March 2, 2018
Our Human Nature; God’s Law-Blessing or Curse?
On March 3, 2018, Michael Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Our Human Nature,” and Norbert Link will present the sermon, titled, “God’s Law—Blessing or Curse?”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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.
Come On, Keep Up!
by Dave Harris
My oldest grandson is now a teenager. In a way, it is a bit shocking. I was so used to viewing him in the familiar ways I had become accustomed to. Suddenly, though, he is taller than his mother, his voice has changed and he simply seems dramatically more mature. Things happen that way when we aren’t really paying close attention. It is something we all experience in the passage of time. That, however, is a critical danger we must avoid when it comes to the fulfillment of prophecy!
Without providing exact dates, Jesus Christ gave us a timetable based on events we should be watching—specifically revealed in chapter 24 of Matthew. A key to understanding these sweeping occurrences is what Jesus clearly specified:
“‘Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place’” (Matthew 24:32-34).
Many times I have heard it said or read that someone always claims that their generation will see the end of the age. Discounting the truth of what Jesus prophesied doesn’t change the fact that His words will be fulfilled—of that, Jesus was very explicit, saying, “‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away’” (Matthew 24:35). He continues to warn us to “‘watch’” and to be “‘ready’” (Matthew 24:42, 44).
The question, then, is this—are we living in the final generation which will witness the return of Jesus Christ? The evidence from God’s Word and the events taking place right now proclaim an unmistakable, YES! But here is a vital point for us to deeply grasp—we are already far along and the end draws closer!
Beyond just knowing about the end of the age, we must be engaged in the events of this time, and for us, that means we stay zealously involved in God’s Work. Are you doing this? Then take this as a bit of a reminder—come on, keep up!
by Norbert Link
In this issue, we begin with addressing the ongoing conflict with North Korea which is far from over and which might very soon reach a boiling point with terrible consequences; report on America’s surprising announcement to [sort of] move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding on May 14 and with Nakba, the mass migration of some 700,000 Palestinians.
We continue with reporting on turmoil in the White House and the proposal of trained armed teachers in schools, which has met with strong resistance from America’s teachers’ unions and others; point out the willingness of many companies to finally cut ties with the NRA; address the question as to what the Second Amendment actually DOES and DOES NOT say; and explain why there is so little gun violence in Israel.
Focusing on worldwide terrorism, we show that ISIS is far from being defeated and that the infiltration of terrorists is a legitimate concern, which needs to be addressed—but we also show the problems with the way in which some want to address it—including controversial demonization and hypocritical and impractical, if not illegal, immigration proposals.
We focus on a possible trade war and an interesting rising star in Angela Merkel’s cabinet; and discuss the rise of fascism in Italy.
We conclude with an article about increasing demonic possession in Italy and elsewhere; as well as with an update on the despicable situation regarding the court-ordered loss of custody by parents of a transgender child. In this regard, please view our new StandingWatch program, “Sexual Relationships—Everything Goes?” We also published a new StandingWatch program this week, titled, “Was Billy Graham Wrong about Everything?”
Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.
This Week in the News
New US Sanctions for North Korea… What’s Next?
Fox News wrote on February 23:
“In announcing new sanctions Friday against North Korea, President Trump made it clear that the communist nation will pay a big price for stockpiling nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that pose a threat to the U.S. and other countries… these sanctions will have some bite. They apply to 27 shipping companies and 28 ships registered in North Korea, China and five other nations. The Trump administration says the companies and ships are helping North Korea evade international restrictions on fuel imports and a ban on coal exports. The sanctions are designed to cut off foreign cash that North Korea desperately needs. The action by the Trump administration blocks assets held by the sanctioned entities in the U.S. and bars U.S. citizens from dealing with those entities.
“… With reports Pyongyang could be tapped out of foreign exchange and dollar reserves come October, this is tantamount to bankruptcy for the regime. So where do things turn next?… we are closing in on a spring crisis… I would expect Kim to test at least one more nuclear weapon as well as send long-range missiles into the sky.
“The North could even decide to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile deep into the South Pacific and show off new warhead technology that can pierce the atmosphere and destroy a city. This would make clear to the world that North Korea can destroy an American city and kill millions of our own people. From here it could get worse. The North Koreans could even decide that it’s time to… prove to the world beyond the shadow of any doubt that they can start a nuclear war. Kim could decide on an atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb. If that were to happen… the Trump administration might feel it had no choice but to launch what has been called a ‘bloody nose’ strike on the regime.
“… it seems all but certain all hell is going to break loose in Northeast Asia. Again.”
Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem in May?
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 24:
“The US will move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in mid-May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding [on May 14]. A top Palestinian negotiator has described the timing as a ‘blatant provocation.’… The move will come much earlier than first expected…
“The anniversary of Israel’s founding also marks the Palestinian commemoration of Nakba, the mass migration of some 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes following the creation of Israel and the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war…”
JTA added on February 23:
“The [US] spokesman said the embassy would be located in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood on the side that Israel held before 1967 but running along the seam of what was then the border. ‘The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem,’ he said.
“Building a new embassy will take at least three years, and the spokesman suggested that at least for now, much of the daily operation of the embassy would remain in Tel Aviv…
“In the first phase, starting in May, Ambassador David Friedman and some staff will begin working out of the consular section… In the second phase, by the end of 2019, an annex on site will be constructed for a more permanent working space for the ambassador, staff and a classified processing site. That will cost $10 million to $15 million, and the security arrangement will cost at least $45 million. The third phase, the site selection and construction of a new embassy, will take up to nine years.”
Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance Downgraded
JTA wrote on February 27:
“Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser, has had his security clearance downgraded from top secret to secret, which could affect his leadership in trying to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace… It is not clear what is hindering Kushner’s full clearance. Like his father-in-law, he is a real estate developer. He is known to be in debt, and is reported to have loans out by foreign creditors.
“The Washington Post late Tuesday reported, quoting U.S. officials, that officials in four countries had discussed manipulating Kushner, in part by taking advantage of his financial difficulties. The four countries are Israel, China, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates…
“Middle East peace negotiators have traditionally had top-secret clearance, considered critical in understanding the myriad pressures facing the parties as they consider talks. Kushner’s team is believed to be almost ready to release its proposal to return the sides to talks…
“Kushner’s top spokesman, Josh Raffel, is leaving the White House in two months. [His] focus has included the Israeli-Palestinian talks…”
The White House in Turmoil
Axios (as linked by the Drudge Report) wrote on March 1:
“After a crazy 24 hours, sources close to President Trump say he is in a bad place — mad as h… about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling…
“Hope Hicks leaving is obviously a huge blow to him. Every time he reads about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his head explodes. The staff is just trying to ride out the storm.
“Everywhere you look inside this White House, top officials are fighting, fomenting, feuding or fleeing…
“Hope Hicks — without question, the aide (family aside) with whom Trump is closest — resigned one day after she admitted in closed-door Hill testimony that she told white lies for the president.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down on Jared Kushner, stripping his top security clearance, and watching anonymous aides leak about and trash him, while offering no public defense of the president’s son-in-law.
“Jared, Ivanka and Don Jr. let it be known to friends they are furious with Kellyand his allies…
“Trump is at war with Attorney General Sessions…
“The people he genuinely enjoys and feels close to are gone (Keith Schiller), leaving (Hope) or getting pounded in the press (Jared).
“The restraints are almost fully loosened, and what staff sees in private is more public than ever. We have never seen top officials this concerned, defeated.”
The Guardian wrote on February 22:
“In the past 24 hours, Donald Trump has thrice backed a plan to arm teachers in US schools… Facing opposition from the country’s largest teachers’ unions, school security guards and military veterans, the president continued to endorse the plan in White House meetings and on Twitter… the president suggested offering bonuses to teachers who are trained to carry concealed weapons…
“There are few examples available of armed citizens stopping mass shootings and it is difficult to track, in part because it is difficult to know what a gunman was planning before they were stopped…
“Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers was immediately opposed by the nation’s largest teachers’ unions – the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – as well as the teachers’ union in Florida’s Broward County, where last week’s shooting took place… The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), the nation’s largest school policing group, also said it opposed arming teachers. They noted law enforcement officers responding to an incident may mistake armed personnel not in uniform as the assailant. They also emphasized how law enforcement officers receive ongoing practice in high-stress and difficult shooting environments.
“… Trump also described a situation where there would simply be more armed people on campus – not just teachers. ‘They may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force,’ Trump said… Veterans disputed this claim on Twitter. Jay Kirell, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, said it was ‘extremely difficult’ to shoot under stress. ‘Cops & soldiers literally get paid to do this & most of them can’t shoot accurately under stress,’ Kirell tweeted…”
Cutting Ties with the NRA
ABC News wrote on February 24:
“A growing number of companies are announcing plans to sever ties with the National Rifle Association following the shooting massacre Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida that left 17 students and staff dead. One of the first companies that said it would cut ties with the lobbying group was First National Bank of Omaha, which announced Thursday that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit card with the NRA.
“A slew of other companies — including United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, MetLife Insurance Co., [Symantec which makes Norton Antivirus technology] Hertz [Enterprise, TrueCar, Wyndham Hotels] and Best Western — have followed suit, announcing plans to terminate special discounts and benefits for NRA members.”
One should ask the question as to why in the world NRA members receive special discounts from companies in the first place.
What Does the Second Amendment to the US Constitution REALLY Say?
Much is being said about the convoluted wording of the Second Amendment, allegedly giving private citizens the unrestricted right to own firearms. However, this may not be so.
The Guardian wrote on October 5, 2017:
“The right to bear arms: what does the second amendment really mean? The amendment reads: ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed’… In 2008, the supreme court decided the District of Columbia v Heller, 5-4 , overturning a handgun ban in the city. The conservative justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion in narrow but unprecedented terms: for the first time in the country’s history, the supreme court explicitly affirmed an individual’s right to keep a weapon at home for self-defense…
“Lower courts have upheld many gun laws around the country since 2008, and the supreme court has declined to hear any second amendment cases since 2010. Attorneys and activists on both sides expect a looming fight over the right to carry guns in public, which the Heller decision does not address.”
It was also pointed out that even the US Supreme Court decision did not say that there was a right to own and carry EVERY type of weapon.
Gun Violence Rare in Israel
The Washington Post wrote on February 23:
“When students, parents and teachers pleaded with President Donald Trump this week to act against school shootings, they cited Israel, a place where guns are a familiar sight but where school shootings are virtually unheard of…There are no metal detectors or special door locks on classrooms. And, by policy, teachers are not armed…
“Israeli security experts… say that gun violence is rare in Israel because privately held guns are so rare… 3.5 percent of the population… have permits to carry firearms. Half of the permit holders are private citizens, and the others work for security firms… Israel has tight age restrictions on private gun ownership… civilians must be over 27 years old to obtain a gun license, although those recently released from military service are also eligible. Israelis serve in the military from age 18 to 21.
“… once an Israeli finishes military service, it becomes difficult to obtain a gun. Applicants must submit extensive paperwork, provide their military records and medical reports. They also must justify their need to be armed. Residents of Tel Aviv, for example, are unlikely to receive gun licenses, whereas Israelis living in border areas or in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, places where they could be targets for Palestinian militants, are more likely to be approved for gun licenses.
“In addition, retired army officers above a certain rank, former police officers, firefighters, ambulance technicians, special forces veterans and licensed public transportation drivers can also qualify for permits.
“The requirements after permits are approved also are strict. Owners are subjected to an array of restrictions on the types of guns they can own, on the amount of ammunition they can possess, as well as guidelines on where to keep their guns – in locked safes – and a process of checking weapons in with police if leaving the country for more than a week.
“Janet Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York Downstate in Brooklyn, examined the difference in homicide rates between Israel and the United States. Writing in the New York Post, she said her research showed that Israel ranks 81st in the world for per capita firearm ownership, with fewer than 1 in 10 Israelis owning firearms. The United States, with one firearm for every person, ranks first.”
This is not a statistic to be proud of.
ISIS Defeated? Far From It!
The Sun wrote on February 24:
“Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, the terror group has carried out or inspired more than 140 terror attacks in 29 countries outside Iraq and Syria. Those bloody attacks – including several high-profile mass murders in Europe – have left more than 2,000 people dead and injured many more. It now seems nowhere is safe from the threat of Islamic extremists. In the last two years, they made headlines for a series of atrocities in cities including London, Manchester, Barcelona, Nice, Berlin and Stockholm.
“However, away from the cameras the terror group’s bloody tentacles have quietly spread to some of the most unlikely corners of the planet…
“ISIS has made no secret of the fact it sees China as its next major global target – after securing a recruiting foothold in the country’s badlands… Fears are growing the idyllic tourist destination of Trinidad and Tobago could face a new wave of terror attacks from returning ISIS jihadis. Incredibly, the beautiful Caribbean nation, home to just 1.3 million people, has the highest rate of ISIS foreign recruitment in the Western hemisphere…
“ISIS remains the major terrorist threat to New Zealand as spy agencies reveal the number of people with links to the extremist is rising… The kidnapping of two Brits in KwaZulu-Natal spurred the British government to issue a travel advisory‚ warning of possible terror attacks on South African soil…
“Nearly 200 ‘foreign’ jiahdis who fought alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria are known to have returned to Canada in recent years. Terrorism now remains the most immediate threat to national security…”
The Daily Mail wrote on February 24:
“A legion of nearly 1,000 jihadi brides are set to return to the West… A report by EU border agency Frontex warns the threat is ‘evolving’ and that it is hard to assess the long-term threat of widowed wives and orphaned children… Several women were involved in a plot to attack Notre Dame cathedral in September 2016, while there have been numerous high-profile cases of British women fleeing to Syria to marry IS fighters.
“Frontex says: ‘An estimated 30 per cent of 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters who resided in Europe, and left to Syria, Iraq or Libya have come back to the Continent… former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6 Richard Barrett said last October that from the start of 2017 to May women were involved in almost a quarter of all terror plots in Europe.”
The infiltration of terrorists from foreign countries is a legitimate concern. How to handle it is another one. To prohibit entry of EVERY person from ANY particular country—including the ones mentioned in the articles above—does not seem practical, successful or even legal, nor would it be helpful to demonize ALL immigrants from particular regions.
Trump’s Fight Against Immigrants—The Snake!
The Evening Standard wrote on February 24:
“Donald Trump has treated his supporters to yet another recital of a sinister poem comparing immigrants to treacherous snakes. On the campaign trail, the US president repeatedly read the lyrics of Al Wilson’s 1968 song ‘The Snake’ and since the election has continued to recite it at rallies. It tells the story of an ill snake that gets taken in by a kindly woman, only for it to bite her once it has recovered.”
Breitbart wrote on February 23:
“The lyrics, adapted in 1963 by songwriter Oscar Brown from Aesop’s Fable ‘The Farmer and the Viper,’ ends with an altruistic woman who saves a dying snake being fatally bitten… Trump used the poem frequently as an allegory for the Syrian Refugee Crisis and ‘generous’ immigration policy that puts the interests of foreigners above that of Americans.”
After reading the poem, Trump said, as reported by Breitbart:
‘”And that’s what we’re doing with our country folks. We’re letting a lot of people in, and it’s gonna be a lot of trouble. It’s only getting worse.’”
Inasmuch as the poem and the way in which Trump uses it has received so much attention, we are setting it forth below in its entirety [with one abbreviation of a curse word], as it was published by Breitbart and the Evening Standard. We leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions (even though it is shocking when reading some of the absolutely hateful “supportive” comments in response to President Trump’s reading of the poem):
On her way to work one morning
Down the path alongside the lake
A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”
“Take me in oh tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk
And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk
Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived
She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived
“Take me in, oh tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried
“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”
Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight
But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite
“Take me in, oh tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake
“I saved you,” cried that woman
“And you’ve bit me even, why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”
“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
“You knew d… well I was a snake before you took me in.”
In addition, Donald Trump spoke out against chain immigration and the lottery system. The following article is interesting in this regard.
Chain Migration for Melania Trump’s Parents?
CNN reported in February 22:
“The Slovenian parents of first lady Melania Trump are legal permanent residents [green card holders] of the United States, according to the lawyer representing them in the process — raising questions about whether they are living in the US by the very means President Donald Trump has strongly criticized and sought to end…
“There are only a handful of ways that immigrants to the US can obtain green cards, and the largest share of them each year are given out based on familial connections [In other words, American CITIZENS can apply for or support green cards for their close relatives]. A smaller number go to immigrants based on their employment, and other categories include refugees and other special cases…
“In order to become citizens, legal permanent residents must live in the United States continuously and hold their green cards for at least five years… The likelihood that the Knavs could have been sponsored by Melania Trump or another family member raises the issue of what the President has called ‘chain migration,’ or family-based migration. The US allows a number of ways for US citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor family members to come to the US permanently, including categories for parents, adult siblings and adult children, married and unmarried. Trump and his congressional allies have fought to slash that dramatically, limiting sponsorship to spouses and minor children, including dropping the threshold for minor children from 21 to 18…”
To be clear, we in no way oppose the concept that Melania Trump’s parents might have received their green cards through “chain immigration.” What is interesting is the apparent hypocrisy behind the push to stop chain immigration altogether in the future, thereby excluding the possibility of parents joining their adult children who are American citizens, coupled with the ungodly concept of tearing families apart.
No Meeting Between Trump and Nieto
The Week wrote on February 25:
“Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto scrapped plans to visit Washington in February or March after an argumentative phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Saturday night, citing officials from both countries.
“Trump reportedly ‘lost his temper’ in a discussion of his unrealized pledge to build an extensive wall along the United States’ southern border with Mexican funding. ‘Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall,’ American officials reportedly told the Post.”
The Associated Press added on February 25:
“Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke for 50 minutes Tuesday, but reached a deadlock when Trump said he wouldn’t publicly acknowledge Mexico’s refusal to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Reuters reported.”
It is obvious that Mexico will never pay for the wall.
Trade War Coming?
Deutsche Welle reported on March 1, 2018:
“US President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and tariffs of 10 percent on inbound aluminum shipments next week… The European Commission said it would take action, should EU producers become the target of higher tariffs…
“The Federation of German Industry (BDI) said Thursday the announced tariffs were wrong. ‘Donald Trump is risking global trade conflicts and a spiral of protectionism, which in the end will also cost American jobs,’ BDI President Dieter Kempf told the DPA news agency in Brussels…
“China for its part has been investigating US imports of sorghum and is considering restricting soybean imports.
“Wall Street stocks fell sharply during midday trading, with the Dow down more than 2 percent on worries of a trade war following the announced tariffs.”
Deutsche Welle wrote on February 28:
“European Union trade ministers have agreed they may retaliate if the US slaps import tariffs on steel and aluminum. The EU is reportedly drawing up a list of US products to target, including orange juice and bourbon.”
Merkel Proposes Jens Spahn as Health Minister
AFP wrote on February 25:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to give a cabinet role to an outspoken critic within her conservative party, as she looks to quell surging discontent in the right wing of the group… Merkel is tipped to name 37-year-old Jens Spahn as health minister in her new cabinet…
“Spahn has been at the forefront of the backlash, slamming Merkel’s centrist policies, particularly on immigration, and advocating a sharp conservative shift, as the country’s major parties face pressure from the far-right AfD party which has railed against a mass influx of refugees that peaked in 2015. The potential inclusion of Spahn in her cabinet line-up could help to defuse the internal rebellion…
“The SPD still needs to approve the arrangement, with the results of a crunch membership ballot due to be announced on March 4th…”
Deutsche Welle added on February 25:
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That quote, attributed alternately to the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu and the Renaissance writer and philosopher Machiavelli, might have been on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mind on Sunday evening as she announced the six members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) whom she would like to serve in her next cabinet…
“Of the six names on her list, the one that stood out most was Jens Spahn… The 37-year-old not only represents a new political generation. He was also heavily critical of Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees…
“Spahn is something of an oddball in the Merkel-led CDU. He is far more conservative than the chancellor. His nomination drew immediate criticism from the opposition Left party and Greens, who say he’s far too close to Germany’s mighty pharmaceutical industry.
“Among conservatives under 40, Spahn is seen as having the best chance to lead the party some day, and his nomination is being viewed as a concession by Merkel to the party’s youth wing, the Young Union, which hasn’t always been happy with her centrist policies. It is the first time that Spahn has been offered a job at the ministerial level, usually seen as a precondition for higher political functions such as party chair or chancellor candidate…”
Who Is Jens Spahn?
Handelsblatt Global wrote on September 2, 2017, about Jens Spahn:
“Germans have been responding to an essay published by German Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn, in which he complains that English-speaking hipsters in Berlin are eroding German national identity… anxiety about national identity is still alive and well in Germany, especially since the arrival of more than a million refugees since 2015. This explains why Mr. Spahn, a rising star in the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), could write an article for the influential German weekly Die Zeit attacking ‘elitist hipsters’ for speaking English, and bemoaning the proliferation of English-language menus in restaurants and coffee shops.
“According to Mr. Spahn, older Germans such as his parents will soon feel like ‘strangers in their own land.’ The spread of English among the cosmopolitan ‘Easyjet generation,’ he writes, will lead to a ‘parallel society’ in which ‘cultural differences’ have been negated, and German national culture has been destroyed. How can Germans demand that refugees and immigrants integrate themselves into German society, he asks, if Germans won’t even speak their own language?…
“As a 30-something, gay member of the Berlin political class, Mr. Spahn may seem like an odd mouthpiece for an attack on cosmopolitanism. But Mr. Spahn is an ambitious political strategist with an eye on his electoral future, and he is no stranger to controversy… he has been a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy; and he has called for laws to regulate what can be preached in mosques, and to create a registry for Muslim clerics…”
AFP wrote on February 26:
“He’s 37 years old, openly gay yet staunchly conservative and one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s loudest critics within her own party…A gay Roman Catholic, he played a vocal role in the fight to legalise gay marriage in Germany and tied the knot with his journalist partner Daniel Funke in December.
“With a self-belief that some observers say borders on arrogance, Spahn has never hidden his ambitions. One oft-quoted anecdote recalls how a high-school French teacher once asked a teenage Spahn what he wanted to be when he grew up. ‘Chancellor,’ he replied.”
Somebody to watch for sure.
Comeback for Italy’s Berlusconi?
Euractiv wrote on February 27:
“Silvio Berlusconi has revealed that he is ‘available” to be Italy’s prime minister in 2019 if next week’s election yields a hung parliament and a re-run of the vote… Berlusconi is banned from holding public office thanks to a tax fraud conviction in 2013. But that punishment expires next year and the Forza Italia leader would be free to reign once more as prime minister if the opportunity presented itself…
“A hung parliament is one of the outcomes that have not been ruled out, in which case a fresh vote would most likely be scheduled for next year… Voters are casting their ballots for the first time under a new electoral law, which dictates that a coalition must garner 40% of the vote in order to form a majority government. Should Forza Italia and Berlusconi get their way and receive the biggest slice of the pie in the vote, the former PM will effectively become a kingmaker and decide who should be appointed to the position.
“Berlusconi said once again… that current European Parliament President Antonio Tajani is still his number one choice for prime minister… But the Parliament chief has remained coy about his chances of getting Berlusconi’s nod or even wanting the post at all. During an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Tajani said he would like to keep his current job.
“Tajani, a former European Commissioner, also said that Berlusconi was ‘the last great statesman’ that Italy had, praising the way he dealt with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his time in charge. He also reiterated his support for an EU reform along the lines of French President Emmanuel Macron’s ideas, saying Europe needs its own finance minister and a completed banking union.”
Rise of Racism and Fascism in Italy
The Guardian wrote on February 21:
“Many foreign observers are baffled by the return of Silvio Berlusconi to the forefront of Italy’s politics… he is busy campaigning for his Forza Italia party in the run-up to the 4 March elections…
“In the darkest period of our history, Mussolini’s regime tried to force upon the people a love for their country as defined by a totalitarian and murderous ideology. Italy’s military frenzy alongside the Nazis ultimately destroyed our cities and created massive poverty…
“Italians inherited from the war a collective sense of shame – which was, alas, quickly forgotten. The shame grew from having allowed the extermination of their Jewish fellow citizens and for having murdered Mussolini and his mistress instead of holding the pair of them to account in a court of law…
“Today, what’s most worrisome is the rise of anti-migrant racism. We’ve reached a point where even well-educated people agree with the rhetoric spread both by the right and the Five Star Movement (M5S). The latter’s capacity to spread fake news, including through links with propaganda websites connected to Russia, has been well documented. But what M5S has mostly achieved is to… rekindle a fascist mindset.
“More than 75 years on, the allure of the far right survives among parts of the population. After the horrors of war, no one could dare express fascist ideas but, over time, it seems that people forgot. Politicians started voicing hateful and intolerant views, with no shame whatsoever…”
Demonic Possession on the Rise in Italy
Newsmax wrote on February 25:
“With demonic possessions rising, even tripling in recent years, the Vatican is… setting up new training for exorcists, according to Sicilian priest Benigno Palilla.
“… There are now 500,000 alleged cases of demonic possessions annually in Italy, according to Palilla, who claimed it was due to increased popularity of fortune tellers and tarot card readers which ‘open the door to the devil and to possession.’ ‘Spiritual or psychological problems’ are the root of many apparent possession cases, according to Palilla, Newsweek reported.
“Rome’s Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is going to run an international course on exorcism in April ‘to offer a rich reflection and articulation on a topic that is sometimes unspoken and controversial,’ Palilla told Vatican Radio, per Newsweek.”
Satan is alive and VERY active.
Judge Takes Transgender Teen Away from Her Parents
The Washington Times wrote on February 20:
“A Hamilton County, Ohio, judge took a transgender teen away from her parents on Friday because they refused to allow the 17-year-old to undergo hormone treatments as part of a female-to-male transition.
“Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon awarded custody of the teenager to her grandparents, who will be allowed to make medical decisions for the minor and legally change her name. The parents objected to the transition procedures because of their religious beliefs and refused to call their daughter by her chosen, male name, court records show.
“‘It is unfortunate that this case required resolution by the Court as the family would have been best served if this could have been settled within the family after all parties had ample exposure to the reality of the fact that the child truly may be gender-nonconforming and has a legitimate right to pursue life with a different gender identity than the one assigned at birth,’ Judge Hendon wrote in her decision.”
Please watch our new StandingWatch program, “Sexual Relationships—Everything Goes?”
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer
These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.
Why Do You Not Charge for Your Literature and Your Other Services?
As far as we can ascertain from historical records, the true Church of God has always refused to charge money for its literature and other material which proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Church has also refused to charge for other spiritual services which it might provide, such as conducting weddings or funerals or anointing of the sick.
We state the following on our website:
“Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge.”
When others realized that God was blessing such an approach, they also began to offer their religious material “free of charge,” but many times, they state that it can be received for a suggested donation of a certain amount. We do not engage in such questionable conduct.
Offering our material free of charge is not a cheap advertising trick, as some have accused us of, with the goal that those who receive our material would even pay more than a designated price. Rather, we are acting in compliance with biblical principles.
In this Q&A, we will examine the many Scriptures in the Bible which tell us that we are to proclaim the gospel and offer certain services to individuals free of charge.
For instance, we read in Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.” We have to understand the word “buy” in context. The Bible is not suggesting that we actually buy the Truth somehow from those who have it, i.e. the Church, as this would contradict the thought [as discussed below] that the Church is not to sell the Truth. Rather, the concept is that we are to acquire the Truth free of charge, but this might involve sacrifice and it requires that we give up everything which might prevent us from embracing the Truth.
We read about the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22 who was not ready to go all the way. Christ asked him to sell everything that he had and to follow Him, but he was unwilling to do so. We find a different reaction in the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, in which Christ is explaining the value of the Kingdom of God which cannot be compared with any physical possessions: A man finds a treasure (the Kingdom of God) hidden in the field and for joy over it, he sells all he has and buys that field. A merchant seeks beautiful pearls, and when he has found a pearl of great price (the Kingdom of God), he sells all that he has and buys it (Matthew 13:44-46). Even though the concept of buying is used again, the idea is to give up what prevents us from inheriting the Kingdom of God and eternal life, and to do everything that we can in order to acquire it. We cannot “purchase” eternal life—it is given to us as a free gift (Romans 6:23). We cannot “buy” it (or the material which the Church of God offers, showing us HOW we can obtain eternal life).
Let us also consider the following passage, which explains what is meant with the word “buy” in this context:
Isaiah 55:1-2 says: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes. Come buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
This passage clarifies that the waters are offered free of charge, and they cannot be paid for. The invitation to those who have no money to buy makes no sense, if we were to take the word “buy” literally, since we cannot buy something without money and without price. Rather, the idea is to acquire or accept the living waters free of charge.
Other passages confirm this conclusion:
Revelation 21:6 says: “And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of water of life freely to him who thirsts.” Revelation 22:17 reads: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.'”
Isaiah 52:3 says: “For thus says the LORD: ‘You have sold yourselves for nothing. And you shall be redeemed without money.'”
Paul recognized this truth, when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:12: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [which] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
It is true, of course, that the Church must pay for services in order to be able to disseminate its material (for instance, the printer needs to be paid for printing the booklets; stamps have to be bought to send out our literature; electronic equipment has to be purchased to tape and broadcast our video messages; hotels have to be paid for assembling there for our services, which we broadcast live over the Internet, etc.). But this does not mean that we buy the Truth; rather, we buy certain services so that we can make available and distribute the Truth.
We must realize that nobody can buy the Truth or Godly privileges. Simon Magus offered Peter money for the gift to bestow the Holy Spirit on others, but Peter rebuked him and said, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20).
God is also telling the Church ministry that they are to provide spiritual services, as mentioned above, free of charge, as Matthew 10:8 reads: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
In addition, Paul explains that he preached the gospel free of charge:
1 Corinthians 9:18 reads: “What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.”
2 Corinthians 11:7 says: “Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?”
Does this mean, then, that those who receive the Church’s material are under no spiritual obligation to support the Church financially? Not at all, but this must be their decision. The Church is not to charge them for its material about the gospel message or its spiritual services, and those who receive them cannot pay for them. These are priceless as they provide God’s Truth, and nobody can really pay for it, as nobody has enough wealth, money or earthly possession to do so. However, this is not to say that we are to be passive recipients of God’s goods without any obligation on our part to respond in some way. The above-quoted passages do have equal application for us, when they say: “Freely you have received, freely give.”
We state the following on our website:
“Our activities and literature… 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.”
The Bible teaches that especially those who are or want to become part of God’s people are commanded to tithe to the Church of God. The “Old Testament” tithing law is still in force and effect today.
Malachi 3:8-10 tells us: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.’”
The entire context of the book of Malachi has to do with OUR immediate future! For instance, we read in Malachi 4:1-4: “‘For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,’ Says the LORD of hosts. ‘Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments.’”
Jesus Christ confirmed that the tithing law was still in effect at the time of His first coming: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23).
The seventh chapter of the book of Hebrews explains that today, it is no longer the Levites who are to collect the tithes. The Levites were commissioned to do so in the Old Testament (Hebrews 7:5; Nehemiah 12:44). That part of the law was changed (Hebrews 7:11-12, 18), but the tithing LAW was not abolished! It is now Christ—through His Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18, 24)—who has the responsibility of collecting God’s tithes (Hebrews 7:28). Christ was Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-3, 8, 24) who collected the tithe long before the Levites (Hebrews 7:4), and He is doing so again today.
God’s true ministers, who are upholding and forcefully and boldly teaching God’s LAW, are now in the same position that the Levites were, in Old Testament times, and these ministers, as spiritual Levites, are to be rewarded through tithes and offerings. Numbers 18:31 says to the Levites: “You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.” Today, the employed laborers within the Work of the true Church of God are the spiritual Levites. This means that ministers and others, who are employed by the Church and labor in the Work of God, are to be remunerated or—in modern terms—receive a salary from the Church. The Church is able to proclaim the gospel, feed the flock and pay salaries to its ministers and other employees from the tithe and offerings which it receives.
Note the following applicable Scriptures in this context:
Matthew 10:10 says: “… a worker is worthy of his food.” Luke 10:7 adds: “And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18 states: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and ”The laborer is worthy of his wages.'”
The Ryrie Study Bible explains that “double honor” refers to respect and remuneration.
Vincent’s Word Studies elaborates:
“Double honor… This at least includes pecuniary remuneration for services, if it is not limited to that. The use of [the Greek word for “honor”] as ‘pay’ or ‘price’ [or “proceeds”] appears [in Matthew 27:6, 9; Acts 4:34; 1 Corinthians 6:20].”
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states:
“… ‘counted worthy of double honour’… this is to be understood both of that outward respect that is to be shown them by words and actions; and of a sufficient maintenance that is to be provided for them; in which sense the word ‘honour’ is used in this chapter before; See [1 Timothy 5:3].”
In addition, Paul makes the following strong comments in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14:
“Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?… Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel…”
It is true that in this particular case, Paul did not demand his right of support from the Corinthians, as their spiritual state was so weak and as they were so much engulfed in sinful conduct, that he was concerned that they might fall away completely. He told them in 2 Corinthians 11:8: “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.” He dealt with the more important things first, and it was rewarding to see that they finally got the point and did repent. Nevertheless, Paul pointed out that it was his God-given right to receive financial support, and even though he did not enforce it regarding the Corinthians and other churches who were in an equally weak spiritual state, at least in the beginning, he did accept it from the Philippians. We read in Philippians 4:15-17:
“Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving, but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”
Paul was commending the Philippian brethren for their willingness to help him. The emphasis of his statements does not have to be understood as necessarily accusing other churches for not helping him [some might perhaps have been too poor to help him], even though an underlying correction toward those churches seems to be included, and this was certainly the case regarding the Corinthians.
Of course, the Church or its employees are never to make merchandise of the brethren (2 Peter 2:3; Authorized Version), both spiritually and physically, by exploiting them for their own ends. The same Greek word for “make merchandise” is also used in James 4:13, where it is translated as “buy and sell.” We are also not to use the assembling of the brethren for Church services as an opportunity to buy and sell our personal merchandise, even if it were “religious” in nature. The principle prohibiting such conduct can be seen in Christ’s condemnation of the money changers in the Temple and of those who bought from them for religious “duties” (John 2:14-16; Matthew 21:12-13). Luke 19:45-46 tells us: “Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, ‘It is written, “My house is a house of prayer”; but you have made it a “den of thieves.”’”
In conclusion, we also want to stress and clarify that the Church has a responsibility to disseminate its material free of charge to those who ask for it, but it is also to act responsibly as true and faithful stewards of what God provides us with (Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Peter 4:10). As the previous Q&A on Deuteronomy 23:18 pointed out, specific situations may exist when the Church cannot and must not accept contributions from certain individuals.
At the same time, the Church will not generally send out mass mailings of its literature to individuals, which is meant to be “distributed” to others. We are not to proselytize, and we will therefore only respond to individual requests for literature. When third persons would like to obtain our material, they are to ask for it themselves—either by directly contacting us or asking somebody else, such as a relative or close friend, to request it for them. Also, in order to avoid any wasteful spending of the money provided to us by God, enabling us to produce our literature, we generally send out only up to three booklets to first-time requesters, with the explanation that we will send more once the received booklets have been studied and additional booklets are in fact desired.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
by Noelle Link
A few months ago I began working part-time at the school Mason attends. Initially, I was a “campus safety officer”, helping out at lunch/recess time to ensure the safety of students on campus. Last month I got a new job at the school, as an instructional aide in a classroom. I am still, of course, responsible for ensuring the safety of the very young children in my classroom as well as others on campus.
In light of the recent rise in school shootings, I began thinking, “what if that occurred at our school?” Several things went through my mind, including, how crazy would it be to have 25 five-year-olds huddled in the bathroom and how would I handle an active shooter on our campus while I was in my class and Mason was in his?
If I didn’t have the faith in God that I have, I would have second guessed my decision to work at the school. But, knowing He is always protecting my son and me is extremely comforting. I am confident and happy with my decision to be doing what I am doing for a career now, especially after being in the dental field for over twenty years. I thank God every day for this new opportunity, and to be able to be there for my children when they are and are not in school.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Sexual Relationships—Everything Goes?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, present by Evangelist Norbert Link. In this program, Mr. Link introduces our newest booklet, “God’s Teachings on Sexual Relationships.” This booklet is also featured in a new promotional trailer, presented by Michael Link.
“Was Billy Graham Wrong about Everything?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link.
When Billy Graham died, former Governor from Arkansas and Pastor Mike Huckabee declared that Billy Graham was not dead, but that he was alive right now “in a life that will never end,” and if that was not true, then “everything” he said “was null and void.” However, this program will show that Billy Graham is not alive today, but that does not mean that there is no hope for him to inherit eternal life.
“Lag Billy Graham in allem falsch?” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program, presented by Nobert Link and which covers the subject matter described above.
“WARUM begehrte Israel einen König?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: WHY Did Israel Desire a King?
Our new German booklet, “Lehre Uns zu Beten!” (Translation of, Teach Us to Pray“) was sent to our German printer.
“Succeed,” is the title of last Sabbath’s sermonette, presented by Eric Rank. Here is a summary:
Does the Bible offer any instructions that we can follow to succeed in life? What do we need to do to become successful in our personal endeavors and in the eyes of God?
“The Power of Peace,” is the title of last Sabbath’s sermon, presented by Robb Harris. Here is a summary:
Attaining Godly peace is not a matter of living a pacifist lifestyle in hopes of avoiding conflict. Godly peace is an acceptance of lifelong struggle. We must prepare ourselves as warriors, ready to battle the darkness of satanic thought that permeates this world.
Passover will be observed on Thursday evening, after sunset, on March 29, 2018. The Days of Unleavened Bread will be observed beginning March 30th through April 6th.
The 2018 Ministerial Conference will take place in Fort Collins, Colorado. Participants will arrive on April 18th and depart on April 24th.
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, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom