Christ’s Parables in the Book of Luke
On May 17, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Christ’s Parables in the Book of Luke.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Life or Death
by Michael Link
We are faced with decisions that we have to make every single day and many decisions that people make are either simplistic, common sense decisions or they can be poor and costly ones. We see how our leadership in this nation has made poor decisions, especially ones that are unconstitutional and absolutely contrary with what the Bible teaches. It goes hand in hand with what the Bible predicts, and it will not improve until Christ’s return.
In regard to decisions that we are faced with, it comes down to the choices that we have to make. We have to know within ourselves just what is the right or wrong choice. We have to be careful with our decision making since we are the minority in this world who believe the truth, for WE are the called out ones, the hated ones (compare Matthew 10:22; John 15:18). Because of this responsibility we have, there is a lot of pressure we are faced with in this world, since we have to live as examples and stay true to our faith. We can’t compromise with our beliefs, but we must stand up for what is right. People will know by our convictions and our actions where we stand.
Now we know that God does not change and He never will. He will not compromise (Malachi 3:6). His purpose for mankind is the same today, as it was then! Every person on this earth makes choices, every day, whether they will live righteously or not. But there is one critical difference. While the world continues to go its evil way, there is a group of people that God has called out of this world; to come out from the evil ways, and to live their lives based upon His laws, His statutes, and His judgments! Even God had a choice to make, choosing those out of the world for a purpose (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
We are supposed to live as examples and shine as lights. Each of us being called to this Way of Life, make choices every day. Will we obey God or not? Will we walk in His Way or not? Will we attempt to worship Him in a false way, by worshipping false gods? Will we bow down to gods made with human hands, wooden or stone images? Will we dishonor God by taking His name in vain? Will we faithfully keep and properly observe His Sabbath and His Holy Days? Will we keep man-made holidays originating from pagan origins? Will we kill another human being, for instance in war, or even murder him in our thoughts through the sin of hatred? Will we steal from others, including our brethren, or steal from God by not giving Him what is owed to Him through tithes and offerings? Will we lie against our neighbor or God? Will we covet that which does not belong to us, thus sinning against our God?
The world continually finds itself in the struggles of evil. We have to make sure that we don’t become a part of that. God has His eyes on us. Judgment is now on the house of God! With every decision we come to, with every choice we make; God is taking notice! He is ready and able to help in times of need (compare Psalm 34:15-20, 22). Will we do what is right in God’s eyes, in reference to our mates and our children, and in reference to our neighbor? Each time we break a law of God, it is the result of a wrong choice we have made!
Noah was righteous before God. Because of the choice made by this one man, God decided that He would allow life to continue on the earth for mankind, starting over with this one righteous man and his family, including the animals brought onto the ark.
When it came to the obedience of His law, God chose Israel as the nation He would work through to continue to carry on His Way on the earth, because of Abraham’s right choices. Sadly, Israel chose to disobey God.
David was a man after God’s own heart. Jesus Christ walked upon the earth in the flesh and lived a perfect life. Each of these men had to make choices every day. God was pleased overall with the choices they made, and of course, in the case of Christ, He was always pleased.
After God had delivered Israel from the hands of the Egyptians and had revealed to them once again His righteous and perfect Law, He had given them a choice, as He gives us that same choice. Let us see what this choice is: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).”
We start reporting about unpleasant and disturbing developments in America’s political landscape; continue with events in Ukraine, Russia and China; speak of Israel’s desire to adopt the Talmud as Israel’s national law; address the belief in the devil and the celebration of a black mass; report on Pope Francis’ political ambitions and other occurrences within the Catholic Church; point out the dramatic rise of male syphilis in the USA; address a bearded Austrian drag queen’s victory in Europe’s prestigious national Song Contest; reveal the virtually unknown wide-ranging powers of the European Parliament; and conclude with a scientific debate on the truth or falsity of man- made climate change.
This Week in the News
The Washington Post wrote on May 8:
“On the West Coast to raise millions of dollars for his party, President Obama spent the second half of this week preaching to rich supporters about why Democrats are better than Republicans. It sounded like a conventional stump speech in the windup to the midterm battle… Listen closely, however, and you could hear the president making a much more dramatic statement about the importance of this year’s elections…
“He described the public’s dissatisfaction with Washington as nearly at a tipping point, where working-class Americans see leaders as unresponsive to their most basic concerns. If that were to continue, he said, more middle-class Americans could dismiss the political process completely…
“The president rejected the idea that America was in decline, but he said it could happen if the right steps weren’t taken to invest in the economy… what was striking about his comments this week was that he described the stakes for the midterm elections in almost catastrophic terms… Obama’s remarks suggest that, despite the progress made since the financial crisis and recession from 2008 to 2009, he sees the country as deeply vulnerable if gridlock endures…”
President Obama recognizes that Democrats are in big trouble. But so are Republicans, as the next article shows.
… vs. Republicans
The Washington Times wrote on May 9:
“Gay marriage and abortion, divisive issues within the Republican party, have flared again at the RNC’s meeting here, with Nevada’s delegation firing back at criticism of its April decision to remove anti-abortion and anti-gay language from its state platform.
“Angered by an email from Oklahoma Republican National Committee member Carolyn McLarty… the Nevada delegation sent a stinging rebuke to the 168-member national committee. ‘The removal of two social issues from our platform does not mean that “we” as individual people are “for” gay marriage or “for” abortion, the email said… The delegation also took issue with Mrs. McLarty, an evangelical Protestant and staunch opponent of abortion, calling its action an ‘attack on God and family.’…
“Grass-roots Republicans themselves are divided over whether abortion should be banned nationally by a constitutional amendment or whether it’s a matter of states’ discretion.”
A house divided cannot stand. Both Democratic and Republican voters are hopelessly confused, as are their representatives. And most deny the undeniable—that America IS in decline and facing its inevitable downfall. No amount of sugarcoating can hide this basic truth, and no baseless hope in the “American Way” can delude the realization that America’s sins separate the people from God.
“Voting” in Eastern Ukraine
Deutsche Welle reported on May 11:
“Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern industrial regions said turnout for their referenda Sunday was ‘overwhelming’… That was rejected by Ukraine’s Western-backed interim administration in Kyiv, which described the balloting as a ‘criminal farce.’ Presidential chief of staff Sergei Pashinsky said no voting was taking place in wide parts of eastern Ukraine – a sprawling region with 6.5 million inhabitants. They were being asked to approve a declaration of so-called sovereign people’s republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions…
“Sunday’s referenda went ahead despite appeals by Western powers for a Ukrainian presidential election on May 25 and a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the rebels to postpone their ballot… Officials in battle-scarred Mariupol said there were merely eight polling centers for half a million voters. At several locations, ballot boxes were seen outdoors, among other places in Mariupol and at the village of Ternovoe (pictured) in the Luhansk region.
“Polling lacked international monitors. Western correspondents said balloting was similar to the March referendum in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia days later. Ballot papers used on Sunday were printed without safeguards against duplication and voter registration was patchy.”
Bulgaria—in the Kremlin’s Grip
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 12:
“Concerns are growing within the German government that the European Union’s most impoverished member state, Bulgaria, could fall into the grips of Moscow’s influence…
“Bulgaria is an easy target for the Kremlin because the country is almost entirely dependent on energy imports from Russia to survive. One third of its economic output is either directly or indirectly controlled by Moscow… Bulgaria’s governing coalition — of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, which represents the country’s Turkish minority — is considered closely aligned with Moscow. It includes an illustrious group of former Communist Party members, intelligence service workers and Bulgarian oligarchs who do business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s minions…
“Relations are so close that Russia apparently even has direct influence on Bulgarian lawmaking…
“Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, an independent politician who is fighting openly with his government because he wants to keep Bulgaria on a course toward the West… warned of dangerous developments across the entire region. He fears Putin could destabilize Bulgaria and the Balkans and seek to bring it under its sphere of influence…
“In Berlin, the Bulgarian president pushed for a more determined stand against Russia in the EU. ‘We are currently experiencing a historical moment in which Europe should not be using calculators to add up the consequences of sanctions,’ Plevneliev said…”
The Powerful Resurgence of Putin’s Russia
The New York Times wrote on May 9:
“Putting his personal seal on the annexation of Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived in the naval port of Sevastopol on Friday, where he used the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany to assert that Moscow had the right to take over the Black Sea peninsula.
“Over the past decade, Mr. Putin has gradually turned Victory Day into a celebration of resurgent Russian power and nationalism. The visit to Sevastopol, in southwestern Crimea, the historical home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, was a potent manifestation of his goal of reviving Russia as a global power.
“The West reacted to the annexation in March with sanctions against Mr. Putin’s closest circle of advisers and a few significant companies. By going to Sevastopol, the Russian president was effectively telling Western leaders that Moscow would do as it pleased…
“The annexation provoked the worst tensions between Russia and the West since the height of the Cold War…
“The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, condemned Mr. Putin’s visit as ‘inappropriate.’ Speaking in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, Mr. Rasmussen said that NATO considers the annexation illegal, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Rasmussen also said that NATO had ‘no visible evidence’ that Russia was withdrawing its 40,000 troops from the border with Ukraine, as Mr. Putin said he would on Wednesday…
“Mr. Putin’s visit came just hours after a thundering Victory Day parade, a lengthy review of Russia’s refurbished military and advanced hardware, rolled through Red Square in Moscow… In the parade, the tribute to the annexation of Crimea was not subtle, as the first vehicles to enter the square behind row after row of tightly choreographed marching soldiers made clear. The first vehicle, an armored personnel carrier from a Black Sea Marines brigade, flew a big Crimean flag.”
Deutsche Welle added on May 9:
“President Vladimir Putin has led parades in Moscow’s Red Square – to mark the ex-Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany – and then in Crimea… During his televised Red Square address in Moscow, Putin said May 9 remained Russia’s ‘most important holiday’…
“Despite Western sanctions and condemnation of Russia’s annexation in March of the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, it emerged on Thursday that Putin was likely to be welcomed to Normandy, France, next month… The June 6 commemoration will mark the 70th anniversary of the US-led Allied D-Day landings in France in 1944 that opened a western front against occupying Nazi forces while Soviet troops advance on Nazi Germany from the east…”
The cowardly behavior of the West is incredible. The barbaric and murderous actions of Stalin’s invading Russian army, causing havoc in Germany at the end of World War II, is nothing to be proud about. Even though Russia is celebrated today for fighting Nazi Germany, Stalin was no better than Hitler.
Recasting Russian Superiority—Trouble for the Future
The Christian Science Monitor wrote on May 9:
“Victory Day, Russia’s annual homage to the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in the colossal struggle to defeat Nazi Germany, has always been more than a day of remembrance. Both Soviet and Russian leaders have sought to enhance their own legitimacy by bathing in the reflected light of that triumph, and blatantly used the annual parade of tanks, troops, and intercontinental missiles to advertise continuing military prowess.
“But there were some fresh notes this year that suggest the Kremlin may be recasting Soviet nostalgia and a sense of Russian superiority into a new doctrine: one that would gather ethnic Russians and other former Soviet ‘compatriots’ into a new Moscow-dominated empire that will once again challenge the West. This idea, combined with a renewed taste for military expansionism that was test-driven in Crimea, may spell more trouble in future…
“In his speech after signing the treaty to join Crimea with Russia, Mr. Putin spoke evocatively of Russia’s humiliation at being treated like a vanquished country after the cold war ended, and of his anger at how the West exploited Russia’s weakness to expand NATO eastward into former Soviet territory. The final straw, he said, was US and European encouragement of a street revolt in Kiev that brought a pro-Western government to power that did not represent the interests of millions of Russians and compatriots in Ukraine’s east…
“That kind of talk clearly works with Russia’s public. Putin’s popularity ratings have soared since the Ukraine crisis began, especially after the annexation of Crimea. A late April survey by the independent Levada Center found a near-record 82 percent of Russians approved of Putin’s job performance. Russian media commentators have consistently claimed that the pro-Western interim government in Kiev is dominated by fascists, making the clear suggestion that Moscow’s pushback against the new Ukrainian regime is in some way a continuation of the Soviet Union’s war against Nazi Germany. The same thought seemed to lurk between the lines of Putin’s Victory Day speech as well.”
Bild Online reported on May 9 that former German Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor, Joschka Fischer, warned of Putin’s militaristic and violent ambitions and stated that if Ukraine falls, more will fall. The Bible says that once the European Beast is in power, troubling rumors from the East will motivate him to attack Russia and China. What we are experiencing now might give us a hint as to how these developments will come about. See the next article.
Russia and China
Bloomberg reported on May 9:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to open the door to Chinese money… Putin is turning to Asia as financing from the U.S. and EU tightens and capital outflows surge… Russia has been building trade ties with China, including long-term oil deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars… China is Russia’s largest trading partner with $95.6 billion of business in 2012… Russia will develop ties with China and the two countries’ union will be a ‘significant factor’ affecting the architecture of modern international relations, Putin said…
“Putin’s decision, coming as competition from U.S. and European financing slows, may offer China a good opportunity to gain access to Russia’s economy. Joining existing resource projects will probably be more appealing than starting from scratch… Russia is also seeking China’s help to build a bridge to the annexed Crimean peninsula…
“Russia’s relations with China are developing steadily…”
Talmud to Become Israel’s Law?
Israel National News wrote on May 9:
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly revealed at a Likud conference on Wednesday some remarkable facets of the Basic Law he submitted last Thursday, which would enshrine Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people… he intends to make the Hebrew calendar, which is based on Jewish law, the official calendar of Israel… The new law also would establish the Talmud, the core work of Jewish law, as an official basis for Israeli state law…
“Netanyahu stressed the law would not restrict the rights of non-Jewish citizens of Israel… ‘They want a Palestinian national state to be built beside us, and to turn the State of Israel, meanwhile, into a bi-national state, Jewish-Arab, within our restricted borders,’ Netanyahu argued, saying the new Basic Law would prevent such a situation.”
If adopted, this would not make many nations happy.
Satanic Black Mass Celebration at Harvard University
CBS wrote on May 8:
“A reenactment of a Black Mass celebrating Satan is scheduled to take place at Harvard University on Monday evening. It has outraged the Catholic Church, but the group holding the event says it’s educational. The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is hosting the Satanic Temple from New York…
“In a recent statement, Pope Francis warned of the danger of being naïve about or underestimating the power of Satan, whose evil is too often tragically present in our midst…
“Harvard University says it supports the rights of students and faculty.”
This is plain foolishness and blasphemy. Left-liberal Harvard University should be ashamed of itself for allowing, under the disguise of liberty and freedom, the open worship of Satan and his most blatant idolatries.
Subsequently, crimson.com wrote on May 12:
“Although the Harvard Extension School Cultural Studies Club dropped its sponsorship of a reenactment of a satanic ‘black mass’ ritual earlier in the night, members of the New York-based Satanic Temple gathered for what appeared to be a black mass on the second floor of the Hong Kong restaurant and lounge shortly after 10 p.m. Monday. About 50 people, mostly dressed in black and some wearing face makeup, were present for the ceremony. A consecrated host, believed by Catholics to be the body of Christ, was not used in the ritual…
“The ritual came after the cancellation of a black mass reenactment organized by the Harvard Extension School Cultural Studies Club, which had the event scheduled for Monday evening in Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall. Shortly before the planned starting time, the club said that it was moving to an off-campus site, citing in an email that ‘misinterpretations about the nature of the event were harming perceptions about Harvard and adversely impacting the student community.’…
“The club emphasized in the 5 p.m. email that Harvard had not asked them to move the event from its previous location, the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub in the basement of Memorial Hall, and commended the University for affirming its members’ rights to free speech and assembly. ‘Harvard always demonstrated that it understood its responsibility to defend protected student speech. That was always made clear to us,’ the club wrote in a second email.”
The Devil IS Real!
The Washington Post wrote on May 10:
“A darling of liberal Catholics and an advocate of inclusion and forgiveness, Pope Francis is hardly known for fire and brimstone. Yet, in his words and deeds, the new pope is locked in an epic battle with the oldest enemy of God and creation: The Devil.
“After his little more than a year atop the Throne of St. Peter, Francis’s teachings on Satan are already regarded as the most old school of any pope since at least Paul VI, whose papacy in the 1960s and 1970s fully embraced the notion of hellish forces plotting to deliver mankind unto damnation…
“Since its foundation, the church has taught the existence of the Devil. But in recent decades, progressive priests and bishops, particularly in the United States and Western Europe, have tended to couch Satan in more allegorical terms. Evil became less the wicked plan of the master of hell than the nasty byproduct of humanity’s free will. Even Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a lofty German theologian, often painted evil with a broad brush.
“Enter the plain-talking first pope from Latin America, where mystical views of Satan still hold sway in broad areas of the region. During his time as cardinal of Buenos Aires before rising to the papacy, Francis was known for stark warnings against ‘the tempter’ and ‘the father of lies.’…
“Vatican officials talk about a resurgence of mystical rites in the church, including exorcism — or the alleged act of evicting demons from a living host. Cardinals in Milan; Turin, Italy; and Madrid, for instance, recently moved to expand the number of exorcists in their dioceses to cope with what they have categorized as surging demand… ‘The sad truth is that there are many bishops and priests in our church who do not really believe in the Devil,’ said the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, the 89-year-old priest who is perhaps the closest thing the church has to a Hollywood-style exorcist…
“In a rare glimpse of an official exorcism last week, in a white-tiled room outfitted with images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, Amorth wrapped his purple sash around a Neapolitan housewife in her 40s who said she was afflicted by multiple demons. He then began chanting in Latin, commanding the devils inside her to reveal themselves.”
According to the report, the housewife was possessed by five demons who were “cast out” by the Catholic priest. We do not believe that true exorcisms can be accomplished through the superstitious hocus-pocus implemented by the Catholic Church, but we do believe, of course, that the Devil and demons exist.
Pope Francis’ Political Ambitions
Fox News wrote on May 9:
“Pope Francis has spent a year on the Throne of Peter. In that time, his modest style and high-minded ideals have ignited a new optimism and fervor among Roman Catholics, including those who left because of disagreements with some of its teachings. Francis has gone out of his way to voice support for the world’s poorest citizens, rightly noting that their plight is too often ignored or brushed aside. Until this week, his statements have called for voluntary action by wealthier countries and individuals as the right way to relieve economic inequality. He appealed to our better selves, and in so doing, made us all ask if we could be kinder and more generous. The answer, of course [is, that we should be.]
“On Friday, however, Francis chose a meeting with – of all people — officials of the United Nations to endorse what he called ‘the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.’ By appearing to sanction what amounts to forced redistribution, Francis grievously exceeded his authority and became what amounts to a robe-wearing politician. He also exposed his Church, one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, to inevitable charges of hypocrisy…”
Vatican Announces Jesus Is Not Coming Back?
The Examiner reported on May 2:
“A spokesperson for the Vatican officially announced that the coming of the Lord may not happen. They stated from the looks of it, Yashua, the only begotten Son of God will not return per John 14:1-3. Cardinal Giorgio Salvadore told WWN [Waterford Whispers News] reporters that Jesus may have been drinking (perhaps from the last Supper with his disciples) when he uttered the statements of his return. He rationalized that people make promises they can’t keep when they’re drunk…
“Yes, people should stop ‘waiting’ on a future return of Christ. His presence arrived almost two thousand years ago when he came in judgment upon the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. These were the days of vengeance upon Jerusalem for persecuting and murdering the Son of God, the apostles and saints…”
WWN also wrote on April 18:
“The Vatican defended Jesus’ broken promise, claiming ‘he was probably drinking wine’ at the time when he made the comments. ‘Having the ability to turn water into wine had its ups and its downs,’ added Cardinal Salvadore. ‘We all make promises we can’t keep when we’re drunk. Jesus was no different.’ The church said it will now focus attentions on rebuilding its reputation around the world, but will keep an optimistic mind for the savior’s second coming.”
There has been quite a discussion on the Internet as to whether the above-quoted comments were actually made, due to the fact that apparently no mainstream paper or news agency reported them. But this is not conclusive, as our new StandingWatch program, “Does the Vatican Question the Return of Christ?,” points out.
Male Syphilis Explodes in the USA
Breitbart wrote on May 12:
“The sometimes-deadly disease syphilis is exploding in the United States, with most of the increase since 1995 among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new report from the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“As recently as 2000, researchers believed the total elimination of syphilis was within reach. The recent dramatic increases in infections, coupled with the observation that syphilis closely tracks with other diseases like AIDS, have the medical and scientific community deeply concerned. The CDC report considers ‘the increase in syphilis among MSM is a major public health concern.’… The report also says that ‘men contributed an increasing proportion of cases, accounting for 91.1% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2013.’
“Most of the increases came from men who have sex with men, which were responsible for 77% of cases in 2009 but 83.9% in 2012, what the report calls ‘the vast majority of male… syphilis cases.’ The report warns that the numbers in the new report are likely far less than the true number because only 34 states and the District of Columbia fully report sex of sex partners…”
Austrian Transvestite Wins European Song Contest
Mail On Line reported on May 11:
“Bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst wins… the Eurovision Song Contest 2014… Pushing the boundaries of gender identity is nothing new at Europe’s annual song contest, which is known for its eclectic, sometimes unlistenable lineup of techno beats, love songs and pop tunes.
“Prior to her performance, the transvestite has faced a barrage of homophobic and transphobic attacks from within her own country and from other countries including Russia, Armenia and Belarus, who branded the contest a ‘hotbed of sodomy’, the BBC has reported…
“The annual competition is supposed to be completely removed from politics. Still, every time Russia got votes from mainly neighboring countries, many in the audience of 10,000 booed. And when Moscow gave its respective 8, 10 and 12 points to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – all former Soviet republics – more boos were heard.”
BBC News added on May 10:
“Collecting her trophy on stage the singer said: ‘This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are – we are unity and we are unstoppable.’
“Speaking backstage later, Wurst said she felt Europe had taken a stand by voting her the winner. ‘I dream of a world where we don’t have to talk about unnecessary things like sexuality, who you love. I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance,’ she said.”
The Local wrote on March 11:
“Austria won, and they deserved to, too – it was a victory for vulnerability, emotional songs and also for the right of men in beards to wear dresses if they want to.”
The Local added on May 12:
“American photographer David LaChapelle has designed a provocative poster for this year’s Life Ball in Vienna – depicting the transgender model Carmen Carrera, pictured nude, as both a man and a woman. Carrera appears under the slogan: ‘I am Adam – I am Eve – I am me’. The image is designed to communicate a message of tolerance and acceptance, according to Life Ball organiser Gery Keszler…
“Vienna’s annual Life Ball is the biggest charity event in Europe supporting people with HIV or AIDS. This year it takes place on 31st May. LaChapelle’s poster will be on display around Vienna… Conchita Wurst’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest is a happy coincidence, Keszler said. She will perform ‘Rise Like A Pheonix’ live on the main stage at the Life Ball.”
The signs of the time…
The Powerful European Parliament
Der Spiegel wrote on May 8:
“European voters generally pay little attention to [the] European Parliament, but over the years, the body has become increasingly powerful. Already, a representative in Brussels wields more influence than one in Berlin. And the gap is growing…
“At the beginning of the 1950s, when the EU was still the European Coal and Steel Community, there was nothing but the ‘Common Assembly,’ which had little more than consultative duties. Once the Treaties of Rome went into effect in 1958, the body wanted to rename itself the European Parliament…
“The first direct elections didn’t take place until 1979 and only in 1987 was the European Parliament allowed to adopt its current name. The Treaty of Maastricht, signed in 1993, granted parliament a role in lawmaking for the first time. Subsequent treaties — Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2003) and Lisbon (2009) — expanded the body’s power to include a say in almost all areas of policymaking…
“Members of the traveling circus that is the European Parliament would be pleased by a further gain in power. It would finally put them at the center of power in Europe.”
While Europe is uniting—and a charismatic political leader cannot be that far off to rule the continent—anti-American feelings are growing there. Stern Online reported on May 8 that one third of Austrians desire the return of a “Fuehrer.” And the same magazine wrote on May 7 that Putin takes ice-cold advantage of the crisis in Ukraine, but that America’s negligent politics are to be blamed for the crisis.
Several Fires Burn in San Diego County
The Associated Press reported on May 14:
“A fast-moving wildfire ignited hillsides and destroyed more than two dozen homes Wednesday in the coastal city of Carlsbad as weary firefighters scrambled to control multiple blazes in Southern California on the second day of a sweltering heat wave. Flames were shooting up along canyon ridges as thick black smoke darkened blue skies over the small city, about 30 miles north of San Diego, known for its Legoland California amusement park that was closed Wednesday because of a power outage.
“Mandatory evacuations were in progress, and more than 11,000 notices were sent to homes and businesses… The blaze was one of several wildfires that firefighters in San Diego County were battling amid hot, dry and windy conditions…
“Another wildfire further north, forced the evacuation of residents in military housing at Camp Pendleton, and the closure of an elementary school on the Marine Corps base. A third fire spread from a burning vehicle on coastal Interstate 5 to roadside brush near the northwest corner of the Marine base. Earlier, authorities reported 25 percent containment of a 2.42-square-mile fire that broke out Tuesday and forced thousands of people to flee the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego. In Santa Barbara County, a 600-acre blaze near the city of Lompoc was 50 percent contained.
“State fire officials say triple digit temperatures and the drought were setting conditions for an unusually busy firefighting season…”
The fire season has just started. This might become a very hot summer.
“Scientists Slam Latest Doomsday Climate Report”
Newsmax wrote on May 11:
“Climatologists and other experts are blasting a new climate change report from the Obama administration, calling it a ‘litany of doom’ that objective scientists won’t take seriously.
“The National Climate Assessment (NCA), an 840-page report compiled by 300 scientists and experts that was released at a White House event on Tuesday, warns that climate change is a clear and present danger. ‘Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,’ according to the report. Rising temperatures, it asserts, will be responsible not only for more drought, wildfires, flooding, and sea level rise, but also an increased risk of heat-related deaths…
“Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James Taylor declared: ‘Leading authors of this report include staffers for activist groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, Planet Forward, the Nature Conservancy, and Second Nature. Few objective climate experts will take this report seriously. Even those scientists who are not overtly affiliated with environmental activist groups were almost uniformly on the record as global warming alarmists before being chosen to write this report.’
“Mark Morano offered a round-up of reactions to the global warming report on his Climate Depot website.
“Former Colorado State University climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.: ‘That much of the media accepted the NCA without questioning its findings and conclusions either indicates they are naïve or they have chosen to promote a particular agenda and this report fits their goal.’
“Dr. Judith Curry, chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology: ‘The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change. Worse yet is the spin being put on this by the Obama administration.’
“Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis: The report is ‘designed to scare people and build political support for unpopular policies such as carbon taxes. Alarmists offer untrue, unrelenting doom and gloom.’
“Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville: Part of the report ‘is just simply made up. There is no fingerprint of human-caused versus naturally-caused climate change.’
“Weather Channel Co-founder John Coleman: The report is a ‘litany of doom,’ a ‘total distortion of the data and an agenda-driven, destructive episode of bad science gone berserk.’
“Climate Depot’s Morano said: ‘By every measure, so-called extreme weather is showing no trend or declining trends on 50-100-year timescales. Droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes are not increasing due to man-made global warming. Why does the report now call “global warming” a new name, so-called “climate disruption”? Simple answer: Due to earth’s failure to warm — no global warming for nearly 18 years — another name was necessary to attempt to gin up fear. This report is predetermined science.’”
Der Spiegel Online added on May 12:
“Meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson has long been considered a cool head in the often heated conflict over global warming. In an interview, he defends his decision to join an organization that is skeptical of climate change.
“The debate over climate change is often a contentious one, and key players in the discussion only rarely switch sides. But late last month, Lennart Bengtsson, the former director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the world’s leading climate research centers, announced he would join the academic advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
“GWPF, based in Britain, is a non-profit organization and self-described think tank. Conservative politician Nigel Lawson founded the organization in 2009 in order to counteract what he considered to be an exaggerated concern about global warming… [Bengtsson said:] ‘It is frustrating that climate science is not able to validate their simulations correctly. Since the end of the 20th century, the warming of the Earth has been much weaker than what climate models show… the scientific report… does not bring up the large difference between observational results and model simulations…’”
Man-Made Climate Change or Global Warming–or Neither? You’ll be the Judge.
When we ask God for healing and are not healed, does this mean that we don’t have enough faith?
The question of sickness and healing has confused many people. Some don’t believe in godly healing; others claim that given enough faith, God will heal every sickness in this life. Some carry with them feelings of guilt, as they prayed to God for healing and were not healed, concluding that the reason must be their fault and their lack of faith. Some conclude that if we prayed to God for healing “in accordance with” or “subject to” His Will, this would already signify our doubt in God’s intervention. Some say that when Paul asked God for healing (compare 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), Paul did not really have the faith that God would heal him. They make the same argument regarding Elisha (2 Kings 13:14, 20-21), stating that Elisha was not healed because he did not have the faith that he would be healed.
We should be able to see that these conclusions cannot possibly be correct. To suggest that Paul and Elisha did not have enough faith in God’s healing is absolutely wrong. But those ideas show the confusion some people have regarding this often-misunderstood topic of sickness and healing.
It is true, of course, that when we are sick, God commands us to call for the elders of His Church to anoint us with oil—a symbol of God’s Holy Spirit—and to pray for us, and Scripture says that the prayer of faith will “save the sick,” and God will ”raise him up.” And we are also encouraged to pray for one another that we may be healed (James 5:13-16). But how is this passage to be understood, and what all is involved here?
We have prepared a free booklet, titled, “Sickness and Healing—What the Bible Tells Us.” We are going to quote pertinent excerpts in this Q&A, strictly focusing on the question of faith and healing:
“Some say that if we only have enough faith in God to heal, then we have an unconditional promise for healing in each and every case. But… this is not correct. If it were so, why was the apostle Paul not healed? Why were righteous prophets, like Elisha, not healed? …
“God may very well heal in this life, and quickly. Although God may heal people with little or no faith in Him, He generally only does so, if we believe that He can and will heal us. But without faith, there is no reason to think that God will heal us. Christ healed a blind man, saying to him: ‘according to your faith let it be to you’ (Matthew 9:29). He healed the demon-possessed daughter of a Gentile woman when He saw the woman’s faith. He said to her: ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire!’ (Matthew 15:28). He healed a blind man, telling him: ‘Your faith has made you well’ (Luke 18:42). Sarah was healed and received a child, ‘because she judged Him faithful who had promised’ (Hebrews 11:11).
“… this does not mean that if we only have enough faith, we have an absolute unconditional promise that God will heal us immediately. More than faith may be involved. God may decide that it is best for us not to be healed right away. We need to always submit to the will of God, saying, as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane: ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will… O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done’ (Matthew 26:39, 42). Christ did not doubt God’s power to intervene; likewise, we must never doubt God’s power to heal. Still, Christ was willing to submit to the Father’s will. Christ prayed to the Father, as it says in Mark 14:36: ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’”
To interject, we must understand that it may NOT be God’s Will to heal us right away, or completely, or at all, in this life. And there are reasons for that. To argue with and deny this, we are really “tempting” God or better “testing Him severely,” trying to force OUR Will on Him. Some have done this, refusing to take medical help–for instance, an insulin-dependent diabetic refuses to take insulin–“believing” that God would heal the person of diabetes. In some cases, they nearly died, and some did, in fact, die. This is not unconditional faith—it is “foolishness” and unbiblical conduct.
“Christ experienced what it was like to suffer in the flesh, so that He could become our merciful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14–16; 5:6–8). All of us need to be compassionate and merciful toward others. In going through trials and suffering, including [a prolonged] sickness, we develop empathy for others who are also afflicted with sickness (compare 2 Corinthians 1:3–7). This may be, at times, one of the reasons why God may decide not to heal us right away.”
This is an important observation which we must never overlook when contemplating the issue of sickness and healing. Christ was familiar with sickness (Isaiah 53:3), so that He could become our MERCIFUL High Priest—knowing how it is like to be sick—and we must experience similar occurrences so that we can empathize with those who are sick and become merciful and compassionate people.
“Without faith, however, we have absolutely no guarantee that God will heal us, even though He otherwise might have done it. Notice the following revealing examples: We read that Christ ‘did not do many works’ in Nazareth ‘because of their unbelief’ (Matthew 13:58). We are even told in Mark 6:5–6 that He could not do mighty works there because of their unbelief. If we do not have enough faith in God, then we are to pray and fast in order to GROW in faith. Christ said that given enough faith, ‘nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20). At the same time, He explained to His disciples that they needed to pray and fast MORE in order to be given the kind of faith that was necessary to cast out a powerful demon (verse 21)…
“Faith is necessary for healing, but faith alone is not enough. Our way of life has a great deal to do with whether God may choose to heal us or not. We read in 1 John 3:22: ‘And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’ (Compare, too, Matthew 21:22.) If we please God, by keeping His commandments, then we CAN have confidence that God WILL heal us, in HIS time, and when it is BEST for us.”
To summarize at this point, in order to be healed, we need to have faith and we must live lives which are pleasing to God, which includes, keeping His commandments in the letter and in the spirit.
Related to this is another extremely important condition that we must fulfill so that we can look confidently towards healing. We state the following:
“… James says in chapter 5, verses 13–16: ‘Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray… Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.’
“We are being told in James 5:16 that we are to ‘confess [our] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that [we] may be healed.’ The Greek word for ‘trespass,’ paraptoma, is used in numerous additional passages, for instance in Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:1; 2:5; or 2 Corinthians 5:19. It is consistently and correctly translated in the New King James Bible as ‘trespasses’ in those passages. We are told in Colossians 2:13 that God, upon our repentance, forgives us all of our ‘trespasses.’ We are also told that if we forgive men their ‘trespasses,’ our Father will forgive us our ‘trespasses’… [What] we need to confess to our brother or sister, in order to obtain his or her ‘forgiveness,’ are those [trespasses] that we have committed against our brother or our sister. Mark 11:25–26 tells us: ‘And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“Unresolved problems between brethren might even prevent healing of physical sickness. James 5:16 tells us, ‘Confess your trespasses to one another [with the goal to ‘clear the air’], and pray for one another, THAT you may be healed.’ After all, Christ told Peter to forgive his repenting brother ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:22). In Peter’s question, the brother had sinned against Peter and had come to him to express to him his sorrow—in other words, to ‘confess’ to Peter his trespass or sin against Peter.
“We also read in Luke 17:3, ‘Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.’ Notice, too, Matthew 5:23–24, ‘Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’
“If we commit a sin or trespass against someone else, resulting in an offense and a problem within our relationship with that other person, we are to ‘confess’ our sin or trespass to that person, asking him or her for forgiveness, with the goal of restoring our relationship…
“The Scripture in James 5:14–16 is a command for us, that if we are sick, we are to ask for God’s true ministers to anoint us with oil [a symbol of God’s Holy Spirit of power] and to pray over us. We have to pray with faith, and we have to repent of our sins, if our sickness is a result of sin. This shows that not every sickness is the result of sin, but sin CAN be the cause of it. Further, we have to repent of our trespasses towards others, and we have to forgive others the trespasses committed against us. Then, we are told, God will heal us if we are sick. He might do it immediately, or within a short while. But then again, He might not do it in this life. He will, however, do it without question at the time of our resurrection. We read that God will raise up the sick person. The word for ‘raise up’ is the same Greek word used when God talks about the resurrection from the dead.
“The connection is clear: IF we fulfill the conditions mentioned in James 5, we WILL be in the resurrection, having had our sins and trespasses forgiven and our sicknesses healed. If, on the other hand, we do NOT repent of our sins AND of our trespasses committed against our brothers and sisters, and if we do not forgive our brothers and sisters their trespasses, we will NOT be in the resurrection, nor will we receive physical healing from God.
“In effect, God is saying: ‘I will raise you up, perhaps right now to honor your faith in Me, but for sure at the time of Christ’s return, IF you have faith in Me and IF you repent of your sins and IF you confess your trespasses to your brother and sister, against whom you have sinned, thereby bringing about reconciliation between the two of you.’ We are not to confess sins against God to others, but if we have wronged another human being, we must go to that person and bring about reconciliation.”
And still, even if we had “perfect” faith and lived a “perfect” life and had brought about perfect reconciliation with our brother and sister, God might STILL NOT heal us in this life from a particular sickness. Why not? Because God might have in mind a superior purpose for us in this life which He deems much more important than our healing from temporary frailties. We state in our booklet:
“If we REALLY love God, then we will have developed such a close relationship with Him that we will understand and accept the fact that God may respond to our plea for healing with the words, ‘Not yet, My child.’ God will make His Will known to us as He did to Christ in the garden, and to Paul, and we will accept it, knowing that God will never do anything that is bad for us. We will understand that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8: 28). When Paul understood that God would not heal him from his sickness in this life, he said, ‘Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities… for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
“At the same time, we are not to give up. In Paul’s case, God revealed it very clearly to him, leaving no doubt that He would not heal him. But even Paul asked three times for healing before God made His will known to him. We must, therefore, in faith, continue to pray to God for healing when we are sick, never doubting that He can heal us and that He will do so (compare James 1:6–8), unless important reasons prevent Him from doing so. We must never have the frame of mind, ‘I will ask God for healing, but I’m not sure whether He will heal me, since He might not be able to, or want to.’ Rather, we must be convinced that God WILL heal us, and we must ask Him in faith, while making sure that we do everything we can so that God is not prevented from healing us by our conduct (such as lack of faith, refusal to repent of sin, etc.).”
Christ died for us so that we can have forgiveness of sins. He suffered for us so that we can have healing from our sicknesses. His Sacrifice accomplishes both, and because of it, we can have eternal life in God’s Kingdom. When we are born-again members of the Family of God, we will have a new body… a spiritual body, freed from sickness and decay. Some say that applying God’s promise for healing to the “next life” is insufficient as by then, we do not need healing. But we do. It is not self-evident or to be taken for granted or that God owes it to us that we enter the Kingdom of God with “healthy” bodies. We only will do so because of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And even those who die with sickness in this life and are resurrected in the Second Resurrection as physical beings will be resurrected with healed physical bodies. This fact is not self-evident or to be taken for granted either… it is only going to occur BECAUSE of Christ’s Sacrifice and God’s promise that He will heal our physical infirmities.
To conclude, if we are sick, we are to pray to God for healing and avail ourselves of the privilege of calling for the elders of His Church to anoint us with oil and to pray for us. MANY were healed who did this – some miraculously in an instant. Others did not experience immediate healing, or healing at all in this life, but lack of faith or ungodly living or lack of reconciliation with others did not HAVE to be the reason. We must of course make sure that we do our part, and we must then have the unshakable confidence and trust that God WILL heal us—in HIS due time—never questioning Him, and never trying to ”force” Him to do what WE want Him to do, even though it would not be in our best interest and might even prevent us from entering His Kingdom. We might not fully understand all the reasons why someone is not healed right away or at all… but we MUST have the absolute faith and conviction that God knows everything; that He can do everything; and that He will do everything that we ask… in His due time and subject to His Will.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new Member Letter has been written and mailed this week. In it, Dave Harris reviews prophecies given to help Christians prepare for future trials and points to the need to more fervently draw close to God.
“Does the Vatican Question the Return of Christ?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
A spokesperson for the Vatican, Cardinal Giorgio Salvadore, allegedly announced that the coming of Christ may not happen. The Cardinal reportedly said that Jesus may have been drinking when he uttered the statements of His return, and that people make promises they can’t keep when they’re drunk. Other religious teachers postulate as well that Jesus will not return, or that He has already returned. Why does the Bible condemn these views as deceitful, blasphemous and ungodly?
“Warum Heilt Gott Mich Nicht?,” is the title of this week’s new German sermon–the title in English: “Why Doesn’t God Heal Me?”
“The Book of 2 Thessalonians,” the sermon given by Norbert Link this past Sabbath is now posted. Here is a summary:
What significance does Paul’s prophetic writing have for us today? Who is the son of perdition and the man of sin, sitting in the temple of God, claiming to be God? What is meant with “antichrist”? Are God’s people still going to face the falling away from the truth? Does the Bible teach that Christ returns twice? How does God send strong delusion?
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:
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