concept of creating agreements between just the Eurozone members is very interesting. Der Spiegel Online commented on Monday that it has become obvious once again who is leading in Europe. The magazine wrote: “Madame Pitches the Key” (or: “Madame gives the Note”), adding: “The meeting demonstrates the positions of power—the French President must once again alter the course to follow the direction of the Chancellor.”

Europe Shudders at Germany’s New-Found Power

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 6:

“French daily newspaper Libération ran an article under the headline ‘A President Modeled on the Germans,’ which claimed ‘If you closed your eyes, you could hear Merkel speaking’ during Sarkozy’s speech. During a televised interview back in early November, Sarkozy uttered almost unimaginable words for a French president: ‘All my efforts are directed towards adapting France to a system that works. The German system’… In these days of crisis in Europe, the ‘German model’ has become something of a magic formula. Like it or not, the dusty, dry Germans now seem to hold the key to European salvation…

“Very quickly, praise is being replaced by criticism… This is the flipside of Germany’s dominance in Europe. The right-wing Spanish daily newspaper ABC recently wrote about the alleged ‘Germanization of Europe,’ and a journalist commented that Germany was in the process of ‘winning World War III: the money war.’… so the specter of the ugly German has raised its head once more. In Greece, swastikas made out of the stars of the European Union flag have long been a popular motif at demonstrations, not to mention pictures of the German chancellor in a kind of SS uniform… Georgios Trangas, one of Greece’s best-known journalists, said his country had become ‘a German protectorate of the Fourth Reich in southern Europe’… Meanwhile Italian television is depicting Chancellor Merkel wearing a Kaiser-era spiked helmet…

“Holding the reins of economic and political power in Europe is a new experience for Germany… Last week Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski gave a remarkable speech in Berlin in which he described the collapse of the euro zone as ‘the greatest threat for Poland’s security and well-being.’ Just five years ago, Sikorski said the German-Russian agreement over a Baltic Sea pipeline reminded him of Hitler’s pact with Stalin in 1939. Now he says, ‘I’m less worried about Germany’s power than about its failure to act. It has become Europe’s essential nation. It must not fail in its leadership. Rather than dominate, it must lead the reform process.’”

Ratings Agency Under Attack

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 6:

“Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has piled pressure on EU leaders to come up with a deal to save the euro, warning that it may downgrade 15 of 17 euro-zone countries — including powerhouse Germany. EU politicians have criticized the move. But the agency on Tuesday added that it may downgrade the euro bailout fund as well…

“Chancellor Angela Merkel shrugged off the warning, saying: ‘What a rating agency does is the responsibility of the rating agency.’ Her economy minister, Philipp Rösler, appeared likewise unmoved. ‘Germany will not let itself be influenced by … the short-lived verdict of one ratings agency,’ Rösler said on the sidelines of a conference in Munich, Reuters reported. ‘We think nothing of such threats. We have no difficulties on the financial markets. We are and remain the anchor of stability in Europe,’ said Rösler…

“Bank of France governor Christian Noyer, a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank, said on Tuesday that ratings agencies were in danger of themselves worsening the euro-zone debt crisis. ‘The agencies were one of the motors of the crisis in 2008. Are they becoming a motor in the current crisis? That’s a real question we all need to think about,’ he told a conference on corporate finance in Paris.

“Hans Michelbach, a member of parliament for the conservative Christian Social Union party, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, called the S&P warning ‘an arbitrary decision with no relation to reality.’ The aim of the announcement, he said, had evidently been to create additional nervousness ahead of the EU summit. He called on the EU to crack down on the ‘uncontrolled games’ being played by the ratings agencies.

“European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso… dropped his demand for euro bonds, saying they were not a solution to the current crisis… He added that Germany’s angry reaction last month to an EU consultation paper on euro bonds had surprised him.”

The Local added on December 6:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she would press on with ‘important’ reforms for the eurozone, following a downgrade threat by credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s for Germany and 14 other eurozone countries… German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Tuesday S&P’s warning was the ‘best incentive possible’ for this week’s EU summit…

“French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday that the Franco-German plan to overhaul the EU treaty [and] to toughen EU budgetary rules ‘is precisely the response to one of the major questions of this ratings agency (S&P) that mentions the insufficiency of European economic governance.’”

The Weekly Standard wrote on December 7 that Rainer Bruederle, the chair of the FDP group in the German Bundestag, indicated that S&P acted as part of an American plot or conspiracy to work against the eurozone.


Britain “Infuriates” Europe

Der Spiegel Online reported on December 5:

“The British government is trying to obstruct the establishment of a common EU foreign and security policy. The formation of an autonomous military headquarters failed last week after Britain alone resisted the move. The government of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has also been preventing the EU from issuing joint statements in international organizations.

“…For example, when the EU ambassadors agreed to a common statement at the World Health Organization in Geneva, the British representative vetoed the move, saying the issue wasn’t a matter of foreign policy but of health policy — and therefore fell under national sovereignty. The British have been using similar nit-picking arguments in other UN organizations and at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, on issues such as peace missions and disarmament conferences.

“Pierre Vimont, the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, has complained privately that London has blocked a total of 96 EU statements. The foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, described as schizophrenic the British rejection of joint consular services for all EU citizens, because that stance contradicted Britain’s own demand for a ‘Europe for the people.’

“Tensions between Britain and other members of the EU have grown in the euro crisis. Cameron has responded to growing euro-skeptic pressure in his Conservative party by pledging to claw back powers from Brussels and by resisting German calls for greater EU integration on fiscal policy to tackle sovereign debt problems…”

U.S. Foreign Aid for Homosexuals

The Associated Press wrote on December 6:

“The Obama administration is announcing a wide-ranging effort to use U.S. foreign aid to promote rights for gays and lesbians abroad, including combating attempts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality… ‘The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights,’ Obama said in a statement… The order also directs U.S. government agencies to… work with international organizations to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians…

“Since taking office, Obama has advocated for the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members and ordered the administration to stop enforcing a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman… The presidential directive applies to all U.S. agencies involved in foreign aid, assistance and development, including the Departments of States, the Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security.”

This move seems to be in direct response to British Prime Minister Cameron’s refusal to give aid to African countries that support anti-homosexual movements (See the Current Events in our last Update). As the Bible says in Isaiah 9:21, even Ephraim (Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations) and the USA (Manasseh) will be at odds with each other.

“Obama’s Culture of Corruption”

The California Staats-Zeitung wrote on December 3, 2011:

“The Obama Administration’s Solyndra scandal that cost U.S. taxpayers $535 million is just the tip of the iceberg of the scandal involving Obama’s use of taxpayer dollars to help his top donors… Now, we are learning that this practice of using tax dollars to pay off contributors and enrich political allies was not unusual, but in fact was common place. To show the gravity of the scandal, even Newsweek, in its November 13, 2011, issue wrote, ‘Nevertheless, a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money.’

“The Newsweek piece continues, ‘At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants… $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers…’ 

“The silence from left wing ‘watchdog’ groups has been deafening… Environmental guru Al Gore has also been strangely silent… And the Washington Post, which brought down a presidency by exposing a White House cover up of actions of bit players in the Nixon Administration, has failed to headline the Solyndra scandal on their front page even once. [The Solyndra scandal is] the biggest pay for play scandal in U.S. history…”

Obama’s “Misguided” Energy Policies

Newsmax wrote on December 5:

“The Obama administration’s handling of two recent controversies — solar panel maker Solyndra and the Keystone XL pipeline — illustrates a misguided approach to energy-related issues, according to an energy expert. The administration has announced that it will delay for a year a final decision on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring much-needed oil from Canada to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, the administration is under fire for using its influence to help Solyndra obtain a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company declared bankruptcy and folded in September.

“‘Even a cursory look at the two deals shows that, once again, the Obama administration’s energy priorities are — how to put this charitably? — misguided,’ writes Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute…In an article appearing in National Review Online, Bryce writes that unlike Solyndra, the $13 billion Keystone project does not depend on federal loan guarantees or tax credits from the federal government, and it would improve America’s access to a secure flow of oil. The pipeline would reportedly create some 13,000 construction jobs in the United States, and indirectly create 7,000 manufacturing jobs — while Solyndra axed 1,100 workers when it went bankrupt.

“The pipeline would supply the U.S. with 700,000 barrels of oil each day, enough to generate 380,000 megawatt-hours of electricity daily, according to Bryce. Meanwhile, all the solar panels in the country, plus all the wind turbines, last year produced 260,000 million megawatt-hours per day. ‘Put another way, the Keystone XL pipeline by itself, if it ever gets federal approval — and assuming, of course, that the Canadians don’t decide to build a pipeline to the coast and ship their oil to China or elsewhere — would have provided about 46 percent more energy to the U.S. economy than all the solar panels and wind turbines in the country did in 2010,’ Bryce points out.”

Latin America Launches New Economic Alliance Without USA and Canada

Deutsche Welle reported on December 3:

“Latin American leaders have met in Caracas to launch a new alliance that some hope will help them stand up to the United States… [33] Leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean pledged closer ties as they formed a new bloc on Saturday including every nation in the hemisphere except Canada and the US…

“On the surface, at least, no other region offers as good a framework for regional integration as Latin America. Apart from Brazil, around 500 million people from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego speak the same language. They also share similar histories, with most having achieved their independence from Spain around 200 years ago. With the notable exception of Cuba, they all have democratically elected governments…

“Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is nothing more than a new incarnation of the Organization of American States – without the United States and Canada… An initial test could come at the next EU-Latin America summit next year in Santiago de Chile. In any case, the established alliances in the region will continue to be interesting negotiating partners for the EU…

“The EU has already signed bilateral association agreements with Mexico and Chile, and it is in negotiations with the Andean Community (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia) and the countries of Central America…”

These alliances show the continuing isolation of the USA and Canada in that part of the world as well.

Karzai Warns USA

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 5:

“Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued his clearest demands yet that the US end its controversial night raids in his country. And he suggested that, should they not be met, ongoing negotiations over a US military presence in the country beyond 2014 could suffer… Karzai even said that the talks over the so-called US Afghanistan Strategic Partnership could even break down should US forces not change their modus operandi in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

“The stern demands… underscore the tensions between the US and Afghanistan over the future of their cooperation… US military officials have emphasized… that the night raids are one of the most effective tools in their counterinsurgency effort… They say such raids are crucial in the fight against the Taliban…”

More Tumult in Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 6:

“Twin blasts in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif targeted Afghanistan’s minority Shiite community on Tuesday, killing nearly 60 people in one of the war’s deadliest attacks and raising the danger of sectarian strife… the worshippers were gathered for the Shiite festival of Ashura, which commemorates the killing of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussain during the wars that marked the seventh-century split between Islam’s Sunni and Shiite sects.

“The attacks raised concerns that Afghan insurgents were trying to spark a conflict between the minority Shiite community and the country’s majority Sunni population, reigniting the ethnic and sectarian violence that ravaged the country during the civil war in the 1990s… The blast in Kabul happened during a self-flagellation ceremony, as men whipped their own backs with sharp knives and razors outside the mosque…”

Clinton Angers Israel

AFP wrote on December 4:

“Israeli ministers reacted angrily on Sunday after local media quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying she feared for the future of Israel’s democracy and the rights of women in the Jewish state. Clinton’s remarks… made headlines in most Israeli newspapers… [Reportedly] Clinton had described shock at hearing that some buses in Jerusalem were gender segregated and some religious Israeli soldiers refused to attend events where women would sing… The comments sparked a quick backlash in Jerusalem, where Israeli ministers holding a weekly cabinet meeting accused Clinton of hyperbole.”

Of course, these kinds of gender segregations ARE a cause for concern, but worse practices of intolerance can be found in most Muslim countries, which don’t even claim to be democratic or respect any rights of women. At the same time, the Bible shows in Isaiah 9:21 that the relationship between the USA  (biblical Manasseh), Great Britain (biblical Ephraim)  and the state of Israel (biblical Judah) will deteriorate.

Did Iran Shoot Down US Spy Plane?

BBC wrote on December 4:

“Iran’s armed forces have shot down an unmanned US spy plane that violated its eastern borders, military sources say. Iranian media reports said the drone – identified as a type RQ170 – suffered minimal damage and was now in the hands of the armed forces.

“The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to which the Iranians are referring may be a US unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week…

“The RQ170 Sentinel is a stealthy and highly capable unmanned aircraft… Its shape and materials give it a low radar signature and it is clearly used for some of the most highly sensitive mission, says BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.”

Initially, the U.S. government denied the report that Iran had shot down a US spy plane. At the same time, they admitted that they “lost” one and can’t find it. Fox News reported on December 5 that “Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane…”

On December 8, 2011, ABC and other news sources reported that what appears to be the missing U.S. drone was shown on Iranian TV. The drone appeared to be intact and operational.

Either way, what an embarrassment…

A Mormon for U.S. President?

On November 23, USA Today stated the following:

“On June 27, 1844, vigilantes cornered a man who claimed to receive messages from God and gunned him down in an Illinois jail after his arrest. At the time of his death, Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was an announced candidate for president of the United States. Today, 167 years later, as two of Smith’s adherents eye the nation’s highest office, religious discrimination remains an obstacle for Mormon political candidates for president and a vexation for church members.

“Two Republican contenders, former governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Jon Huntsman of Utah, have sought to downplay the prejudice in presidential politics. But a potential problem is hard to ignore: More than 1 in 5 Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon — a figure that has changed only slightly since the question was first asked in 1967, according to Gallup polls.…

“Mormons have run for president before: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, fell short in 2000; Sen. Mo Udall, D-Ariz., was unsuccessful in 1976; and Romney’s father, George, failed in 1968. Still, history has a way of setting precedents while seating new presidents. At one time pundits said a divorcee could not win the nation’s highest office, but Ronald Reagan disproved that, just as Barack Obama broke the color barrier three years ago… Americans who claim they won’t vote for a Mormon may relent once they enter polling booths, just as avowed anti-Catholics changed their minds and helped elect John F. Kennedy a half century ago…

“Last month a Baptist minister in Texas, Robert Jeffress, reignited the political controversy by urging Christians not to vote for Romney because of his faith. ‘Do we prefer somebody who is truly a believer in Jesus Christ,’ Jeffress asked, ‘or somebody who is a good moral person but he’s a part of a cult?’ At LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City, media relations manager Erick Hawkins declined interview requests but said in email that the church ‘doesn’t consider honest disagreements on theology to be anti-Mormon. We recognize there are distinct elements of our belief that are different from other Christian faiths. We also believe there is much we have in common and important efforts where we can work together.’

“But antagonism doesn’t just come from the Christian right: Liberal Democrats are even more likely to reject an LDS candidate. In June, Gallup pollsters reported 27 percent of Democrats would not vote for a Mormon presidential contender, compared with 18 percent of Republicans…

“Church records show 14.1 million LDS members around the globe. Nearly 6 million of them are in the United States, about 2 percent of the population… Richard Packham, the 78-year-old president of the Ex-Mormon Foundation, writes that the church’s ‘ultimate goal’ is ‘to establish the Mormon Kingdom of God in America and to govern the world as God’s appointed representatives.’… Tricia Erickson, a bishop’s daughter who left the faith, just published a book titled, ‘Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters?’ … she contends that Romney or Huntsman, as members, would have a duty to ‘follow the prophet — no matter what,’ giving allegiance to religion over country…

“Although Romney more recently has allowed others to rise in defense, during the 2007 campaign he delivered a pivotal speech to dispel public concerns: ‘No authorities of my church, or any other church, for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions,’ he declared. ‘Their authority is theirs (and) it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.’”

After his insensitive neglect of thanking God during his annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation, President Obama has stressed his “Christian faith” during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony—totally ignoring the fact that Christmas celebrations have nothing to do with and are in fact against biblical Christianity. Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism and used this fact as proof for his repentance of his marital infidelities (and supposedly his hypocritical stance of wanting to impeach Bill Clinton while having an adulterous affair at the same time). Mitt Romney states that he is a Christian and that Mormonism is a form of true Christianity. Even though Herman Cain dropped out of the race over allegations of marital infidelity and sexual abuse, he proclaimed that he is at peace with his God, his wife, and “most importantly,” with himself.

Rick Perry, originally a Methodist, is now closely associated with Evangelical Christians, and Michele Bachmann repeatedly stressed her Christian beliefs. According to Wikipedia, “Bachmann was a longtime member of Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater. She and her husband withdrew their membership on June 21, 2011, just before she officially began her presidential campaign… When challenged about that denomination’s belief that the Pope is the Antichrist, Bachmann responded by stating, ‘I love Catholics, I’m a Christian, and my church does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ; that’s absolutely false.’ More recently, according to friends, the Bachmanns began attending Eagle Brook Church, an Evangelical church closer to their home.”

Ron Paul does not mention religion much. He grew up as a Lutheran or Episcopalian and became a Baptist, mainly over the issue of abortion. At the same time, he reportedly does not feel that the federal government should get involved with prohibiting same-sex marriages, and prefers that states should stop sanctioning marriage altogether (Life State News, November 29, 2001). He also does not seem to see a danger with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Some of the candidates hold strong and correct views against abortion, evolution, infidelity in marriage or fighting in war. However, to our knowledge, none of those politicians whom we addressed above believe in and keep the Seventh-Day Sabbath (one of God’s test commandments for His disciples), or reject pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter. In all of their proclamations and positions, one would be hard-pressed to find the belief in and practice of biblical Christianity, which is being taught in the Holy Bible.

Iran vs. Great Britain

The New York Times wrote on December 3:

“If there is one country on earth where the cry ‘Death to England’ still carries weight — where people still harbor the white-hot hatred of British colonialism that once inflamed millions from South Africa to China — that country would be Iran. And that is what the leaders of Iran must have been counting on when screaming militiamen, unhindered by the police, poured into the British Embassy in Tehran to vandalize it on Tuesday… So Iran’s mullahs… were not gambling in ordering, or at least tolerating, it. They presumably realized that the world would denounce their flagrant violation of international law. But they also knew it would resonate with the narrative Iranians have heard for so long about their own history.

“The spark for the embassy invasion was Britain’s imposition of new economic sanctions on Iran. Pressure for those sanctions came not so much from Britain as from the United States and Israel, but those countries could not be targets for a similar attack because they do not have embassies in Tehran…

“Britain first cast its imperial eye on Iran in the 19th century. Its appeal was location; it straddled the land route to India. Once established in Iran, the British quickly began investing — or looting, as some Iranians would say. British companies bought exclusive rights to establish banks, print currency, explore for minerals, run transit lines and even grow tobacco. In 1913, the British government maneuvered its way to a contract under which all Iranian oil became its property.

“Six years later it imposed an ‘agreement’ that gave it control of Iran’s army and treasury. These actions set off a wave of anti-British outrage that has barely subsided. Britain’s occupation of Iran during World War II, when it was a critical source of oil and a transit route for supplies to keep Soviet Russia fighting, was harsh. Famine and disease spread as the British requisitioned food for their troops…

“Once the war ended, Iran resumed its efforts to install democracy, under the leadership of Mohammed Mossadegh… After he was elected prime minister in 1951, Mr. Mossadegh asked Parliament to take the unimaginable step of nationalizing Iran’s oil industry. It agreed unanimously. That sparked a historic confrontation…  Desperate to regain control of Iran’s oil, the British sought to crush Mr. Mossadegh with measures that included harsh economic sanctions — sanctions comparable to the ones they are now imposing.

“When that failed, they asked President Dwight D. Eisenhower to join in a plot to overthrow him. He agreed, not because he wished to help the British recover their oil but because he had been persuaded that otherwise, Iran might fall to Communism. Iran, after all, was on the southern flank of the Soviet Union, standing between it and the oil fields and warm-water ports of the Persian Gulf.

“The coup, staged in August 1953, ended Iranian democracy and allowed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to build a dictatorship that remained a staunch cold war ally of both Britain and the United States. But the alliance backfired on both countries when his repression set off the 1979 revolution that brought the mullahs to power…

“More than half a century ago, Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote that Mr. Mossadegh was ‘inspired by a fanatical hate of the British and a desire to expel them and their works from the country regardless of the cost.’ Many Iranians still feel that way, as their country falls into ever deeper isolation. In Iran, the words ‘anger’ and ‘Britain’ fit easily together…”

As can be seen from this article, the anti-British feelings in Iran will not quickly disappear. Our Q&A on the future of Iran shows a continuing antagonistic relationship between Iran and America, Britain and the state of Israel.

Major Setback For Iran

Haaretz reported on December 5:

“A recent explosion at a military base near Tehran was a major setback for Iran’s long-range missile program and completely destroyed the base, according to American and Israeli intelligence officials, the New York Times reported on Monday. The officials said that surveillance photos showed that the Iranian base was a central testing center for advanced solid-fuel missiles, which are better equipped than older, liquid-fuel designs to carry warheads long distances. According to the report, satellite photos taken after the blast show that the base was almost completely destroyed, which amounts to a serious setback to Tehran’s missile development, intelligence officials said…

“Last week, a top Israeli security official said that the explosion could delay or stop further Iranian surface-to-surface missile development, but warned that it was far from halting all of Iran’s military options. Iran has vehemently denied that the blast was carried out by Israel or the United States, and Western intelligence and defense officials say the consequences – the setback of Iran’s military program – are more important than the cause. ‘Anything that buys us time and delays the day when the Iranians might be able to mount a nuclear weapon on an accurate missile is a small victory,’ one Western intelligence official told the New York Times. ‘At this point, we’ll take whatever we can get, however it happens.’”

Israel Feels Threatened by Egypt

Israel National News reported on December 2:

“Judges overseeing the vote count in Egypt’s parliamentary elections say Islamist parties have won a majority of the contested seats in the first round… Analysts say Islamists may also seek to annul the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, which could prompt Israel to seize the Sinai Peninsula for the fourth time in its history to create a strategic buffer zone…

“The Muslim Brotherhood, which birthed the virulently anti-Israel Hamas terror militia, might also seek to effectively annex Gaza. Should Hamas be triumphant in future PA elections, they would also gain a foothold in Judea and Samaria.”

Our Q&A on Egypt explains in detail what the Bible reveals to us about the future of that country.

Putin’s Intensions

The Guardian wrote on December 1:

“As prime minister for the past four years, Vladimir Putin never really went away. But his looming reincarnation as the all-powerful, executive president of Russia… poses a stark challenge for which the US, Britain and other beleaguered western powers seem ill-prepared. As president, potentially until 2024, Putin has one overriding objective: the creation of a third, post-tsarist, post-Soviet Russian empire.

“Putin famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union… as ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century’. His aim… is to put this disaster to rights. Reinstalled as president, and with his political potboy, Dmitry Medvedev, pushed aside, Putin will again exercise unchallengeable control over Russia’s external affairs. Never much interested in domestic policy, Putin’s only political trick is a hyper-nationalism that pits a proudly embattled Russia against a hostile, US-led, world conspiracy…”

Russia will become a part of a confederacy, which will be hostile towards Europe and the USA. As explained in our last Q&A on the seven seals in the book of Revelation, Russia, China, Japan and other Far Eastern nations are identified in the Bible as the antagonistic “kings from the East.” Notice also the next article.

Setback for Putin’s Party

Reuters reported on December 5:

“Vladimir Putin’s ruling party clung to a much reduced majority in parliament on Monday after an election that showed growing weariness with the man who has dominated Russia for more than a decade and plans to return to the presidency next year… European monitors said the field was slanted in favour of Putin’s United Russia and the vote marred by apparent manipulations including ballot box stuffing.

“In the biggest electoral setback for Putin since he rose to power in 1999, the Central Election Commission said United Russia was set to lose 77 seats in the State Duma and end up with 238, a slim majority in the 450-member lower house. [Other reports state that Putin’s party got about 49.7 percent, about 15 percent less than in the last Duma election in 2007.] At a government meeting, Putin emphasized that a simple majority of 226 was enough to pass most legislation and suggested it was sufficient to maintain the stability he says he has helped secure for Russia… But Medvedev, who led the party into the election at Putin’s behest, said voters had sent ‘a signal to the authorities’ and hinted officials in regions where the party did badly could face dismissal if they do not shape up…

“Although Putin is still likely to win a presidential election next March, Sunday’s result could dent the authority of the man who has ruled for 12 years with a mixture of hardline security policies, political acumen and showmanship…Many voters, fed up with widespread corruption, refer to United Russia as the party of swindlers and thieves and resent the huge gap between the rich and poor…

“Putin has as yet no serious personal rivals as Russia’s leader. He remains the ultimate arbiter between the clans which control the world’s biggest energy producer… The result is a blow for Medvedev, whose legitimacy to become prime minister in the planned job swap with Putin after the presidential vote could now be in question.”

Anti-Putin demonstrations occurred in Russia on Monday, claiming wide-spread election fraud. Growing protests continued on Tuesday and Wednesday. Of course, Medvedev put his spin on events, claiming that “the surprisingly bad result for the ruling United Russia party in Sunday’s election is proof that the vote was free and fair” (EUobserver, December 5). The opposite could be correct as well: Without election fraud, the United Russia party might have received even fewer votes.

However one wants to slice it, it is clear that Russia is far from being a democracy. As Der Spiegel Online reported on December 5, “The Communists won 19.1 percent of the vote, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia got 11.7 percent and the center-left A Just Russia won 13.2 percent. The only truly democratic party, the liberal Yabloko, won 3.2 percent of the vote, missing the 7 percent hurdle needed to win seats in the Duma by a considerable margin.”

Of course, Putin is blaming the USA and especially Hillary Clinton for encouraging and funding these ongoing and growing demonstrations in Russia—what else would one expect? But also note the next article.

Russia—The West Should Be Cautious What It Hopes For

Die Welt wrote on December 6:

“There were certainly manipulations, over-eager civil servants, intimidation and other forms of ballot box chicanery. But in general, the percentages that came out in the end reflect reality and should be taken seriously… The neo-Communists under Gennady Zyuganov … managed to win roughly 20 percent of the vote. Every eighth voter cast their ballots for the right-wing nationalists under Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose hatred of foreigners and the West has taken on pathological dimensions… [In light of] calls for more democracy in Russia, the West should be aware that the results may not be to its liking.”

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Does your church have a prophet of God who interprets the passages in the Scriptures the way God intended them to be interpreted?

The New Testament of the Bible does speak about the office of prophet as being a part of the spiritual order designated by God for leadership in the Church:
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
We also find that Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of the Church (compare Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18), selects people to serve in capacities including that of prophets:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Following the establishment of the Church of God in 31 AD, ample evidence is given that there were prophets whom God chose for special revelation of His Will.

One such example is found in reference to the immediate troubles Paul was about to face upon his going to Jerusalem:
“And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”’” (Acts 21:10-11).

It is noteworthy that Agabus was conveying a revelation given to him through God’s Holy Spirit [which is the power of God]—something that did occur as shown in subsequent chapters in the Book of Acts. Agabus was also used to “foretell” an approaching disaster:
“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:27-30).
Barnabas and Saul were named as being among those who were called as “prophets and teachers,” yet God chose them for additional responsibilities within His Church—that is, to become ordained as apostles (compare Acts 14:14). Still, we clearly read:
”Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said [God’s Spirit inspired them], ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3).
Note that Barnabas and Paul were selected for a particular work—or function—within the Church. Paul was chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles (compare Romans 11:13), and we see that he, like the rest of the apostles and ministers of God, preached the message of the gospel. In that process, the individuals hearing the Truth of God were challenged to prove it—based on the written Word of God:
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12).
It not only falls to those hearing what is preached [including messages on prophecy] to prove its veracity, but the true ministry of God must, likewise, “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). God’s ministry should abstain from preaching highly speculative prophetic scenarios, which cannot be proven from Scripture.

Paul strictly cautioned Timothy: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
We also find this cautionary instruction from Paul regarding Timothy’s ministerial responsibility:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:13-17).
From this and many other Scriptures, God reveals that understanding of His written Word takes place on both an individual level through reading and hearing as well as through instruction from the faithful ministry of God (compare Romans 10:14-17). Christ’s Spirit in converted Christians is “the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). At the same time, it is also true that God gives some of His disciples a greater degree of prophetic understanding than He may bestow on others (1 Corinthians 12:10).
When considering how God has established the conduct and oversight of His Church, the main responsibility for the true teaching of His Word falls to the ministry—as noted in previously quoted verses. This does not preclude that ministers with the rank and function of prophet may arise within the Church of God through whom God reveals His Will; however, the New Testament examples show that these circumstances both were not and never will be in contradiction to the revealed Word of God!
In fact, the great danger is that false prophets will arise with the objective of deceiving God’s people (compare Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24; 1 John 4:1). Peter specifically addresses this fact:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
When Jesus Christ asked the question of his disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” (Matthew 16:15), carefully note what follows:
“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’” (Matthew 16:16-17).
We know from the Bible that God will select “two witnesses” who will “prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (compare Revelation 11:1-13, especially verse 3). We also know that during this same time, a false prophet of immense demonically inspired power will emerge who will oppose God and His servants and who will deceive the whole world—even claiming that he is God (compare Revelation 13; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Even now, “destructive heresies” arise in which deceivers claim great titles for themselves—who make merchandise of the people of God; however, we have this assurance from God:
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Also note this statement:
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).
For those who are willing to persevere in faithfully and zealously obeying God, true understanding of His Word is promised (compare Psalm 111:10).
Following the pattern established by the first generation of the Church of God and found written in the Bible, our organizations, including the Church of the Eternal God in the USA; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, continue to seek God’s guidance and inspiration through the gift of His Holy Spirit and under the watchful care of Jesus Christ, the true Head of the Body and the One seated at the right hand of God (compare Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 12:2).

We do not claim that there are presently any ministers in our organizations who have been ordained by God to the rank and function of apostle or prophet; nor do we believe that God has given anyone else outside our organizations such ranks and functions. When God chooses to set aside some of His ministers for such responsibilities (as He will, for instance, in regard to the two witnesses), the fruit of such persons will make this fact abundantly clear to those in God’s Church. For instance, God manifested and revealed without doubt the apostleship of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the former Worldwide Church of God, who died in 1986. Today, even though some claim godly approval for stating that they are apostles and/or prophets, it is our judgment that their claims are false, as in our opinion, they have not manifested the signs of an apostle or prophet in their lives.

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on YouTube and on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org), titled, “Israel’s Fight for Survival.” Is this world becoming more dangerous, as some news analysts claim? Consider these questions: Will Israel attack Iran? Is Israel responsible for two explosions at a nuclear power plant and a military base in Iran? Did Iranian authorities instigate the storming of the British embassy in Tehran? How will Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists act towards Israel? How will Europe respond?

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube, titled, “Die Vier Reiter der Apokalypse” (“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”).

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Not Alone

by Gilbert DeVaux
I have been told that it must be hard to live alone. My response is that I am not alone, since I have a Comforter. If asked, I tell them that Christ lives in me, and His Word, the Bible, comforts me. Most ask no further questions. That saddens me; however, I know they will in due time have their opportunity to understand.
Back to “living alone,” it is only getting harder because my body is failing. I pray for endurance, and it is given to me. I receive love and kindness from the brethren at church, and also from those who live a distance from me, so I don’t feel cut off or alone.
I am able to read God’s Word, where I find hope for the future, knowing that God keeps His promise to give me a new body and a never-ending life.
So I am not alone. Before my calling I thought that I was; however, I know now that I was never alone, but that the Eternal was always there, and that I was part of His Great Master Plan of salvation for all of mankind.

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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