|Live Services||“It is Satan’s Fault!”|
|Editorial||What Do You Set Your Mind On?|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Could you please explain Isaiah 45:7? In what way does God create evil?|
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“It is Satan’s Fault!”
On June 21, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “It is Satan’s Fault!”
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.
What Do You Set Your Mind On?
by Eric Rank
Following the Feast of Pentecost, we are reminded of the power and Holy Spirit of God made available to mankind. The tremendous ability of the Spirit allows us to do things that are physically impossible. That is not to say that we can leap over buildings or lift cars above our heads if we have the Holy Spirit. Rather, with the Holy Spirit we have the ability to perform spiritual feats of strength. The Holy Spirit gives man the mind of God, and with that the ability to understand His truth in a spiritual way. The gift is marvelous!
However, we all are still obliged to live a life with a physical existence. A natural tension exists between the physical and spiritual life, which is expressed throughout the Bible. This tension forces a necessary choice on our part—to live in such a way that we may receive the gift of life, or in a way deserving the penalty of death (Romans 6:23). Paul wrote to the Romans about this spiritual distinction between the physical and spiritual life, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). Paul emphasizes that we can affect our way of life by controlling the things that we set our mind on. What do you set your mind on? Are you concerned with spiritual matters, or things that have a mere physical consequence?
This is a powerful concept if we are willing and able to harness it. By controlling the things that concern us, we improve our ability to overcome this world. If we discontinue our concern with purely physical, the physical world ceases to sway us. Temptation becomes less and less powerful through the Spirit. Satan has a serious influence over the world, and causes many to neglect the spiritually important matters, such as the fruit which we are directed to bear (Galatians 5:22), but through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His Life in us, we too can overcome that influence, after having obtained forgiveness for our past sins.
Setting our mind on spiritual matters instead of physical things might also help us through a trial. Are the trials that we experience physical or spiritual? Do we find relief if we drop the concern for our desired physical outcome, and focus instead on finding a way to have a correct spiritual response that pleases God?
Living as a Christian with a mission to overcome the world and the way of sin is a huge challenge. By allowing the Holy Spirit of God to live within us, Christians have the ability to do just that. In fact, that is the only way that one can do it. By setting our minds on the spiritual things of God, we set aside the sins of the world, which so easily ensnare us (Hebrews 12:1).
We begin with reporting on the terrible developments in Iraq; the dangerous self-delusion of politicians like Tony Blair; and America’s helplessness in a situation of their own making. We also report on the real goals of the murderous Sunni Islamist terrorist organization, ISIS.
We continue with focusing on Russia and Ukraine and the ongoing lies of Vladimir Putin.
We point out the events surrounding the abominable gay parade and other activities in Tel Aviv and the incredible support of the American ambassador, coupled with the shameful conduct of German politicians against a lawyer and local politician in Angela Merkel’s party who raised his minority voice against public homosexual practices.
We conclude, among others, with controversial statements by Pope Francis. Although he might have had other intentions, his comments bring to mind serious past misconduct of the Roman Catholic Church.
This Week in the News
Thanks to America, Britain and Their Allies, Iraq Is Falling Apart
The Independent wrote on June 13:
“Iraq is breaking up… Government rule over the Sunni Arab heartlands of north and central Iraq is evaporating as its 900,000-strong army disintegrates…
“The nine-year Shia dominance over Iraq, established after the US, Britain and other allies overthrew Saddam Hussein, may be coming to an end. The Shia… will have great difficulty in re-establishing their authority over Sunni provinces from which their army has fled…
“The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would act… Iran emerged as the most influential foreign power in Baghdad after 2003. As a fellow Shia-majority state, Iraq matters even more to Iran than Syria. Iran will be deeply alarmed by the appearance of a fanatically Sunni proto-state hostile to all Shia in western Iraq and eastern Syria…”
Nobody should be able to deny that the 2003 invasion caused the present crisis in Iraq. But some do, one of whom is Tony Blair.
According to BBC News, dated June 15, Blair “told the BBC there would still be a ‘major problem’ in Iraq even without the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.” The article went on to say that “Critics have rejected the comments as ‘bizarre’ with one accusing Mr. Blair of ‘washing his hands of responsibility’… Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2003, said the handling of the campaign against Saddam Hussein was ‘perhaps the most significant reason’ for the current sectarian violence.”
We would have to agree with Sir Christopher Meyer.
According to the Independent, dated June 15, 2014, Tony Blair even “rejected claims that he was to blame, saying that if the West had not rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, the crisis in the Middle East would be worse.”
This is really the epitome of self-delusion and irrational self-justification, but it is also a very dangerous line of thinking.
On June 11, the Independent wrote:
“Events in northern Iraq are a fearsome demonstration of what has become ever clearer over the last three years: America is losing control of the Middle East. A region seen since the discovery of oil as the central pivot of Western international policy is victim to raging wars which Washington and its allies are powerless to stop… It may be of little consolation to President Obama and certainly no mitigation for his critics, but everyone else is losing control too…
“As for Iraq, to say that its rulers have proved inadequate to the task of maintaining sovereignty and unity… would be a euphemism. Western diplomats lavished praise on them for two successful elections even as they lost a third of the country to jihadists…
“Some will ask is this really how a century of western policy is to end?
“Is this the purpose for which so many thousands of British, American and other lives have been lost?”
The American military adventure in Iraq was a terrible mistake, and the condition over there is now much worse than it had EVER been before. But has the USA learned from its mistakes?
Obama Sends US Troops to Iraq
The Daily Mail wrote on June 16:
“President Obama announced on Monday evening that US ground troops ‘equipped for combat’ are being sent to Iraq – just days after claiming that no American soldiers would be deployed to the war-torn country. In a letter to Congress, the president said American troops will be returning to Iraq only three years after they left and their deployment began on Sunday.
“However, Obama said that their only purpose will specifically be to protect US personnel and the US Embassy in Baghdad – and not join in the fierce fighting raging outside the Iraqi capital… Much of the embassy staff will stay in place, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement released Sunday. The statement did not say the number of personnel affected. The embassy, along the Tigris River in Baghdad’s Green Zone, has about 5,000 personnel and is the largest U.S. diplomatic post in the world.”
Deutsche Welle added on June 16:
“Obama said he was notifying Congress under the War Power Resolution, which allows a US president to deploy troops without the consent of the houses, but places a 60-day time limit on the length of time troops are stationed.”
Iraq Powder Keg Could Ignite Broader Conflict
Deutsche Welle wrote on June 18:
“Sitting at the heart of the Middle East, Iraq shares a border with virtually every major power in the region. The rapid advance of Sunni Islamist militants in Iraq could spark a broader regional conflict. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal warned a meeting of Arab and Muslim leaders in Jeddah on Wednesday that ‘this grave situation that is storming Iraq carries with it the signs of civil war whose implications for the region we cannot fathom.’
“Al-Faisal called on Iraq’s Shiite-led government to address the grievances of the country’s Sunni community. He also warned against ‘foreign interference’ in Iraq, a veiled jibe at Saudi Arabia’s archrival, Iran. Tehran has said that it would intervene on behalf of Iraq, if Baghdad asked for assistance in its fight against the Sunni extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Wall Street Journal has reported that Iranian units have already been deployed to protect Shia holy sites in Karbala and Najaf and to stabilize the situation in Baghdad…
“Formerly called al Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni militants who now make up ISIS have used the civil war in Syria to regroup, after they were decimated by US troops during Washington’s occupation of Iraq. The recent advances made by ISIS against Baghdad present both risks and opportunities for the Saudis and the Iranians…
“As Iran and Saudi Arabia stake out their positions, NATO member Turkey also has vital interests at stake in the Iraq crisis… Ankara has long been concerned about a move by Iraqi Kurdistan toward greater independence, which it fears could embolden Turkey’s own Kurdish minority. In the past, Turkish forces have regularly conducted cross-border raids into northern Iraq, targeting alleged Kurdish militants there…”
Iran, a Shia state, is worried about the Sunni extremists. Iran’s involvement is strictly for self-serving purposes, and to establish itself as the dominant nation in the region.
According to Bild Online, dated June 16, 2014, the radical murderers of ISIS want to go back to 630 AD, prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and assembling together. Hands of thieves are to be cut off, and women are only to leave their houses if absolutely necessary. Citizens are to be ordered to pray at least five times a day. At the same time, this ungodly terrorist organization is apparently publically executing members of the Iraqi army and others by beheading them. Experts say that ISIS looks at Allah as their god of war; that they want to resurrect the wars of Mohammed, which were fought around 630 AD; and that their goal is to establish a Sunni “state of God,” stretching from Sinai to Kuwait and from Southern Turkey to Northern Saudi Arabia.
Is ISIS Planning to Attack Britain?
Breitbart wrote on June 18:
“Prime Minister David Cameron claimed this afternoon the extreme Islamist group ISIS are planning to attack Britain. Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today, Cameron warned that the threat is now bigger than jihadis returning from terror training in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Latest figures suggest that some 400 Britons are fighting for ISIS in Syria, but the number may be far greater if you also factor in Iraq…”
“This is a War, and Russia Is Involved”
On June 14, following the activities of Pro-Russian separatists shooting down a Ukrainian aircraft carrying 49 soldiers near the eastern city of Luhansk, Deutsche Welle conducted and published an interview with Kyryl Savin from the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Kyiv office. We are quoting some excerpts:
“This is the biggest misfortune in the Ukraine government’s anti-terrorist operation. On the one hand, there is, of course, grief over the tragic deaths of the soldiers, especially among family members. At the same time, there’s also growing anger aimed at the government, the president, and those responsible, who have allowed something like this to happen. Because everyone is wondering: how could a military aircraft land at an airport that wasn’t secure?…
“That [this is part of a war] has been the case in my opinion for the past few weeks, essentially since Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian border… Russia still won’t admit that it’s involved in this war… But honestly, we’ve been dealing with Russian weapons for some time. These tanks don’t just suddenly appear on the street so that they can be used against the Ukrainian military. I’m convinced that it is a war, and the next thing we’ll see is likely to be a major battle for the city of Luhansk…
“In my view [it is] absolutely obvious [that Russian President Vladimir Putin is supplying the separatists with weapons on a large scale]. It’s also not the first time this kind of thing has happened. Just a few weeks ago in eastern Ukraine, a military helicopter was shot down using the same missiles. These are advanced weapons that can’t simply be bought anywhere on the market, not even on the Russian black market. Every expert knows that. They should just stop with the lies and speak plainly: This is a war, and Russia is a party in this military conflict…
“I think that the [Ukrainian] military will now come down much harder on the separatists. There is a lot of anger among the public. People are wondering why the newly elected President Petro Poroschenko isn’t doing anything, either to bring about negotiations and peace, or to move with force and take quick decisive action. So far neither has happened…”
The connections and common interests between Putin and Poroschenko have, so far, not been properly analyzed in the mass media.
Fates of Russia and Ukraine “Intertwined”
The New York Times wrote on June 14:
“Ukraine continues to dominate public discourse in Russia. Nothing else really competes…
“Various factors fuel all the attention. First, naturally, is the worry that a full-blown war could erupt out of the skirmishing just across the border, with the Russian military involved overtly or covertly. Second is the sense that the fates of the two countries are intertwined, rooted in a shared history and culture, as well as myriad family ties. Third, and perhaps most telling, the March annexation of Crimea put most Russians in a euphoric mood that has not diminished. The fact that the annexation has infused the public with a sense of greatness they had lost sent Mr. Putin’s favorability ratings soaring above 80 percent month after month, and the government itself keeps its focus firmly on Ukraine. His political allies are ecstatic…
“Despite the simmering conflict next door, experts of all stripes note a distinctive shift in mood that remains firmly in place three months after Crimea’s annexation. Ukraine and its Western allies condemn the annexation as illegal, but there is no sign anyone is trying to get Crimea back.”
The fates of Russia and Ukraine are indeed “intertwined,” in that they will ultimately become allies which will be hostile to Europe.
Tensions Escalate Between Russia and Ukraine—No More Gas for Ukraine?
The Washington Times wrote on June 16:
“Russian authorities said Monday they will cut off gas supplies to Ukraine over unpaid bills, leaving the struggling nation in a tight spot to heat homes and fuel businesses. ‘Gazprom supplies to Ukraine only the amount that has been paid for, and the amount that has been paid for is zero,’ said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov in The Associated Press.
“He also said that supplies will continue to be delivered to Europe [almost 15% of gas used in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine] and it’s still Ukraine’s responsibility to make these supplies get there. At the same time, Gazprom did send a statement to the European Commission warning of a ‘possible disruption in the gas transit,’ AP said. The worry is Ukraine might siphon off some of Europe’s gas supplies.
“The financially struggling Ukraine has been in arrears on gas payments for some time.”
BBC News added on June 16:
“Ukraine says Russia has cut off all gas supplies to Kiev, in a major escalation of a dispute between the two nations…
“Earlier this month, Gazprom gave Ukraine more time to settle its gas bill after receiving a part-payment of $786m (£469m). Ukraine said it refused to clear its debts completely in protest at Gazprom’s recent 80% price increase. Gazprom ended its discount price for Ukraine… in April.
“Before the discount was cancelled, Ukraine’s gas bill was heavily reduced by Russia to $268 per 1,000 cubic metres. The price is now $485.50 per 1,000 cubic metres, the highest in Europe…
“Heading into the negotiations, Kiev said it was ready to make the $1.95bn payment if Russia cut its price to $326 per 1,000 cubic metres. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said $385 per 1,000 cubic metres was his final offer.”
Europe Turns On Israel
The Times of Israel wrote on June 16:
“Jerusalem has summoned the European Union’s top representative in Israel to the Foreign Ministry to protest a declaration the Union issued together with the Arab League, calling it one-sided and biased against Israel… ‘The declaration was so blatantly one-sided, it basically read as if it was dictated by the Arab League,’ a senior Foreign Ministry official told The Times of Israel. ‘It hails the Fatah-Hamas union and praises the Palestinians’ “commitment to democracy and human rights,” but doesn’t reflect negatively in any way on the rockets fired from Gaza at our citizens, or anything else the Palestinians do wrong.’
“The 10-page declaration does not explicitly mention Hamas, nor does it mention rocket attacks against Israeli civilians or any other form of Palestinian terrorism, merely condemning ‘all acts of violence against civilians’ and calling for ‘full respect of international humanitarian law.’ On the other hand, the declaration… is not short of harsh criticism for alleged Israeli violations. For instance, the European and Arab foreign ministers expressed concern over the ‘grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip largely caused by the closure imposed by the Occupying Power,’ according to the declaration.
“The ministers also ‘stressed their common position that Israeli settlements, the separation barrier built anywhere in the occupied Palestinian territory, home demolitions and evictions are illegal under international law and constitute obstacles for peace and they endanger the viability of the two-state solution.’ Furthermore, the ministers reaffirmed their concern regarding ‘unilateral measures’ in violation of international law, such as the ‘settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem.’ They called for the release of Palestinian prisoners ‘in accordance with previous agreements’ and demanded an end to Israel’s ‘excessive use of administrative detention in contravention of international law.’
“The European and Arab ministers also welcomed the establishment of the Palestinian unity government ‘as an important element for reaching a two-state solution,’ calling on Israel to cooperate with the new government. ‘The Ministers welcomed Palestine’s commitment to democracy and human rights as expressed by its accession to relevant international treaties and conventions,’ the statement read…”
EU Very Late in Condemning Kidnapping of Israeli Teens
The Jerusalem Post wrote on June 17:
“Following Jerusalem’s fury over a lack of response from Ashton’s office… the EU condemned on Tuesday the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, calling for their immediate release and safe return five days after the abduction took place… The European Union’s remarks trailed various statements from other entities in the international community that poured in by Sunday, immediately following announcements that the yeshiva student[s] had been taken from a hitchhiking point in Gush Etzion.
“On Monday, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s failure to quickly condemn the kidnappings of Israeli youths had ‘not gone unnoticed.’ The officials said that while the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the International Committee of the Red Cross all condemned the kidnappings by Sunday, as of Monday afternoon there was no statement from Ashton or her office.
“In a public address on Monday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the entire international community to condemn the attack. The European Union had been among those that had not spoken out…”
One wonders why not….
Gay Parade in Tel Aviv—Biggest of its Kind in the Middle East
The Times of Israel wrote on June 14:
“Tel Aviv was draped in rainbow colors Friday, and many of the city’s streets were closed off as over 100,000 revelers took part in the annual Gay Pride parade… Drag queens wearing heavy makeup, dresses with sequins and high heels bounced along to the music alongside scantily clad men and women.
“The city’s Gay Pride parade is the largest event of its kind in the Middle East. Tel Aviv is one of the few places in the Middle East where gays feel free to walk hand-in-hand and kiss in public. The city has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations in recent years, in sharp contrast to the rest of the region…
“Tel Aviv’s openness to gays stands in contrast to conservative Jerusalem, just a short drive away. Still, Jerusalem has a small gay scene and an annual pride parade, albeit on a much smaller scale. Gays serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament and many popular artists and entertainers are gay. However, leaders of the gay community say Israel still has far to go in promoting equality.
“Officially, there is no gay marriage in Israel, primarily because there is no civil marriage of any kind. All Jewish weddings must be conducted through the Jewish rabbinate, which considers homosexuality a sin and a violation of Jewish law. But the state recognizes same-sex couples who marry abroad.
“Across the rest of the Middle East, gay and lesbian relationships are mostly taboo. The pervasiveness of religion in everyday life, along with strict cultural norms, plays a major factor in that. Same-sex relations are punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
“Among most Palestinians, gays tend to be secretive about their social lives. In the West Bank, a 1951 Jordanian law banning homosexual acts remains in effect, as does a ban in Gaza passed by British authorities in 1936…
“According to The Daily Beast, some 100,000 gay tourists are expected to arrive in Tel Aviv this year, drawn by the city’s massive marketing push as a gay-friendly, Sabbath-breaking, free-loving hotspot on the beach…
“On Tuesday a rainbow flag indicating support for the LGBTQ community was raised over the US embassy in Tel Aviv for the first time, according to US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. ‘For the first time in history,’ wrote Shapiro on his Facebook page, ‘the US Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised the Pride flag together with our American flag. We are proud to join with the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo and its residents in celebrating LGBT Pride Week.’”
These events in Tel Aviv and elsewhere are an abomination in God’s eyes. Why do we wonder that God is angry with the modern nations of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah, especially America and Judah? But the entire Western World is engulfed in the same ungodly conduct.
As Der Tagesspiegel reported on June 13, a German lawyer and conservative politician in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party (CDU), Sven Heibel, recently remarked that practicing homosexuality, especially in public, should be viewed again as a crime. He referred to the fact that about 20 years ago, it still was a crime in Germany (old paragraph 175 of the Criminal Law Code), and he quoted several Old Testament passages condemning homosexuality (Leviticus 18:23 and Leviticus 20:13). The aggressive and condemnatory backlash was predictable, and the CDU immediately “clarified” that Heibel’s comments did not reflect the stance of the party. His opinion was characterized by the German opposition as “despising mankind” and not in line with “democratic values.” So God, who does not change and is the same yesterday, today and forever, is despising mankind? Or is it the modern philosophy of blind and deceived politicians, educators, sociologists and other “experts” who have it all wrong?
Pelosi Pressures Catholic Archbishop to Skip Traditional Marriage March
The Washington Times reported on June 16:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, urging him to cancel his appearance at a march for traditional marriage on the Supreme Court this Thursday. The National Organization for Marriage plans to march on the Supreme Court in Washington, and Mr. Cordileone is one of the featured speakers…
“‘We share our love of the Catholic faith and our city of San Francisco,’ Mrs. Pelosi reportedly wrote to Mr. Cordileone, urging him to abandon an event in which some of the participants, she said, show ‘disdain and hate towards LGBT persons.’ ‘If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?’ she asked. ‘While we may disagree on the subject of marriage equality, we do agree that every person is a child of God, possessed of the spark of divinity and worthy of respect.’
“The second annual March for Marriage seeks to draw thousands to the Supreme Court in support of “traditional marriage.” Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are also slated to speak… San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a joint letter last week asking Mr. Cordileone not to attend the march, and an outline petition demanding the same has garnered some 20,000 signatures…”
Obama Drafts Executive Order to “Protect” LGBT Rights
The Huffington Post reported on June 16:
“President Barack Obama has directed his staff to draft an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors, a White House official told The Huffington Post. The move is the clearest indication to date that the administration is prepared to take action on LGBT rights where Congress has fallen short…
“The administration has been calling on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers nationwide to fire or harass someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill passed the Senate, but as it stalled in the House, pressure mounted on the president to act in ways that don’t require legislative approval…
“The timing of the announcement comes a day before Obama is set to give remarks at a Democratic National Committee LGBT gala in New York City and coincides nicely with his designation of June as LGBT Pride Month…
“Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a sponsor of the Senate’s ENDA bill, praised Obama’s move and noted that most people don’t even know that it’s still legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in 32 states.”
Obama’s Presidency Is Over
The Washington Examiner wrote on June 18:
“President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of foreign policy issues, he has lost support from the Hispanic community and Americans actually think his administration is less competent than the Bush White House post-Hurricane Katrina, according to a new survey from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. In short, the poll is nothing but bad news for the president.
“NBC News’ Chuck Todd said Tuesday [:]…‘This poll is a disaster for the president… You look at the presidency here: Lowest job rating, tied for the lowest; lowest on foreign policy. His administration is seen as less competent than the Bush administration, post-Katrina. On the issue of do you believe he can still lead? A majority believe no. Essentially the public is saying your presidency is over,’ Todd added.”
The NSA Scandal Won’t Go Away
Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 18:
“An analysis of secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden demonstrates that the NSA is more active in Germany than anywhere else in Europe… much remains unknown about the full scope of the intelligence service’s activities in Germany… The German government has sent lists of questions to the US government on several occasions, and a parliamentary investigative committee has begun looking into the subject in Berlin… Neither the government nor German lawmakers nor prosecutors believe they will receive answers from officials in the United States…
“According to Paragraph 99 of Germany’s criminal code, spying is illegal on German territory, yet German officials would seem to know next to nothing about the NSA’s activity in their country. For quite some time, it appears, they didn’t even want to know…
“Is it possible that the German government really knew nothing about all of these NSA activities within Germany? Are they really — as they claimed in August 2013 in response to a query from the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) – ‘unaware of the surveillance stations used by the NSA in Germany’? That is difficult to believe, especially given that the NSA has been active in Germany for decades and has cooperated closely with the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, which is overseen by the Chancellery.”
Pope Francis Attempts to Defend the Indefensible!
The Times of Israel wrote on June 14:
“Pope Francis defended Pius XII’s record during World War II, calling the former pope ‘the great defender of the Jews.’…
“Critics have long accused Pius of not having done enough to help Jews during the Holocaust, while the Vatican has asserted he worked behind the scenes to save Jews… Pius XII was declared ‘venerable’ and put on the path to sainthood in 2009.
“The pope also noted the failures of the Allied powers to act more forcefully during the Holocaust. ‘I also want to say that sometimes I get “existential hives” when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers,’ Francis said. ‘Did you know that they knew the rail network of the Nazis perfectly well to take the Jews to concentration camps? They had the pictures. But they did not bomb those railroad tracks. Why? It would be best if we spoke a bit about everything.’”
The Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the Allies are all guilty for failing to prevent the mass murders in Nazi Germany against Jews; Christians who dared to stand up; Arabs and a whole other range of racial, ethnic or religious minorities.
Francis Attacks Greed and Influence of Military
The Daily Mail wrote on June 14:
“Pope Francis has launched a scathing attack on the global economic system, warning it is near collapse because of a ‘throwaway culture’ of greed and the ‘atrocity’ of youth unemployment… The 77-year-old also criticised the economy – which he said had ‘fallen into a sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money’ – for surviving on the profits of war…
“Pope Francis… denounced the influence of war and the military on the global economy. He said: ‘Since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms.’…
“Pope Francis, who was elected in March 2013 after the resignation of former Pope Benedict, has been trying to reform the finances of the Vatican for the past year. Earlier this month, he sacked the five-man board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog, the Financial Information Authority, to pave the way for drastic change…”
The pope’s attack against making profits from the sales of war was obviously also directed against the Vatican Bank, as it reportedly participated greatly in such activities. Whether the pope can bring about substantial changes in this regard appears to be very doubtful.
Does Vatican Hide Pope Francis’ Declining Health?
The website of au.itimes.com wrote on June 18:
“From a hardworking and physically resilient stature since accepting the post in March 2013, Pope Francis has decided to take a breather from his demanding job to cancel all his audiences and daily masses in the month of July. The Vatican’s official news service on Monday announced the 77-year-old Argentinean spiritual leader of the 1.2-billion strong Roman Catholic church has suspended his popular Wednesday audiences in July, including his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta where he lives. The latter will be suspended till August.
“… there is more than meets the eye regarding the spiritual leader’s sudden desire to rest. ‘Close observers are noting that the Pope’s physical body may be failing to keep up with his youthful energy and vigor, especially considering he only has one fully functioning lung,’ longtime Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin said. Just last week, Pope Francis surprised the world when he took his first-ever two-day leave from work. ‘Some in the Holy See are beginning to openly discuss concerns about Francis’ condition and asking if the Holy Father is overtaxing himself.’
“In May… [health] expert Dr. Peter Hibberd noted the pope’s increasing difficulty breathing and weight gain of at least 20 pounds since taking office. Since the pope no longer has ample time to exercise, coupled with a rigorous workload, Hibberd said Pope Francis could be slipping in[to] a form of chronic heart failure which is common among victims of significant lung disorders. ‘His immunity will be challenged when under stress, and more frequent pauses to recover from otherwise small insults-such as colds, sore throats, and minor injuries-can be expected to increase in the future unless he paces himself.’
“Cardinal Telesphonre Placidus Toppo of India, a papal confidante, told Italy’s Libero newspaper that he found the pope in one of their meetings ‘very tired and fatigued’…”
No Creationism in British Schools—Must Teach Instead Ungodly Theory of Evolution
The website of politics.co.uk reported on June 18:
“Creationism cannot be taught as a valid scientific theory in any free school or academy, the government has said. The move, which came in a little noticed document last week, marks a significant victory for secular campaigners, who have long fought to ensure the freedom granted to free schools and academies does not allow religious ideas to be taught in science classes.
“New clauses for church academies published on June 9th clarify the meaning of creationism and state that it is a minority view within the Church of England and Catholic church… The move is the culmination of a long campaign by secularists, who first succeeded in getting creationism banned from all future free schools, then future stand-alone academies and then finally all future multi-academy trusts.
“It is the first time the rule has applied to current free schools and academies, however… The new church academies clauses state: ‘Clauses 2.43 and 2.44 of the funding agreement… explicitly require that pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching “creationism” as scientific fact.
“‘Creationism’, for the purposes of clauses 2.43 and 2.44 of the funding agreement and clause 23E above, is any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution… ‘The secretary of state acknowledges that clauses 2.43 and 2.44 of the Funding Agreement, and clauses 23E and 23G above do not prevent discussion of beliefs about the origins of the Earth and living things, such as creationism, in Religious Education, as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.’”
Even though “creationism” has its problems—including the erroneous idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old and the failure to recognize the true God of the Bible as the Creator of all things, the injunction to teach evolution as a scientific fact to our school children is appalling, unscientific and ungodly. It shows, however, the increasing atheistic approach in our Western societies, and especially in Great Britain. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution—a Fairy Tale for Adults.”
Could you please explain Isaiah 45:7? In what way does God create evil?
In the Authorized Version, Isaiah 45:7 reads as follows:
“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I the LORD do all these things.”
First, let us briefly focus on the word, “create.” It is “bara” in Hebrew and means, “bringing something into existence which did not exist before.” The word is used in Genesis 1:1, revealing that God created the heavens and the earth. Hebrews 11:3 elaborates that the worlds (the universe as well as the earth) “were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
The Hebrew word for “evil” is “ra” and can have several meanings. In the Authorized Version, it is translated over 400 times as “evil,” but it is also rendered, among others, as “adversity” (Ecclesiastes 7:14; Psalm 94:13); “affliction” (Psalm 34:19; 107:39; Obadiah 13); “calamity” (Psalm 141:5); “distress” (Nehemiah 2:17); “grief” (Jonah 4:6); “harm” (Genesis 31:52; Numbers 35:23; Proverbs 3:30; Jeremiah 39:12); “hurt” (Genesis 26:29; 31:29; Psalm 38:12; 70:2; 71:13, 24; Ecclesiasts 8:9; Jeremiah 7:6; 24:9; 25:7; 38:4); “mischief” (Exodus 32:22; Nehemiah 6:2; Hosea 7:15); and “trouble” (Psalm 27:5; 41:1; Jeremiah 2:27-28; 11:12, 14; Lamentations 1;21).
Before explaining in detail how the word “ra” is to be understood in Isaiah 45:7, we need to consider the following:
We read that God created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but He ordered man not to eat from it. He wants man to follow and believe Him as to what He tells man regarding good and evil; rather than man deciding for himself what, in his mind, is good and evil (compare Isaiah 5:20). God wants man to reject evil, but if man refuses, He will bring “evil” (Authorized Version) or “disaster” (New King James Bible) upon him (Jeremiah 4:6).
God did not create man as an evil being; instead, we read that after He had created man, He said that His entire work was very good (Genesis 1:31). We also read, however, that man has chosen evil “schemes” over good and upright behavior (compare Ecclesiastes 7:29), and that man’s heart is evil “from his youth” and “deceitful” (Genesis 8:21; compare also Jeremiah 7:24 and Jeremiah 17:9). This is largely due to Satan’s influence (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:26; Ephesians 2:2). Satan, though, was not created as an evil personage either. He was created as a perfect being, called Lucifer–a bright shining being, a light-bringer or morning star–in whom was no evil and no sin (Ezekiel 28:14-15). But both Lucifer and all angels, as well as Adam and Eve, were created with free moral agency. They could choose to follow good, or to reject it and follow evil. Lucifer and one third of all angels chose to become evil, and man, following Satan’s influence, chose likewise to follow the way of evil, leading to pain, suffering and death, rather than the way of good, leading to happiness, prosperity and, ultimately, to eternal life.
When God created angels and men as free moral agents, He knew of course that they might choose to reject good and follow evil. God is interested in character development—the free choice to reject evil and adopt and apply what is good. But He does not force anyone to do so. In giving free choice to Lucifer and the other angels, as well as men, He allowed for the possibility that they would turn to evil.
But God is ultimately in charge. Although God permits Satan to stay on the throne of the earth until his successor—Jesus Christ—returns to replace him, Satan and his angels—known today as devils and demons—can only do what God allows them to do. The book of Job shows us that Satan can only operate within the parameters which are granted to him by God. That made God ultimately responsible for the “evil” (Authorized Version) or “adversity” (New King James Bible) that Satan brought upon Job (Job 2:10, first two sentences). When Job said that he was receiving “evil” or “adversity” from God, he told the truth and did not lie (Job 2:10, last sentence). God allowed Satan to afflict Job so that Job could finally recognize his self-righteousness and his wrong feelings of superiority, and that he could realize instead his inferiority and inabilities in comparison with the almighty God.
God wants man to choose good over evil, but when man makes the wrong choice, he will have to live with the “evil” consequences, since God has set in motion laws that regulate the results of good and of evil conduct. Sometimes, in order to drive lessons home, God Himself brings “evil” upon man for man’s ultimate good, either directly, or by allowing Satan and his demons to afflict man with “evil.” God does this, so that man can better understand how and what he is and that he has to repent and change, allowing God to replace man’s evil heart of stone with a heart of flesh that is upright and good.
The question remains, what kind of “evil” is it that God may bring upon man, and which is referred to in Isaiah 45:7?
The New King James Bible renders the word as “calamity,” and most translations use similar wording. In Joshua 23:15, we read that God will bring “evil” (Authorized Version) or “harmful things” (New King James Bible) on those who do not repent.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says, in regard to Isaiah 45:7:
“There is no God beside Jehovah. There is nothing done without him. He makes peace, put here for all good; and creates evil, not the evil of sin, but the evil of punishment. He is the Author of all that is true, holy, good, or happy; and evil, error, and misery, came into the world by his permission, through the… apostacy of his creatures… We must not expect salvation without righteousness…”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds:
“‘I make peace, and create evil’; peace between God and men… ‘evil’ is also from him; not the evil of sin… this is of men, though suffered by the Lord… but the evil of punishment for sin, God’s sore judgments, famine, pestilence, evil beasts, and the sword, or war, which latter may more especially be intended, as it is opposed to peace; this usually is the effect of sin [and] permitted by God; moreover, all afflictions, adversities, and calamities, come under this name, and are of God; see Job 2:10…”
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states:
“Isaiah refers also to the Oriental belief in two coexistent, eternal principles, ever struggling with each other, light or good, and darkness or evil, Oromasden and Ahrimanen. God, here, in opposition, asserts His sovereignty over both… create evil—not moral evil (James 1:13), but in contrast to ‘peace’ in the parallel clause, war, disaster (compare […Amos 3:6]).”
This is an interesting comment in light of the fact that there is really no war going on between God and Satan, as if they were both of equal power; rather, God is most powerful, and Satan can only do what God especially allows.
The Amplified Bible writes:
“I make peace [national wellbeing. Moral evil proceeds from the will of men, but physical evil proceeds from the will of God], and I create [physical] evil…”
The distinction between physical evil and moral evil is further emphasized by Dummelow who writes in “The One Volume Bible Commentary”:
“Evil… not moral evil, but misfortune or calamity, the opposite of peace.” The Soncino Commentary agrees with this evaluation.
The new Scoffield Reference Edition says:
“God is not the author of sin [Habakkuk 1:13; 2.Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5]. One of the meanings of the Hebrew word ‘ra’ carries the idea of ‘adversity’ or ‘calamity,’ and it is evidently so employed here. God has made sorrow and wretchedness to be the sure fruits of sin.”
The Life Application Bible summarizes the essence of the meaning of Isaiah 45:7 in this way:
“God is the ruler over light and darkness, over good times and bad times. Our lives are sprinkled with both types of experiences, and both are needed for us to grow spiritually. When good times come, thank God and use your prosperity for him. When bad times come, don’t resent him, but ask what you can learn from this refining experience to make you a better servant of God.”
Indeed, as God said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7, New King James Bible).
And Moses was inspired to communicate God’s words to the nation of Israel, as follows (Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20, New King James Bible):
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live, that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days…”
But Moses also said this in Deuteronomy 29:4 and 31:29 (New King James Bible): “Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day… For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the works of your hands.”
May God give so that you do not belong to those people who are sowing and doing “evil” and reaping “evil” in return.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet, “Old Testament Laws — Still Valid Today?,” has been posted. Printed copies of this publication have also been received. They will be sent out to our US subscribers early next week, and they will be forwarded to our organizations in the UK and Canada for further distribution.
In addition, we have contacted our printer in Germany to produce a German version of our booklet, “Jesus Christ—A Great Mystery!”
“LGBT Pride, Gay Parades and the Bible,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
An openly transgender priest and an openly gay priest speak in the US Episcopal Church. Catholic Nancy Pelosi asks San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone, not to participate at a march for traditional marriage, as some of the participants might show hate or disdain for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. President Obama designates June as LGBT Pride Month. The US Embassy in Tel Aviv raises a rainbow flag to show America’s support for the celebration of LGBT Pride Week and the biggest gay parade in the Middle East. Those who dare to criticize these developments are labeled as despisers of mankind and in violation of democratic values. Did you know that God condemns all of this very strongly in His Word, the Bible?
“Welche Sprache hat Jesus Gesprochen?,” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program. This is the German version of our recent English SW program on what language did Jesus speak.
“Satan Ist Schuld!,” is the title of the German sermon for this week. Norbert Link will be giving the same sermon in English this Sabbath as well.
Title in English: “It is Satan’s Fault!”
“How Does the Holy Spirit Work?, the sermon given by Eric Rank on June 7, 2014, is now posted. Here is a summary:
With the Holy Spirit of God playing such a crucial role in the history of the universe, it is vitally important to understand exactly how it works. What effect does it have? How is it obtained? How is it lost? How is it distinguished from other spirits that work in man? The answers to these questions will empower you.
“The Time of Trouble!,” a sermon presented by Dave Harris on June 14, 2014, is now posted. Here is a summary:
Prophecies of the Bible reveal many things, but none is more terrifying than what is commonly called, “the great tribulation.” The very existence of life on earth will hang in the balance, but God promises to intervene on behalf of the “elect.” Are you watching and are you ready to face what is coming? Will you be one of those whom God protects? Or are you willing to dismiss and reject the warnings God is giving to mankind?
Caught Off Guard
by Laura Harris
As Executor of my father’s estate, I recently submitted forms to the administrative offices of our County Probate Court to remedy outstanding financial issues. I anticipated leaving the documents with the receptionist and quickly be on my way. Unexpectedly, the woman requested that I swear under oath to the truthfulness of the information I submitted. I politely interrupted her recitation and asked if I could affirm instead of swear. With a befuddled look she asked, “What does affirm mean?” My stomach tightened, my face flushed and my mind raced: How do I explain an affirmation? Could I adequately articulate my religious beliefs? What if she declined my request? What if..?
I nervously gave a response. The woman shuffled through some papers on her desk in an attempt to find “official” information on affirmations. After consulting a co-worker, she agreed to substitute the word “swear” with “affirm.” It had been years since I studied and reviewed the biblical reasons as to why true Christians do not swear. Under pressure, I had difficulty recollecting my bible study on the topic. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” As a Christian I must always be ready to defend my actions. In order to uphold my beliefs, it requires constant study and reflection on the things I “already know.”
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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