Update 621


Josiah—a Righteous King of Judah

On January 11, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon titled, “Josiah—a Righteous King of Judah.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Balancing Act

by Robb Harris

Economists would define a balanced budget when an entity’s spending matches its revenue during a period of time. If an entity makes more than it spends, it has a budget surplus. But spending more than it makes puts the entity into a budget deficit. Whether that entity is a government, business or a family, the trend today seems to be living in a financial deficit. Achieving a balance or surplus takes preparation and a conscious effort.

If we seek worldly explanation for the failings of businesses or governments to achieve fiscal balance, we can become ensnared in political punditry. Sensationalized opinions are standard for TV news. Networks promote argumentative “talking heads” for the sake of entertainment value. 

Understanding the root cause of the imbalance of this world does not mean we have achieved balance. Seeking equilibrium in our life requires a daily commitment. As Christians, we must always be on guard, always aware of our surroundings and always focused on the goal of pleasing God. Paul spoke of this constant struggle: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The balance each of us MUST achieve can be accomplished through Godly characteristics. By growing closer to God, we become more balanced. Paul also spoke of those Godly characteristics when speaking to Timothy: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We must have patience to be led by God, while being humble enough to discern when we are not stable. With that balance, we will know God’s truth—enabling us to enter into His Kingdom.

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We begin with a striking article raising the question whether we are approaching the times similar to the outbreak of World War I; continue with turbulent developments in Iraq; discuss the demonic behavior of North Korea’s baby-faced leader; the unscrupulous conduct of “US basketball star” Dennis Rodman; and demonic possession and exorcisms within the Catholic Church; speak of the Pope’s new-found relationship towards gays; and address Israel’s challenges for 2014.

Turning to America’s domestic problems, we report about left-liberal criticism of Obamacare; the ongoing controversial activities of the NSA; and the nearly unprecedented terrible weather conditions of a large part of the USA. 

We conclude with the political landscape in Britain and the rise of their own version of an anti-European “Tea Party.”

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Is History Repeating Itself – 1914 All Over Again?

The Independent wrote on January 5:

“… an internationally respected historian is warning that today’s world bears a number of striking similarities with the build-up to the First World War. The newly mechanised armies of the early 20th century produced unprecedented slaughter on the battlefields of the ‘war to end all wars’ after a spark lit in the Balkans with the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

“Professor Margaret MacMillan, of the University of Cambridge, argues that the Middle East could be viewed as the modern-day equivalent of this turbulent region. A nuclear arms race that would be likely to start if Iran developed a bomb ‘would make for a very dangerous world indeed, which could lead to a recreation of the kind of tinderbox that exploded in the Balkans 100 years ago – only this time with mushroom clouds,’ she writes in an essay for the Brookings Institution, a leading US think-tank… ‘the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then,’ she says. ‘A similar mix of toxic nationalisms threatens to draw in outside powers as the US, Turkey, Russia, and Iran look to protect their interests and clients.’

“Professor MacMillan highlights a string of other parallels between today and a century ago. Modern-day Islamist terrorists mirror the revolutionary communists and anarchists who carried out a string of assassinations in the name of a philosophy that sanctioned murder to achieve their vision of a better world…

“Another similarity highlighted by the historian is the belief that a full-scale war between the major powers is unthinkable after such a prolonged period of peace. ‘Now, as then, the march of globalisation has lulled us into a false sense of safety,’ she says. ‘The 100th anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophes, and sheer accident…’”

The Bible has prophesied long ago that in our days, World War III is coming…

Iraqi City Fallujah Back in Al Qaida Hands

On January 3, 2014, Newsmax wrote the following:

“Al-Qaida-linked militants held control of much of the Iraqi city of Fallujah and other nearby towns, fighting off efforts by troops with air support to regain control… Fallujah became notorious among Americans when insurgents in 2004 killed four American security contractors and hung their burned bodies from a bridge… The town also was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq War. Nearly 100 U.S. Marines were killed and hundreds wounded in the second battle of Fallujah in 2004.

“Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent reinforcements on Jan. 1 to dislodge militants from Fallujah and nearby Ramadi, a focus of the 2007 ‘surge’ of U.S. forces. The fighting there is part of an escalation of violence in Iraq, where 2013 saw the most civilian casualties for five years amid the kind of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that also has engulfed Syria and Lebanon…

“There is little support in the U.S. for renewed military involvement in Iraq, where 4,489 Americans were killed and 51,778 wounded in action after the Bush administration invaded the country almost 11 years ago. Obama has listed ending the war in Iraq as one of his main accomplishments. Civilian fatalities in Iraq, including police, totaled 7,818 last year, with almost 18,000 wounded…

“So far, the violence hasn’t affected Iraq’s major oil fields, the country’s main source of revenue. Output rose by 100,000 barrels a day last month to 3.2 million barrels, the most since August… The country pumped more crude as it increased links to wells in its predominately Shiite south. Iraq is the second-biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia… Maliki also faces political unrest, with 44 members of Iraq’s parliament resigning because the government used force to dismantle Sunni-led protests.”

Deutsche Welle reported on January 7:

“For most Americans, the Iraq War ended when its last troops were withdrawn at the end of 2011. But the violence in the country has barely relented since then, and last week’s outbreak of fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi was only the latest eruption of long-lasting sectarian tensions… Those sectarian tensions remained unresolved when US troops forces pulled out… In effect, then, analysts argue, greater diplomatic pressure on Baghdad in 2009 and early 2010 could have stemmed the tensions that erupted so violently last week.”

The Iraqi war was a terrible mistake and destined to failure from the outset, and subsequent diplomatic blunders only added to the disaster. Things have only gotten worse. And what if Iraq’s oil fields fell into the hands of radical Islamists and the oil export to the USA were to stop?

North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un and His Unpredictable Demonic Rule

The Straits Times wrote on January 2:

“The execution of Jang Song Thaek, the No. 2 man in North Korea, took Beijing by surprise and will adversely affect bilateral relations. Beijing’s displeasure is expressed through the publication of a detailed account of Jang’s brutal execution in Wen Wei Po, its official mouthpiece, in Hong Kong, on Dec 12. According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs. The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.

“The horrifying report vividly depicted the brutality of the young North Korean leader. The fact that it appeared in a Beijing-controlled newspaper showed that China no longer cares about its relations with the Kim regime. Two days later, the Global Times, associated with the People’s Daily, a Chinese Communist Party organ, followed up with a sternly worded editorial saying that the abrupt political change epitomised the backwardness of the North Korean political system. It warned the Chinese government not to coddle North Korea any longer, saying that the majority of Chinese were extremely disgusted with the Kim regime…

“The purge of Jang reflected the longstanding suspicion and apprehension of the North Korean regime towards China, which dates back to the time of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder. Although China fought the Korean War to preserve the Kim regime, he was less than grateful. Once the war was over, Kim started purging the Yan-an faction within his party. This faction received its training in Yan-an, the capital of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1940s… When the son, Kim Jong Il, took over the helm, he did not hide the fact that his nuclear weapons could be used against China… So when the grandson, … Kim Jong Un, took over the helm, this family tradition of suspecting China prompted the young leader to take drastic action to cleanse the party of any pro-China elements.

“Recent developments have posed a number of issues for China. First, China’s own security is at risk. The erratic and ruthless behaviour of Mr Kim Jong Un suggests that China should not underrate the likelihood of a nuclear threat from Pyongyang…

“Second, China’s political and strategic influence on the Korean peninsula has been drastically reduced. China was widely considered to be able to rein in the unruly Kim regime, thus acting as a force for peace in the region. But it now appears China’s influence over its neighbour is close to zero. This is clear from the fact that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi telephoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for urgent consultation on Dec 13. This was followed by Ambassador Wu Dawei’s trip to Moscow. Both moves suggest that Beijing realises it can no longer tame the Kim regime by itself.

“Third, China had hoped to nurture a less belligerent neighbour by encouraging reform, open-door policies and economic development in North Korea… With Jang brutally executed, the idea of a peaceful transformation seems unrealistic.”

Some, like Newsmax, dated January 6, have stated that the “dog story” might have been a myth, as it was allegedly received from a Chinese satire website.  There is no discussion, however, that Jang Song Thaek was murdered by the North Korean regime, but it is suggested that he was “executed” by a firing squad. We have serious doubts that this “clarification” is based on facts. Kim Jong Un is a ruthless leader, and further reports have emerged that his aunt, wife of the late Jang Song Thaek, is also dead. As the Daily Mail reported, dated January 6, she died “under mysterious circumstances.” She “is said to have either suffered a heart attack or committed suicide by North Korean media.”

Rodman’s Shameful and Disgusting Show in North Korea

Based on the foregoing, the following report by CNN, dated January 6, is appalling, stating: “Eccentric basketball star Dennis Rodman and several other former NBA players have arrived in North Korea to take part in a controversial basketball game on the birthday of Kim Jong-Un, the country’s young, unpredictable leader.”

On January 8, 2014, BBC News added: “US basketball star Dennis Rodman has sung Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in front of a crowd of thousands in the capital. Rodman said Mr Kim, who was in the audience with his wife and other senior officials, was his ‘best friend’.”

How anyone, “eccentric or not,” can justify celebrating the birthday of Kim Jong-un by playing a basketball game is beyond sound reasoning. To call him “his best friend” shows much about the character of Rodman — former Chicago Bull teammate of Michael Jordan–and those following him. What a shameful disgrace for the US, which became even more appalling during Rodman’s interview with CNN. As Deutsche Welle reported on January 8:

“Rodman’s CNN appearance took a turn towards the surreal when he was asked about US missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korean custody since May on charges described only as ‘anti-state’ crimes… ‘If you understand what Kenneth Bae did … Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?’ Rodman asked the interviewer, declining to elaborate when asked to provide the information in question…

“White House spokesman Jay Carney said he was ‘not going to dignify that outburst with a response’… The National Basketball Association (NBA), meanwhile, issued a statement saying it was ‘not involved’ in Rodman’s trip and would not take part in so-called ‘basketball diplomacy’ without discussions with the US State Department.”

This response by the NBA is another shameful and cowardly attempt not to take any position against Rodman’s and the other former NBA players’ behavior.

In that context, Breitbart wrote on January 6:

“‘The trip comes at the worst possible time—after Kim Jong-un brutally solidified his grip on power—and with no progress towards denuclearization,’ Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Breitbart.com. ‘This basketball game will do nothing to improve the abysmal human rights conditions in North Korea. It’s a propaganda win for the regime.’

“If they don’t return home with a renewed appreciation for America, the basketball giants might thank God for their height. North Korea has long pursued an eradication campaign against little people—ones even smaller than the diminutive Kim Jong-un—that has relied on imprisonment and eugenics. Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, strangely proclaimed, ‘The race of dwarves must disappear.’”

This reminds us of Hitler and his Nazi elite, who strangely advocated the advance of a Nordic master race (blond, blue-eyed and tall)—a description which was not met in the slightest by little Hitler, overweight Goering or limping Goebbels.

We are convinced that Kim Jong Un is demonically possessed, and those too closely associated with him come likewise under his demonic “spell.” This fact makes the baby-faced young radical murderer extremely dangerous, irrational and privy to any imaginable destructive action. We might think of Hitler who was undoubtedly demon-possessed as well. For proof, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

We can expect that more and more world leaders will give in to strong demonic influences, as the Bible clearly prophesies. Demons truly rule this world, and true Christians must be aware of this and resist Satan, while submitting to God for His protection. You might want to view or re-view our recent sermon on the topic, titled, “Demons on the Loose.”

Demonic Possession on the Rise

The Telegraph wrote on January 5:

“Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil. The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.

“The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive. The trend comes four decades after the 1973 release of The Exorcist, the American horror film based on the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and attempts to exorcise her by two priests…

“In Spain, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, chose eight priests to undergo special training in May to confront what he described as ‘an unprecedented rise’ in cases of ‘demonic possession’. The Church in Spain was coming across many cases that ‘go beyond the competence of psychologists’ and they were occurring with ‘a striking frequency’, the archbishop said. ‘Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism,’ said Fr Francesco Bamonte, the president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists. ‘The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help,’ he told La Repubblica last month.

“The association was founded in 1993 by Fr Gabriele Amorth, who served as the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have conducted thousands of exorcisms. A controversial figure, he has claimed that yoga is ‘evil’ because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and other Eastern religions. During the papacy of Benedict XVI he said that the sex abuse scandals which engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Australia and other countries were proof that the Antichrist was waging a war against the Holy See…

“[People with demonic possession] must undergo the official Catholic rite of exorcism, which involves a consecrated priest invoking the name of God, as well as various saints and the Archangel Michael, to cast out their demons…”

It is true that demonic influence and possession are on the rise. But the “exorcisms” performed by the Catholic Church, as well as those by certain TV Evangelists, are deceitful and of no help whatsoever. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.” 

Pope Francis and the Gay Community

AFP wrote on January 5:

“Pope Francis has called for a rethink in the way the Catholic Church deals with the children of gay couples and divorced parents… Though the Church has often been in conflict with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over its opposition to same-sex marriage and to homosexuality, Francis has drawn praise for attempts to be inclusive. In July he reached out to gays, declaring that ‘if someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?’ And in December, the Advocate magazine — dedicated to the gay and lesbian community — chose the head of the Catholic Church as the ‘single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.’”

Inasmuch as it has been reported infrequently in the news that some—if not many—within the Catholic clergy are homosexual, this recent trend within that Church is quite remarkable. The conservative German paper, Die Welt, reported on January 7, 2014, that many men of the Catholic Swiss Guard have been allegedly approached by priests, bishops and cardinals. In its article, “The Vatican is a Paradise for Gays,” the paper wrote that the Swiss Guard has been “protecting” the Pope and the Vatican for 500 years, but that the 110-men-troop has also been serving as a “lust object.”

Pope Francis—“The Lamb of God”

This is how the Drudge Report linked the following article by The Independent, dated January 8:

“Pope Francis has visited a live nativity re-enactment at the Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori on the outskirts of Rome. After greeting the 200 costumed participants and a large number of farmyard animals, he made his way to the most important member of the group: the 2-month-old baby Francesco, who had been baptised that morning and played the role of Jesus in the proceedings. A group of ‘shepherds’ also placed a young lamb on the Pope’s shoulders as children sang Christmas songs and presented the Pope with a bunch of roses.”

UFO Sighting in Germany

The Local wrote on January 7:

“An unidentified flying object which ruined the travel plans of passengers at Bremen airport on Monday night looked like a plane but was a lot louder, according to eyewitnesses… The airport said on Monday night that the UFO showed up on its radar several times over three hours from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Police said in a statement that they were alerted at 6.30pm about a UFO over Bremen and a patrol car also saw the object.

“A police helicopter was sent up to try and find the UFO but could not, although the Weser Kurier newspaper reported it could be seen through binoculars from the airport’s traffic control tower. The helicopter search was called off at 8.45pm, according to the police statement.

“Officers are now investigating the case on grounds of unauthorized intrusion into controlled air space. A spokeswoman for German Air Traffic Control (DFS) said: ‘It had normal lights, red and green, and an approach light on both sides,’ the Weser Kurier reported. Eyewitness Dominique Höber told the paper the object was flying at between 100 and 200 metres and passed over his house four times. ‘It looked like a plane,’ he said. ‘It had lights but was a lot louder.’

“A flight from Frankfurt had to be cancelled and a second flight from Munich was diverted to Hannover. Another plane coming from Paris had to stay airborne for a while before it could land. A Bremen police spokesman said. ‘We still don’t know what it was, but it was there.’ Possible explanations are that it was a drone or a balloon-like aircraft.

“On Sunday in the town of Zwickau, Saxony, an initially unidentified aircraft landed on a field behind a house. Hours later it turned out to be a remote-controlled model airship.”

Whatever it might have been, the fact that it could not be located and identified is quite disturbing and worrisome.

Israel’s Challenges for 2014

The Jerusalem Post wrote on January 3:

“Here are [several] challenges that await Netanyahu in 2014:

“… Iran – Insisting on a good deal. Netanyahu’s goal is to ensure the world reaches a deal that will permanently prevent Iran’s military nuclearization and avoid the need for a military strike…

“… Syria – Staying out of it. The Washington Institute estimated this week that there are fighters from 74 countries in the Syrian civil war, which has become what in wrestling is called a battle royal. While Israel is included on that list because there are Druse from the Golan who went there to help their families, the Jewish state has done a good job so far in staying out of the fighting. The last thing Israel wants in 2014 is for all those fighters to stop attacking each other, and decide to turn their guns against their common enemy.

“… Palestinians – Avoiding war. Hamas’s ability to attack Israel has been hindered by the new Egyptian regime closing hundreds of tunnels from Egypt to Gaza. Hamas loses millions in monthly revenue from the tunnels. But terror tunnels to Israel are still being built and rockets are still fired regularly.

“… Palestinians – Making peace. The prime minister is under intense pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry… If Netanyahu’s goal is to stall and avoid concessions, it will be harder than ever in 2014. If his goal is to reach an agreement, then – as usual – his success will depend on whether his Palestinian counterparts have the same goal…”

The paper lists additional challenges for Mr. Netanyahu’s political survival, but the ones quoted above go beyond just the person of Mr. Netanyahu, and address the problems regarding the very survival of the state of Israel.

Kerry Leaves Israel Without a Deal

JTA wrote on January 7:

“Israel published plans to build nearly 300 West Bank apartments as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a visit to the Middle East without an official framework agreement between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators… On Monday, Netanyahu reportedly told Knesset members from his Likud party that he would oppose withdrawal from settlements such as Hebron and Beit El, which are not part of major settlement blocs but are ‘important to the Jewish people’…”

Michael Moore: “Obamacare Is Awful!”

On December 31, 2013, The New York Times published an editorial by left-liberal filmmaker and Obama-supporter Michael Moore, severely criticizing Obamacare. Moore became famous for films such as “Bowling for Columbine,” dealing with the unregulated use of guns, and his 2007 film ‘Sicko,’ which examined the American health care industry:

“Today marks the beginning of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges, for which two million Americans have signed up. Now that the individual mandate is officially here, let me begin with an admission: Obamacare is awful.

“That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get…

“I believe Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could — is a result of one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan…

“What we now call Obamacare was conceived at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and birthed in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor. The president took Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions…By 2017, we will be funneling over $100 billion annually to private insurance companies…

“For many people, the ‘affordable’ part of the Affordable Care Act risks being a cruel joke. The cheapest plan available to a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year in Hartford, Conn., will cost $11,800 in annual premiums. And their deductible will be $12,600. If both become seriously ill, they might have to pay almost $25,000 in a single year…”

Of course, Moore has also “good things” to say about Obamacare, which we do not quote herein, as we do not believe that Moore’s overly optimistic and gratuitous comments insofar are accurate. But we did quote the excerpts above to show that even strong Obama supporters are unhappy with the President’s health-care policies… even though they might disagree for wrong reasons…

Secret Court Continues to Authorize Secret Spying on All American Phone Calls

The Washington Times wrote on January 3:

“The secret court that oversees the nation’s intelligence activities renewed its approval of the National Security Agency’s telephone-records program on Friday, granting the government a new three-month window to collect data on all Americans’ phone calls… The decision marks the 36th time the program has been approved by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court…

“Last month a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled that the NSA’s phone-records program was likely unconstitutional, but another federal judge in New York concluded the opposite. The Obama administration has said it is appealing the adverse ruling… Under the NSA program, the agency collects the time, duration and parties involved in most calls placed within the U.S. The agency stores that data for five years…

“A White House review, released last month, was harshly critical of the program, saying the NSA shouldn’t store the data but rather should leave it with telephone companies, only accessing the data when analysts have a specific articulable reason. The White House review was also critical of the secret court that has repeatedly upheld the NSA’s snooping program…”

Just to clarify and bring back to America’s consciousness. These incredible violations of privacy are not perpetrated in dictatorial countries such as North Korea, but in the “land of the brave and the free.”

Class Action Lawsuit by Rand Paul and Ken Cuccinelli against Obama for Spying

Breitbart reported on January 4:

“Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said the grassroots in America will ‘overwhelm’ the federal government and President Barack Obama’s administration by signing up for his class action lawsuit against Obama himself over the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on American citizens.

“‘Well, the thing about it is the question here is whether or not constitutionally you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,’ Paul said in an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Eric Bolling on Friday evening… ‘We now have several hundred thousand people who want to be part of this suit to say to the government and to the NSA “you can’t have our records without our permission or without a warrant specific to an individual.”… We want to overwhelm the government and we want to show publicly that hundreds of thousands of people object to the government looking at our records without our permission.

“Paul confirmed to Bolling that former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be leading his legal team’s efforts against President Obama… He was also the first attorney general to file a lawsuit against Obamacare. And he’s joined our legal team. He has constitutional expertise. We’re hoping with his help we can get a hearing in court and so that we can get this class action lawsuit, I think the first of its kind, all the way to the Supreme Court.’

“Paul said the goal of the lawsuit is to force the Obama administration to follow the constitution… ‘We want them to protect the Fourth Amendment,’ Paul said. ‘We want them to protect the right to privacy. We want them to understand that we’re not willing to trade our liberty for security. We think we can have security and we can defend against terrorism but that doesn’t mean every individual American has to give up their privacy. We think we can have both. But we are very upset that this president doesn’t seem to be too concerned with our right to privacy.’

“When Bolling asked Paul if Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for a factually inaccurate statement he made to Congress in 2013, Paul said he thinks so. Clapper denied during a congressional hearing that the NSA had engaged in collection of Americans’ records–something that has been proven to be untrue. ‘Lying to Congress is a felony,’ Paul said…”

Whether this class action lawsuit will be successful is doubtful in a country run by a government and a Congress determined to continue with spying on its citizens.

But lest anyone thinks that we are involved in politics and support one particular political candidate, let us make clear that we do not. We are reporting on political events in the light of biblical prophecy and social developments which are in contradiction to biblical standards. But we realize that this is Satan’s world, and that no politician, whether well-meaning or not, is able to solve our problems. That is why we are NOT voting in governmental elections. It will require the return of Jesus Christ to set up godly rule and the Kingdom of God here on earth.

We also know that no politician is infallible. For example, Rand Paul made some questionable statements in opposition to President Obama’s desire to prolong unemployment benefits. We reported about Congress’ failure to extend these benefits in our last Update. Now Newsmax reported on January 7 that Rand Paul “fired back at President Barack Obama’s aggressive push for extended unemployment benefits, saying that like ‘most liberals,’ he makes ‘big-hearted, small-brained policy statements.” Obama had responded to Paul’s controversial claim that “expanding benefits harms the country.” As we mentioned, it is easy to make such unsupportable statements when one is gainfully employed, has big savings in the bank, or has financial support from rich relatives, but it is a different story when one is becoming unemployed, searching for a job and is unable to find one. The Bible COMMANDS and enjoins the nation that these people MUST be supported.

Congress Not Exempted from NSA Spying?

CNN reported on January 5:

“Congress is just like everyone else. That’s the message the National Security Agency has for Sen. Bernie Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont sent a letter to the agency Friday, asking whether it has or is ‘spying’ on members of Congress and other elected American officials. The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has ‘the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.’… The NSA would say nothing more, except that it is further reviewing the letter…

“Attorney General Eric Holder similarly deflected answering the same question at a congressional hearing last summer…

“The intelligence community has faced heated criticism from the right and left in 2013 after Edward Snowden’s leaks, and the intensity has continued fiercely in 2014. On Thursday, the New York Times and the Guardian published scathing editorials that slammed the ‘violations’ Snowden’s leaks revealed and advocated a presidential pardon for him.

“Among those charges was the notion that James Clapper Jr., the director of National Intelligence, lied to Congress while testifying last March that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans. National Intelligence was quick to push back, with a letter to the editor… by general counsel Robert Litt, published in the New York Times on Saturday. ‘As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true,’ writes Litt, explaining that Clapper misunderstood the question, but couldn’t publicly correct his mistake ‘because the program involved was classified.’… Litt said that Clapper was ‘surprised and distressed’ when he was informed by staff that he gave a misleading answer after the testimony.”

This reminds us of the impeachable offense by former President Bill Clinton when he lied under oath regarding the nature of his extra-marital adulterous affair with “this woman,” subsequently stating that he misunderstood the question…

Obama Most Hostile President Towards the Press Since Nixon?

The Huffington Post wrote on January 7:

“President Obama demanded a criminal investigation into leaks to the New York Times just a month into his first term, a new book by his former defense secretary claims… In it, the paper reports, [Robert] Gates ‘reveals the depth of Mr. Obama’s concerns over leaks of classified information to news outlets, noting that within his first month in office, the new president said he wanted a criminal investigation into disclosures on Iran policy published by The New York Times.’

“It wasn’t clear which exact piece from the Times triggered Obama’s anger. The paper has famously been a subject of a Justice Department investigation into the leaking of detailed information of a classified program against Iran in 2012. But the claim highlights the zeal that has caused many to accuse Obama of being the most hostile president towards the press since Richard Nixon.”

USA in the Grip of Polar Vortex

The Associated Press wrote on January 5:

“Temperatures not seen in years are likely to set records in the coming days across the Midwest, Northeast and South, creating dangerous travel conditions and prompting church and school closures. A ‘polar vortex’ will affect more than half of the continental U.S. starting Sunday and into Monday and Tuesday, with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama. The vortex is a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air, and is behind the startling forecast: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago.

“The bitterly cold temperatures already pushed into northern states Sunday morning… It hasn’t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. Because of that, medical experts are reminding people that frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly at 15 to 30 below zero, and it’s key to be dressed for the temperatures.”

BBC News added on January 7:

“A brutal blast of arctic air has settled over eastern North America, bringing dangerously low temperatures not seen in decades. About half of the US population has been placed under a wind chill warning or cold weather advisory. In Toronto, the temperature dropped to -24C (-11F) before dawn on Tuesday. Air, rail and road travel remain snarled by high, freezing wind, and residents have been warned to stay indoors to avoid frostbite.

“Cold air broke records in Chicago on Monday, where the temperature of -16F (-27C) was the lowest ever seen on that date. It was one of more than 120 daily temperature records broken in cities across the US since the beginning of 2014, many dating back decades.”

CBS wrote on January 7:

“The Polar Vortex has dropped unusually far south, keeping the Contiguous United States below freezing overnight, and 90-percent of the country below freezing Tuesday!”

Newsmax reported on January 7 that controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh made headlines again, stating: “The polar vortex is ‘a hoax’ perpetuated by the liberal media to further its agenda of climate change and global warming… ‘[We] are having a record-breaking cold snap in many parts of the country, and right on schedule, the media have to come up with a way to make it sound like it’s completely unprecedented,’ the conservative talker said, ‘because they’ve got to find a way to attach this to the global-warming agenda, and they have. It’s called the polar vortex. The dreaded polar vortex.”

It is not quite clear to us what the polar vortex has to do, if anything, with global warming, and why it must be a hoax to support global warming. The fact is, the term and phenomenon of “polar vortex” has been used and known for many years—before there was even a debate about global warming—and the USA is experiencing a freezing record unparalleled for decades. The following editorial by the Washington Times, dated January 6, sounds much more sensible to us than Rush Limbaugh’s conclusions.

“Polar Vortex Threatens Global Warming Delusions”

“If it’s too cold, the cause is man-made global warming. Not cold enough? That’s the fault of man-made global warming… Despite adoption of ‘climate change’ to replace ‘global warming,’ the public takes notice when Midwestern wind chills hit 70 degrees below zero and the average nationwide temperature falls to a mere 15 degrees…

“The liberal website Slate insists ‘Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming’… Slate’s conclusion rests on a supposed scientific consensus and cites a draft of the U.S. National Climate Assessment that predicts ‘heavy precipitation in winter storms’ as proof that the cold snap is caused by global warming. When the winter is warm, [they] cite the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment of more than a decade ago, which predicted ‘Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms.’ Even ‘mild’ was a cause for alarm, as the same report predicted killer ice storms would cause even more damage than blizzards…

“Australians dutifully heard the urgent warnings of the experts and the climate scientists, and enacted a dramatic global-warming carbon-dioxide tax… It has been in place for more than a year and a half. Instead of cooling down, a summertime heat is scorching the nation with the hottest temperatures on record (by one-half of a degree). Australians have elected a conservative, the Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott, as prime minister, who set as his top priority abolishing the job-killing levy.

“Mr. Abbott’s top business adviser, Maurice L. Newman, put liberals to steaming over recent comments on the subject. ‘Regrettably for the global-warming religion,’ wrote Mr. Newman in an op-ed, “’its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith.’ The new prime minister hopes to collect the votes to kill the global-warming tax after elections later this year.

“Hot and cold, extreme and mild aren’t proof of global warming. They’re proof that nature is stronger than man and man’s feeble attempts to make the weather behave the way he thinks it should.”

British Tea Party on the Rise

Fox News reported on January 4:

“The often stale British political system is being rocked by its very own Tea Party. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), formed in 1993 opposing Britain’s entry into the European Union, failed to make an electoral dent for a long time. However UKIP has built up steam in recent years and is spearheading a seismic shift in the British political spectrum. In this year’s local elections – the British version of midterms — UKIP took a stunning 23 percent of the vote, up from the 3.1 percent they won in the 2010 national election. Their leader, Nigel Farage, is buoyed by their recent success. ‘We want to take back our country, we want to take back our government, and we want to take back our birthright,’ Farage told FoxNews.com in forthright language rarely seen in British politics…

“Farage has good reason to be confident of UKIP’s potential. Since he took the party’s helm for a second time in 2010, the party has been revitalized, capitalizing on dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party’s shift to the center under current Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron has radically overhauled the ‘Tories,’ embracing nationalized health care, fighting for gay marriage, and changing the party logo from the flame of liberty to an environmentally conscious tree. This, UKIP argues, makes them indistinguishable from the left-wing Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. It is here where UKIP spied an opportunity, adopting an anti-establishment, populist platform that argues for lower taxation, privatization, smaller government and getting Britain out of the European Union. The message is proving effective. UKIP look[s] likely to make significant inroads in the next general election in 2015, possibly snatching seats away from the main parties.

“Farage is not getting ahead of himself however, instead focusing on the European elections in May 2014, where Europe is the determining factor. Britain has been turning decidedly away from Europe in recent years, with a September Opinion poll finding that 53 percent of British voters wanted to leave the E.U., with only 32 percent wanting to stay…

“Andrew Russell, Head of Politics at the University of Manchester, told FoxNews.com that the comparison between the Tea Party and UKIP is an accurate one, and that he believes that UKIP could take the 2014 elections by storm. ‘UKIP will do well in the 2014 European elections. They may even win them in terms of the popular vote. This will increase the pressure on the Conservatives.’ Yet instead of reaching out and finding middle ground, the Tories have snubbed UKIP. In 2006 David Cameron dismissed the newcomers as full of ‘fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists,’ and top Tory Kenneth Clark recently branded them as ‘a collection of clowns.’ However, Russell is unsure as to whether UKIP’s popularity could translate to general election success…”

Time will tell. But the “politically established” “conservative” reaction towards the US and British “Tea Party” movement is the same—dismissal rather than cooperation. This may heavily damage Boehner’s Republican Party as well as Cameron’s “Tories.” And the Bible strongly suggests that the UK will exit the EU.

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Why does God allow people to become sick?

This is a question that has troubled people for ages. If God is perfect and powerful, and if sickness is bad, why do people become sick? Whether a sickness is life threatening or just enough to slow us down, it is important to understand the reason and purpose for sickness in man. The Bible reveals that sickness is something that God allows for several different reasons.

Before explaining some of the reasons for why sickness may occur, it is very important to draw a distinction between people who leave their life up to time and chance, and those who commit their lives into the trust of God. Ecclesiastes 9:1 declares that the righteous and the wise put their lives into God’s hands, to watch over and help control the circumstances in their lives. Those who are unwilling to live in submission to God’s Will give over their lives instead to time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11). This is important to acknowledge when asking about why people become sick because there are certainly situations in which God is not directly involved in causing an illness. (For more information on the biblical teaching of “time and chance,” please read our free booklet, “Human Suffering—Why?… and How Much Longer?”).

In addition, an illness may not be the result of God’s intervention in a true Christian’s life, even if he or she lives in submission to God’s Will. He may choose to allow a Christian to become sick because of the corrupt environment in which he lives. Satan is the god of this world, and makes every attempt to do harm when he can. Therefore it should be no surprise that germs spread, and global pandemics cause great harm to people because physical contact is made with a pathogen. People may also be afflicted with degenerative diseases or inherited birth defects for reasons that do not involve God’s direct intervention, but are an effect of having a physical body in a corrupt world. In our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing—What the Bible Tells Us,” we write that Jesus Christ experienced illness: “We understand from the Bible that Jesus Christ never sinned. Still, we find that He knew about sickness, having experienced it as a human being. It is true, of course, that He carried our sicknesses so that we today can be healed from them, but we must still say that Christ became sick, even though He never sinned. This again shows that not every sickness is the result of individual sin.” God is not always directly involved in, nor the cause of, the sickness of a Church member.

Still, God does, in some situations, use sickness and affliction for a purpose. One of the most straight-forward reasons for sickness is as a punishment for disobedience. This reason serves common sense and explains that there is a cause to the effect of sickness. Deuteronomy 28:58-59 explains this in no uncertain terms: “’If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses.’” This message was to the Israelites as they came out of Egypt, but it still applies to us today. God reserves the right to punish sin, which is lawlessness or the transgression of His Law.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul admonishes the Corinthians to take the Passover in a worthy manner; that is, with complete acceptance, admitting personal guilt of sin, causing the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to be necessary, and with willingness to submit to God’s Will, living obediently. When these conditions for taking the Passover worthily are not met, sickness and even death may result. “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Taking the Passover is a serious matter in God’s eyes, and there are consequences of illness that may result when it is improperly observed.

In Psalm 39:8–11, David gives us insight into a reason for illness in his recognition that God uses it as a tool for correction. He writes: “Deliver me from all my transgressions; Do not make me the reproach of the foolish. I was mute, I did not open my mouth, Because it was You who did it. Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; Surely every man is vapor. Selah.” David acknowledges his sin in this passage, and understands that God uses sickness to rebuke and correct man for his sins.

The story of Job gives us another interesting example. Job was terribly afflicted with sickness as a result of Satan’s influence (Job 2:7-8). Yet, leading up to that moment God describes him as being blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil (Job 2:3). While it is true that all men but Jesus are guilty of sin, it is hard to conclude that Job became afflicted because God wanted to punish him. What is more evident throughout the story of Job is that he was afflicted so that he might recognize his hidden sin. As Job’s story progresses, it is revealed that Job had a need to repent of the sin of self-righteousness. This sin might not have been exposed if Job had never experienced the physical sickness and affliction that he did. In this case, God allowed Job to become sick to show him what he had to repent of. The result for Job was very fruitful in the way that his experience – going through a trial of physical affliction – caused him to learn about his latent and hidden sin. When he learned about it, he overcame it and repented (Job 42:6) and returned to a long and prosperous life (Job 42:17).

While punishment is a purpose of sickness that appeals to common sense, it is not always used for that reason.

Quoting again from our booklet, “Sickness and Healing—What the Bible Tells Us,” we write about John 9:1-3. “In this passage, Jesus and the disciples observed a man who was blind from birth. His disciples, apparently believing that his blindness had to be the result of his individual sin and the punishment for it, asked a pointed question: ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered: ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’ He then proceeded to heal the blind man.

“Christ made it clear that the blindness of the person was NOT the result of individual sin of either the blind person or his parents. This passage proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that teaching that every sickness is the result of individual sin of the sick person is patently wrong and unbiblical.”

In addition, this example proves that there was a different kind of purpose involved. The reason for this man’s blindness revealed the works of God! Jesus Christ was sent to the earth to preach the Gospel, and as a part of that work, many people came to believe Him because of the miracles that He performed, including healing the sick. The Bible describes this man as having blindness so that he could be healed. God’s purpose for sickness is not always for a punishment.

Another example of an affliction used by God for reasons other than punishment is that of the thorn in Paul’s side. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” Paul realized that this affliction he experienced actually helped him to remain humble. He was thankful for the weakness and infirmity that God gave him in this regard, concluding by saying: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Empathy is another effect that may result from an illness or affliction. When we experience physical pain or an ailment, we build within ourselves a first-hand understanding of how others feel when they are sick. This aspect of love for a brother or sister in Christ through empathy is a vitally important character trait that all Christians must build. Jesus Christ was afflicted specifically for the sake of those who would follow Him, and as a result, He fully understands and sympathizes with our physical weakness (Hebrews 4:15). Isaiah 53:5 describes the deep meaning of Jesus’ affliction and the resulting empathy that He has for us, giving us a means by which we may be healed: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” This example is ours to follow, so that when we are afflicted with an ailment, we may understand the pain of others, and support them as they have need.

Sickness that we experience is not a physically pleasant condition to handle. It is a burden for anyone directly involved. Yet, God has given us the ability to claim the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can receive healing. 

Lead Writer: Eric Rank

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

The contract for The Hilton Garden Inn at Pismo Beach is signed for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day observance in the US.  We reserved 15 rooms with more available, as needed. Please contact us and tell us that you want to stay in the hotel. We will compose an assignment list. Also, we will have more details available shortly. The prices and amenities are very close to those of two years ago.

“Demonic Possession on the Rise?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

The Telegraph reported on January 5, 2014, that according to the Catholic Church, demonic possession and exorcisms are on the rise. They say this is a result of more people dabbling in black magic, paganism, Satanic rites, Ouija boards, and even yoga. Is this true? What does the Bible say about the practice of casting out demons? Could it be that an apparent “exorcism” is nothing else but a demonic deception?

A new Member Letter for January, written by Brian Gale, has been mailed out and is now posted.

The monthly Tech Team meeting was conducted on Monday evening of this week. Reports on development of our redesigned website were presented along with further use of social networking.

“Das Schicksal unserer Kinder,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. Mr. Norbert Link addresses the fate of our children, focusing on the bad example and influence of parents. The next sermon will address the parent’s good example. The title in English: “The Fate of Our Children.”
Pastor Rene Messier (Canada) has presented a new StandingWatch Talking Point program, asking: Can evolution be true. If so how do you explain some of the issues it creates in regards to migrating birds and nesting birds and how does order come out of chaos?

Pastor Brian Gale (United Kingdom) has presented a new StandingWatch Talking Point program in which he highlights our booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.” Here is a summary:

The Bible speaks of many modern countries in prophetic terms, using, of course, ancient names for our peoples today. In order to understand biblical prophecies, one must understand the biblical identity of today’s nations and countries. 

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God