Update 596



On July 6th, 2013, Eric Rank will give the sermon, titled, “Commitment.”

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

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Please Pray for Kenya

by Rene Messier (Canada)

Something might be happening in Kenya, possibly reflecting a genuine interest of several groups in some form of association with us.

The decision was made at our recent ministerial conference to conduct a ministerial visit and meetings in Kenya. One reason is that there has not been a ministerial visit of our local members for several years. The other reason is the recognition of a growing interest of those who want to join us or have fellowship with us.

Some of those who have expressed interest are former members or affiliates of the Worldwide Church of God, while others have a certain knowledge of the teachings of the Church under Mr.  Armstrong. Then there are those who have read our Statement of Beliefs and agree with them. Some were baptized by offshoots of the Stanberry Church of God (Church of God Seventh Day). It was the Stanberry Church of God with which Mr. Armstrong had contact in the1930’s.

I am scheduled to leave for Nairobi on July 17 and will return on July 22. So far, there are seven leading people, representing five groups, who are willing to come to Nairobi to visit with me.  We are planning Sabbath services on July 20 at the hotel in Nairobi, where I will be staying, and it looks like there will be at least 12 people in attendance. I am also planning to conduct a leadership meeting on Sunday, July 21.

In addition, we were contacted by five or six groups in the Western part of the country who are interested in working with us, but they will not be able to meet with me in Nairobi and will not be represented at the planned meetings at this time. Hopefully and God willing, things may work out for a second trip to the Western region in the near future to meet with those who are interested in associating with us.

Please pray about this entire situation and for God’s protection, direction and wisdom, since we do not know exactly at this juncture what God has in mind for our work in Kenya, but we might look at God’s tremendous work in the German-speaking areas as a source of vision, motivation and encouragement. And when God opens doors for us, we must go through them.

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We begin with a report on the enlargement of the EU by adding a 28th member state—Catholic Croatia—showing that the EU is not dead, but growing, as prophesied in the Bible.

We continue focusing on tumultuous events in the Middle East—especially Egypt and Syria.

We speak of the deteriorating relationship between America under President Obama and the Europeans—especially the Germans. Triggered by the historical revelation of unparalleled spying activities of the American government on its supposed allies, German and European anti-Americanism is sky-rocketing.  One telling comment by a German politician, which was published in a guest editorial in the New York Times, says it all: “Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don’t Trust Him.”

We report on a major defeat of the Obama Administration regarding the new health care law and the mixed reactions to the outlandish US Supreme Court decisions pertaining to gay marriages, and conclude with news articles on the terrible wild fire in Arizona, the timing of the discovery of Australia’s East Coast, and Belgium’s future king.

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Croatia the 28th Member State of the EU

Deutsche Welle reported on July 1, 2013:

“Croatians are celebrating their entry into the European Union as the once war-torn nation becomes the bloc’s 28th member… At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, Croatia joined the EU, the first expansion of the bloc since 2007… The country of 4.4 million becomes just the second of the former Yugoslav states to enter the EU, following Slovenia’s entry in 2004… Serbia just learned last week that they can begin negotiations in January 2014 for their own future entry in the EU…

“Last year, Croatians voted through a referendum for EU membership, the final hurdle to Sunday’s accession to the bloc… Despite questions over timing and its economy, thousands gathered in Zagreb on Sunday to celebrate the culmination of 20 years worth of change, reform and success. Revelers were joined by 170 foreign officials, 15 heads of state, 13 prime ministers and the presidents of the European Commission and European Council. Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic pointed to the historical significance of the occasion. ‘In the history of a nation, there are few events such as this one,’ he said.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 1:

“As of midnight on Sunday, Croatia is officially the 28th member of the European Union, following a decade of overhaul aimed at casting off the remnants of war and Communist rule. The small Adriatic country briefly set aside its economic troubles to celebrate its accession with fireworks, cannon-fire and church bells… The country of 4.4 million people is only the second of seven countries carved out of Yugoslavia to join the EU, following Slovenia in 2004. ‘I look at the future with much optimism,’ Josipovic said, welcoming a group of seven other Balkan leaders ‘on the first European morning.’

“The festivities in Zagreb lasted well into the night and included concerts, dance performances, street parties and massive projections narrating the mostly Catholic country’s history. At midnight, EU flags were raised and customs posts were removed from the country’s borders with EU members Hungary and Slovenia. Several top EU officials were on hand for the celebration, including European Commission President Jose Barroso and EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, who spoke of a historic day. ‘It’s good when a family grows, especially our family, which is committed to the values of democracy, justice and rule of law,’ Schulz told the crowd… Croatia still has to fulfill more criteria before it will be allowed to join the EU’s Schengen Zone of border-free travel.”

Egyptian Carousel … Morsi Ousted… Now It’s the Military Again

Deutsche Welle reported on July 3:

“The Egyptian army has said that President Mohammed Morsi is to be removed from his post and that the constitution has been suspended. Fresh troops have been deployed around Cairo, with anti-Morsi protesters jubilant. Egyptian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi announced on national television on Wednesday evening that the head of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court would act as president…

“One of the Islamist Egyptian president’s top advisers earlier on Wednesday had condemned action by the country’s army as a ‘military coup’ after an ultimatum for Morsi to forge a deal with opponents expired… Meanwhile, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the military had placed several leaders of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood under surveillance and imposed a travel ban on them. The news agency DPA reported sources at Cairo airport as saying that a travel ban on Morsi himself was related to the president’s 2011 escape from prison during the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak…

“In a last minute statement before the deadline expired between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time (1400 to 1500 GMT), Morsi himself criticized the military for ‘taking only one side’… Opposition spokesman Mohamed ElBaradei, along with Egypt’s top Muslim cleric and a Coptic pope had met General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for talks on measures that the military threatened to impose on Wednesday. Those discussions came to an end on Wednesday evening…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 4:

“Leaders in Europe and elsewhere have expressed dismay at the coup which saw the Egyptian military topple the country’s president on Wednesday night. Some are warning that it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ that could happen again… German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the country must return to constitutional order as quickly as possible… In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron called on all parties to end the violence in Egypt, where nearly 50 people have been killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents since Sunday… Foreign Secretary William Hague also told the BBC: ‘We don’t support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system. It’s of course a dangerous precedent to do that, if one president can be deposed by the military, then of course another one can be in the future — that’s a dangerous thing.’…

“In a statement released by the White House on Wednesday evening, President Obama said Washington ‘is deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution.’ The president called ‘on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.’

“The response from Turkey, where mass protests have targeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was even stronger, not least because Morsi had been a very close ally of Ankara. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the military coup as ‘unacceptable.’ He said: ‘You can only be removed from duty through elections, that is, the will of the people. It is unacceptable for a government, which has come to power through democratic elections, to be toppled through illicit means and even more, a military coup,’ he told reporters.”

Egypt’s future is predestined and clearly revealed in the Bible. It won’t matter who is going to be in charge—the Muslim Brotherhood, President Morsi’s opponents or the military. All this nonsense and the West’s ill-conceived enthusiasm about the “Arab Spring” just cloud the real issues. For the truth and the clear understanding as to what is happening and going to occur in Egypt, and why, please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”

Syria—a Foretaste of Things to Come?

The Blaze wrote on June 30:

“Syrian Catholic priest Francois Murad killed last weekend by jihadi fighters was beheaded, according to a report by Catholic Online which is linking to video purportedly showing the brutal murder. As The Blaze reported last week, Murad, 49, was setting up a monastery in Gassanieh, northern Syria. Last Sunday… extremist militants trying to topple President Bashar Assad breached the monastery and grabbed Murad. While earlier reports suggested Murad may have been shot to death, Catholic Online reported Saturday: ‘The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.’

“The Catholic news service quotes local sources who report that the radical Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, or Al-Nusra Front, was behind the savage killing. In [a] video posted by Live Leak purporting to show the execution, dozens of men and boys are seen cheering on as three men are seated on the ground awaiting their grisly fate. The men are methodically beheaded one at a time by men holding what appears to be a simple kitchen knife after which the heads are placed on top of the bodies. According to Catholic Online, the first victim was Murad.

“A frenzy ensues, with dozens drawing out their smartphones to capture the bloody scene, as a chorus of Allahu Akbar (‘Allah is the greatest’) are  (is) sung with jihadi rapture. Several observers are seen moving within inches of the bodies in an effort to capture close-up photos.

“Catholic Online is raising alarm that western nations are providing support to the rebels who have shown a proclivity toward persecuting Christians: ‘This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and [other] Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.’

“Vatican Radio reports that Gassanieh, a village with a majority Christian population, had been under attack by Islamist fighters for the past few weeks, forcing most residents to flee for safety. It quotes Custos of the Holy Land, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa who says, ‘The world must know that the support of gunmen by the west is helping extremists in killing Syrians. With such stances, not a single Christian will remain in the East,’ he added.

“Vatican Radio writes, ‘Fr. Mourad was just one of the many men and women… putting their faith on the front line in Syria, refusing to abandon the communities they serve, Christian and Muslim. They stay because they want to be a sign of hope, light and comfort to people in the midst of destruction.’”

God is not the author of rebellion, which is as bad a sin as witchcraft, and what is happening in the Middle East is of course not godly. Rather, Satan is the god of this world and the author of rebellion, murder, religious fanaticism and anarchy. However, God allows these events to take place to bring about His purpose, as explained in our free booklet, “Biblical Prophecy–From Now Until Forever.” 

Germans and Europeans Furious With Obama’s America

The Associated Press reported on June 30:

“Senior European officials expressed concern Sunday at reports that U.S. intelligence agents bugged EU offices on both sides of the Atlantic… The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said he was ‘deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices’ made in a report published Sunday by German news weekly Der Spiegel… Schulz said that if the allegations that the NSA bugged European Union offices were confirmed ‘it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.’…

“In Germany, where criticism of the NSA’s surveillance programs has been particularly vocal, a senior government official accused the United States on Sunday of using Cold War methods against its allies by targeting EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels… Also Sunday, German federal prosecutors said they were examining whether the reported U.S. electronic surveillance programs broke German laws… [They] said private citizens were likely to file criminal complaints on the matter, but didn’t comment on the possible legal merits of such complaints.”

Der Spiegel added on June 30:

“Europeans are furious. Revelations that the US intelligence service National Security Agency (NSA) targeted the European Union and several European countries with its far-reaching spying activities have led to angry reactions from several senior EU and German politicians… Elmar Brok, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in European Parliament added his opprobrium. ‘The spying has reached dimensions that I didn’t think were possible for a democratic country. Such behavior among allies is intolerable.’ The US… once the land of the free, ‘is suffering from a security syndrome,’ added Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. ‘They have completely lost all balance. George Orwell is nothing by comparison.’…

“A… Merkel ally in European Parliament, Markus Ferber, accused the US on Sunday of using methods akin to the feared East German secret police, the Stasi… ‘A democratic constitutional state that uses Stasi methods sacrifices all credibility as a moral authority,’ Ferber told the German daily Die Welt on Sunday. ‘It has destroyed trust.’…

“Green Party officials in Brussels are demanding far-reaching consequences. ‘This is meltdown of the constitutional state,’ said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a Green Party representative in European Parliament… and demanded that the EU open proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Green Party floor leader in European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit went even further. ‘A simple note of protest is not enough anymore. The EU must immediately suspend negotiations with the US over a free trade agreement,’ he said…”

The Associated Press reported on July 1 that “French President Francois Hollande is demanding that the United States immediately stop its alleged eavesdropping of the European Union.”

The Verge wrote on July 1:

“… a new report from German news weekly Der Spiegel provides some more insight into the size of Washington’s telecommunications dragnet, claiming that US intelligence compiles metadata on half a billion German data connections (including phone calls, emails, and text messages) every day. The report points out that the NSA’s interest in Germany is much higher than that of other EU countries like France, whose communications the NSA only logs a tenth as often.

“… the report states that the NSA’s spying efforts in Germany are comparable to the attention it spends on China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. And pointing to one top secret document, Der Spiegel writes that Germany is considered a ‘third party foreign partner’ by the NSA, unentitled to the freedom from spying exclusively granted to the most prestigious group of US partner nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.”

If all of these claims are true, the cold war between Europe and the USA is back, which could (!) even escalate into a hot war. The German mass tabloid, Bild, asked on July 1: “What do the Americans want from the Chancellor?”, in light of the alleged revelation that even Angela Merkel had been spied on by the Obama Administration. This made the German Chancellor very unhappy, as the next article shows.

Europe Threatens USA With Dire Consequences

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 1:

“Europeans are deeply unsettled… EU diplomats, with the active involvement of German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, spent much of Monday coming up with a joint response and reaction to the possible US spying. According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Westerwelle spoke at length with Catherine Ashton, chief of EU foreign affairs, on Monday. ‘Both were in agreement that such activity among partners and friends [is] unacceptable,’ the statement read… In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry called in US Ambassador Philip Murphy on Monday for consultations. Brussels likewise called in the US ambassador to the European Union, William Kennard…

“Merkel’s unusually sharp words seem to have opened the gates for more reactions from her cabinet in Berlin… The US, meanwhile, is biding its time. US President Obama said on Monday in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania that his government is still looking at the revelations published in SPIEGEL. He said that once that examination is complete, the US will provide its allies with all of the information they are seeking.”

If one wants to believe THAT!!!

Germans Don’t Trust Obama

In an accompanying article, Der Spiegel wrote on July 1:

“Revelations that the US has spied extensively on the EU and European countries have infuriated leaders in Brussels and Berlin — and could endanger the trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement. Important American voices are demanding that Obama come clean. Leading trans-Atlantic analysts have reacted with shock and horror…

“Sources familiar with the ongoing discussion in the White House regarding the revelations say that the Obama administration will attempt to make clear that the surveillance measures were carried out in coordination with the secret services of other countries. It remains questionable, however, whether any countries will want to admit to such cooperation. European politicians, it seems certain, will have no interest in making such an admission…

“Green Party politician Malte Spitz attracted attention over the weekend with a guest editorial in the New York Times in which he reminded readers of the demonstrations in Germany against data retention for six months in accordance with a European Union directive. ‘Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone.’ The title of his piece: ‘Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don’t Trust Him.’”

This debacle is bound to continue; especially if European secret services collaborated with the Americans and would now be unwilling to admit this.

How Much Did the Germans Know?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 3:

“While the Chancellery appears to be outraged by the NSA’s spying tactics in Germany, the opposition doubts the revelations came as a surprise to Angela Merkel. Just how much could she have known?

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to be pretty clear with US President Barack Obama the next time she has him on the line. At least that’s a reasonable assumption, based on the anger she has expressed about American spying operations in the European Union and Germany… But others say that the chancellor will probably be friendly to Obama during their next talk, and not because this is what diplomatic conventions call for, even amid tensions. No, it’s because there is some question as to whether Berlin’s dismay about the espionage by the National Security Agency (NSA) is really as great as it claims. Could some of the indignation be feigned? Did the revelations really shock the chancellor? And if it did come as a surprise, has German counterintelligence failed miserably?

“The opposition doesn’t believe that Merkel was unaware of the situation. In an editorial for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung this week, Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), openly aired the suspicion that Merkel was familiar with at least some of the spying activity. The government has vehemently rejected this accusation as crude campaign bluster. This isn’t totally unjust — the opposition has seized on the opportunity to portray Merkel as a traitor to citizens’ freedoms, a strategy that could gain support among a population particularly sensitive to data protection issues.

“The election campaign aside, there are good reasons to ask critical questions of not just the Americans, but the German government too. Intelligence expert Erich Schmidt-Eenboom says that Gabriel’s suspicion is ‘at least tendentially’ correct. ‘According to my estimation, the authorities knew about this,’ he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

“That’s because the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is responsible for protecting government networks, compiles threat analyses for the Interior Ministry. And adversaries include ‘not only China or Russia, but also the Anglo-Saxon services,’ Schmidt-Eenboom said. Additionally, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) is familiar with the capacities of allied intelligence agencies, he added. In turn, the BND briefs the Chancellery, or more precisely its chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, who is responsible for coordinating the intelligence agencies. He then shares this information with the chancellor when he sees fit…

“The SPD, however, cannot hide behind Merkel’s conservatives. After all, it was current opposition leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier who occupied Pofalla’s post from 1999 to 2005, in the delicate time after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when US intelligence agencies were certainly not idle. One thing is obvious: No one believed that the NSA was steering clear of Germany…”

These are indeed troubling developments, and Germany’s refusal to grant asylum to fugitive Edward Snowden might have to be seen in this light. See the next article.

“Ashamed of Germany”

The Local reported on July 3:

“Michael Grosse-Brömer, of the Christian Democratic Union’s parliamentary faction [Merkel’s party], said it had been a ‘legally founded’ decision. ‘We have clear pre-conditions for an asylum process and for asylum entitlement, and those pre-conditions were not in place for Mr. Snowden,’ he said on state TV channel ARD Wednesday morning. ‘I don’t see that the man is being pursued politically,’ Social Democratic Party interior policy spokesman Dieter Wiefelspütz [Steinmeier’s party] told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. ‘He may have breached state secrecy for reasons of conscience. He may be a hero of freedom. But that is no protection from legal consequences.’

“The Green party, which had called for Snowden to be taken in, strongly criticized the government. Leading candidates Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Jürgen Trittin released a joint statement on Tuesday evening that said, ‘Angela Merkel’s decision to deny asylum to Edward Snowden exposes all the hypocrisy of this government. It says it is outraged, but doesn’t do anything.’

“Meanwhile Katharina Nocun of the Pirate Party accused the government of putting Snowden under threat, adding that Snowden could expect inhumane treatment or even the death penalty if deported to the US. ‘Germany is even holding the door open for these human rights abuses,’ Nocun said. ‘Today I am ashamed of our government.’”

“Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency, applied for asylum to 21 countries after releasing details of the scope of its surveillance activities. Most have denied him access.”

Is this so because all are involved; all have something to hide; and no one is without sin? Take France as another example.

Worldcrunch wrote on July 4:

“The revelations of the controversial U.S. domestic surveillance program PRISM have provoked massive indignation through much of Europe, but France has been rather quiet. There are two simple explanations: Paris was already aware — and does exactly the same. Le Monde has confirmed that the ‘Direction Générale de la Securité Extérieure’ (DGSE, the French secret service) systematically collects the electromagnetic signals transmitted by computers and phones in France, as well as the digital streams going back-and-forth between the French and abroad. All communications are being spied on: emails, SMS messages, phone records, Facebook and Twitter updates, which are all then stored for years.”

Guenther Grass in Hot Water—Again

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 28:

“Nobel laureate Günter Grass has become a master at stepping on his tongue lately. This week, he did it again, casting aspersions about Chancellor Merkel’s East German past. Critics have blasted Grass, pointing to the author’s own prior membership in the SS.”

This was of course an incredibly stupid and incomprehensible move by Grass, which is even more regrettable, as he did say a few more things which are worth noting. The magazine went on to state:

“Grass didn’t limit his criticism to Merkel on Wednesday. Calling her elimination of conscription ‘shameful,’ he said that the German military had devolved into nothing more than an ‘army of mercenaries that gets sent on missions abroad.’ He said it threatens to become a ‘state within a state’ as did the German army during the inter-war Weimar period.”

With that statement, Grass earned criticism from Conservatives and Liberals alike. Nobody wanted to hear that.

New Information Contradicts Denials from Tech Companies

CNET wrote on June 30:

“The Washington Post has published a new set of slides regarding PRISM, revealing more details about the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program and how it operates. The new slides… appear to confirm that the NSA and FBI have the ability to perform real-time surveillance of e-mail and stored content.

“The slides also seem to contradict denials from tech companies such as Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft about their level of participation in the program. The program ‘uses government equipment on private company property to retrieve matching information from a participating company, such as Microsoft or Yahoo and pass[es] it without further review to the NSA,’ The Washington Post reported.”

US Postal Service Is Spying on You!

The New York Times reported on July 3:

“Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images… postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

“… At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.”

Obamacare—Major Defeat for Obama

Newsmax, The Associated Press and Reuters reported on July 2:

“The Obama administration’s move to delay until 2015 a requirement that employers offer health insurance or else face stiff penalties is yet another indication the embattled law is a failure and should be repealed, Republicans and Conservatives said Tuesday… On Tuesday, the White House made its most significant concession on the healthcare law since President Barack Obama signed it in 2010, delaying the requirement that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face heavy fines.

“The law requires companies with 50 or more workers to provide affordable coverage to their full-time employees or risk escalating tax penalties if just one worker ends up getting government-subsidized insurance. Companies would have had to pay the Internal Revenue Service $2,000 for each full-time employee who did not get health coverage, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was scheduled to take full effect. Business groups have complained that the provision was too complicated…”

Still, the injustice of the implementation of this new botched law is apparent, as correctly pointed out by humanevents.com, on July 2:

“Looks like someone finally read the bill. The Obama administration is postponing the ‘employer mandate’… until 2015. The move delays implementation of at least one component of the unpopular law until after the next mid-term elections. A coincidence, no doubt.

“Individuals? You’re still on the hook… the decision prompts several questions. Among them: 1 -Can the administration unilaterally decide when and how a law is implemented?  If so, can Congress decide when and how to fund it? 2- Why is the employer mandate delayed but not the individual mandate? 3 – Why is it that the populist Obama administration acts on complaints from large companies but fights all the way to the Supreme Court to levy fines on individuals?”

Good questions!

Same-Sex Marriage—HOW “Law” Is Made

The International Business Times wrote on July 1:

“The Supreme Court denied a request by California opposition groups to block same-sex marriages on Sunday. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles petitions from the Western states, issued a brief statement that read: ‘Justice Kennedy denied the application on his own, without further comment.’…

“The Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] usually waits 25 days before acting on a case that was recently decided by the Supreme Court. But in a surprise move, a three-judge panel that included liberal jurist Stephen Reinhardt lifted a hold it had placed on a 2010 injunction ordering state officials to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban [in California]…

“Kennedy wrote Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. Kennedy’s decision means gay marriages can resume in California.”

According to the Rasmussen Report of July 1, 2013, “The U.S. Supreme Court finished its term with big decisions on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Following those rulings, public approval of the court has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in more than nine years of polling.”

Same Sex Marriage—WHY “Law” Is Made

On June 28, Canada Free Press wrote the following:

“Designated by Congress as the ‘National House of Prayer’ and often identified as the church of our national leaders, the National Cathedral in Washington DC celebrated Wednesday’s Supreme Court decisions regarding same-sex marriage by ringing its bells for 45 minutes at noon ET, followed by a celebratory prayer service that evening. After being notified of the Supreme Court’s ruling, our putative president made a congratulatory call from Air Force One to the plaintiffs in California’s Proposition 8 case, a call that was also broadcast on MSNBC, the unofficial mouthpiece for the administration.

“Welcome to American Babylon, 2013.

“Those who have been paying attention to the systematic attacks on the moral fabric of our nation understand that what is taking place in America has absolutely nothing to do with ‘equal rights’ or ‘gender equality.’ This should be especially evident in light of the fact that [confessing] homosexuals comprise a mere three percent of our population, yet have somehow managed to cause an entire nation to redefine traditional marriage between a man and a woman. How is this possible? The answer lies in the larger picture.

“America has become a captured operation. Forced acceptance of same-sex unions is part of a larger plan that was outlined and detailed nearly a century ago by Antonio Gramsci, a well-known Marxist. Through his theory of cultural hegemony, a method for a Marxist takeover of a capitalist nation like the United States was only possible from within. A key component to this takeover was – and continues to be – radically changing the culture and moral sensitivities of our country. Destroy traditional and sacred moral values based on Judeo-Christian principles and replace them with immoral and un-Godly laws and evil disguised as tolerance…

“Socialism calls for government control of industry, including the nationalization of key industries and national resources. The terms Communism and Marxism are interchangeable, and are hard-core forms of socialism… Socialism, Marxism and Communism are mere stepping stones to the larger agenda of a unified world or system of global governance… Many of the… [Communist] goals have been accomplished with little to no resistance right in front of our eyes, by our own self-proclaimed moral leadership.

“A very important aspect of those goals focuses on breaking down all cultural standards of morality, including the promotion of all forms of homosexuality, promiscuity and degeneracy as ‘normal and healthy.’ To assist with this task, all religious institutions were and are to be infiltrated by those adherent to the Marxist-Communist Mindset, the Holy Bible is to be discredited, and traditional doctrine replaced by a mandate of inclusion and tolerance of behavior which was once considered abhorrent. Removal of the Judeo-Christian obstacles in America would sufficiently soften the population to the ultimate acceptance of a global Mindset and ultimately, the subjugation to a single global authority. This process, however, could not be done overnight as the Americans of the 1950’s would never accept it or allow it to happen.

“The children of the United States were and are considered to be one of the most important ‘resources’ for the takeover of America. Accordingly, schools had to be infiltrated by the agents of the Marxists-Communist Mindset, today called the Progressives, and the minds of the children ‘prepared’ or educated in accordance with a tolerance and blind acceptance toward Marxism and Communism…

“It is no wonder that the U.S. Educational system from the 1960’s forward has promoted immorality under the guise of tolerance, and has not only allowed, but forced parents to accept curriculums of abhorrent behavior be permitted to pollute the minds of our young people. At the same time curriculums of moral corruption are being taught in our schools, the removal of God was necessary as it is antithetical to the debauchery of tolerance and acceptance. Like a cancer, this process has spread not only through our public elementary and secondary schools, but exponentially into our colleges and universities… As we are busy working multiple jobs just to put food on the table, we have been deliberately distracted away from what is being taught to our children…

“The normalization of homosexual marriage is a sin against God and nature and historically, one that does not go unpunished. We did not, however, arrive here overnight. It was in 1986, a mere 27 years ago, that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld state’s rights to enact sodomy laws in the landmark case of Bowers v. Hardwick. Citing then Chief Justice Warren Burger, ‘To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.’ That fragile thread of morality lasted only 17 years. In 2003, the Bowers v. Hardwick was overturned by the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in other states.

“Although it was contended at the time that the latter case had nothing to do with same-sex marriage, Supreme Court Justice Antonion Scalia astutely saw through the smoke screen and during oral arguments, flatly admonished anyone who would listen that the decision would open the floodgates toward the recognition of same-sex marriage. And so it did. Legalizing same-sex sexual activity and marriage is but one of numerous attacks against America from within…”

It is so very true that before the United States of America can be destroyed by an enemy from without, it will have permitted its destruction from within. Notice the next article as well.

Altered Attitudes

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 2:

“Two US Supreme Court rulings last week bolstering same-sex marriage are symptomatic of shifting public opinion in the West in favor of gay rights. Attitudes have changed so fast in recent years that politicians can hardly keep up…

“As of this August, 585 million people in the world will live in regions where true gay marriage exists… roughly twice as many as in August 2012. And just 12 years before that, at the turn of the millennium, gay marriage didn’t exist anywhere in the world…

“Several countries have changed their laws just in the last half year. One example is France… Three American states, as well as New Zealand and Uruguay, have also joined the ranks in 2013. But it is Brazil’s over 190 million inhabitants who account for the largest segment of that number…

“The losers in this trend, in every country, are religious forces. In France, it was conservative Catholic circles… But the resistance in France was directed at far more than just gay marriage — it was also about fundamentally questioning the legitimacy of the country’s Socialist president…

“Baptist minister and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee met the Supreme Court’s ruling with the words, ‘Jesus wept.’ But even… radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh conceded earlier this year that the gay marriage movement would no longer be stopped, saying, ‘This issue is lost.’”

Historic Pride Sabbath?

JTA wrote on July 1:

“At 5:00 P.M. this past Friday, a line of visibly excited people, many decked out in rainbow regalia, gathered outside Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Shabbat [CBST] services. Synagogues generally don’t garner lines for services, especially lines that wrap around the block. But then again, it’s not every Shabbat that you can celebrate Pride weekend with Edith Windsor and Roberta Kaplan.

“Windsor, of course, is the lesbian woman whose Supreme Court petition resulted in the historic overturn last week of the Defense of Marriage Act. Kaplan is her lawyer. Both women are CBST members. Over 600 people — including mayoral candidate Christine Quinn — came to the synagogue to celebrate the ruling; some stood outside listening in through speakers. The services were extended and included the recitation of the Hallel prayer normally reserved for holidays. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum dedicated the night to Thea Speyer, Windsor’s deceased partner, and said that, while there may be reasons not to fully celebrate the court’s decisions last week, we should still celebrate this momentous occasion. And celebrate they did. With a full choir, the synagogue was full of joy, music, and hugs.

“Kaplan and Windsor spoke together at the end of the service, comparing their efforts in securing equal rights for same-sex marriages to the efforts of the biblical daughters of Zelophehad, who fought for their inheritance rights and won. The high point of the night came at an unexpected moment. As the services started, a diminutive, elegantly dressed woman walked in slowly. No one noticed her at first, but then one person recognized the smiling [woman] as Edith Windsor, and the cheering and clapping turned into a sustained standing ovation. Her entrance felt like the triumphant return of a battle-worn hero waving to the crowd.”

It might come as a surprise to some, but many American Jews have manifested an incredible amount of liberalism and anti-biblical standards (as this can also be observed for many American Catholics and Protestants). But this is of course not true for all. Notice the next insightful article.

“Rabbi: Only Messiah Can Straighten Out Gay Ruling”

JTA wrote on June 28:

“The National Council of Young Israel wasn’t quite as eloquent as the Orthodox Union, nor as elegiac as Agudath Israel of America, but the essential view is the same. ‘We oppose homosexual marriage and are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision that strikes down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act. Pursuant to the tenets of the Jewish faith and in accordance with Torah law, we believe that marriage should only be recognized as a union between a man and a woman, just as it always has been throughout history.’…

“Orthodox rabbi… Yoel Schoenfeld… the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills in Queens [said] that this decision… has brought humanity so low that it can only herald the End of Days. Maybe, the rabbi says… the messiah will soon come and ‘straighten us out.’”

Indeed, He will have to…

Deadly Arizona Fire

Fox News reported on July 1:

“Eighteen members of an elite Hotshots firefighting crew and one other person who were killed Sunday in an Arizona wildfire tried to protect themselves by deploying tent-like structures before they were overtaken, a state forestry spokesman says. The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to more than 8,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, destroyed at least 50 structures and threatened 500 people in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents that sits 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, the Yavapai County Emergency Management said Monday… It was zero percent contained as of Monday morning local time.

“The fire killed 18 members of the 20-member of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, which were known for battling the region’s worst fires. The average age of the men in the crew was 22-years-old…  It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.”

This tragedy is truly heart-breaking, and our condolences go out to the families of these brave young men who gave their lives to protect others.

The Atlantic Wire wrote on July 1:

“It’s hard to process yesterday’s deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona… But there is one worrisome trend: fires are getting bigger and often deadlier… The number of acres burned per fire reached a new high last year… One reason for last year’s devastation was last year’s massive drought. The Southwest has been consistently dry for several years, but last year — and into this year — the drought reached levels not seen since the Dust Bowl era.

“The wildfires seen so far in 2013 largely track with the drought… As New York City’s Firemen’s Memorial says, the lost firefighters are ‘soldiers in a war that never ends.’ Yesterday’s loss is a reminder that even with our modern advantages, the war is still a struggle.”

Discovery of Australia’s East Coast

AFP wrote on July 1:

“The centuries-old skull of a white man found in Australia is raising questions about whether Captain James Cook really was the first European to land on the country’s east coast. The skull was found in northern New South Wales in late 2011, and police initially prepared themselves for a gruesome murder investigation. But scientific testing revealed that not only was it much older than expected, but possibly belonged to a white man born around 1650, well before Englishman Cook reached the eastern seaboard on the Endeavour in 1770…

“Australian National University expert Stewart Fallon, who carbon-dated the skull… said the test used was quite accurate for dates after 1950 but for earlier samples it was more difficult, and the two samples yielded different dates…

“Historians were cautious. ‘Before we rewrite the history of European settlement we have to consider a number of issues, particularly the circumstances of the discovery,’ archaeologist Adam Ford told the Telegraph. ‘The fact the skull is in good condition and found alone could easily point to it coming from a private collection and skulls were very popular with collectors in the 19th century.’… Dutch explorers made the earliest European landings in Cape York in Australia’s far north and western Australia in the 1600s.”

We need to be cautious with reports like these, as especially the radio-carbon method is indeed very unreliable to determine the age of a fossil.

Belgium’s Future King

The Associated Press reported on July 3:

“Belgium’s King Albert announced Wednesday that he will abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Philippe on July 21… Frail at 79, King Albert will be handing over the throne to his son Philippe, who is 53… Belgium has had six kings since it came into being in 1830; Albert is the first to voluntarily abdicate from the throne… The nation celebrates independence day on July 21 and many have said that could be an ideal day to hand over the largely ceremonial post…

“After he succeeded his devoutly Roman Catholic brother Baudouin in 1993, Albert became embroiled in a major royal scandal when he had to acknowledge the existence of an out-of-wedlock daughter… and suffered a major crisis in his marriage with Queen Paola… ‘He is not alone. Many royals around the world have extramarital children,’ [one commentator said].”

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Does the Bible command regular personal attendance of Church members at weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days services?

Barring extraordinary circumstances, such as health issues or very long distance, which would prevent us from attending Church services, the answer is clearly yes. Not to attend Church services because of lack of convenience or interest is clearly sinful in the eyes of God. And if in doubt, it is always better to attend than to use “excuses” for not attending.

In Hebrews 10, Paul sets forth in no uncertain terms the duty of Church members to attend Church services in person and warns that constant neglect might lead to committing the unpardonable sin: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering… And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, as is the manner of some… For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation  of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:23-27).

Turning first to the Old Testament, we will see God’s explicit commands to the people of Israel to assemble on each Sabbath and on each annual Holy Day, as well as for the entire eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.

Leviticus 23:3 refers to a “holy convocation” on the weekly Sabbath. A holy convocation is a meeting or gathering for a holy or sacred purpose.

Leviticus 23:4 speaks of all of the annual Holy Days or feasts as “holy convocations.”

In particular, Leviticus 23:7 states that the first day of the Days of Unleavened Bread includes a holy convocation [compare Numbers 28:18]. (Even though the Passover, immediately preceding the first Day of Unleavened Bread, is not a holy day per se, it was a commanded assembly for all “circumcised” Israelites and is to be observed today by all “spiritually” circumcised or properly baptized “spiritual Jews” or converted Christians. This assembly was and is so important to God that someone who was or is prevented from keeping the Passover at the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner could and can keep it one month later as the “second Passover” (compare Numbers 9:10-11.)

Leviticus 23:8 says that the seventh or last day of the Days of Unleavened Bread “shall be a holy convocation.” [Compare Numbers 28:25. Deuteronomy 16:8 describes it as a “sacred assembly.”] Even though it does not say that we need to keep all the seven days of Unleavened Bread as holy convocations, we are to remove leavened products from our houses and refrain from eating those products during the entire time, while eating unleavened products for seven days (Numbers 28:17). It is true that at times, all the seven days were voluntarily kept as a feast (Ezra 6:22; 2 Chronicles 35:17) and on one occasion, they were even voluntarily kept for 14 days (2 Chronicles 30:13, 21-27).

Leviticus 23:21 commands that on the day of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks or the “day of the firstfruits,” a “holy convocation” is to be held [compare Numbers 28:26].

Leviticus 23:24 addresses the Feast of Trumpets and states that “you shall have a sabbath-rest” and “a holy convocation.” [Compare Numbers 29:1.]

Leviticus 23:27 states that the Day of Atonement “shall be a holy convocation for you.” [Compare Numbers 29:7.]

Leviticus 23:35 says that on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, there shall be a “holy convocation” [compare Numbers 29:12.]

Leviticus 23:36 states that on the eighth day “you shall have a holy convocation.” Numbers 29:35 describes it as a “sacred assembly.” The eighth day immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. But please note that all the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles are described as a “feast to the LORD” which is to be kept for the entire time (Leviticus 23:41). We read in Nehemiah 8:18 that “day by day, from the first day until the last day, he [Ezra] read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.”

Summarizing the annual Holy Days, Leviticus 23:37-38 concludes: “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations… besides the [weekly] Sabbaths of the LORD…”

Let us now focus on God’s commands as to who was to attend services in Old Testament times, and as to where these assemblies had to take place.

We read in Deuteronomy 16:9-11, regarding the observance of the Feast of Pentecost, that “You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you…” As we can see from this, nobody was excluded (This description is also found in Deuteronomy 5:12-14 regarding the observance of the weekly Sabbath.) Somebody might respond that the wife was not specifically mentioned, or that only “males” were specifically singled out at times (compare Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16-17), but we need to understand that the expression “you” in “you shall rejoice” includes husband AND wife, as both are to be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), and that the expression “man” or “male,” as the head of the household and the leader of the wife, does not exclude the wife in this context, as other Scriptures show us that both had to appear before the Lord.

Where should they meet for holy convocations? Deuteronomy 16:11 continues: “…at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name known.” In other words, they were to attend where God, through His eldership, had designated the place of worship.

The same command is to be found in Deuteronomy 16:13-15, regarding the Feast of Tabernacles: “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days… and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates [Note that this does not only refer to males.]. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses…”

Especially regarding the Feast of Tabernacles when we can use our second tithe, we read in Deuteronomy 12:18: “But you must eat them [second tithe of your grain, new wine, oil, firstling of your flock, etc.] before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands.”

It is clear then that the command to keep the Feast of Tabernacles applied to everyone (not just the man or the male or the head of the household), and all had to appear before God at the place which He had chosen.

We read the same about the Passover, in Deuteronomy 16:5-6: “You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun…” (A general command in this regard is also stated in Deuteronomy 12:10-14).

The command to assemble before God in holy convocations included men, women and little children.

General injunctions can be found in 2 Kings 23:1-3, when all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all the people, “small and great,” went up to the house of the LORD to listen to the words of God.  Nehemiah 8:1-12 reports that on the Feast of Trumpets, Ezra read the words of God to “all the people gathered as one man,” and that he brought God’s words “before the congregation, of men and women and all who could hear with understanding.” This included little children, as we read in Joshua 8:35: “There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.”  2 Chronicles 20:13 adds: “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.”

Turning now to the New Testament, we find that the command to attend Church services on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days is still binding for us today.

Let us notice the custom of Jesus and His parents. We read in Luke 2:41 that Jesus’ parents—together with Jesus—“went to Jerusalem EVERY YEAR at the Feast of the Passover.” We do not read that Mary stayed behind with Jesus until Jesus had reached a certain age. Rather, we read that they all went together to Jerusalem to keep the Feast there. In fact, we read in Luke 2:22 that Joseph and Mary went to the temple in Jerusalem, after the days of Mary’s purification were over, to present the baby Jesus to the Lord. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, Mary’s days of (ritual) purification lasted for 33 days, following eight days after Christ’s birth. Joseph and Mary went with Christ to the temple after about 1 ½ months from Jesus’ birth.

A passage in 1 Samuel 1 does not contradict this fact. We read in 1 Samuel 1:3 that the man Elkanah went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD. Even though it only mentions the man in this passage, his wife Hannah accompanied him, as we read in verse 7 that she, “year by year, went up to the house of the LORD.” She did the same AFTER her son Samuel was miraculously born, as we read in verse 21: “And the man Elkanah and ALL HIS HOUSE went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow.” Even though we read in the next few verses that “Hannah did not go up” until the child was weaned, the context shows that she did not go up for the purpose of presenting Samuel to the high priest to become a servant of God in the temple. This Scripture does not say that she did not go up at all (as verse 21 indicates otherwise). But even if she had not gone up, the Bible would only have reported what had occurred. The Bible does not give permission to the wife to stay home with her child and not attend God’s services, until the child is weaned (about three years after birth).

In any event, as we saw, Christ and His parents went up year by year to keep the Feasts in Jerusalem.

Christ, when He was grown, would never deviate from this practice, either. Notice, as examples, John 4:45; 5:1; 7:8, 10, 14, 37; 12:12, 20. In addition, Christ, as His custom was, went each Sabbath day to the synagogue (Luke 4:16, 31; 13:10; Mark 1:21; 6:2).

Paul and the other early apostles and disciples did the same, by assembling together on the Sabbath day and the annual Holy Days. We read that the disciples (including the apostles, the “women,” the brothers of Christ, and Mary, the mother of Christ, Acts 1:14), were together “in one place” on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), and that they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread—having meals together—and in prayers (Acts 2:42). Members of early New Testament church congregations would assemble and meet together in the private houses of some of their brethren (Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19).

As his custom was, Paul also kept the weekly Sabbath in fellowship with others. He and his party went into the synagogue at Antioch on the Sabbath day to teach (Acts 13:13-15). While the Jews did not like his teaching, “the Gentiles begged that these words be preached to them the next Sabbath (verse 42). “And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” (verse 44). Paul did so on other occasions as well (Acts 17:2; 18:4), while he and his party went also “on the Sabbath day [better: “Sabbaths”; actually, this was the Pentecost weekend, consisting of the weekly and the annual Sabbath]… out of the city [of Philippi] to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made,” and they found a believing woman, named Lydia, who was subsequently baptized together with her household (verses 14-15).

In addition, we read that Paul was very anxious to go to Jerusalem to keep certain annual Holy Days there (Acts 18:20-21; Acts 20:16).

Today, we do not need to go to Jerusalem to observe the weekly Sabbath or the annual Holy Days, as Christ clearly explained in John 4:19-22, but the point is that we need to worship God together, in a sacred assembly and a holy convocation, which is authorized by God, and where God has placed His name. Christ is the Head of His Church, and we are to follow Him wherever He goes and leads His Church (Revelation 14:4).

We do not go to Jewish synagogues today either. As we explain in our free booklet, “Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” “The word ‘synagogue’ is used in several places in the New Testament. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘sunagoge’ and means, literally, a ‘bringing together’… a ‘place where people are led together.’ Although originally used for religious or other gatherings of Jews, the word was later also applied to religious or other gatherings of Christians… In his letter to the ‘twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,’ James addressed ‘brethren’ from those twelve tribes (James 1:1, 2)…

“In James 2:2–4, he states: ‘For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?’ In the Greek, the word for ‘assembly’ in James 2:2 is ‘sunagoge’… James uses this word for a religious assembly of Christians. In addition, the Greek verb, ‘sunago,’ normally rendered as ‘to assemble,’ describes a religious meeting of Christians in Acts 4:31. Christ also warned that His disciples—true Christians—would be ‘put out of the synagogue’ (compare John 16:2). In the Greek, the words are ‘aposunagogos poieo,’ and they literally mean, ‘expelled from the congregation’ or ‘excommunicated…”

When New Testament churches were organized, elders were appointed in every city where there were congregations (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23), to help the brethren grow in their Christian life and understanding and towards the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:28).

As Christians, we are to assemble, as much as possible, in person (not just via the Internet) on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days in holy convocations or sacred assemblies. The Church of God is the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), with the heavenly Jerusalem (“Jerusalem above”) being “our mother” (Galatians 4:26). We are spiritual Jews (Romans 2:28-29). Today, there is neither male nor female (Galatians 3:28-29),  so that every converted person is responsible for him- or herself to give account to God for how they have been living. Even if one wants to believe in the erroneous concept that in Old Testament times, only males had to appear in Jerusalem to keep the annual Feast days, or if also women, that they were excused from appearing at certain times, this would clearly not apply to the New Testament church. God’s Church has consistently taught that parents are to attend weekly and annual Church services with their small children. For many years, God’s Church has had—and will continue to have– the blessing of the little children at its Feast sites during the Feast of Tabernacles, showing that parents are expected to be there with their little children so that they CAN be blessed. God’s command to worship Him on the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days in the prescribed manner and at godly-ordained and -chosen locations is binding on all of His people, individually and collectively, irrespective of gender, age, race or ethnic background.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Our monthly Ministerial Meeting was conducted on Sunday, June 30, 2013, via SKYPE. In addition, a Tech Team Meeting was also conducted later the same day, also utilizing SKYPE.

The member letter for the month of July has been written by Brian Gale. In the letter, Mr. Gale addresses true leadership and our high calling.

Norbert and Johanna Link, along with Mrs. Margaret Adair, are planning to visit the Oregon brethren for Sabbath services on August 3, 2013.

“Not Just For Men,” the sermon given by Mr. Norbert Link, has been posted. Here is a summary: Who created marriage? How should a marriage function? What is the role of the husband? How is a man to conduct himself towards women in general? How did Christ behave in that regard? Was Jesus married? Will He marry His bride when He returns? Who is His bride?

“Männer—Wie Man (Nicht) Handeln Soll!,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. The title in English is, “Men—How (Not) To Behave!”

“Why Approval of Same-Sex Marriages?,” is the new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is the summary:

The recent change of public opinion regarding same-sex or gay marriages caps “one of the fastest civil rights shifts in US history” (Time). As late as “2010, a majority of Americans opposed them” (New York Times). “12 years ago, gay marriages did not exist anywhere in the world” (Der Spiegel). Why this rapid shift? After all, “only three per cent of America’s population is homosexual” (Canada Free Press). Why are Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Baptist Minister Mike Huckabee or Jewish Orthodox Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld in the minority, when they state that marriage is biblically defined as an exclusive lifelong union between one man and one woman? Why does Rush Limbaugh feel that the gay marriage movement cannot be stopped, and why does Fox moderator Bill O’Reilly scorn at those who use arguments from the Bible to speak out against same-sex marriages? Is the destruction of “American Babylon” inevitable, and can only the arrival of the Messiah help us?

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Daily Distractions

by Michael Link

I wish I had the ability to freeze time! A thought which has frequently come into my mind, as the workload has certainly increased insofar as the church is concerned, on top of my regular daily activities which include my job, family, and my other “passions” in life. Frustration has also set in, as I have found it difficult to find the time to get things done, especially when my “day job” consumes most of the hours I have available anyway. Yes, even in the summer time, there are never enough hours in a day. Trying to devise a plan on how I can find the time to complete the work I need to get done, brings about another problem I constantly encounter. And that is distractions. I get side tracked. I overwhelm myself. Sometimes throughout the day, while at work, I think about everything I need to do, and what needs to be done when I eventually get home, only to find myself not doing any of it because I am burned out from all that thinking. Instead, I let distractions get the best of me.

So how do I get rid of this way of thinking? The answer should be quite obvious as I know that God will direct my paths and give me a clearer understanding. It involves prayer, and lots of it. Balance is also important.  What is it that I need to get done, not what I “want” to get done? At this point, I’ll do what I can and I pray that God will grant me “more time” so I can complete the tasks I need to complete. God has a plan for me, even though I may not know right now with certainty what the plan is, but He will reveal it in due time.  So as I go through my day, I need to remember what God promises, in that He will not give me more than I can handle, and I will in return do what I can without letting distractions get the better of me.

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How This Work is Financed

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

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

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

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

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

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

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

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

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God