|Live Services||How to Draw Close to God|
|Editorial||Acknowledgement and Obedience|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Would you please explain Mark 13:27?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
How to Draw Close to God
On Saturday, May 9, 2009, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “How to Draw Close to God.”
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.
Acknowledgement and Obedience
by Rene Messier (Canada)
There is a vast difference between simply acknowledging someone and being willing to obey him. For instance, let us consider Nebuchadnezzar’s decree which he made after the three young Jewish captives were spared from death in the fiery furnace. We read in Daniel 3:29: “Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
Notice, Nebuchadnezzar fully acknowledged that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego was the most powerful God, but he fell short of the mark in the sense that he did not obey and serve that God. Even when he was warned in a dream and through Daniel’s subsequent explanation of that dream, he continued to walk in pride and was severely punished as a consequence. There is no indication that Nebuchadnezzar ever forsook his idols and became a true and obedient follower of the Creator God.
Let us also look at what King Darius wrote, as recorded in Daniel 6:25-27, after Daniel was saved from the lions in the lions den: “To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Here again, we find a full acknowledgement that the God of Daniel works signs and wonders and that He is able to deliver from danger, but we do not find in the Bible, nor in history, that King Darius began to obey and serve that God Whom he acknowledged.
What does James tell us about acknowledgement of and belief in the existence of the true God? James 2:19 says: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” Satan and the demons acknowledge and believe in the true God, but they are not about to serve and obey Him. Knowing the righteous judgment of God for disobedience, they tremble. They know that belief in God and acknowledgement of His existence are not enough–but they are unwilling to obey Him.
Notice Peter’s words, as recorded in Acts 5:32: “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit [which] God has given to those who obey Him.” If God gives His Holy Sprit only to those who obey God, then He also withholds it from those who disobey Him. Obedience is a requirement for salvation.
Look at what God inspired Samuel to say about the importance of obedience, in 1 Samuel 15:22-23: “So Samuel said: ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.'”
As faithful servants of God, we must not just acknowledge God and believe in His existence, but we must willingly obey Him. Notice that by faith Abraham obeyed (Hebrews 11:8). That is why we read in Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, AND that He is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him.”
The news this week was again dominated by the outbreak of the swine flu, especially in light of the fact that for the first time an infected human passed the virus back to pigs. The consistently stated opinion by “experts” that eating pork–even from infected pigs–is safe sounds shallow, untrustworthy and irresponsible in the light of such developments. Fear has also been expressed that those suffering from AIDS might be highly susceptible to the swine flu virus, while others warn that a politically induced mass hysteria advocating or even demanding universal vaccinations might do more harm than good.
While an increasing number of Americans is now considering abortion illegal in most or all cases, the House wasted no time to expand federal hate crimes–an action which might very well be unconstitutional and which will restrict the free exercise of religion–especially of churches and their ministers. This action may have to be seen as part of a bigger picture–namely, the exertion of pressure by gay activists on President Obama to fight their cause. Equally troubling are some of President Obama’s nominations of extremely liberal judges to certain Courts of Appeals. The public is also finally recognizing that responsibility for current actions lies with President Obama and his staff, and can no longer be “excused” by blaming the Bush Administration.
Optimistic viewpoints of some financial “experts” notwithstanding, that the worst is over and that our economy is on its way to recovery, the opposite is true. These financial “experts” have been wrong before, and, sadly, they are wrong again. The facts are that, for example, General Motors posted a $6 billion loss for the first quarter (Los Angeles Times, May 7); the number of unemployed workers getting benefits jumped to a new record (The Associated Press, May 7, 2009); a new proposal includes record deficits in its $3.55-trillion budget (Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2009); and the Federal government directed at least seven of the nation’s biggest banks to bolster their capital levels by $65 billion (The Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2009). In each case, some twist of “positive news” was included by the media–such as the concept that President Obama wants to cut the budget deficit by a “minute fraction” (The Washington Times, May 7, 2009) of $17 billion or “less than one-half of one percent of the total budget” (USA Today, May 7)–but all these devastating facts speak for themselves.
In Germany, demonstrations, in part prompted by the bad economy, have become violent, while news surfaced how the Catholic Church protected a convicted pedophile priest in that country for years.
Violence broke out again in the Gaza Strip; Israel is unhappy with European condemnation; and fear was expressed that the Taliban might acquire the bomb even before Iran will. And President Peres suggested to hand over the Holy Sites to the Vatican.
The Czech Senate approved the Lisbon Treaty, and pressure is building on Ireland to approve it as well.
The highly secretive and enormously influential Bilderberg Group is meeting again in May, whose apparent goal it is to “emphasize a globalist agenda and dismiss national sovereignty.”
Finally, Russia is again up to their old tricks. While illegally taking control of the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia accuses Europe and NATO of provocation. There has been some concern for quite a while that Russia will resume war against Georgia and begin a new war against other former Soviet provinces, and they might have already tried by provoking an uproar within portions of the Georgian army.
This Week in the News
Human Infects Pig with Swine Flu
The New York Times wrote on May 3:
“On Saturday, Canadian health officials said that the virus had been found in sick pigs on one farm in Alberta… Previously, there had been heated debate about whether the virus could infect pigs, even though its genetic makeup clearly points to its having originated in swine at some point.
“But people were infecting each other, and until Saturday, no pigs had been found with the virus… But researchers, busy with human cases, were not really looking for the disease in pigs.
“The news from Canada changes things. But it has a somewhat unexpected twist: a person appears to have spread the disease to the pigs, and not the other way around. A worker at the farm had traveled to Mexico, fallen ill there and unknowingly brought the disease back to Canada last month…
“’One of the reasons for watching this very closely is the potential for the virus passing back from the pigs to human beings,’ David Butler-Jones, the chief public health officer of Canada, said…
“Despite assurances from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian agriculture officials [that eating pork is allegedly safe], some countries banned imports of pork and pork products from Canada even before Saturday’s announcement.”
The Associated Press added on May 3:
“Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.
“The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen…
“Canadian officials announced Saturday that the virus had infected about 200 pigs on a farm — the first evidence that it had jumped to another species… Experts say pork — even from infected pigs — is safe to eat…”
Will HIV and Swine Flu Virus Mix?
Reuters reported on May 2:
“People with HIV are at high risk from the new flu strain that the World Health Organisation said is on the verge of a pandemic… HIV and the new flu strain could also mix together in a dangerous way, as has occurred with HIV and tuberculosis, the WHO said… According to WHO estimates, there are 33 million people infected with immune-weakening HIV worldwide.”
Has Swine Flu Mutated More?
Reuters reported on May 6:
“A second strain of influenza, one of the seasonal strains, may have mutated and may be complicating the picture in Mexico, Canadian researchers reported on Wednesday. They have found a strain of the H3N2 virus that appears to have made a shift and could have complicated the flu picture in Mexico, epicenter of an outbreak of a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus.”
Beware of Politically Motivated Mass Immunizations Against Swine Flu
On April 28, 2009, salon.com published an interesting article about the governmental and pharmaceutical reaction to a perceived swine flu outbreak in 1976 (That outbreak never happened). It warns that we must not rush into producing vaccinations and advocate mass immunizations, which might do more harm than good. We are quoting the following excerpts:
“1976 was the year of the U.S. Bicentennial. 1976 was a presidential election year. 1976 was two years after Watergate caused Nixon’s resignation, and one year after the fall of Saigon. The U.S. government, both Republicans and Democrats, had never been held in such low esteem. Practically every elected official felt an overwhelming itch that patriotic year to do something to get the public thinking of them as good guys again. A swine flu pandemic was an opportunity on a plate. What better way to get into the good graces of the voters than to save them from a plague?
“Between March 13 and March 24, the U.S. government dealt with the perceived flu emergency at fever pitch. The vaccine request… reached the president’s desk in less than a week. On March 24, the day after he lost the North Carolina primary to Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford welcomed the top virologists in the nation to a meeting in the White House and asked them if the nation was facing a swine flu epidemic. Would mass vaccinations be necessary? The doctors all said yes…
“The president heralded the impending flu plague and asked Congress for $135 million to investigate the development of a swine flu vaccine, with the goal of vaccinating the citizenry… Congress, with few exceptions, raced to support the bill. Knowing the Republican president would not, could not veto a bill he requested, the Democratically controlled House attached $1.8 billion dollars in welfare and environmental spending to the flu bill. President Ford signed the bill on April 15, 1976, and incorrectly remarked to the press that the Fort Dix swine flu was identical to the deadly 1918 variety. He announced the immunization program would begin in October…
“The scientists began to come to their senses. By July, they were pretty much agreed that a flu pandemic in 1976 would not lead to 1 million U.S. dead… But the U.S. government was unstoppable. Congress began to pressure the drug companies to work faster toward development of a swine flu vaccine. The drug companies insisted that proper vaccine development required years of experimentation and clinical trials…
“President Ford went on television [on August 5] and delivered a speech to the nation, telling Americans that Congress will be to blame for your deaths when the flu season begins in October. Congress caved in, and on Aug. 15, President Ford signed the National Influenza Immunization Program (NIIP). This set as a goal the immunization of at least 80 percent of the U.S. population [and] indemnified the drug companies…
“On Oct. 1, 1976, the immunization program began. By Oct. 11, approximately 40 million people had received swine flu immunizations, mostly through the new compressed air vaccination guns… Three senior citizens died soon after receiving their swine flu shots [in Pittsburgh]… The government had long feared mass panic about swine flu — now they feared mass panic about the swine flu vaccinations.
“The deaths in Pittsburgh… were a strong setback to the program. The death blow came a few weeks later when reports appeared of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing neuromuscular disorder, among some people who had received swine flu immunizations. The public refused to trust a government-operated health program that killed old people and crippled young people; as a result, less than 33 percent of the population had been immunized by the end of 1976. The National Influenza Immunization Program was effectively halted on Dec. 16.
“Gerald Ford’s attempt to gain credit for keeping America safe was busted. He lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter that November. The 1976 to 1977 flu season was the most flu-free since records had been kept; a condition that was apparently unrelated to the vaccination program. The Great Swine Flu Epidemic of 1976 never took place.”
Many Americans Think Abortion Should Be Illegal in Most or All Cases
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported the following on May 1:
“In August 2008 only 41 percent [in the USA] believed abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, while 54 percent [now] thought it should be illegal in most or all circumstances… In August 2008 53 percent of men generally supported legal abortion, while in April 2009 only 43 percent did. About 46 percent of men said abortion should generally be illegal… The percentage of women who believed abortion should be illegal in most or all cases remained steady at 42 percent, but the number of women supporting legal abortion declined from 54 to 49 percent…”
Unconstitutional Hate Crime Legislation–Is One Life More Valuable Than Another?
CNA reported on April 30:
“By a vote of 249-175, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to expand federal ‘hate crime’ laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical disability. Current law limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to assaults based on race, color, religion or national origin. President Barack Obama asked Congress to pass the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, saying it would ‘protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance’…
“During debate on the bill, Rep. Lamar Smith argued the bill was discriminatory. ‘All violent crimes must be vigorously prosecuted,’ Rep. Smith said. ‘Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — “equal justice for all.” Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim… It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime’…
“House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said that all violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, but argued the legislation ‘places a higher value on some lives compared to others. That is unconstitutional, and that is wrong. Republicans believe that all life was created equally, and all life should be defended equally.’
“He said he was particularly concerned about the implications the legislation would have on religious groups expressing their beliefs. ‘Simply put, this bill is not only a threat to the constitutional principle of equal justice under the law, but to religious freedom of speech as well,’ he added.”
Responsibility Has Shifted to President Obama
The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 3:
“In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country. Every president inherits a tangle of problems from his predecessor. War and recession, natural disaster and foreign crises. And for some undefined interval, new presidents argue that they should not be accountable for the troubles that arose on another’s watch.
“But inevitably, responsibility shifts. And for Obama, that time came last week, bringing both greater opportunities and greater risks. On the economy, Obama won approval Wednesday of a $3.5-trillion budget plan that aims to help pull the country out of the worst recession in decades. It also smoothes the way for one of the president’s signature domestic priorities — overhauling the nation’s healthcare system. At the same time, the budget projects a whopping $1.2-trillion deficit in 2010, undercutting Obama’s ability to bemoan Bush-era red ink… As Obama’s imprint on the economy grows, so does his ownership of the issue.
“That ownership became almost literal as Obama moved more deeply into the banking and auto industry crises… on Thursday, Obama announced he was pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy. He may take another corporate icon, General Motors, down the same path. As a kind of shareholder in chief, the president now is responsible for guiding companies with thousands of union workers and investors — firms that remain vital to the economies of states that stretch across the nation’s industrial heartland, from Pennsylvania to Illinois and south into Kentucky and Tennessee. Though the auto industry was in crisis before Obama reached the White House, his team has been in charge of the rescue effort for the last four months…
“On the political front, the decision by Pennsylvania’s senior senator to join the Democrats moved Obama to the brink of a 60-vote majority in the Senate, which could prevent Republicans from blocking his initiatives by filibuster. One of the people instrumental in persuading Specter to abandon the GOP was Vice President Joe Biden, reinforcing the appearance of White House influence on Capitol Hill. All that raised expectations that Obama should be able to win congressional approval of his core agenda. Yet Specter insisted he would not be a rubber stamp for the president. He promptly voted against the Obama budget. And although Democrats have a strong majority in the House, their control of the Senate is still far from absolute…
“As for the Supreme Court, David H. Souter’s announcement Friday that he was stepping down gives Obama a chance to start putting his mark on the court, one of the most lasting elements in a president’s legacy… No matter whom he chooses, Obama will be judged by the selection. And there is no guarantee that his pick will turn out as planned. Souter was chosen by Republican President George H.W. Bush, and in the end he disappointed the GOP base.
“Throughout last week, Obama also had to cope with fears of a global swine flu pandemic…
“The public’s reaction to Obama’s assertive steps points up the potential gains and risks of being seen as clearly in charge… An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed that 47% of those surveyed believe ‘government should do more,’ compared with 46% who believe ‘government is doing too many things.'”
Will President Obama Give in to Gay Activists?
The New York Times wrote on May 7:
“President Obama was noticeably silent last month when the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. But now Mr. Obama — who has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a ‘fierce advocate of equality’ for gay men and lesbians — is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change.
“Two of Mr. Obama’s potential Supreme Court nominees are openly gay; some advocates, irked that there are no gay men or lesbians in his cabinet, are mounting a campaign to influence his choice to replace Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring. Same-sex marriage is advancing in states — the latest to allow it is Maine — and a new flare-up in the District of Columbia could ultimately put the controversy in the lap of the president.
“Mr. Obama’s new global health initiative has infuriated activists who say he is not financing AIDS programs generously enough. And while the president has urged Congress to pass a hate crimes bill, a high priority for gay groups, he has delayed action on one of his key campaign promises, repealing the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule…
“Many [gay activists] are still seething over [President Obama’s] choice of… Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who opposes same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inaugural, and remain suspicious of Mr. Obama’s commitment to their cause…
“The White House, aware of the discontent, invited leaders of some prominent gay rights organizations to meet Monday with top officials, including Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s deputy chief of staff, to plot legislative strategy on the hate crimes bill as well as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Among those attending was Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who said afterward that while the gay rights agenda might not be ‘unfolding exactly as we thought,’ he was pleased. ‘They have a vision,’ Mr. Solmonese said. ‘They have a plan’…
“If Mr. Obama were to embrace same-sex marriage, he would be seen as reversing a campaign position and alienating some moderate and religious voters he has courted. And if he appoints a gay person to the Supreme Court, he would be viewed by social conservatives — including many black ministers, another of his core constituency groups — as putting a vote for same-sex marriage on the highest court in the land. Two gay women, Kathleen M. Sullivan and Pamela S. Karlan, both of Stanford Law School, have been suggested as potential nominees…
“Mr. Obama has chosen a number of openly gay people for prominent jobs, including Fred P. Hochberg as chairman of the Export-Import Bank and John Berry to run the Office of Personnel Management. And he is the first president to set aside tickets for gay families to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll…
“In addition to calling for the repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the military, Mr. Obama supports a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that said states need not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states…”
President Obama’s Questionable Nomination of Liberal Judge to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
On May 7, Newsmax published the following comments:
“Breaking tradition with President George W. Bush, the Obama administration declined to host an event celebrating the National Day of Prayer this year. This adds another snub to the pro-faith community, since President Obama continues to push his recent nomination of the anti-Christian, anti-Life Judge David Hamilton, the same judge who issued controversial rulings banning public prayers offered ‘in Jesus name,’ and hastening the abortion of unborn children. If confirmed by the Senate, Hamilton will soon be promoted to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that overruled his… liberal decisions for years…
“Judge Hamilton ruled in 2005 to ban the practice of opening the Indiana legislature with prayers mentioning Jesus Christ or using terms such as ‘Savior.’ He said that amounted to state endorsement of a religion… Judge Hamilton wrote: ‘The injunction orders the Speaker… that the prayers should not use Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal… If those offering prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives choose to use the Arabic “Allah” …the court sees little risk that the choice of language would advance a particular religion or disparage others’… [In 2007, the] Indiana Attorney General… appealed to the 7th Circuit Court [which issued a] 2-1 decision overruling Hamilton, restoring the right to pray ‘in Jesus name’ in Indiana…
“In 2003, Judge Hamilton struck down part of an Indiana law on abortion [which…] had required abortion clinics to… give women information about alternatives to abortion in the presence of a physician or nurse, 18 hours before the procedure… [The] 7th Circuit Court… reversed Hamilton’s… decision in that case…
“Judge Hamilton is [one] of Obama’s 15 new liberal appeals court appointees. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals covers Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Since most cases never reach the Supreme Court, the federal appellate circuits often provide the last word on cases affecting life and liberty.
“The Judicial Confirmation Network quickly opposed Hamilton’s nomination… He was nominated to the district court bench by President Clinton even though he had no judicial experience and was rated as ‘not qualified’ by the American Bar Association.
“On April 1st and… on April 29th, Senator Orrin Hatch led all Republicans to walk out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in protest against the Democrats’ ‘rush job’ to confirm Judge Hamilton.”
German Commentators Disappointed With President Obama
Der Spiegel Online reported on May 4:
“Many had hoped that US President Barack Obama would undo all the damage done by his predecessor. Now, it looks like he might continue the Bush-era practice of trying terror suspects in military tribunals. German commentators are disappointed.
“When US President Barack Obama entered office in January and promptly pledged to shut down the US prison at Guantanamo and suspended all further military tribunals of the kind used by his predecessor George W. Bush, human rights groups across the country and the world were relieved. Finally, they thought, America would cease locking away terror suspects without recourse to the justice system… Any return to using such military commissions would be a major disappointment to human rights groups who were hoping that Obama’s election signalled a new era in America’s handling of terror suspects. As German editorials show on Monday, frustration across the Atlantic is equally high.
“In an editorial entitled ‘Obama’s Great Mistake,’ the center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… Obama is… discrediting both himself and the US…’
“The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:
“‘The US government has asked Germany to accept former Guantanamo prisoners. Exactly the same government is apparently planning to continue the military commissions to try those prisoners. One could hardly be more contradictory. It is the same tactic that President Barack Obama has already used when it came to the torturers from the CIA — punish with one hand, stroke with the other. Whenever he takes a step forward, he stumbles backwards as well.
“That will likely be enough to disappoint all those Europeans who had expectations that Obama would be an almost messiah-like healer. It was expected that he would demolish all of the ugly monuments from the Bush era and then, together with Al Gore, plant a Garden of Eden over the top, through which he would drive fuel-efficient compacts from Chrysler. And now… [he] is no longer floating above the political lowlands, the swamps of compromise. He is walking directly through them and getting dirty in the process.'”
Highly Secretive Globalist Bilderbergers Meet
WorldNetDaily wrote on May 5:
“The 57th meeting of representatives from Western European and North American countries known as Bilderberg Group will be held next week at a five-star hotel in Greece, reports Daniel Estulin, an investigative author who has written a defining book on the secretive annual gathering. Estulin says his sources in Greece have confirmed the meeting will be held at the Nafsika Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni from May 14-17.
“The Bilderberg Group is an elite invitation-only conference of influential members of the business, media and political community. Past attendees have included Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair.
“While the group claims its purpose is to facilitate discussion amongst western powers, many see the group as a means toward globalization. This year, according to Estulin’s sources, the meeting’s talking points will focus on finances, namely the future of the U.S. dollar, the economy and unemployment levels.
“Estulin also claims in a statement to have obtained a pre-meeting booklet sent out to attendees that presents a discussion of two economic options: ‘Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty … or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.’
“The Bilderberg Group meets at luxury hotels and resorts throughout the world. Last year’s conference was held at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Va. Every four years the conference is held in the U.S. or Canada. The group has an office located in Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands. The highly secretive meeting is off limits to press, but past reports from sources that have managed to penetrate the high-security meetings have stated that the meetings emphasize a globalist agenda and dismiss national sovereignty as regressive.
“The BBC declared it to be one of the most influential organizations in the world. ‘It’s officially described as a private gathering,’ BBC reported, ‘but with a guest list including the heads of European and American corporations, political leaders and a few intellectuals, it’s one of the most influential organizations on the planet.’
“Attendees of the Bilderberg conference are not allowed to speak a word of what was discussed in the meeting outside of the group. The group has no website and no minutes are kept of the meetings to ensure secrecy. Last year, however, the Bilderberg Group made a press release available listing topics of discussion and providing a general overview of the gathering. ‘Approximately 140 participants will attend, of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America,’ the release stated. ‘About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds are from finance, industry, labor, education and communications. The meeting is private in order to encourage frank and open discussion.'”
“How the German Catholic Church Protected a Pedophile Priest” for Years
Der Spiegel Online reported on April 24:
“The German Catholic Church has been sheltering a priest convicted of child abuse for years. Now the pedophile, who refuses to undergo therapy, has hired private detectives to try to get his former victims to retract their testimony… This is not just a surprisingly audacious course of action for a servant of God, whose sentence was most recently upheld by Germany’s Federal Court of Justice in 2001, but it also highlights a culture of looking the other way that still prevents the Catholic Church from effectively addressing the problem of child abuse within its ranks — and apparently even encourages a number of pedophiles to act out their proclivities under the protective cloak of the church.
“Until recently, Father Weiss could depend on the support of his fellow priests. Even though the Archdiocese of Würzburg had to assure the court that Weiss would never be allowed to come into contact with children again, he recently delivered sermons and celebrated mass with other Franconian priests who are friends of his — in services that included altar boys. Despite reports to the police, parents’ complaints and more convictions, Weiss was merely quietly transferred from one place to another…”
Violent “Demonstrations” in Germany
Welt Online wrote on May 2:
“Riot police fought with stone-throwing left-wing militants in Berlin for more than five hours in May Day clashes that stretched into the early pre-dawn hours on Saturday. The rioting in Berlin and Hamburg came after a long day of protests and scattered violence across Germany as thousands vented anger on the Labor Day holiday over the global financial crisis…
“Authorities had braced for violence with tension running high over the economic crisis and rising unemployment. More than 5,000 riot police from across Germany were deployed in Berlin…
“Rioting on the May 1 Labor Day holiday had been on the wane in the past three years… However, the economic crisis has aggravated public anger at the growing disparity in wages. Germany is facing its worst recession since World War Two with the economy forecast to contract by 6 percent in 2009.”
Czech Senate Approves Lisbon Treaty–“No More Concessions for Ireland”
The EUObserver wrote on May 6:
“The Czech Senate on Wednesday (6 May) approved the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon, a move that was greeted with relief in Brussels and that ups the pressure on Ireland, facing its second referendum on the document. Fifty-four of the 79 senators voted in favour of the new institutional rules, which introduce an EU foreign minister, a permanent president of the European Council and widely extend the powers of the European Parliament. The lower house passed the document in February. The vote, which was preceded by six hours of debate, opens up the possibility that the treaty could come into force by the beginning of next year, a timetable pushed by France and Germany…
“For the ratification process to be completed, the treaty still has to be signed by the country’s eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus. He has previously indicated he would not sign it no matter what the outcome of the parliamentary votes. In a reference to Mr Klaus, the commission president said he hoped the remaining ‘constitutional requirements’ would be completed as quickly as possible…
“The Czech move significantly ups the pressure on the Irish government, which is hoping to secure a Yes vote in a referendum in the autumn after Irish voters rejected the treaty last summer. Speaking earlier on Wednesday, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said: ‘We’ve gone as far in our concessions to Ireland as we can…’ He indicated that member states’ ‘solidarity’ would run out if Ireland voted ‘no’ for a second time.
“Germany and Poland have also not finished ratification of the treaty, with the presidents in both countries not having signed the document. Germany’s Horst Koehler is waiting for the outcome of a legal challenge to the treaty, while Poland’s Lech Kaczynski has said he wants to await the outcome of the Irish vote before putting pen to paper.”
The German paper, “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” added the following remarks on or about May 6:
“Now it is up to the other member states of the EU to give the Irish a concrete plan, rather than just promises. The EU cannot wait until the cows come home. To be precise, the treaty must be approved by the end of October when the period of service of the current commission ends. The Irish vote will need to happen by mid-October. If that doesn’t materialize then the reforms will be put off for at least another five years — and that would mean the end of the treaty.”
The German financial daily, “Handelsblatt,” stated the following in its article, on or about May 6:
“Curiously, this breakthrough [in the Czech Republic] is partly due to the financial crisis. When a major storm rattles the global markets it becomes clear just how much security the EU offers its smaller members. The euro has protected Ireland from a powerful speculative attack on its currency. Hungary, Romania and Latvia, meanwhile, have benefited from extensive help from Brussels to deal with their balance of payments problems.
“This successful development does not mean, however, that the EU has won its battle against its opponents. In the forthcoming European elections, parties from both the right and the left are campaigning to push Europe’s emphasis back towards individual nations. They will not fail to criticize EU institutions in any way possible. In this light it is more important than ever that the national political elites stop their polemic tirades against Brussels and stand behind Europe.”
Israel Threatens the EU
Haaretz wrote on April 30:
“A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. The main target of the offensive is EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner…
“Several days ago, the deputy director for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, began calling European ambassadors in Israel regarding the attitude toward the new government… Barak sharply protested the criticism by European ministers and senior EU officials about Israel’s government… Barak concluded by ‘warning’ that Europe’s influence in the area would be undermined by such behavior. ‘Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialog,’ he said. ‘However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the diplomatic process, and both sides will lose’…
“A political source in Jerusalem noted that Ferrero-Waldner was sharply criticized by European officials, and one European foreign minister said in a private conversation that she ‘is causing damage to European foreign policy in her attacks on Israel.'”
War in the Gaza Strip
Press TV wrote on May 2:
“Israeli ground forces have launched an incursion into the Gaza Strip after the military jets bombed ‘tunnels’ beneath the border between the beleaguered sliver and Egypt… Earlier, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza’s southern border with Egypt on Saturday after resistance fighters fired rockets at Israel in response to Israeli bombings of Gaza on Friday, Reuters reported.”
Peres Willing to Hand Over “Holy Sites” to the Vatican
The Irish Times wrote on May 5:
“A week before Pope Benedict arrives on a pilgrimage, President Shimon Peres urged Israel to relinquish control of six Christian holy sites to the Vatican… Interior minister Eli Yishai opposed the idea…
“Israeli and Vatican officials have been arguing about ownership of key holy sites since diplomatic relations were established in 1993 and the dispute is one of the obstacles preventing the upgrading of ties.”
Haaretz added on May 6:
“The Vatican’s longstanding demand that Israel transfer sovereignty of key Christian sites to the Holy See has created dissension among senior officials in Jerusalem. The Interior Ministry has vowed to retain control of the sites, calling relinquishment a ‘sacrifice’ of Israeli sovereignty… The dispute between Jerusalem and the Holy See threatens to cast a pall over next week’s visit to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican officials have made clear they intend to reiterate their demand during the visit that Israel hand over control of the Coenaculum, Army Radio reported.”
Could the Taliban Get the Bomb Before Iran Does?
Haaretz reported on May 2:
“Just when you thought you knew the unthinkable – now there’s this: ‘If the worst, the unthinkable, were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by Al Qaeda and other extremists were to essentially topple the government [of Pakistan] for failure to beat them back,’ Hillary Clinton said at the weekend, ‘then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan’…
“The nightmare scenario of a nuclear Taliban was much in evidence in a Sunday editorial in The New York Times regarding the Pakistani military. ‘And – most frightening of all – if the army cannot or will not defend its own territory against the militants, how can anyone be sure it will protect Pakistan’s 60 or so nuclear weapons?’ the Times asked. Clinton was right, the Times continued, when she warned last week that Pakistan was ‘abdicating to the Taliban.'”
Most Israelis Support Attack on Iran
The Jerusalem Post reported on May 4:
“A vast majority (66%) of Israelis said they would support military action if diplomatic and economic efforts failed to get Iran to stop uranium enrichment, and of that number, 75% would support this action even if the Obama administration were opposed… Regarding the US president, most respondents have an overall favorable opinion of Barack Obama, but are skeptical about his Middle East policies… While a 60% approval rating for Obama among Israeli Jews is high, it is still significantly below the president’s popularity rating among American Jews, where tracking polls conducted through the new president’s first 100 days in office showed that 79% of Jews approved of Obama’s performance so far.”
Russia vs. NATO
The EUObserver wrote on May 1:
“Russia has taken official control of the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a 10-year deal with the two Georgian breakaway regions. The move, made in a formal ceremony at the Kremlin on Thursday (30 April), comes as Nato moves forward with planned exercises in Georgia next week and only a day after Russia and Nato resumed official contacts following the Georgian war last August.
“The European Union alongside Nato and the United States have condemned the development as a breach of the 2008 Russia-Georgia peace agreement brokered by the EU. Under the new deal, Moscow extends its responsibility for patrolling the two republics’ effective borders with Georgia proper.
“The Czech Republic, which currently sits at the helm of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, immediately criticised Russia’s actions… Nato called the move a ‘clear contravention’ of the ceasefire agreement, a characterisation echoed by the US… US State Department spokesman Robert Wood [said] that the deal ‘violates Georgia’s territorial integrity.’
“Russia, for its part, accuses Nato of its own provocation in the region for planning military exercises in Georgia next week. ‘The planned Nato exercises in Georgia, no matter how our Western partners try to convince us otherwise, are an overt provocation,’ said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ‘One cannot carry out exercises in a place where there was just a war,’ he added.”
Will Russia Start Another War?
The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 1:
“Officials in Moscow lashed out bitterly at the West on Thursday, excoriating NATO for expelling two Russians suspected of spying and for pushing ahead with planned military exercises in Georgia. In sharp contrast to the Obama administration’s call for a ‘reset’ of U.S.-Russian relations and the recent thaw in Russian-NATO ties, it was a day of acrimony and veiled threats as Russian officials resorted to some of their toughest talk in weeks.
“Two high-ranking members of Russia’s permanent mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were stripped of their credentials and expelled from Belgium on accusations of espionage… The Russian Foreign Ministry called the expulsions ‘provocative,’ and issued a statement warning NATO to ‘think about the consequences of what happened. We will certainly make our own conclusions from this provocation…’
“Last summer’s war revolved around the fate of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another republic that has broken with Georgia. Moscow has since recognized the two areas as newly formed, independent countries. Only Nicaragua and the Islamic militant faction Hamas joined Russia in recognizing the rebel territories, but an undeterred Moscow continues to treat the two republics as independent, albeit client, states…
“The deals could further destabilize the already fragile cease-fire in the Caucasus, some Russian analysts warned. Skirmishes have already broken out between Georgian and rebel forces. ‘Now if there are any incidents on the cease-fire lines, it will be a direct confrontation between Russia and Georgia,’ Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said. ‘Which, of course, would be a good pretext for resuming the war.'”
Is Russia Trying to Annex Georgia?
Press TV wrote on May 2:
“Russia might take provocative action when NATO war games start in Georgia next week, Georgian ambassador to the US, Batou Koutelia, has said.
“‘When we see at the highest political level, the president of the Russian federation (Dmitry Medvedev) declares that he views these exercises as a provocation directed against Russian interests and they are prepared to act, it raises concerns that there might be some provocations,’ Koutelia told a couple of journalists…
“Georgia launched a military operation in August 2008 against the breakaway region of South Ossetia to bring it back under Georgia’s control. This prompted Russia to send its troops to South Ossetia, where most of the residents hold Russian citizenship. The Georgian diplomat… said this time the Georgian reaction would be different.
“‘If it happens, we are determined to have reactions together with our partners and allies, NATO member countries, United States. And we will have a joint reaction on this,’ he said.”
Die Welt Online reported on May 5:
“Georgia sent tanks to a military base near the capital Tbilisi where it said a rebellion was under way on Tuesday and accused Russia of financing a coup. There was no official reaction from Moscow and it was unclear how many were involved in the uprising at the Mukhrovani base, home to several hundred soldiers, or what its aims were… A Reuters reporter saw around 30 tanks and armoured personnel carriers moving along the main road from Tbilisi towards the base. Police would not allow correspondents to get near the facility…
“Defence Minister David Sikharulidze said the plotters wanted to undermine NATO exercises beginning this week in Georgia… [He]said the commanders of the military base 19 km (12 miles) from the capital had been dismissed and the soldiers ordered to stay in barracks. He told Rustavi 2 television that the rebellion was also ‘an attempt at a military coup.'”
Cigarette Butts Toxic to Marine Life
This week, SDSU posted the following article, dated May 1, on their website:
“Everyone knows smoking cigarettes is hazardous to their health, but a new study shows that cigarette butts can be just as dangerous for the environment. SDSU public health researcher Richard Gersberg evaluated the effects left-over cigarette butts have on marine life and found that the chemicals from just one filtered cigarette butt had the ability to kill fish living in a one-liter bucket of water…
“‘Each year, billions of cigarette butts end up on our beaches, and in our oceans, lakes and rivers,’ said Tom Novotny, chair of CBAG and professor of public health at SDSU. ‘Based on this new research, we believe that cigarettes should be considered toxic waste and new requirements need to be established for how they are disposed.’ According to Novotny’s recent article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an estimated 1.69 billion pounds (845,000 tons) of butts wind up as litter worldwide per year…”
Would you please explain Mark 13:27?
Some have used this passage to teach a secret rapture just before or at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. However, that is not what Christ was referring to in this Scripture.
Mark 13:24-27 discusses the VISIBLE return of Jesus Christ (verse 26), AFTER the Great Tribulation and the heavenly signs (verse 24). Verse 27 reads: “And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven.”
In the past, we discussed at length the false teaching of a secret rapture. For more information, please re-read our Q&A on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
In that Q&A, we also wrote regarding Mark 13:27:
“The Bible does not teach a secret rapture. Rather, God’s Word reveals that Christ will return ONCE, NOT TWICE (Hebrews 9:28). He will come openly, not in secret (Matthew 24:21-31; Revelation 1:7; Acts 1:10-11), and He will END the Great Tribulation at the time of His Coming by establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth (Revelation 11:15-18). Mark 13:24-27 specifically states: ‘But in those days, AFTER that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. THEN they will SEE the Son of Man COMING in the clouds with great power and glory. And THEN [not before then] He will send His angels, and GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT…’
“Christ will come at the time of the LAST TRUMPET when His elect will be resurrected from the dead or changed to immortality (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52). There can only be ONE last trumpet, which means, there can only be ONE return of Christ… He says in Matthew 24:26-27: ‘Therefore if they say to you, “Look, He is in the desert!” do not go out… For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.’ His return will be clear and obvious and visible for all alive. Revelation 1:7 says: ‘Behold, He is coming with clouds, AND EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM…’
“We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that we will meet the returning Christ, at His coming, in the air. This is not referring to the third heaven, but to the atmosphere of our earth, which has air and clouds. We read that we will be with Christ from that time on. We read that Christ will descend on that same day to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4), and we will be with Him (Zechariah 14:5)… Christ’s disciples will meet Christ in the air and will accompany Him back to earth. The angels had told the apostles that Christ would come back in the same manner as He had left them. They were on the Mount of Olives, and He left them visibly on a cloud (Acts 1:9-11)… Christ GATHERS His elect when He returns VISIBLY (compare again Mark 13:24-27).”
But what is meant, then, by Christ’s statement in Mark 13:27 that the angels will gather the elect “from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven”? Literally, it says: “… from the end of earth to the end of heaven.” Notice the wording of Christ’s statement in the parallel passage, in Matthew 24:31: “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
The reference to the “four winds” (as in Mark 13:27) can be found throughout the Bible. In Daniel 7:2 we read that Daniel saw in a vision that “the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” In Daniel 8:8, he describes a vision of four notable horns or generals, coming up “toward the four winds of heaven.” In Zechariah 2:6, we read that the inhabitants of Jerusalem who were scattered into the “land of the north” had been “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven,” and in Jeremiah 49:36 we read that God will punish Elam or modern Persia (Iran) by bringing “the four winds From the four quarters of heaven, And scatter them toward all those winds; There shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go.” Finally, we read in Revelation 7:1 that John sees in a vision “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.”
The reference to the four winds, then, is meant to convey global effects and dimensions. The same is true regarding the additional emphasis that the elect would be gathered from “the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”
A similar wording is used in Deuteronomy 4:32, where we read: “For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard.”
Notice how modern translators render the phraseology in Matthew 24:31:
Richard Francis Weymouth, The New Testament in Modern Speech, writes: “…from north, south, east and west, from one extremity of the earth to the other.” Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People, states: “…from the four points of the compass, from one end of the sky to the other…” E.V. Rieu, The Four Gospels, renders it this way: “…from one horizon to the other…”
Commentaries seem to agree that Christ’s reference to “the four winds” and “from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven” describes a worldwide, all-encompassing gathering of the elect.
The New Bible Commentary:Revised states that the elect will be gathered “from all over.” The commentary quotes Deuteronomy 30:4, stating: “If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.”
The Broadman Bible Commentary adds in volume 8, page 220, that Christ’s coming is “in judgment… [and] to gather his elect from all parts of the world.” It adds on page 377 that “‘the four winds’ here means simply the four directions or points of the compass. Similarly, ‘from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven’ must mean ‘from everywhere,’ though the first phrase may refer particularly to all the land mass east of Palestine, and the second to the horizons of the west, where lay the blue waters of the Mediterranean.”
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible gives the following additional explanation to Matthew 24:31:
“‘From the four winds’ – That is, from the four quarters of the globe – east, west, north, and south. The Jews expressed those quarters by the winds blowing from them… ‘From one end of heaven, etc.’ – Mark says [in Mark 13:27], from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. The expression denotes that they shall be gathered from all parts of the earth… The word ‘heaven’ is used here to denote the ‘visible’ heavens or the sky, meaning that through ‘the whole world’ he would gather them.”
How and why will the angels gather Christ’s elect from “everywhere”?
Consider that some converted Christians will be at the place of safety when Christ returns (compare Revelation 12:14; 3:10). But this is not true for everybody. Others will have survived the Great Tribulation in their respective localities, but some, if not many, will have been, as captives, brought to all kinds of places all over the world (compare Deuteronomy 28:64-68). Others, over the millennia, died in Christ, and they were buried in diverse places. When Christ returns, they will hear His voice and be resurrected to immortality, coming out of their graves (John 5:28-29), or they will be changed to immortality (if they are still alive and Christ’s Spirit dwells in them, 1 Corinthians 15:50-52). Then, the angels of God will gather all of them (Psalm 50:5) and bring them to Christ to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Christ and His saints will then descend together to the Mount of Olives to begin to rule in the KINGDOM OF GOD here on earth (Zechariah 14:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 14-15; Daniel 7:14, 22, 27; Revelation 5:10; 20:4).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “The Swine Flu–What They Don’t Tell You!” (A similar program was also posted, in the German language, on YouTube and www.aufpostenstehen.de, titled, “Die Schweinegrippe–was man uns nicht sagt.”)
In the program, Norbert Link is asking the following questions: Where exactly did the swine flu start, and why? Is it really safe to eat pork? If so, why do Russia, South Korea and Serbia prohibit the import of pork from the USA and Mexico, and why do Egypt, Jordan and Iraq slaughter their pigs? How does the swine flu pandemic affect the US economy? And how is the US doing in combating the virus of an ever-increasing recession?
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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