|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Does John 3:34 imply that God gives His Holy Spirit in lesser and greater amounts?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
by Norbert Link
An American paper wrote recently: “Well if it’s Thursday, there must be a new Obama scandal.” Even though this sounds funny, it is in fact rather tragic. From the terrorist attack on America’s embassy in Benghazi and the subsequent cover-up by the US government; the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups; the Justice Department’s controversial seizure of phone records of AP and Fox reporters; drone warfare in contradiction to international law; to the economy-destroying new health-“care”-law, termed Obamacare… you just name it: one scandal follows the next.
And now–Verizon and the report in the British paper, The Guardian, that the National Security Agency (NSA, also known as “Never Say Anything” or “No Such Agency” ) is collecting telephone records of tens of millions of innocent customers without their knowledge and consent (The groundwork for this secretive spying activity was laid with the enactment of the Patriot Act in 2001 under President Bush and an indifferent, uninformed and disinterested Congress, but it has gotten much worse under President Obama, who had prided himself with establishing a new era of transparency. The original author of the Patriot Act has claimed now that it does not authorize the government’s “excessive” conduct). This new development has really made the German press mad, and strong phrases are used, in describing the USA, as being a spy nation, a totalitarian country or even a fascist state. Demands are heard to revisit the EU-US arrangements pertaining to data collection.
The problem is, virtually all politicians(with just a few notable exceptions)—whether Democrats or Republicans, whether President Obama or former President Bush, whether the Obama Administration or the Congress–have had their sticky fingers in this pie. The Washington Times called this behavior “a shocking abdication of responsibility” and suggested that, since they are not doing their job, they should go back “to West Gondola to find a job they can do.” As the National Journal wrote on June 6: “Congress is full of hypocrites. Liberals who criticized Bush are less incensed with Obama. Republicans who bowed to Bush are now blasting Obama.”
The left-leaning Huffington Post promptly coined a new name for the current President: “George W. Obama.”
Unconvincing platitudes or “justifications” are heard from both sides, as if these spying tactics would in any way make the country safer and were only meant to target bad guys. How can anyone say this when no one seems to know how the collected data is being used? The additional lame observation that the information does not include the name of any caller is laughable since there is no difficulty in matching numbers to names. Further, it is obvious that the US government had no intention of revealing this eavesdropping, as they have been very secretive about other matters as well (for instance, the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was only admitted 1 ½ years after the event and after the press reported it).
But it does not stop with the surveillance of phone records. As Die Welt and The New York Times reported, the US government has been collaborating or conspiring with at least nine Internet giants to get easy access to private information of their customers, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple and PalTalk. According to the Washington Post, Dropbox is soon being added to the list. Since 2007, a Prism program is collecting all data, including emails, which are transmitted from our homes or businesses via our computer, smartphone, i-Pad, and Kindle. Apparently only Twitter has made it more difficult for the government to obtain such data.
Even the left media is becoming alarmed. The Editorial Board of the New York Times wrote that “The administration has now lost all credibility.” They later found this to be too strong, and added in an updated version, “… on that issue.”
The Washington Post, in its editorial, wrote that the Verizon revelation (and it is strongly suspected that Verizon is by far not the only telephone company collaborating with the NSA) “ought to be a wake-up call for every American… It’s only going to get worse,” continuing that President Obama recently “revealed his desire for even more of this kind of surveillance.” The paper then astutely pointed out the following:
“The Internal Revenue Service scandal is Exhibit A in the case against trusting anyone in the government to behave when it has unfettered access to sensitive information.” In explaining that the “nation’s founding document” prohibits the government’s conduct, as “a man’s ‘papers’ – his communications—are not to be seized without probable cause and a warrant ‘particularly’ describing the items and places to be searched,” it continued: “The breathtaking scope of the Verizon order (by a federal judge who prohibited Verizon to go public with its handing over the records) resembles… the blanket authorization the British crown once gave to its agents in the colonies to snoop anywhere they pleased on the hunt for ‘contraband.’ This is the abuse that inspired the Fourth Amendment, but lazy and irresponsible congressmen of both parties have enabled its return.”
What will happen next? What new big scandal will be revealed in the days to come? When will the American people wake up—if they ever do—and realize they have become helpless pawns and victims within a system of governmental activities, which George Orwell’s novel, “1984” about “big brother” has only remotely begun to describe?
The Bible warns us not to place our trust in men or any government ruled by men. This is not God’s world, and God is not the god of this world—Satan is. We are told to come out of this world and its systems, and not to have any part in it. Even though we live IN this world, we are not be OF this world. As ambassadors of Christ and the kingdom and government of God, we must separate ourselves from the affairs of this world. What agreement and collaboration could the righteousness of a true Christian have with corrupt, secretive and unrighteous politics?
What we are seeing today is just further evidence of the fact that the entire nation is sick, from the top to the bottom, and that America’s downfall is inevitable. Europe is becoming increasingly incensed with what is happening in this country, and while leaders of a complacent and indifferent nation are destroying the country from the inside, the prophesied European military attack on America cannot be that far off, which will destroy the country from the outside. The good news is that when we see all of these things happening, we ought to KNOW that the return of Jesus Christ is near.
We begin with reporting on the ongoing controversy regarding the US government’s secret spy activities conducted against innocent and unsuspecting American citizens and others, which has Europeans and some left-wing and right-wing US politicians and reporters up in arms, but most US “politicians”—being true to that term—and representatives from both parties try to justify and explain the unjustifiable and unexplainable.
We continue with an interesting development in Germany. While many young Germans desire the return of the monarchy, they are also in favor of homosexual equality. This apparent paradox is only contradictory at first glance. Interestingly, at the same time, Pope Francis seems to be admitting to a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.
Focusing on other matters dealing with the US government’s ill-conceived actions, we are reporting on the Justice Department’s switch, under liberal court pressure, to allow morning-after pills for girls of any age, and Obamacare and IRS absurdities. We continue with articles on the debacle in Turkey and Israel’s growing isolation, and conclude with a report about an invasion of “crazy ants.”
This Week in the News
Armed Drones and Government Surveillance Are Linked
On June 8, the left-wing Huffington Post published an article by Peter Scheer. The author is “a lawyer and writer [and] executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. FAC has filed suit against the Justice Department for access to classified legal memos analyzing drone strikes”:
“First came news accounts of the government’s use of armed drones in the targeted killing of suspected terrorists abroad. Then came the revelations about government surveillance programs, breathtaking in their scale, tapping into data on phone calls, emails, Internet searches and more. These activities are, in fact, linked…
“The logic of warfare and intelligence have flipped, each becoming the mirror image of the other. Warfare has shifted from the scaling of military operations to the selective targeting of individual enemies. Intelligence gathering has shifted from the selective targeting of known threats to wholesale data mining for the purpose of finding hidden threats.
“The resulting paradigms, in turn, go a long way to account for our collective discomfort with the government’s activities in these areas. Americans are understandably distressed over the targeted killing of suspected terrorists because the very individualized nature of the drone attacks converts acts of war into de facto executions — and that in turn gives rise to demands for high standards of proof and adjudicative due process.
“Similarly, intelligence activities that gather data widely, without fact-based suspicions about specific individuals to whom the data pertain, are seen as intrusive and subject to abuse. The needle-in-a-haystack approach to intelligence gathering is fundamentally at odds with Americans’ understanding of the Constitution’s promise to safeguard them against ‘unreasonable’ government searches. There is nothing reasonable about giving government secret access, in real time, to phone calls and emails of tens of millions of Americans.
“Our fear of these changes is reinforced by the absence of transparency surrounding drone strikes-specifically, the protocols for selecting targets-and intelligence operations that cast a broad net in which U.S. citizens are caught…”
Another left-wing journalist and commentator, New York Times’ Paul Krugmann, said this (according to ABC News, dated June 9):
“… there are different kinds of surveillance states. You can have a democratic surveillance state which collects as little data as possible and tells you as much as possible about what it’s doing. Or you can have an authoritarian surveillance state which collects as much as possible and tells the public as little as possible. And we are kind of on the authoritarian side.”
“Obama’s Fundamental Flaw”
The Huffington Post published a follow-up article on June 11:
“If, as the U.S. president now argues ex post facto, it was okay on balance to have the NSA (National Security Agency) monitoring process put in place, why not have that discussion with the American people in broad daylight right after he took office?… His Harvard Law School-driven government is counting on the docility of the American people… Never mind that he had advertised himself in the 2008 presidential campaign as a professor of constitutional law. We all know by now that this is just one among the many qualification boxes he ticked off in order to secure his eventual rise.
“And forget about his principled utterances as a presidential candidate about having reservations about clandestine monitoring programs being conducted on U.S. citizens. People are used to politicians fidgeting with the truth to seek higher office. What is far more disconcerting is the utter political tone deafness of Obama, the (presumed) politician. Now, he has grandiosely okayed a fundamental invasion of privacy… his fundamental flaw as a politician has been firmly established. As has happened so many times before on other issues, he excels by doing his very own opposition’s bidding. Talk about disarming yourself.”
When even the left-leaning press publishes articles like these, then we know that the Obama Administration is in big trouble. According to Newsmax, dated June 12, “actor and liberal activist John Cusack” blasted Obama and the NSA, and even extremely “Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore delivered his unsurprisingly damning verdict, tweeting, ‘the administration has now lost all credibility.’ He implied hypocrisy on the part of the president by highlighting a 2007 Obama quote: ‘that means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more (spying) on citizens…No more tracking citizens…’”
Reaction of Obama Administration and Further Response by Rand Paul
Please note the reaction of the Obama Administration to the revelation of their secret spying and apparently unconstitutional activities on innocent American citizens, as reported by Fox News, dated June 9:
“The Obama administration has taken a first step toward opening a criminal investigation into the purported leaking of classified documents related to the federal government tracking Americans’ phone calls and emails, a source familiar with the high-level discussions told Fox News on Saturday. The source said James Clapper, the director of U.S. national intelligence, had filed a ‘criminal report’ with the Justice Department and the FBI, which begins the process…
“The FBI and Justice Department would likely be involved in such a probe, which is expected to focus on British and U.S. newspapers including The Guardian. The British newspaper reported late Wednesday that the U.S. government had collected the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.”
Others are not easily intimidated.
As Fox News reported on June 9, “Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday he wants to mount a Supreme Court challenge to the federal government logging Americans’ phone calls and Internet activities. Paul, R-Ky., a leading voice in the Libertarian movement, told ‘Fox News Sunday’ he wants to get enough signatures to file a class-action lawsuit before the high court and will appeal to younger Americans, who appear to be advancing the cause of less government and civil liberties… ‘If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.’…
“Paul, a first-term senator and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said he disagrees with President Obama’s argument that the National Security Agency collecting 3 billion calls daily and other information [is] a modest invasion of privacy…
“Washington officials have acknowledged all branches of the federal government – Congress, the White House and federal courts – knew about the collection of data under the Patriot Act. Paul also said the government should be using a specific warrant, not a general warrant, to get the data, arguing the Fourth Amendment prevents unreasonable search and seizure. ‘The Founding Fathers didn’t want that,’ he said….”
Rand Paul, a Republican, made headlines before when he became the lonely voice in refusing to cast his vote for one particular governmental appointee, speaking non-stop for hours in the Senate, until the government broke their usual silence and showed a touch of transparency by providing a few answers to his questions.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his view points, at least here is someone who is willing to stand up for what he believes to be right, while most politicians don’t dare, are too cowardly or just too complacent to do so… behaving as proverbial “politicians” are expected to act. But since Rand Paul is willing to stand up for his convictions, there is virtually no chance that he will become the next President of the United States in 2016. Chances are, he would not even get the necessary support from intimidated or unconcerned colleagues in his own party.
Traitor or Not?
While many Republicans and Democrats declared whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the clandestine worldwide spying activities of the NSA, to be a traitor of the country, Newsmax reported on June 12:
“Former GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul insisted on Tuesday that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is not a traitor, but he fears the U.S. government may send drones or a cruise missile to kill the 29-year-old, who has fled the United States. ‘Everybody’s worried about him and what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to convict him of treason, and how they’re going to kill him, but what about the people who destroy our Constitution?’ the former Texas Republican congressman asserted. ‘What kind of penalty for those individuals who just take the Fourth Amendment and destroy it? What do we think about people who assassinate American citizens without trials and assume that that’s the law of the land? That’s where our problem is.’
“Paul said that ‘our problem isn’t with people who are trying to tell us the truth about what’s happening’ as in the case of Snowden, and he fears that the U.S. government may try to kill the former contractor. ‘I’m worried about somebody in our government might kill him with a Cruise missile or a drone missile,’ Paul said. ‘I mean we live in a bad time where American citizens don’t even have rights and that they can be killed, but the gentleman is trying to tell the truth about what’s going on.’… He pointed to the case of a CIA agent who was imprisoned for acknowledging that torture takes place at Guantanamo.”
Another lonely voice, Republican Governor Rand Paul, also stated that he is reserving judgment as to whether or not Snowden is a traitor, but as reported above, he vehemently charged the Obama Administration and the NSA with breaking the law by acting illegally and unconstitutionally. According to Reuters, dated June 12, its poll revealed that “Some 23 percent of those surveyed said… Snowden is a traitor while 31 percent said he is a patriot. Another 46 percent said they did not know.”
German and European Reactions
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 10:
“29-year-old ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden has admitted to making one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history. He now faces severe consequences — but President Obama also has a lot to answer for.
“… the US’s virtual surveillance network is nearly all-encompassing — and that citizens are powerless against it… Obama now faces a huge public relations problem. Wasn’t it he who said that he welcomed the debate on government spying? And yet now he has decided to pursue the very man who triggered this debate…”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 11:
“The world has been scandalized to learn about Prism, the broad data surveillance program used by the US at home and abroad. German commentators say that both Berlin and Brussels must defend Europe from this invasion of privacy…
“Germany, which has particularly strict data privacy laws, is reportedly one of the most heavily monitored countries in the surveillance program… European politicians are also worried about the surveillance…The scandal has revealed state surveillance of a previously unimaginable scope by the US both at home and abroad…
“Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘It may be that US citizens can defend themselves under the US Constitution. But that doesn’t apply to foreigners. Facebook users in Germany have as little protection from the US Constitution as those in Afghanistan. Germany is the country in Europe whose telephone and Internet communications are being spied on the most intensely by the US… The only good thing about the NSA spying is that it exposes the principle tenet of domestic security that has been used to justify the rebuilding of the security system since Sept. 11, 2001: That those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This is simply a stupid idea.’…
“Left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘Basic civil rights around the world, which are taken for granted far too naively in Western democracies, are being placed under attack by state “security architecture” such as the US spying program Prism…’
“Conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Whether it’s with Facebook, Google, Yahoo or Microsoft — user confidence has been shaken… all users should be asking whether they themselves, and especially their personal data, are in good hands with these companies.’”
On June 11, der Spiegel Online published a Commentary by German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger:
“With its Prism spy program, the US has crossed the line… On the weekend, President Obama reacted by saying that it is impossible to have 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. I don’t share this view. The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is. In a democratic constitutional state, security is not an end in itself, but serves to secure freedom…
“We should remember that the strength of the liberal constitutional state lies in the trust of its citizens. Constitutional guarantees protect this trust and pursue two objectives: to punish the guilty and to protect the innocent or those who are unjustly suspected of a crime against wrongful actions by the government. These are precisely the tenets Germany adopted in 1949 from the tradition of the American Constitution of 1776 — namely that in a free and open democratic process, it is important to avoid the impression that the protection of basic rights is not being taken seriously enough…
“The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself should be paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table…”
AFP wrote on June 12:
“The EU has warned President Barack Obama’s administration of ‘grave adverse consequences’ to the rights of European citizens from a huge US Internet surveillance programme, officials said Wednesday.
“Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, wrote a letter on Monday to US Attorney General Eric Holder demanding ‘swift and concrete’ answers about the spy scheme when they meet in Dublin on Friday… Her questions to Holder include whether EU citizens were targeted by the US programmes, whether Europeans would be able find out whether their data has been accessed, and whether they would be treated similarly to US nationals in such cases. The EU official also warned that the European Parliament ‘is likely to assess the overall transatlantic relationship also in the light of your responses’”.
Deutsche Welle wrote on June 12:
“The US government is using ‘American-style Stasi methods,’ Markus Ferber, a member of the European parliament, told Reuters, referring to the former communist East German secret police. ‘I thought this era had ended when the [German Democratic Republic] fell.’”
The EUObserver wrote on June 12:
“The German government is demanding explanations from the US after it emerged that its secret spying programme Prism collected more information from Germany than any other EU country… Data privacy is a very sensitive topic in Germany and the cluelessness of Merkel’s government about the affair may become an issue in September’s elections… The ministry of interior is working on a questionnaire for the US government to find out the extent and the legal basis for the collection of data from Germany… Similar information requests will be sent to Internet firms such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Apple, which were targeted by Prism, but which deny that US security staff got unlimited access to their servers…
“German data protection chief Peter Schaar said on the WDR public broadcaster that Prism amounts to ‘almost total surveillance.’… The German opposition is also outraged by the news… ‘This looks to me like it could become one of the biggest data privacy scandals ever,’ Greens leader Renate Kuenast told Reuters.”
These are strong words and reactions. America is really doing everything imaginable to make themselves unpopular in the eyes of the world.
Secrecy also in the UK
Mail On Line wrote on June 7:
“David Cameron is to attend a meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group tonight – but will not say who he meets. The Prime Minister will take part in a debate on the global economy with an unknown group of ministers, business leaders and academics from around the world.
“But his attendance at the heavily-guarded event is certain to spark controversy after Mr Cameron once promised to lead the ‘most open and transparent government in the world’.”
Prime Minister Cameron sounds and behaves just like President Obama. As Deutsche Welle reported on June 6, “On his first day in office President Obama vowed to create the most open government in history. But after five years his administration has brought more espionage cases against leakers than all other presidents combined…”
A New Monarchy for Germany?
The Local wrote on June 6:
“Germans might not know it, but they desperately need the moral guidance of a re-instated royal family, the great-great grandson of the last Kaiser, Prince Philip Kiril of Prussia [said]… ‘Subconsciously, I think young Germans wants something they can orientate towards,’ said Prince Philip. The 45-year-old father of six may work as a Protestant vicar, but he has become one of the loudest voices out of those who want to see Germany revive its monarchy. Second in line to the throne Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918, Prince Philip believes that a royal family with divine right conferred by God could offer Germany what it is missing. ‘When a leader answers to himself, and not God, an atheist-led country ends in disaster. Look at Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin,’ he told The Local. Religion, ‘tames the selfishness naturally present in all of us.’
“For the prince, a country guided by politicians and a ceremonial president means not only is there no strong family to look up to, nor is there anyone to rally up enthusiasm for family life. ‘A presidential head of state is not enough…what Germany needs is moral guidance and a friendlier face,’ which, he added, ‘people do not get, and shouldn’t expect, from politicians.’ Indeed, this appears to be what [an] increasing amount of young Germans want, after a survey for news agency DPA revealed last month that as many as one in three 18-24-year-olds would like the Kaiser back on the throne… ‘Looking up to a king or queen would be much better for Germany’s young people than to pop stars or football players,’ Prince Philip said. He lamented that people were putting too much value on consumerism and material goods…
“He cited the increasingly popular face of European royalty as being partially responsible for boosting interest among younger Germans… For the prince, a presidential head of state simply does not cut it. Being voted in ‘doesn’t deign them the same respect’ as a king, who is chosen by God. This is why he thinks his career as a protestant vicar would mix well with being royal. ‘All people are born equal but some are born to lead, and others to follow. This is not a human made concept, but a God-made one.’ …
“Eventually, the country will need more than its finances and infrastructure being taken care of. It needs spirituality and religion and… God, Prince Philip added…”
This renewed interest in European monarchies, especially among Germans and Austrians, is worthwhile noticing. Revelation 17:9-10 speaks of the last ten leaders of the final revival of the Roman Empire as “ten kings.” Whether this is just a reference to ten “rulers,” who will give their power and authority to the beast, or ten literal “kings” or “emperors,” will remain to be seen.
Equal Rights for Gay Unions in Germany
The Associated Press reported on June 6:
“Gay rights campaigners won a victory over the German government Thursday as the country’s top court ruled that homosexual couples in civil unions should receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples. The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that treating the two forms of partnership differently for tax purposes violates the country’s guarantee of equal rights.
“Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right government had long resisted granting the same tax benefits to gay couples in civil unions. Those unions – officially certified by a notary and carrying similar rights and duties to wedlock – are widely accepted by Germany’s gay community as equivalent to marriage…
“Married couples in Germany are able to jointly declare their taxable incomes, which can significantly lower their overall tax burden especially when one partner has higher pay… The court ordered the government to retroactively amend the relevant laws dating back to 2001, when civil union status was first introduced by a previous center-left government… The government vowed it will seek to get the necessary legislation passed by this fall to implement the court decision…
“Granting more rights to homosexual couples is relatively uncontroversial among the wider public in Germany…”
This development might look, at first glance, as being in total contradiction with the previous article. But this only seems to be the case. As we suggested, it is very likely, based on a Scripture in Daniel 11:37, that the prophesied “beast” in the book of Revelation—the last leader of the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire–may be homosexual. We read in Daniel 11:37 that he “does not regard the desire of women.” The Elberfelder Bible translates that he does not care for the love of or towards women (“Frauenliebe”). This could be a reference to other than normal sexual preferences. The commentary of Henry speaks of “unnatural lust” in the context (compare Romans 1:24-28).
But longing for the return of a godly-appointed monarch who would allegedly give moral guidance and be a good example of strong family life, and supporting homosexuality is not viewed by most Germans as a contradiction. They know that other “respected” European and Roman emperors were homosexuals, while they were “married” and had children. In addition, many Germans had no problem with electing a homosexual foreign minister and a homosexual mayor of Berlin.
Gay Lobby in the Vatican
Newsmax wrote on June 11:
“Pope Francis has acknowledged the existence of a ‘gay lobby” in the Vatican and says he is consulting advisers on what to do about it.
“Speaking informally to a confederation of religious groups from Latin America and the Caribbean, he said…: ‘The “gay lobby” is mentioned, and it is true, it is there… We need to see what we can do.’… Rumors over the existence of such a group in the Vatican have circulated for years and the extent of the problem is thought to have partly influenced Benedict to resign. But until now, successive popes never have publicly acknowledged it.
“Some Catholics believe such a lobby pervades much of the Church in the West, weakening its proclamation of the Gospel and compromising the Church’s integrity and authority. They also blame bishops for not speaking out more forcefully against such groups… Informed Vatican sources tell Newsmax that Francis has been holding a series of brainstorming sessions with Vatican-based cardinals and other senior Vatican officials on how to reform the Curia.”
The homosexual lobby in the Vatican will not like any such reforms, and it will have to be seen what they will do to prevent the pope from going through with his intentions.
Aachen—the New Rome
The Local wrote on June 11:
“In 786 AD Charlemagne dreamed of creating a ‘new Rome’ when he ordered the construction of the Church of St. Mary and its Palatinate chapel in his main residence of Aachen. He thus laid the foundations for one of the most important buildings in Europe, making the city the focal point of his Roman empire in 800 AD.
“The cathedral is of universal importance in terms of art and cultural history. 30 German kings were crowned there over a period of 600 years (936-1531), and the cathedral treasury is one of the finest in Europe… Since the Middle Ages, Aachen Cathedral has been one of the leading pilgrimage sites in the Christian world because of its famous reliquaries – the four holy shrines.
“Charlemagne was buried in the palatinate chapel following his death in 814. His ancient sarcophagus can be found in the central drum of the Gothic chancel.”
Our recent series in our Q&As on the ten revivals of the Roman Empire sheds more light on Charlemagne and the city of Aachen.
Obama’s Newest “Change”: Now Morning-After Pills for Girls of Any Age
Newsmax wrote on June 10:
“The federal government on Monday told a judge it will reverse course and take steps to comply with his order to allow girls of any age to buy emergency contraception without prescriptions. But the decision isn’t likely to end President Barack Obama’s troubles with the issue, as anti-abortion advocates are certain to be unhappy with the reversal.
“The Department of Justice, in the latest development in a complex back-and-forth over access to the morning-after pill, notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman it will submit a plan for compliance. If he approves it, the department will drop its appeal of his April ruling. Last week, the appeals court dealt the government a setback by saying it would immediately permit unrestricted sales of the two-pill version of the emergency contraception until the appeal was decided… The government had appealed the judge’s underlying April 5 ruling, which ordered emergency contraceptives… be made available without a prescription, over the counter and without point-of-sale or age restrictions.
“It asked the judge to suspend the effect of that ruling until the appeals court could decide the case. But the judge declined, saying the government’s decision to restrict sales of the morning-after pill was ‘politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent.’ He also said there was no basis to deny the request to make the drugs widely available…
“It appears the Justice Department has decided it might lose with the appeals court and then would have to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court, The New York Times noted… Obama can expect to see a renewed political debate on the issues at a time when his administration already is beset with multiple scandals and controversies, the Times noted. The president, who has two young daughters, said last year he felt uncomfortable with the idea of them being able to obtain the drug without a prescription.
“The morning-after pill contains a higher dose of the female hormone progestin than is in regular birth control pills. Taking it within 72 hours of rape, condom failure or just forgetting regular contraception can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent, but it works best within the first 24 hours. If a girl or woman already is pregnant, the pill, which prevents ovulation or fertilization of an egg, has no effect.”
Rather than teaching young girls (of any age) not to have sexual relationships outside (future) marriage, this now makes it easier for unmarried girls of any age to sin, thinking they can get away with it. Surely, this world has it upside down and backwards.
Obamacare and IRS Absurdities
The Washington Post wrote on June 12:
“It is reassuring that amid so much government dysfunction, the Internal Revenue Service has resolved the question of when and whether to tax tanning beds under the Affordable Care Act… Obamacare… calls for a 10 percent sales tax every time some pale face exposes himself to potentially harmful, cancer-causing rays, thus affecting everyone’s health-insurance premiums… But, wait, there’s an exception: If such beds are offered as part of a gym or fitness center at no extra charge, no tax will be imposed…
“Despite the IRS’s impressive resolution of the tanning bed conundrum, one is struck by the unfortunate timing of its several displays of (a) incompetence and/or (b) ideologically driven harassment — just when the agency is charged with implementing and overseeing large swaths of Obamacare… [it] includes at least 47 new tax provisions. Also, recall that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate (you must buy insurance or else) by categorizing the mandate as a tax.
“Which is to say, the IRS has some big work ahead… In addition to deciding which organizations qualify for tax-exempt status, as in the case of tea party and patriot organizations recently targeted for prolonged, special scrutiny, our nation’s revenuers will also be redefining ‘religious.’ Determining whether a religious or charitable institution qualifies for tax-exempt status has always been part of the IRS’s dubious bailiwick, but Obamacare has upped the ante by requiring some religious affiliates to provide health care — such as contraception — that violates their conscience.
“Whatever one’s personal positions on reproductive matters, the historically higher standard of individual conscience has been scuttled by the Obama administration in deference to a universal health-care plan that leaves the definition of religious organization and, therefore, conscience to a bureaucracy of accountants… Those deemed not truly religious will be denied conscience protections, as has already occurred… freedom of conscience is fundamental to other freedoms we similarly take for granted. Obamacare largely dismisses such considerations…
“Come next January, as insurance rates climb and many businesses opt to pay government fines, sending their workers into government exchanges, all those people who believed, as promised, that they could keep the insurance they like will learn otherwise… At the center of these disappointments and revelations will be the nation’s new, expanded army of tax enforcers — this time examining not just your beliefs but also your medical records.”
Of course, there are still some… if not many… (uninformed) Americans who do not (want) to see the horrendously absurd problems with Obamacare.
Turkey in Deep Trouble
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 12:
“Tuesday’s crackdown has drawn criticism from the international community. ‘With its reaction to the protests so far, the Turkish government is sending the wrong signal — both within the country and to Europe,’ German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin on Wednesday…
“The developments come at an awkward time for the European Union, which is considering steps later this month to move forward accession talks with Turkey… Editorialists at leading German newspapers and across the political spectrum are roundly critical of Erdogan’s heavy-handed response to the protests, with a number ridiculing the Turkish leader as an ‘autocrat.’
“Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“‘Ever since he became prime minister, an air of distrust has surrounded Ergodan. How democratic is this man? Initially, it was Erdogan’s religious roots that fueled this distrust, especially the religious character of his moderate Islamist AKP. Fears of an Islamization of Turkey dominated the first phase of a reign that has already lasted a decade. During this time, he used brutal means to subjugate the military stronghold of the generals to the primacy of politicians… Today, it is clear that Islam isn’t really Erdogan’s greatest temptation. It is power itself — a pure lust for power that has gone to his head. Erdogan has continuously expanded his power base. His party men now hold positions in the judiciary and in the business sector, and the media seem to try to outdo each other to glorify him. There doesn’t appear to be any opposition left within the apparatus. … Erdogan is playing a dangerous game. … At the most important moment of his time governing, he has decided to become a total autocrat.’
“Financial daily Handelsblatt addresses Erdogan’s claim that speculators are among those inciting the violence: ‘Whatever Erdogan’s motives may be, his wild attacks against investors, bankers and investors are a risky gamble… Erdogan is playing with fire on his path of confrontation. The prime minister threatens not only the political stability of his country, but also its economic future.’
“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘Taksim Square will go down in history not as an environmental project, but as the scene of a clash of cultures that divides the Western-oriented secular Turkey from the Islamic-conservative Turkey. Here, tensions are being discharged that run right through Turkish history — before and especially after the founding of the Turkish state by Kemal Pasha Atatürk, a revolutionary act that shattered the country’s traditional forms and remains traumatic to this day.’”
Turkey will still play a major role in prophetic events. Their actions against the state of Israel will greatly anger the God of the Bible.
The Times of Israel wrote on June 11:
“In Jordan, perceived Israeli violations of the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites, over which Jordan maintains a custodianship, have angered Amman, and the parliament there recently voted to expel Israeli ambassador Daniel Nevo — a symbolic but resonant step… Israel’s relations with Jordan are now at a low point, [an unidentified] diplomat said, though not the lowest they’ve ever been. He was likely referring to the crisis that followed Israel’s botched assassination attempt of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal in Amman in September 1997, when King Hussein came close to severing ties… ‘Israel and Jordan are on a strategic collision course,’ said Assaf David, who teaches Jordanian politics at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University…
“The situation in Egypt is even gloomier. Israeli officials tacitly indicate that Israel has grudgingly agreed to forgo the pleasures of normalization with Egypt… Yitzhak Levanon, who was serving as Israel’s ambassador to Cairo when the mob stormed his embassy, told The Times of Israel last September that the gradual deterioration in relations began as early as Mubarak’s rise to power in 1981, but has accelerated since the election of President Mohammed Morsi last June.”
The Invasion of the “Crazy Ant”
On June 10, 2013, Mail On Line reported the following:
“A new and annoying species of ant is terrorizing the U.S. and chemicals that kill off other types of the insect are proving ineffective against it. The ‘crazy’ ant, named for the erratic trail it leaves as it makes its way across the country, originated in Argentina and Brazil.
“But since it was first spotted in Houston in 2002, it has spread to some 21 counties in Texas, 20 counties in Florida and a few locations in Mississippi and Louisiana…. University of Texas researcher and co-author of a study on the creatures Ed LeBrun said the omnivorous ants attack and kill other species as well as monopolizing food sources to the detriment of the entire ecosystem. He said everything from cattle to songbirds are at risk of the tiny ants, despite them being at the bottom of the food chain…
“The insects, bizarrely, are attracted to electrical wiring and components and in one year alone caused $146.5 million in damages in Texas… The devastation occurs when one ant discovers the transformer then gets electrocuted when it touches it, and ‘waves its abdomen in the air’ omitting a certain scent. The scent lures for ants to the scene and they too are electrocuted, again sending the scent into the air to attract their friends. Eventually, there are so many dead ants that the electric switches get stuck or the insulation fries and the system shuts down.”
Does John 3:34 imply that God gives His Holy Spirit in lesser and greater amounts?
This pivotal Scripture does indeed reveal that God gives His Holy Spirit by measure to some. However, in the case of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God the Father dwelt in Him without measure from conception to fulfill His mission—the work given to Him by the Father.
It is important to understand this verse in the context given when John the Baptist testified about who Jesus was:
“‘He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand’” (John 3:31-35)
Note that some translations, such as the King James Version, translated verse 34 with added text—as underlined:
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.”
In fact, many translations add this, but these words are not in the Greek. As a consequence, some wrongly believe that verse 34 is saying that when God gives His Holy Spirit, it is given fully to everyone receiving it. Others rightly understand that it is Jesus Who is the subject of this unrestrained gift of the Holy Spirit.
Both the Hebrew and Greek are written with “elliptical” text. What this means is that sometimes utterances are contextually incomplete and require the hearer to supply contextual information. This is the case in verse 34, and it is why the words “unto him” or “unto Him” are added in many translations—this is the implied understanding based on the overall context.
English also leaves out words which we, as native speakers, are able to immediately fill in and understand. For example, one might say, “Jack drank milk and Jane water.” Obviously, Jane drank water, and we understand the implied meaning. This elliptical style is why in many literal translations of the Bible, italicized words are added to the text for clarification—even though they are not in the source text. (However, sometimes, the added italicized words obscure or even alter the intended meaning, so caution is always in order.)
Next, let’s also consider what is stated in some commentaries regarding the verse in question.
Barnes Notes on the New Testament—John 3:34: “By measure. Not in a small degree, but fully, completely. The prophets were inspired on particular occasions to deliver special messages. The Messiah was continually filled with the Spirit of God. ‘The Spirit dwelt in him, not as a vessel, but as in a fountain, as in a bottomless ocean’ (Henry).”
John Gill—John 3:34: “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and to the apostles of the New; and to the ordinary ministers of the word, who have gifts differing one from another; to one is given one gift of the Spirit; and to another, another gift… and to everyone is given grace, or gifts of grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, (Ephesians 4:7).”
But even though God had given Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit without measure at the time of conception, we still read that after His baptism, Christ received additional powers to work miracles (compare Acts 10:36-38).
Other examples in the Word of God clearly show that when God gives us His Holy Spirit, He does so by measure. We read in 1 John 4:13 that God has given us “OF” His Spirit… He did not give us His Spirit without measure. A most remarkable example is that of Elijah and Elisha:
“And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?’ Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’ So he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’ Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over. Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him” (2 Kings 2:9-15).
We find in another account that Moses became overwhelmed in leading the Israelites, and God helped him by consecrating seventy elders. Note how God accomplished this:
“The LORD therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit [which] is upon you, and will put [it] upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone’…
This account reveals that God took from Moses some of the Holy Spirit God had given to him and gave portions to the seventy elders of Israel. However, since we are to replenish the measure of the Holy Spirit within us to be “renewed day by day” (compare 2 Corinthians 4:16), we understand that Moses was not diminished in the measure of the Holy Spirit which He had taken from him to give to the elders. In fact, God further established the office of Moses by having him serve as the leader through whom God imparted His Spirit. This is much like most of the ordinations which would later occur in the Church of God—beginning with the apostles Jesus Christ chose. But this passage also shows that God gives portions of His Holy Spirit to people—not the fullness of it, and not always in the same quantity.
We have further evidence of God working through Moses to ordain His chosen leaders. In this case, God selected the individual who would lead Israel as Moses’ replacement:
“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him–all the congregation.’ So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 27:18-23).
We read that God gave His Spirit of wisdom to artisans to enable them to fulfill the task of making Aaron’s garment (Exodus 28:3). In Ezekiel 2:2-3, we read that God gave Ezekiel His Holy Spirit, to enable him to do his job.
This is not unlike what now occurs in the Church of God. When a man or a woman is ordained to the office of deacon or deaconess, they receive an extra portion of the Holy Spirit to accomplish their responsibilities. But a deacon is not a minister. To become a minister, a further ordination is necessary. And so, when a member or a deacon is ordained to the ministry, an additional extra portion of the Holy Spirit is given them at that time. Note what Paul wrote to Timothy:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). This passage refers foremost to Timothy’s ordination as a minister. Timothy had received a measure of the Holy Spirit when he was baptized, but when he became ordained, he received an extra measure of the Holy Spirit to fulfill his work as a minister.
There is a hierarchy of spiritual offices within the ministry (elder, pastor, evangelist, etc.). When God’s ministers are raised in rank through an ordination and the laying on of hands, they will at that time obtain still more of God’s Holy Spirit to enable them to fulfill their added responsibilities, including spiritual discernment to make right decisions (compare Matthew 16:19; 18:18). We have an example in which two ministers were ordained to offices of greater responsibility, indicating, also, that they were given more of God’s Holy Spirit:
“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers : Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3).
Note that these men are first identified as “prophets and teachers”; however, after the laying on of hands in this account, the two men, Barnabas and Saul (Paul), are subsequently called “apostles” (compare Act 14:14).
We read about two witnesses who will do an outstanding work in the future (Revelation 11:3-6). God will give them extra powers and an additional measure of the Holy Spirit to enable them to accomplish their task.
The New Testament reveals just how God has organized the church:
“There are diversities of gifts [margin: “allotments of various kinds”], but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:27-30).
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Now Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, to “…be filled with the Spirit.” “Be filled” is translated from the Greek, plerousthe, and means—literally—“be being kept filled.”
Paul also warned : “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Christ warns us, in the parable of the ten virgins, in Matthew 25:1-13, that five virgins were foolish. They allowed that their lamps were going out. They were running out of oil—a symbol for the Holy Spirit.
People who are called by God, who are led to repentance and then are baptized also receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Understand that this portion of God’s Spirit is a first step, and is referred to as “a down payment,” “the earnest” and “the guarantee” of what is yet to come:
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (1 Corinthians 1:13-14; Compare 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5).
From the foregoing references, we see that Christians who have God’s Holy Spirit may not always draw the same measure of God’s power in their lives. Rather, it is our challenge to submit to God’s guidance so that we can “be filled with” and “stir up” the gift of God. We are to live and walk according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 5:16), and set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). God gives us of His Spirit so that we can overcome our human nature, society and Satan the devil. We are to grow in God’s knowledge, which only His Spirit can give us. But when we are not diligent in obeying God, He will not bestow us with more of His Holy Spirit. In fact, when we continuously refuse to obey Him, He may take His Spirit away from us.
As mentioned, the Word of God also reveals that He allots His Holy Spirit to individuals for the work He wants them to do. Jesus Christ was given the ultimate job to accomplish, and because of this, God also gave to His Son the complete help He needed—His Spirit without measure:
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’” (Luke 4:18-19).
Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
The cut-off date for hotel reservations using our special discount pricing at our 2013 Feast of Tabernacles site in Vail, Colorado, will be this Monday. If you are planning to attend and have not already made reservations, you should do so immediately. For further information, please go to www.eternalgod.org/feasts.
Our new booklet on the “Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire” has entered the first review cycle.
We received this week from our local German printer copies of our German booklet, “Das Evangelium vom Reich Gottes” (“The Gospel of the Kingdom of God”).
Our new monthly German newsletter was emailed to our German-speaking members, prospective members and friends. In the letter, Norbert Link reports on developments in the German work and comments on the Obama scandals, the biblically significant developments in Syria, Iran and Turkey, and the natural catastrophes in Europe and the USA. If you speak German and would like to receive a copy of our monthly newsletter via email, please let us know.
“Neu! Der Brief an die Hebräer, Teil 7,” it the title of the German sermon which concludes our series on the letter to the Hebrews. It covers chapters 12 and 13. Title in English: “New! The Letter to the Hebrews, Part 7.”
“Neu: Änderung durch den Heiligen Geist,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. This covers how Christians can make real change through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
“Prism Spying and its Consequences,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Could the controversial worldwide Prism spy activities of the US government contribute to a military confrontation between America and Europe, and could this have any relevance for the return of Jesus Christ in the not-too-distant future? Before you shake your head in unbelief, listen to this program.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
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