|Live Services||How Close Are You To God?|
|Editorial||Imagine This Time|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
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|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
How Close Are You To God?
On April 2, 2011, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “How Close Are You To God?”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Imagine This Time
Satan would love nothing more than to drive a wedge into our spiritual life and separate us from God. His ultimate goal is to do whatever he can to take us out of the Church, the body of Christ. Now, especially at this pre-Passover time of the year and at this juncture in the end-time, he is for sure doing all that he can to disrupt us in our walk towards the Plan of God.
Imagine a spirit being that has been around for eons – 6,000 years would be a short time to him. Knowing that he only had this short time, he, as an entity that never tires, would be relentless in his goal to derail true Christians. Night and day, he would accuse the brethren before God (Revelation 12:10), and he would walk around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8; Job 1:7; 2:2).
Now imagine that this very short period of 6,000 years is almost up. How much more, if it were possible, would Satan be stepping up his effort to thwart the Plan of God?
God would love nothing more than to have us as members of His Family in His Kingdom. His ultimate goal is to do whatever He can to see that we are successful in this calling. Now, especially at this pre-Passover time of the year and at this juncture in the end-time, He is for sure doing all that He can to reconcile us in our walk towards the Plan of God.
Imagine a loving God—the Father—who has inhabited eternity with only one other Family member—Jesus Christ. After all that time, He began carrying out His plan that included fashioning the physical universe with all the laws to govern it. God also created man and gave him His laws to be governed by. He sacrificed His only Son to pay for the penalty for our sin in order that we may live and have access to His Power – the Holy Spirit which further aids us in attaining His goal for us—to grant us the awesome opportunity to qualify for a position in His Kingdom and Family.
Now imagine we only have a short time left. We are quickly coming to a crossroads – a time when God will pronounce His final judgment on the firstfruits of His creation. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, it will all be decided. Do we sense the urgency?
Wherever we look, it seems that we are confronted these days with uncertainty, turmoil, upheaval and disaster.
We begin reporting on tumultuous political events in Europe—including Germany, France, England and Italy—which could lead to an emergence of charismatic popular leaders replacing current less popular ones. And while we are told that the euro has been saved for good, evidencing the continuing and inevitable unification of continental Europe, the Canadian government failed, and President Obama’s political survival is anything else but certain.
Focusing on the Middle East, we are reporting on events in and pertaining to Iran, Syria and Libya; addressing the terrible costs of war which will undoubtedly contribute to America’s economic downfall; discussing frightening revelations on the dangerous levels of radioactivity in Japan; and concluding with a settlement involving Jesuits who agreed to pay $166.1 million to hundreds of American Indians and Alaska Natives who were abused at the Catholic order’s schools in Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
Clearly, the time for Jesus Christ’s return MUST be near! But not everyone agrees—in fact, the majority of Americans does not. As Fox News reported on March 24, “the perceived increase in the number and severity of natural disasters is evidence to 44 percent of Americans of what the Bible calls The End Times, prophesied in the Old Testament’s book of Daniel and the New Testament’s book of Revelation. Fifty-two percent disagreed, according to the poll.”
This Week in the News
Turmoil in Europe
Germany — Stunning Defeat for Merkel
On March 28, 2011, Deutsche Welle reported:
“Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) suffered significant political blows over the weekend following two state elections which saw the Greens make dramatic gains. The polls have been widely viewed as a referendum on nuclear energy. The Greens garnered 24.2 percent support in the Baden-Württemberg election, doubling their share of the vote since the last state polls in 2006. This has paved the way for a Green party state premier, a first in German history. The Social Democrats (SPD) polled 23.1 percent, giving a green-red coalition of the Greens and the SPD a majority. As predicted, the CDU took a severe drubbing, coming in with only 39 percent, a drop of 5.2 points. It was the party’s second-worst showing in the state…
“Speaking in Berlin on Monday, Merkel said the election defeat in the conservative stronghold of Baden-Württemberg after nearly six decades of rule was painful and would take a long time to overcome… [In] the smaller state of Rhineland-Palatinate it was the SPD, not Merkel’s CDU, that was the main casualty of anti-incumbent sentiment on election day, although state Premier Kurt Beck is to retain power. The SPD lost its absolute majority but remained the strongest party with 35.7 percent of the vote, a fall of 9.9 percent since the last state election in 2006. The Greens polled 15.4 percent, a 10.8-percent increase, securing representation in the state parliament after a five-year hiatus… The result could indicate a coalition between the SPD and the Greens in Rhineland-Palatinate as well.”
We present the following selection from Germany’s press releases on Monday:
Der Spiegel wrote:
“… the writing is on the wall for Merkel and her center-right coalition if it doesn’t regain the trust of voters ahead of the 2013 general election… Merkel’s controversial decision last year to extend the lifetimes of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years is coming back to haunt her… But it would be unwise to start writing off Merkel…”
Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:
“Merkel is already studying the Green Party, which could become important to her as a means to stay in power, as a replacement for the [present coalition party] FDP… The things one does to stay in power! Anything, if need be. And she will reverse everything again if necessary. The CDU will suffer a crisis of identity. The FDP is already in an existential crisis which has now dramatically worsened…”
Die Tageszeitung wrote:
“The CDU will hold party leader Angela Merkel accountable for the disaster. She will remain in office, simply because there is a lack of alternatives to her… Of course the nuclear disaster in Japan had an impact. But the Greens can justifiably claim that no one warned about the dangers of nuclear technology as consistently as they did… The Greens have been insisting on an energy turnaround for more than 30 years. After their landslide victory it’s clear now that this epochal change in energy policy has just been launched.”
“The election is, of course, a major blow for the center-right coalition. Losing power in the conservative bastion of Baden-Württemberg will cause long-term pain. Angela Merkel knows that. She won’t throw in the towel though. She has stronger nerves than Gerhard Schröder, who abruptly called an early general election when his SPD lost its stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia.”
Ultimately, and perhaps very soon, a powerful charismatic German political figure will arise who will meet the approval of most of the German people.
France — Blow for Sarkozy
Deutsche Welle reported on March 28:
“France’s Socialists emerged with the greatest share of the vote by far in local elections on Sunday, dealing a blow to French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of presidential elections next year… the left… attracted 49.9 percent of the vote. That figure… compares with 35.9 percent for Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party…
“… the pressure on Sarkozy appears to be coming from the right, as well as the left. The far-right National Front scored 11 percent, having seen its polling popularity increase significantly since leader Marine Le Pen, daughter of long-time leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, took over in January… An opinion poll for the Le Parisien daily, suggesting that Le Pen herself could win the first round of the presidential election, has sent shockwaves through the center ground of French politics. The French president’s popularity has sunk to a record low of below 30 percent… Elections took place in about half of France’s cantonal councils on Sunday.”
The EUObserver added on March 28:
“Several EU diplomats and even one foreign minister speaking off the record in Brussels in the run-up to the Libya campaign pointed to next year’s French presidential elections as a big reason for Sarkozy’s enthusiasm to take on the Libyan dictator. But looking in detail at French operations in Libya, military analysts have also said that France is using the war to promote its badly-selling €60-million-per-unit Rafale fighter.”
It may be shocking for many to realize that wars are being started for selfish politcal and economic reasons. But if we want to be honest—hasn’t this always been the reason for human wars? (compare James 4:1-2). Considering this sobering fact, why would a true Christian want to participate in such godless conduct?
England—Turmoil on the Streets
The EUObserver reported on March 28:
“In the largest demonstration of public anger to hit the UK since protests against the Iraq War in 2003, hundreds of thousands marched through the British capital on Saturday (26 March) against cuts to public services. According to various sources, between 250,000 and 500,000 snaked their way through central London during the event, which was organised by the country’s Trade Union Congress, with 800 coaches [buses] from across the country arriving in London…
“Protesters also engaged in a series of roving civil disobedience actions shutting down high-street shops and banks to highlight the companies’ tax avoidance policies while a few hundred anarchists smashed the windows of store fronts and daubed bank offices with paint. Some 200 individuals were arrested and 84 injured, including 12 police officers who required minor treatment at hospital. A few hundred protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square at the end of the day, but police cleared the area in the evening provoking scuffles with protesters.
“While the government says the cuts are necessary to tame the government deficit, protesters said that reduction in public spending during a recession will worsen the situation… Opposition leader Ed Miliband spoke out against the cuts at a rally in Hyde Park, comparing the protest to previous struggles for justice against Apartheid South Africa and the fight for the vote for women.”
Ultimately, Great Britain will not be able to solve its economic problems. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Italy — Berlusconi Faces the Music
Deutsche Welle reported on March 28:
“Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attended his first hearing in eight years on Monday over allegations of fiscal fraud and breach of trust in his Mediaset business empire. Berlusconi – as well as his son Pier Silvio Berlusconi, who is deputy chairman of Mediaset – are accused of fraud and embezzlement over the acquisition of television rights for inflated prices… Last year, Italy’s Constitutional Court struck down a law that protected the billionaire prime minister from prosecution…
“It’s the first of four hearings bearing down on Berlusconi, who is set to stand trial next month on charges that he slept with an underage prostitute. He is also involved in a bribery trial which reopened last week. The embattled leader has denied all charges against him, insisting they are part of a left-wing plot to oust him.”
It appears that Mr. Berlusconi’s days as Italy’s leader are numbered; but then, stranger things have happened, especially in Italy.
The Euro Has Been Saved “For Good”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 25:
“EU leaders achieved a breakthrough in Brussels on Thursday night, reaching a deal on the permanent crisis fund that will come into effect in 2013. After agreeing to a last-minute change regarding the terms of how Germany would pay money into the new permanent bailout fund for the euro, European Union leaders on Thursday reached a final agreement on the plan that they hope will eliminate speculation over the future of the common currency…
“In addition to the permanent euro crisis fund starting in 2013, Thursday’s deal includes stricter debt rules to ensure the stability of the euro and a pact aimed at strengthening fiscal coordination among EU countries. The European summit… had been billed as the final major summit to seal a long term rescue plan for the euro. A year after Greece’s de facto bankruptcy — leading to 12 months that saw the common currency fighting for survival — the message from Brussels was: The euro will not spiral into another existential crisis. The euro has been saved for good.”
Notwithstanding the “expert opinions” of those who do not understand biblical prophecy, it has been certain from the outset that the euro will survive.
Turmoil in Canada
Canadian Government Collapes
Reuters reported on March 25:
“The opposition toppled Canada’s Conservative government on Friday, accusing it of sleaze and mismanagement…The defeat paves the way for an election that will likely be fought on two main themes — ethics and the economy. Likely dates are May 2 or May 9. Canada’s dollar was steady at C$0.9810 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0194… Prime Minister Stephen Harper admitted he was disappointed by the result, and said Canadians did not want what will be the fourth general election in less than seven years.”
We should continue to take note of Canada. As the British people are descendants of Ephraim—one of the two sons of Joseph—so are the English-speaking Canadians. Canada’s close relationship with the USA must be realized–the people of the USA being descendants of Manasseh, the older son of Joseph (compare Genesis 48:1-20). And so it appears that the biblically prophesied fate of all of these “blood-related” countries is closely intertwined.
Trump vs. Obama?
Newsmax reported on March 24:
“Donald Trump is not backing down from his demand that President Barack Obama produce his birth certificate and stepped up his criticism by questioning why he has not released other personal records, including college transcripts and legislative papers. The billionaire real estate tycoon and star of ‘The Apprentice’ created a stir on Wednesday when he said on ‘The View’ that Obama must release his birth certificate. Now Trump has reiterated his call in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, with this simple message for Obama: Why don’t you produce your birth certificate and put to rest all speculation that you were born outside the United States?
“He says Obama’s birth certificate controversy is a ‘strange situation’ — there are conflicting reports as to what Honolulu hospital he was born at, and the governor of Hawaii claims he somehow remembers Obama being born 50 years ago…
“Obama asserts that he was born in Honolulu, but former Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Philip Berg has claimed that Obama’s paternal grandmother says she was in the delivery room when he was born in Kenya… After questions were raised about his birth, Obama’s campaign released a Certification of Live Birth. The form is a summary document and does not include the newborn’s location of birth. The long-form Birth Certificate includes such data, but Obama has declined to release it…
“Asked about the Obama administration’s handling of the rebellion in Libya, Trump tells Newsmax: ‘For one thing, if you’re going to save lives on a humanitarian basis you should have started sooner, because many of those lives are gone. For another thing, you really have to find out who you’re fighting for. Who are the rebels? You have some people who say that Iran is controlling the rebels, that Iran is the happiest of all nations because they think as soon as we leave they’re going to go in with the rebels and take over Libya. I hear more and more reports that the rebels aren’t the sweetest people on earth either. It looks to me like it’s a total mess.’”
On March 28, Newsmax added the following:
“Donald Trump, who has been making television appearances calling for President Barack Obama to release his official birth documents, released his birth certificate exclusively to Newsmax on Monday. ‘It took me one hour to get my birth certificate. It’s inconceivable that, after four years of questioning, the president still hasn’t produced his birth certificate…’
“Trump was skeptical that so few people have stepped forward to verify Obama’s birth.’ I went to the best college and I was a great student, and it is inconceivable to my brain that no doctor, no nurse, nobody has stepped forward to verify the birth, other than the governor. He remembers? The governor [of Hawaii]? A birth 50 years ago? Come on…’
“He said other presidents have produced these documents without any hesitation. ‘Ronald Reagan, George Bush have produced their birth certificates’… Trump added that the local newspaper ad announcing Obama’s birth also strikes him as odd. ‘Someone takes an ad out in the paper announcing his birth days later? How many people do you know who take an ad out in the paper to announce a birth, and then won’t show anyone the birth certificate?’…
“Trump appeared on ‘The View’ last week and found it ‘insulting’ that co-host Whoopi Goldberg intimated that racism was behind the birth-certificate issue. Goldberg said that no white president had ever been asked to produce a birth certificate. ‘The fact is they asked John McCain for his birth certificate,’ Trump told Fox today. ‘They’ve asked others for their birth certificate. They asked Bush for his birth certificate…’”
The reaction of the mainstream media, and especially the center-left and left media, was predictable. Rather than responding to the issues, attempts were made to discredit Donald Trump in other respects.
And so, the following was reported by Newsmax on March 29, 2011:
“Billionaire real estate developer and rising GOP 2012 prospect Donald Trump is firing back at mainstream media reports that the birth document he provided exclusively to Newsmax on Monday was invalid. Trump has provided Newsmax a signed, dated Certificate of Birth from the City of New York’s Department of Health.
“The new birth certificate states that Trump was born in the borough of Queens on June 14, 1946. It is signed by the mayor, the acting registrar of records, and the commissioner of health. Trump said that once he realized the document he provided Newsmax on Monday was not an official birth certificate, it only took him a couple of hours to clear up the matter and locate the official document.”
On March 31, 2011, Real Clear Politics reported:
“Donald Trump speculates that President Obama’s birth certificate may say he is a Muslim. Trump says there is something on his certificate that he does not want the public to see.”
Donald Trump might very well become an interesting political figure in the months and years ahead. His assessment pertaining to President Obama’s birth certificate and the situation in Libya might be correct.
Turmoil in the Middle East
CBN wrote on March 28:
“New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi–or Islamic messiah–is about to appear. CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place — and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times. While the revolutionary movements gripping the Middle East have created uncertainty throughout the region, the video shows that the Iranian regime believes the chaos is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand…
“The propaganda footage has reportedly been approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government. It’s called The Coming is Near and it describes current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical twelfth Imam or Mahdi — the messiah figure who Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days…
“The video claims that Iran is destined to rise as a great power in the last days to help defeat America and Israel and usher in the return of the Mahdi. And it makes clear the Iranians believe that time is fast approaching… The ongoing upheavals in other Middle Eastern countries like Yemen and Egypt–including the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood — are also analyzed as prophetic signs that the Mahdi is near — so is the current poor health of the king of Saudi Arabia, an Iranian rival…
“Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini, and Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, are hailed as pivotal end times players, whose rise was predicted in Islamic scriptures. The same goes for Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, who the video says will conquer Jerusalem prior to the Mahdi’s coming.”
Iran is definitely a country to watch. There can be no doubt that the fanatic approach of Iranian Muslims regarding the coming of the Mahdi could create much turmoil in the Middle East and around the world.
Syria Divides USA and France
The EUObserver wrote on March 28:
“Syrian President Bashir al-Assad’s forces killed at least 20 more protesters over the weekend. But the US gave him credit for reforms and ruled out intervention, in contrast to hawkish French rhetoric…
“Al-Assad has freed prisoners, promised to lift the country’s long-standing emergency law and to change the constitution to appease demonstrators. But some EU diplomats stationed in Damascus fear he is capable of extreme violence if things go badly, citing the example of his father, who massacred over 20,000 people in the town of Hama in 1982… US secretary of state Hilary Clinton condemned the violence but appeared to give al-Assad a blank cheque in terms of outside intervention.
“… the Clinton rhetoric stands in contrast to remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Brussels on Thursday. Referring specifically to Syria and Libya, Sarkozy at the time said: ‘Every ruler should understand, and especially every Arab ruler should understand that the reaction of the international community and of Europe will from this moment on each time be the same.’”
There is much polemic talk, of course, but wars do begin with words!
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 29:
“The Syrian government resigned Tuesday as President Bashar Assad sought to stem a widening rebellion by promising to reform the police state that has kept his family in power for more than 40 years in one of the Middle East’s most strategic countries. Dissolving the Cabinet was the latest gambit by Assad to counter protests that threaten the kind of upheaval that brought down autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. The move suggested that the ruling elite is alternating between concessions and crackdowns as it navigates a crisis that has killed at least 61 people in recent days. That strategy did not save Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.”
Libya—The Dangerous Adventure
Deutsche Welle wrote on March 19:
“By beginning to attack targets in Libya, the international coalition, led by France, is embarking on a dangerous adventure… It’s not clear what they hope to achieve with the military action. If it’s about protecting civilians from Gadhafi, the coalition would have to engage in a month-long attack… What also applies to this war is: If you go into it, you need to know how and when you can end the fight. I fear that the coalition has become involved in this civil war, despite the lessons of the Balkan wars, the Iraq wars and the Somalia fiasco, but perhaps with pure intentions. It’s not clear how it’s going to end.
“Therefore, the German Government has made the right decision not to participate in the military conflict… Giving the French President, who is under domestic pressure, the lead role is also not the best solution. Sarkozy is prone to impulsive decisions… Are France and Italy prepared for a Gadhafi, who has been backed into a corner, to send his bombers to attack Naples or Marseilles? He has already made these kinds of threats.
“If the actions of the coalition require many civilian casualties in Libya, the favorable public opinion in the coalition and in the Arab world will rapidly tip – against the coalition. A dangerous adventure with an uncertain outcome has begun.”
A very good analysis. Please also read the next article in this regard. For more insight, please watch our two StandingWatch programs, “The Future of Libya” and “Libya in Prophecy.”
Chaos and Uncertainty in Libya’s Revolutionary Leadership
Der Spiegel wrote on March 30:
“The international community is using air strikes and missiles to defend freedom, human rights and democratic ideals in Libya. But are those also the values the rebels themselves are fighting for?… Since the air strikes began, the revolution has become a war with foreign support legitimized by a United Nations resolution and, as of this week, led by NATO. Western planes — whether American, French, Spanish or Canadian — have flown hundreds of sorties, bombing Gadhafi’s supply convoys, military bases, tank columns and primary residence in Tripoli.
“It was a moral decision, meant to help people rising up against one of the most brutal dictators in the Arab world. But there is no turning back. If the West intends to liberate the country from its dictator, it really has only three options: annihilate Gadhafi’s forces in a massive bombing campaign; send in ground forces; or equip the rebels with heavy weapons. The rebels have ruled out peace negotiations with Gadhafi.
“For the international community, the intervention in the Libyan conflict is about defending the fundamental values of freedom, human rights and self-determination. But the question is: Are all those who have a say in Benghazi just as interested in freedom, human rights and self-determination?…
“Libya is a political no man’s land… Most of those now calling the shots here are sons of the former regime and it’s worth asking what kind of state they want to create. Is it possible for democracy to prevail after 41 years where politics were forbidden? Or will the revolution fail in the end, even if it succeeds in toppling Gadhafi? And perhaps the greatest danger of all: Could this country, cobbled together by force under Gadhafi, end up disintegrating back into its component parts, into tribes, criminal gangs, warlords and Jihad groups, well-armed with Western weapons?…
“It is said that 8,000 people in Benghazi were government spies — the rebels found their names in files kept by the secret police. Armed young men roam the streets at night, arresting regime supporters, but private acts of revenge take place as well… Around 100 regime loyalists have recently been imprisoned. Armed young men are searching houses and also arresting sub-Saharan Africans, anyone they assume to be mercenaries and all those they simply refer to as spies, locking them up in the same prisons once used to hold opposition members… The prisoners sit in dark cells that stink of feces and urine…
“The rebels’ mood, exuberant and lighthearted in the beginning, has shifted. Their rhetoric is becoming increasingly tense and they dismiss any criticism as propaganda… These are the same threats, word for word, that Gadhafi uses to scare his opponents.”
Sadly, this seems always to be the end result of human rule. The oppressed, when being given the opportunity, become the oppressors.
Similar… with the Same Results?
The Drudge Report published the following on March 20:
“MARCH 19, 2011
“OBAMA: ‘Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world’…
“MARCH 19, 2003
“BUSH: ‘American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger’…”
This is indeed an interesting comparison, also in regard to the dates. We should realize that God has a time table. For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Authority of the Bible” and “Are You Predestined to Be Saved?”
Libya—War May Last “Awhile“
The New York Times wrote on March 27:
“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates acknowledged Sunday that the unrest in Libya did not pose an immediate threat to the United States. Even so, he and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Obama administration was justified in taking military action to avert a massacre there that could have altered the course of the popular revolts roiling the Arab world. The comments by President Obama’s two top national security officials… offered a striking illustration of the complex calculus that Mr. Obama faced in committing the military to impose a no-fly zone over Libya — one of the greatest gambles of his presidency… Both officials acknowledged that the operation could drag on for months or even into next year…
“On the key question of whether Libya constituted the kind of vital national interest that would normally justify military intervention, Mr. Gates offered a blunt denial… ‘No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of a region which is a vital interest for the United States,’ Mr. Gates said… Mrs. Clinton jumped in to clarify that the United States was obliged to act after allies like Britain and France, for whom Libya is a vital national interest, had requested that the international community respond… Mrs. Clinton emphasized that the administration did not view the Libya intervention as a precedent… she ruled out military action in Syria… the administration has watched violent crackdowns in Bahrain, Yemen and other Arab countries without intervening…”
President Obama Defends Action Against Libya…
The Associated Press reported on March 29:
“Defending the first war launched on his watch, President Barack Obama declared Monday night the United States intervened in Libya to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and ‘been a betrayal of who we are.’ Yet he ruled out targeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a costly mistake. Obama announced that NATO would take command over the entire Libya operation on Wednesday, keeping his pledge to get the U.S. out of the lead but offering no estimate on when the conflict might end.”
… While World Leaders Plan for Post-Gaddafi Libya
France24.com/AFP reported on March 29:
“Leaders from more than 35 governments and NGOs meeting in London have agreed to set up a contact group to provide ‘political direction’ to a post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya in coordination with the UN, African Union, Arab League and EU.”
Reading between the lines, while President Obama said that it would be a costly mistake to oust Gaddafi militarily, the 35 leaders meeting in London are already planning for a post-Gaddafi Libya.
Libya–NATO Takes Over… What?
The New York Times wrote on March 28:
“… the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support… General Ham’s warning… underscored the essential role of Western airstrikes, now focused mainly on Colonel Qaddafi’s ground troops, in reversing the rebels’ fortunes…
“Left open, as well, was the question of how the allies could justify airstrikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s forces around Surt if, as seems to be the case, they enjoy widespread support in the city and pose no threat to civilians. On Monday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, strongly criticized the allied attacks, saying ‘we consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council resolution,’ news agencies reported…
“At a news conference in Naples, Italy, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada, who has been named to lead the NATO air campaign, said that the goals of the air campaign remained the same… As Western warplanes again bombed sites around Tripoli and other Qaddafi strongholds, NATO agreed at a meeting in Brussels to take over the mission. The decision effectively relieved the United States of leading the fight…”
The Local wrote on March 25:
“Angela Merkel’s government has gone on the offensive over its maligned Libya policy, pushing hard for a complete oil embargo and even hinting that its NATO allies are hypocrites for bombing the country while still buying its oil.
“Development Minister Dirk Niebel told broadcaster ZDF on Thursday night that in effect Britain, France and the US were hypocritical for not supporting a complete embargo on Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s oil. ‘It is notable that exactly those countries which are blithely dropping bombs in Libya are still drawing oil from Libya,’ he said – remarks that are hardly likely to ease tensions with key allies angered over the country’s refusal to take part in the military operation.
“Meanwhile Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s broad threat to Arab rulers that they faced Libya-style intervention if they violently repressed their own people… Westerwelle, who abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote last week to enforce a ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya, said military means alone could not solve the Libyan crisis… It has been widely reported that NATO allies – France in particular – are deeply annoyed by Germany’s refusal to participate in enforcing the no-fly zone and bombing Libyan military targets, as well as its abstention in the vote to approve the measures in the Security Council.”
The Costs of War
Reuters reported on March 22:
“The no-fly zone over Libya could end up costing the Western coalition more than $1 billion if the operation drags on more than a couple of months, defense analysts say… The expense of patrolling the no-fly zone… is likely to be $30 million to $100 million a week… By comparison, the much more extensive Afghan war costs more than $9 billion a month.
“Some U.S. lawmakers and critics of President Barack Obama’s decision to join allies in the Libya bombing campaign have argued the United States cannot afford the operation while Congress wrangles over spending cuts and the country’s $1.48 trillion deficit. The Pentagon already has plans to cut $78 billion in defense spending over five years and is delaying weapons programs and putting off maintenance to reduce costs.
“… the Tomahawk cruise missiles fired so far by Britain and the United States cost about $200 million… The crash of a U.S. F-15 warplane was an unexpected cost… [The Pentagon will] probably… replace it with a joint strike fighter, with an estimated price tag of between $100 million and $150 million… defense analysts warned that British expenses for even a limited operation like Libya could quickly add up. Analyst Francis Tusa told BBC Radio 4 the missions flown so far cost Britain about 200,000 pounds ($325,000) per aircraft, with missiles running 800,000 pounds ($1.3 million) apiece. With Britain flying 10 Typhoon fighters to patrol the no-fly zone, ‘you’ll be looking at potentially 2, 3 million pounds a day ($3.25 million to $5 million),’ he said…”
ABC News reported on March 28:
“One week after an international military coalition intervened in Libya, the cost to U.S. taxpayers has reached at least $600 million, according figures provided by the Pentagon. U.S. ships and submarines in the Mediterranean have unleashed at least 191 Tomahawk cruise missiles from their arsenals to the tune of $268.8 million, the Pentagon said. U.S. warplanes have dropped 455 precision guided bombs, costing tens of thousands of dollars each. A downed Air Force F-15E fighter jet will cost more than $60 million to replace. And operation of the war craft, guzzling ever-expensive fuel to maintain their positions off the Libyan coast and in the skies above, could reach millions of dollars a week, experts say.”
In a world where people are starving to death because of lack of food and money, it is truly irresponsible to see world powers misappropriating funds to play their war games… But the curse of war and its terrible consequences are inevitable, as the next article shows.
“America Is Going Broke!”
Mail On Line wrote on March 23:
“A senior Federal Reserve official warned today that America is going broke… With the U.S. now fighting three wars, the massive new military drain on the budget could not have come at a worse time as the nation is trying to claw itself out of recession. The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag of well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone…
“Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said the American economy is at a crucial ‘tipping point.’ He added: ‘If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent – the question is when.’”
Japan—Dangerous Levels of Radioactivity
BBC News wrote on March 28:
“Highly radioactive water has been found for the first time outside one of the reactor buildings at Japan’s quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, officials say. The leak in a tunnel linked to the No 2 reactor has raised fears of radioactive liquid seeping into the environment. Plutonium has also been found in soil at the plant, but not at levels that threaten human health, officials say… Up until now, pools of water with extremely high levels of radiation have only been detected within the reactor buildings themselves.”
Mail On Line had already reported on March 19 that Japanese nuclear plant chief WEPT finally admitted that the radiation leak is “serious enough to kill people.”
The British paper, Express, added the following on March 31:
“NUCLEAR fallout from Japan has been detected in Britain sparking fears the whole country could have been exposed to radiation. Radioactive iodine was found in air samples taken in Oxfordshire, Glasgow and Dublin.
“Officials insisted the amount was ‘extremely low’ but the traces came from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, 5,500 miles away, which was crippled when the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan nearly three weeks ago… Experts last night played down the risks to humans and the environment despite the Iodine 131, the chemical in a radioactive state.”
In spite of consistent denials by the Japanese government and even the Western press, we must consider the facts. And the facts are that radiation, resulting from destruction through earthquakes and other natural catastrophes, as well as from nuclear war, WILL kill an incredible amount of people in the future. Please study our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
Jesuits Settle Claims for Abuse
The Associated Press reported on March 25:
“Jesuits in the northwestern U.S. have agreed to pay $166.1 million to hundreds of American Indians and Alaska Natives who were abused at the Catholic order’s schools around the region. The settlement also asks the order to provide a written apology to the victims and to share documents with them such as their personal medical records. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus runs schools in Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The claims are from victims who were students at reservation and village schools in all five states. The province had previously settled another 200 claims. Then the organization filed for bankruptcy, claiming the payments had depleted their treasury. But victims argued the province remained wealthy because it controls and owns Gonzaga University, Gonzaga Preparatory School, Seattle University and other schools and properties.”
Could you provide a list regarding leavened and unleavened products?
As many of our readers know, the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, as well as the Kirche des Ewigen Gottes in Germany, observe the annual Festival of the Days of Unleavened Bread. God commands us that during the seven days of that Festival, all leavened products have to be removed from our houses, and that only unleavened products are to be consumed during that time.
We explain in our Statements of Beliefs that we observe “The Days of Unleavened Bread once a year by not partaking of any food prepared with leaven for a period of seven days following the Passover. The partaking of the unleavened bread symbolizes the commitment to live a sinless life (Leviticus 23:6-8; Acts 20:6; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).”
For a general overview as to this Festival, please read our Q&A, which asks and answers the question: “Exodus 12:18, among other Scriptures, commands us to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Is this command still valid today? If so, how is it to be applied?”
For a more thorough presentation, please read our two free booklets, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” and “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days.”
As the Question in this particular Q&A suggests, new people who become acquainted with this Festival and want to obey God’s injunction, might not have yet a clear understanding as to what constitutes leavened products, which need to be removed and avoided during the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread.
In a previous Q&A, we discussed, in general terms, what constitutes leaven, and we addressed some specific areas, such as beer or toothpaste. We also addressed some areas where the understanding of the Jews differs from the understanding that God reveals in His Word.
That particular Q&A asked and answered the question: “We are commanded in the Bible to remove all leaven from our houses during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Is it true that your understanding and the understanding of the Jews are different, as to what constitutes leaven that needs to be removed? If so, could you explain your position and the reasons for it?”
Please make sure that you read or re-read that Q&A in conjunction with the material that is presented herein.
In addition, we are now providing you with a list as to what constitutes leaven which should be removed from our houses and which should not be partaken of during that time. Although quite thorough, we still would like to mention that this list must be viewed with caution; that is, it is critically important that one looks at the ingredients of each product.
For instance, just because the word “puff” or “puffed” is in the label (for instance, “puff pastry”) does not necessarily mean that the product is leavened. In the USA, there are normally four main ingredients in puff pastry: flour, butter, salt, and water; that is, it would contain no leaven. However, in the UK, “puff pastry” DOES include leaven, as reflected on the label, which means that it must be avoided. In any case, even in the USA, labels need to be checked to ascertain whether the product contains leaven.
Some pie crusts are unleavened, but one needs to be careful here, because most crusts do have leaven in them. We are informed that Marie Calendar’s does not have leavening in their crusts. Again, it is important that the labels are carefully reviewed to ascertain what the products contain.
The following lists items which contain Baking Powder and/or Baking Soda (or Sodium Bicarbonate) and/or YEAST and/or Baker’s Yeast. All of these need to be avoided during the Days of Unleavened Bread:
Crackers; Bread; Bagels; Muffins; Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns; Garlic Bread; Baguettes; Cheese Straws; Sausage Rolls; Corn Dogs; Sour Dough; Biscuits; Pretzel; (some) Cereals; Cheese Puffs; Cake; Pastry; (some) Pies; Cookies; Ice Cream Cones and Wafers; (some) Ice Cream with added Cookies; Pancakes; Waffles; Puff Pastry [in the UK, see comments above]; Self-Rising Flour; Graham Crackers; Bread Crumbs; Deep-Fried Chicken; Anything battered, i.e., Onion Rings or Fish; Croutons; Flour Tortillas; Burritos; Soft Tacos; Kit Kat; Wafer Biscuits; (some) Candy; (some) Candy Bars; Chinese Orange Chicken; Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Breaded Chicken; (some) Cereal Bars; Granola Bars; and (most) Bacon Bits.
Note that in the UK, the reference to “bacon” in “bacon bits” is understood as meaning pork. Of course, pork must not be eaten at any time. In the USA, the reference to “bacon” can also apply to beef and to turkey. But “beef bacon bits” or “turkey bacon bits” must not be consumed during the Days of Unleavened Bread, when they contain leaven (as distinguished from “autolysis yeast,” which is not a leavening agent, and therefore appropriate for consumption, see below).
Also, we need to point out that many restaurants have leavening in unsuspected products, for instance in meat. Most of this information is readily available online. For instance, in checking the ingredient statement on Taco Bell’s website, we are informed that in addition to the more obvious items (such as flatbread or chalupa flatbread), their chili and their “seasoned ground beef” contain yeast (which is to be avoided during the Days of Unleavened Bread).
On the other hand, products which contain Yeast Extract [as distinguished from Yeast] (for instance in soups), or “Autolyzed Yeast” or “Deactivated Yeast” are fine (these are not leavening agents, as they provide no fermentation activity. For instance, Deactivated Yeast is strictly designed to be used as a reducing agent for increased extensibility). In addition, Corn Tortillas are fine as well. Also exempt from the injunction to remove items from our houses during the Days of Unleavened Bread are those products which are not used for human consumption, such as dog or cat food, fire extinguishers and toothpaste; or beverages, such as beer.
We hope this list will be of assistance. We cannot overemphasize, however, that it is important to read the labels for the ingredients of each product. When in doubt, we should abstain from eating the item during the Days of Unleavened Bread, for “he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
by Bill Koeneke (Britain/USA)
Living on the east coast of New Jersey, I often went swimming in the summer. I was 7 or 8 years of age at the time when on one such occasion, I was suddenly caught by the undertow and dragged out to sea. It was perhaps only 10 yards or so, but it seemed a very long way out. Frightened, I became disoriented, attempting to grab onto something–anything–and then I began to lose consciousness. It felt like an oncoming pleasant death. I simply gave in to what seemed inevitable. Suddenly someone grabbed me, pulled me out, and pumped me out—and here I am, yours truly! On this occasion I had eluded death. Since that event I continue to fear being in deep water.
As a young lad in my teens, I became interested in justice, and I was always eager that the good guys would win over the bad guys. Some of my favourite radio and cinema programs involved cops and robbers and cowboys. As I matured, and near the end of my last year of college, I decided I wanted to join the FBI. I travelled to one of their field offices to take a written test. Unfortunately, I was so nervous that, as a result, I failed to pass the test which appeared at first to be fairly easy — I “flunked out” as they say. Fortunately, however, in the years following and together with a bit of hindsight and also in the light of my calling, it has occurred to me I had been, in effect, diverted from this career where I would have had to carry a weapon and perhaps, in the line of duty, would have had to kill someone.
Prior to the closing years of World War II, I joined the U.S. Army Air Force and was trained in Texas as an Airplane and Engine mechanic on their B-29 bomber aircraft. Following completion of the course, I was shipped to an east coast camp where I was asked to volunteer for a secret mission. Not knowing what the mission was all about, and wary of volunteering for the unknown, I declined. Subsequently I learned that it would have involved a transfer to the Pacific island of Tinian where some of the Army’s B-29 aircraft were stationed.
That assignment, in turn, would have involved me as a mechanic, along with others, helping to prepare one such aircraft which eventually was used to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan–with the result of having directly killed, out of a total population of 450,000, around 135,000 in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki and let alone those thousands who subsequently died weeks and months later from exposure to the effects of radiation and flash burns. In the light of my calling I have come to realize I was led to opt out of a potential scenario where I would have been directly involved in a mission with devastating consequences.
I was then shipped to the European theater of operations in southern France where there were no B-29s, in order to work on other types of aircraft as a mechanic while involved also in the refuelling unit. Thus I was spared from being assigned to one of the crews flying out of other airfields, for example in England, with B-17 aircraft, the so-called “Flying Fortress” that had as their daily mission the job of bombing, and thus killing, thousands of Germans, and in a number of cases the airmen themselves being shot down.
As a result of these incidents and considering the possibility of similar happenings in the past of which I am unaware, I feel mightily blessed, for with hindsight I have come to realise that, in effect, and unknowingly at the time, I was being super-naturally protected and prepared for a very special future mission. Once discharged from the Air Force in 1946, it was to be another 26 years before I actually realized God’s calling for that future mission.
It has been brought to our attention that God predestined and foreknew those whom He would ultimately call, and that the called-out ones are no longer subject to time and chance. I believe, based on the incidents I related above, that even prior to my actual calling, God was already watching over me, and that He was guiding and directing me in certain incidents.
Considering my own situation in that light, God called me for a far greater mission than anything this world could offer—a mission in which I have been involved for the past 39 years—and Amen to that!
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter was sent out this week, covering our annual conference and the pre-Passover season in which we are living. The letter also makes reference to the recent ordination of Mr. Eric Rank as an Elder, and the imminent travel of Mr. and Mrs. Link and their entire family to Germany in order to observe the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread with the German brethren. The letter includes a renewal card for the USA, and everyone on our mailing list in the USA is requested to fill out and return the card to us, to ensure continuing and uninterrupted service.
New information regarding our Feast sites for 2011 in California and North Wales has been posted on our US and UK Web sites.
A new StandingWatch program was placed on the Internet, titled, “The Future of Libya.”
In the program, the following is discussed: Why are we fighting against Libya? What do we hope to achieve? Who should lead? The USA does not want to, but it does not like France to lead, either. The Arab world and Turkey are opposed to air strikes; Germany won’t participate at all; NATO is taking a confusing position; and France’s role is becoming more and more problematic. In light of this confusion, what does the Bible say about the role that Libya will play in the not-too-distant future?
A new German AufPostenStehen program was placed on the Internet, titled, “Libyen in der Prophezeiung” (“Libya in Prophecy”).
A new German sermon has been posted on the Internet. It is titled, “Wie Nahe Ist Ihnen Gott?” (“How Close Is God To You?”)
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom