Update 523



On January 7, 2012, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Preaching.”

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

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What Do You Expect?

by Norbert Link

As Brian Gale mentioned in the last Editorial, many have made “new-year’s-resolutions.” They imagined what they might be able to achieve and what will be in store for them, and even those comparatively few who focused on what they might be able to do for others, might have wondered what they would get in return. Of course, in most cases, their resolutions are short-lived and soon forgotten, except for their desire of being successful, healthy, wealthy and recognized.
In our Christian walk of life, we should have overcome those idle pursuits, but have we? We should have reached the understanding that our reward will come from God–not man–but have we? It is sometimes easy to forget where our priorities must lie.
Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, had to be reminded of his purpose. He suffered much, and expected something big in return. But when his expectations were not met and instead his sufferings increased, he felt self-pity. Notice God’s admonition to Baruch: “You said, ‘Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest’… Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh… I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” (Jeremiah 45:3-5).
We are to be content with what God gives us, without expecting a great reward in this life. When we live the Christian way of life, our reward WILL be great—but it will be reserved and kept for us in heaven (Matthew 5:12), until Jesus Christ returns; and it is then that He will reward us according to our work (Revelation 22:12). In the meantime, we are to do our Christian duties “in secret,” until the Father who sees in secret will reward us openly—in His due time (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18).
To do only good to those who do good to us, or with the expectation of being rewarded by them, is really selfish conduct. That is why Christ tells us: “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for [or expecting] nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High…” (Luke 6:33-35).
That is the Christian way, but it’s not always easy. It does not make any sense to the unconverted human mind. The carnal reaction is: “If he is not doing me any favors, I will not do anything for him either. If he is not thankful for what I do for him, then I won’t help him again, even if he needs help. That will teach him…”
However, we read that God is kind and merciful even to those who are “unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35-36).
Have you ever wondered why God tells us not to covet or to be envious of others (Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3; Galatians 5:26)? The answer is, envy destroys us. It is rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30). It is also totally contrary to the love of God (1 Corinthians 13:4). God’s love is the way of giving. Covetousness and envy are the exact opposite. They want to get. And when they do not obtain what they seek or expect, then the ensuing disappointment will lead to wrong conduct.
Envy motivates us to think and do terrible things to others. Joseph’s brothers sold him because of envy (Acts 7:9). The chief priests and elders opposed Christ and plotted against Him to put Him to death because of envy (Matthew 27:1, 18; Mark 15:10). It is no surprise that James tells us: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there” (James 3:16).
We can become envious when we see others obtain favors which we desire for ourselves or for those close to us. Rather than rejoicing when someone else is praised or helped, we may feel ignored, excluded or passed over. We become envious because we expect great things for ourselves—and we expect them from other people. We forget God and His purpose for us. We forget that we must keep a good attitude, no matter what we may experience, because we live for and serve Christ, expecting our reward from Him in His due time (Colossians 3:23-24). That constant and unwavering realization necessitates that God’s mind dwells mightily in us through His Holy Spirit.
When we realize that feelings and attitudes of self-pity, disappointment, self-seeking, covetousness, envy and even anger sneak into our lives, it is high time to take stock. Chances are, we have allowed ourselves to drift away from God, and we are not as close to Him as we ought to be. Then, it is extremely important to get on our knees and to pray to Him for repentance and forgiveness and the renewal of our minds (Ephesians 4:23) through the power of His Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). God has promised that He will honor and answer such a genuine and heartfelt prayer (Luke 11:13)–and “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Remember, “the earnest expectation” of the entire creation eagerly waits for the moment, when the sons of God will be revealed in glory (Romans 8:19). God’s gift to us will be so much greater than anything that any man could possibly bestow on us. Man might disappoint us, but God never will. That should be the quintessence of our right expectations.

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Why this paradox in the USA? On the one hand, radical jihadists are apparently permitted to operate unhindered in the USA, according to WorldNetDaily, while on the other hand, President Obama signs a most controversial law (NDAA), which was passed by the American Congress, potentially jeopardizing the freedom and liberty of, arguably, every innocent citizen and lawful resident of the USA (not even to mention all the others around the world who are not American citizens or residents). We are quoting excerpts from an outstanding article by the Huffington Post, which should be read by everyone.

We are publishing a few articles on the outcome of the American Grand Old Party (GOP) caucuses in Iowa; we are hearing of strong voices in Syria, asking for outside military intervention to oust President Assad; and we are told that “Iran is playing with fire,” while it is felt that the USA is engaged in “domestic policy maneuvering” towards Iran, and that the USA and Iran are “playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse.”

Focusing on Europe, Deutsche Welle reminds us that ten years ago, on January 1, 2002, euro notes and coins were formally launched as a common currency in 12 European countries. It also postulates that there is “no euro crisis” and that the euro is strong and robust. Nevertheless, challenges lie ahead for Europe.

We report on the devastations in 2011, the ongoing mysterious death of many birds, and warn of potentially devastating volcanic eruptions in Germany. We conclude with several articles stating that German President, Christian Wulff, is in big trouble, due to problems of his own making. The German press seems to be unanimous in their evaluation: Herr Wulff is the wrong president and should resign.

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Radical Jihadists in the USA

WND wrote on January 3:

“A radical jihadist group responsible for nearly 50 attacks on American soil is operating 35 terrorist training camps across the nation, but the U.S. government refuses to include the organization on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Jamaat ul-Fuqra, known in the U.S. as ‘Muslims of America,’ has purchased or leased hundreds of acres of property – from New York to California – in which the leader, Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, boasts of conducting ‘the most advanced training courses in Islamic military warfare.’

“In a recruitment video captured from Gilani’s ‘Soldiers of Allah,’ he states in English: ‘We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil at its roots and its roots are America.’ Though Gilani and his organization is suspected of committing assassinations and firebombings inside the U.S., and is also suspected of the beheading murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, the terrorist camps spread through the country continue to expand in numbers and population…

“Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization, has been directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra. The organization operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims throughout the U.S. The investigation confirmed members commonly use aliases and intentional spelling variations of their names and routinely deny the existence of Jamaat ul-Fuqra.”

It seems to be quite a paradox that those dangerous developments are allowed to continue in the USA, while, at the same time, an apparently unconstitutional law is being signed by the President, which, according to many observers and legal experts, threatens the liberty and freedom of many potentially innocent people. See the next articles on the NDAA.

Controversial NDAA Becomes Law

The Huffington Post wrote on January 3:

“Back in the beginning stages of the War on Terrorism, President Bush enacted the Patriot Act. This allowed the government to spy on citizens, monitoring their activities in order to discern whether or not someone is a terrorist. It brought about changes in law enforcement that allowed agencies to search phones, financial records, etc. One of the most controversial aspects of the law is authorization of indefinite detention of non-U.S. citizens. Immigrants suspected of being terrorists would be detained without trial until the War on Terrorism finished.

“On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed a law known as the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2012 fiscal year, or the H.R. 1540. Congress passes this act every year to monitor the budget for the Department of Defense. However, this year the NDAA bill has passed with new provisions that should have the entire country up with pitchforks… the indefinite detention has been extended to U.S. citizens as well. If people are spied on and suspected of being terrorists, they may be detained indefinitely without trial.

“In a country famous for the belief that one is innocent until proven guilty, this is an upsetting change that is being foisted upon the American people with many unaware of what it means. The provisions of the Patriot Act allow the government to spy upon U.S. citizens and the NDAA allows the government to whisk a citizen away for no reason other than being suspected of terrorism.

“So why has this law been passed when it is very easily seen as unconstitutional? The Fourth Amendment grants liberty from unreasonable seizures, while the Sixth [Amendment] guarantees every U.S. citizen a trial in front of a jury. No matter what supporters of the bill might have said about the provisions being misunderstood, the simple fact is that it is unconstitutional…

“President Obama has released a statement regarding the H.R. 1540 (NDAA): ‘Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law’…

“Obama says his administration will not authorize the indefinite detention of citizens. But that could change. The interpretation of this bill can change on a dime. These politicians who say there is nothing to fear could quickly change whenever they see fit.

“These implications grow larger as we know there is no single accepted definition of terrorism present in the United States. The State Department defines terrorism as ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.’ Under this definition, the entire United States can be seen as terrorists. The government had planned the operations in Iraq [which have] resulted in over 100,000 civilian deaths…

“Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has stated that there are laws regarding terrorist suspects in America in place by the Department of Justice. Issues such as having an armed weapon or having a food supply lasting at least seven days can be grounds for terrorism.

“I look to my well-supplied pantry filled with foods my loving mother had purchased from Costco. I’m not one to count it all, but I’d say it would last my entire family over a week. My father legally owns a handgun… I am writing a story that is against what the politicians in Washington have voted for. Can I be seen as aiding Al-Qaeda because I am attempting to change the views of the public to something that is against government; because there is a gun in my home and we have a well-supplied pantry? Can I be seen as a terrorist under the definition of terrorism? Yes I can. Will I? I hope not.”

Infowar wrote on January 1:

“As Americans look upon the treacherous legislation passed under NDAA 2012, it should first be remembered that the very bill President Obama threatened to veto was controversial due to the language the Obama White House itself pressured Congress to add to the bill, according to Sen. Carl Levin…

“After the legislation cleared Congress, the ACLU commented that signing the bill ‘will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law,’ while executive director of the Human Rights Watch blasted the President for being ‘on the wrong side of history,’ noting that ‘Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.’ Presidential candidate Ron Paul went even further, declaring that the NDAA bill begins the official establishment of martial law in the United States.”

Fox News wrote on January 2:

“In a scathing statement, the head of the ACLU, and other leading civil liberties and human rights groups who were among President Obama’s most ardent campaign supporters said the President’s decision to sign a sprawling defense bill including controversial detainee provisions would tarnish his legacy… human rights groups on the left say… the act is a sweeping expansion of executive power — beyond what was seen under the Bush administration. The ACLU and others slammed the president for putting his name to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, out of concern that it would continue to allow indefinite detention while mandating military custody for some detainees…

“The national Muslim rights group CAIR slammed the legislation ‘as a stain on our nation’s history — one that will ultimately be viewed with embarrassment and shame.’… The Center for Constitutional Rights, or CCR, said the NDAA kills any prospect for relocating detainees and shuttering the Guantanamo camps because it requires the defense secretary to certify that the transferred men will not commit hostile acts in the future. In a statement, CCR said ‘the same presidential signature that ordered the closing of Guantánamo almost three years ago, has now ensured their release or transfer is practically impossible.’

“On the detention of American citizens, critics say section 1021 of the act is overly broad because it does not rule out indefinite detention and ‘…includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons.’ Section 1022, which makes military custody mandatory for a subset of detainees, does make an exception for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.”

All in all, President Obama’s signing of this controversial bill has antagonized the Muslim community as well as many of his liberal supporters. Whether or not this will help in any way his Republican challengers will have to be seen, as most Republicans in Congress supported the bill. Overseas, attention is being drawn to these new laws as well. Der Spiegel Online published a critical article, in German, on the issue on January 4, titled, “Obama’s Anti-Terror-Law Antagonizes Civic Rights Supporters.” Please view our recent StandingWatch program, titled, “Destruction of US Democracy?”, discussing the NDAA and other controversial laws.

The Iowa Republican Caucuses

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 4:

“Mitt Romney barely won the Iowa Republican caucuses, and he’s likely to become the party’s presidential candidate. The former governor is profiting from his rivals’ weaknesses, but this could damage him in the end. If he doesn’t improve his image, the chances of beating Barack Obama are slim…

“Barack Obama, a relatively inexperienced former community organizer, university professor and senator, won the election in 2008 thanks to a triad of lucky coincidences. Party rival Hillary Clinton underestimated the young Democrat, while Americans yearned for “change” after the Bush years, and his Republican opponent John McCain turned out to be a weak campaigner. Obama’s ascent began in the Iowa snow. And it is there that fate has once again smiled on another lucky politician: Mitt Romney, the winner of the Republican presidential caucus in the tiny agrarian state. Romney’s victory wasn’t decisive on Tuesday evening, when he came in just barely ahead of fellow conservative Rick Santorum, a favorite among the religious right.

“But Romney is likely to soon become Obama’s official challenger in the November 2012 presidential election, being the best prepared for the upcoming caucuses in South Carolina and Florida — unlike Santorum, who has so far concentrated almost exclusively on Iowa votes. Romney’s position also contrasts with that of his third-place rival Ron Paul, the idol of young radicals who want to end America’s involvement in wars and shut down the US Federal Reserve…

“Romney is mainly plain lucky. Just like Obama before him, he has been helped by three things:

“The rivals–The field of Republican candidates for the 2012 election isn’t just disappointing. It’s amusing — a kind of circus with ever-changing attractions… Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann could have been the voice of the influential Tea Party movement, but her shrillness left the ears of moderate Republicans ringing. She came in sixth in Iowa. Texas governor Rick Perry, armed with oil money, came off as broad-chested but narrowly educated during television debates. He managed to just barely beat Bachmann, and has announced he will return home to ‘determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race.’ [In the meantime, Bachmann announced that she will drop out of the race.] As for the former speaker of the House of Representatives and original thinker Newt Gingrich, he was unconvincing in the role of conservative standard-bearer. Past scandals involving his three marriages and having made millions as a Washington lobbyist were too much for his candidacy to bear.

“Timid potential candidates: Prominent Republicans who would have made more formidable opponents than Romney’s current rivals decided against running because they believed their time had not yet come and feared the Obama campaign. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, is among them, as is Paul Ryan, a promising young conservative congressman. And, naturally, there is Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush. Conservatives hold him in high esteem, but he bears a surname that, thanks to his brother, remains more of a curse than a blessing.

“America’s worries: Four years ago, conservative Iowa caucus voters were still concerned about abortion and Romney’s Mormon beliefs. Today, the United States is a nation where fears of unemployment trump those about Mormons. The key issue for the 2012 campaign will be ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ — and economic policy is one of the key skills possessed by Romney, formerly a successful businessman…

“Romney must improve his candidacy to convince the many conservatives who are still skeptical of his multiple changes in position and alleged lack of principles. If he fails to do this, then fate will only be smiling on one politician when November comes around: Barack Obama.”

Of course, we understand that it is not “luck” which determines who will be the next president. We are convinced that it will be God who sees to it that the “right” person occupies the position of President—but this is not to say that the right” person is the “right” person—only, that he or she will be “right” within the meaning of prophesied events which will have to occur.

A Pretty Crazy Night

The Daily Mail wrote on January 4:

“Even by the standards of American elections, this has been a pretty crazy night. Out of more than 122,225 votes cast – a record for the Iowa caucuses – Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were separated by just eight votes. Mercifully, this is an official state Republican party result and we are told there won’t be any recounts – though I’m still a tad sceptical because Romney’s margin of victory was somehow cut by six votes in the two minutes it took me to get to my room from the hotel bar (where non-Mormon members of his staff were celebrating enthusiastically with alcoholic beverages).

“At one point in the night Santorum led by four votes, at another Romney, supposedly, by a single one. There were reports of ballots going missing in trucks, dodgy adding up. And to put things in perspective there were 745 votes cast for Jon Huntsman, who did not compete, and 58 for former pizza magnate Herman Cain, who withdrew after a little… women trouble a month ago…

“Santorum is a winner not because he’ll be the next President of the United States (he won’t) or even the next Republican nominee (which would take a miracle) but because the former two-term Senator who was rejected by the people of Pennsylvania by an 18-point margin in 2006 will find he is taken a lot more seriously now. Ultimately, he’ll become a big figure in the Christian conservative movement and maybe get a much more lucrative Fox News contract. He almost certainly can’t beat Romney because he is far to the right of the party and hasn’t yet been exposed to negative attacks – which are surely coming his way.”

Ridiculous Prediction

Newsmax reported on January 4:

“The Iowa caucuses failed to produce a clear Republican winner, but former candidate Pat Robertson says God has shown him who will win the next election – and it won’t be President Barack Obama. The 81-year-old evangelist won’t say who the Almighty is picking for the White House, claiming on his 700 Club, ‘I’m not supposed to talk about that so I’ll leave you in the dark.’

“Robertson, who finished second in the 1988 Iowa caucuses, made it clear on Tuesday’s show that Obama is not popular in heaven. ‘Your country will be torn apart by internal stress,’ Robertson said God told him. ‘A house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country, which is at odds with the majority. Expect chaos and paralysis. … It’s a radical view of the future of this country, and so that’s why we’re having this division. This is a spiritual battle which can only be won by overwhelming prayer. The future of the world is at stake because, if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world. There must be an urgent call to prayer.’”

God has revealed to Mr. Robertson who the next President will be, but he can’t talk about it? Oh please…

Military Action Against Syria?

The Washington Times wrote on January 2:

“A Syrian opposition leader says most of his colleagues now support international military action to oust President Bashar Assad ‘but they might not be brave enough to express it openly.’ Samir Nashar, a member of the Syrian National Council’s executive board, said the ‘majority of SNC leaders agree with international military intervention as early as possible,’ although no consensus has been reached…

“The Assad regime’s deadly crackdown on dissent has continued despite last week’s arrival of Arab League monitors who are observing Syria’s implementation of a peace plan. The U.N. estimates that more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed since March… Mr. Nashar noted why U.S. officials might be ‘very hesitant to pursue this particular policy,’ citing the recent U.S. military exit from Iraq and upcoming elections…”

The Bible says that ultimately, Syria will be defeated in a war, and its capitol, Damascus, will be destroyed. See our Q&A on Syria.

“Iran Is Playing with Fire”

Der Spiegel wrote on January 2:

“Tensions between Iran and the West escalated again on Monday as Tehran announced it had test-fired two long-range missiles in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz… Monday’s maneuvers came after the country announced the launch of a medium range missile the day before… Both the US and Israel have not ruled out a military response in the conflict over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and US forces based in Bahrain have said they will not allow a closure of the important Strait of Hormuz — through which 40 percent of the world’s crude oil is transported.

“Iranian officials have made conflicting statements about possibly blocking the passage if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports, which are vital to the country’s economy. Despite threats to the contrary from Iranian officials last week, on Monday military officials insisted there were no plans to close the waterway…

“On Sunday, Iranian state television announced a breakthrough in their nuclear progress, reporting the country had produced uranium fuel rods for power plant use for the first time…

“Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The United States and Iran are playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse… The US sanctions are the toughest yet to be levied against Tehran in the battle over Iran’s nuclear program. And they are risky… But alternatives would be far more uncomfortable: Iran with nuclear weapons or an Israeli military strike.’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… When Washington votes in favor of tougher sanctions against Iran, even as President Barack Obama adds that he is not in agreement, their allies should take notice… it’s important that such invasive measures be approved on an international level. They should not be the result of domestic policy maneuvering.’

“Conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘Ten years ago former US President George W. Bush coined the phrase “axis of evil” when he gave his State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, 2002, describing Iraq, Iran and North Korea as regimes who aimed to threaten the West with terror and weapons of mass destruction. In Europe, no one wanted to accept this culturally antiquated moral-religious speech, also finding the term “axis” confusing, as it implied these nations were forming an alliance. … Today, Iran, Syria and North Korea do advise and support each other about rockets and even nuclear questions. Bush was right in his diagnosis. Dictators remain dictators, evil and hostile…’

“The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Iran is playing with fire. With even the tiniest wrong move, the Middle East could be left in flames…’”

We know that in the future, the powder keg of the Middle East will explode. It is therefore important to watch developments in that region of the world, which will ultimately affect all of us.

Ten Years of the Euro… and No Euro Crisis!

Deutsche Welle reported on January 1, 2012:

“Exactly 10 years ago, the euro was introduced as a common currency in 12 European countries… The euro notes and coins were formally launched as a currency in the eurozone on January 1, 2002… On its first trading day on January 4, 1999 after being introduced in 11 countries as a deposit currency, the euro traded at 1.18 US dollars.

“… there is no euro crisis. Although many countries in the eurozone have massive debt problems, the euro has proven itself as a currency. It has saved companies billions in transaction costs. It has resulted in booming exports for the German industry and given peripheral countries low interest rates for many years. It is the world’s second most important reserve currency after the US dollar. And despite all the turbulence, it has remained stable against the dollar…

“In the 10 years of the euro, inflation in the eurozone has been lower than it was when the deutschmark was the official currency… Economists largely agree that the euro is also not the cause of the financial problems in several eurozone countries. ‘The problems of the southern European countries, especially Greece and Portugal, are homemade,’ writes the Cologne Institute for Economic Research…’”

The euro is strong and will survive. It is the U.S. dollar which we should be concerned about. However, this does not mean that Europe is not facing tough challenges. See the next article.

Europe’s Challenges and Opportunities

The EUobserver wrote on January 2, 2012:

“EU leaders have said in their festive messages the single currency is still at risk unless they take decisive action.

“For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that the danger coincides with the 10th birthday of the now-familiar red, blue and brown banknotes with their little motifs of EU maps and Romanesque or Gothic windows. ‘We must never forget that the peaceful unification of our continent is a historic gift. It has given us over half a century of peace, freedom, justice, human rights and democracy … You can rest assured that I will do everything I can to strengthen the euro. But this will only succeed if Europe draws lessons from past mistakes. One is that a common currency can only be truly successful if we work together more than ever in Europe.’ Her lesson on ‘working together’ comes ahead of intergovernmental negotiations on a new treaty that will transform the Union into an economic federation with one central authority deciding how member states spend their money….

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy used more alarming language. ‘This extraordinary crisis, without doubt the most serious one since World War II, this crisis is not over … To get out of it, to construct a new model of growth, to give birth to a new Europe – these are just some of the challenges which await us,’ he said.

“The theme was repeated all around the continent… Leaders warned there will be more spending cuts, more taxes, less welfare and a growing threat to liberal values… Merkel also devoted a large part of her speech to condemning a neo-Nazi fraternity exposed in December for having murdered nine people of Turkish and Greek origin in recent years… The New Year’s messages voiced optimism the euro will pull through. But the villains of the crisis – bankers and profligate former leaders – got bloody noses despite the festive season…”

“Disasters Made 2011 Most Expensive Year Ever”

The Local reported on January 5:

“According to a report published Wednesday by the Munich-based insurance company Munich Re, the world faced total losses of $380 billion, over $150 billion more than 2005, the previous record year.  But 2011 was not merely a year of financial losses, as over 27,000 lives were claimed by natural catastrophes.

“The figures reveal that two-thirds of the final figure stem from earthquakes early in the year in Japan and New Zealand… Over 16,000 people were killed in what was believed to be the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history, causing waves of up to 40 metres to sweep across huge areas. The quake measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and caused total losses of around $210 billion, mainly caused by the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant…

“Earlier in the year, a string of powerful earthquakes hit Christchurch, New Zealand… One earthquake alone, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, caused $16 billion worth of damage…

“Aside from the geophysical events of 2011, heavy rainfall caused the worst flooding for 50 years in Thailand. Over 800 people were killed and the losses amounted to tens of billions of dollars, as well as reducing the world’s supply of computer hard drive components by 25 percent.

“In the USA, storms amassed billions of dollars worth of damage, with tornadoes alone racking up $46 billion in losses. Tropical cyclones, the number of which was far above the US average, were less damaging, as few hit the American mainland.  One that did, however, was Tropical Storm Irene, which caused $16 billion in damages…”

Jesus Christ warned us that in these end times, these terrible devastations would increase…

More Birds Die…

Mail On Line wrote on January 1:

“Ancient Mayan legend says that 2012 will bring the end of the world. A small Arkansas town might have shown the first example of that as approximately 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead from the sky last night in the early hours of the new year. As if the incident was not strange enough, it is the second time in two years that the birds have fallen as the calendar year changes…

“Given the amount of birds and the condensed time and location of their deaths, there has to be some commonality behind the bizarre event, but scientists remain baffled. The fact that the birds were even flying in the middle of the night makes no sense because that is not something that they are trained to do…

“Initially, last year’s deaths were blamed on celebratory fireworks, with people thinking that the birds were startled to death. A flash hail storm or massive lightning strikes were all discussed as possibilities as well. All three theories have been debunked, however, as the weather was calm in Arkansas last night and police even imposed an impromptu firework ban in an effort to prevent it from happening again.”

Even though the world will not come to an end in 2012, the Bible warns that in these end times, many birds and fish will be destroyed. Compare Hosea 4:3.

Devastating Volcanic Eruption in Germany?

Mail On Line reported on January 2:

“A sleeping super-volcano in Germany is showing worrying signs of waking up. It’s lurking just 390 miles away underneath the tranquil Laacher See… near Bonn and is capable of ejecting billions of tons of magma… several small earthquakes in the region last year indicate that it could be awakening from its deep sleep…

“Experts believe that if it did go off, it could lead to widespread devastation, mass evacuations and even short-term global cooling from the resulting ash cloud blocking the sun. The effect on the UK is hard to predict but it’s possible that large parts of southern England could be covered [with] ash.

“It’s thought that the volcano is similar in size and power to Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which blew in 1991 and became the biggest eruption of the 20th century. It ejected 10 billion tons of magma, 20 billion tons of sulphur dioxide, 16 cubic kilometres of ash and caused a 0.5C drop in global temperatures.

“Volcanologists believe that the Laacher See volcano is still active as carbon dioxide is bubbling up to the lake’s surface, which indicates that the magma chamber below is ‘degassing’.”

This is interesting in light of the fact that in the future, Germany will become “full of darkness” for a while. Compare Revelation 16:10. See also our recent Q&A on the “Day of the Lord.”

German President in Big Trouble

Deutsche Welle wrote on January 2:

“German President Christian Wulff personally called the editor-in-chief of [the German mass tabloid] Bild last month and threatened legal action if it published a story on a private home loan he received at cheap interest rates.

“Bild confirmed media reports on Monday that the head of state had left a message on its chief editor Kai Diekmann’s voicemail, in which he threatened the paper with legal action and expressed outrage about its plans to publish details of a private home loan that has prompted widespread criticism… When he was still the state premier of Lower Saxony, Wulff borrowed the money from the wife of a business friend, Egon Geerkens, which he later exchanged for the low-interest bank loan.

“The state prosecutor’s office in Hanover has received about 20 criminal complaints from private citizens concerning the loan affair, but has said it was not going to pursue the case further because there was no evidence that a criminal offense was committed.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 3:

“Die Welt reported that Wulff had also intervened to try and stop [Bild’s] sister paper Welt am Sonntag, from publishing an article last summer. He summoned one of the authors to Bellevue Palace, his official office, and threatened him with ‘unpleasant and public consequences’ if the article was published, Die Welt wrote. The newspaper did not indicate what the contents of the article had been, but said it went ahead and published it…

“In the last two days, the silence of his allies has been deafening. Leading members have refrained from making any public comment about the reports that he effectively tried to censor negative media coverage about him. Support also seems to be dwindling among CDU members in his home region of Lower Saxony, as well… A member of the national parliament for the pro-business liberal Free Democratic Party, the junior collation partner in Merkel’s coalition, attacked Wulff directly on Tuesday…

“If Wulff does resign, it would be a blow to Merkel and to the office of the German head of state, a largely ceremonial post that nevertheless plays a distinct role in German public life, largely through speeches, but also by signing legislation. Merkel proposed Wulff as president and would have to nominate a successor capable of winning support in the Federal Assembly, the special body convened to elect German presidents. It’s the last thing she needs at the start of [a] difficult year…

“Wulff’s predecessor, Horst Köhler, who was also nominated by Merkel, resigned in May 2010 in disgust at the public criticism of remarks he had made about the purpose of German military missions abroad. On Tuesday, German newspapers, even conservative ones, poured scorn on Wulff, further weakening his position by implying strongly that he isn’t up to the job…

“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘A president who expresses his commitment to press freedom only to trample on it at the decisive moment seems out of place in an open society…’

“The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes that Wulff’s behavior ‘is that of a head of state who has taken leave of his senses. How else can one imagine a president on his way to meet the Emir of Kuwait talking at length with the editor in chief of a tabloid newspaper on his mailbox about “waging war” and threatening legal action and a “final break with the Springer publishing house” if an undesired article about him, Wulff, is published?…’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘…A man who talks about press freedom while not respecting it is the wrong president.’

“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘If Wulff had any remnants of credibility left, he completely destroyed them with these phone calls. The naiveté of the president is not the only surprising aspect. To assume that a newspaper as adept at street-fighting as Bild would really be deterred from printing an article is crazy. It is just as striking how this president ignored the dignity of his office. Wulff behaved like a provincial mayor who thinks he can tell the local newspaper to write what he wants. As president he constitutes an organ of state, he must protect and defend press freedom…’”

Der Spiegel added on January 5:

“The pressure on German President Christian Wulff to resign has been mounting in recent days. But in a highly anticipated television appearance on Wednesday evening, the head of state made it clear that he had no intention of stepping down.

“During a joint interview with the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, Wulff admitted that his Dec. 12 phone call to Bild editor in chief Kai Diekmann, where Wulff apparently tried to stop the powerful tabloid from printing a damaging article about his private loan arrangements, had been a ‘serious mistake that I regret and for which I apologize.’ He added, however, that he had not tried to prevent the story from being published, but had only wanted the newspaper to ‘wait’ before publishing the story.

“Bild reacted to the interview by directly contradicting Wulff’s version of events. Referring to Wulff’s claim that he had not tried to stop the loan story from being published, Nikolaus Blome, the newspaper’s deputy editor in chief, said that ‘we had a very different impression at the time.’ The voicemail message ‘clearly had the objective of stopping this piece from being published,’ Blome told Deutschlandfunk radio…

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… Wulff cannot be allowed to get away with that… This is unworthy of a German president… The president has not regained the moral authority that would enable him to perform his duties.’”

If or when Christian Wulff resigns, it will be interesting to see who the next German President will be.

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on YouTube and on our Website www.standingwatch.org. It is titled, “Will Iran Be Attacked?”  Will Iran close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf? Or is Iran just making empty threats? Would the USA try to prevent Iran from doing so? Will Israel attack Iran, with or without American support? What will Europe and Russia do? You may be surprised to hear that you can find solid answers in your Bible.

A third radio program has been recorded, titled, “The Great Tribulation.” It will be broadcast, beginning Sunday, January 15, 2012. Our radio broadcasts are being posted on our Website, www.standingwatch.org.

A new German sermon was posted on YouTube, titled, “Das Siebte Siegel” (“The Seventh Seal.”).

The German translation of our booklet, “Baptism-A Requirement for Salvation?” was sent to our graphic designer, Shelly Bruno.

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by John Amorelli
When I was a kid, I wanted a lot of “things.” I’m referring to toys–action figures such as “GI JOE,” video games and a myriad other “gadgets.” You could say, I was a spoiled child! I would occupy myself with these “things,” but after a period of time, I would exhaust my interest in them, and they would end up in the “big toy chest,” never to be played with again. Now, as an adult, I periodically have the desire to obtain material things, and when I don’t “get” them, I feel frustrated.
I have been in the Truth for six years now. I am learning each day about God’s way of life; the way of give instead of the way of get, and I do sometimes struggle with this. God has called me to His Truth and His understanding; these are “spiritual” things that cannot be replaced. They are priceless and can lead to eternal life, if I continue living in His path!
The questions I have to ask myself are:
1. “Will I throw the spiritual ‘things’ that God gave me in the spiritual toy chest and let them be forgotten?”
2. “Will I invest more of my time in the spiritual gifts that have been given to me by the Eternal, or will I tip the scale more towards the perishable, material things of this world?”
The answer to these questions is: Only I can answer this.

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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

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

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