To Heal the Sick
On July 31, 2010, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “To Heal the Sick.”
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 Enemy Within
“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte [sic] for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Abraham Lincoln spoke these words in 1838 and they were never more true than they are today. The true cause of the demise of the United States would not be from without, but from within. The prophecies of the Bible foretold this before President Lincoln did and even before there was a country called the United States (“The Fall and Rise of Britain and America” explains this in more detail). God knew that His people would depart from Him even though He had blessed them more than all other peoples of the world. They would not follow His ways and would stray from His Word as they had before. Because of these problems inside the country, God will use a foreign power to destroy it from the outside as well, just as He has done in the past with the ancient houses of Israel and Judah.
Now we see this coming to fruition and culminating in our generation. This country is imploding because of a departure from Godly values as it commits moral suicide. “We the people” have forsaken God and only care about our vain and selfish pursuits (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Presently we reap the consequences of this behavior, a way of life that we are not meant to live and that is no good for us or those around us. In doing this we have become our own worst enemy and will accomplish what no alliance, country or individual has been able to do.
As Christians we have “discerned the signs of the times” and know that we are living in the last days. “[K]nowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). Do we hear the call to action?
We cannot be a part of the problem. We cannot be the reason why God will allow impending events to happen. We must proceed with a life of repenting and setting an example of what to do as well as being a witness for those around us. It is a huge responsibility that God has placed on each and everyone of us, but He knows that we are up to the task!
While “White House spokesman Robert Gibbs condemned the release of classified documents on the Afghanistan war, calling it a ‘breach of federal law’ that is the subject of ‘an ongoing investigation,'” (New York Times, July 26, 2010), Der Spiegel and other papers concluded that the documents “indicate that, after almost nine years of war, a victory in Hindu Kush looks farther away than ever.” In addition, Admiral Mullen stated that “more NATO troops will die in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer.” These developments show that Presidents Bush and Obama, as well as their international allies, have been pursuing a totally wrong course of action in regard to Afghanistan.
In addition, according to the former CIA Director Michael Hayden, military action against Iran is becoming “more likely,” and rumors are surfacing that Israel might attack Lebanon. How accurately has Jesus Christ announced, well in advance, the signs of our times: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars… For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… All these are the beginning of sorrows…”” (Matthew 24:6-8).
While Germany and France begin to patch up their differences; Great Britain antagonizes Germany and France over Turkey; and Europe’s economic prospects are brightening (with perhaps some interesting developments leading to a prophesied “two-speed” Europe); the future of the USA looks grim; and revelations that much of the U.S. federal bail-out money went to foreign banks and much of U.S. monetary help for Iraq and Afghanistan went awry, will not restore any confidence in US leadership.
We are reporting on police misconduct in the USA, as well as the death toll during Germany’s Love Parade and the angry outcry against a commentary by a former German public TV announcer who was comparing the Love Parade with God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah. We are focusing on a new sex scandal of the Catholic Church in Italy; and we explain that “the euro coins issued by the Holy See will now be used on the streets of the Vatican City.”
We are writing about a remarkable reconciliation between the Lutheran and the Mennonite or Anabaptist Churches in Europe; controversial comments by Director Oliver Stone about, amongst other things, Iran, Venezuela, Hitler, the Holocaust and the “Jewish domination of the US media”; and conclude with an article reporting on “the world’s record hailstone,” preparing us for worse things to come (compare Revelation 8:7; 11:19; 16:21).
This Week in the News
“Afghan War Will Get Worse”
Reuters reported on July 25:
“More NATO troops will die in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer… The remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on a visit to the country, came as the Taliban said they were holding captive one of two U.S. servicemen who strayed into insurgent territory, and that the other had been killed. It also comes less than a week since a major international conference in Kabul agreed that the Afghan government should aim to take responsibility for security in all parts of the country by 2014…
“Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest of the 9-year war as thousands of extra U.S. troops, dispatched by President Barack Obama in December, step up their campaign to drive insurgents out of their traditional heartland in the south. Last month was the deadliest for foreign troops since 2001, with more than 100 killed, and civilian deaths have also risen as ordinary Afghans are increasingly caught in the crossfire…”
Der Spiegel Online reported on July 25:
“In an unprecedented development, close to 92,000 classified documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan have been leaked. Spiegel, the New York Times and the Guardian have analyzed the raft of mostly classified documents. The war logs expose the true scale of the Western military deployment…
“The documents’ release comes at a time when calls for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are growing — even in America… Nearly nine years after the start of the war, they [the documents] paint a gloomy picture. They portray Afghan security forces as the hapless victims of Taliban attacks. They also offer a conflicting impression of the deployment of drones, noting that America’s miracle weapons are also entirely vulnerable.
“And they show that the war in northern Afghanistan, where German troops are stationed, is becoming increasingly perilous. The number of warnings about possible Taliban attacks in the region — fuelled by support from Pakistan — has increased dramatically in the past year…
“The newly emerged documents… convey an image of Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, that is still devastating because they depict a German military that stumbled into the conflict with great naiveté…
“The US Department of Defense accident reports show that system failures, computer glitches and human errors are common occurrences during drone missions. It seems that serious problems were ignored…
“The documents clearly show that the Pakistani intelligence agency is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan. The war against the Afghan security forces, the Americans and their ISAF allies is still being conducted from Pakistan. The country is an important safe haven for enemy forces — and serves as a base for issuing their deployment. New recruits to the Taliban stream across the Pakistan-Afghan border, including feared foreign fighters — among them Arabs, Chechnyans, Uzbekis, Uighurs and even European Islamists…
“One thing… is certain. These thousands of secret documents indicate that, after almost nine years of war, a victory in Hindu Kush looks farther away than ever.”
Der Spiegel added on July 28:
“The publication of the Afghanistan war logs by WikiLeaks has sparked a new debate about Germany’s involvement in the conflict. The Social Democrats are threatening to withhold support for an extension of the German mission’s mandate if the government does not provide answers about alleged wrongdoings revealed in the secret reports…
“Within the military… the war logs appear to be controversial. High-ranking former Bundeswehr officers… were divided over the wisdom of publishing the documents, with some praising the act and others warning of the threat to the current mission…
“Former Brigadier General Klaus Reinhardt did not see the documents as endangering troops, as the reports only go up until 2009… Nevertheless he called the publication of the reports ‘irresponsible.’ The individuals who placed the documents on the Internet ‘want to influence the opinion of the general public,’ he said. It is unclear that there is a need for such an effort in Germany: Surveys show that a majority of Germans oppose the mission in Afghanistan.”
Military Action Against Iran “More Likely”?
The Associated Press reported on July 25:
“A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program. Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush… tells CNN’s State of the Union that such action now ‘seems inexorable’… Hayden also called homegrown terrorism ‘a devil of a problem’ and the most serious threat facing American citizens… Hayden said that the next step the intelligence community would take to combat homegrown terrorists would inevitably begin to infringe on the privacy of Americans, and that was still too steep of a price to pay…
“On Saturday, several key Iranian officials estimated that the United States and Israel would not dare attempt a military strike of Iran’s nuclear sites, adding that they were confident that Iranian forces would easily repel such an attempt, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported… Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that Israel and the United States would never strike Iran…
“Also Saturday, a former naval chief in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said his country has set aside 100 military vessels to confront each U.S. warship that poses a threat. General Morteza Saffari is quoted by the conservative weekly Panjereh Saturday as saying that troops aboard U.S. warships ‘are morsels for Iran to target in the event of any American threat against Iran.'”
Will Israel Attack Lebanon?
A-7 News reported on July 27:
“Israel will consider Lebanese government buildings and bases a target if Hizbullah starts up another war against Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday… In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post… Barak added, ‘… We’ll see the government of Lebanon responsible for what happens, and for what happens within its government, its body politic, and its arsenal of munitions. And we will see it as… legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to the Hizbullah.’
“Barak also warned the United States ‘that the walls between the Lebanese armed forces and Hizbullah—it’s quite porous. And whatever you give the Lebanese armed forces might end up in the hands of Hizbullah, be it technology or weapons or whatever.’ The Obama administration recently announced it giving the Beirut government $100 million in military aid.”
France and Germany Patch Up Disagreements
The EUObserver wrote on July 22:
“France and Germany have put forward a proposal that would enable greater political sanctions to be imposed on states that repeatedly break the EU’s budgetary rules, but without the need for an immediate EU treaty change… Wednesday’s letter (21 July) came after Wolfgang Schaeuble became the first German finance minister in recent times to attend a French cabinet meeting, a further sign that the two sides are keen to patch up their recent disagreements on how best to tackle Greece’s debt crisis and the ensuing loss of confidence in the eurozone as a whole.”
Britain “Alienates France and Germany” Over Turkey
Deutsche Welle reported on July 28:
“Large, poor and mysterious: Turkey is viewed with a certain amount of skepticism by many within the European Union. Turkey has a greater land mass than France, a population as large as Germany and is as poor as Romania. Yet it is the third point, the idea of Turkey being different or alien, that sticks. The unspoken sentiment is that Turkey is just not like the rest of the European club… the German government does not support Turkey becoming a full member of the EU and instead promotes the idea of a ‘privileged partnership’… Merkel’s counterpart in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has been more direct in his approach. ‘I don’t think that Turkey has a place in the EU. On this question, my opinion has not changed,’ he said…
“The negative views from France and Germany contrast strongly with the impassioned rhetoric of British Prime Minister David Cameron during his recent trip to Ankara. He dubbed himself Turkey’s ‘strongest possible advocate for EU membership’ and said he was ‘angry’ at the slow pace of the accession talks… Whatever Cameron’s motivation, his words in Turkey look unlikely to move the accession negotiations along much faster. Turkey still has a long way to go before its laws and values fit in with the European standard. In fact things are moving so slowly, Turkey’s bid is likely to be overtaken by those of Croatia and Iceland…”
“Europe’s Prospects Brighten as U.S. Fades”
Reuters reported on July 25:
“German business confidence is soaring while U.S. consumer sentiment sinks. Britain’s second-quarter economic growth was almost twice as fast as expected, the strongest in four years. Meanwhile, economists have steadily marked down forecasts for Friday’s U.S. gross domestic product report… The same day Britain released its robust growth reading, the Ifo economic think tank reported German business sentiment jumped by a record margin in July to reach its highest level in three years… In contrast, U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in July…
“The European strength has added a new wrinkle to the transatlantic debate over whether governments ought to rein in spending now or wait until the recovery is more firmly established… In the United States, the second half of the year looks weaker because government spending programs are winding down, businesses have already replenished inventories and a tax credit that boosted housing demand expired.”
Good Prospects for Ireland
Sky News reported on July 24:
“The outlook for Ireland is markedly brighter than for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – the heavily-indebted countries which, with Ireland, are collectively nicknamed PIIGS.
“Ernst & Young’s quarterly eurozone forecast says Ireland will have the greatest recovery rate next year of the 16 countries which use the European single currency.
“The report says Ireland will jump from its current 15th to second position in terms of GDP growth in 2011 at 2.8%.”
Germany Pushes Ahead…
The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 28:
“Germany’s export surge has placed it to the fore of the euro-zone’s recovery… The Berlin-based DIW economic research institute estimated Wednesday that Germany has posted the highest growth in the second quarter in the 16-member euro zone, powering ahead by 1.1% from the previous quarter.”
Coming–a Two-Speed Europe?
The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 28:
“When it comes to trouncing market expectations, Europe has the U.S. well beaten at the moment… it’s little short of astonishing in Europe, 2010. After all, not so long ago the… end of the single currency was openly discussed, and not only by those who’d always hated the very idea of the euro. Naturally the ‘told you sos’ from veteran euro skeptics were deafening. Now we can contrast this run of pleasant surprises with the U.S., where downside economic shocks have been more common over the same period…
“The recent upward surprises in economic surveys were mainly observed in ‘core’ euro-zone countries. For example, as BNP said, the rise in the euro-zone ‘flash’ manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index in July was led by Germany. The expectation-busting services survey was also driven by strong data for Germany and France.
“’This supports our long-held view that we will continue to see a two-speed euro area, with notable outperformance by countries like Germany, which continues to benefit from the strength of its manufacturing sector,’ said BNP.
“The euro zone may have been stabilized, but the question of how we will ever see a ‘one speed euro area’ under current currency arrangement remains unanswered. Too much supposedly ‘euro-zone’ success is really down to German manufacturing and exporting, which is doing the bloc’s heavy lifting both literally and figuratively.”
For more information on what is prophesied in this regard, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
US Bail Out Went to Foreign Banks
The Des Moines Register and USA Today reported on July 26:
“Goldman Sachs sent $4.3 billion in federal tax money to 32 entities, including many overseas banks, hedge funds and pensions, according to information made public Friday night… Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia… said, ‘I hope it’s as simple as taxpayers deserve to know what happened to their money… We thought originally we were bailing out AIG. Then later on … we learned that the money flowed through AIG to a few big banks, and now we know that the money went from these few big banks to dozens of financial institutions all around the world… Goldman Sachs received $5.55 billion from the government in [the] fall of 2008 as payment for then-worthless securities it held in AIG…
“Overall, Goldman Sachs received a $12.9 billion payout from the government’s bailout of AIG, which was at one time the world’s largest insurance company. Goldman Sachs also revealed to the Senate Finance Committee that it would have received $2.3 billion if AIG had gone under. Other large financial institutions, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, sold Goldman Sachs protection in the case of AIG’s collapse. Those institutions did not have to pay Goldman Sachs after the government stepped in with tax money…
“AIG received the bailout of $85 billion at the discretion of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which was led at the time by Timothy Geithner. He now is U.S. treasury secretary. ‘I think it proves that he knew a lot more at the time than he told,’ Grassley said. ‘And he surely knew where this money was going to go. If he didn’t, he should have known before they let the money out of their bank up there.'”
US Idle “Attempts” in Iraq and Afghanistan
The Associated Press reported on July 27:
“A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.
“The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It’s cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose… The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction accused the Defense Department of lax oversight and weak controls, though not fraud… The Pentagon has repeatedly come under fire for apparent mismanagement of the reconstruction effort — as have Iraqi officials themselves.
“Seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, electricity service is spotty, with generation capacity falling far short of demand. Fuel shortages are common and unemployment remains high, a testament to the country’s inability to create new jobs or attract foreign investors.
“Complaints surfaced from the start of the war in 2003, when soldiers failed to secure banks, armories and other facilities against looters. Since then the allegations have only multiplied, including investigations of fraud, awarding of contracts without the required government bidding process and allowing contractors to charge exorbitant fees with little oversight, or oversight that came too late…
“The failure to properly manage billions in reconstruction funds has also hobbled the troubled U.S.-led effort to rebuild Afghanistan. About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.
“The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.
“An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.
“As an example of the problems, a $100 million diesel-fueled power plant was built with the goal of delivering electricity to more than 500,000 residents of the capital, Kabul. The plant’s costs tripled to $305 million as construction lagged a year behind schedule. The plant now often sits idle because the Afghans were able to import cheaper power from neighboring Uzbekistan before the plant came online.”
America–The Land of the Free
The Washington Post wrote on July 26:
“Courts have long ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to take photographs in public places. Even after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies have reiterated that right in official policies.
“But in practice, those rules don’t always filter down to police officers and security guards who continue to restrict photographers, often citing authority they don’t have. Almost nine years after the terrorist attacks, which ratcheted up security at government properties and transportation hubs, anyone photographing federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports runs the risk of being seen as a potential terrorist…
“In the past month… a retired oceanographer said he was threatened with arrest for snapping pictures of a federal courthouse in Silver Spring, and an Alexandria man was briefly detained for photographing police making a traffic stop in Georgetown…
“Erin McCann of the District elicited laughter at a congressional hearing last fall when she described an encounter with an FPS officer at the Transportation Department headquarters in Southeast. The officer told her it was illegal to photograph federal buildings. When McCann asked what law stated that, the officer cited Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Title 18 is the name of the entire body of U.S. criminal law.”
Death at Germany’s “Love Parade”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 26:
“The deaths of 19 people at the Love Parade in Duisburg on Saturday was an accident waiting to happen, German newspaper commentators wrote on Monday. They ask why there was only one entrance — via a railway tunnel — for the mass event, and say the festival area was far too small for the estimated 1.4 million people crammed into it on Saturday.
“German prosecutors have opened an investigation into the tragedy. As well as the deaths, a total of 342 people were injured. The dead, aged between 20 and 40, included six foreigners, from Spain, Bosnia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy and China. They were killed when panic broke out as thousands of people were pushing through a tunnel that led onto a ramp into the techno festival grounds… the site was only approved for a maximum of 250,000 revelers, a far lower figure than the 1.4 million people that organizers reported… Newspapers were full of chilling eyewitness accounts of the panic and the horror of seeing friends trampled and crushed to death…
“Commenting on the tragedy on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, ‘The young people came to celebrate and instead there are dead and injured. I am horrified by the suffering and the pain.’ Pope Benedict XVI also expressed his sadness over the deaths. The event’s organizers announced on Sunday that there would be no future Love Parade events.
“While some media commentators say there should be no premature verdicts on who should be held responsible, many editorials in Monday’s newspapers say the organizers made fatal errors that could have been avoided…
“The mass-circulation tabloid Bild writes: ‘After a catastrophe like the one in Duisburg, one question is always asked: Could this have been prevented? And often the answer is: No, the organizers could never have foreseen this. But in Duisburg the situation is completely different. Seldom have so many experts warned so clearly of the risks of holding such a mass event on a site that was completely unsuitable. Why didn’t someone do something? Because those responsible in the cash-strapped industrial city of Duisburg thought that a couple of positive headlines were more important than the safety of the participants?…’
“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘The organizers’ decision never to hold a Love Parade again is the only right one…'”
Eva Herrman Says It As It Is
Former announcer of the first German public TV station ARD, Eva Herrmann, wrote an editorial which was circulated on the Internet by the publishing house, Kopp. Her editorial was met with a condemnatory outcry and a nearly universal rejection. Herrmann wrote, according to newsblitz and Bild Online, dated July 25:
“‘This “peaceful feast of happy young people” is in reality a gigantic drug-, alcohol- and sex orgy, which was organized, permitted and in part financed by the city of Duisburg… When one looks at pictures of the Love Parade from previous years, one may think of witnessing the production of a movie about the last days, as they are described in the Bible.’ She continued that the Love Parade had become like Sodom and Gomorrah, with catastrophic consequences. Eventually, ‘other powers had again intervened to bring an end to this shameless conduct.'”
Bild Online wrote that Hermann clarified that she did not want to condemn the victims who died in the tragedy. She explained that her statements were directed at the Love Parade in general.
New Catholic Sex Scandal in Italy
Daily Mail reported on July 23:
“A gay priest sex scandal has rocked the Catholic Church in Italy today after a weekly news magazine released details of a shock investigation it had carried out. Using hidden cameras, a journalist from Panorama magazine – owned by Italian Prime Minister and media baron Silvio Berlusconi – filmed three priests as they attended gay nightspots and had casual sex… The article describes how the reporter was assisted by a gay ‘accomplice’ as they ‘gate-crashed the wild nights of a number of priests in Rome who live a surprising double-life…'”
“Vatican Puts its Euro Coins into Circulation”
The EUObserver wrote on July 23:
“After years of serving as items for collectors, the euro coins issued by the Holy See will now be used on the streets of the Vatican City. The first is a 50-cent coin bearing the image of Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican adopted the currency of the eurozone in 2002, but its coins could rarely be found in the free circulation. The initial series of the coins with a value amount of €310,400, which featured Pope John Paul II, were issued only in collector sets… coins were [now] being given out two at a time as change at the Vatican grocery store, post office and gas station…
“Under the monetary agreement between the EU and the Vatican reached in December 2009, the Holy See had to increase the number of its own coins in the circulation. The Vatican City must circulate at least 51 percent of its currency at face value and it was allowed to more than double the amount of euro coins it can issue to €2.3 million annually.
“According to the previous agreement between the Vatican City State and Italy from December 2000, the Vatican could issue coins with a maximum annual face value of a total of €670,000, and additional coins to the tune of €201,000 if the Holy See were vacant.”
Lutherans and Mennonites (Anabaptists) Reconcile
Deutsche Welle reported on July 27:
“Lutherans reconcile with Mennonites 500 years after bloody persecution… The bloody oppression of the Mennonite Free Church in the 16th century is one of the darkest chapters in European history. This past week, Lutherans issued an official apology for the cruel persecution of the Anabaptists – and both parties celebrated their reconciliation in a very moving ceremony… The Mennonite Free Church is the main branch of the descendants of the Christian Baptist movement. Mennonites are known as Anabaptists because they only baptise adults and not underage children.
“For church reformer Martin Luther, Mennonites were schismatic heretics who denied children access to the Christian community. Luther expressed his rejection of the Anabaptists in a letter of denomination which was published in the southern German city of Augsburg, and is known as the Augsburg Confession of 1530. Even today, Lutheran pastors are ordained using parts of this text.
“The Baptists, who advocated church reforms even more radical than those proposed by Martin Luther or Ulrich Zwingli, were persecuted by both the Catholics and the Protestants and had to flee for their lives. Nevertheless, thousands were killed. Today, the Free Church has more than one million members all over the world, mostly in the United States and Canada. About 60,000 members live in Europe. The Mennonites disapprove of ecclesiastic hierarchies and their local churches are rather autonomous.
“Early on, they decided to raise their voice against every act of war and violence and live according to a ‘total renunciation of force.’ They are regarded as one of the historical peace churches… In the reconciliation ceremony during the 11th Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Stuttgart this past week, representatives of the Lutheran church explicitly asked ‘God and our Mennonite sisters and brothers for forgiveness for the harm that our ancestors have brought upon the Anabaptists.'”
First Mel Gibson–Now Oliver Stone
Newsbuster.org reported on July 25:
“Director Oliver Stone belittled the Holocaust during a shocking interview with the Sunday Times today, claiming that America’s focus on the Jewish massacre was a product of the ‘Jewish domination of the media.’ The director also defended Hitler and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and railed against the ‘powerful lobby’ of Jews in America… ‘Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support,’ Stone told [Sunday Times] reporter Camilla Long…”
Stone spoke also about the “Jewish domination of the media,” stating: “‘There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has [destroyed] United States foreign policy for years’… While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.
“On ABC’s Good Morning America… the director told anchor George Stephanopoulos that he ‘absolutely’ believes Chavez is a good person, and claimed that there was… ‘no pattern of censorship in this country [Venezuela].’ Stone also said that if the U.S. pursued sanctions against Iran, ‘it’s going to be like North Vietnam again.'”
Newsmax added on July 26:
“Director Oliver Stone declared in an interview that America’s focus on the Holocaust is due to ‘Jewish domination of the media,’ and said Jews are ‘the most powerful lobby in Washington’… Britain’s Telegraph newspaper called [the interview] ‘poisonous rubbish,’ pointing out: ‘Far more Russians died in World War II than people from any other nation, but no individual group was targeted specifically for destruction like the Jews, and no group suffered as much proportionally to their size.’
“Earlier this year, Stone told a panel of TV critics that Hitler ‘is an easy scapegoat throughout history and it’s been used cheaply… He also praised ruthless Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, saying ‘he fought the German war machine more than any person.’”
It is indeed shocking to read some of Oliver Stone’s comments, especially regarding Iran, Chavez and the Holocaust. On the other hand, it IS true that Hitler DID have a lot of support from some German, American and British industrialists, including initially from some Jewish bankers, as well as from the Catholic Church.
“World’s Record Hailstone”
Keloland reported on July 27:
“It was Friday afternoon when a line of thunderstorms fired up in central South Dakota. High winds, heavy rains and even a possible tornado rolled through the town of Vivian. But now days later, a hailstone picked up just moments after the storm is getting worldwide attention.
“The damage is proof that it wasn’t a typical South Dakota thunderstorm. Holes were punched through the top of buildings, and Les Scott will never forget what it sounded like… the hailstone weighed in at 1.9375 pounds. ‘Officially, where records have been kept, this will be the U.S. record and world record for weight…,’ Mike Fowle of the National Weather Service said… [it] was [also] measured just a few days ago at 18 and a half inches. That is another world record number…
“As impressive as the size and weight are, it may have topped two pounds when it fell from the sky…it likely melted a bit…”
Acts 2:44 describes the beginning of the Church of God, and it states that everyone “had all things in common.” How does this apply, today?
As other Scriptures show, this event was unique to that time in the building of the Church of God; however, this example also reveals the type of commitment that may be needed when the necessity arises.
The context of this account happened surrounding the Day of Pentecost and then the immediate period of time subsequent—perhaps several weeks and months.
Let’s first take a look at the account as recorded in Acts 2:42-47:
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart…”
The fact that this sharing attitude was sustained for some period of time is borne out in another account, as found in Acts 4:32-35:
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”
In verses 36-37 of Acts 4, the specific example of the generosity of Joses (Barnabas) is given. Then, in Acts 5:1-11, the deceptive actions of Ananias and Sapphira are recounted. In both examples, these people were free to make the choice to contribute their possessions. Note what Peter stated to Ananias, “‘While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?” (Acts 5:4).
Understand that many who were called had assembled in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost. While some obviously lived in that area, many did not—that included the apostles and many of those disciples who had followed Jesus (compare Acts 1:15). In fact, it is evident that these early disciples had already made great personal sacrifices: “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You…’” (Matthew 19:27).
The example of such whole-hearted commitment to God is not without precedent: “And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying ‘This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: “Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD…”’” (Exodus 35:4-5).
This command from God was for the making of the Tabernacle, and the children of Israel gave abundantly and willingly—to such an extent that Moses had to stop them:
“So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.’ And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—INDEED TOO MUCH” (Exodus 36:6-7).
When Solomon prepared and dedicated the Temple of God, the offerings were overwhelming, “…because the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to receive the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings” (1 Kings 8:64).
Likewise, in the accounts of the restorations led by Hezekiah, Josiah and later on by Ezra and Nehemiah, the people willingly gave special offerings.
That special period that followed the founding of the New Testament Church of God drew to a close following the death of Stephen (compare Acts 7). “…At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).
Christianity was destined to spread, and as this way of life was preached to both Jews and Gentiles, the Church of God was administered accordingly.
When Paul confronted the Corinthians for their wrong behavior regarding observing the Passover service, he makes this statement: “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in…?” (1 Corinthians 11:22). In the context, he even addresses those who are poor in contrast to those who were not. However, his focus was the way all should behave when assembling as the Church of God in order to properly keep the Passover.
Paul, in bringing the gospel to the Thessalonians, worked: “…nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us” (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9).
Carefully note the next verses in Paul’s letter: “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
In this same context, Paul teaches: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).
Also, Paul instructs: ”…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
We see, then, that following the remarkable establishment of the Church of God, the necessity was for individuals to set the right kind of examples—both within the church and to those outside (compare Galatians 6:10). They were to work and to provide for their own needs:
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
The strength of the Church of God is that its members live as examples, as ambassadors of Christ. That includes having “willing hearts” for good works and service to others. While the current situation does not necessitate that we have all things in common in the same manner as mentioned in Acts, there indeed will arise a time when the things we have will be left behind. Days are coming in which we, as brethren, will be persecuted and will have to rely on one another— not so unlike that beginning history of God’s Church following Pentecost.
We must never lose sight of the unequaled example of both God the Father and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, when it comes to their willingness to give what they have for us:
“‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Our new booklet, “The Authority of the Bible,” was posted on the Web. Hard copies were sent out this week.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, Watch Europe!” Germany is once again Europe’s “economic motor”–the “number one.” Why? German business confidence reached its highest monthly gain since German reunification 20 years ago. Why? The confidence in the euro has been restored. Why? Most German economic giants flee Wall Street. Why? Could it be that a little-known prophecy in the book of Habakkuk holds a key as to “why”?
A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Sex in der Bibel, Teil 3” [“Sex in the Bible, Part 3”].
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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