Lessons from the Book of Job, Part 2
On Saturday, May 2, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Lessons from the Book of Job, Part 2.”
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). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
The Case for Humility
by Bill Koeneke
Peter told the churches in Asia, and by extension all of us, that we ought to be clothed with humility and that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). My dictionary describes “humility” as the “absence of pride or arrogance; meekness and lowliness; an act of submission or humble courtesy; not proud.” So the common denominator is modesty and being submissive. Can we honestly attribute those qualities to ourselves?
Paul, in speaking to the church at Colosse, urged the brethren “…as the elect of God holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…” (Colossians 3:12).
A humble person is a teachable person. David alludes to that in Psalm 25. A state of humility precludes a state of haughtiness and self-esteem. It seeks not to glorify itself. Neither should we. God looks to the teachable–those who would exhibit an attitude of humility by being receptive to His Word.
Today worldly pride comes in the form of an infamous trinity of what I call the “Me, Myself & I” syndrome–completely devoid of a sense of humility. You’ve no doubt met people like that. They pat themselves on the back and have no qualms about telling you directly or obliquely how clever or important they are. And they tend to put you off, don’t they? You can generally see right through them. I used to joke with friends by telling them that I am so humble that it makes me ill even to think about it! A minister, in one of his sermons on the subject of humility, quipped, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect!”
Humility is perhaps the greatest attribute—the noblest quality—that characteristic that God looks for in a true Christian, aside from obedience—and even there, obedience is embedded within and part of the quality of humility. The two go hand-in-hand. The humble mind, the mind that is obedient to God’s Ways and His Laws, is the mind—the person—on whom God can rely—and a person to whom a great reward will be given. In that light, the quality of humility takes on an immense degree of importance.
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). Note that this inspired verse associates humility with physical protection from God’s anger–including protection at the time of the prophesied events to come upon the world in the not-too-distant future.
In the “Observer” newspaper (UK) back in April of 1950, a woman by the name of Edith Sitwell pleaded: “I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty… but I am too busy thinking about myself.” Modesty didn’t sit well with her! Someone noted of Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman, novelist and Prime Minister twice in the latter 1800s, that “Every day when he looked into the mirror and gave himself the last touch of vanity, he offered his grateful thanks to Providence that his family was not unworthy of him!”
Paul tells us: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than himself” (Philippians 2:3). Do we do that? If so, we will have no reason to feel exalted or self-important. Abraham was that sort of person. So were Moses and David and Daniel and many of the other biblical personalities, including, of course, Jesus Christ Himself, as THE example of exhibiting true humility. Job–at first a self-righteous man–was eventually brought down to size and severely humbled by the realization of what he did not know.
The key to the level of stature we could ever hope to achieve in God’s Kingdom is a humble submissive mind—a state of humility—being spiritually unleavened without any pride and self-righteousness. We must avoid that “Me, Myself & I” attitude. Perhaps all of us have, at one time or another, eaten humble pie when we were confronted with embarrassment of being wrong about something. There are those, however, who seem to know it all and who let you know they know it all. You’ve met them. But if they were to match their teensy-weensy bucket of personal knowledge with the total fund of worldly knowledge… well, as they say in New York City in that distinctive Brooklyn accent: “You don’ know nothin’, buddy!! Nut’n!”
We need to be familiar with the latter part of Isaiah 66:2, where God is saying: “…on this one will I look, on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and who trembles at My word.”
Although it is not an easy-to-come-by attribute in today’s world of pride and arrogance, it is a fundamental, paramount quality that true Christians must embrace if they hope to “make it into the Kingdom.” There is certainly a case for all of us to practice humility and to do so consciously and consistently, through Christ’s help. For James 4:10 tells us: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and [then] He will lift you up.”
Media coverage concentrated this week on the outbreak of an unprecedented disease, referred to as the “swine flu.” While medical experts have no explanation for its existence, nor do they know how to combat it, fear of a global pandemic is mounting. On Wednesday, April 29, the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second-highest level [Level 5], meaning it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent. No medications presently exist to contain or cure the disease. Some commentaries suggest that the outbreak is man-made and due to unsanitary conditions in “pig factory farms.” The repeated assurance that one cannot contract the disease by eating pork is very unsettling, as we are also told that one CAN contract the disease by touching and handling raw pork, or by eating it without thorough cooking. As a consequence, Egypt decided to slaughter all pigs in the country, and Jordan closed all its pig farms. In any event, God prohibits the consumption of pork, declaring it to be hazardous to our health (Leviticus 11:4-7).
You will find more information on the outbreak of disease epidemics in our free booklets, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” “Sickness and Healing–What the Bible Tells Us,” and “Human Suffering…Why? And How Much Longer?”
One consequence of the outbreak of the swine flu is the potentially devastating effect on America’s suffering economy–especially the travel and hotel industry. The outbreak could not have come at a worse time, while at least five major banks, including Bank of America and Citibank, have failed the “stress test,” and the Treasury Department announced that it would have to borrow another $870 billion, raising the federal deficit to $1.75 trillion. The national debt is presently at $11.1 trillion. In addition, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.
The Demise of the USA as the world’s superpower is thoroughly discussed in our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
The discussion on climate change and global warning continued, and so did the attempts of Democrats to suppress the voice of those who disagree with their highly-profiled speaker, former Vice President Al Gore. However, not only Republicans, but also some Democrats objected to a proposed House bill which, according to some critics, would be tantamount to a “massive national energy tax on every American who drives a car, buys a product manufactured in the United States, or has the audacity to flip on a light switch.” However, Democrats got an unexpected–or perhaps not so unexpected–boost from the defection of Republican Senator Arlen Specter, potentially changing the U.S. political landscape for years to come.
Focusing on Mr. Obama’s first 100 days in office, more and more Americans worry about the speed with which he proceeds, calling him “overambitious.” Reaction in Europe is mixed. At the same time, the “perfect storm of idiocy” has not helped the reputation of the Obama Administration, involving a jumbo jet and an F-16 fighter jet buzzing lower Manhattan without warning and frightening thousands of New Yorkers.
Finally, grim memories of the Great Depression of 1929 and its terrible political consequences are surfacing, and questions are asked whether civil unrest in Germany in 2009 might lead to a repeat of that country’s unhappy history.
For more information on what IS prophesied to happen soon in Europe and Germany, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
This Week in the News
Swine Flu–Deadly Pig Disease Reaches Humans
Reuters reported on April 24 that “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it was too late to contain the swine flu outbreak in the United States.”
On April 27, the Huffington Post published an interesting article by journalist David Kirby about the swine flu. We are bringing you the following excerpts:
“Officials from the CDC and USDA will likely arrive in Mexico soon to help investigate the deadly new influenza virus that managed to jump from pigs to people in a previously unseen mutated form that can readily spread among humans. One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.
“Industry calls these massive compounds ‘confined animal feeding operations,’ or CAFOs (KAY-fohs), though most people know them simply as ‘factory farms’… Within each confinement, thousands of pigs are restricted to indoor pens and grain-fed for market, while breeding sows are kept in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing piglets… Many of these CAFOs raise tens of thousands of pigs at a time…
“Pigs are nature’s notorious ‘mixing bowls’ for inter-species infections, and many swine flu viruses have long contained human influenza genetic components… So where did this new, virulent and highly infectious influenza emerge from? According to Mexico’s Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, the virus ‘mutated from pigs, and then at some point was transmitted to humans.’ It sure sounds like something happened on some farm, somewhere.
“For years, leading scientists around the world have worried that large-scale, indoor swine ‘factories’ would become breeding grounds for new pathogens that could more easily infect humans and then spread out rapidly in the general population – threatening to become a global pandemic… This new strain making headlines and killing people contains genetic components of human flu virus, avian flu virus and – for the first time ever – two types of swine flu virus: American and Eurasian…”
Egypt Slaughters Its Pigs, and Jordan Closes Its Pig Farms
The Associated Press reported on April 29:
“Egypt began slaughtering the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the spread of swine flu even though no cases have been reported here yet, the Health Ministry said… Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork due to religious restrictions. But the animals are raised and consumed by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population…
“Pigs can be found in many places around [the] Muslim world, often raised by religious minorities who can eat pork. But they are banned entirely in some Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.
“In Jordan, the government decided Wednesday to shut down the country’s five pig farms, involving 800 animals, for violating public health safety regulations.”
Swine Flu Puzzles Experts
Deutsche Welle wrote on April 27:
“There is nothing unusual about swine flu, which is as commonplace among livestock as seasonal flu is among humans. But the latest outbreak of swine flu… has come as a complete surprise.
“The new sub-variant of the H1N1 influenza virus, which killed an estimated 40 percent of the world’s population in the pandemic of 1918, has been deadly in Mexico, where it wasn’t recognized for quite some time. What’s puzzling is that the new viral strain is apparently milder in the US, Canada and Spain…
“Although the airborne virus is called swine flu, it is a recombinant mixture of DNA segments from pigs, birds and humans. The virus is a new genetic strain, which medical experts say could mutate into an even more dangerous variant of potentially pandemic proportions, since no one would have immunity to it…
“In the event of a pandemic, the stockpile of anti-virals in Germany is unusually low, compared with Britain and France, where more than half the population could be treated in an emergency. But… there is absolutely no data showing that anti-viral drugs will save a patient’s life… clinical studies… show that anti-virals only reduce the duration of the disease’s symptoms, but [do] not actually kill viruses, which keep mutating and become resistant to drug treatment over time…”
The Worst Case Scenario?
Der Spiegel Online reported on April 28:
“Germany’s health minister says the swine flu outbreak could turn global and that it’s impossible to predict whether it will or not… Bild commented that the German government’s 100-page emergency plan ‘reads like the script of a disaster movie.’ The plan assumes that a full-blown outbreak of a flu such as swine flu could cause up to 103,000 deaths in Germany alone within eight weeks… Around 30 percent of the population would be infected, the report estimates… ‘the virus being widespread… closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effects in stopping the movement of this virus,’ said Mr Fukuda of the WHO.”
How Swine Flu Panic Affects U.S. Economy
USA Today reported on April 28:
“For an ailing global travel industry, swine flu couldn’t have erupted at a worse time. ‘It has the potential to paralyze travel,’ says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association… ‘Certainly if it gets out of hand,’ it will be catastrophic. There are signs the situation is speedily getting out of hand.
“The U.S. government Monday urged Americans to cancel travel to Mexico if not essential… ‘This is kind of the one-two-three-four-five punch,’ says Jan Freitag, a vice president at the hotel-tracking firm Smith Travel Research. ‘You have a global recession; business travel has been severely curtailed; leisure travel is curtailed because people are not sure they’re going to have jobs; you have a lot of new hotel supply in the pipeline; and oops, now we have the European Union suggesting that travel to the United States is a mistake.’
“Androulla Vassiliou, the European Union’s health commissioner, initially suggested avoiding all non-essential travel to Mexico and the United States. She later softened her warning, stressing she was speaking only for herself, not the entire 27-nation EU, and that it was an advisory, not a ban, that applied only to hot spots. Still, her comments added to fears that the outbreak would hit an ailing industry on the verge of the summer travel season.
“They also revived memories of the 2002-03 outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in Asia. SARS prompted a plunge in air travel and cost the global economy $33 billion in 2003… Airline stocks slid Monday, with shares of Continental falling $2.17, or 16.4%… Shares of AMR, parent of American, fell 72 cents, or 13.3%…
“Hotels had a bad day, too. Marriott fell $1.13 (5.1%)… American depositary receipts of InterContinental Hotels Group fell 55 cents, or 5.6%… The travel industry already is reeling under the weight of worldwide recession. Before flu broke out, the global airline industry was on track to lose $4.7 billion this year… In the USA, hotel occupancy was down 10.9% from a year ago, and rates were down 7.7%…”
Several Countries Ban Import of Pork and Isolate Travelers
ksl.com reported on April 26:
“Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors who came back from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined. China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival [from] an affected area had to report to authorities. A Russian health agency said any passenger from North America running a fever would be quarantined until cause of the fever is determined. Tokyo’s Narita airport installed a device to test the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico. Indonesia increased surveillance at all entry points for travelers with flu-like symptoms…
“Hong Kong and South Korea warned against travel to the Mexican capital and three affected provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela also advised their citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States…
“The virus is usually contracted through direct contact with pigs, but Joseph Domenech, chief of animal health service at U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency in Rome, said all indications were that the virus is being spread through human-to-human transmission. No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer.
“Russia banned the import of meat products from Mexico, California, Texas and Kansas. South Korea said it would increase the number of its influenza virus checks on pork products from Mexico and the U.S. Serbia on Saturday banned all imports of pork from North America…”
Bank of America and Citigroup Fail “Stress Test”
The Associated Press reported on April 28:
“Bank of America… and Citigroup…, which have each received $45 billion in government bailout funds, have been told by regulators that ‘stress test’ results show they may need to raise additional capital… Bank of America is looking at a shortfall in the billions of dollars… Both banks plan to rebut the preliminary findings…
“Banks deemed to have enough capital may learn whether they’ll be permitted to repay billions of dollars the government injected into them last fall… Most large banks have said they want to repay the money to escape executive compensation limits and other obligations. Investors have grown more concerned about regional banks with many risky loans on their books. Defaults on those loans could skyrocket in a worsening economy. Banks that carry such loans are likely to be asked to improve their capital reserves.”
US Treasury “Needs” to Borrow Over $870 Billion
The Associated Press reported on April 27:
“The Treasury Department said Monday it will need to borrow $361 billion in the current April-June quarter, a record amount for that period. It’s the third straight quarter the government’s borrowing needs have set records for those periods. Treasury also estimated it will need to borrow $515 billion in the July-September quarter…
“The huge borrowing needs reflect the soaring costs of the $700 billion financial rescue program and the recession, which is nearing a record as the longest in the post World War II period…
“The administration is projecting the federal deficit for the entire budget year ending Sept. 30, will total a record $1.75 trillion. A deficit at that level would nearly quadruple the previous record of $454.8 billion set last year. To cover the government’s heavy borrowing needs, Congress in February boosted the limit for the national debt to $12.1 trillion as part of the legislation that enacted President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus program. The national debt now stands at $11.1 trillion…
“The $361 billion estimate for borrowing this quarter compared with borrowing needs of just $13 billion in the year-ago period. Normally the government’s borrowing needs shrink sharply in the April-June quarter because of all the tax revenue being collected…”
“That Wasn’t Me”
The Associated Press wrote on April 29:
“‘That wasn’t me,’ President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One. It actually was him – and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years – who shaped a budget so out of balance. And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.”
Mr. Obama’s First 100 Days–How the British “Times” Sees It
The Times wrote on April 25:
“As the White House prepares to reach the 100 days milestone since President Obama’s inauguration, it is being true to the form shown over the preceding 99: to exploit ruthlessly American politics while simultaneously asking that the President be judged by a different standard. The strategy is to swat aside any effort to reach an early verdict, on the ground that the Administration has faced unprecedented challenges, but to acknowledge nonetheless that Wednesday — on which the 100th day falls — may be a useful moment to reflect on how much has been accomplished…
“By any measure the pace has been frenetic. The President has ordered the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, the end of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq; recast military strategy in Afghanistan; travelled to nine countries and met the leaders of almost 60. On top of this he has signed legislation that makes it easier for women to sue for job discrimination and extends health coverage to millions of children; eased a ban on stem-cell research; sacked the head of General Motors; intervened in the housing and credit markets; reached out to the Muslim world; tried to improve relations with Cuba; drawn up a $3.6 trillion (£2.4 trillion) budget and forced a bitterly contested $787 billion stimulus Bill through Congress…
“The President is intensely aware of criticism that he is being overambitious… advisers acknowledge that Mr Obama’s reach may exceed his grasp… Nor is the President quite as infallible as he seemed before the inauguration… In the past week the contradictory statements coming out of the White House on the need to investigate or prosecute those responsible for CIA interrogations showed how swiftly a popular policy on banning torture or allowing transparency can unravel.
“Such episodes are symptoms of the difficulty in moving from campaigning — when all politicians can do is make speeches and promises — to governing, when words ultimately have to be judged by results… Having underestimated the scale of public anger over executive bonuses he then whipped it up by railing so hard against the insurance giant AIG that employees began getting death threats…
“His approval ratings, hovering in the low 60s, are almost identical to those of George Bush eight years ago. Aides say that Mr Obama’s popularity is neither unique nor permanent… Mr Obama is a politician grappling with enormous problems and making a slow descent to earth.”
Obama’s First 100 Days–How the German “Der Spiegel” Sees It
On April 30, Der Spiegel Online published an article, titled: “The Most Expensive President Since 1945.”
“The new US president’s first 100 days in office were expensive, glamorous and often contradictory…
“[On the] subject [of communication], the new president is truly a world-class performer. In fact we Germans might like to send our chancellor, Angela Merkel, to the White House for a four-week internship under Mr. Obama.
“… the president has performed poorly when it comes to the central political issue of the day [that of managing the financial crisis]. Obama has ignited a dangerous time bomb in the US government’s budget. The economic stimulus program and the billions in bailout funds for Wall Street banks are being paid for primarily with borrowed funds. Obama’s first 100 days have been the most costly in American postwar history.
“… The bailout programs are not being paid for with ‘taxpayer money,’ as Obama claims. Instead, the money is coming from the savings of the frugal Japanese, Chinese and Europeans… Not only is this is costly, but it is also extremely risky. More important, it is not sustainable. By taking this approach, Obama is only leading his country more deeply into dependence on creditors from around the world. Before long, anyone who wishes to attack America will no longer need nuclear weapons, but merely sufficient dollar reserves. China already has close to $2 trillion (€1.5 trillion) stored away in its coffers…
“Things are not exactly adding up when it comes to Obama’s economic policy. The effects of economic stimulus packages are usually short-lived. For many people, the government’s programs will seem to herald a speedy end to the crisis, but the light at the end of the tunnel will be fueled by burning dollar bills. When the flames subside, darkness will return…
“Obama wants to help establish a modern healthcare system in America — at last. Fifty million people currently have no health insurance. Their situation is hardly better than it might have been during the Middle Ages… But there is one thing the president has neglected to tell his fellow Americans. A first-class medical system cannot be purchased at Walmart discount prices. His promises of further tax cuts and health-care reforms are mutually exclusive. He will have to break one of the two promises…
“The foreign policy motto of his predecessor could have been: ‘If you don’t want to be my brother, I’ll smash your skull.’ Obama clearly takes a different approach to foreign policy… In the coming years, people will start asking themselves: What does America get in return? Is it a soft or a hard currency to be open? The answer will most likely be found in Tehran, Beijing and Moscow…
“Commander-in-chief Obama is sending mixed messages. On the one hand, he is taking a dovish approach to the Arabs, extending his hand to Islam and offering a peace pipe to the Russians. On the other hand…, the US military is adding large numbers of troops to its forces in Afghanistan, while unmanned drones are being used to stage attacks in Pakistan’s border region… His strategy has already bred results, but they are not what he expected. Anti-American sentiment is growing in Pakistan… If Pakistan, a nuclear state, falls into the hands of fundamentalists, Obama will have handed the West more than just another defeat…
“The closing of the CIA prison in Guantanamo Bay and the ban on torture in interrogations brought the sinister practices of the Bush years to a necessary end. This deserves respect, but not applause. Obama’s America is merely returning to the normal state of a democratic nation governed by the rule of law. Although the torture practices have been abolished, no one is being called to account…
“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is increasingly proving to be a weak point in Obama’s cabinet… This year, bank bonuses are likely to be twice as high as they were before the crisis. This may be a nuisance during normal times, but today — in light of the government’s bailouts of the banks — it is nothing short of scandalous…
“Vice President Joe Biden is… known for his charm as well as his wagging tongue. He embarrassed his boss, for example, when he said of the bailout plans in Washington: ‘If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong’…
“So far, the Obama presidency is as contradictory as reality. No one today can say whether he will end up being the president he wants to be… Many US newspapers speak admiringly of Obama, calling him ‘larger than life.’ But that too remains to be seen. Perhaps life will turn out to be larger than Obama.”
The Demise of the Superpower USA
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 29:
“The severe crisis is affecting the United States, which is already in a weakened position, and it could accelerate the country’s relative demise as a superpower which already began a long time ago. American industry, or what is left of it, is already in a deplorable condition today… The history of the US auto industry… is the history of America as an economic superpower, from its brilliant ascent to its agonizingly slow demise…
“Never before has a country lived at the expense of the future with such reckless abandon. The United States today is an economy that sucks in the savings of other nations. America currently needs more than half of worldwide savings merely to avoid falling below the levels of previous years. The government and private households borrow roughly $1 billion (€760 million) on each business day… Even when adjusted for the size of today’s economy, the US’s current debts significantly exceed debt levels during the Great Depression. The superpower has become an empire of debt. The most dangerous element of President Obama’s crisis management program is that this debt is not being reduced, but expanded.
“… no one knows whether… all the money being thrown at the aggressive virus fueling this crisis will only make it worse. Debts are being fought with debts, meaning that not only banks but entire countries could end up bankrupt. Perhaps the efforts to combat the current crisis are merely laying the foundations for the next crisis, which will be bigger still.”
The Daily News reported on April 27:
“A perfect storm of idiocy led to a frightening 9/11 flashback for thousands of New Yorkers Monday when a jumbo jet and an F-16 fighter jet buzzed lower Manhattan without warning. A ‘furious’ Mayor Bloomberg denounced the dunces who dreamed up the stunt – and the NYPD officials and bureaucrats who never told him about it… Sources said the chief reason for the panic-inducing flight was to create souvenir pictures of Air Force One flying over the Statue of Liberty to be given out – like a presidential tie clip – to family, friends or supporters…
“The planes appeared on the horizon around 10 a.m. and sent a chill through the city. Flying in as low as 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet above New York City, they circled the Statue of Liberty before flying over Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey. Before they vanished, hundreds of frightened people had jammed emergency phone lines, and thousands of terrified people evacuated from buildings in the city and across the river in New Jersey… ‘The President was furious,’ a White House insider said.”
CBS wrote on April 28:
“Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay… But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor’s office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out…”
According to Bloomberg, dated April 28, “The flight by the VC-25… and two F-16 fighter jets cost $328,835, Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein said.”
It’s Politics–Specter Becomes a Democrat, Possibly Giving Democrats Full Control of the Senate
The Washington Post reported on April 28:
“Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch parties and run for reelection in November 2010 as a Democrat, he announced today, a decision that could have wide-ranging consequences for the Senate and President Obama’s agenda. Specter told reporters that he received a ‘bleak’ poll Friday from his advisers that showed virtually no chance of him winning in the GOP primary next spring against Pat Toomey, a former Republican House member…
“The move brings Democrats to 59 seats in the Senate, just one shy of the 60 they need to exert filibuster-proof control over the chamber. In Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken holds a 312-vote lead over former senator Norm Coleman (R), but Coleman has appealed the result to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are expected to begin in June… Assuming the court sides with Franken in Minnesota, it will mark the first time since the 95th Congress — 1977 to 1979 — that Democrats have controlled 60 or more Senate seats.”
Pros and Cons of Global Warming
The Associated Press wrote on April 24:
“Former Vice President Al Gore, the leading American voice on climate change, urged lawmakers Friday to… take action to reduce greenhouse gases, but Democrats and Republicans sparred even more vigorously over the cost of dealing with global warming.
“Gore, who won a Nobel prize for his work on climate change, told a congressional hearing that ‘the dire and growing threat’ of a warmer earth requires the parties to unite to deal with the environmental threat. He endorsed a House Democratic bill that would limit carbon dioxide and other pollution linked to warming… But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich… argued that the Democratic proposal to reduce greenhouse gases would ‘punish the American people’ by imposing higher energy costs and threatening jobs…
“The House bill calls for mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by mid-century. It also would require utilities to produce a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and impose new efficiency requirements… Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the committee’s top Republican, argued that the proposed ‘cap-and-trade’ system would cost tens of billions of dollars a year… House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio denounced the draft bill as a ‘massive national energy tax on every American …. who drives a car, buys a product manufactured in the United States, or has the audacity to flip on a light switch’…
“While Republicans were critical, some Democrats expressed concern as well. ‘How do we protect our people?’ asked Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., whose state is reeling from the economic recession and is home to many energy-intensive industries, including the ailing auto industry. Dingell said he’s not convinced the bill will protect U.S. jobs, especially if China isn’t forced to take similar actions.”
How Democrats Suppress Global Warming Dissent
News Climate Depot reported on April 25:
“UK’s Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.
“‘The House Democrats don’t want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,’ Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. ‘They are cowards.’… According to Monckton, House Democrats told the Republican committee staff earlier this week that they would be putting forward an unnamed ‘celebrity’ as their star witness Friday… The ‘celebrity’ witness turned out to be Gore. Monckton said the GOP replied they would respond to the Democrats’ ‘celebrity’ with an unnamed ‘celebrity’ of their own. But Monckton claims that when the Democrats were told who the GOP witness would be, they refused to allow him to testify alongside Gore… ‘The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the US Constitution’…, Monckton said from the airport Thursday evening.”
Soon Civil Unrest in Germany Over Bad Economy?
Netzeitung reported on April 26:
“The economic crisis is hitting the German psyche hard; a new survey says 72 percent of Germans are scared by the crisis and over 30 percent would demonstrate on the streets… In the last week, German politicians and union leaders have debated whether or not social unrest will arrive in Germany once companies are forced to lay off workers and the economy slows down further.
“The Sunday survey in Bild am Sonntag says 54 percent of Germans believe there will be unrest in the coming months. Eastern Germans are gloomier, with 61 percent percent believing that unrest is coming. West Germans are more likely to take to the streets than those from the east, the survey found, with 34 percent of westerners saying they would demonstrate compared to only 27 percent of easterners.
“The first big test of whether Germany’s social fabric is fraying comes… on May 1st, the annual day of work celebrated all over Europe, often with labor demonstrations. In Berlin, where the annual demonstrations often turn violent, with anarchists burning cars and clashing with police, the city is preparing for larger-than-usual rallies. ‘Attacks by extremists on police are rising,’ Konrad Freiberg, the head of the Union of Police, told Bild. ‘Already by May first, the violence threatens to escalate.'”
The Great Depression of 1929–Is History Repeating Itself in 2009?
Der Spiegel Online wrote the following on April 29:
“Is history repeating itself? The current global downturn has many parallels to the Great Depression. And if the current massive bailout packages fail, the effect on the world’s economies could be similarly drastic…
“More than 5 million people in the United States have lost their jobs since the crisis began. As if the country were undergoing fever convulsions, more than 650,000 were catapulted into the streets in the last month alone.
“Most experts are now convinced that Germany will follow the United States along this downward trajectory… Unemployment will rise sharply. It is expected to exceed 4 million by this fall and hit 5 million by next year. By then, at the latest, the crisis will have become reality for millions of people, as it reaches private households, forces more companies into bankruptcy and pushes countless loans into default, only making things worse for the country’s already ailing banks…
“In the wake of the economic crisis, Germany fell into the hands of the Nazis. The slogan, ‘Hitler – Our Last Hope,’ was plastered on campaign posters in the 1930s. Many agreed with the sentiment at the time… On May 2, 1930, Hitler, a man who had been ridiculed until then, was suddenly speaking to a packed house at Berlin’s Sportpalast hall. Now the people, or at least a significant portion of the people, were eager to hear Hitler speak.
“After the Reichstag election in the late summer of 1930, a splinter group had suddenly become a force to be reckoned with. The Nazi Party won 18.3 percent of the vote and 107 seats in the Reichstag, making it the country’s second-most powerful party. The economic crisis had catapulted the party to power within just a short space of time.
“Berlin is not Weimar. And the current economic crisis has not produced any noticeable political changes — at least not yet… This could change if the crisis worsens and unemployment rises significantly…”
What are the biblical principles regarding hair length and dress for men and women?
In last week’s Q&A, we addressed some general principles regarding the kinds of clothing and style that should be worn. We emphasized the importance of right balance and modesty.
Paul also instructed the Church of God regarding the length of hair that both men and women should wear:
“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:13-16).
We can derive from these guidelines that men and women should appear differently in hairstyles. God permits differences in length of hair, and we note that varieties occur in hair color and texture among people. Some men will wear very short hair while others will have fuller styles; the same might be true, to an extent, for women. The key for falling within the guidelines instituted by God in His Word is for men to avoid having female type hairstyles and for women to maintain a proper length to serve as a covering and as an unmistakable woman-like appearance.
We discussed the issue of hair style in a previous Q&A. We are quoting the following pertinent portions:
“In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul sets forth the timeless principles of proper hairstyle and hair length for men and women. After explaining in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the Head of Christ is God the Father, the Head of a man is Christ, and the head of the woman (wife) is the man (husband), Paul continues: ‘(verse 4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. (verse 5) But every woman who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. (verse 6) For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered…’
“The context of the Scripture discusses the length of hair — not the wearing of a veil or of a hat (There is, however, nothing wrong in God’s eyes for a woman to wear a veil or a hat, if she so desires, following the culture of her upbringing). We read that a woman should wear long hair, which is given to her ‘as a covering’ [1 Corinthians 11:15] or, as some translations render this, ‘as a veil’…
“We read that a woman should have ‘long hair’ as a covering, as distinguished from an ‘uncovered’ head, a ‘shaved’ head, or a ‘shorn’ head. A ‘shorn’ head pictures very short hair. One might think of the analogy of a ‘shorn’ sheep… A ‘shaved’ head describes a bald head. In contrast, a woman should wear ‘long hair’…
“At the same time, we are told that a man is not to wear ‘long hair,’ and that even nature teaches us that wearing long hair is a ‘dishonor’ to a man.”
On this subject, we note and utterly reject the false image that has been promoted as the likeness of Jesus Christ. Not only does this contradict the teaching by Paul against men having long, feminine appearing hair, it violates the clear command against making any image representative of God as found in the Ten Commandments!
Some teach that Jesus was a Nazirite and that He was therefore permitted to wear long hair. This teaching is false. We have addressed this issue in much detail in a previous Q&A. The following excerpts should be helpful in this context:
“Jesus was called a Nazarene, because He lived and grew up in the city of Nazareth. He was not a ‘Nazirite.’ The sixth chapter of the book of Numbers describes the law of the ‘Nazirites.’ Those who took the vow of a Nazirite did not cut their hair, but they were also prohibited from drinking any wine or touching a dead body (Numbers 6:4-6). Christ, however, did drink wine (Luke 22:14-18; Matthew 11:19), and He did touch dead bodies (Luke 8:51-55).
“If Christ had been a Nazirite, He would have broken His vow and thereby violated one of God’s laws. But He said that He had kept His Father’s commandments (John 15:10), including all ritual laws still in force and effect at His time, and we read that He never sinned. The Bible defines sin, however, as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4, Authorized Version). Therefore, Christ could NOT have been a Nazirite.
“Christ was a Jew, and He looked like an ordinary Jewish man, without special beauty in appearance (compare Isaiah 53:2). Judas had to identify Him to others with a kiss. He was able to escape on occasion, by mingling with the crowd and going ‘through the midst of them’ (Luke 4:30; John 8:59). Apart from the Bible, archeology and history also confirm as well that the Jews at the time of Christ did not wear long hair. Christ, therefore, did not either–otherwise, He would have stood out in a crowd, and a special identification through Judas would not have been necessary.”
In reviewing hair length and hair style of men and women, we conclude, based on biblical principles, that one should be able to determine the gender of a person at first sight. To put it bluntly: A man should look like a man, and a woman should look like a woman. The difference should be recognizable based on outward appearance. When the length or style of hair, all by itself, does not allow to make that determination, then the particular hair style or hair length would need to be modified.
In addition, we must consider more of what God specifically instructs concerning how we ought to wear our hair, and how we ought to dress.
Our hair style should be “normal.” It should be viewed by the overwhelming majority of society as “acceptable,” rather than as outlandish. Somebody who colors his or her hair in such a way that he or she looks like a circus clown places him- or herself within the fringes of society. During the Hippie-culture of the 1960s, young men would wear long hair, but this was never accepted by the majority of our Western society. Parents might have grudgingly “given in” to their “rebellious” sons, but they never liked it. Today, a man with long hair is normally looked upon as “different.” The types of hairstyle propagated today by the MTV generation, with hair sticking out like that of a porcupine, or uncombed, giving a sloppy appearance, or hair which is just too long for a man, is simply not in line with how a Christian man should appear in public. This would also include wearing an uncultivated beard or not shaving for several days (unless it is for the purpose of wearing a well-trimmed acceptable beard).
Regarding dress, in Deuteronomy 22:5, we have this admonition: “’A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.’”
In recent years the design of clothing worn by women has come to include the wearing of pants and pantsuits. While some believe that this type of apparel crosses the line and violates God’s instructions, the designs of these types of garments are, for the most part, gender-specific. That is, women’s pantsuits are designed for the female anatomy. However, even in this circumstance, care must be taken to purchase appropriate garments that clearly compliment a feminine appearance.
Further questions have arisen concerning whether these kinds of pantsuits should be worn in services conducted by the Church of God. In the spirit of what God states in Deuteronomy 22, verse 5, we find no reason to recommend that pantsuits not be worn—specifically, because they are designed for women and not men. However, it would not be advisable to wear pantsuits in Church services all the time, to the exclusion of wearing appropriate dresses. We might note that in ancient times the apparel of men and women had similar looks, but they had unique characteristics that identified with the gender of the wearer.
Regarding men, in our Western world, this would include wearing a suit and a tie for Church services (or a nice combination of jacket, tie and pants). In other parts of the world, different attire might be appropriate, but it is always important that it is in line with the desire to honor God and our fellow brethren by how we dress. Attending Church services in jeans and open shirt is disrespectful to God and simply not acceptable in His eyes.
We are addressing those who are members of the Church of God, and we are specifically offering guidelines to help us all set a right example. However, as in all matters of Christian growth, we must be patient with each other–particularly with those who are new to the faith (compare James 2:1-9).
Finally, we have this instruction from the Word of God:
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:12-17).
Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Dave Harris
According to Plan
by Manuela Mitchell (25)
Sometimes, especially while I’m driving, I take the opportunity to think about my life. Outside of work and home, my routine is pretty straight forward and simple. Many surprises just don’t happen–at least not at this point of my life. Someday, in the near future, I know that will all change.
My husband and I have tossed around ideas together within the last few months regarding important steps in our lives. These include our jobs, further education, having a baby and raising a family out of the state in which we currently reside. Even though we have thought about ways to improve our well being, we have to be convinced that these plans are what God would like us to do.
I have always tried to never regret any big decisions that I have made in my life. I always intend to think things through. It is also not possible to do it alone. Ultimately, God will help my husband and me to make a final step, if it’s according to His plan.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Torture, Poverty, Unemployment and the American Dream.” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that the declassification of CIA memos pertaining to torture, as well as bad news regarding the constant deterioration of the U.S. economy, have done nothing to restore confidence in the American leadership. The euphoria over the country’s first black president has ebbed considerably, and the current crisis has become Mr. Obama’s crisis. Did you know that all of this was prophesied to happen thousands of years ago, and that things will get much worse, before they will get better?
A new German StandingWatch program (“AufPostenStehen”) was posted on YouTube and on our German Website (www.aufpostenstehen.de). It is titled, “Gottes Sohn War der Torah Treu” (“The Son of God was Faithful Towards the Torah”) and discusses an article in the Catholic newspaper “Zenit,” admitting that Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Testament or the Law.
A new member letter for the month of May was written and will be sent out early next week. In the letter, Rene Messier discusses the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost for true Christians today, and for mankind in general.
Norbert Link’s new video-recorded sermon, “Lessons from the Book of Job,” has been posted on our Website, in addition to the audio version.
Norbert Link recorded two new German sermons this week, titled, “Der Weg Gottes, Teil 1” and “Der Weg Gottes, Teil 2.” (“The Way of God, Part 1” and “The Way of God, Part 2.”) Both sermons will be posted shortly on the Internet.
This is a reminder to make reservations with the Woodfin Hotel in San Diego, for the Feast of Tabernacles 2009, if you have not already done so. For more information, please go to our Website (www.eternalgod.org) and click on “Feasts.” Also, you might want to begin sending to Headquarters your T of T and any excess 2T.
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