The Life We Now Live
On December 25, 2010, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The Life We Now Live.”
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 Slippery Slope of Compromise
by Rene Messier (Canada)
It is amazing how clever Satan is when he wants true Christians to start compromising with any of God’s laws or statutes. He is very astute in facilitating convincing “justifications” in one’s mind. Take for example the doctrinal changes in the Worldwide Church of God, to which many true Christians belonged at one time. Did the new administration, which took over after the former human leader’s death, boldly come out and admit that they wanted to do away with the Sabbath, the Holy Days, tithing, or the distinction between clean and unclean meats? No; rather, they started by “adjusting” what seemed to be unimportant or insignificant teachings to some–for instance, whether or not we are already born again in this life; whether we need to proclaim the gospel of Christ or just about Christ; or whether God is a Family or just has a Family.
In their booklet “God Is,” they gradually abolished the true understanding that the Holy Spirit is not God or a person of the Godhead, but rather the power of God the Father and Jesus Christ, enabling them to create and accomplish things both in the spiritual and physical realm. First, they used the Greek word “hypostasis” for God, saying that God consists of three “hypostases.” The adoption of this philosophical term was just the first step in reaching the point of teaching the wrong orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. “Hypostasis” was not “supposed” to convey the meaning of a Person—just a mode of being—but in the third printing of their booklet, the word “hypostasis” was substituted with the word “person.” Now they had fully embraced the pagan belief of the Trinity—“God being One Person in Three Persons”–something which they had apparently planned to do from the outset.
These changes were introduced subtly. Unfortunately, many were fooled and deceived, and like the proverbial dead fish or the dumb sheep, they were floating along with the changes and followed the false shepherds to the slaughter. Soon, all flood gates were open and now, one would not recognize as biblically correct most, if not all of the teachings of today’s Worldwide Church of God, since their changed beliefs are based on pagan traditions and superstitions, rather than the Bible.
What Satan was looking for was the proverbial chink in the armor–the one weak spot which makes a soldier vulnerable on the battlefield. For instance, the area around the shoulder is such a weak spot. Overlaps in the armor allowed for movements of the arms, but a good archer could successfully shoot an arrow into the unprotected area. The inflicted wounds were usually not fatal, but they rendered a fighting soldier ineffective for battle and if not tended to, he could bleed to death, if the arrow had pierced an artery.
In 2003, while attending the Feast of Tabernacles in England, my wife and I visited Warwick Castle. We noticed an archer on the pathway up to the castle. He was shooting arrows at a stuffed target, which had the form of a man. The target was some sixty to seventy feet away, but the archer shot the arrows with an amazing degree of accuracy. He explained that in the ancient English army bowmen were trained from the age of six or seven years old. By the age of adulthood, they had become very accurate in shooting arrows into the unprotected spots of enemy soldiers. Because of their intensive training, they could cause a lot of injuries in battle, and they could even help the defeat of their enemy in times of war.
Satan is highly skilled in the “art” of warfare. He is a powerful archer, who is able to shoot his arrows precisely into whatever small chink in our armor he might detect. It is very important that we are completely and thoroughly protected by the whole armor of God (compare Ephesians 6:10-17).
Satan is very subtle, as Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11: “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
The church at the time of Paul was aware of Satan’s devices, understanding that one of them was compromise. Compromise usually starts in small areas–with little white lies and with becoming less diligent than one ought to be, for instance in the area of tithing faithfully, promptly and properly, or starting to engage in improper entertainment or do some “chores” on the Sabbath. These might be looked upon as “small” leaks in a dam, but they can cause insurmountable damage and may jeopardize one’s very salvation.
Compromise is like a small spark. Unless it is extinguished right away, it may develop into a roaring and destructive fire, which might soon be burning out of control. The Worldwide Church of God started their doctrinal apostasy with seemingly small insignificant “semantic” changes—but in fact, Satan had begun to shoot his arrows into unprotected areas of many of God’s people. We must never think that something similar could not happen today again.
Unless we repent of any wrong course of action and change our way of thinking, the slippery slope of compromise will ultimately lead to our demise. We must take due diligence to ensure that we are not caught up in compromise and that our spiritual armor has no chinks, so that Satan’s arrows cannot cause us any spiritual injury.
In this issue, we report on worldwide “crazy” weather conditions; President Obama’s “dangerous strategy” regarding WikiLeaks; the repeal of America’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; and the U.S. ratification of the START treaty with Russia.
While many U.S. cities and some states are facing the distinct possibility of having to declare bankruptcy, Europe is battling with its own financial problems.
However, it is felt that the EU is not facing the same grim prospects as the USA, and while it is grudgingly admitted that Europe needs Germany, Germany and France block Bulgaria and Romania from joining Europe’s Schengen area; Britain is becoming more and more the “odd man out”; and the unpopular and lost Afghan war continues to receive negative media coverage in Germany.
A surprisingly strong stance by Germany’s parliamentary leader, pertaining to the right of homosexuals to adopt children, is angering liberals, and Britain is setting a dangerous precedence of persecuting Christians who happen to disagree with the homosexual lifestyle.
We are focusing on the terrible dictatorship in Belarus; the unsettling developments in the Middle East; and the endeavors of Europe’s far right to fight Islam. We are reporting on Japan’s dynamic defense policy; on frightening “advances” in the name of science; and on the Catholic Church’s wrong policy regarding the use of condoms.
We conclude with articles on the deadly time of Christmas and the misunderstood origins of that festival.
This Week in the News
Our Crazy Weather
The Associated Press wrote on December 19:
“Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 – the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined…
“And we have ourselves to blame most of the time, scientists and disaster experts say. Even though many catastrophes have the ring of random chance, the hand of man made this a particularly deadly, costly, extreme and weird year for everything from wild weather to earthquakes. Poor construction and development practices conspire to make earthquakes more deadly than they need be. More people live in poverty in vulnerable buildings in crowded cities. That means that when the ground shakes, the river breaches, or the tropical cyclone hits, more people die…
“[Some scientists say] the world’s population is moving into riskier megacities on fault zones and flood-prone areas [and] that 400 million to 500 million people in the world live in large cities prone to major earthquakes. A Haitian disaster will happen again, [some say]: ‘It could be Algiers. it could be Tehran. It could be any one of a dozen cities.’”
Coldest Winter for Britain Since at Least 1910
The Daily Mail reported on December 20:
“The Arctic conditions are set to last through the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and beyond, and as temperatures plummeted to -10c (14f) the Met Office said this December was ‘almost certain’ to become the coldest since records began in 1910.”
Chaos in Europe
The Associated Press reported on December 20:
“Snow and freezing temperatures continued to cause holiday travel chaos for road, rail and air passengers in Britain and much of Europe… Airlines said that Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, was the worst hit by the poor weather — with only a limited number of flights to arrive and depart. Hundreds of passengers camped overnight in terminal buildings after services were canceled or delayed… Eurostar reported that its trains linking England to France and Belgium were also severely delayed or canceled and urged travelers to cancel or postpone their trips if possible…
“In Germany flight operations were slowed even though Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest, was clear of snow and ice. Officials canceled about 300 flights there Monday… because of problems elsewhere in Europe… French civil aviation authorities, meanwhile, asked airlines to reduce their flights at the two main Paris airports by 30%…”
“Drought-Plagued California Copes with Near-Record Rainfall”
USA Today wrote on December 22:
“A powerful storm dumped more rain on already waterlogged Southern California on Wednesday, washing hillsides onto highways, endangering houses in canyons and forcing rescuers to pluck dozens of motorists from flooded streets… Floodwaters washed away homes in Arizona and inundated parts of Nevada and Utah…
“In Southern California, the burst of heavy rain in the morning left streets flooded and caused minor mudslides. The threat, however, of larger mudslides could last for weeks in the suburban Los Angeles canyon hillsides laid bare by wildfires… Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in six counties… In southern Nevada, a state of emergency was ordered after rain-swollen creeks closed some roads in the Las Vegas area and snow disrupted electricity…”
Obama’s Dangerous Strategy
The Guardian wrote on December 17:
“President Obama has decided to pursue a dangerous strategy that could cause irreparable harm to freedom of the press as we know it… Attorney General Eric Holder is investigating the possibility of prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in connection with the 250,000 diplomatic cables stolen – according to the government – by army private Bradley Manning.
“By longstanding first amendment tradition, third parties such as news organisations — even an unconventional one like WikiLeaks — are not prosecuted for publishing leaked material, even if the person who gave it to them broke the law. So, Holder is working on the theory that WikiLeaks ‘colluded’ with Manning, acting not as a passive recipient, but as an active participant in persuading Manning to give up the goods.
“The problem is that there is no meaningful distinction to be made. How did the Guardian, equally, not ‘collude’ with WikiLeaks in obtaining the cables? How did the New York Times not ‘collude’ with the Guardian when the Guardian gave the Times a copy following Assange’s decision to cut the Times out of the latest document dump?… For that matter, I don’t see how any news organisation can be said not to have colluded with a source when it receives leaked documents.
“The Obama-Holder wrinkle is to attempt to draw distinctions between WikiLeaks and the traditional media. It can’t be done… attempts to separate the Times and the Guardian, on the one hand, and WikiLeaks, on the other, should be seen as entirely political. Presumably, dragging a handcuffed-and-shackled Assange into federal court would prove quite popular. By contrast, sentencing Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger to a long stint in a federal penitentiary would likely prove too much, even though senator Joe Lieberman, an occasionally moderate former Democrat, has suggested that the Times could be prosecuted.
“…the White House’s legal war against WikiLeaks is a shameful assault on our guarantee of free speech and a free press. It’s ironic that after two years of bogus claims from the right that Obama is dismantling the constitution, now that he really is, the only people who seem to care are on the left.”
U.S. “Overclassification” Made Assange Relevant
The Washington Post wrote on December 18:
“… prosecuting Assange would give him exactly what he wants: proof that America is hypocritical, that we don’t live by the freedoms we preach. Assange would like nothing more than to be a martyr – and President Obama shouldn’t give that to him. The better way to deal with Assange is to make him irrelevant. The only reason WikiLeaks has been a sensation is the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush…
“The episode spotlighted Obama’s surprisingly poor record on government openness. The administration has already undertaken four prosecutions of government leakers, more than any predecessor, in some cases using the arcane, World War I-era Espionage Act. At the same time, the administration stymied efforts in Congress to pass a ‘shield law’ to protect journalists’ confidential sources…
“Over-classification is so prevalent that even the Pentagon Papers – leaked by Daniel Ellsberg nearly four decades ago – are still classified as Top Secret. Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive at George Washington University said that between 50 percent and 90 percent of classified material shouldn’t be; the result is ‘vast prairies’ of phony government secrets that are impossible to protect.
“It achieves little to punish Assange for trespassing on the prairie, either by prosecuting him (as Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats suggest) or hunting him like a terrorist (as Sarah Palin would have it). Instead, end the obsessive classification that made Assange possible – and deny him the martyrdom he desires.”
“Helmut Schmidt Slams ‘Foolish’ U.S. Pursuit of Wikileaks”
The Local wrote on December 21:
“Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has blasted as ‘foolish’ the United States’ pursuit of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. ‘That seems like revenge and it is,’ Schmidt told weekly Die Zeit’s magazine in an interview… Schmidt, who served as West German chancellor from 1974 to 1982, frequently weighs in on topical issues despite having reached the advanced age of 91…
“Schmidt said there was a ‘moral obligation for the publication’ of secret documents that exposed abuses at prisons such as Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo Bay, but questioned whether secret diplomatic communications should be released… For the US government, the publication of the cables was ‘a terrible thing, which will affect diplomatic relations for a long time.’”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” No More
Time Magazine wrote on December 22:
“President Obama… signed the law allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. military. ‘This morning I am proud to sign a law bringing an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”’ he said. No one should have to ‘sacrifice their integrity’ to wear the uniform of the U.S. armed forces, he said…
“The Pentagon itself is basking in public approval, which isn’t something it always gets… The papers praising the step are not just from the reliably Democratic northeast – journals from more conservative precincts… all have hailed the move… the unanimity, so far anyway, is surprising.”
The President’s words, the action of the House and the Senate, and newspaper unanimity is indecisive as to whether a matter is right or wrong. What really should count is God’s point of view. And the Bible makes that one very clear.
US Senate Approves Nuclear Arms Pact With Russia
BBC News reported on December 22:
“The US president has welcomed the US Senate’s ratification of a much-delayed nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Barack Obama said the agreement, which will pave the way for new cuts in American and Russian nuclear arsenals, was the most important such deal in almost 20 years. After months of wrangling in the Senate, the New Start treaty was passed by a vote of 71 to 26. Under the deal, Russia and the US will cut deployed nuclear warheads by 30%…
“Despite lengthy protests from a number of congressional Republicans, 13 Republican Senators voted with the Democrats during Wednesday’s vote… The treaty must still pass Russia’s parliament, a move expected next spring.
“The New Start treaty, which will replace its lapsed predecessor, Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), was signed by Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, in April 2010. It trims US and Russian nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads… The treaty would also allow each side visually to inspect the other’s nuclear capability, with the aim of verifying how many warheads each missile carries.
“In addition, there will be legally binding limits on the number of warheads and missiles that can be deployed on land, on submarines, and on bombers, at any one time… senior Republicans… argued that the treaty could compromise US national security, handing Russia influence over American missile defence strategy.”
America’s attempts to buy allies—called “lovers” in the Bible—is doomed. The Bible clearly says that these lovers will turn against the USA and whatever treaties have been signed, will be broken (as the USA has signed and shamefully broken treaty after treaty with the “Native Americans” or “American Indians”).
Still Plenty to Destroy the World
BBC News wrote on December 22:
“Nobody pretends that the so-called ‘New Start’ treaty is going to save the world from the nuclear threat. It will reduce deployed warheads from 2,200 to 1,550 on each side – still plenty to destroy the world… Tactical Nuclear Weapons [or] short-range weapons emerged as a serious issue during the New Start debate, with opponents of the treaty complaining that it does not deal with them. The US revealed last year that it had 5,113 nuclear weapons in total, of which about half are estimated to be tactical. Russia has about the same.
“One problem is that if each side agrees to store them at home, Russia could deploy them in any war in Europe much more quickly. A ‘world without nuclear weapons’ is a long way off.”
“Obama Biggest Loser of 2010”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 23:
“After months of stalling, the US Senate has finally approved the New START disarmament treaty with Russia. The ratification is a major triumph for US President Barack Obama, but German commentators warn that it may be the last such success for a long time…
“SPIEGEL’s Washington correspondent Marc Hujer writes…: ‘Barack Obama was the biggest loser of 2010. He allowed the angry Tea Party movement to grow powerful, he did not pass any decent laws despite his majority in Congress and he was aloof, elitist and indecisive. He had to accept a formidable, yet entirely understandable, defeat in the midterm elections as a result. No one expected much from Obama, at least not during the rest of this year.
“‘Now, just days before Christmas, Congress has ratified the New START disarmament treaty with Russia. … Will Obama build on this victory? Is it Obama’s breakthrough as a president? Will it mark his comeback as a reformer? … Is a new era of cooperation beginning? The opposite is much more probable, namely that the disarmament treaty will be Obama’s last significant achievement for a long time. In January, the new Congress will convene. The new representatives who won in the midterm elections will come to Washington, including those Tea Party activists who have little interest in making compromises with Obama…’”
US Cities and States Could File for Bankruptcy
The Guardian wrote on December 20:
“More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown… American cities and states have debts in total of as much as $2tn… US states have spent nearly half a trillion dollars more than they have collected in taxes, and face a $1tn hole in their pension funds…
“Detroit is cutting police, lighting, road repairs and cleaning services, affecting as much as 20% of the population. The city, which has been on the skids for almost two decades with the decline of the US auto industry, does not generate enough wealth to maintain services for its 900,000 inhabitants. The nearby state of Illinois has spent twice as much money as it has collected and is about six months behind on creditor payments. The University of Illinois alone is owed $400m…
“California has raised state university tuition fees by 32%. Arizona has sold its state capitol and supreme court buildings to investors, and leases them back. Potential defaults could also hit Florida…”
Europe’s Dependency on USA “Pathetic”
The EUObserver wrote on December 16:
“Europe’s willingness to take directions from other world powers is ‘pitiful’ and ‘pathetic,’ China’s top man in Brussels has said. The remarks come as leaked diplomatic cables show the US lobbied hard to prevent the EU from ending its arms embargo on China.”
Europe Needs Germany
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:
“Germany’s controversial approach to fighting the euro crisis has split the European Union. Some countries are complaining about Berlin’s rigid course, while others accuse Chancellor Merkel of betraying the European project. The only thing they can agree on is that the EU needs Germany as a motor if it is to survive…
“… the Germans… dominated the stage politically in Brussels, once again. The 26 other heads of state and government gave in to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s demand to amend the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to include a permanent crisis fund, known as the stability mechanism, for the euro zone starting in 2013. Also at the chancellor’s request, they inserted a passage stating that the stability mechanism is only ‘to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole.’ The group also approved Germany’s demand that private lenders be involved in the event of a government bankruptcy.
“’We came to an agreement,’ a clearly pleased Merkel announced. ‘It was a good day for Europe.’ The other summit participants had no choice but to make similar statements… In Rome, Merkel has long been seen as a chancellor who can do everything Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cannot. She is seen as credible and honest… But since Germany began going it alone in the EU, Merkel seems to have become sinister and even a threat to the Italians. Suddenly she is being viewed, once again, as the ‘iron chancellor,’ the moral watchdog.”
“Berlin Blocks Bulgaria, Romania from Schengen”
The Local wrote on December 21:
“France and Germany decided Tuesday to block Bulgaria and Romania from joining Europe’s borderless 25-nation Schengen area next year, a move denounced by the Romanian president as discriminatory… The Schengen area allows more than 400 million citizens to travel across a territory that ranges from Greece to Finland, and Portugal to Poland, without having to pull out a passport. The area includes 22 of the European Union’s 27 members plus Iceland, Switzerland and Norway.
“Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. By choice, EU members Britain and Ireland have not joined the travel zone while Cyprus has applied to enter Schengen… Allowing a country to join Schengen must be agreed by member states by unanimity, meaning that France and Germany have veto power over the applications. The decision to block the entry of Romania and Bulgaria follows a summer row over France’s deportation of Roma migrants from the two eastern European nations, although the issue was not cited as a reason for the Schengen veto.”
The Economist wrote on December 17:
“Increasingly, these days, Britain seems to be attending a different summit from other countries. Most leaders went to Brussels in the hope of demonstrating unity and determination in safeguarding the euro; Mr Cameron made the trip to safeguard the British (and, he says, the European) taxpayer… the British move was mis-timed and discordant. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, was irritated by the British move at a time when she wanted European leaders to rally in defence of the euro.
“There is a distinct detachment about Britain and the burning questions of Europe. Partly it is circumstance: the crisis is raging in the euro zone, and Britain is not a member of it. But partly it is also a matter of choice: Mr Cameron seems most comfortable sitting on the sidelines. This attitude that is much different from that of, say, Sweden, a non-euro country that is nevertheless strongly involved in every aspect of the debate about the euro.
“The crisis is slowly creating a two-speed Europe: a more integrated euro core, with a looser fringe that Britain is happy to inhabit.”
Maybe Britain won’t be that happy for long, after all. In fact, what we are seeing now is the beginning of the prophesied fact that Britain will end up as being totally isolated in Europe.
The Afghan War Debacle
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:
“During a surprise weekend visit to Afghanistan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally called the conflict a war… While Merkel praised the troops, the Afghanistan mission continued to spark political crossfire at home. Germans have long been critical of their troops in Afghanistan, which make up the third-largest NATO contingent in the country…
“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘In January, German parliament will extend the Afghanistan mandate by another year… In the year 2011 we will only agree to support a corrupt government which gained power through electoral fraud, which sees economic growth purely in relation [to] its own foreign accounts and which shows no ambition to reform Afghanistan’s archaic social structures. It is at least honest that the chancellor, in her own convoluted way, called the war a war. But her sentence is only half of the truth. The rest is: We can only lose this war.”
“The left-leaning Frankfurter Rundschau writes: ‘Angela Merkel calls (war) what it is to make the subject a firm fixture in the consciousness of German people. In reality she produces a headline without any content… She does with words what her defense minister did with television pictures last week. All of that does not bring us forward, at least not towards peace.’”
No Children for Homosexual Couples
The Local reported on December 20:
“Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, said on Monday that homosexual couples had no right to have children. ‘This has to be accepted, even if it’s difficult for those affected,’ Kauder [said]. ‘I don’t think children wish to be raised by homosexual couples.’ He said the question of children’s well-being should come before the desires of adults to become parents…
“Germany introduced ‘registered partnerships’ for same-sex couples in 2001, but stopped short of granting them the full rights and privileges afforded to married heterosexual couples. Homosexuals can legally adopt the children of their partners, but adopting an unrelated child as a couple is not currently allowed… Kauder’s most recent comments highlight the ongoing discrepancy between the Christian Democrats and their junior coalition partners the Free Democrats on gay issues.”
Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s Foreign Minister and Leader of the FDP, is openly homosexual. Volker Kauder’s comments do surprise, however, as it has become extremely politically incorrect in Europe (and more and more in the USA) to say anything about or relating to homosexuals which could be remotely construed as criticism or “discrimination.” To emphasize this point, please read the next article.
Religious Persecution in Britain (and Soon in the USA?)
WorldNetDaily wrote on December 20:
“Telling a street preacher that it is against the law to affirm the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality is costing a team of British police officers some $11,000 – plus legal fees. That was the resolution announced by The Christian Institute in a case that it fought on behalf of a street preacher, Dale Mcalpine, who was arrested and detained for nearly eight hours on the basis of the officers’ decision that the Bible’s teachings violated the law…
“Mike Judge, spokesman for the institute, which fights on behalf of Christian and human rights in the United Kingdom, said [that] ‘Mr. Mcalpine was arrested and held in a cell for expressing his Christian views… Sadly, it’s not an isolated case. We have defended a number of Christians wrongfully arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. There is a problem with the law and it needs to be fixed.’…
“The U.K.’s Public Order Act includes language that is similar to Barack Obama’s ‘hate crimes’ law in the U.S. that he signed more than a year ago in that they ban some statements regarding homosexuality. That bill became law over the objections of a multitude of Christian organizations who say it grants special protections to those who choose a homosexual lifestyle, creating a form of ‘thought police’ in the United States…
“In one U.S. situation, a street preacher’s toe apparently brushed the grass of private property and he was arrested, and in Oslo, authorities have tried to shut down those who would share their Christian [beliefs] in public. At the time the case developed, Liberty Counsel Cultural Affairs Analyst Matt Barber raised the warning that such cases will be seen more and more in America, too.
“’We know that what’s happening in Europe and what’s happening in Canada offers us a window into the future of what will happen here in the United States,’ he said. ‘The hate crimes laws and employment sexual orientation laws such as ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act here in the United States, have been the precursor to the more oppressive hate speech laws,’ Barber explained. ‘Make no mistake, those laws we have now for hate crimes and the more present danger with ENDA, these laws are the precursor in the U. S. for the same kind of criminalization of Christianity that’s happening in the U. K.,’ Barber said…
“Barber added that the goal of the radical homosexual lobby is to silence Christians. ‘Their goal is to silence any dissent and to silence under any penalty of law the biblical recognition and expression of a traditional Judeo-Christian world view relative to sexual behavior and sexual morality,’ Barber said.”
Belarus—Europe’s “Last Soviet-Style Dictatorship”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 20:
“Officially, Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko [formerly part of the Soviet Union] won re-election with almost 80 percent of the vote on Sunday… Throughout Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning, security forces went after both opposition activists and critical journalists who denounced the elections as fraudulent. Demonstrators were beaten and at least four of the nine candidates who ran against Lukashenko were arrested. Police took hundreds of protesters into custody…
“… the violence with which the regime confronted protestors will likely have consequences for relations between Belarus and the European Union. The EU recently pledged €3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) in aid for the country.
“… police and members of the Belarus intelligence service, known as the KGB, began beating the crowd with batons. [Presidential candidate] Neklyayev was seriously injured and lost consciousness. Despite the police brutality, however, over 10,000 Lukashenko opponents gathered in the capital to protest what they saw as election fraud…
“The US Embassy in Minsk said that Washington was ‘especially concerned over excessive use of force by the authorities, including the beating and detention of several presidential candidates’… German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ‘it is unacceptable to harass, beat or arrest opposition candidates and their supporters who want to exert their right to freedom of expression.’ Poland demanded the immediate release of opposition candidates and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek was scathing in his critique: ‘This cowardly attack on defenseless presidential candidates is horrifying and scandalous.’
“Belarus is seen as the last Soviet-style dictatorship in Europe… dozens of demonstrators were heavily beaten, including presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov. Sannikov was reportedly taken into custody on the way to the hospital. His wife, who works as a reporter for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, told the radio station Echo Moscow that her husband had been ‘struck several times in the face.’ Aides to injured presidential candidate Neklyayev reported that he was abducted by several men in civilian clothing shortly after arriving at hospital with serious head wounds.
“At 4:20 on Monday morning, special forces broke down the door of the offices of the opposition website Charter 97. Editor in Chief Natalia Radina only had time for one final bit of news. ‘We are all at the KGB,’ she wrote.”
These incredible totalitarian and criminal methods remind us of another dictator who ruled Russia not too long ago—Josef Stalin. And they remind us of Adolf Hitler who terrorized Germany and who was responsible for the outbreak of World War II. It shows how easy it is for dictators to abuse power when they think they have the capability to do so, and that others won’t object to their evil deeds.
Dictators Never Change
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 21:
“The Western outcry has been loud but feckless, the Russian response purse-lipped (‘an internal matter,’ said President Dmitry Medvedev) — and Lukashenko is unrepentant. On Tuesday a Belarusian court issued blanket 15-day jail sentences to over 600 protestors arrested by police on Sunday. They face up to 15 years in prison, should they be convicted of inciting violence. It was an implicit snub to the European Union, which had made overtures to Belarus ahead of the election and afterwards demanded freedom for the candidates and journalists…
“There has been little progress toward democratic reform during President Aleksander Lukashenko’s 16 years in office. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously called him ‘Europe’s last dictator,’ and the nickname stuck. His close relationship with Moscow — like Belarus’ state-run economy — depends on cheap oil and gas.”
The Financial Times Deutschland wrote on December 22:
“The misdeeds under Lukashenko aren’t new. What is new is that Germany and its EU partners believed a little fair-weather diplomacy would change everything…”
Die Welt wrote on December 22:
“At some point even the Kremlin found it absurd to be played for such a fool by the president of Belarus. The old idea of a Russian ‘union’ began to sound tuneless. The little Soviet brothers would have to learn for themselves how to survive a frigid winter in the no-man’s land between Russia and Europe… (Western) dream that more democracy would move Belarus further West has not grown likelier with the recent election.
“But why do strong men — in Africa or Asia or, in this case, on the doorstep of the EU — need election majorities hovering near 100 percent? The first West German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, started his long term in office with a one-vote (parliamentary) majority, and John F. Kennedy proved in his day that a narrow victory is also a victory. The world of potentates is different. On the one hand they give lip service to democracy and allow elections; on the other, they never allow those elections to bring change… But fraud is fraud, and dictatorships never change.”
Palestinian State With or Without American Approval?
The Daily Israel Report wrote on December 19:
“The Palestinian Authority is continuing its drive to unilaterally declare independent statehood next year, with or without a negotiated settlement with Israel. PA spokesman Nabil Shaath continued to lay the public relations groundwork Saturday by telling reporters the peace process with Israel is in a ‘deep coma’ and that U.S. proposals for negotiations are ‘totally useless.’ … Moreover, the PA has also formally requested for the first time that European countries recognize a Palestinian state, should one be declared – even in the absence of a final status agreement with the State of Israel…
“Thus far, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela have formally recognized the PA as a sovereign entity, with Uruguay promising to do so in 2011. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that he expects Ecuador to follow with a similar announcement shortly.
“Just three days earlier, Norway had upgraded the status of the PA mission in Oslo from a ‘general delegation’ to a ‘diplomatic mission.’ In addition, the head of the PA mission in the country was granted diplomatic immunity. This follows a similar decision by France in July 2010…
“The U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, unanimously approved on Thursday a resolution opposing the unilateral declaration of a new PA country. The resolution called on the Obama administration to ‘deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state… Former PA head negotiator Saeb Erekat responded with anger to the reaction by the U.S. Congress…”
Europe’s Far Right vs. Islam
Reuters reported on December 20:
“Far-right political parties in Europe are stepping up their anti-Muslim rhetoric and forging ties across borders, even going so far as to visit Israel to hail the Jewish state as a bulwark against militant Islam.
“National Front leader Marine Le Pen has shocked the French political elite in recent days by comparing Muslims who pray outside crowded mosques — a common sight during the holy month of Ramadan — to the World War Two Nazi occupation. Oskar Freysinger, a champion of the Swiss ban on minarets, warned a far-right meeting in Paris Saturday against ‘the demographic, sociological and psychological Islamization of Europe.’ German and Belgian activists also addressed the crowd.
“Geert Wilders, whose populist far-right party supports the Dutch minority government, told Reuters last week he was organizing an ‘international freedom alliance’ to link grass-roots groups active in ‘the fight against Islam.’
“Earlier this month, Wilders visited Israel and backed its West Bank settlements, saying Palestinians there should move to Jordan. Like-minded German, Austrian, Belgian, Swedish and other far-rightists were on their own Israel tour at the same time. ‘Our culture is based on Christianity, Judaism and humanism and (the Israelis) are fighting our fight,’ Wilders told Reuters in Amsterdam last week…
“Some on the far right see similar trends in the United States. Wilders attended a rally in New York on September 11 to protest against a mosque planned near Ground Zero and the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz Christian Strache, has said he wants to visit the United States to meet leaders of the Tea Party movement…
“The Israeli newspaper Haaretz accused the rightists of ‘trading in their Jewish demon-enemy for the Muslim criminal-immigrant model’ and visiting Israel only to get ‘Jewish absolution that will bring them closer to political power.’”
This comment by Haaretz is absolutely right. Demagogues like Wilders, Strache or LePen are doing much more harm than good. Their self-serving attempts to create fear for political gain must be rejected. Their unspecified attempts to woo Israel and to “warn” Europe and now even the USA of “Islamization” is of no value, but could prove to be quite dangerous.
Japan’s Dynamic Defense Policy
RTT News reported on December 17:
“Tokyo has adopted a new ‘dynamic defense capability’ policy which marks a major shift from the existing one that seeks only a minimum defense capability… pronouncements include adopting measures for promoting confidence and co-operation with China and Russia even while expanding engagements with the European Union (EU) and the NATO… it moots enhanced defense ties with the United States, Australia, India and South Korea. The country’s projected defense expenditure over the next five years has been pegged at 23.49 trillion yen ($279 billion).”
Japan’s decision to promote co-operation with China and Russia is remarkable in the light of biblical prophecy which predicts that these and other Far Eastern countries will form an alliance against Europe and the USA.
Dangerous Scientific Games
AFP wrote on December 16:
“The White House… said the controversial field of synthetic biology, or manipulating the DNA of organisms to forge new life forms, poses limited risks and should be allowed to proceed. The panel was created by Obama last year. Its first order of business was to consider the issue of synthetic biology after the J. Craig Venter Institute announced in May it had developed the first self-replicating bacteria cell controlled by a synthetic genome.
“Critics said the discovery was tantamount to ‘playing God,’ creating organisms without adequate understanding [of] the ramifications, and upsetting the natural order… But the commission said Venter’s team had not actually created life, since the work mainly involved altering an already existing life form.”
Still, altering existing life forms could be extremely dangerous, and the consequences are unpredictable. Such scientific advances are just foolish and terribly short-sighted.
Catholic Church’s Wrong Teaching on Condoms Continues
USA Today reported on December 22:
“The Vatican on Tuesday sought to clarify the pope’s controversial comments about condoms and HIV, saying he by no means suggested condom use could be condoned as a means of avoiding pregnancy…
“The Vatican has been under pressure from conservative theologians to issue such a clarification amid widespread confusion about what Pope Benedict XVI meant and whether he was breaking with church teaching.”
“Christmas the Deadliest Day of the Year”
The National Post wrote on December 20:
“A new U.S. analysis of mortality rates during different times of year found that people are more likely to die during the holidays — notably on Christmas and New Year’s Day — and researchers cannot explain the yearly spike. After analyzing all official United States death certificates over the 25-year period between 1979 and 2004, a trio of sociologists identified an excess of 42,325 natural deaths — that is, above and beyond the normal seasonal winter increase — in the two weeks starting with Christmas. More people die in hospital emergency wards, or arrive dead on arrival, on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day than on any other days of the year.
“’It’s not trivial,’ said Mr. Phillips, a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego. ‘We looked at all cause categories and, for nearly every one, we found an excess of deaths — particularly for people who are dying rapidly, like dead-on-arrival or dying in the emergency department.’… Less clear are the reasons behind this fatal phenomenon.”
Could the reasons lie, perhaps, in the fact that all these days listed above (Christmas on December 25, Boxing Day on December 26 and New Year’s Day on January 1) are of Satanic, and not godly origin?
Christ Is Not in Christmas!
USA Today reported on December 20:
“Christmas 2010 is a whole lotta jingle and not so much Jesus. Two new surveys find more than nine in 10 Americans celebrate the holiday — even if they’re atheists, agnostics or believers in non-Christian faiths such as Judaism and Islam… ‘It’s alarming to me that while nine in 10 celebrate Christmas, only six in 10 encourage any belief in the source of Christmas and only three in 10 actually read the story of Christmas,’ [Ed] Stetzer, [president of LifeWay Research] says.
“John Lindell — lead pastor of James River Assembly in Ozark, Mo… is not as alarmed by the gap. Instead, he sees an open path to outreach. ‘We believers put Christ in Christmas by how we care for others and give people chances to change their lives,’ he says.”
Sadly, Christ has nothing to do with Christmas, and to try to “put Christ in Christmas” is exactly what God prohibits us to do. When one wants to go back to “the source of Christmas,” he needs to return to ancient pre-Christian practices of heathens worshipping their pagan sun gods. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Would you please explain Mark 2:27-28? In what way is Jesus “Lord of the Sabbath?” Since man was not made for the Sabbath, can we therefore work on the Sabbath?
(Español: ¿Podría explicar Marcos 2:27-28? ¿De qué manera es Jesús el “Señor del sábado”? Ya que el hombre no fue creado para el sábado, ¿podemos por lo tanto trabajar en el sábado?)
To answer these and related questions, it is important to explain some of the background and to look at the context of the Scripture.
Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law of God (Matthew 5:17). He told a young ruler that he was required to keep the commandments of God if he wanted to enter into eternal life (Matthew 19:16-17). He then listed many of the Ten Commandments, so that there could be no doubt what “Law” he was referring to (verses 18-19). James, half-brother of Jesus Christ, later stated that we are a transgressor of the entire Law of God, if we violate just one of His commandments (James 2:10). He clearly identified the “Law” as the Ten Commandments, quoting two of the Ten (verse 11). In the letter to the Hebrews, we find the express confirmation of the ongoing validity of the Sabbath commandment, when we read: “It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath” (Hebrews 4:9, Lamsa Bible).
Whatever the meaning of Mark 2:27-28 may be, we can already safely state from this overview that Jesus did not teach the abolishment of the Sabbath—the fourth of the Ten Commandments.
Since Christ said that He did not come to abolish, but to fulfill the Law, He did not at the same time come to abolish the rules and regulations defining how to keep the Sabbath. The Fourth Commandment says very clearly that we are not to do servile or customary work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). As God rested on the seventh day from His ordinary work of creating plants, animals and men, so we are to rest from our ordinary labor and to be spiritually refreshed on the Sabbath.
Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man. It was God’s gift to man. It was not supposed to be a burden, but a blessing. As God blessed and sanctified for holy use the seventh day (Genesis 2:3), He did so for man, so man will be blessed when he properly keeps and enjoys the seventh day.
However, the Pharisees at the time of Jesus Christ had made a burden out of the Sabbath. Their motives might have been good, but the result was catastrophic. They remembered that the Assyrians and Babylonians had enslaved the ancient houses of Israel and Judah because of their idolatry and Sabbath-breaking. They wanted to make sure that the people would not again break the Sabbath. In trying to accomplish this, they added many rules and restrictions to God’s Sabbath commandment, reasoning that one had to break first those restrictions, before reaching the core of the Sabbath Law, and that it would be very difficult to peel off the layers of their man-made rules to ever reach the substance of the Law.
They felt that these additional man-made rules constituted a “fence” to protect the substance of the Sabbath. They reasoned that no one would violate the heart and core of the Sabbath Law if they were prevented from breaking certain provisions that “fenced in,” and thereby “protected,” the Fourth Commandment. As stated, their motives might have been laudable, but they had in effect placed a yoke on the people which they were not able to bear.
To give you a better understanding as to the nature of these burdensome pharisaical rules and regulations, we are quoting a brief excerpt from our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days”:
“The Pharisees totally misinterpreted the prohibition against carrying burdens on the Sabbath. They decreed that a person was guilty of breaking the Sabbath if he carried a sheet of paper, or any food that weighed as much as a dried fig, or if he carried more than one swallow of milk, or enough oil to anoint a small part of the body. If a fire broke out in a person’s home on the Sabbath, he could carry out only the necessary food to be consumed on the Sabbath. This meant that if the fire broke out at the beginning of the Sabbath—right after sunset—the person could take out enough food for three meals; but if the fire broke out on the afternoon of the Sabbath, he could only take out enough food for one meal. The rest could not be carried out and had to be left behind, to burn with the building. Further, only necessary clothes could be taken out of a burning house on the Sabbath.”
Jesus came to make God’s Law great and honorable (Isaiah 42:21) —to show the spiritual intent of the Law. He confronted the Pharisees on many occasions regarding their restrictive interpretations of the Sabbath command. He chided them for transgressing the Law of God to uphold their own traditions (Mark 7:8-9). As stated, God intended the Sabbath to be a blessing for man, not a curse or a burden. In light of this understanding, Christ healed many sick people on the Sabbath—but the Pharisees condemned Him for that, claiming that He should heal them during the six days of the week, but not on the Sabbath. Their idea was that a sick man could not be freed from illness on the Sabbath—preventing him from really enjoying the intent of the Sabbath Law. But Jesus declared to them powerfully and unequivocally: “… it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).
At the same time, the Pharisees’ interpretation and practices lacked in consequential teaching and application. They would allow a baby to be circumcised on the Sabbath—if the eighth day after birth fell on the Sabbath–but they would not allow a sick person to be healed on the Sabbath. They would also allow an ox which had fallen into the pit to be rescued on the Sabbath, or to water their animals on the Sabbath, but they would not allow the healing of a human being on the Sabbath, who was created in the image of God.
In addition, they criticized the disciples of Christ for plucking the heads of grain on the Sabbath, to satisfy their hunger (Mark 2:23-24; Matthew 12:1-2). It was their position that they should rather go hungry than to pluck a few heads of grain, falsely interpreting such conduct as prohibited “harvesting.”
It was this kind of environment and philosophy that Jesus was addressing, when He made the profound statements in Mark 2:27-28: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
In the parallel account of Matthew 12, He adds the following: “Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (verses 6-8). As an aside, the word “even” is not in the original Greek and was added by the translator.
Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man—the One greater than the Temple—the Lord of the Sabbath. As we have seen in a previous Q&A [“Did Jesus Exist Prior to His Human Birth?”] it was He who created the Sabbath. We read that God the Father created everything through and by Jesus Christ—and that includes man and the Sabbath. Jesus created the Sabbath for man, and as the Lord of the Sabbath, He can tell us with authority how to keep it. The discussion did not evolve around whether or not to keep it—Jesus kept the Sabbath, as was His custom (Luke 4:16). Later, Paul kept the Sabbath, as was his custom (Acts 17:2), and he told Gentile converts in Corinth to follow or imitate him as he followed Christ (compare 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). Christ never allowed or authorized man to change the Sabbath to Sunday. In fact, He condemns this kind of religious worship (compare Matthew 5:19). Those who think they can worship God the Father and Jesus Christ on Sunday, instead of the Sabbath—thereby upholding their own traditions, while transgressing and abolishing the commandments of God—are engaging in a kind of worship which is NOT acceptable to God (Matthew 15:7-9, 13-14).
Christ placed mercy over strict pharisaical restrictions, pointing out that David ate from the showbread of the temple, when he was hungry, although it was not “lawful” for him to eat it (Matthew 12:3-4). But Christ did not condemn David for this. He also taught that the priests in the temple had to fulfill their responsibilities on the Sabbath, which—according to pharisaical consequential reasoning–would have been tantamount to “breaking” or “profaning” the Sabbath, but Christ said they were “blameless” in doing so (Matthew 12:5). When today God’s ministers “work” on the Sabbath in preparing and delivering sermons, they are equally blameless and guiltless.
On the other hand, Christ did not teach that we can violate God’s Sabbath by just trampling it under foot—by working in our jobs to earn a living and by pursuing our own pleasures and hobbies. Isaiah 58:13 states to you (according to the New International Version) that you are to “keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day” and to “call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable” and to “honor it by not doing as you please or speaking idle words.” The Living Bible clarifies that “doing as you please” refers to “your own fun and business.”
Yet, in emergencies, we can and should take care of our personal needs, but this does not mean that we should create emergencies in the first place, so that we can then “break” the Sabbath in order to take care of them. We are not to throw a sheep into the ditch on Friday so that we can rescue it on the Sabbath day.
Jesus is the LORD of the Sabbath. He tells us with authority that we must keep it—and how to do so. Jesus made the Sabbath for MAN (not just the Jew), to be a blessing for man. The Sabbath was not made to be a curse or a burden for us. Man was not made for the Sabbath, to be under a cruel and merciless pharisaical yoke. The Pharisees, through their legalistic approach, had placed undue restrictions on the Sabbath, teaching in effect that man was made for the Sabbath. But Jesus came to show that the Sabbath was made FOR man, to be joyfully observed and to be called “a delight.” In keeping the Sabbath properly, we draw closer to God and are reminded of His great love for us, who created us in the first place with the potential of entering His very Family. See our recent Q&A, “Why was man created?”
None of His commandments are to be viewed as a burden for us (1 John 5:3). Rather, God’s love in us enables us to keep all of His commandments properly and from the heart (2 John 6). God’s entire Law is an expression of His love, and God IS love (1 John 4:8).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
by Noelle Link
This will be the 5th year I haven’t kept Christmas. I began keeping the Sabbath and attending church services in January of ’06, so I had plenty of time to prepare myself for not keeping Christmas that year. It was a lot easier than I’d expected. Not only did it make complete sense to me not to keep it, given the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Christ, but as the “season” approached I noticed more than ever how much stress it put on everyone that did keep it. I saw family and friends worry about how much money to spend and deal with all of the crazy crowds out shopping.
My family wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of me no longer keeping Christmas, but as the time got closer they realized just how serious I was. They still push limits where my 10 year old daughter is concerned, buying her gifts just near enough to Christmas as to not make it too blatantly obvious.
In a very short time our son will be born. He won’t have to unlearn the errors of this pagan festival. He will never learn from my husband and me what it’s like to “believe” in all the lies that other parents tell their children about Santa Claus. He will never see his parents stressing out to buy as many gifts as they can, putting them in debt. Our son will be taught the Truth from the day he is born, and he will receive all the love a child can know without keeping Christmas or any other pagan holiday for that matter.
I really appreciate the tremendous blessing of understanding how wrong Christmas really is, and I am looking forward to the day when all my relatives and friends will be able to embrace the Truth as well.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “U.S. Democracy in Danger?” The international media claims that the US government’s reaction to the release of documents by WikiLeaks is a greater threat to democracy than any information revealed. We hear of intolerable censorship and unconstitutional conduct. What is going on in America? Do we really have to fear for our individual liberties and freedom?
A new German sermon as posted on the Web, titled, “Die Welt der Engel, Teil 4” [“The World of Angels, Part 4”].
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
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Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom