What About the Secret Rapture?
On August 27, 2011, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “What About the Secret Rapture?”
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.
Just What Did They Think Would Happen?
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
You may all have seen the recent riots in London, Manchester, Birmingham and other major cities in the UK, where mindless gangs of feral youth attacked vehicles, setting some alight, and where innocent bystanders were hurt and looting took place.
There were the inevitable comments from the usual suspects about young people not being engaged, systematic racism, lack of job prospects and other painful excuses for bad behaviour. One commentator observed that “there can be no excuse for this brutal behaviour. What we saw was not a political act but an outbreak of vicious nihilism.” He went on to say that “Indeed this mentality is deeply immoral, for the biggest losers from the Tottenham riots are the decent, law abiding citizens who have lost their homes or businesses. Their determination to contribute to our society has ended up being punished by brutes who demand respect but give none to others.”
Another commentator said that “Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters.” He went on to say: “If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame. Most have no jobs to go to or exams they might pass. They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped.”
This has been on the cards for many years. We have had a succession of governments who have dismantled the fabric of a decent society by undermining the importance of marriage, the bedrock of society, and redefined it. On top of that, co-habitation is now seen as the “norm” where feckless young men father children by different women. Many grow up in one parent families and jobs can be hard to find for those even when well qualified. Many youngsters have become dependent on welfare benefits and seem to feel that living off the state is their right. With time on their hands and little to do, this can be a potent mix where the disciplines of yesteryear are discarded. I heard, on the radio, a young girl looter telling a BBC reporter that “it showed the rich and the police that ‘we can do what we like.’”
And the “rent-a-mob” mentality takes hold.
A week later, and we had the Prime Minister and other leading politicians in the country talking about looking at ways to fix a broken society. And this was from a group of career politicians, many of whom had been caught with their fingers in the till over the expenses scandal. What sheer hypocrisy! Not once did I hear anything about God, the Bible or Christianity being mentioned in the plans of action to be discussed as these issues are investigated. As the deputy Prime Minister is an atheist, he would be unlikely to look at any spiritual aspect of any proposed form of action.
Biblical values are consistently undermined by the teaching of evolution in schools, that all life styles are equal irrespective of true morality, and an aggressive atheistic lobby holds sway where a gullible public swallow their intellectual nonsense. Christianity is often sidelined and ridiculed, and the Bible is seen as being outdated and unnecessary. The one place where there are sustainable answers is rarely, if ever, mentioned.
There is little esteeming others better than self and doing what is in the best interests of neighbours. A selfish society has developed where these riots take place, and the perpetrators feel that it is their right to act in such a way. And much handwringing takes place by those in charge.
With all of this potent mix present, just what did they think would happen?
We are reporting about the fluid situation in Libya and explain that it is far too early to celebrate; point out the emerging possibility of “foreign” military involvement in Syria; speak of the rocky relationship between US Christian fundamentalists and Israel; address the dangers of Egypt’s new-found “democracy”; speak of the failure of the U.S. legal system in the Strauss-Kahn matter; report on the unusual earthquake which hit the U.S. East Coast, and Hurricane Irene; discuss the perceived need to create a powerful European fiscal government; and show how much U.K.’s former Prime Minister is out of touch with reality.
This Week in the News
Confusion and Chaos in Libya
The New York Times wrote on August 22:
“The struggle to… impose a new order on the capital presents a crucial test of the rebel leadership’s many pledges to replace Colonel Qaddafi’s bizarre autocracy with the democratic rule of law, and it could have consequences across the country and throughout the Arab world. Unlike the swift and largely peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan insurrection was the first revolt of the Arab Spring to devolve into a protracted armed struggle, and at times threatened to descend into a civil war of factions and tribes… an ugly outcome here might discourage strong foreign support for democracy movements elsewhere.
“For now, governments throughout the West and the Middle East welcomed the rebels’ victory and pledged to assist them in the transition. The European Union said Monday that it had begun planning for a post-Qaddafi era, and Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said he would… meet with the rebel leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil… Egypt formally recognized the rebel Libyan government on Monday…”
More Than 30 Countries Recognize Libya’s NTC
Haaretz wrote on August 23:
“More than 30 countries now recognize the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate representative of Libya… [Five] countries moved to recognize the NTC on Tuesday alone – Iraq, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman and Nigeria – joining the United States and the major European Union countries…
“Of the other major powers, Russia has said it will not recognize the NTC as the sole legitimate representative of Libya, but it does recognize it as a party to the talks… China… has courted Libyan rebels by hosting their leaders and sending envoys for talks…
“Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that his government recognized the NTC, as did the Arab League… Turkey first recognized the National Council as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people in June, but officials said that did not mean it was the only representative of the Libyan people…”
Deutsche Welle reported on August 25 that “The Arab League effectively recognized the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country’s legitimate representatives on Thursday, saying the NTC should take up Libya’s permanent seat on the council starting at a meeting of Arab ministers on Saturday.”
What’s Next for Libya?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 23:
“… what happens next? One thing is clear: An entirely new state will have to be created. Forty-two years of despotic leadership have left Libya with little to build upon. There are no democratic structures and there is no rule of law. Oil reserves might make Libya a potentially rich nation, but the economy and infrastructure are in a ruinous state. Old rivalries between the country’s tribes are already flaring…
“The Libyan National Transition Council, which hopes to lead the restructuring, will hardly be in a position to transform the country into a stable member of the global community without help. It is already dependent on massive support from outside, largely from Europe and the United States. But to what extent can the West intervene? With money alone, or possibly even with United Nations peacekeepers?
“It is a difficult situation… Libya could dissolve into a powder keg…”
Der Tagesspiegel added on August 23:
“One can only hope that the rebels won’t take revenge and massacre those who were loyal to their dictator. It will be difficult enough as it is to create a working democracy… That will require the ability to compromise and to engage in consensus — characteristics that neither side has shown so far.”
Too Early to Celebrate
USA Today wrote on August 23:
“… justifiable joy over the crumbling of Gadhafi’s regime… is tempered by the knowledge that the fall of a dictator is not the end of the story… In Iraq, as Americans know all too well, the celebrations in Baghdad’s Firdos Square and premature triumphalism over Saddam Hussein’s ouster were followed by a bloody insurgency, sectarian strife, an emboldened Iran and the rise of an al-Qaeda affiliate where none had existed. So it’s far too early for cheers…
“What will the new Libya look like? It surely won’t be Western-style democracy, and in the end it might not even be one country, fracturing instead along historical tribal lines. And in a nation that is 97% Sunni Muslim, the government will undoubtedly have an Islamic flavor. Things could still turn out badly, particularly if Islamists gain too much power…”
On August 23, USA Today published the following additional viewpoints:
“David Pryce-Jones, National Review Online: ‘The sight of the pick-up vans pouring into Tripoli is more frightening than encouraging. Here are milling crowds with weapons but no training in how to handle them, and no discipline. Unlike the spokesmen, (these) wild and angry men are firing guns, shouting about what they are going to do to Moammar Gadhafi and how great the future will be. Circumstances like these have ended down the centuries in revenge and murder. It is pointless to speak of law and order. After 40 years of one-man rule, there are no institutions or personalities with the authority for even minimum control. Those milling crowds look like anarchy.’
“Andrew Solomon, The New Yorker: ‘Few citizens will cry if Gadhafi hangs, but many fear that the eastern tribes, long disadvantaged inside Libya, will be harsh to the western ones if they win power. The Transitional National Council, which speaks for the rebellion, has been surprisingly effective at keeping the fighting going for six months, but to suggest that it represents the views of all Gadhafi’s opponents would be naive. It doesn’t even represent the views of all members of the established resistance in the eastern part of Libya, and it will surely not represent the interests of the many sophisticated Tripolitans who despise the leader, but also dislike the rebels’ ragtag chaos. The TNC has tended to describe itself in whatever terms will most effectively secure it NATO’s continued allegiance. These are nothing more than campaign promises, irrelevant to postwar leadership and reconstruction.’
“Daniel Serwer, Foreign Policy: ‘Establishing transparent, accountable, and inclusive institutions of governance will be the responsibility of the Transitional National Council (TNC)… The TNC’s inclinations are clearly in the democratic direction, but it has been rent by factionalism and disorganization. The killing of the rebel military chief Abdel Fatah Younes by what appears to be a dissident faction within the rebel ranks is only the most visible example of this internal chaos…’
“Marc Ginsberg, The Huffington Post: ‘Libya may be unified in the short run, but underneath the euphoria that will accompany the rebels’ victory, Libya is a very divided nation… There is real danger that the temporary alliance that formed the backbone of the rebel leadership will fracture, perhaps on tribal lines or religious lines, as competing tribes try to cut their own deals to gain influence and assert control over Libya’s all-important petroleum resources in the growing power vacuum.’”
As all of these articles show, it is far too early to celebrate, as Libya’s future looks grim and very uncertain. For further information, please read our Q&A on Libya and view our StandingWatch programs on the issue, “Libya in Prophecy” and “The Future of Libya”.
Germany Must Never Abstain Again…
The conservative paper, Die Welt, (as well as other German papers) used the “victory” of the rebels to blast the German government for their refusal to intervene militarily in Libya. Die Welt wrote on August 23:
“… the triumph of the Libyan revolution has made a mockery of German foreign policy… The triumph of the Libyan revolution leaves Germany’s foreign policy disgraced to its core. Without the air war waged by NATO — which Germany boycotted in a fit of national-pacifist arrogance — the victory of the rebels would have been impossible.”
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added:
“Germany, which always professed to be a supporter of common European defense, withheld its solidarity from countries that are essential for this goal, using spurious arguments, and mainly motivated by domestic political considerations. This will do lasting damage to Berlin’s credibility on security policy. The foreign minister’s argument that Germany didn’t want to deploy ground troops was an excuse from the start — the British and French didn’t want to either, let alone the Americans; the pleasure being expressed now at the victory of the rebels seems all the more embarrassing.”
The business daily Financial Times Deutschland wrote:
“The rebels’ victory has many fathers, but none of them is German…”
Germany’s decision not to intervene militarily in Libya was the only sound and correct one, and it was supported by the overwhelming majority of the German people. The current celebrations of those who think that their military engagement was the right course of action will soon change their laughter into mourning and weeping. However, it is remarkable that portions of the German press, which was at first supportive of the German government’s decision not to intervene, is now suddenly attacking them for their inactivity, strongly implying that Germany should have intervened, and advocating the idea that they should do so in the future. As the media is far too often not reporting the news, but trying to “create” the news and influence and even change the opinions of the people, we will have to wait to see what such current mind games will accomplish. In this light, the following article is also very revealing.
The Local reported on August 24:
“Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Wednesday offered a blistering assessment of Germany’s current foreign policy, saying the country had become an erratic and unreliable partner to its closest allies… Germany’s longest-serving post-war leader slammed his successors Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel for ruining the country’s reputation overseas.
“’Germany’s hasn’t been a reliable power for several years – neither domestically nor abroad,’ said Kohl. ‘We have to be careful not to throw everything away. We desperately have to return to our former dependability.’ Kohl said recent events such as Germany’s decision not to support the efforts of its closest allies to oust Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and the lacking German leadership during the eurozone debt crisis had left him dismayed…
“The former chancellor, who presided over Germany reunification in 1990, said the foreign policy of Merkel’s centre-right coalition under the direction of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle appeared haphazard and without direction… Kohl also pointed to the decision last spring by US President Barack Obama to visit France and Poland yet skip over Germany as a sign just how much the current government had neglected transatlantic relations…
“The 81-year-old also warned about the dangers posed by the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. Bailing out heavily indebted euro members such as Greece was crucial to [the] future of the European Union, he said. ‘We have no choice if we don’t want Europe to break apart,’ Kohl said, adding he never would have allowed Greece to join the single currency had he still been chancellor at the time.”
Merkel and Westerwelle rejected Kohl’s criticism, while justifying their actions. In addition, as The Local reported on August 25, “Forbes magazine has named German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world’s most powerful woman, calling her the ‘undisputed’ leader of the European Union and head of its only ‘real global economy.’ Merkel, who has topped the list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in all but one of the years since she became chancellor in November 2005, beat out US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, in 3rd place, Dilma Rousseff, who became Brazil’s first woman president on January 1 2011.”
The U.S. Costs of the Libyan War… So Far…
ABC News reported on August 22:
“The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost American taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said today. The price tag includes the amounts for daily military operations, munitions used in the operation and humanitarian assistance for the Libyan people. The U.S. has also promised $25 million in non-lethal aid to the Libyan Transitional National Council…
“While Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appears on the way out, NATO says flight missions over Tripoli will continue… Over the past 12 days, U.S. planes have flown 391 sorties for a total of 5,316 since April 1…
“One significant offset to the cost of U.S. involvement in the flights worth noting is the sale of military equipment to allies also involved in the cause. Pentagon officials say the sale of ammunition, replacement parts, fuel, and technical assistance to allies since March has totaled $221.9 million…”
How much good could be done with those amounts of money which are currently wasted, to a large extent, for evil…
The Future of Libya’s Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Associated Press reported on August 23:
“No one can be sure who controls the Libyan government’s weapons stockpiles, a stew of deadly chemicals, raw nuclear material and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that officials fear could fall into terrorists’ hands in the chaos of Moammar Gadhafi’s downfall or afterward. One immediate worry, U.S. intelligence and military officials say, is that Gadhafi might use the weapons to make a last stand.
“But officials also face the troubling prospect that the material, which was left under Gadhafi’s control by a U.S.-backed disarmament pact, could be obtained by al-Qaida or other militants even after a rebel victory is secured.”
The Washington Post wrote on August 22:
“U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of failing to live up to his pledge to halt all security operations against protesters, saying the Syrian leader ‘has not kept his word.’… The Syrian government’s ongoing military crackdown on civilians has deepened Assad’s isolation, prompting President Obama and key European leaders from Britain, France and Germany to call for him to step down.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council, meanwhile, met Monday to discuss a draft resolution [which was subsequently adopted] calling for the establishment of a commission to investigate allegations of Syrian abuses… [The adopted resolution] ‘strongly condemns’ the government’s ‘continued grave and systematic human rights violations’ and insists that those responsible for the violence be held accountable for their crimes…
“’The United States deplores Assad’s campaign of ever-increasing brutality and terror against unarmed innocents, which may amount to crimes against humanity,’ Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, told the Geneva-based council Monday. ‘The Assad regime has no intention of ceasing its violent attacks against the Syrian people.’”
Assad warned that any military intervention would have terrible repercussions. If a full-fledged war with foreign intervention breaks out in Syria, the devastating consequences would be indeed much more severe than in any of the rebelling Arab countries so far…
The Rocky Relationship between US Christian Fundamentalists and Israel
The Los Angeles Times wrote on August 23:
“[Glen Beck’s] rally in Jerusalem has triggered a debate over whether he should be embraced as a pro-Israel friend or condemned as a fanatic who has battled allegations of anti-Semitism. The visit is focusing renewed attention on the growing, and some say unlikely, alliance between right-wing Israelis and Christian fundamentalists in the U.S…
“Beck’s staunch support for Israeli control over Jerusalem and his criticism of Palestinians’ ambitions to create their own state have won him praise from many conservative Israeli leaders… But critics say Beck’s track record of controversial statements makes him an inappropriate ally. Last month he likened Norwegian youths gunned down at a political camp by an anti-Islamic extremist to ‘Hitler Youth.’
“Twice in the last year Beck has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League for ‘bigoted’ and ‘horrific’ comments on his show, one likening Reform Judaism to ‘radicalized Islam’ and another in which he said Holocaust survivor and billionaire George Soros betrayed fellow Jews to Nazis. Under pressure from Jewish groups in the U.S., Beck apologized for the remark about Reform Judaism.
“He has several times had to fend off allegations of anti-Semitism. Last year he appeared to endorse the notion that Jews killed Jesus Christ; his list of the world’s nine most ‘dangerous’ people includes eight Jews…
“Beck’s visit reflects the partnership between conservative Israelis and some American Christian groups. So-called Christian Zionist groups and evangelical churches, such as Texas-based John Hagee Ministries, donate millions of dollars to help fund settlement construction in the West Bank and support Israel. The support comes, in part, from a belief among some Christian fundamentalists that Jews are God’s ‘chosen people’ and that a return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem are signs of the second coming. Beck, who converted to the Mormon faith in 1999, frequently discussed such end-of-the-world prophecies and biblical themes on his program.
“For conservative Israelis, the benefits of the alliance are more pragmatic. American evangelical groups have become a key source of tourist dollars and political and financial support, particularly as the divide has grown between American Jews, who remain predominantly liberal, and Israelis, who are shifting more toward the right.
“‘It’s a marriage of convenience,’ said Hebrew University political science professor David Ricci, an expert in U.S. relations. ‘Over the last 10 years, fewer liberals in the U.S. are willing to be clearly identified with the Israeli government.’ But Ricci and others see potential fault lines in the partnership. For starters, evangelicals are often active in missionary work, something Israelis do not tolerate…”
A Frightening Look at Egypt’s New Democracy
The Blaze wrote on August 22:
“While perhaps not shocking, it is profoundly disturbing that in the purportedly more ‘moderate’ Egypt of 2011, demonstrators took to the streets outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo with signs bearing swastikas and a message that read: ‘the gas chambers are ready.’
“It was feared by some that the fall of Mubarak would create a vacuum, thereby opening the door for an Israel-hostile regime to enter Egypt’s halls of power. If ‘democracy’ is what the Egyptian spring truly sought and cared about, then why the vitriolic calls for Jews to be sent to the gas chambers? And to whose gas chambers, exactly, are the protesters referring? Is this what Israel has to look forward to from its ever-changing neighbor?”
Powerful Earthquake Strikes US East Coast
The Associated Press reported on August 23:
“One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast of the United States shook buildings and rattled nerves on Tuesday and forced the evacuations of parts of the Capitol, the White House, and the Pentagon… The quake registered magnitude 5.8 and was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., the U.S. Geological Survey said.
“Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station, in the same county as the epicenter, were automatically taken off line by safety systems… The earthquake came less than three weeks before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and it immediately triggered fears in both Washington and New York of something more sinister than a natural disaster…
“A magnitude of 5.8 would make the quake among the most powerful to strike the eastern United States. In 1897, a magnitude 5.9 quake was recorded at Giles County, Va., the largest on record in that state. East Coast earthquakes are far less common than in the West, but they tend to be felt over a broad area.”
The Weather Channel reported on August 25 that “Our projected path map… continues to paint an ominous picture by pointing Hurricane Irene right in the direction of the East Coast this weekend. The latest computer model guidance confirms this threat and the first hurricane watches have been issued for the United States. The potential is real for the strongest hurricane hit on the Northeast in at least a couple decades this weekend!…
“Going back to 1851, there have been only 5 hurricanes whose centers of circulation have passed within 75 miles of New York City. The last hurricane within that distance from New York City was Hurricane Gloria 26 years ago… Similarly, only 10 hurricanes since 1851 have passed within 75 miles of Boston. The most recent was almost exactly 20 years ago: Hurricane Bob.”
BBC News added on August 25:
“The first hurricane of the Atlantic season is a category three storm, packing winds of 115mph (185km/h), and expected to get stronger… Irene, which is passing over the Bahamas, has already caused havoc throughout the Caribbean… The storm is growing larger and is expected to reach category four as it heads towards the US… The exact track of the hurricane is uncertain, but US emergency officials said the east coast from the Carolinas to New England was preparing for its impact.”
Strauss-Kahn Free, While US Justice System Failed Miserably
Der Spiegel wrote von August 23:
“Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is free after attempted rape charges against him were dropped in New York on Tuesday…
“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘We don’t know what happened. In light of the alleged rape victim’s mendacity, the New York public prosecutors didn’t dare to find out the truth’…
“The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The fact remains that Strauss-Kahn’s public existence — as director of the IMF and promising French presidential candidate — is probably destroyed forever…’
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘This affair, staged like an entertainment spectacle, was a test for the US justice system. It failed miserably. Pre-judgment took place instead of presumed innocence, conjecture instead of clarification, public sensationalism instead of personal protection, and a pre-trial pillory took the place of an unbiased investigation…’
“The financial daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘If one lesson should be taken from the failed case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn it should be this: Have mercy on those who fall into the grasp of the US justice system. Even if the public prosecutors stopped a case that lacks foundation at the last minute, Strauss-Kahn’s case exposes the weaknesses of the American justice system … Those who don’t have the means to fight against this must fear injustice before the court. This goes to the question of why the statements of the alleged victim were sufficient, without previous examination, to set a martial trial in motion. A trial that appealed to the most base instincts of the public by staging the fall of one of the world’s most powerful men. If anything remains from the Strauss-Kahn case, hopefully it will be a lively debate over the American justice system.’”
Sadly, such a discussion won’t be forthcoming. In light of the miserable failure of the US “justice” system in the case at hand, platitudes like, “We see that our system works,” are just laughable, if they weren’t so tragic.
EU Must Become a Strong Fiscal Unity
The Local reported on August 21:
“The head of Germany’s Commerzbank Martin Blessing has called for a unified European economic policy organized by a finance minister to stabilize the single currency. The only alternative is to abandon the euro, he said. ‘We need a real European finance minister with the appropriate powers,’ Blessing wrote in a guest column in Sunday’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper…
“The top bank manager said there were only two ways out of the current debt crisis: a return to national currencies, or fiscal unity for the European Union. Blessing said the idea of a common economic government was the first step in the right direction, but that it was currently not being implemented forcefully enough…
“He said that only strong institutions with the power to intervene in the budget sovereignty of individual euro-states would help. He said only this would force national governments to stick to financial conditions. Blessing also suggested the EU should be allowed to impose taxes, and to construct a common debt agency to issue government bonds.”
If those two alternatives are correct, then we would have to conclude that such an autocratic unified European economic policy will be established for the reason alone that the core countries of the Eurozone will not replace the euro with national currencies. In this context, Der Spiegel reported on August 24 that “the former head of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, expects an end to the European common currency. ‘The euro is collapsing,’ Greenspan was quoted as saying at a Washington, D.C. symposium. Such an event would cause grave problems for European banks, whose security is already partially ‘questionable,’ he said.” Of course, Greenspan was fundamentally wrong before, and he is also wrong again in his remarks about the anticipated “collapse” of the euro.
Tony Blair Out Of Touch With Reality
Mail On Line reported on August 23:
“In a rare intervention in domestic politics, the former Prime Minister [Tony Blair] suggested Mr Cameron was wrong to blame the riots on a general ‘moral decline’ in Britain… He spoke out as it emerged that Scotland Yard believes up to 30,000 people were involved in looting, arson and criminal damage during the riots in London.
“Metropolitan Police figures show 3,296 crimes were committed during four days of rioting in the capital. Between five and ten people were linked with each crime, so police believe they may be looking at between 15,000 and 30,000 suspects… [Blair] said the main problem lay with alienated youths from dysfunctional families living ‘at odds with any canons of proper behaviour’… He went on: ‘The key is to understand that they aren’t symptomatic of society at large…’
“Mr Blair accepted that he made a mistake in 1993 when he suggested, as shadow home secretary, that the killing in Liverpool of two-year-old James Bulger had deeper causes in the breakdown of communities. He said at the time: ‘We cannot exist in a moral vacuum. If we do not learn and then teach the value of what is right and what is wrong, then the result is simply moral chaos which engulfs us all. I have no doubt that the breakdown of law and order is intimately linked to the break-up of a strong sense of community. And the break-up of community in turn is, to a crucial degree, consequent on the breakdown in family life.’
“The speech helped to undermine John Major’s Conservative government. Yesterday Mr Blair said: ‘I now believe that speech was good politics but bad policy.’”
Apart from the fact that Tony Blair’s present position makes little sense and is clearly unrealistic in the light of the established facts, he admits that he made earlier statements just for the sake of politics. Again, we observe the hypocritical and unrighteous character of political maneuverings, which establishes and reconfirms our dogmatic position that a true Christian must not have anything to do with such dirty endeavors, including voting in governmental elections for any of the political candidates.
Do you have any guidelines for preparing and giving a sermonette?
As we pointed out in a previous Q&A, discussing opening and closing prayers, the Church of the Eternal God in the USA and its corporate affiliates, the Global Church of God in the UK, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, trace their roots to the Worldwide Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong (who died in 1986). During his lifetime, Mr. Armstrong established the way in which Church of God services should be conducted, and we have substantially adopted these procedures. As a consequence, our weekly and annual Sabbath services include opening and closing prayers, a song service, announcements, occasional special music presentations (especially during the Feast of Tabernacles), and a sermonette and a sermon (sometimes, we may have two split sermons instead of a sermonette and a sermon, and we may on rare occasions dispense with a sermonette in lieu of a longer announcement session).
As pointed out in our previous Q&A, only baptized men are to give sermonettes and sermons.
We are presenting the following guidelines, which the Church has developed over the years, in regard to the preparation and presentation of sermonettes. This is not a rigid outline or formula, but it is meant to give valuable principles.
The purpose of the sermonette is to prepare the audience for the sermon, but it is not just a “general” or “ordinary” message, but it is supposed to be an inspired message from God. Normally, a sermonette should not be longer than 15 minutes, unless the presiding Pastor has given special prior permission for a longer message.
To give a sermonette is a privilege, not a right. Sermonettes provide opportunities for baptized men to teach—not to preach or correct. A sermonette speaker won’t be able to “fix” or “save” someone in a short message, anyway. Correction is the responsibility of the Pastor. Sermonette topics should be carefully selected. Topics which are corrective or overly broad or are “new” or speculative would be inappropriate. A topic which challenges Church teaching is absolutely forbidden.
Appropriate topics could be broken down into the following categories:
- an explanation of “difficult” or misapplied Scriptures in light of Church teaching (e.g., 1 Timothy 4:4 or Acts 10:12-13–do these passages justify eating unclean meats; or John 14:2–is heaven the reward of the saved?; or Luke 17:21–is the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men?);
- an explanation of two Scriptures, which apparently contradict each other (e.g., Acts 9:7 vs. Acts 22:9–did or didn’t those with Paul on the road to Damascus hear the voice of Christ?);
- a clarification of a particular Scriptural point (e.g., Mark 9:48–are there immortal worms?); and
- an explanation of how to apply Scripture and Church teaching in practice (e.g., how to use our second tithe; or how to dress for Sabbath services; or what is right conversation after services; or how to participate during the song service; or how to teach our children to rejoice at the Feast of Tabernacles; or what does it mean that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, as related to drugs, smoking, excessive drinking or tattoos). However, as mentioned, it should encourage the audience to do or not to do something; the purpose is NOT to correct the audience.
The sermonette speaker has to make sure, of course, that the explanations he is giving are the right ones! He is not to rely on what he might have heard someone say many years ago. He also has to make sure that the written source material he may be using is accurate and current. This is true for “worldly” commentaries and encyclopedias, but it can also include “old” Church articles which are by now outdated or which have been subsequently revised.
The Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates have published a wealth of current information on biblical topics, including 33 booklets, over 500 weekly Updates (many of which include a Bible Study or Q&A and a Bible-oriented Editorial); over 100 member letters, as well as hundreds of posted sermons, split sermons and sermonettes. We have posted all of our literature and many of our audio and video-recorded messages on our websites (www.eternalgod.org; www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk; www.churchofgodacf.ca; www.standingwatch.org; www.aufpostenstehen.de). Many of our video-recorded messages can also be found on You Tube, and the Church of the Eternal God is now also featured on Facebook.
The sermonette speaker must be supportive and promote unity. The material he presents must be correct, and he must never publicly disagree with any Church teachings. If he has questions, he must check them out with the ministry. It is not wrong to have questions or a lack of understanding, but one must get them sorted out if one is to be a fully supportive member of the Church. If in doubt, it is always advisable to discuss the proposed sermonette with the local Pastor before giving it.
The sermonette speaker is not to use the sermonette time to air personal gripes or complaints about the Church, the organization, members of the local congregation, the ministry, or any other Church problem. He is not to take a personal problem of someone in the congregation and give a sermonette about it.
The sermonette speaker should pray about his sermonette and begin to prepare the message early—not just the night before or the very same day when he is to speak. When preparing and delivering the message, the sermonette speaker has to keep in mind proper and clear pronunciation and grammar; as well as vocal variety and quality. Inappropriate language is to be avoided. The pulpit is not the place to describe explicitly the sins of mankind. Paul and the other apostles do mention certain types of sin, but they do not describe them in detail. The same goes for slang bordering on bad language.
When giving his message, the sermonette speaker needs to maintain eye contact with the audience, which prohibits just reading from many notes or a transcript. As we pointed out in a previous Q&A, “This is not to say that we should not prepare our messages and reduce our thoughts to writing and that we should not have any notes when delivering a sermonette or a sermon, but it is to say that speakers must not be too ‘note-bound’ when they deliver their message. Rather, they should and must allow God to inspire them, while speaking.”
In addition, a sermonette speaker needs to be well groomed; and he needs to smile and be warm and friendly, without being overly jocular or just plain silly. Remember, we are appearing in front of GOD during the entire Sabbath service.
Each sermonette should follow the usual Outline of a powerful introduction, a clear and precise Specific Purpose Statement (SPS), a body or main contents of the message, and a gripping and memorable conclusion. (But before beginning with the introduction, it is important that the speaker recognizes and welcomes the audience. A warm short greeting with a smiling face will be much appreciated by the audience. Just jumping into the message without first addressing the audience would be inappropriate.)
The Introduction must grab the audience’s attention. It must give the audience a reason why they should listen; why it is important for them to know. It could present a challenge; give some startling facts; or ask a question. A sermonette speaker should not begin with, “Let’s turn with me to….”; or, “I would like to explain the apparent contradiction….” All of this is lifeless and somewhat boring. Instead, a powerful introduction could perhaps be, “How can you be sure that you don’t go to heaven when you die?” Or: “How would you explain to someone that we don’t vote in governmental elections?” It is of course necessary that the introduction relates to the rest of the sermonette. It must lead into the Specific Purpose Statement (SPS).
The Specific Purpose Statement (SPS) makes clear what the sermonette speaker is going to cover in the course of the sermonette. It tells the audience what he is seeking to achieve. It introduces the ONE point which the sermonette will discuss. The introduction and the SPS of the sermonette do not necessarily have to be presented distinctly and separately. The sermonette’s opening comments may be a combination of these two functions.
The Body or main contents of the sermonette must of course respond and relate to, and deliver what was stated in the introduction and the SPS. It must fulfill what was set out to achieve, without containing new or unrelated material. The points within the body should flow in logical sequence (chronologically, historically, etc.), but there should not be too many points. A sermonette is to have ONE main point; it can of course have a few sub-points which all relate to the main point.
A sermonette is not to have too many Scriptures, either. The Church has suggested at times that a sermonette should have no more than three or four Scriptures. This is a sound guideline, but not an iron-clad rule. Some sermonettes can be very effective, even though they may include more than four Scriptures, while other sermonettes with three Scriptures may not be that effective. But it is most certainly not good to load the message with Scripture after Scripture where most of the time is taken up reading them and little time is left to comment on them or give supporting material.
The Conclusion of the sermonette is vitally important. The last words will stay the longest with the audience. Common mistakes are to just stop speaking almost without warning at the end of the body of the speech; to give a conclusion which is not related to the rest of the sermonette; or to introduce new material. The conclusion must be memorized and should not be read, and the speaker should NOT end his message with, “Thank you.” Rather, the conclusion must be effective. It could emphasize the ONE point that was made in the sermonette. It might include some catchy phrase related to the sermonette, or leave the audience with a challenge to apply what has been said.
Since giving a sermonette is an opportunity for a non-ministerial speaker to receive training in leadership and effective public speaking, as well as in serving the congregation, he should expect and welcome constructive criticism and an evaluation of his sermonette from his minister. Being asked to give a sermonette is a wonderful opportunity and responsibility, which must not be taken lightly. A sermonette speaker should carefully and prayerfully review and apply these guidelines, so that he may deliver a God-pleasing and Godly inspired message, which will be helpful to the audience.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
God’s “Peculiar” Plan
by Noelle Link
A little more than a year ago, my doctor placed me on disability. I was 9 weeks pregnant and had an 8mm kidney stone that was causing a lot of back pain, in addition to the back pain I already have from a degenerative condition. I had mixed feelings at the time, since it was quite a financial loss for our family, or was it? I later came to realize that God had a plan. Since then the kidney stone has stabilized and is no longer causing pain. During that time, I had been on disability for my back which allowed me to stay home with Mason, which turned out to be the best thing for my baby and me. He is now almost 7 months old.
I wondered to myself, what was the purpose of all this? I know God has a hand in everything, and while being on disability was literally a pain, it did have its benefits. Since I didn’t have to go to work, I didn’t have to worry about finding a babysitter or putting my son in a daycare. Instead, he was home with me and I got to experience the joy to raise him properly, cherishing every minute with him. In the meantime my disability benefits ended, but I am still in pain. The question now is, what does God plan to do next as our financial state could be in jeopardy once again—or is it? I have faith that God will provide, as I continue to pray every day to be healed from my pain, and I know I will be, when the time is right.
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter has been posted on the Web site and was sent out last week, together with a copy of our new booklet, “Germany in Prophecy.”
Our new booklet, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians,” has entered the final review cycle.
A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “Is the Fourth Reich Coming?”
The German version of the English program titled, “Kommt das Vierte Reich?” was posted on our German Web site (www.aufpostenstehen.de) and on YouTube.
A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Gibt es eine heimliche Entrueckung?” [“Is there a secret rapture?”]
Please feel free to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”
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