"Two Promises" and "Families of God"
On May 16, 2009, Eric Rank and Robb Harris will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “Two Promises” and “Families of God.”
Until the End
I have often thought about what it took to be a part of the early church in the days when your life could have been required of you just for being a Christian. What kind of person did it take to say that they were a Christian, as well as continue to act that way in light of all that hung over their head?
I used to be really glad that I did not live at that time. I was not sure whether I would have been able to keep the faith while so many around me were being martyred. Would I have had the moral quality to continue doing what I was supposed to be doing?
But I then realized that God is going to accomplish His purpose in us no matter when we live. God has His ways of testing us in order to build holy righteous character, and He will continue to do so, until we learn what we need to. Living in this era has its unique set of challenges, each probative in its own way, that can test every fiber of our being.
In retrospect, not to minimize any of those that went before us, staying alive and persevering day after day until the end, may very well be the more difficult task to accomplish. But, we can take comfort in the fact that God, our Father, Who is orchestrating and overseeing our growth, will continue to do so until the end (compare Philippians 1:6). Knowing this also, that if we endure, we will receive the gift with its rewards (compare Matthew 24:13).
In this week’s Update, we are focusing mainly on three subjects–the ever-worsening US economy and other frightening and disturbing developments in furtherance of the new Administration’s agenda; events taking place in the Middle East, including the Pope’s controversial and “disappointing” visit to Jerusalem and the willingness of the U.S. to antagonize Israel in order to appease Iran; and developments in Europe pertaining to the Lisbon treaty and grim reminders from history to show what the European unification may really be all about.
Reviewing the American economy, more and more signs show us that the Great Depression is coming–all optimistic but inaccurate viewpoints notwithstanding. New proposed or adopted legislature increasingly erodes the fabric of our Christian heritage–which is telling in light of President Obama’s view that the US is not a Christian nation, and that he has strong ties to the Muslim world.
The Middle East has been in the news this week; not only because of the Pope’s highly controversial visit–controversial and disappointing for the Jews, that is–but also because of a planned meeting between President Obama and President Netanyahu next week. As Jordan’s King Abdullah put it, all eyes look to Washington, as this is the last chance for the USA to get something accomplished in the Middle East. However, in the process, Israel might very likely look at Mr. Obama’s position as a betrayal, endangering their own security and their very survival. And while Iran is preparing for a nuclear attack from Israel, Europe and the USA are apparently involved in secret and discreet negotiations with Hamas.
Finally, Europeans claim that the Lisbon Treaty is vital for religious freedom in Europe–including the freedom not to have a religion. But as an article from the Daily Mail shows, in order to understand Europe’s future, one must look to its past–especially the recent past under Adolph Hitler. We explain in detail in our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy,” that historically, the ninth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire occurred under Hitler and Mussolini, and that the tenth and final revival is occurring right now before our very eyes–IF we have eyes to see.
This Week in the News
The “Greatest Depression” Will Hit
The Trends Research Institute wrote on May 7:
“Field Marshall Ben Bernanke and his Green Shoot Brigade have fertilized the economic landscape with trillions of sweat equity dollars extorted from today’s public and the public of generations to come… But the fundamentals of the economy remain unsound…
“‘The Greatest Depression’… may have been postponed, but it has not been averted. When it does set in, it will do so with enhanced intensity and at a pace accelerated by complex financial finagling … all under the guise of nation-saving action. Rather than let the failing industries fail and the failed banks go bankrupt, the government is deliberately bankrupting the nation. The lesson to be learned from the financial crisis that began in the summer of 2007, is that nothing succeeds like failure. The greater their failure, the bolder they become… The greater the chaos, the more control they exact. The bigger they fail, the harder we fall.
“No act is too unthinkable or measure too draconian for… Washington-Wall Street… to concoct in order to maintain power, make money and cover their losses. While it is impossible to second-guess what the government will do next, it is absolutely certain that they will stop at nothing. The ‘green shoots’ will wither and conditions will deteriorate. Those who are prepared for the worst will not have been taken by surprise.”
New Unprecedented Deficit Figures of US Budget
The Associated Press wrote on May 12:
“The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates…
“The unprecedented deficit figures flow from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout and the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill — as well as a seemingly embedded structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in. As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion…
“Just a few days ago, Obama touted an administration plan to cut $17 billion in wasteful or duplicative programs from the budget next year. The erosion in the deficit announced Monday is five times the size of those savings… The developments come as the White House completes the official release of its $3.6 trillion budget for 2010…
“A… poll last month gave Obama relatively poor grades on the deficit, with just 49 percent of respondents approving of the president’s handling of the issue and 41 percent disapproving… ‘Even using their February economic assumptions — which now appear to be out of date and overly optimistic — the administration never puts us on a stable path,’ said Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group that advocates budget discipline…
“[Under] Obama’s ‘cap-and-trade’ proposal… the government would auction permits to emit heat-trapping gases, with the costs being passed on to consumers via higher gasoline and electric bills.”
LifeNews.com wrote on May 7:
“President Barack Obama’s new federal budget calls for taxpayer funded abortions in the nation’s capital. Although Obama has promised Americans he wants to reduce the number of abortions, one pro-life group says he is violating that promise by calling for taxpayer-financed abortions in the District of Columbia. The budget Obama submitted to Congress urges the House and Senate to repeal a law sometimes called the Dornan amendment that has prevented tax-funded abortion in the District of Columbia for many years…
“Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com on Thursday that the Obama budget makes it clear that the president has little interest in reducing abortions.
“‘Some wide-eyed journalists and various political shills for the Obama Administration continue to write fairy tales about how President Obama wants to pursue policies that would reduce abortions,’ he said. ‘That is a political scam. In reality, President Obama is pursuing a step-by-step strategy to expand access to abortion… Today’s White House action is one more evidence that President Obama is trying to pull off a massive policy scam — he generates a smokescreen of soothing rhetoric about seeking “common ground” and “abortion reduction,” while step by step advancing concrete policies that will substantially increase the number of abortions — and pay for abortion on demand with everyone’s taxes,’ Johnson concluded.”
We Know It’s Bad When the U.S. Mail Is In Financial Trouble…
The Pasadena Star News wrote on May 11:
“The post office wants two more pennies for your thoughts. The price of a first-class stamp for mailing a letter – or paying a bill – climbed to 44 cents Monday, though folks who planned ahead and stocked up on Forever stamps will still be paying the lower rate.
“It’s the third straight year rates have gone up in May under a new system that allows annual increases as long as they don’t exceed the rate of inflation for the year before. While the increase will bring in added income, the post office continues to struggle financially… The Postal Service… lost $2.8 billion last year and is already $2.3 billion in the hole just halfway through this year… the rate increase is unlikely to cover the ongoing losses and the possibility remains that the post office could run out of money before the end of the fiscal year…
“While the new 44-cent rate covers the first ounce of first-class mail, the price for each additional ounce will remain unchanged at 17-cents… Other changes taking effect May 11: The postcard stamp increases 1 cent to 28 cents. The first ounce of a large envelope increases 5 cents to 88 cents. The first ounce of a parcel increases 5 cents to $1.22. New international postcard and letter prices are, for one ounce, 75 cents to Canada; 79 cents to Mexico; and 98 cents elsewhere.”
More Bad Developments
The Los Angeles Times reported on May 14:
“Bankrupt automaker Chrysler told a quarter of its car dealers this morning that it would sever its franchise contracts with them, effectively putting them out of business by June 9. The decision, which had been expected, will eliminate thousands of jobs and likely reduce tax revenue at municipalities around the nation.”
In a related article, the paper wrote on May 14:
“New jobless claims rose more than expected last week due partly to an increase in layoffs by the automobile industry, while the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits set a record for the 15th straight week.”
Obama Gay Activist Attacks Pope
On May 8, the Catholic News Agency, CNSNews, reported the following:
“A homosexual-rights activist whom President Obama appointed last month to a White House advisory council had–just three weeks before his appointment–posted a statement on the Web site of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most prominent homosexual-rights organization, accusing Pope Benedict XVI… of ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’… President Obama appointed the HRC activist, Harry Knox, to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on April 6. Knox was then, and remains, director of the HRC’s Religion and Faith Program. The HRC describes itself as ‘America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality’…
“‘The Pope’s statement that condoms don’t help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus,’ said Knox…
“Knox told the Bay Area Reporter on March 17 that the pope was a ‘discredited leader’… Knox was speaking… about efforts by the Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus to enact California’s Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage in the state… Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) called on President Obama to withdraw Knox’s appointment in light of his comments to the Bay Area Reporter…
“Last month, CNSNews.com White House Correspondent Fred Lucas asked the White House in writing whether the president would withdraw the appointment as Pence requested, and whether President Obama agreed with Knox’s statement that the pope is a ‘discredited leader’ and, if not, did he believe Knox should apologize. On April 15, White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told CNSNews.com, ‘We don’t have a response to that. You can say we declined to comment,’ she added.
“At her press conference on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said she was ‘unaware’ that Knox had called the pope a ‘discredited leader. ‘I’m so sorry. I’m just totally unaware of that statement… I really don’t know about that. But certainly, his Holiness is the head of an organization that has done more to alleviate poverty, eradicate disease, and is now addressing climate change issue and the rest. I am just not familiar with the statement and the circumstance.'”
Nancy Pelosi also claimed during Thursday’s press conference (May 14) that she was not informed about the use of waterboarding, “accus[ing] the CIA and Bush administration of misleading her about waterboarding detainees in the war on terror and sharply rebutted claims she was complicit in the method’s use” (compare The Associated Press). But subsequent comments made by CNN reporters shed serious doubts on Pelosi’s representations.
Hate Crime Legislation
WorldNetDaily wrote on May 10:
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Tuesday a hate crimes bill already approved by the House that, critics say, provides special protections for pedophiles and others with alternative ‘gender identities’ such as voyeurism and exhibitionism…
“[Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas] pointed out that if an exhibitionist flashes a woman, and she responds by slapping him with her purse, he has probably committed a misdemeanor while she has committed a federal felony hate crime… Critics also have expressed alarm because in committee hearings Democrats admitted that a Christian pastor could be prosecuted under the law if he spoke biblically against homosexuality, someone heard the comments and then committed a crime.”
Outrageous Jury Duty Debacle–“Only in Texas”?
The San Diego Union Tribune reported on May 10:
“A [Texas] man arrested for allegedly failing to appear for jury duty was released yesterday after spending 83 days in jail… Maupin, a masonry contractor, was arrested Feb. 15 after police pulled him over for speeding. Police then detained him on a 2003 warrant for failure to appear for jury duty. He wrote a letter to the newspaper about his lengthy jail stay, then said in a jailhouse interview that he, his friends and family could not afford his $1,500 bail.
“Maupin said his attempt to get a public defender was rebuffed by a jail clerk. District Judge Chris Oldner said he was unaware of Maupin’s detention until Friday, even though the case was assigned to his court. The judge who signed the original 2003 warrant had retired, and officials said the case was assigned to the court of his replacement but that the offense didn’t fall under that court’s responsibility.”
What Was Obama Thinking…?
Toby Harnden, U.S. Editor of the News Telegraph, wrote the following in that British paper, on May 10:
“What was Wanda Sykes thinking? Perhaps more to the point, what was President Barack Obama thinking when he laughed and smiled as the comedienne wished Rush Limbaugh dead? Although the Left is reporting her White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech as ‘taking shots’ at Limbaugh and mocking everyone, that’s a gross misrepresentation of what turned into a hateful and disgusting diatribe. I was at the dinner… There’s not much room for differing interpretations of what Sykes said. She called Limbaugh a terrorist and a traitor, suggested that he be tortured and wished him dead…
“Obama’s reaction to it was astonishing… Obama laughing when someone wishes Limbaugh dead? Hard to take from the man who promised a new era of civility and elevated debate in Washington.”
How Russia Sees It–Israel Without Jerusalem
The Russian paper, Pravda, wrote the following on May 8:
“The world’s leading countries are trying to solve the crisis in the Middle East against the background of yet another conflict between Palestine and Israel. Arab countries are about to convince Israel’s major ally – the USA – to approve the Saudi initiative, in accordance with which Israel will no longer have Jerusalem… No one expects any miracle to happen, of course. It is absolutely impossible to solve all problems, which Arabs and Jews have.
“Saudi Arabia suggests Israel should give the holy city of Jerusalem under external control and set its state borders in accordance with the map of 1967. The Arab districts of Jerusalem – the eastern part of the city – will have to become the capital of the Palestinian State, Arabian officials suggest…
“The Israelis traditionally believe that their capital is the city of Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv. Making the holy city become the capital of Palestine would be a disaster for the national mindset of Israel. In other words, it would mean a capitulation.”
US and Europe in Discreet Talks with Hamas?
Time On Line wrote on May 8:
“The idea that there can be no Israeli-Palestinian peace that bypasses Hamas has lately emerged as conventional wisdom among a broad range of Washington foreign policy experts — and it appears that the U.S. and some of its key European allies may be quietly in agreement. A senior Hamas official has told TIME that Western powers publicly committed to boycotting Hamas, which is officially designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, have nonetheless initiated discreet contacts with his organization. Osama Hamdan, the organization’s top leader in Lebanon, said in an interview in Beirut that Hamas had in recent weeks established ‘solid, direct contacts’ with four European Union countries, and that there had been unofficial talks between Hamas and the team of President Barack Obama’s Middle East special envoy, George Mitchell…
“Hamdan declined to identify the European countries with which he claimed Hamas has held talks, but said they were ‘significant’ nations, and described the discussions as substantial. ‘I think there is a shift in [the Europeans’] position [on boycotting Hamas],’ said Hamdan…
“While U.S. officials insist their stance on Hamas has not changed, hawkish pro-Israel legislators in Washington are concerned over what they see as the Administration’s eagerness to do business with elements officially designated as terrorists.”
President Obama vs. Israel?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on May 11:
“The Obama Administration is hoping to revive the peace process in the Middle East. Part of the strategy is to distance Washington from Israel… Obama makes repeated allusions to his own biography, which is not only rooted in the Christian world. ‘I have Muslims in my family. I have lived in a Muslim-majority country,’ is something he has said many times. His core message to the Muslim world, which he reiterated on his recent visit to Turkey, is that the US ‘is not at war with Islam’…
“The White House had already made it clear that it would be making demands on the Israelis… relations between the US and Israel have become decidedly frosty. Israeli Environment Minister Gilad Erdan even went so far as to say that ‘Israel does not take orders from Obama.’ The old friends have never seemed so far apart.
“Obama’s Middle East policy at the moment is much more focused on Iran than on Israel… Obama is offering the Tehran regime talks without any preconditions… There are, however, many who find it difficult to understand the harsh tone toward Jerusalem and the more indulgent one toward Tehran. US historian Jeffrey Herf, who has close ties to the US Democrats, says that the policy the White House is pursuing is both ‘naïve and potentially dangerous.'”
Haaretz added on May 14:
“U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran… The message from the American envoy to the prime minister reveals U.S. concern that Israel could lose patience and act against Iran. It is important to the Americans that they not be caught off guard and find themselves facing facts on the ground at the last minute.”
“The Last Opportunity”–“All Eyes Look to Washington…”
The Times reported on May 11:
“President Obama’s critical meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu next [Monday] has become the acid test for the Administration’s commitment to peace in the Middle East, King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday. The monarch does not conceal his feelings about the Israeli leader. He described their last encounter – 10 years ago when he had just come to the throne – as the ‘least pleasant’ of his reign… ‘All eyes will be looking to Washington,’ he said. ‘If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, there will be a feeling that this is just another American Government that is going to let us all down.’
“If Israel procrastinated on a two-state solution, or if there was no clear American vision on what should happen this year, the ‘tremendous credibility’ that Mr Obama had built up in the Arab world would evaporate overnight. And if peace negotiations were delayed, there would be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months, with implications far beyond the Middle East.
“‘If the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East,’ the King said… Emphasising again the urgency now felt by all Arab governments of making the most of Mr Obama’s commitment to a settlement, he said this was a final opportunity… The alternative was bleak — war, death and destruction. The King added: ‘This is a critical moment.'”
No Hostility Between U.S. and Iran?
The New York Times wrote on May 12:
“An Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of spying for Washington was released Monday after an appeals court… turned down the original jail term and issued a two-year suspended prison term in its place… The court ruling meant that she can leave the country immediately if she decides to…
“Ms. Saberi, 32, has lived in Iran since 2003 and worked as a freelance journalist for National Public Radio and the BBC. She was arrested in late January for buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. But the charges against her escalated to working without a press card and then spying for Washington. Her press card had been revoked in 2006.
“The sentencing had threatened to complicate political maneuvering between Iranian and American leaders over Iran’s nuclear program… The State Department called the charges against Ms. Saberi baseless and asked for her release… In the appeal, Mr. Nikbakht [one of Mrs. Saberi’s defense attorneys] argued that the espionage charge should be lifted because the foreign ministry and the judiciary had previously said that there was ‘no hostility between Iran and the United States.’ The judges accepted the defense, he said.”
Iran Prepares for Nuclear Attack
The Jerusalem Post reported on May 12:
“Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have begun deploying mobile launchers for surface-to-air and surface-to-sea missiles in the Strait of Hormuz and other areas in the Gulf… following secret reports that the United States and Israel were working on a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“… the missiles were deployed a few weeks ago. Iran is said to have informed Arab countries in the region of its activities and reassured its neighbors that the missiles were not aimed at states in the region, a reference to Sunni Arab states such as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite majority but Sunni government…
“The US has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike on Iran. Iran has threatened to retaliate to any aggression on its soil by closing down the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which will disrupt global oil supplies… Gulf countries, including Iran, hold more than half of the world’s crude oil reserves and more than 40 percent of the world’s proven gas reserves.”
The Power of the Catholic Church in the Middle East
The Associated Press reported on May 8:
“Pope Benedict XVI said Friday he hopes the Catholic church can play a role in the Middle East peace process as he began his first trip to the region with a stop in Jordan, where he hopes to improve frayed ties with Muslims… Benedict expressed hope his visit and the power of the Catholic church could help further peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians…
“‘We are not a political power but a spiritual power that can contribute,’ Benedict told reporters on the plane before he landed in Amman. The pope was met at the airport by Jordan’s King Abdullah, Queen Rania and Muslim and Christian leaders. A Jordanian army band equipped with bagpipes and drums played the Vatican and Jordanian national anthems before the pope and the king inspected the honor guard.”
That the Catholic Church is NOT just a spiritual power was belied by the fact that the NATIONAL ANTHEM of the Vatican was played in Jordan upon the Pope’s arrival. The Vatican State is a POLITICAL state, sending its ambassadors to, and receiving ambassadors from the entire world. And the Bible predicts that the Catholic Church will play a POLITICAL role, as well as a spiritual role in the Middle East in the Church’s attempts to bring “peace” to that region. For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” and “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
The Pope in Israel–At Odds With Netanyahu
The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 11:
“Pope Benedict XVI, arriving in Israel on a pilgrimage across the Holy Land, put himself at odds with the country’s new government today by calling for an independent Palestinian homeland alongside the Jewish state… The Roman Catholic leader did not mention the word ‘state,’ something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pointedly resisted promising the Palestinians. But the pope’s reference to two homelands within international borders was a clear assertion of the Holy See’s longstanding position in favor of a Palestinian state.
“By reaffirming that position in Netanyahu’s presence, at a welcoming ceremony televised in Israel and across the world, Benedict added to pressure from the United States and other allies on the Israeli leader to endorse a two-state solution as the goal of talks with the Palestinians.”
The Pope in Israel–“Disappointing” Speech at the Holocaust Memorial
The Associated Press reported on May 12:
“The Vatican defended the pope Tuesday from a growing chorus of Israeli critics who accused the German-born Benedict XVI of failing to express enough remorse for the Holocaust — a controversy that threatened to eclipse a papal pilgrimage aimed at building bridges between faiths… On Tuesday, the pope delivered messages of peace while visiting the holiest Muslim and Jewish sites in Jerusalem — the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall.
“But his speech Monday at Israel’s national Holocaust memorial attracted the most attention in Israel, with the parliament speaker accusing Benedict of glossing over the Nazi genocide. Newspapers lambasted him for failing to apologize for what many in Israel see as Catholic indifference during World War II and the pope’s own wartime actions — he served in the Hitler Youth corps and Nazi army — have also cast a shadow…
“Israeli newspapers Tuesday were filled with criticism. ‘One would have expected the Vatican’s cardinals to prepare a more intelligent text for their boss,’ columnist Tom Segev said.”
The Pope in Israel–His Speech Fell Flat
Der Spiegel Online reported on May 12:
“In the past, Pope Benedict XVI’s speeches have gotten him in trouble. Visiting the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem on Monday, it was what he didn’t say that irked his audience. Israel is disappointed, as are Jews in Germany… The pope’s speech… fell flat. Immediately following his visit, the Yad Vashem Council released a statement expressing disappointment with the pope’s comments at the monument. ‘He did not mention that it was the Nazis who did the murdering, nor a word of his personal participation in the feelings of pain and sorrow,’ said Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau immediately after the speech. ‘Even the phrase “6 million” wasn’t there. Not to mention that he didn’t say “I apologize.”‘
“Criticism didn’t just come from Israel, either. In Germany, the Central Council of Jews in Germany blasted the pope for failing to more clearly distance himself from the Society of St. Pius X and the Holocaust denial of SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson. ‘What should one think of a public call to fight against anti-Semitism when he himself doesn’t act and doesn’t take consequences,’ said Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council. Council President Charlotte Knobloch said ‘I expected clearer words from the pope at Yad Vashem’…
“[The pope’s speech included] powerful sentences, appearing in a manuscript that had been released in advance. Benedict remained true to his manuscript, reading it, word for word, in a quiet voice. But at the same time, he rattled off the sentences as if unaware of the impact of his words, swallowing and mumbling important words, as if he were reading a manuscript meant for someone else or, even more distressingly, as if he were unaware of what he was reading. It was not a powerful moment. There were no sparks…
“When Pope John Paul II spoke at Yad Vashem in 2000, he promised that ‘never again’ would the church permit the persecution of Jews. His successor has renewed the promise, but in a far more generalized form: ‘As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I reaffirm — like my predecessors — that the Church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again.'”
The Pope in Bethlehem–Understands Suffering of Palestinians
On May 13, The Associated Press reported the following:
“Standing in the cradle of Christianity [in Bethlehem], Pope Benedict XVI told Palestinians on Wednesday that he understands their suffering and offered his strongest public backing yet for an independent Palestinian state… It was the third day of Benedict’s Holy Land pilgrimage meant largely to boost interfaith relations. But so far, it has been fraught with political land mines. Israelis have criticized the German-born pope for failing to adequately express remorse for the Holocaust, while the Palestinians are pressing him to draw attention to the difficult conditions of life under Israeli rule… In Bethlehem, Benedict delivered a special message of solidarity to the 1.4 million Palestinians isolated in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. He has no plans to visit Gaza.”
Deutsche Welle added on May 13:
“Speaking in Bethlehem after holding a mass in Manger Square, the pope pressed calls to remove the wall and watch towers that seal Bethlehem off from Jerusalem…
“The German-born pope’s week-long trip to the Middle East, his first visit to the region, has not been without controversy. On Tuesday, a row erupted over the pope’s membership as a teenager of the Hitler Youth, as he paid a historic visit to holy sites in Jerusalem. Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said the pontiff had ‘never, never, never’ belonged to the organization, but later changed his version, saying that he had been a member but his membership was compulsory. In his own 1997 memoirs, Pope Benedict had said he had been registered with the Hitler Youth while he was at a seminary.”
Lisbon Treaty Needed For Freedom of Religion in Europe?
The EUObserver wrote on May 12:
“Securing a stronger consultative role for European religions in EU policy making is another good reason to support the Lisbon Treaty, say two of the EU’s most senior officials. Speaking after a meeting with European religious leaders on Monday (11 May), European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said such discussions in the future could not be guaranteed without the full ratification of the Lisbon Treaty… He added that it is the ‘responsibility of Ireland’ to ensure the treaty comes into effect…
“European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who co-chaired the meeting with Mr Poettering, told journalists the Lisbon Treaty would also re-inforce dialogue between non-confessional organisations. ‘One of the purposes of these meetings is to highlight how it is important in Europe to keep freedom of religion [and] also the freedom not to have a religion,’ he said. ‘[The Lisbon Treaty] is the first time ever that our churches and our religious communities are included in the law of the European union,’ Mr Pottering said…
“Also attending Monday’s meeting was the Catholic archbishop for Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. Mr Martin has increasingly voiced his support for the Lisbon treaty in recent months ahead of a second Irish referendum on the document this autumn… One issue of concern to Irish religious groups is the possibility that Ireland could be forced to accept abortion under European law if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. Abortion is not currently allowed under Irish legislation…”
The Fourth Reich–A Warning from the Past
On May 9, The Daily Mail published an article about the attempts of Nazis, at the end of World War II, to prepare for a FOURTH REICH, and how current developments in Europe might lead to a repeat of history. We are bringing you the following excerpts:
“The document, also known as the Red House Report, is a detailed account of a secret meeting… in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944. There, Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany’s post-war recovery, prepare for the Nazis’ return to power and work for a ‘strong German empire’. In other words: the Fourth Reich… The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire – but not just German…
“The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration…
“War had been extraordinarily profitable for the German economy. By 1948 – despite six years of conflict, Allied bombing and post-war reparations payments – the capital stock of assets such as equipment and buildings was larger than in 1936, thanks mainly to the armaments boom. [German Chancellor Ludwig] Erhard pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism – the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body.
“Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states… This set a vital precedent for the steady erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today.
“But before the common market could be set up, the Nazi industrialists had to be pardoned, and Nazi bankers and officials reintegrated. In 1957, John J. McCloy, the American High Commissioner for Germany, issued an amnesty for industrialists convicted of war crimes. The two most powerful Nazi industrialists, Alfried Krupp of Krupp Industries and Friedrich Flick, whose Flick Group eventually owned a 40 per cent stake in Daimler-Benz, were released from prison after serving barely three years…
“Like Krupp and Flick, Hermann Abs, post-war Germany’s most powerful banker, had prospered in the Third Reich… Abs joined the board of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, in 1937… Abs was one of the most important figures in Germany’s post-war reconstruction. It was largely thanks to him that, just as the Red House Report exhorted, a ‘strong German empire’ was indeed rebuilt, one which formed the basis of today’s European Union… By 1948 he was effectively managing Germany’s economic recovery. Crucially, Abs was also a member of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union… When Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany, took power in 1949, Abs was his most important financial adviser…
“Next month, 27 European Union member states vote in the biggest transnational election in history. Europe now enjoys peace and stability. Germany is a democracy, once again home to a substantial Jewish community. The Holocaust is seared into national memory. But the Red House Report is a bridge from a sunny present to a dark past. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, once said: ‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’ For now, the nation state endures. But these three typewritten pages are a reminder that today’s drive towards a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich…”
Does the Bible have anything to say about the existence of "sea monsters," such as the "Loch Ness creature"?
Surprising as it may seem, the Bible has indeed much to say about the existence of certain elusive creatures. It is entirely possible that some of these creatures, such as the “Loch Ness monster” in Scotland or similar “lake monsters” in other parts of the world, might exist today.
First of all, let us examine some interesting Scriptures which clearly describe animals, which are generally believed today to be myths or legends, or which are thought to have become extinct. Some have attempted to apply living known animals, or Satan, or world powers, to the biblical descriptions, but those attempts must be considered as totally inadequate.
For instance, the Bible has much to say about a creature called, “Leviathan.” This animal clearly existed at the time of Job, and is described, in detail, in the 41st chapter of the book of Job. Some have said that a crocodile is described there–but this is utter nonsense. The description of Leviathan in the book of Job and in other places refers to a living animal–but it does not remotely apply to a crocodile. Some have said that the description of Leviathan in the book of Job is merely a description of Satan. However, clearly an animal is described in Job 41–not a spirit being (even though some of the characteristics of Leviathan might very well, in a symbolic sense, apply to Satan).
We might also consider additional passages outside the book of Job, referring to Leviathan. Psalm 74:14 says that God “broke the HEADS of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.” Some might want to dismiss this passage as simply mythological, claiming that no known animal existed or exists with more than one head. This claim is not necessarily accurate. Even today, sometimes animals, due to mutation or birth defects, are born with more than one head, so there is no reason to believe that the passage in Psalm 74 must be understood in a mythological, rather than a literal way.
Psalm 104:25-26 clearly identifies Leviathan as a real, living water animal, co-existing with man: “… The great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great. There are ships sail about; There is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there.”
There are additional biblical passages which might refer to Leviathan and/or other unidentified “sea monsters.”
In Isaiah 51:9, we read: “‘Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, In the generations of old. Are you not the arm that cut Rahab apart, And wounded the serpent?”
Amos 9:3 states: “And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, From there I will search and take them; Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea, From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.”
An interesting statement can also be found in Isaiah 27:1: “In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.”
Some contend that God is referring here to world powers, comparing them with Leviathan and other strong animals. Maybe so. We find similar comparisons in other passages. For instance, King Nebuchadnezzar is described as “a monster” in Jeremiah 51:34, and in Ezekiel 32:2, God compares the Pharaoh of Egypt with a young lion AND with a “monster in the seas, Bursting forth in your rivers, Troubling the waters with your feet, And fouling the rivers.”
In any event, the fact that God compares world powers or individuals with Leviathan and other sea creatures suggests that those creatures exist. God compares Pharaoh with a lion AND with a monster in the sea. Since lions are real animals, it is reasonable to conclude that that particular sea monster exists as well. Also, God speaks in the same context of Leviathan as the fleeing serpent and the twisted serpent, AND of the reptile in the sea. We all know that reptiles exist. Why would God mention Leviathan in the same context, if THAT creature was only mythological or allegorical?
We should understand that the alleged sightings of the “Loch Ness monster” are only one category among literal hundreds of other sightings of additional “lake monsters” all around the world. Another famous “lake monster” is the “Ogopogo,” a creature reportedly living in the Okanagan Waters in Canada. The description of that creature is very similar to the description of the “Loch Ness monster.”
We are not saying that the Leviathan of the Bible is necessarily identical with the “Loch Ness monster” or with the “Ogopogo”–nor, of course, that these modern creatures have more than one head–but we are saying that the Bible allows for the existence of “sea monsters.” And if the “Loch Ness” monster or “Ogopogo” exist today, they would not have been the end product of an “evolutionary development,” nor would they be “living fossils,” but God would have created them, and, as water animals, they would have survived Noah’s Flood.
There are many reports of sightings and even some photographs of the “Loch Ness monster” or the “Ogopogo” or other lake creatures from all over the world–just too many to be summarily dismissed. We cannot say that all these reports and pictures are fake (even though undoubtedly many are); or that none of these sightings are legitimate; or that they all were the result of highly imaginative minds; or that they were hallucinations, caused by Satan the devil (again, undoubtedly, some, if not many, of these “sightings” would belong to those categories).
Books have been written trying to identify the “Loch Ness monster” or the “Ogopogo” as a pre-Adamic long-necked plesiosaur, a marine dinosaur thought to have been extinct “for about seventy million years,” and they have tried to explain how and why that creature was able to survive in sweet water lakes. Others have tried to explain the numerous sightings by pointing at a variety of known existing animals or other natural phenomena.
However, these explanations fail to consider that even today, we sometimes discover previously unknown species, or animals which were thought to have been long extinct. For instance, although legends existed for centuries of a “hairy man living in the trees,” it was only fairly recently that the Orangutan ape was discovered by scientists. The same can be said for the huge giant squid which lives in the oceans. Although there had been some speculation for centuries that it might exist, scientists were only recently able to discover certain body parts of the giant squid, such as the portion of a long arm, with tentacles, in the belly of a sperm whale, enabling them to calculate the enormous size of that squid. Even in more recent days, new, previously unknown species were discovered. Cadavers from animals were found–and pictures taken–which look like the cadavers of previously unknown animals or of those considered by misled scientists to have become extinct “millions of years ago.”
Many eyewitness reports of the “Loch Ness monster” or of the “Ogopogo” have been published, but members of the Church of God view those reports correctly with caution, not knowing how reliable they really are. However, in light of the biblical evidence, it is possible that some of those reports are accurate and that these and other unknown creatures do exist. As a consideration of this question, we are setting forth below an eye witness report about an encounter with the “Ogopogo.” The report was written by Delia Messier, wife of Rene Messier, an ordained minister of the Church of God (CGCF) in Canada. The report, relating events which took place in about 2007, is reliable and also makes reference to eye witness reports from two other Church of God ministers and their families:
“The beautiful Okanagan Lake has a famous legend of an elusive water creature called the Ogopogo. This lake is almost 100 miles long with under-water caverns. For many years stories of sightings of the Ogopogo living in the Okanagan Lake have been heard and told. A family of three of our friends told my husband and me that they saw [about 25 years ago] Ogopogo’s head appear in front of them, as they were standing on the pier one fall day. They told us: ‘It lifted its head out of the water, then quickly disappeared when it saw us.’ Another family had also told mutual friends that they had seen it, but never having seen it myself, and being an elusive creature not common to public acceptance, one tended to dismiss the stories.
“One day, driving along the lake heading towards Kelowna, I saw something on the water that was strange. Looking hard at what it was that I saw there in the water, I have to say that it was at first unrecognizable. Nothing I had ever seen before in all these years living near the lake fit what I was observing. It was puzzling as it was not any type of water craft I would normally see, not a motor boat, not a canoe, not a Sea-Doo, not a paddle wheel, not a water skier, not a sail boat. Trying to identify what it was, I had to eliminate what it wasn’t, but there it was–a big head sticking out of the water, erect and moving smoothly straight forward, with a long wake trailing behind. It had a very big head, shaped like a horse’s head, with the long face and nostrils which a horse has, and with rounded short ears.
“The lake was quiet that day, as it was in late fall and the usual summer tourists had gone for the season, so this big water animal, gray or dark green in color like a wet rock, kept swimming leisurely. There was nowhere for me to pull over on the highway, but as long as I could see the lake from the road, the animal stayed above water and kept moving forward. Now I do believe the legend is true, that there is the Ogopogo living in the Okanagan Lake, and that our friends truly saw it, just as I did.”
From this it follows that an elusive creature seems to exist in the Okanagan Lake, and that similar creatures might also exist in Loch Ness and in many other lakes around the world. What is especially interesting is that the words of the Bible, speaking of unknown “sea monsters” co-existing with man, have to be viewed as literal truth, rather than myth, legend or fiction.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
We are pleased to announce the upcoming wedding of Joe Bourque and Erica Smith, who attend the Fort Collins, Colorado, congregation of the Church of the Eternal God. The wedding will be conducted at 11:00 AM on May 17, 2009, at the Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, Loveland, Colorado. We wish to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Joe and Erica.
The text of our new booklet, titled, “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today,” was sent to our Graphic Designer, Shelly Bruno, for finalization.
We have begun new Internet advertisement campaigns in Great Britain, Canada and the USA. Booklets advertised include, “Europe in Prophecy,” “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” and, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”
In the program, Norbert Link explains that the mainstream media is trying to tell us that our economy is on its way to recovery and that the banking crisis is over. The portrayal of this rosy picture is irresponsible and factually wrong. A most influential political, financial and industrial organization expects either “a prolonged and agonizing depression,” or “an intense-but-shorter depression.” Why is the mainstream media not reporting what our leaders REALLY believe? Gay activists state that President Obama “has a plan.” What is this plan? More importantly, is there a plan in the spirit world which directs the affairs of man?
Norbert Link’s new video-recorded sermon of May 2, 2009, titled, “Lessons from the Book of Job, Part 2,” has been posted on our Website, in addition to the audio version. Just click on “Audio” and go to “Sermon Videos.”
Living by Example
by Simon Akl (20)
This past semester I needed to spend a lot more time at school because of the scheduling of most of my classes. It has given me an opportunity to get to know some other students a little better, and vice versa. As we have talked more and more, our conversations have focused less on school material and more on general reflective questions, such as how to cope with stress, relationships, our goals and even our existence and purpose.
It seems like some students are confused or are searching for answers to questions, unable to find them. I feel that I should take the opportunities when they arise to live my life as an example to others around me. Being a pre-med undergraduate definitely requires a lot of studying, which has consumed some of my school friends’ time. Some have noticed that I am capable of living a more balanced life and that I am not just forced to study 24/7, and they try and ask me how I do it. I explain to them that I do my part in studying and let God handle the rest, saving me all the worry.
It has been an interesting process because it has given me the opportunity to see how others are lost in their approach towards life. They seem to let days pass, without really realizing why they are doing what they do. It makes me very thankful to be aware of God’s great plan, knowing that there is a bigger picture and more to life than just our daily routines. I feel that my actions can speak far more than any words I can share with them. Even though I fall short from time to time, I strive to set an example to my classmates, not just on things concerning school, but in everything that I do.
I am grateful that I have been blessed by God’s guidance and direction, while some others around me in school are searching for them. I try to focus on letting my light shine to others, hoping that by setting a good example, it might lighten up their perspective.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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