What Kind of Accent Do We Have?; Is It Worth It?

On February 23, 2019, Robb Harris will present the sermonette, titled, “What Kind of Accent Do We Have?” and Eric Rank will present the sermon, titled, “Is It Worth It?”

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.

Why is political correctness a potential problem for Christians and the Church of God today?

In July 2016 one website had this to say about political correctness:

“In a number of intimate and sensitive areas of life, cultural and moral norms have changed dramatically. Eight years ago, a democratic presidential candidate opposed the idea of same-sex marriage outright. In 2016, such opposition is regularly condemned as bigoted, even violent.

“Changes in public perception of transgender politics have occurred even faster. In just over a year and a half we have gone from one ordinance about the use of bathrooms by transgendered people in Houston, Texas (ultimately struck down), to a national directive from the president. Similar shifts in public conversations about race, class, and religion have brought with them new and ever-evolving rules about language.”

On the Wikipedia website, the definition of political correctness is as follows: “The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC or P.C.) is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. Since the late 1980s, the term has come to refer to avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race.”

Of course, it should not be our goal to purposefully insult others and to cause offense. But this does not mean that God’s Church can become timid and shy away from our duty to proclaim the Truth. Let us look at a few more examples where society seems to have taken leave of its senses.

On the website naturalnews, one example of how free speech is now a punishable offense was related. It read: “One prime recent example of the enforcement of politically-correct speech is the case of Rohini Sethi, a University of Houston student who posted a Twitter message saying: ‘Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter’ – a message that obviously was promoting inclusion, rather than exclusion. For having expressed what should be interpreted as a ‘fundamental, universal human truth’ (as Natural News founder/editor Mike Adams, put it), Sethi was instead suspended from the university for 50 days and forced to write a ‘reflection letter,’ along with having to attend a ‘diversity workshop’ to atone for her sins against the leftist-controlled establishment and their enforced narrative.”

In the nationalpost on March 7th 2018 was the following report:

“An Ontario child welfare agency placed promoting belief in the Easter Bunny above preventing possible trauma when it removed two girls from a foster home because the Christian couple refused to lie about the bunny’s existence, an Ontario judge ruled.

“In a stinging indictment of the actions of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, a court judgment declared the CAS violated the foster parent’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression when the children were taken from their home and their fostering agreement terminated over the Easter Bunny dilemma.

“Derek and Frances Baars, who lived in Hamilton at the time but have since moved to Edmonton, sued the Children’s Aid Society last year, saying a CAS worker insisted they proactively tell two girls in their care, aged three and four, the Easter Bunny was genuine, despite the couple’s belief that all lying is wrong…

“Evidence was clear the Baars sincerely believe it is wrong to lie, including lying to promote belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…”

There are so many other examples that we all may have seen. But how does this affect the way a Christian should behave and how the Church should react when dealing with such scenarios?

The Church has a duty to proclaim God’s Way of Life and His standards fully and boldly, even and especially if this conflicts with the norms of a society which is cut off from God and inspired and motivated by Satan and his demons.

In one of our Q&A’s on Romans 13:1-7, we state the following:

“As soon as the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the land and obey God’s law. However, even in that instance, we are to accept the government’s authority over us. This is demonstrated by the fact that Peter and John did not protest being flogged, but instead rejoiced that they suffered for obeying God (Acts 5:40-42).”

We live in a society that is different, in so many ways, to that which older people today may have experienced decades ago, and that which was experienced by their forefathers.

It is interesting that the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries pride themselves on freedom of expression which is not enjoyed in many other nations around the world.

However, political correctness can have the opposite effect of allowing freedom of speech; for example, anyone quoting the Bible and God’s teaching on a number of issues could be seen as engaging in “hate speech”. Such is the level of antipathy now afforded the Word of God.

In our booklet, God’s Teachings on Sexual Relationships, the following is written on page 95 which is chapter 15 on homosexuality:

“Before covering the controversial issue of homosexuality, we feel it is necessary to state our position, as anyone who opposes this behavior is commonly thought to be a homophobe or homophobic. This term is casually used against anyone who has the audacity to question the morality of such behavior, especially when asserting it to be sin, which homosexual lobbyists often refer to as hate speech.

“This argument is invalid, as people on both sides of the argument must be allowed to agree or disagree about homosexuality in a free and fair society. To assert that homosexual behavior is a sin is simply stating a biblical fact, and Christians who live by the Word of God are simply stating what God’s Word clearly reveals. There should be no hate for the individual concerned, just sadness at their way of life.”

This booklet is a classic example of the Church setting forth what the Bible has to say about different behaviours and relationships which are often at odds with many societies in different countries in the world today. It could be categorised as non PC because it does not fall in line with the current prevailing ethos in society. It makes clear what God says in His written Word about many things that society now embraces as acceptable and good.

Think about how society today is at odds with biblical teachings:

Society today approves of a behaviour that the Bible calls an abomination – homosexuality – but don’t you dare speak out against it or you will be vilified.

Abortion is allowed today in so many countries around the world but the killing of innocent, unborn children is called “choice” by its proponents, but the bottom line is that abortion is murder. Therefore, by extension, society today approves of murder in this instance.

Certain mind-altering drugs which are highly addictive and dangerous are decriminalised which can wreak terrible havoc on the users and their families. The anguish that bereaved parents and other family members may suffer is appalling.

Society today is consumed by equal rights irrespective of Godly instruction and the rightness of things.

We must never give the impression of condoning wrongdoing or wrong principles just for the sake of peace. We have to say and do, and be seen to say and do, the right things and not condone evil. Isaiah 5:20 tells us: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” We do live in a perverse society which, in general, rejects God and makes up its own laws and rules and the fruit of this is plain for all to see.

The Church of God has a duty of responsibility to teach the ways of God. In Isaiah 58:1 we read: “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.” We do that through our sermons, booklets and all of the material on our website. Micah 3:8 is talking about wicked rulers and prophets: “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, And of justice and might, To declare to Jacob his transgression And to Israel his sin.”

There is the warning message in Ezekiel 33:6 which reads as follows: “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”

We have the responsibility to warn of the terrible times to come because of our sinful and godless societies, and we must fulfil that responsibility. Unfortunately, the Church of God has much to warn the world about as sins increase and multiply at a frightening pace. This will, inevitably, put the Church at odds with society which condones so much that is wrong but that does not mean that we should be cowed into silence. Political correctness fosters and encourages much that is wrong in society today and many of these problems are discussed in our booklet which has been mentioned above. Neither the Church nor God’s people should be pressed or bullied into silence. Far too many are afraid to speak out, collectively or individually, when the opportunity arises, but we must be bold as a lion. John the Baptist did not hold back to tell Herod that he was living in sin. Peter did not cease from preaching the Truth even when he was ordered by the government not to do so. Both John the Baptist and Peter landed in jail as a consequence. Jesus Christ told the Pharisees and Sadducees very clearly how they violated God’s law. He was met with hatred and ill will and a desire to murder Him as a consequence.

At the same time, Christ showed mercy and compassion for those who repented of their wrong lifestyle, but He always encouraged them not to sin anymore. We must do the same and have the same attitude. For example, we will always embrace someone in God’s Church who truly repents of his homosexual conduct and ceases from engaging in it, but we will not condone or justify the sin of homosexuality. Our message in this regard must be very clear, even if human laws threaten us with punishment for engaging in “hate speech.”

Of course, as individual Christians, it is not our responsibility and duty to go out in the streets or from door to door and preach “God’s Word” to anyone we might encounter. We are ready to give an ANSWER when we are ASKED, and that with “meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). For example, when someone wishes us “merry Christmas,” it would not be the right approach to give a lengthy explanation as to why we don’t keep it, starting with Satan and Nimrod and its pagan origin and explaining how traditional Christianity embraced this pagan festival. When someone wants to know more, just refer him to our free booklet on Christmas. But it would be equally wrong to respond to someone wishing us “merry Christmas,” by saying: “And I wish you a merry Christmas too.” Rather, saying “thank you” would be an appropriate answer without causing unnecessary offense.

We can read of Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh and cry out against it and he tried to avoid doing that which God had instructed him. We mustn’t fall into the same category.  Eventually, Jonah did take the message to Nineveh and the people repented, albeit only temporarily. As God’s Church, we must not stop doing what God has instructed us to do, and when we do that, we are very likely to be at odds with society which has fully embraced political correctness which is often in direct opposition to the Way of God.

Inevitably, the Church of God will be at odds with society. The Church teaches the Way of God; the world has no interest in this, thinking that they are capable of forging and maintaining a good and decent society without God being involved. We know that the world is deceived by Satan (see Revelation 12:9), and so no one should be in the least bit surprised. And, yes, political correctness can be a real problem for both true Christians and the Church today. However, God’s true Church will continue to stand up for God without compromising even one inch with what God has revealed to us about His Way.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

This Week in the News

Munich Security Conference 2019: Europe vs. USA

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 16:

“NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg grew increasingly exasperated as he batted away different versions of the same question: Do you really still think that Trump believes in NATO? ‘Every time I speak to President Trump he tells me that he likes NATO!’ he told one reporter, to a flutter of incredulous laughter. ‘And not only that he likes NATO, but that he’s 100 percent in favor of it!’

“In her remarkably fired-up speech on Saturday too, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked the spirit of Trumpism… ‘Who can pick up the pieces of the world’s puzzle? Only all of us together,’ she concluded, to a rush of audible excitement in the room, half of which stood up to applaud

“US Vice President Mike Pence… on Saturday condemned European allies (in particular Germany, France and Britain) for adhering to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after Washington pulled the plug on the accord… Pence evoked a visit he made to Auschwitz the previous day to say anti-Semitism voiced by the Iranian leadership should be taken at its word. ‘The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust,’ he said… ‘The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime.’…

“Pence… received modest applause for his Iran comments… In an apparent dig at Germany, the vice president praised European allies who had taken a stand against the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline. ‘We commend others to do the same,’ said Pence… while the scheme is backed by Germany and France, it is opposed by the Baltic states and Poland. The US has said it fears that Europe could become dependent on Russian gas, while Washington also wants to sell shale gas to its allies. [‘We cannot strengthen the West by becoming dependent on the East,’ Pence said, according to Reuters.] However, Angela Merkel has dismissed US concerns, saying Europe is keen to have both Russia and the US as key energy suppliers… “

Rift Wide Open at Munich Security Talks

AFP added on February 16:

“The United States and European powers voiced sharply differing views on issues from Mideast security to trade Saturday, laying bare a deep trans-Atlantic rift in the era of President Donald Trump.

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders… voiced dismay at a range of Trump decisions deemed hostile to America’s NATO allies. In one awkward moment Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said he was bringing greetings from Trump, only to be met with stony silencefrom a room full of national leaders, ministers and generals.

“… Especially Trump’s announcement he would soon pull American troops out of Syria has left allies scratching their heads about how to prevent further chaos and instability there.

“French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian — whose country contributes about 1,200 troops in the region — asked why the US would create a power vacuum that could benefit its declared enemy Iran, calling it a ‘mystery’…

“… there was spirited pushback from Merkel, the veteran leader who has sometimes been dubbed the leader of the free world, and who has spoken out more strongly in her final term as chancellor due to end in 2021. On Syria… she openly challenged the wisdom of the looming US troop withdrawal… On the trade dispute, she insisted that in Germany ‘we are proud of our cars’ and explained that the biggest plant of luxury brand BMW was not in Bavaria but in South Carolina, from where it exports vehicles to China…”

Angela Merkel’s Masterful Munich Moment…

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 17:

“The German chancellor spoke freely, without a script — a rare occurrence. She talked about a world order that is in danger of decline and destruction. A world order that in its current form may not exist for much longer. In one bold speech she traveled around the globe, from Russia to China to the United States and then back to Germany and Europe. Trade, security, the environment: No political sphere was left out…

“Her words came as a relief to the audience, particularly when contrasted with the speech from United States Vice President Mike Pence… Pence plugged along with his message, at times sounding like he was carrying out an order.

“The contrast between these two speeches clearly illustrated just how strained the trans-Atlantic relationship is at the moment. But while Merkel rocked the conference hall and triggered a worldwide wave of support on social media, her domestic critics groaned. Regional leaders of her own conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) started a petty discussion about whether they should let Merkel campaign for them in upcoming state elections in eastern Germany. The chancellor’s popularity east of the Elbe River is so low at the moment it could actually hurt the CDU’s election chances…

“Vilified at home, celebrated abroad. This is a problem Merkel shares with many of Germany’s post-war chancellors: The benefit of global respect and attention goes hand in hand with a decline in authority when it comes to domestic politics. Be it Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt or Helmut Kohl — they all lost the backing of their party colleagues, some were even forced out of office by their own people, all while their reputation was growing on the international stage.

“Merkel has already stepped aside as leader of the CDU… So who is going to pick up the pieces from our shattered world order?… The chancellor may not be leading the way much longer…”

The fear is that someone will replace Merkel who might be much more radical and fanatic.

US-European Relations at Worst Level Ever

The Times wrote on February 19:

“President Trump has threatened to reignite a transatlantic trade war by imposing hefty tariffs on European car imports. ‘I like punitive tariffs’, he said ahead of a US Commerce Department report this week which is expected to recommend that the EU vehicle industry be classified as a threat to US national security because it robs the country of an industrial base needed to produce military hardware.

“Mr Trump is expected to raise tariffs tenfold from 2.5 per cent to 25 per cent within the next three months. Relations between the US and Europe have now slumped to their worst level since the start of the Iraq war as Brussels vowed to retaliate with ‘swift and adequate’ measures of its own.”

EU Commission Head Jean-Claude Juncker claims that Trump had promised him that he would not raise tariffs on European cars. It was not revealed when this alleged promise had been made.

Trump and Kurz—Not the Best of Friends

The EUObserver wrote on February 21:

The current rift in transatlantic relations seems to be deepening by the day. The visit of the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, to the White House on Wednesday (20 February) – the first such summit in 13 years – only underlined this even further. And this is despite the fact that Trump and Kurz share a common conservative agenda and a number of foreign policy goals… But it seems that it was more the issues that divide Europe and the US which dominated Wednesday’s talks at the White House…

“‘Trump has very strong opinions, he is very direct, and not always very diplomatic, especially with regard to topics that are important to him such as trade between the US and the EU,’ Kurz said in an interview with the Austrian television ORF, immediately following his meeting at the White House. ‘We argued against this and therefore the discussions were very controversial,’ he added…

“When asked about the possibly of tariffs to be imposed on European cars, Kurz said that ‘he (Trump) is using this as a threat and he is trying to exert pressure, even if he continues to mention that the talks are ongoing’… Kurz added in his ORF interview that Trump was adamantly opposed to Germany’s plan to build a new gas pipeline with Russia called Nord Stream 2, involving Austrian energy firm OMV. ‘We in Austria are supporting this project because we have an interest in securing our gas supply’, the chancellor said…

“Trump’s request for Austria to increase its military spending also did not go down well… ‘We are taking our own decisions when it comes to how we spend our budget,’ Kurz said.

“But while new avenues of transatlantic cooperation are badly needed, it seems that Trump and Kurz did not become best friends despite their many shared opinions.”

Releasing 800 ISIS Fighters?

Politico wrote on February 17:

“U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to release 800 ISIS fighters captured in Syria unless European allies agree to accept them and put them on trial. ‘The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,’ Trump wrote. ‘The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.’

“Trump’s threat, characteristically in a tweet, drew confusion and some outrage from European officials and security experts gathered Sunday at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“Trump has previously unnerved allies by announcing a unilateral pullout of U.S. forces in Syria and in recent days Trump allies, including Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Lindsey Graham, have said during the Munich conference that the president expected European forces to take over for the withdrawing American troops.  Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell was among the European officials to quickly say they have no intention of meeting Trump’s demand for additional troops…

“Trump’s demand regarding the 800 fighters complicates an already tense debate about what European countries should do regarding combatants who have been captured fighting for the Islamic State, some of whom are European citizens.”

The EU’s Proposed Copyright Laws Would End Freedom of Expression

Light Stalking wrote on February 14:

“The EU’s new copyright laws are entering the final phases before being approved by the EU Parliament… these new directives have drawn a lot of criticism from Internet users – and even some massive corporations… The most controversial aspect of the new law, Article 13, would require a lot of web services to start monitoring what people upload to their platforms. Basically, it’s going to involve filters and, in some cases, human monitoring as well. Huge companies like Facebook and Instagram are going to need to start investing in technology to prevent so-called copyright infringement by their users, or face fines themselves. This is the crux of the controversy because it… could absolutely upend business models like YouTube.

“Another aspect of the copyright law, Article 11, means that publishers can charge people who link to and quote their articles online… Though it isn’t the law of the land yet, the basic language is final and now it begins its process through the EU’s legislative process.”

This dangerous law would clearly be another Satanic attack with the goal to prevent the publication of the meaningful and powerful warning message which the Church of God is commissioned to proclaim in these last days. Note the next article as well.

Incredible Arrogance of EU Commission

Boing Boing wrote on February 18:

“The EU Commission has been forced to retract a Medium post in which it patronised and dismissed opponents of the controversial Article 13 proposal that will force platforms to surveil and censor users’ postings with copyright filters, calling them a ‘mob.’… The Copyright Directive… is coming up for a vote this spring, just before EU elections; the Commission has, it seems, chosen a side in that vote and is attempting to sideline and marginalise EU voters who might put pressure on their elected representatives.

“The Commission’s piece has been removed… and replaced with a message that blames readers for not understanding it correctly.

“This patronising dismissal marks a new phase in the effort to force the Directive through… Parliament; it supercedes an earlier tactic of characterising opponents of the Directive as ‘bots’… The tactic is backfiring. This weekend, thousands marched against the Directive in Cologne, carrying signs that mocked the ‘mob’ and ‘bot’ characterisations. More events are planned for March across the EU, ahead of the final vote. This vote will come weeks before the EU elections, and parties will be extremely sensitive to pressure from voters. Indeed, in Germany — the key EU nation whose support or opposition will make or break the Directive — the trending hashtag #NieMehrCDU (never again Christian Democratic Union, a reference to Germany’s leading political party) has spooked politicians.

“What is even more bewildering is that the Commission is not sorry for what was written. The article was removed not because it was incorrect, but because the public apparently doesn’t have the capacity to understand it. Evidently, a simple update and clarification wouldn’t have been understood either, hence the deletion of the entire piece.”

Most EU Governments Without Concern for their Citizens

The EUObserver wrote on February 20:

“The majority of EU governments Wednesday endorsed a draft reform of copyright rules which would force Google, Facebook, and other platforms to pay publishers for news fragments and filter out copyright-protected content [Of course, it does a lot more than that, as the previous articles show]. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Poland refused to back the deal, which they said damages the interests of citizens and companies. The final vote in the European Parliament is expected next month or in April.”

Anti-Semitism in Austria

Reuters wrote on February 20:

“A group representing Austrian Holocaust survivors voiced outrage on Wednesday over staffing shortages in a government department dealing with Nazi-related crimes, calling on Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to take action. Kurz, a conservative governing in coalition with a far-right party founded by ex-Nazis, has repeatedly denounced anti-Semitism and the Holocaust since taking office just over a year ago. His government has pledged to offer citizenship to the descendants of Austrians who fled the country under Nazi rule.

“But a department at the main domestic intelligence agency that handles reports of Nazi-related crimes is understaffed to the point of having a large backlog, according to the Mauthausen Committee, which represents survivors of Austria’s biggest Nazi-era concentration camp. ‘The government – and in particular the chancellor – stresses at every opportunity that everything is being done to fight neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism effectively,’ the committee said in a statement. ‘In fact the Nazism-reporting department is being denied the necessary staff, to the point that it has a backlog of hundreds of pieces of evidence and some far-right crimes are falling under statutes of limitations,’ it said, adding that it mainly gets no reply when it passes on information to the department.

The far-right Freedom Party controls much of Austria’s security apparatus including the Interior Ministry, to which the main domestic intelligence agency belongs. ‘Chancellor Kurz is responsible for ensuring that Interior Minister (Herbert) Kickl no longer hinders the fight against neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism. One can only hope that there is no political intent behind this hindrance,’ the committee said.

“In Austria, which was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, it is a crime to deny the Holocaust or give the Hitler salute. As in several other European countries, cases of anti-Semitism appear to be on the rise. The leader of Austria’s main Jewish organisation also says the far-right Freedom Party that is in power has failed to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks, even after scandals involving party officials. Israel refuses to deal directly with Freedom Party ministers even though the party says it has turned its back on its Nazi past…”

Brexit–“No Deal Inevitable”

Express wrote on February 22:

“CHIEF Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker tonight declared he was tired of Brexit and suggested Britain is on course to leave without a deal. Cabinet ministers spent hours locked in talks with Brussels negotiators as they raced against the clock to find a way to break the deadlock before March 29. But Mr Juncker, who met Theresa May on Wednesday, said he was ‘not very optimistic’ that an agreement will be reached by exit day. And Government sources admitted an agreement is unlikely to have been struck by next week’s crucial Brexit vote…

“Mr Juncker said he had ‘Brexit fatigue’ and was still ‘recovering’ from his talks with the Prime Minister. ‘Brexit is deconstruction, it is not construction. Brexit is the past, it is not the future,’ the European Commission president said. ‘If a no-deal would happen – and I can’t exclude this – this would have terrible economic and social consequences, both in Britain and on the continent, and so my efforts orient in a way that the worst can be avoided. But I am not very optimistic when it comes to this issue.’”

Pope Francis Accuses Accusers

Reuters reported on February 20:

“Pope Francis says that those who are constantly attacking the church are linked to the devil… [He said that those who] spend their lives ‘accusing’ the church are either the devil’s friends or relatives. Francis spoke on the eve of a Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse and cover-ups by the church’s hierarchy. Detractors, including a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, have accused him of not properly dealing with top prelates and priests who were suspected abusers…

“…Many Catholic church leaders around the world continue to protect the church’s reputation by denying that priests rape children and by discrediting victims, and the pope himself admits to having made similar mistakes.”

However, during his afore-mentioned speech, Pope Francis seemed to belittle the huge amount of sexual abuse cases and cover-ups in his church by commenting that “we are all sinners.”

Trump Tax Cuts—Not that Great!

The Los Angeles Times wrote on February 16:

“President Donald Trump again indicated this week that he might be open to revisiting the new limit on state and local tax deductions that hits many middle-income residents hard in California and other high-tax, Democratic states. Even so, don’t count on any changes soon to the Republican tax law that went into effect last year.

“Legislative and political realities mean the $10,000 cap is unlikely to be scrapped or increased until after the 2020 elections at the earliest

“There have been stories about angry taxpayers, many of whom find that they may owe money to the IRS or that their refunds are smaller than expected because of the various changes, including the elimination of personal exemptions and other deductions, and new withholding tables put in place last year.”

These misrepresentations of huge tax cuts for many Americans are bad enough. Now read the next article.

Individual Mandate Still in Force for 2019 Tax Returns

Some might be surprised to learn that if they did not have health insurance in 2018, they are still subject to the stiff penalty of the individual mandate. Even though it has been proclaimed time and again by President Trump and Republican lawmakers that the “terrible” individual mandate of Obamacare was revoked, the truth is, and it was never explained as to why, that it has NOT been revoked effective as of 2018. There is no rationale as to why it would have to drag on until 2019.

Very Well Health wrote on July 23, 2018:

“Is There Still an Obamacare Penalty for Being Uninsured in 2018?

“Yes, the ACA’s [Affordable Care Act] individual mandate penalty is still in effect, and will continue to be in effect in 2018. If you’re uninsured in 2018 and not eligible for an exemption, you’ll owe a penalty when you file your taxes in early 2019. But after that, the penalty will not be assessed.

“Republican lawmakers passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and President Trump signed it into law in December 2017. Although the tax bill leaves the rest of the ACA intact, it repeals the individual mandate penalty, as of 2019 (other provisions of the tax bill take effect in 2018, but the individual mandate repeal is delayed by a year.”

How Laws Are Made in the USA

Newsmax wrote on February 15:

“Sen. Rand Paul… tweeted his disagreement with the 1,159-page bill Thursday evening, which passed in both houses of Congress.

“‘I’m disappointed with both the massive, bloated, secretive bill that just passed… He added, ‘I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matter. Over 1,000 pages dropped in the middle of the night and extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them.'”

All of this is shameful indeed.

16 States Sue Trump

The Associated Press wrote on February 18:

“A group of 16 states filed suit in federal court in California to stop President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border… Joining California and New York are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia. All have Democratic governors but one — Maryland, whose attorney general is a Democrat — and most have legislatures controlled by Democrats…

“The suit seeks a preliminary injunction against Trump’s play to move federal funding to pay for the wall. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.”

All the 16 states have Democratic attorney generals.

Trump Hits Back

The Guardian wrote on February 19:

“One week after Donald Trump called California’s high-speed rail project a ‘green’ disaster’, the US Department of Transportation announced plans to cancel $929m in federal grant funds that were yet to be paid toward the $77bn endeavor. The department also ‘is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5bn in federal funds FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) previously granted,’ according to the statement released Tuesday… Trump sent out a tweet asking for the return of ‘three and a half billion dollars’

“The federal government’s moves are the latest point of friction between the Trump administration and California’s state government. The transportation department’s announcement came one day after California led a coalition of 16 states to sue the Trump administration over the president’s decision to declare a national emergency for border wall funding. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, ‘The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!’…”

Unparalleled National Debt… but Nobody Cares

Agora Financial wrote on February 15:

“Not that anyone cares, but as of yesterday the national debt exceeds $22 trillion. ‘The Treasury Department reported the debt hit $22.012 trillion,’ says USA Today, ‘a jump of more than $30 billion in just this month.’… But as we said, no one cares about the national debt. We know this because White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says so. As we noted last week… a few hours before the State of the Union address, someone asked him whether there’d be any mention of the national debt. His reply? ‘Nobody cares.’

“Quite the turnabout from when Donald Trump said he’d eliminate the national debt ‘over a period of eight years.’ That was during an interview with The Washington Post in April 2016 — when the national debt was still ‘only’ $19.22 trillion. By the time of his inauguration the total was $19.95 trillion. So the national debt has grown 10.3% over his first two years… now he’s got only six years left to fulfill his promise.”

Trump’s Political Move to Decriminalize Homosexuality Abroad

NBC News wrote on February 19:

“The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay…

“U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“… the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe… Reframing the conversation on Iran around a human rights issue that enjoys broad support in Europe could help the United States and Europe reach a point of agreement on Iran…

“Yet by using gay rights as a cudgel against Iran, the Trump administration risks exposing close U.S. allies who are also vulnerable on the issue and creating a new tension point with the one region where Trump has managed to strengthen U.S. ties: the Arab world. In Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy Trump has staunchly defended in the face of human rights allegations, homosexuality can be punishable by death…

“The push to end laws that outlaw homosexuality abroad also stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s mixed record on gay rights at home… since he took office, his administration has scaled back some workplace protections for gay people… He has also announced a ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military…”

Arrested U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant a Domestic Terrorist?

The Week wrote on February 20:

“Federal prosecutors say that a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant arrested last week on drug and gun charges wanted to ‘murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.’ … investigators discovered 15 firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition in his Maryland home, court documents say. Prosecutors allege that [the Coast Guard] was a ‘domestic terrorist,’ who held extremist views and read ‘neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature’ online… [He] allegedly compiled a list of ‘political leaders, media leaders, cultural leaders, and industry leaders’ he wanted to target, including… several MSNBC and CNN journalists.”

Fox News added on February 20:

“A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant arrested last week on weapons and drug charges is a white nationalist… [He] regularly read a manifesto written by a Norwegian far-right extremist who killed 77 people in a pair of 2011 terror attacks, and stockpiled weapons and ammunition… [He] drafted an email to ‘friends’ in which he said he was ‘dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something.’

“In the same email, [he] mused: ‘Start with biological attacks followed by attack [sic] on food supply … Two pronged [sic] attack seems it might be more successful. Institute a bombing/sniper campaign.’”

And such an insane and mentally ill person works for the Coast Guard! What is this country coming to?

China and Russia—“Together We Can Rule the World”

Politico wrote on February 17:

Seen from Moscow, there is no resistance left to a new alliance led by China. And now that Washington has imposed tariffs on Chinese exports, Russia hopes China will finally understand that its problem is Washington, not Moscow. In the past, the possibility of an alliance between the two countries had been hampered by China’s reluctance to jeopardize its relations with the U.S. But now that it has already become a target, perhaps it will grow bolder…

“The thing to remember is that both countries are obsessed with overturning the American-led global order… Imagine an international crisis in which Russia and China suddenly emerge as a single bloc… Washington would feel under attack; Europe, intimidated and unsettled… It would be an entirely new world, and it’s one that is coming closer to becoming reality…”

China and Russia will form an alliance which will ultimately be hostile towards Europe.

Drone Swarms and Robots Fighting Wars

The Washington Post wrote on February 11:

“Swarms of small attack drones that confuse and overwhelm anti-aircraft defenses could soon become an important part of the modern military arsenal, Britain’s defense secretary said, something that would mark a major evolution in robot-enabled warfare

“The technology to enable synchronized drone swarms is here, and military leaders are starting to embrace the idea of building it into their operations…

“The U.S. military has been exploring different iterations and uses of the drone swarm concept for more than a decade… It envisions tiny, disposable aircraft that are meant to be deployed in large numbers to ‘seed’ areas with small electronic sensors, something that could allow military surveillance of dense jungle areas without sending a human pilot into enemy territory. An experimental program… is looking for a way to launch small, jet-powered drones out of the belly of a C-130 cargo plane and recover them later, effectively turning the plane into a flying aircraft carrier… employing drone swarms would mean figuring out how a single human could command masses of robots and still have a degree of control over them…

“Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat control policy at the Arms Control Association, said he is worried that drone swarms could increase the risk of a nuclear first strike if they were used to upset missile defenses. There is also a possibility that they could be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons…”

Politico wrote on February 12:

“The killer robots are coming, and it won’t be the United Nations that’ll stop them… an effort to ban ‘lethal autonomous weapons systems; under the U.N.’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons seems set to fall apart… The effort — which would have outlawed killer robots alongside blinding lasers and the use of napalm against civilians — has been unable to overcome resistance from military powers such as Russia, the United States, South Korea, Israel and Australia… a ban… would require a consensus of all the signatories of the treaty… few expect… a binding decision…

“A failure of the talks would mean there will be no barriers to countries wishing to develop autonomous systems that can decide on their own when and whom to kill… The use of similarly self-acting weapons could soon multiply, as artificial intelligence technology gallops ahead. Arms manufacturers have already begun developing autonomous systems that can be deployed in areas where adversaries seek to jam communications between the robots and their human controllers…

“If communication breaks down, will the weapons be allowed to strike targets on their own without human approval? If an enemy shoots at them, will they be allowed to fire back? If the system launches an attack against civilians, who will be responsible for that decision?…”

A Third Temple on the Temple Mount

Breaking Israel News reported on February 14:

“When most people think of the Temple Mount they consider one building; the golden Dome of the Rock built by the Muslims in the Seventh Century. The Temple Mount Compound is actually quite large… most of it either empty or covered in trees planted in the last few decades. Though Israeli and international law mandates allowing equality of religions and universal prayer at the site, the Israeli police cite security concerns for restricting the right to pray only to Muslims.

“In a rare display of Islamic pluralism, a 2017 article in The Muslim Times noted that there is certainly room at the site to create a worship space, even a Third Temple, for the Jews. The editor, Dr. Zia Shah, suggested a multi-story structure to maximize the space…”

The Bible CLEARLY reveals that a Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, prior to Christ’s return. While the Church of God might not have always understood this point clearly in the past, it has grown in God’s knowledge and proclaims now with dogmatic certainty that such a Temple will be built. Incredibly, there are still some who claim to be Christians who deny this fact.

Israel Closes Golden Gate Site at Temple Mount

The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 19:

“The Palestinian Authority on Monday warned that Israel was ‘playing with fire’ after clashes erupted at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the closure of the Golden Gate site – also known as the Gate of Mercy – to Muslim worshipers. The PA also accused Israel of ‘waging war on Islam’ and called on the intervention of the international community… Palestinians claim that Israel is planning to turn the area into a prayer site for Jews. The site, which once housed the offices of the Islamic Heritage Committee, was closed by the Jerusalem Police in 2003 after it was revealed that the committee was involved in political activities. In 2017, a court issued an order to keep the site closed until further notice.

“Last week, Muslim worshipers entered the premises and prayed there, prompting the police to lock the gate with chains… Mahmoud Habbash, religious affairs adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned what he called the ‘occupation’s criminal measures in Al-Aqsa Mosque and at its gates, especially the closure of Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) and the eviction of worshipers by force and under the threat of weapons.’… The Palestinians, he added, will defend the ‘precious and blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.’…

“Jordan, meanwhile, protested to Israel over the closure of the site and said it constitutes a ‘flagrant violation of the historical and legal status quo and Israel’s obligation under the international law and humanitarian law.’”

When the Jews begin to build the prophesied Third Temple and to bring animal sacrifices, it will really set the Middle East on fire.

The Animal World Is Being Decimated

The Week wrote on February 17:

“As the human population has swelled to 7.5 billion, our species’ massive footprint on planet Earth has had a devastating impact on mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and marine life. We’ve driven thousands of species to the edge of extinction through habitat loss, overhunting and overfishing, the introduction of invasive species into new ecosystems, toxic pollution, and climate change. In the past 40 years, the number of wild animals has plunged 50 percent, a 2014 study found. And the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that populations of vertebrates – higher animals with spinal columns – have fallen by an average of 60 percent since 1970. The past 20 years have brought a 90 percent plunge in the number of monarch butterflies in America, a loss of 900 million, and an 87 percent loss of rusty-patched bumblebees. Only 3 percent of the original populations of the heavily fished Pacific bluefin tuna remain in the sea…

“Earth is home to between nine million and as many as one trillion species – and only a fraction have been discovered. Vertebrate species have, however, been closely studied, and at least 338 have gone extinct, with the number rising to 617 when one includes those species ‘extinct in the wild’ and ‘possibly extinct.’ Recent vertebrate extinctions in the wild include the northern white rhino, which lost its last male member in 2018, and Spix’s macaw, a blue parrot native to Brazil…

“There are 26,500 species threatened with extinction… That includes 40 percent of amphibian species, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 25 percent of mammals, and 14 percent of birds. There are now only 7,000 cheetahs left, and the number of African lions is down 43 percent since 1993. Only about 100 Amur leopards – often poached for their beautiful coats – are left in the wild in southeastern Russia and China. A third of insect species are endangered…

“Many scientists now believe humans are living through a ‘mass extinction,’ or an epoch during which at least 75 percent of all species vanish from the planet… the last one occurred about 66 million years ago, when the aftermath of a massive asteroid strike wiped out the dinosaurs…

99 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth are gone… More than half of the vertebrate extinctions since 1500 have occurred since 1900… The loss of species can have catastrophic effects on the food chain on which humanity depends. Ocean reefs, which sustain more than 25 percent of marine life, have declined by 50 percent already – and could be lost altogether by 2050. This is almost certainly contributing to the decline of global marine life, down – on average – by 50 percent since 1970… Insects pollinate crops humans eat…”

These facts bring to mind haunting prophecies in the books of Hosea and Revelation about the extinction of most animal life on this planet.  

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.

When In Debt

Many years ago, God promised Abraham that his descendants would be mightily blessed. That same promise was passed on to Isaac and his son Jacob and their generations (Genesis 15:1-21; 22:15-18; 26:1-5; 49:1-28; Hebrews 11:17-22).

Those blessings came to fruition. The United States of America and the British Commonwealth were two of the greatest nations or groups of nations that ever ruled on this earth. God saw to it that they were well taken care of. They both led the industrial revolution. They invented incredible and amazing things. They possessed some of the greatest natural resources known to man. They won many battles and conquered many lands.

And yet, we find today the United States with a debt deficit of 22 trillion dollars. Some analysts say while that number is on paper, it is more likely that the debt is actually around 70 trillion. We see the great debacle of the British people attempting to leave the EU with a “great deal,” and coming woefully shy of doing so. A number of companies are already leaving the UK and there could be many more in the future, including many of the financial services that once did massive amounts of business in London.

Yet only very few bother to stop and see why this is happening. The answers are in the Bible. Deuteronomy 28:18-68 shows aptly what is occurring. Verses 43-44 tell us: “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.” This is not just a one-time warning. Haggai 1:3-7 states: “Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,  ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’”

IF people would consider their ways and if they would pay attention to the warning signs of what is going on, they would be able to see that something is dreadfully wrong. David’s thoughts in Psalm 119:9-16 show that we must not forget God and turn from Him, but that we must delight in obedience to God’s laws. In fact, Deuteronomy 28:1-14 shows that when people are obedient, then the blessings that God rains down are innumerable.

From all appearances, our nations are on an inevitable crash course to swift destruction, because most people don’t want to change. They would rather enjoy life as they see fit (Romans 1:18-31).  It should be evident that things are getting worse, not better.  When the ancient city of Nineveh was confronted with their sin and their threat of punishment, all the people, from the greatest to the least, fasted and turned from doing wrong, and so God delayed for a time the destruction of that great city. Unfortunately, it appears that this world is asleep. Hopefully, we in the Church are awake and are working feverishly to draw closer and closer to God, so that we can escape the soon-coming prophesied great tribulation.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

“How to Keep the Sabbath,” is our newest booklet. Written by Evangelist Norbert Link, this booklet is now posted and, following printing, will be available upon request.

The 2019 Church Conference will be conducted in Escondido, California. Arrival will be Wednesday, April 3, 2019, and departure is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

“Why are US-European Relationships at their Worst?” is the title of the latest new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Most Americans do not comprehend HOW DEEP the trans-Atlantic rift is. They live in willful ignorance, and the mass media is largely responsible.  The lack of coverage of the extremely important events during the Munich Security Conference 2019 is a prime example. The contract between the attendees’ reception of Angela Merkel and the rejection of Mike Pence could not have been greater. Some claim that it will get better after the Trump era. They are deeply mistaken.

“Trump’s National Emergency… Will It Work?” is the title of a recent StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

After grudgingly signing the bi-partisan congressional “deal,” which gave him only a fraction of the desired funds for building a wall or barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump also declared a national emergency with the intent to reallocate funds to finance the building of the wall. While legal scholars and politicians question the constitutionally of such a move, others point at the laws, arguably allowing him to relocate funds in certain respects. On February 15, President Trump explained in detail his rationale for his national emergency declaration and the reallocation of funds. What will happen next?

“Warum die total schlechte Beziehung zwischen Amerika und Europa?” is also a new AufPostenStehen program which covers the same topic as described above—presented by Norbert Link.

“Heidnisch-christliche Feiertage und die babylonische Mysterien-Religion,” is the title of this Sabbath’s new German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Pagan-Christian Holidays and the Babylonian Mystery-Religion.”

“Die Zunge – Kraftvolles Werkzeug, gefährliche Waffe” is the title of this Sabbath’s new sermonette, presented by Michael Link. Title in English:  “The Tongue: Powerful Tool – Dangerous Weapon.” 

“Himmlische Freude,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Robert Kintzi, is now posted. Title in English: “Heavenly Joy.”

“Do You Have the Time—for God?” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Frank Bruno, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Effectively managing and valuing our time each day is a great challenge. Few recognize that the concept of time—either in the moment, or as we think of the future— is actually well beyond our comprehension and control. The acceptance of God’s absolute authority in this regard can help us in understanding His plan for the present and a future. Opening our eyes and ears to God and His words is the best time-management strategy we can have.

“The Power of Family,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Family is central to the message of the Bible, and the ultimate destiny of mankind involves birth into the Family of God. Do you understand what God requires from each of us to be counted worthy of this astonishing future?

Current Events

by Norbert Link

We begin with insightful reports on the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, [please note our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Why are US-European Relationships at their Worst?”] showing an unprecedented and historical rift between Europe and the USA; speak on distressing and Satanic attempts to create a terrible European copyright law; further disconcerting developments in Austria and the Vatican; and the big surprise awaiting American tax payers who falsely thought the Trump tax cuts would help them; address the legal battle between President Trump and Democrats regarding the President’s national emergency declaration; [please note our recent StandingWatch program, titled, “Trump’s National Emergency… Will It Work?”]  the unparalleled national debt which no one cares about; and Trump’s political move to decriminalize homosexuality abroad, while lacking the same “zeal” for homosexuals inside the USA. We also address the shocking arrest of an insane US Coast Guard lieutenant.

We speak on the forming alliance between Russia and China; drone swarms and robots to be fighting in man’s wars; further news on the attempts and desires to build the prophesied Third Temple on the Temple Mount prior to Christ’s return and ongoing turmoil on the Temple Mount; and we conclude with man’s destruction of the animal world.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

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