Update 628


Does God Have Humor?

On March 1, 2014, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Does God Have Humor?”

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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Preparing for Passover

by Rene Messier (Canada)

Converted baptized members of the true Church of God are admonished by God to examine themselves prior to partaking of the annual New Testament Passover, so that they do not take the symbols in an unworthy manner. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:27-28: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Why are Christians admonished to do that?  They have to approach the Passover in as sinless a state as possible, even though they cannot be totally cleansed of sin in the flesh, since that will only occur when they are God beings in the Kingdom. It is then that they cannot sin anymore.

If we say we have no sin now, we deceive ourselves. Notice what John says about this, in 1 John 1:9-10:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

The key to being in a less sinful state is to confess our sins and to obtain forgiveness.  That includes to admit to God we have a problem in certain areas of our lives, which we can discover with proper examination.

We know that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness, as 1 John 1:5-7 tells us:

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

It is amazing what light does. When I used to do drywall jobs for people and came to sand the wall, I used to put a light on the floor at the base of the wall. The light would reveal the flaws in the wall. Looking straight at the wall, it would look good, but once I sanded it, with a light on the floor, I was able to make the flaws disappear. Otherwise, when it came to painting, the flaws would show up.

When we are using, as it were, the light of God to examine ourselves, we will see certain flaws which we would otherwise ignore or neglect. Once we see those flaws (sins), we can confess them to God, ask for forgiveness, and we are then cleansed with the blood of Christ.

It is important for baptized members of the true Church of God to partake of the Passover. It is equally important for them to use the light of God to reveal their sins, so that they can repent and partake of the Passover in a worthy manner, thus pleasing their Creator God and their Saviour Jesus Christ.

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We begin with reporting on the turmoil in Ukraine and the desire of Europe, the USA and Russia to get a piece of the cake, raising questions as to whether we are going to experience another failed “Arab Spring” and/or a military intervention from Russia.

We report on America’s failure to learn from past mistakes—be it the NSA scandal, the Iraq war or its conduct towards Iran—and address developments in Europe and Germany and in Israel, including the rocky and deteriorating relationship between the German people and the state of Israel.

We speak on the Catholic Church’s “two popes”; Uganda’s new anti-gay bill and the Ugandan President’s telling remarks about the West; Oregon’s development towards recognition of same-sex marriages; further limitations to our individual liberties; the perceived “reasons” for Piers Morgan’s anticipated departure from CNN; and the shameful record of America’s abortions.

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Former Ukraine President in Hiding—Russia VERY Unhappy

AFP wrote on February 24:

“Ukraine issued an arrest warrant Monday for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych over the ‘mass murder’ of protesters and appealed for $35 billion in Western aid to pull the crisis-hit country from the brink of economic collapse. The dramatic announcements by the ex-Soviet nation’s new Western-leaning team — approved by parliament over a chaotic weekend that saw the pro-Russian leader go into hiding — came as a top EU envoy arrived in Kiev to buttress its sudden tilt away from Moscow…

“Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued one of Moscow’s firmest responses to date by condemning the ‘armed mutiny’ in Ukraine… Russia’s finance minister added to the pressure by warning that Moscow would have to raise duties on its goods if Kiev reversed Yanukovych’s decision and still signed the EU partnership pact… Russia’s anxiety about the changes sweeping its western neighbour were underscored Sunday when it recalled ambassador Mikhail Zurabov ‘due to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine’.”

Ukraine’s New Leadership on Collision Course with Russia

Deutsche Welle reported on February 26:

“Ukraine’s new pro-Western leadership has disbanded the feared riot police blamed for killing protesters. In a sign of tension with the West, Russia ordered a military drill to test the country’s combat readiness… The 46 million-strong nation’s sudden shift to a pro-Western government has fueled United States and Euopean Union tensions with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered an urgent drill to test the combat readiness of his country’s armed forces… The district lies on the border with Ukraine…

“Far-right opposition protesters played a significant role in the protests that unseated Yanukovych. In particular, Lavrov cited the attempts of Ukraine’s new leadership to ban the Russian language in the country, restore Ukrainian as the obligatory language in official documents, and turn the ‘Russian-speaking population into “non-citizens”.’

“The change in power has also raised fears that the southern Crimea peninsula, a Russian-speaking region where Yanukovych is believed to have gone into hiding, could secede. The port city of Sevastopol has already seen pro-Russian protests and further demonstrations were held Wednesday…”

Russia and Ukraine—How Will it Play Out?

The New York Times wrote on February 23:

“The sudden collapse of the Kremlin-backed government in Ukraine has for now delivered a profound setback to President Vladimir V. Putin’s strategy to deepen political and economic ties with the country and thus keep it from embracing Europe… Mr. Putin now faces the task of reasserting Russia’s influence in a country that it considers a fraternal ally, one with deep cultural, social and political connections that bind it to Moscow’s orbit regardless of its new government.

“Russia still has enormous leverage and close allies in Ukraine, particularly in the east and on the Crimea Peninsula, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and a sizable ethnic Russian population that views the leaders of the political uprising that toppled President Viktor F. Yanukovych with disdain. That has raised fears that Russia would use the disenchanted populations there as a pretext to intervene to reverse Ukraine’s new trajectory — even militarily, as the Kremlin did in two ethnic enclaves in 2008 in another former Soviet republic, Georgia.

“The fears have been so palpable — and the subject of endless speculation in Ukraine and here in Russia — that President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, warned in a television interview on Sunday that it ‘would be a grave mistake’ for Russia to use force…

“How exactly Russia responds remains to be seen, but the turmoil is certain to further strain relations with Europe and the United States, which officials here have denounced for meddling in Ukraine at the expense of Russia’s vital interests. At the same time, the United States and Europe have accused Russia of trying to impose its will there…”

Putin Gets Tough in Moscow

The Daily Mail wrote on February 24:

“Russian president Vladimir Putin risked accusations of stifling dissent in Moscow today as police cracked down on a rally in support of a group [of] anti-government protesters facing jail. At least 100 were detained outside a courthouse in central Moscow where the defendants were sentenced today in the first protest since the fall of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich following protests there.

“Among those arrested were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, from Pussy Riot, the dissident punk band. Putin is rumoured to be sheltering the ousted leader, an ally of the Kremlin, in the Crimea, a majority Russian area of Ukraine where the Russian Black Sea naval fleet is based.

“Today there were the first signs of support for the Ukraine demonstrations in Moscow, during a demonstration outside a court where opposition activists are being sentenced… Putin, who staked his reputation on the Olympics, engineered the release of long-jailed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and two women from protest band Pussy Riot in December, moves widely seen as an effort to improve his image before the Games.”

Russia Is Getting More and More Involved

The New York Times wrote on February 27:

“Viktor F. Yanukovych, the ousted president of Ukraine, declared on Thursday that he remained the lawful president of the country and appealed to Russia to ‘secure my personal safety from the actions of extremists.’ Russian news agencies reported that he had already arrived in Russia…

“Mr. Yanukovych’s remarks were his first since he appeared in a video on Saturday night after fleeing Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, for eastern Ukraine. His defiance of the country’s new interim leaders only deepened the political turmoil in the country and threatened to draw Russia more deeply into the conflict.

“Mr. Yanukovych, in a letter published by news agencies here, went on to suggest that largely Russian regions of Ukraine – including the east and Crimea – did not accept ‘the anarchy and outright lawlessness’ that had gripped the country and said that orders by the new authorities to use the armed forces to impose order were unlawful. He clearly meant the response to pro-Russia demonstrations in Crimea, which took an ugly turn on Thursday morning when armed gunmen seized control of the regional Parliament in Simferopol [and raised the Russian flag there]…

“Russia has denounced the political upheaval in Kiev and refused to recognize the interim government… With Mr. Yanukovych apparently under Russian protection, and still calling himself Ukraine’s legitimate leader, Russia now finds itself in a worsening confrontation with Europe and the United States, which have promised political and economic support for the new leaders in Kiev…”

The Associated Press added on February 27:

“Russia scrambled fighter jets to patrol its border and reportedly gave shelter to Ukraine’s fugitive president as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of Ukraine’s strategic region, deepening the crisis for the new Ukrainian government even as it was being formed.

“The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine’s new authorities as they seek to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Ukraine’s new prime minister said the country’s future lies in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia…

“Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych’s flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a ‘crime against the government of Ukraine.’ He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea ‘will be considered a military aggression. Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the Parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea,’ he said. ‘I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings.’…

“Shortly before the lawmakers chose him as the leader of the new Cabinet, Yatsenyuk said Ukraine doesn’t want a fight with Russia, but insisted the country wouldn’t accept the secession of the southern Crimea region… The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern Thursday about the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and vowed to protect their interests…”

No to Tymoshenko?

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 24:

“While Ukraine went through its dramatic revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko was stuck in jail. Now she wants to be president. But many protesters say the former opposition leader doesn’t represent the change they fought for… Tymoshenko’s return to politics brings with it a potential for conflict… Neither her disputed trial nor her conviction in 2011 ever really mobilized the people, with only a few hundred people ever present to call for her release. It seems the West was far more interested in her fate than her own people.

“What’s more, many Ukrainians hold Tymoshenko partly responsible for the failure of the Orange Revolution in 2004… Conflict is also on the horizon with fellow opposition figure and world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko. Relations between the two have been tense for years… Both Tymoshenko and Klitschko have presidential ambitions, and both have made those public…”

Obama and NSA Have Not Learned Any Lessons

AFP wrote on February 24:

“US intelligence has stepped up eavesdropping on hundreds of key figures in Germany, including a government minister, after Chancellor Angela Merkel was dropped as a direct target, a German report said Sunday. Bild am Sonntag newspaper said that 320 political and business leaders in Germany were being monitored by the US National Security Agency (NSA), including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. ‘We have the order not to allow any loss of information whatsoever after the communication of the chancellor no longer being able to be directly monitored,’ Bild quoted an unnamed high-ranking US intelligence employee in Germany as saying.

“US-German ties soured amid revelations leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden that US intelligence agencies had allegedly eavesdropped on Merkel and collected vast amounts of online data and telephone records from average citizens. Last month, US President Barack Obama said the US intelligence service would continue to spy on foreign governments but assured Merkel that he would not let intrusive surveillance harm their relationship.”

Europe and Brazil vs. USA

Reuters reported on February 24:

“Brazil and the European Union agreed on Monday to lay an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil’s reliance on the United States after Washington spied on Brasilia. At a summit in Brussels, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the $185 million cable project was central to ‘guarantee the neutrality’ of the Internet, signaling her desire to shield Brazil’s Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance…

“EU leaders are sympathetic to Brazil’s call following the revelations of fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that showed the agency also eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and some EU institutions… Brussels is threatening the suspension of EU-U.S. agreements for data transfers unless Washington increases guarantees for the protection of EU citizens’ data…

“Rousseff clearly took heart from Merkel’s calls this month for a European Internet that is protected from U.S. surveillance, even if there are questions about the practicalities of setting up alternative networks in Europe. Rousseff said Brazil and the European Union have ‘similar concerns’ about U.S. dominance of fiber-optic cables and hoped to have a cable running from the Portuguese capital Lisbon to the northeastern Brazilian of Fortaleza from next year…

“Brazil, one of the world’s largest and most influential emerging economies, is ready to do a deal. It is backed by Uruguay and Paraguay but the question is whether Argentina, one of the most protectionist members of the Group of 20 countries, will join in opening its economy to greater EU imports.”

German Supreme Court Abolishes Three Percent Threshold for European Parliament

Deutsche Welle reported on February 26:

“The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe on Wednesday ruled that the current 3 percent threshold required to secure seats in the European Parliament is unconstitutional, abolishing the hurdle altogether… The decision now opens the door to smaller and fringe parties winning seats in the May 25 poll that will see 96 German lawmakers elected – the largest national contingent. Polls have suggested fringe groups would poll well in many countries in the upcoming elections.

“These parties include the Euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD), the anti-establishment Pirate Party, Free Voters and the Ecological Democratic Party. The decision could also see the country’s far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) winning seats in May.

“National voting systems for the EU Parliament differ across the 28 member states with most – including Britain, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands – having no threshold at all. The maximum threshold allowed under EU law is 5 percent, which eight nations have, including the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.”

As we can clearly see, out of the multitude of European nations within the EU, a core Europe of ten nations or groups of nations will have to develop.

Iranian-Iraqi Weapons Deal

Reuters reported on February 24:

“Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters – a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran. The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington, where he lobbied the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants… Several Iraqi lawmakers said Maliki had made the deal because he was fed up with delays to U.S. arms deliveries…

“The Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal to sell arms to Iraq. It would be the first official arms deal between Shi’ite Iran and Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government and highlight the growing bond between them in the two years since the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq…

“The official documents seen by Reuters showed that six of eight contracts were signed with Iran’s Defense Industries Organization to supply Iraq with light and medium arms, mortar launchers, ammunition for tanks as well as artillery and mortars. A final two contracts were agreed to with the state-owned Iran Electronic Industries for night vision goggles, communications equipment and mortar guiding devices… Officials from the Iraqi and Iranian defense ministries signed the agreements, according to the documents. They did not list a timetable for deliveries and it was not possible to confirm whether they had taken place.”

AFP wrote on February 21:

“A prominent hardline cleric in Iran warned on Friday against the Islamic republic resuming ties with the United States, and said any attempt to do so would prove futile… ‘Our people are anti-American…’ His comments sparked chants of ‘Death to the America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ from the thousands of Friday worshippers.

“Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on all Iranian state matters including foreign policy and the nuclear issue… The most remarkable development to date was a 15-minute telephone conversation between [President Hassan] Rouhani and his US counterpart Barack Obama in New York in September… Khamenei later said he deemed part of Rouhani’s New York trip as inappropriate, but without referring directly to the phone call.”

These developments are interesting. As we point out in our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy,” Iran (biblical Elam) will fight against Israel [the state of Israel and also possibly the USA] and we also read that at the time of Christ’s return, “the remnant” of His people [remnants from the ancient houses of Israel and Judah] will be “left” in countries such as Shinar (Iraq) and recovered from there (Isaiah 11:11).

Israel at War with Lebanon’s Hezbollah

The Associated Press and JTA reported on February 27:

“Israel has allegedly opened a new front in its attempts to halt weapons smuggling to Hezbollah, striking one of the group’s positions inside Lebanon for the first time since the sides fought a war eight years ago. This week’s alleged airstrike, apparently meant to prevent the Islamic militant group from obtaining sophisticated missiles, is part of a risky policy that could easily backfire by triggering retaliation…

“With a lack of good choices, Israel has avoided taking sides in the Syrian war, and in the short term, is content watching the two sides beat each other up. But in the long run, officials have expressed concerns about the battlefield expertise that Hezbollah has gained…

“Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian war is highly controversial and divisive in Lebanon and has eaten away at the group’s wider base. But Hezbollah remains a formidable force in Lebanon, and has two ministers in the current national unity government that was recently formed following 11 months of impasse… The likelihood of retaliation is just one of the shortcomings of the Israeli airstrike policy. It also appears that the strikes have failed to halt the flow of arms to Hezbollah. In recent days, Israeli military officials have acknowledged that Hezbollah has likely succeeded in sneaking sophisticated weapons into Lebanon.”

The Rocky Israeli-German Relationship

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 24:

“German public opinion of Israel is slumping… There is growing public and political disillusionment over Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian neighbors… A recent BBC poll showed that only 14 percent of Germans today had a positive view of Israel. ‘I think German public opinion is actually worse than what’s shown in the polls because Germans don’t publicly state their opinion, they play it down,’ said Israel’s former ambassador to Germany and the European Union, Avi Primor. ‘The Germans are still very aware of their Nazi past, particularly Merkel who is originally from East Germany, so she has a bad conscience from the past but this is changing and you can’t ignore the growing public opinion,’ he told DW…

“A senior Israeli official confirmed to DW that recent phone calls between Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during and since the P5+1 meetings on Iran had escalated to shouting and disagreements. The most divisive issue between the two countries is over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank…

“Germany is Israel’s third-largest trading partner after the US and China and if relations deteriorate, trade could be impacted said former ambassador Avi Primor. ‘Germany is totally indispensable to Israel – Germany has many pro-Israel policies, but I think this is gradually fading and if nothing in the Middle East changes it will get worse.’”

Will Israel Turn Over Control of Mount Zion to Catholic Church?

WorldNetDaily wrote on February 22, 2014:

“Israel could be entering the final stages of negotiations to turn over control of Mount Zion to the Vatican, according to a report by Israel National News. According to the online news source, a secretive meeting took place this week between the Jerusalem Municipality, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Tourism and senior Catholic officials. During the meeting, the Catholic delegation reportedly pressed Israel to follow through on a years-old proposal to give the Church control over the compound that houses the traditional ‘Hall of the Last Supper.’

“The problem is that the same compound also houses the traditional ‘Tomb of David,’ a holy site revered and frequented by religious Jews. Not to mention that Mount Zion is symbolic of Jerusalem as a whole, and surrendering it to the Vatican would be seen by many Israelis as a repudiation of Judaism’s claim to the city.

“In response to reports regarding the negotiations, the Jerusalem Municipality released a statement insisting that it would remain ‘the central sovereign power on Mount Zion.’ Others are not so sure, and believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to turn over control of Mount Zion prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land in May.”

Israeli Lawmaker Debate Temple Mount Sovereignty

JTA reported on February 25:

“Jews should be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount, Likud party members said at a volatile Knesset debate on the right of non-Muslims to pray at the holy site. More than 30 Israeli lawmakers, from the right and left wings, asked to speak at the special session on Tuesday. Most of the Arab-Israeli lawmakers protested the debate by not attending the session. ‘I call on the government to apply the full sovereignty of the State of Israel in the entire Temple Mount,’ said the Likud’s Moshe Feiglin, who requested the debate. ‘I call on the Israeli government to allow free access to any Jew to the Temple Mount through any gate, and allow them to pray.’”

“… Zahava Gal-on, head of the Meretz party, said that while she believes Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount, it must be done in consultation with the agreement of the Arab world, the Times of Israel reported. She called Feiglin’s proposal ‘a match that could ignite the powder keg on which the Middle East rests,’ and said extending Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount would harm the peace process.

“The site is overseen by the Muslim Wakf, the Muslim religious administration charged with managing the Temple Mount site, which is holy to Jews and Muslims. Jews generally are not permitted by the Wakf to pray or bring any ritual objects to the Temple Mount. Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian youths rioted on the Temple Mount in response to the session, resulting in three arrests and injuries to two Israeli police officers.”

Jordan Responds to Israel’s Debate on Temple Mount Sovereignty

The Times of Israel wrote on February 27:

“Jordan warned Wednesday that it might review a 1994 peace treaty with Israel after Israeli MPs began a debate on allowing Jewish prayers at Jerusalem’s sensitive Temple Mount. ‘If Israel wants to violate the peace treaty in this issue, the entire treaty, its articles, details and wording will be put on the table,’ Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told Qatar’s Al-Watan newspaper in an interview. Under the peace treaty, Jordan is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

“Ensour’s remarks, quoted by state-run Petra news agency, came as Jordan’s parliament passed a motion urging the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to the kingdom, Daniel Nevo. ‘Such Israeli attempts would lead to the destruction of the peace treaty as the international community is pushing for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,’ government spokesman Mohammad Momnai told Petra. ‘The Jordanian custodianship is not a privilege granted by Israel. It is the Hashemites’ historic responsibility that is emphasised in the peace treaty.’

“Last year, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement to confirm a verbal deal dating back to 1924 that gave the kingdom custodianship over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites. The Jordanian parliament’s vote followed a motion the previous day signed by 47 MPs demanding that the peace treaty with Israel be scrapped. ‘All deputies who attended a meeting today to discuss Israel’s debate on sovereignty over Al-Aqsa voted to kick out the Israeli envoy and recall the Jordanian ambassador in Israel (Walid Obeidat),’ prominent lower house deputy Khalil Attieh told AFP.”

Popes Francis and Benedict

Deutsche Welle reported on February 22:

“Pope Francis has appointed Catholic leaders from some the world’s smallest and poorest nations to the College of Cardinals. Former Pope Benedict XVI also joined the ceremony in a rare public outing… Two are from Africa, two from Asia and six from Francis’ native Latin America, which is home to nearly half the world’s Catholics. However, Latin American leadership is grossly underrepresented in the church’s hierarchy. German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller is also among those appointed.

“Surprising the congregation, former pope Benedict XVI, who retired last year, made a rare public appearance at the ceremony. He was greeted by Francis with an embrace and by the people in the pews with applause and tears. It is the first time Benedict and Francis have appeared together at a liturgical ceremony since Benedict stepped down last March, the first pope to do so in 600 years. Two weeks later, Francis was elected the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.”

Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit who has ever been elected as Pope. At one time, the Catholic Church had even outlawed the Jesuits.

Uganda’s New Anti-Gay Bill

Deutsche Welle reported on February 24:

“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law that toughens already strict rules banning homosexual activity. In doing so, he defied international criticism about the legislation. ‘No study has shown you can be homosexual by nature, that’s why I have agreed to sign the bill,’ Museveni said in a speech after the signing ceremony… The law, which toughens penalties for homosexual sex, sets out a 14-year jail sentence for first-time offenders.

“The legislation also sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” This category of offenses is defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving minors, a disabled person, or where one partner is infected with HIV. It also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays… The bill is popular with the conservative local constituency that is vehemently opposed to homosexuality, but international rights groups have condemned it as draconian.

“Museveni is a key African ally of the United States and the European Union but he has been under fire recently by key Western donors over the anti-gay legislation… Many African countries, with the exception of South Africa, have laws that ban or suppress homosexuality. In January, a law took effect in Nigeria that outlaws same-sex relationships with up to 14 years in prison for gay couples living together.”

CNN added on February 24:

“At the public signing of the bill Monday, a defiant Museveni declared that he would not allow the West to impose its values on Uganda. ‘We have been disappointed for a long time by the conduct of the West, the way you conduct yourselves there,’ he told CNN’s Zain Verjee in Entebbe. ‘Our disappointment is now exacerbated because we are sorry to see that you live the way you live, but we keep quiet about it. Now you say “you must also live like us” — that’s where we say no.’… [He] said he’d sign [the bill] because scientists had determined that there is no gene for homosexuality and that it is merely a choice to embrace abnormal behavior. ‘It was learned and could be unlearned,’ Museveni said.”

According to the Bible, the practice of homosexual activities is in fact an abomination, and it is also correct that no one is “born” as a homosexual. In this context, note the next article.

Oregon Ready to Allow Same-Sex Marriages?

The website of oregonlive.com wrote on February 20:

“Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a legal filing Thursday that she will not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage and argued that the ban ‘cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review’…

“Federal judges in several states have struck down similar bans in recent months, saying that they conflict with last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking major provisions of a law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

“At the same time, supporters of gay marriage are nearly done with their effort to collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot asking voters to strike the ban on gay marriage from the state Constitution and allow same-sex couples to marry.”

Same-sex marriages are in violation of Scripture. The Bible defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

And Now—Police May Search a House without a Warrant Even When There is NO Emergency

The Los Angeles Times reported on February 25:

“Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a Los Angeles case. The 6-3 ruling, triggered by a Los Angeles Police Department arrest in 2009, gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency.

“The majority, led by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., said police need not take the time to get a magistrate’s approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches. The court had previously held that such protections were at the ‘very core’ of the 4th Amendment and its ban on unreasonable searches and seizures…

“In the past, the court has frowned upon most searches of residences except in the case of an emergency or if the police had a warrant from a judge.”

And the erosion of our privacy rights continues in the “land of the free”…

Piers Morgan Leaves CNN

CNN wrote on February 23:

“There have been times when the CNN host Piers Morgan didn’t seem to like America very much — and American audiences have been more than willing to return the favor. Three years after taking over for Larry King, Mr. Morgan has seen the ratings for ‘Piers Morgan Live’ hit some new lows, drawing a fraction of viewers compared with competitors at Fox News and MSNBC.

“It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.

“CNN’s president, Jeffrey Zucker, has other problems, but none bigger than Mr. Morgan and his plum 9 p.m. time slot. Mr. Morgan said last week that he and Mr. Zucker had been talking about the show’s failure to connect and had decided to pull the plug, probably in March.  Crossing an ocean for a replacement for Larry King, who had ratings problems of his own near the end, was probably not a great idea to begin with. For a cable news station like CNN, major stories are like oxygen. When something important or scary happens in America, many of us have an immediate reflex to turn on CNN. When I find Mr. Morgan telling me what it all means, I have a similar reflex to dismiss what he is saying. It is difficult for him to speak credibly on significant American events because, after all, he just got here…

“Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard…  Mr. Morgan’s approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies and wondering how to bring the savages to heel.  In the current media age… Mr. Morgan’s lecturing on the evils of guns have clanked hard against the CNN brand… We don’t look for moral leadership from CNN, or from a British host on a rampage. Guns, along with many other great and horrible things, are knit into the fabric of this country…”

The bottom line is, America’s TV network “news” culture is an atrocity, and the above article from CNN, somehow trying to justify CNN’s separation from Piers Morgan, inadvertently brings this out. If one wanted to rely on the news, as reported by America’s main TV stations and networks, one would be hopelessly lost. Whether it’s CNN, NBC, MSNBC or FOX, just to name the more “popular” ones, they are all driven by their ideologies and political agendas, while having their carefully selected “guests” “debating” and talking to death their view points, as well as by their desire to cater to the “interests” of their viewership and, due to satisfactory ratings, to attract as many sponsors as possible, while being willfully indifferent regarding the fact that those “interests” are for the most part inconsequential, immaterial and futile.

The article above, demanding that Morgan should have assimilated and “reported” on mundane and insignificant events, speaks for itself. The comment that guns are “knit into the fabric of this country,” which is, sadly, very true, and that no one should dare to question this, especially not a “foreigner,” is another example showing the ungodly ideas permeating America’s “way of life.” When Christ returns, all people will learn the horrible effects of guns and they will beat their guns into plowshares. Until that time, America has still a long way to go and bitter lessons to learn…

New York’s Shame

National Review wrote on February 21:

“In 2012, black women in New York City aborted over 6,500 more children than they gave birth to. Data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shows that, among non-hispanic black women, there were 31,328 ‘induced terminations’ to 24,758 live births…

“In total, there were almost 74,000 abortions in New York in 2012, meaning that 42.4 percent of all abortions were of black children. Hispanic children accounted for 31 percent of those aborted in the city at a total of nearly 23,000. Altogether, black and Hispanic abortions were 73 percent of the total of 73,815 abortions in New York in 2012.

“For years, New York has had the highest abortion rate of any city in the nation.”

CNS News reported on February 25:

“Although whites outnumber blacks in Mississippi by nearly 2-to-1, 71.67% of the babies aborted in Mississippi are black, while 26.6% are white.”

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Is there a contradiction between Zephaniah 3:9 and Zechariah 8:23?

Since the Bible does not contain any contradictions (compare John 10:35), what then is the answer to this question?

Zephaniah 3:9 addresses the time of the Millennium, when Jesus Christ rules on and over the earth, and states:

“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they may all call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him with one accord.”

Compare also Isaiah 19:18: “In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts…”

The thought is being conveyed here that all of the peoples will have ONE language, and that the Egyptians will speak the same language as those who will live in the land of Canaan. It does not have to mean that it will be Hebrew—in fact, it is doubtful that the Canaanites spoke Hebrew when the Israelites conquered the Promised Land. Nor are we to necessarily assume that the pure language will be the tongue of the Hebrews after they had taken possession of the Promised Land; rather, Isaiah 19:18 points out that those in the land of Egypt and those in the land of Canaan will all speak the same language in the Millennium.

The Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary states:

“The confusion of languages was… the penalty [for] sin, probably idolatry at Babel… [and] certainly [for] rebellion against God’s will. An earnest of the removal of this penalty was the gift of tongues on Pentecost (Acts 2:6-13). The full restoration of the earth’s unity of language and of worship is yet future, and is connected with the restoration of the Jew [better: the houses of Israel and Judah], to be followed by the conversion of the world… The Gentiles’ lips have been rendered impure through being the instruments of calling on idols and dishonoring God… Whether Hebrew shall be the one universal language or not, the God of the Hebrews shall be the one only object of worship…”

We wrote the following in “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever” :

“… at the start of the Millennium, one pure language will be restored to the people (Zephaniah 3:9) so that they will be able to understand each other without the need for translators or the gift of tongues (compare for a unique episode in this regard, Acts 2:5-11). God’s curse on the people at the time of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:7-9) will be lifted and removed.”

We do not know for sure whether people will have to LEARN this new language over time or whether God will IMMEDIATELY ENABLE them to know and speak it right away. Today, there are many tongues or languages in the world (compare 1 Corinthians 14:10), and when someone speaks in a foreign language, someone else will have to translate the words into the native language of those who are listening (1 Corinthians 14:11-13). In the Millennium, once the new pure language has been restored, such translation will no longer be necessary, as all will be able to speak and understand the “pure language.”

Before the people built the tower of Babel and God confused the language of all the earth (Genesis 11:6-9), “the whole earth had one language and one speech” (Genesis 11:1). We do not know what language that was, and whether some people are still speaking it today. We also do not know whether that language, which was spoken by the people prior to the confusion at Babel, will be the same language which God will “restore” in the Millennium. However, the reference to the “restoration” of the pure language in Zephaniah 3:9 might indicate this. Also, as God supernaturally confused the language in one instance at the time of the tower of Babel, so it could follow that He will also reverse the process by supernaturally restoring at once the one pure language.

Let us now focus on Zechariah 8:23, which speaks also about the time of the Millennium, and reads:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Some feel that this passage might say that at that time—at the beginning of the Millennium–people will still speak their native languages, as they did not yet have any direct contact with God. Compare Isaiah 66:18 which refers to “all nations and tongues” who will come and see God’s glory AFTER Christ’s return. The thought is expressed that the ten men in Zechariah 8:23 are asking a Jew to lead them the way, by using their individual languages, since they had only “heard” that God was with the Jewish people, and it will require some time for all the Gentiles to become converted and learn the pure language.

On the other hand, it could be that all of them were already speaking the new pure language, when meeting the Jew, as men from “every language of the nations” will be able to communicate with that Jewish man, and it is not to be assumed that the Jewish man, barring a miracle from God, would know all their different languages; nor, that all of the ten men “from every language of the nations” would know the language of the Jew. With that understanding, the ten men would be those who belonged to nations that ORIGINALLY spoke with different languages, but their native tongues had been replaced with the new pure language which was also spoken by the Jewish man. 

A similar thought may be expressed in Revelation 21:24, which describes events after the third resurrection, when new spiritual heavens and a new spiritual earth will have been created; when the heavenly Jerusalem will be on the new earth; and when there will be no more mortal men. Still, we read that “the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.”

We give one possible explanation of this passage in our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”

“Christ, a Spirit being, is still referred to in Scripture as ‘the MAN,’ even in His glorified state (1 Timothy 2:5). One may read that Scripture and misconstrue it to mean that Christ is still a physical Man today. We know, of course, that He is not. With that same rationale, we might look at the passage in Revelation 21:24–26 that speaks of ‘kings’ and ‘nations,’ and conclude that these passages speak of physical human beings. They might, however, only refer to those Spirit beings who WERE, during their physical state of existence, kings or subjects.

“The point being made in Revelation 21 would be then, that regardless of what they had been in their physical life (‘kings’ or ‘nations’), they ALL will enter Jerusalem to worship God. Everyone will come to bring glory and honor to Jerusalem. Even though all of us, as Spirit beings, will be members of the God Family and ‘sons’ of God the Father (Revelation 21:7), we will always remain UNDER God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ—we will always remain His servants (Revelation 22:3), but we will be Spirit beings, of course, no more flesh and bone…”

With that same rationale, we might be able to say that Zechariah 8:23 speaks of people who once had their individual separate languages, before those languages were replaced with the pure language. The passage does not say that they will SPEAK these different languages when they approach the Jewish man—only, that they are people “from every language of the nations.” The thought would be that this passage describes their national and ethnic background.

In any event, we are clearly taught that in the Millennium, a pure universal language will be restored for all mankind. For more information on the conditions in the Millennium and the conversion of the Gentiles, please read chapter 10 of our free booklet “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever.” 

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“Ukraine in Prophecy,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Ukraine is in turmoil, with Russia, Europe and the USA all trying to insert their influence. How is it all going to play out? Surprisingly, the Bible has told us thousands of years ago with whom the Ukrainians will ultimately collaborate and fight in war, and who will become their friends and their allies.  Our free booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire” gives you further information.

“Die Ukraine in der Prophezeiung,” is the new German AufPostenStehen program which Mr. Link has presented and which convers much of the same information of the English version. These programs highlight information contained in our insightful and timely booklet, “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

“Hat Gott Humor?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon (Mr. Link will also present the English version this Sabbath). English title: Does God Have Humor? 

Both the sermonette, “Examination and Self-Deception,” and sermon, “Do Good to Those Who Hate You!,” which were delivered by Norbert Link this past Sabbath, have now been posted.

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An Excellent Walker

by Cali Harris

I recently watched the film version of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The main character, Elizabeth Bennet, is shown walking along the countryside in several scenes. She enjoys walking. At one point, another character pays Elizabeth a backhanded compliment: “She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker.”

I relate to Elizabeth’s character because I love walking. I walk a lot. I walk in the foothills that are outside my front door, and along a creek during my lunch break, and sometimes to and from work. Compared to driving, cycling, or even running, walking is protracted and slow. When I walk, I notice more than I would if I were driving. I notice small—and large—aspects of God’s creation.

Most importantly, though, whenever I walk I can’t help but think of the biblical analogy of “walking with God.” This concept requires that I move forward in a very conscientious and sometimes slow and deliberate way, noticing the small—and large—aspects of my spiritual growth. I hope that like Elizabeth Bennet, one day I will also be considered an excellent walker—only in my case, with God.

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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:

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