|The End of Europe, Part 2
|Planning and Preparation
|This Week in the News
|Does the Bible encourage us to pray for the Work of God and His Ministers?
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The End of Europe, Part 2
On June 23, 2012, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The End of Europe, Part 2.”
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.
Planning and Preparation
by Eric Rank
My family and I are in the final days of preparation for a two-week summer vacation. As I reflect upon the planning we have completed, I’m stunned at how much time and effort it can take to get everything in order. The list of preparations we have made include setting our travel routes, tuning up the van, researching activities to enjoy along the way, cleaning and folding the laundry, packing, making arrangements to have our home and dog taken care of, and much, much more. With as much planning as we have done already, it seems that there is still an endless amount of things that we could do to prepare even better. Even though there may be things left unplanned, with each step of organization we become more confident that we will have a fun, fulfilling, and successful trip. I consider the work spent planning our vacation to be an extremely valuable investment, which we will enjoy the return on over the next two weeks.
I did not always advocate such rigorous planning, however. I used to be very skeptical about the value of planning. Perhaps the cause of my skepticism was my youthful idealism, giving impulse and spontaneity greater priority. Perhaps it was the stories I’d heard about elaborate plans failing miserably. Perhaps it was the belief that planned time was not free. Perhaps I felt that planning my time reduced my ability to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Whatever the cause was, I frequently resisted careful planning and gave way to caprice instead, believing that I would live a more rich life by leaving my options open, not bound by plans.
Eventually, I learned that it is easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable to be more deliberate with the use of my time. Living without plans for the sake of leaving options available is analogous to a sail boat refusing to raise a sail at sea for fear of having to choose a direction. While any direction is possible, no destination will be reached without some commitment. Reaching any destination or goal requires setting a direction and taking the incremental steps to arrive there. Doing this successfully requires thought, research, planning, and activity. Through experience, I have learned that investing effort into these planning activities pays off.
The fact that God is a planner establishes the importance of planning. He has made His goal very clear in that He will establish a Kingdom and a Family on Earth. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:7, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,” which reminds us that God’s plan has been in effect for a very long time. The plan of salvation that God has in effect right now is very intricate as well. You and I have a very specific purpose in this plan of God, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9). There is no greater example of rigorous preparation than that of God’s great plan to establish His Kingdom on the Earth. It is clear that God does not have a corner left unprepared and open to risk of failure. This should encourage us to live by this example, and prepare ourselves well for the fulfillment of this same plan. The effort spent on thought, learning, improving, and putting God’s ways of life into practice will pay off if we are in alignment with this plan.
While planning and preparation are indispensable to the life of a Christian, it is important to note that there are things that simply cannot be planned. Since we know that Jesus Christ will return at an hour that we do not expect (Luke 12:40), there is a limit to how precisely we can plan for the return of Jesus Christ. It is important to know that all plans have limitations. We can expect that unexpected events will occur, throwing careful plans into a tail-spin if they are too rigid. However, when we prepare spiritually, we will have an easier time making adjustments to set our course in the right direction.
Consider the difference between two different approaches implied when Jesus Christ describes the time of the tribulation, written in Matthew 24:17-18. “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.” It is clear that a careful plan for survival will fail without a righteous goal. Our plans and preparations must be spiritually driven, so that moments requiring a correct response will be executed correctly. It is the way in which we plan to act that is important, much more than the precise execution of a specific step in our plan, at a specific point in time. It is therefore vital, not only that we prepare and make plans for the coming Kingdom of God, but that we do so correctly; with a clear understanding of God’s perfect will, only available through the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12).
We begin with the ongoing controversy over the Obama Administration’s unilateral political move to change Immigration Law—thereby circumventing Congress and reversing its prior position that such a move would be illegal. At the same time, Obama’s challengers shrink away from stating a clear position on their own; and we stress the fact that America’s current Immigration Law (and the execution of the same) is terribly inhumane and in desperate need of revision.
We report on the ongoing investigation of the “Fast and Furious” Scandal and its explosive developments.
We continue showing that America’s big brother is watching his citizens via drones, which are capable of armed attacks; and that Britain’s prestigious economic institutions are swallowed up by foreign powers, including China, while Britain is facing another recession in the light of “devastating” data.
Focusing on the Greek elections, it has become clear that the institution of the euro has been saved, but it is far from certain whether this will help Greece. And while the world envies and hates German prosperity, they are turning to Germany for help, as the only country which is perceived to be able to “fix” and save the European economy.
The terrible situation in Syria continues, with just about every major and not-so-major power getting involved there militarily, through proxies, and Russia’s announcement that they are willing to send warships to Syria should wake everybody up.
The Arab Spring was destined to failure from the start, and the situation in Egypt has become one of utter disgrace, prompting Israel to go on high alert. At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince died, creating even more uncertainties and challenges in the Middle East.
We conclude with revealing excerpts from a lengthy German article about Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican and the Curia, showing the intrigue and corruption within the Catholic Church and a pope who seems to be powerless and in a state of deep sadness, if not depression, while influential forces are preparing for his successor.
This Week in the News
Our Immigration Law System in Desperate Need of Correction
The Salt Lake Tribune reported on June 6:
“Three sisters who tearfully begged for a chance to go before a judge to avoid deportation within days were granted something beyond what they imagined. A yearlong stay in Utah, courtesy of the federal government… The sisters’ case rose to prominence Monday when the sisters told their story publicly in front of LDS Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The three, all Mormon, said they were hoping for a miracle to stave off the final order of deportation set for June 15… Their story in the United States began in 1993, when they arrived in Utah on tourist visas as 13-, 10- and 8-year-old girls. But they overstayed their visas. Silvia Avelar [one of the sisters] said her parents were duped by an unscrupulous lawyer who never filed the proper paperwork.
“… after the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act was signed in 1996…, adjusting legal status became difficult. The sisters said they didn’t know much about the problematic paperwork because they were children then. So they just continued to live in Utah, eventually graduating from high school, getting married and starting families.”
To even imagine that they should be deported, under those circumstances, defies any human sense of justice. It is high time that our ridiculous immigration law system is being revived. At least, the government did the right thing in this case to use their discretion to defer the deportation order. But in far too many cases, no such merciful action is forthcoming.
However, we did not anticipate, nor do we support, measures by the Obama Administration which appear to be unconstitutional, ignoring or setting aside our Immigration system. Rather, corrections need to be made through legal channels and within the legal boundaries. It is sad, however, that both the Democrats and the Republicans have been unwilling, so far, to tackle the issue in order to bring about long-term solutions.
While the measures which are being introduced now by the Obama Administration seem to be motivated politically, and while the mainstream liberal press is anxious to put their spin on the developments, conservative news reports attack the new measures, without being willing or capable of offering real solutions. And leading Republicans seem to be afraid of addressing the issue substantially, for fear that they may lose needed votes in the process.
Please note the following selection of articles.
Obama’s Immigration Proposals Bypass Congress
The Associated Press reported on June 15:
“The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate…
“The policy change… bypasses Congress…
“Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed… The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods…
“The extraordinary move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida… Romney opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college but has said he would do so for those who serve in the armed forces.”
We wonder whether Mitt Romney will stick to his rather arbitrary position.
Obama and Napolitano Declared a Year Ago: “We Don’t Have the Authority!”
The Washington Times wrote on June 15:
“For years the [Obama] administration had said it didn’t have the authority to make such a move, saying it couldn’t decide to stop deporting wide categories of people on its own without approval from Congress. But on Friday President Obama says administration now interprets the law to give it the discretion… The decision is an effort to go around Congress, which has repeatedly failed to pass a bill granting legal status to this category of illegal immigrants…
“‘The fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the Dream Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true,’ Mr. Obama said last year.
“And Ms. Napolitano last year specifically rejected the kind of categorical move she made on Friday, telling senators she only had the authority to examine cases individually.”
We wonder what “outstanding legal expert” convinced President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that they now have the authority to engage in such conduct, and what “apparent incompetent legal consultant” had advised them differently just about a year ago.
Political Reactions of Approval, Condemnation and Silence to a Political Move
The Washington Post wrote on June 16:
“Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on Saturday became the latest national Republican to criticize President Obama’s order stopping deportations of some young people who were brought to the country illegally as children, although he — like Mitt Romney and others— declined to go into detail on the substance of Obama’s move. ‘For the president of the United States to say, “I’m going to unilaterally change the enforcement of the law,” is something that if a Republican would do, they’d be crying for impeachment,’ [he said]…
“Santorum’s comment echoed the criticism from other Republicans that in bypassing Congress on the deportation issue, Obama overstepped his authority. Most Republicans thus far have declined to wade into the substance of the immigration issue, however, caught between potentially alienating Hispanic voters through opposing Obama’s move on the one hand and alienating the GOP base by embracing a proposal some have cast as ‘amnesty’ on the other.”
USA Today reported on June 17:
“Mitt Romney says President Obama’s immigration announcement Friday was the result of electoral politics, not an effort to improve the nation’s immigration policies. ‘If (Obama) really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months,’ Romney said… But… the Republican presidential candidate declined to say he would overturn Obama’s order…”
We wonder why…
Fox News wrote on June 15:
“President Obama thwarted the will of Congress and shunned the 20 million under- and unemployed Americans by announcing he will grant work permits to 2 million to 3 million illegal workers. This unconstitutional fiat ignores the rule of law and bypasses Congress, which on three occasions rejected DREAM Act amnesties in part to protect unemployed workers born here or who came here legally.
“The Constitution gives immigration policy powers to Congress alone. The president has no authority to give a de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens… Republican leadership in Congress up until now has stood by, terrified to tackle immigration priorities…”
So, the blame for the most recent disastrous development must be placed squarely on the shoulders of our entire political “establishment.”
Steve King: “I Will Sue the Obama Administration”
Newsmax reported on June 15:
“Iowa Rep. Steve King said on Friday that he would sue the Obama administration to block its newly announced plan to grant amnesty to certain children of illegal immigrants… The Republican congressman, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement [said] that he had prevailed in a lawsuit against his own state on a similar separation of powers issue. ‘I have done it once in the past successfully when then-Governor Tom Vilsack thought he could legislate by executive order — and the case of King vs. Vilsack is in the books,’ King said. ‘And that individual, by the way, is now the secretary of agriculture. I wonder if he’s not counseling the president on his legal proceedings.’”
Suing the Obama Administration is one thing. But what constructive concepts is Steve King bringing forward to end the inhumane mess of our present Immigration system?
Sheriff Joe Arpaio: “I Will Still Enforce the Immigration Law”
Newsmax reported on June 16:
“The long feud between ‘America’s toughest sheriff’ and the nation’s president just got longer. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Friday’s move by President Barack Obama to give amnesty to children of illegal immigrants is politically motivated and will encourage more Mexicans to cross the border but that he will still enforce all immigration laws in his state of Arizona…
“Last December, the Justice Department released a scathing report accusing Arpaio and his office of committing a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos…
“Arpaio has been a vocal advocate of investigating Obama’s place of birth. The president has produced a birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii, but rumors that he was in fact born in Kenya — and thus ineligible to be president — have persisted. The sheriff drew national headlines when he announced in March that a six-month probe by investigators had found that ‘probable cause exists indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed’ in the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate…
“The hardliner against illegal immigration became sheriff of Maricopa County — Arizona’s largest, which centers on Phoenix — in 1993. He has been re-elected five times and is up before voters again in November…”
We wonder how this battle will be fought. Will law-enforcing officers and personnel continue to arrest illegal aliens—or those who are found without proper documentation—and will then the government refuse to deport them? The tragic consequence would be that they are going to be held for an extended period of time in “isolation”—perhaps in little cells like those reserved for convicted criminals on death row. Such atrocities are well-known in the Immigration environment—and Immigration judges are powerless and “without jurisdiction” to direct the INS how to treat their “prisoners.”
And so, the battle of words will continue, and sadly, when the political “pressure” is over after the election in November, not much should be expected in terms of real rectification of a grievous wrong in the United States, pertaining to its immigration policies and administration. After all, these wrongs have been largely ignored, while they have been going on for a VERY long time.
“Fast and Furious” Gets More Furious
Newsmax wrote on June 20:
“Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley charged in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s decision to invoke executive privilege in the bungled ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ gun-running scheme could indicate that the president is involved. [As will be recalled, the US government sold guns to Mexican gangs, thieves, robbers and murderers, leading to the death of one US border patrol officer.]
“‘I wonder why. Is it because the president does have something to do with it? And I don’t have any evidence of that, but it would be the first time that I had any suspicion,’ asserted Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, just hours before a House committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Justice Department documents related to Fast and Furious. ‘Well the only thing I can say is, it raised questions in my mind that maybe they knew more about Fast and Furious than they ever wanted us to know and that the documents that we requested might prove that,’ declared Grassley. ‘It would be very harmful to the president, and in an election year they want to cover up until after the election.’…
“Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time since being sworn in as president to withhold documents from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which subsequently proceeded with the contempt vote along party lines later in the day. The president’s decision to invoke executive privilege came as a shock to Grassley and House Republicans. Presidents have invoked the privilege for years — it’s actually rooted in arguments made by George Washington himself — but the U.S. Supreme Court first acknowledged a constitutional basis for the practice in its 1974 United States v. Nixon decision. Still, courts have never given presidents absolute authority to defy congressional subpoenas…
“The contempt citation must still be approved by the full House, and could technically result in a federal case against Holder. Grassley does not think that such an outcome is likely, nor does he think Congress would be able to compel prosecution of Holder…
“The president could also be trying to protect Holder, he said. Grassley and his staff have been conducting an investigation of the Fast and Furious operation that put weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels apart from the investigation being conducted by California Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The congressional investigation stemmed from Grassley’s inquiry into whistle-blower allegations that the government had allowed the transfer of illegally purchased weapons found at the scene of the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry. The Department of Justice denied the allegations for 10 months before withdrawing its denial, according to Grassley…”
The Hill added on June 20:
“If the measure against Holder passes the House, it will be sent to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who will convene a grand jury that would decide whether to indict Holder. The U.S. Attorney’s office would be the designated prosecutor for the committee if Holder were to be indicted. The attorney general would face a maximum sentence of one year in prison if convicted by a jury.”
The Washington Post clarified on June 20:
“The panel’s actions will be reported to the full House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP leaders have scheduled a floor vote for next week unless Holder hands over the documents before then. If passed by the House, the matter would then move to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., who is an employee of the Justice Department.”
“64 Drone Bases Now Located Throughout United States”
The Inquisitor wrote on June 17:
“If you think big brother is watching you there’s a chance you’re right. Public Intelligence, a non-profit that advocates for free access to information recently released a map of military UAV activities in the United States. The map which was assembled through various military reports, including a June 2011 Air Force presentation shows 64 US drone bases on American Soil, including 12 Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles which are capable of armed attacks…
“The American Civil Liberties Union released a report in December 2011 in which they voiced concern over military drones flying over American skies while potentially spying on US citizens. According to the civil rights group ‘The drones’ presence in our skies threatens to eradicate existing practical limits on aerial monitoring and allow for pervasive surveillance, police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools in a way that could eventually eliminate the privacy Americans have traditionally enjoyed in their movements and activities.’
“Military Drones are forbidden from flying American skies outside of test areas, however that doesn’t mean they won’t ‘accidentally’ record activities. So far the biggest concern appears to be actual human harm after one drone crash landed in Maryland, a crash that raised further questions about military run drone centers in the United States.”
When will America wake up and recognize what is going on? How many intrusive governmental actions which might very well be illegal and unconstitutional are we to experience? In Nazi Germany, far too many jumped on the bandwagon, as it seemed to be the expedient thing to do at the time, until the irreparable damage was done.
Great Britain in Financial Danger
The Wall Street Journal reported on June 15:
“Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, which operates the city’s stock exchange, agreed to acquire the London Metal Exchange for £1.39 billion (US$2.16 billion). The offer will be financed with cash and £1.1 billion in bank loans. LME is the world’s largest exchange trading nonferrous metals, including copper and aluminum.”
The Bible states that ultimately, foreigners and aliens will rule over the nations of Great Britain and America—including and especially in monetary matters.
Reuters reported on June 15:
“The country slid back into recession around the turn of this year, and more pain looms as a relentless debt crisis in the euro zone – the main market for Britain’s exports – hits trade and makes companies reluctant to invest and hire… ‘In broad terms, the numbers look disastrous,’ said David Tinsley, economist at BNP Paribas… The goods trade deficit with non-EU countries widened to 5.2 billion pounds in April from 4.2 billion pounds in March and against forecasts for a gap of 4.2 billion pounds… There was also a record gap in goods trade with the European Union, which absorbs the lion’s share of Britain’s goods exports. Goods export volumes to the bloc dropped 6.5 percent, outweighing a 2.3 percent fall in imports from the EU.”
The economy of Great Britain looks VERY grim. Will it experience a temporary recovery, or will it continue to decline—as is the case in the United States, which seems to have reached the point of no return.
Greek Election Results… “We Will Keep the Euro”
The Associated Press wrote on June 17:
“The New Democracy party came in first in Greece’s election Sunday and immediately proposed forming a pro-euro coalition government — a development that eased, at least briefly, deep fears that the vote would unleash an economic tsunami. Sunday’s vote was seen as crucial for Europe and the world, since it could determine whether Greece was forced to leave the joint euro currency, a move that could have potentially catastrophic consequences for other ailing European nations and the global economy.
“As central banks stood ready to intervene in case of financial turmoil, Greece held its second national election in six weeks after an inconclusive ballot on May 6…
“Although… no party will win enough seats in the 300-member parliament to form a government on its own, Greece’s two traditional parties — New Democracy and PASOK — will have enough seats to form a coalition together. ‘The Greek people today voted for Greece to remain on its European path and in the eurozone,’ New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said, adding that voters chose ‘policies that will bring jobs, growth, justice and security.’”
As the next articles show, the Greek elections did not substantially change the precarious situation which Greece finds itself in. It will remain to be seen whether the new shaky government of Greece will make the country more stable. It was sworn in on Thursday, with election winner and head of the conservative New Democracy party Antonis Samaras becoming the new prime minister. At the same time, it is clear that the euro is very important for Europe, and that it will not fail.
“Greek Elections Results Did Not Change Much…”
BBC News wrote on June 17:
“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: ‘The election result does not change the fact that Greece still has 327bn euros of debt.’ …
“Berliner Zeitung: ‘The Greek election winner, Antonis Samaras, has nothing to celebrate… Under immense pressure of time, he has to form a government that faces impossible challenges… The sad truth is that the Greeks, who only yesterday rebelled against the cuts imposed by Europe in a desperate show of pride, are today waking up as beggars.’…
“The Guardian: ‘It is unclear what has changed – there’s no majority, no platform for stable government, still less any prospect of early recovery…’
“El Pais: ‘The main loser in the Greek election is the club of the enemies of the euro… If during this cruel crisis… the single currency displays only brutal architectural problems, but is alive, this means that it is much stronger than expected.’
“La Vanguardia: ‘Samaras’s victory clarifies the future of Greece and hence that of the euro and Europe…’”
Hated Germany to the Rescue
Die Welt wrote on June 15:
“Even before the Greek election, it was clear that the situation would remain precarious, regardless of the winner… Europe is no longer what it was. The days of the postwar order are gone… Germany is stable and strong, and for that reason it is also hated by Greeks, the French, and probably soon by Spaniards and Italians too. It was also strong before the crisis, but it was quiet. (Germany was) humble and selfless, obeying the unwritten law of the postwar era: to atone for the crimes of the past.
“Chancellor Merkel insists on shared responsibility. She emphasizes that austerity and reforms are the way to solve Europe’s debt crisis. This clarity is even making many Germans uneasy. And yet these conclusions, which are actually banal, are being made within a political context that is increasingly volatile. Germany is showing strength, without trying to dominate, and yet it is punished by being despised. If Angela Merkel were to change course, if she were to buckle to criticism, then it would really not be good for Europe or for Germany.
“The fact that Germany was long the EU’s paymaster does not mean that it can just subsidize other countries indefinitely. Especially not those countries which unabashedly insist on their right to these funds as if they were perpetual reparation payments (for the Nazi occupation during World War II).”
G-20 Summit in Mexico—The “World Turns to Unwilling Germany to Save the Euro”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 18:
“The euro is in trouble and only Germany can fix it. That appears to be the consensus as Chancellor Merkel attends this week’s G-20 summit in Mexico… the German chancellor will face a united front against her. Since the euro crisis has escalated, the chancellor has been more isolated than ever before. Everyone, from US President Barack Obama to French President François Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, together with an army of international economists, financial experts and journalists, is demanding that the Germans take on a greater financial burden…
“…a senior euro-zone diplomat in Brussels warns: ‘If Germany doesn’t make a move, Europe is dead’… abandoning the euro is… not an alternative. The costs would be too high, not least for Germany… It would be a disaster for German banks… No wonder, then, that top German business leaders are alarmed, including the Federation of German Industries (BDI). ‘Germany is the most important economy in the euro zone and the EU, which also makes it the most critical to the system,’ states an internal presentation for the BDI steering committee.
“According to the document, German companies have accumulated substantial assets abroad in recent years, including shares in companies, receivables and government bonds. These assets would be at stake if the monetary union broke apart…‘In relative terms, Germany and its industry would suffer the greatest losses should the euro zone fail.’…
“If the euro is to be saved, Europe’s politicians must quickly agree on a major effort… the formation of a true political union for Europe…”
And so, despised and hated Germany will save the euro, and it will, in the process, emerge as the most powerful and unquestioned leader of a political unification of the Eurozone.
Merkel Prevails at G-20 Summit
Deutsche Welle reported on June 20:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel can mark the G20 summit as a success. She withstood the criticism coming from the United States and emerging economies. She seemed little impressed and refused to move away from her stance or agree to grant more concessions to Greece. On the contrary, in Los Cabos she left no doubt that she expected Greece to fulfill its obligations as soon as possible. This is not necessarily a step closer towards finding a solution to the eurozone crisis, but at least the EU has shown a united front. The Greek election results confirming the country’s pro-EU course certainly have had their share in that too…
“US President Barack Obama, the strongest non-European critic of Merkel’s iron austerity policy, has even said he sees a new mindset across Europe and has expressed his understanding of Brussels’ approach to tackle the crisis… The cool, stoic Merkel and the emotional Jose Manuel Barroso, who denied any attempt for others to tell the EU what to do, and the rather pale Herman van Rompuy as the man in the middle between those two extremes: Their different roles within the EU have also worked well in Los Cabos.”
In addition, Germany’s government and opposition clinched an accord Thursday, June 21, 2012, to ratify the new EU fiscal pact, according to The Local. However, note the next article as well.
President Gauck No Team-Player
Deutsche Welle reported on June 21:
“Politicians in Berlin celebrated a breakthrough on European economic policies and the fiscal pact on Thursday, only for the Constitutional Court and then President Joachim Gauck to throw a spanner in the works. [He] announced on Thursday that he would not ratify the EU’s second-generation rescue fund… until legal challenges to the fund had been cleared. The German Constitutional Court had asked earlier in the day that the president grant the Karlsruhe judges time to examine a probable legal challenge from the Left party.”
This is a highly unusual move by the Court and the President, to delay the President’s signature because of “probable” complaints from the Left which have not even been filed yet with the court. But it was known from the outset that Mr. Gauck would not be a team-player for the political establishment.
David Cameron—Bull in the China Shop?
Der Spiegel wrote the following on June 20, regarding David Cameron and the G-20 summit:
“How is one able to antagonize several countries within 48 hours? David Cameron accomplished this during the G-20 summit. The French government is angry, the Argentinian government is offended, and then the British Prime Minister even spoke about an old [controversial] soccer game against Germany… To think [first] never hurts…a possible lesson for Cameron’s next summit. Cameron departed; he can’t smash any more porcelain in Mexico.”
Handelsblatt wrote on June 20:
“It is rather hypocritical when the Americans and the British, whose own mountains of debt have reached a high point, try to lecture the Europeans. One number is sufficient to reveal what a bad tactic this is. At a time when the budget deficits of the US and Great Britain are about 8 percent, the euro-zone members have almost managed to bring their deficits as a whole down to 3 percent.”
Syria’s Proxy War
Reuters reported on June 13:
“With the United States accusing Russia of providing attack helicopters and ethnic violence spiraling out of control, Syria’s conflict is pulling world and regional powers into a mounting proxy confrontation.
“While Washington, Moscow and Beijing as well as European and Middle Eastern capitals have all endorsed Kofi Annan’s peace plan, analysts say it has become increasingly obvious that they have also been taking sides.
“Publicly critical of violence by all parties but broadly lining up behind embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad are not only Iran but also long-term ally Russia. At stake for Moscow could be its Tartus naval base and lucrative trade, including arms sales. While there are few signs of any direct involvement, China looks to be throwing its diplomatic weight behind Moscow, both keen to avoid a repeat of events in Libya.
“Washington maintains it is not providing direct military support to the opposition Free Syrian Army, but has pledged ‘non-lethal’ support. Some believe it may be helping facilitate arms deliveries from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others.
“There are also growing signs al Qaeda-linked militants may be entering the fray against Assad, worrying Western states.”
And so, everyone seems to have their “dirty fingers” in the pie—until the powder keg explodes. Please note the next article:
Russia Prepared to Send Black Sea Fleet to Syria
Itar-Tass (as linked by the Drudge Report) wrote on June 15:
“A number of warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are prepared to go to Syria, the Russian General Staff told Itar-Tass on Friday. The Mediterranean Sea is a zone of the Black Sea Fleet responsibility. Hence, warships may go there in the case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria,’ it said…
“Tartous is the only Russian naval base outside of the former Soviet territory – this is the logistics center serving Russian ships on missions in the Mediterranean Sea. The base opened in 1971 under an agreement with the Syrian government.”
Are Iran, Syria, China and Russia Planning War Games?
The Times of Israel wrote on June 19:
“Iran, Syria, Russia and China are planning the ‘biggest-ever wargames in the Middle East,’ according to an unconfirmed report on the semi-official Iranian news site Fars News. A Syrian official denied the claims. According to the article, the four countries are preparing 90,000 troops, 400 aircraft and 1,000 tanks for the massive joint maneuvers, which are to take place along the Syrian coast within a month.
“The report states that Russian ‘atomic submarines and warships, aircraft carriers and mine-clearing destroyers as well as Iranian battleships and submarines will also arrive in Syria’ and that Egypt has agreed to let 12 Chinese warships cross the Suez Canal for the exercises.”
Egypt—Major Standoff Between Army and Brotherhood
The Telegraph wrote on June 18:
“The Muslim Brotherhood claimed its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, had taken a marginal lead over Ahmed Shafiq, a former general close to the ruling military… But the significance of the vote was called into question by a major new declaration by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military authority which has ruled Egypt since the overthrow of ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February last year.
“After dissolving parliament, in the wake of a ruling last week by the constitutional court, SCAF announced it was taking back legislative and budgetary powers. It was also taking charge of rules for the drafting of a new constitution, which will give it the right to veto any proposal. In the case of dispute, a final decision will go to the same constitutional court responsible for the dissolution ruling. A new parliamentary election will only be held once a new constitution was in place, the declaration added.
“The Brotherhood, which had reluctantly accepted the dissolution of parliament and said it would continue to compete in the election, reacted angrily. Mohammed Saad el-Katatny, another Brotherhood leader and speaker of parliament, said he did not accept the declaration. He said the current constitutional committee, appointed by parliament before it was dissolved, would continue with its work, threatening the first major stand-off since the revolution between the Brotherhood and the army, Egypt’s two dominant political forces. The Brotherhood tweeted a statement saying the army’s constitutional declaration was ‘null and void’…
“The army’s sudden assertion of power may be a response to the success of the Brotherhood in the immediate wake of the revolution, when it won the parliamentary election, tried to seize control of the constitutional committee, and then took the lead in the first round of voting for the presidency.”
The “Arab Spring” was destined to failure from the very outset. As the next article shows, it has produced instability and violence in the region, as well as fears of dictatorships potentially being much worse than those which have been overthrown.
The “Blessing” of the Arab Spring—Growing Lawlessness in Sinai Desert
The Associated Press reported on June 18:
“Militants crossed from Egypt’s turbulent Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel on Monday and opened fire on civilians building a border security fence, defense officials said. One of the Israeli workers was killed, and two assailants died in a gunbattle with Israeli troops responding to the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which underscored the growing lawlessness in the Sinai desert since longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising last year…
“Israeli security officials have grown increasingly anxious about the security situation in the Sinai since Mubarak’s ouster. Continued political turmoil in Egypt, weak policing in the Sinai and tough terrain have all encouraged Islamic militant activity in the area. The mountainous desert now harbors an array of militant groups, including Palestinian extremists and al-Qaida-inspired jihadists, Egyptian and Israeli security officials say.”
Crown Prince Nayif of Saudi Arabia’s Died
The Los Angeles Times wrote on June 16:
“Crown Prince Nayif ibn Abdulaziz, head of Saudi Arabia’s feared Interior Ministry who after a series of attacks inside the kingdom became a close Washington ally against Al Qaeda, died Saturday, months after he was named heir apparent in the world’s leading oil power… Nayif was an authoritarian who backed the country’s puritanical Wahabi clerics and cracked down on political dissent, especially over the last year as rumblings of Arab uprisings reached the desert monarchy.
“He was often at odds with the modest social and political reforms championed by the king. In many ways, Nayif epitomized the Saudi state — loyal, if opportunistic, toward its international friends and ruthless to challengers, whether they be terrorists operating in neighboring Yemen or activists and lawyers protesting against discrimination inside the kingdom…
“In Washington, President Obama credited Nayif with helping the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to develop ‘a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives’… That connection with Washington — from the early days of oil exploration to the later battle against terrorism — has been based more on strategic alliance than friendship.
“The two countries are close, but American officials criticized the Saudis after Sept. 11, 2001, for perpetuating an extremist strand of Islam that often inspired terrorism. Nayif originally claimed that 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy, but that sentiment changed two years later when Al Qaeda began attacking inside the kingdom.”
Deep Troubles of the Vatican
The following contains interesting excerpts from a very lengthy article. These excerpts show adequately the current dilemma of the Catholic Church and the Vatican, but according to the Bible, out of the current problems, a mighty and powerful pope will arise, whose decisiveness will utterly surprise the Curia and the entire world.
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 15:
“The mood at the Vatican is apocalyptic. Pope Benedict XVI seems tired, and both unable and unwilling to seize the reins amid fierce infighting and scandal… Vatican insiders jockey for power and speculate on his successor…
“Since the end of May, the pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, has been detained in a 35-square-meter (377-square-foot) cell at the Vatican, with a window but no TV… [he] allegedly smuggled faxes and letters out of the pope’s private quarters. But it remains unclear who was directing him to do so.
“Even with Gabriele’s arrest, the leak still hasn’t been plugged. More documents were released to the public last week, documents intended primarily to damage two close associates of Pope Benedict XVI: his private secretary, Georg Gänswein, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s top administrator. According to one document, ‘hundreds’ of other secret documents would be published if Gänswein and Bertone weren’t ‘kicked out of the Vatican’…
“Fear is running rampant in the Curia, where the mood has rarely been this miserable. It’s as if someone had poked a stick into a beehive… No one trusts anyone anymore… It all began in the accursed seventh year of the papacy of Benedict XVI… [He] turned 85 in April. This makes him the oldest pope in 109 years… he is still enviably fit, both mentally and physically, especially compared to his predecessor in his later years…
“The Vatican is disintegrating into dozens of competing interest groups… everyone is against everyone… Perhaps Benedict XVI simply knows the Vatican too well to seriously attempt to reform it…The revelations about the secret Vatican documents… suggest a Vatican mired in corruption and character-assassination campaigns, a plot that seems hardly limited to a butler’s alleged act of theft…
“The Vatican’s old guard, made up of Italian cardinals and their backers, believed that they had found a transitional pope in Ratzinger. But now the transition is in its eighth year… The German pope will not be remembered much for his avowed fight to preserve the unity of the Church. Instead, he will be remembered as a… pontiff plagued by scandals, mistakes and gaffes. He even built walls back up that seemed to have been worn down long ago…
“He has annoyed the Protestants by declaring that denominations other than his own are not true churches. He has alienated Muslims with an inept speech in the Bavarian city of Regensburg. And he has insulted Jews by reinserting a prayer for the conversion of the Jews into the Good Friday liturgy. He has also snubbed the Church by currying favor with the traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X, which rejects the Vatican II reforms…
“The fact that the pope is German has not had a lasting effect on Germans. When he was newly elected, the German media spoke of a ‘Benedict effect,’ of how having a German pope would positively influence conversion and retention rates in Germany. But, if it ever really existed, this effect quickly dissipated. Since Benedict’s election in 2005, the number of people leaving the Catholic Church in Germany has more than doubled… Only 30 percent of Germans are still Catholic today… in deeply Catholic Latin America… the number of Catholics has been sharply declining. Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, are multiplying there like the loaves and fishes in Canaan…
“Benedict has understood better than others what the Church’s real condition is — and how far removed it is from his ideal. His stumbling block has always been the Curia. Perhaps the real thing learned over the last seven years is just how powerless… a pope can be… For some time, he has been overcome by periods of ‘deep sadness,’ says a source close to Benedict, though he notes that it is unclear whether this is merely sadness or genuine depression…
“In the Curia and the backrooms of the Vatican’s palaces, efforts are already underway to search for a successor. The possible outcomes of a conclave are analyzed and candidates are discussed, as was done seven years ago. Some say the next pope should be someone like Pius XII, the pope between 1939 and 1958 who was a calculating and predictable power player and Vatican insider. Or someone like Paul VI, the pope from 1963 to 1978, who paid attention to the Curia’s interests… The Italians, with 30 votes, still form the largest bloc in a conclave. Some believe that, after more than 33 years of foreign dominance — first by a Pole and then by a German — it’s high time to elect an Italian pope. After all, proponents of the idea argue, an Italian cardinal knows the Roman Curia best. But the Italians’ prospects have become slim…
“Benedict himself knows that he doesn’t have much time left… Will the once liberal-minded and now conservative pastor find the strength to foster reconciliation at the end of his life?”
Does the Bible encourage us to pray for the Work of God and His Ministers?
The answer is a resounding, Yes. Most of our readers understand the importance of prayer for the Work of God and His ministers, deacons, members and coworkers who are actively involved in the Work of God. However, in this Q&A, we want to show the strong emphasis, which the Bible places on the duty and responsibility of non-ordained and ordained Church members to pray for God’s Work and the human instruments whom God chooses to carry out His Work.
First of all, we must understand that it is God who appoints His ministers and deacons and who places His disciples in the body of Christ where He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:18). Members cannot just decide to “join” the Church of God. Rather, it is the Father who must draw them to Christ and His body (John 6:44,65). Likewise, ministers and deacons are not appointed by men.
It is true that God inspires and uses ordained ministers to ordain converted faithful and proven members to the position of minister and deacon, with accompanying prayer and the laying on of hands (Acts 14:23; 13:1-3; Titus 1:5). But it is God who sets aside certain qualified men and women to the office of deacon and deaconess, and He sets aside qualified men to the office of minister and to a particular rank within the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 1:25; 4:17; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 5:4; Romans 12:7; 1Timothy 1:12). In doing so, He entrusts His ministers with great responsibility for which they will have to give account (Hebrews 13:17).
We should be familiar with Christ’s command to pray to the Father to send forth laborers into God’s harvest, since the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). We should also know that the Word of God must be proclaimed and that it must be believed, but that it cannot be believed unless God sends His ministers to proclaim it (Romans 10:14-17). We are told that the gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world as a witness, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14; 28:19), but it could be some of us, individually, to either hinder or delay (2 Peter 3:9), as well as hasten (2 Peter 3:12) the day of Christ’s return.
Paul asked the brethren many times to pray for him and the other ministers and helpers. In quite general and all-encompassing terms, he requests of the brethren to pray for him and the other ministers (1 Thessalonians 5:25). A similar request can be found in Hebrews 13:18.
In using a more specific example, Paul asks Philemon to pray that he would be able to visit him, as this visit was important in Paul’s eyes (Philemon 22).
In the overwhelming majority of cases, when Paul asks for prayers for him and the ministry, it is for the purpose of the furtherance of the gospel.
In Ephesians 6:18-19, Paul is telling the brethren that they ought to pray for one another, and for all the saints, and also for him that he would obtain the wisdom and strength to preach the Word boldly and to make known the mystery of the gospel. He reiterates this request in Colossians 4:2-3, admonishing the brethren to continue in prayer for him and the other ministers and coworkers, so that God would open unto them a door of utterance or proclaiming the mystery of Christ.
Again, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Paul asks the brethren to pray for him and his companions so that the Word of God may have free course and be glorified, and that they will be protected and delivered from unreasonable and wicked men who would love to prevent them from preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Finally, in Romans 15:30-31, Paul appeals with great emotion to the brethren at Rome, when he pleads with them and beseeches them, for the Lord Jesus’ sake, to strive with him together in their prayers to God, so that he would be delivered from those who do not believe, and also, that his service to the brethren would be accepted.
Did Paul really believe that the prayers of the brethren for him would make a difference in his life, and that they would help in the accomplishment of the Work of God? He obviously did—otherwise, he would not have pleaded with the brethren to pray for him.
In Acts 12, we find a striking example of successful prayer from brethren for one of God’s ministers. We read that Peter was thrown into prison, and that the brethren in Jerusalem prayed in Mark’s house. They obviously asked God to protect and release Peter. In fact, an angel set Peter free. The irony is that when Peter went to the brethren and stood outside the house, requesting entrance, they at first refused to believe that it was really he, insisting that he was still in prison and that it therefore had to be his angel.
And so, as the following is true for every successful prayer, so it is also true for prayers on behalf of the Work of God and His ministers: We must believe that we will receive what we are asking. And we must not forget to pray to God even in matters which may seem small or unimportant, as well as for those matters which appear to be too big or difficult to be received.
We read in Philippians 4:6-7 that we should make our requests known to God in regard to everything (compare 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15). We are to pray repeatedly, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and we must pray boldly and with confidence and conviction, and without doubt (Hebrews 4:16). We are to cast all our care on Him (1 Peter 5:7)—including His care for His Church and the financial means and opportunities for the ministry to preach the gospel and feed the flock.
Sometimes, Satan may hinder us to accomplish a certain task (1 Thessalonians 2:18)—but even then, we must remember that Satan and his human instruments (1 Corinthians 16:9) can only do what God allows them to do, and that God will crush Satan under our feet shortly (Romans 16:20; 1 John 3:8). We are assured that God’s Holy Spirit which is in us is greater and much more powerful than Satan’s spirit (1 John 4:4), which permeates and deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
God wants us to pray for His Work and His human instruments who are actively involved in carrying out His Work. The sincerity and consistency of our prayers for the Work of God show Him how much our heart is in the things which are important to God. We should never assume that any prayer is too insignificant for God. At the same time, we should think big and ask God to open mighty doors for us, enabling us to proclaim the gospel with much more strength and effect. Some of those doors which we might envision in our minds might at this point appear to be beyond our human grasp or reasonable expectation, but we must know that God has promised us powerful accomplishments (John 14:12), since with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A StandingWatch program was recorded and posted on YouTube and our website (www.standingwatch.org), titled “Germany’s Beast on the Rise?” It will also be played on our radio outlets, discussing the following: Does the Bible tell us what will happen in Germany and Europe? Do current developments show us the beginning of what the Scriptures prophesy? Will there arise a German populist? If so, will he be for or against Europe? Will he turn out to be the beast, as mentioned in Revelation? Will we soon experience an end of democracy in Europe, as we did in the 1930s? Will the euro crisis bring about a two-speed Europe? Will core European Eurozone nations be in charge for a while? Will they finally transfer all their authority and power to a charismatic European leader?
A new StandingWatch program has been recorded which is now posted on YouTube and on our website and will also be played on our radio outlets. The title is, “2012 Big Scandal in the Vatican.” Here is the summary: One of the biggest scandals in the Vatican is widening. According to national and international press reports, it is a case of intrigue, betrayal and secret documents, uncovering alleged corruption, cronyism and mismanagement, and even an alleged murder plot against the pope, at the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church. They purportedly show how the game of politics is played, with lies, intrigues and bitter feuds between rival parties. What is happening, and what does all of this mean in the light of biblical prophecy?
Norbert Link’s new video-taped sermon, “The End of Europe, Part 1”, has been posted on YouTube
Our StandingWatch program, “When Will Russia Attack America?”, which is posted on YouTube and our website, has by now been viewed by more than 100,000 people.
This week’s new German sermon, “Sie Werden Herrschen auf Erden” (“They Will Rule on Earth”), deals with our rule on earth during the Millennium—not in heaven—and discusses Ellen G. White’s wrong visions to the contrary. It is posted on YouTube.
A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.
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.
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