Update 552


War in the Millennium?

On August 4, 2012, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “War in the Millennium?”
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.

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Advance or Stagnate and Decline!

by Dave Harris

Is life better for you now than it was last year? Have you personally made improvements in any areas that have held you back?

Jesus Christ said, “‘…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’” (John 10:10). Is that even possible today? When we consider the frightening state of humanity, isn’t it simply a matter of just hanging on to what we have—much less to be really challenging ourselves to take on problems that will, after all, best be resolved when we are changed into Spirit?

This is, unfortunately, the kind of spiritual malaise that has settled into the lives of many members of the household of God—people who were once zealous, fired up for the Work of God and striving to overcome sin through greater and greater commitment by obedience to God!

Growth is spoken of in reference to the Church of God, and that has to do with a responsibility placed on each one of us. Consider what Paul wrote in the Book of Ephesians (NASB version):

“‘but speaking [better: holding] the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love’” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

There are a couple of ways we can measure “growth in the body,” and one is found in another of Paul’s letters:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified [margin: do not stand the test]” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Another determination for us to consider is our committed personal involvement in the Work of the Church of God—the Work Jesus Christ is overseeing as Head of the Church (compare Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18).

Lest we forget, our goal remains before us, and that is to become “‘…perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect’” (Matthew 5:48). Also, this is exactly the ultimate purpose Paul understood that his preaching was to focus on, and he expressed this when he said of Jesus Christ:

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28).

Take this to heart—we should all be growing, and even though there will be times when the passion of our calling grows a little cool, we must rebound and continue to “stir up the gift of God” advancing toward the perfection that can be ours!

Otherwise, we may just find ourselves stagnating, even declining and slipping back into the destructive society of our day—and the fate which awaits this age is, as the Bible quite pointedly warns, a dead end!

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We begin with an insightful article in the New York Times about the rather weird Olympic Opening Ceremony in London, prompting us to reflect on God’s prophecies in the book of Hosea; continue with the horrible crime of female circumcision and Britain’s dubious role in this regard; and speak, in contrast, about Germany’s scandalous movement towards banning circumcision of young boys, and Satan’s role in all of these developments.

We continue with the agendas and flubs of our American leaders in politics and the media and the dubious roles the NRA leadership and gay activities are playing in this country. We warn of a coming global food crisis; address the terrible consequences of a military confrontation between Israel and Iran for the entire world, and conclude with a report on the outbreak of new fighting in Ethiopia.

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Britain’s Weird Olympic Opening Ceremony

The New York Times wrote on July 28:

“With its hilariously quirky Olympic opening ceremony, a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall, Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is.

“The noisy, busy, witty, dizzying production somehow managed to feature… a suggestion that the Olympic rings were forged by British foundries during the Industrial Revolution… and… a zany bunch of dancing nurses and bouncing sick children on huge hospital beds.

“It was neither a nostalgic sweep through the past nor a bold vision of a brave new future. Rather, it was a sometimes slightly insane portrait of a country that has changed almost beyond measure since the last time it hosted the Games, in the grim postwar summer of 1948. Britain was so poor then that it housed its athletes in old army barracks, made them bring their own towels and erected no buildings for the Games. The Olympics cost less than £750,000, turned a small profit and made the nation proud that it had managed to rise to the occasion in the face of such adversity.

“There was that same sense of relief intermingled with self-satisfaction this time… Queen Elizabeth II was there… Looking mystified at times — the ceremony was pitched to a generation different from hers — she presided over a bevy of lesser royals and Prime Minister David Cameron.  The first lady, Michelle Obama, was in the audience to cheer on the United States athletes, who, it must be said, did a lot of cheering for themselves anyway during the athletes’ procession. And Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was there, too, although he was practically Public Enemy No. 1 around here after he appeared to question the British capacity for enthusiasm, something only Britons are allowed to do…

“As is the case (with) almost every Olympics, much of the speculation around it centered on how Britain could possibly surpass the previous summer host, China… But outdoing anyone else, particularly the new superpower China, was not the point for a country that can never hope to re-create the glory days of its empire… That the Olympics come at a time of deep economic malaise, with Britain teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession, the government cutting billions of dollars from public spending… made the scene a bit surreal, even defiant in the face of so much adversity.

“The crowd in the stadium sat in a bubble of excitement. In the wider park, volunteers have been behaving with an enthusiasm that seems bewilderingly un-British. But out in the rest of the country, critics have been questioning the expense, the ubiquitously heavy-handed security apparatus, and the rampant commercialism of the Games… The ceremony, too, reflected… deeply left-leaning sensibilities…”

The expense for the Games is certainly outlandish, but it must be remembered that when London was nominated for the Games eight years ago, the economy was going well and no thought about cost would have stopped the process. Now, in 2012, we have the Games with ridiculous costs that Britain can’t afford but to which it was committed in different economic times. What the article in the New York Times expresses in so many words is that Britain is in self-denial, apparently believing that it could regain its former glory. But catering to weird modern ungodly ideas won’t help. In fact, Ephraim is destined to fall totally and completely, and even what is left of its former glory will be taken away. This is what God prophesied in the book of Hosea, when referring to Ephraim or the modern UK: “Ephraim is a cake unturned… but he does not know it… the pride of Israel testifies to his face, But they do not return to the LORD their God, Nor seek Him for all this… Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense… Ephraim has made many altars for sin… I have written for him the great things of My law, But they were considered a strange thing…  As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird… Yes, woe to them when I depart from them…” (Hosea 7:8-11; 8:11-12; 9:11-12).

Opening Ceremony by a Socialist?

AFP wrote on July 28, 2012:

“A celebration of free healthcare, the trade union struggle, the battle for women’s rights and a fleeting lesbian kiss: the Olympics opening ceremony Friday did not shy away from weighty social issues. Unsurprisingly, the show devised by Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle drew accusations from the British political right that it had strayed into ‘leftie’ issues… Alastair Campbell, former British Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s communications chief, [wrote] on Twitter: ‘Brilliant that we got a socialist to do the opening ceremony.’…

“The show bringing the curtain up on the London Olympics began with sections showing idyllic rural Britain being overtaken by the Industrial Revolution, before moving on to a 10-minute sequence celebrating the state-run National Health Service (NHS). Britain’s first televised lesbian kiss — from a 1993 episode of soap opera ‘Brookside’ — was shown in a fast-moving montage of film and TV clips. Later in the ceremony, dancers formed the shape of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament badge and other performers represented the struggle of trade union movements.”

The Telegraph wrote on July 29:

“The opening ceremony was a bit of a grab-bag, wasn’t it? I thought some of it was great, some was rather bad and quite a lot of it will mystify the foreign TV viewers (95 per cent of the audience) who it was supposed to dazzle… It was more political than I expected… Tonight marked perhaps its final transformation from a healthcare system into a religion… The idea of the Health Service as a beacon for the world is, bluntly, a national self-delusion. Most other Western European countries have better state healthcare systems – and healthier people – than we do…”

The Horror of Female Circumcision

The Guardian wrote on July 24:

“Female circumcision will be inflicted on up to 2,000 British schoolgirls during the summer holidays – leaving brutal physical and emotional scars… Some will be taken abroad, others will be ‘cut’ or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to ‘cutting parties’ for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise…

“The UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes it an offence to carry out FGM [female genital mutilation]… or to aid, abet or procure the service of another person. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it against the law for FGM to be performed anywhere in the world on UK permanent residents of any age and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. To date, no prosecutions have been made under UK legislation…

“FGM has no basis in Christianity, it has no basis in Islam [or Judaism]…

“Female genital mutilation, also known as cutting, is practised in 28 African countries. The prevalence rate ranges from 98% of girls in Somalia to 5% in Zaire. It also takes place among ethnic groups in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand. Until the 1950s FGM was used in England and the US as a ‘treatment’ for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy and other ‘female deviances’… No European country accepts the threat of FGM as a reason for asylum…”

This is so appalling, and of all places, this is being carried out in Britain without any law enforcement. It has been reported that Britain is the leading Western nation guilty of this outrage. The nations rule against what God does allow and then twist and pervert things in such degrading and sinful ways!!!  At the same time, we should be able to see how Satan is instigating this whole discussion on circumcision in general, including the prohibition of [biblically permitted] circumcision of young boys. See the next article.

The Ongoing Circumcision Debate

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 27:

“A German court’s outlawing of the circumcision of boys — and the vociferous support it has received in the self-proclaimed enlightened media — confirms a tendency that has seen religion-bashing… rampant anti-religious prejudice and growing intolerance toward believers… But elsewhere in the world, people are shaking their heads over the fact that it’s the Germans, once again, who… are trying to make it impossible for Jews to remain in their country…

“The sharpness of the attacks [on circumcision] is only surpassed by the absurdity of the justifications. A procedure that is hardly more painful than a vaccination — something for which parents also don’t consult their child in advance — is now being expanded and revamped to form a strategy of cultural anthropology…

“Germany — despite the fact that it still has a large number of registered church members — hasn’t been a Christian country in a long time. Today, the fathers of the German constitution would no longer come together ‘before God and the people.’ But we are quick to overlook the fact that our secular nation… depends on conditions that it cannot in fact guarantee… In the name of reason alone (and common sense), there is no love, no beauty and perhaps even no God. For that, the heart must be open…

“The anti-religious rhetoric is no longer restricted to newspaper columns… We have eliminated almost all taboos in our society, and we tout this as a sign of great progress. But we need taboos. Child pornography is one of them, and denying the Holocaust is another. Both are punishable offences… What if we rejected blasphemy — that is, the foolish disparagement of God and faith — out of inner conviction and respect for others? This would be a genuine step forward.”

This could of course become a double-edged sword as well, because who is to define “blasphemy”? In times past, Satan was very busy influencing and inspiring zealous church leaders to excommunicate, label as “anathema” and accuse everyone as having committed blasphemy who denied the false concept of an ever-burning hell fire, torturing the wicked souls for all eternity, and the unbiblical concept of the Trinity. The same is true for the insistence that the weekly biblical Sabbath—as opposed to unbiblical Sunday—must still be kept today.

A Policy of Deception?

Fox News reported on July 24:

“The ancient Chinese practice of lingchi, the ‘Death of a Thousand Cuts,’ best describes the manner in which the Obama administration has systematically whittled away most immigration enforcement since taking office. Over time, the rule of law has been shredded not by a single act, but by many small cuts. A review of President Obama’s record reveals a jaw-dropping steady and stealthy dismantling of virtually every tool and resource used to identify and remove deportable aliens…

“Immediately after taking office, the Obama administration replaced effective worksite enforcement that targeted both employers and illegal workers with meaningless paper audits and modest fines… Failing to hold employers who hire illegal aliens accountable was an early, yet clear signal that the Obama administration intended to derail all enforcement…

“In 2011, Obama’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, John Morton, issued a series of internal directives instructing agency staff to focus their efforts exclusively on removing illegal aliens with criminal records…

“Obama told Americans that the border was secure and that that deportations were up. Both were deceptions. In official documents, DHS stated that only 44% of the border was under operational control. And while deportations had, in fact risen slightly, the increase had nothing to do with expanding enforcement by the Obama administration. A ‘pipeline’ of deportable cases was filled by vigorous enforcement during the last two years of the Bush administration. Those cases carried forward and Obama took credit in his first two years. Moreover, while deportations for violent criminal aliens had risen, all other deportations were down indicating that the Obama administration felt it could pick and choose which laws to enforce…

“From the beginning, President Obama knew that the public would reject amnesty legislation. However, he also knew he stood a good chance of getting it done through a strategy of piecemeal efforts, provided no one noticed. With an election looming and special interests demanding grandiose and immediate action, in June President Obama declared unilaterally that he was using executive power to implement the DREAM Act for an untold number illegal alien ‘kids’ who were brought here through ‘no fault of their own.’ During his DREAM Act speech, Obama failed to mention that his new edict allowed illegal aliens up to the age of 30 to qualify.

“Then, in an interview shortly thereafter with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, DHS Secretary Napolitano admitted that parents of illegal aliens applying for deferred action – illegal alien adults who most certainly did knowingly break the law – will not be subject to immigration enforcement… With that announcement, amnesty for illegal aliens tripled…

“Obama’s Death of a Thousand Cuts has virtually gutted our country’s immigration enforcement apparatus, but the record is clear and the public must hold this president accountable…”

But before Church members jump to premature conclusions and become political agitators for the presidential challenger, as being the “lesser of two evils,” be sure to read the next article.

Mitt Romney’s Flubs in Britain

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 27:

“Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had been hoping to show off his foreign-policy credentials by traveling to Europe this week. Instead, he has committed one flub after another. The headlines have not been kind.

“Mitt Romney was hoping to start off his European tour with a bang: a meeting with conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday and a couple of lucrative fundraising events. The idea was to show the presumed Republican presidential candidate from his best side. After all, he himself successfully managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah… Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Romney to make the kind of negative headlines he had been hoping to avoid. And it has cast a dark cloud over his entire trip.

“It all began with an anonymous Romney ‘adviser’ and the special relationship between the US and Great Britain. ‘We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he (Romney) feels that the special relationship is special,’ the adviser told the British daily Telegraph. ‘The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.’

“Perhaps the comment hadn’t been adequately vetted. But the Telegraph teased it out for its readers. The remarks, the paper wrote, ‘may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity’ given that Obama’s father, after all, was neither white nor Anglo-Saxon. US Vice President Joe Biden reacted strongly by calling the comments ‘disturbing’ and saying the assertion was ‘beneath a presidential campaign.’ Obama adviser David Axelrod said that the comment on shared heritage was ‘stunningly offensive.’

“And Romney? The candidate has done his best to distance himself from the statements, saying he doesn’t know who the source is — and accusing Biden of reacting to quotes from an unnamed adviser in a ‘foreign newspaper.’

“That, though, was just the appetizer. Not long after his arrival in London, Romney joined Brian Williams from the US broadcaster NBC for an exclusive interview… he said: ‘There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.’

“As if that weren’t enough, Romney also seemed to take aim at the British people. ‘Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That is something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.’ Not surprisingly, the British press jumped on the comments. As did British leaders. During a rally to celebrate the end of the torch relay in Hyde Park, London Mayor Boris Johnson said to the gathered crowd: ‘There’s this guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready.’ And Prime Minister Cameron also chided the Republican candidate. ‘We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,’ he said. ‘Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.’

“Chagrined, Romney quickly did something that Americans have become used to from him: He flip-flopped. In comments to the press afterward, he conceded that it is ‘impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur.’ And added that, once competition starts, ‘those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes.’

“Still, Romney wasn’t quite done making headlines. It was, after all, a long day full of meetings with a variety of people, including Labour party head Ed Miliband, who Romney addressed as ‘Mr. Leader.’ And then there was another appointment. ‘I can only say that I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6 as we discussed Syria and the hope for a more peaceful future for that country,’ he said at a news conference. Oops. The meeting with MI6 head Sir John Sawers was supposed to remain secret. That, at least, had been the agreement beforehand.”

So, either way, this country is in big trouble, and ONLY the return of Jesus Christ and His godly and righteous government here on earth will experience and manifest real and better change!

CNN President Resigns

On July 27, 2012, Newsmax and Bloomberg News reported:

“CNN President Jim Walton, who presided over the once-dominant cable-news business… will resign after almost a decade in the job, saying the network needs ‘new thinking’… CNN is suffering through a ratings slump… CNN now ranks far behind News Corp.’s Fox News…

“Walton, 54, started at CNN in December 1981, one year after it was founded by billionaire Ted Turner. Walton helped build the nascent network into a dominant news organization, and CNN soon became a staple in many households. It was the only news company that broadcast live video feeds of the first Gulf War from inside Iraq.

“In recent years, the network struggled to find a formula that connected with viewers. It also made a major gaffe last month, reporting incorrectly that the U.S. Supreme Court found a central piece of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional…”

Maybe this would help: a little bit less left-wing propaganda and CNN’s definite agenda to get Mr. Obama re-elected, and much more objective reporting of the news.

Standing Up to the NRA

On July 26, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote the following insightful article on Bloomberg.com:

“It has been a week since the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. The two major U.S. presidential candidates spent the past week avoiding the subject of whether anything should be done to prevent such shootings from recurring. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, declared Wednesday that ‘changing the heart of the American people’ is our best hope to stop the carnage. President Barack Obama offered little more than support for his past positions, such as banning assault weapons. Very likely, both candidates will spend the next few months avoiding the issue altogether.

“The wise men of Washington tell us that candidates are silent on guns because to speak out is to incur the wrath of the National Rifle Association. But polls consistently show that gun owners, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support the common sense measures that mayors across the country have been trying to get Washington to pass for years.

“More than 700 mayors, from both political parties, have joined together to stop the flow of illegal guns into our communities. Mayors know all too well that the debate on the Second Amendment is over. The Supreme Court recognized that the Second Amendment grants citizens the right to bear arms, subject to reasonable restrictions. The question is: What should those restrictions look like?

“Mayors and the NRA strongly agree that the federal government should enforce the laws already on the books. Federal law prohibits all felons — and those with a history of mental illness or drug abuse — from possessing guns. The NRA believes — rightly — that enforcing the law means prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent. In New York state, we have increased the mandatory minimum prison sentence for illegal possession of a loaded gun to 3 1/2 years, one of the toughest penalties in the country.

“But whether fighting illegal guns or drugs, we should seek not merely to make arrests, but to prevent the crime from occurring in the first place. That is why the federal government requires licensed firearm dealers to conduct background checks to determine whether an individual is eligible to purchase a gun. Nonlicensed sellers, however, are not required to perform federal background checks, and as much as 40 percent of gun sales slip through this loophole. Criminals and the deranged can buy guns simply by logging on to the Internet or visiting a gun show — and they do, every day. Stopping them requires background checks for every gun sale, a change strongly supported by major law enforcement organizations, as well as gun owners and NRA members. But not the NRA’s leadership. The NRA is a $200 million-plus-a-year lobbying juggernaut, with much of its funding coming from gun manufacturers and merchandising. More than anything, the NRA is a marketing organization, and its flagship product is fear…

“There is one particular fear the NRA manufactures with great success: fear of electoral defeat. Romney has walked away from the assault-weapons ban he once supported, and in nearly four years, Obama has offered no legislation to rein in illegal guns…  Some Americans view smarter, tougher gun measures as a hopeless crusade. But political environments change, especially when strong leaders build coalitions and carve new paths through seemingly settled territory. There are conservative, pro-gun rights members of Congress who understand that more can be done to keep guns away from dangerous people.”

These accurate statements should wake up those up who are so fascinated with their love for guns that they can’t see the truth in this matter—including the dubious and terrible role which the NRA leadership has been playing all along.

Gay Rights Advocates Push the Envelope Even More

Newsmax wrote on July 26:

“Billy Graham [a strong advocate for traditional marriage] has thrown his support behind embattled Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy… Dan Cathy’s recent comments supporting the ‘biblical definition’ of marriage as between a man and a woman has led to calls by gay rights advocates to boycott the chain. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have recently promised to stop further expansion of the restaurants in their cities. ‘I want to express my support for my good friends Truett Cathy and his son Dan Cathy, and for their strong stand for the Christian faith,’ Graham said.

“‘I’ve known their family for many years and have watched them grow Chick-fil-A into one of the best businesses in America while never compromising their values. Chick-fil-A serves each of its customers with excellence, and treats everyone like a neighbor. It’s easy to see why Chick-fil-A has become so popular across America. Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God’s word. I appreciate the Cathy family’s public support for God’s definition of marriage.’”

The actions of the “gay activists” and the mayors of Boston and Chicago are unconscionable. No wonder that God is deeply upset about the direction that our country is going.

Coming—Global Food Crisis?

Al Jazeera wrote on July 26:

“For weeks the US has been suffering its most extensive drought in half a century. And meteorologists expect the severe conditions to continue… the drought has expanded since the beginning of this year, particularly affecting the US heartland, known as the breadbasket of the country and the world.

“The US dominates the global corn market but the US Department of Agriculture has predicted a sharp drop in corn exports, with prices for corn and soybeans already hitting record highs. At least 87 per cent of all US corn and soybean crops are grown in drought-stricken regions. Corn is what is called a mega-crop used in the production of everything from meat to cereal to sugary drinks and fuel. As a result, rising prices have the potential to lead to another global food crisis…

“About 60 per cent of continental US is experiencing drought conditions. The US is the world’s largest corn producer, and provides up to 60 per cent of the world’s food aid. The price of corn has increased by 34 per cent in the last month. The US government says nearly 40 per cent of the corn crop is in poor condition… The US is ranked as the most food-secure nation in the world… Second is Denmark, followed by Norway… The least food-secure nations are in sub-Saharan Africa, with the DR Congo scoring most poorly with 70 per cent of household income there spent on food despite the country’s huge agricultural potential. Chad and Burundi suffer from similar circumstances.”

God prophecies that even the USA will be suffering from severe famine in the not-too-distant future.

Possible Strike on Iran?

The Associated Press wrote on July 29:

“An Israeli newspaper reported Sunday that the Obama administration’s top security official has briefed Israel on U.S. plans for a possible attack on Iran, seeking to reassure it that Washington is prepared to act militarily should diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear enrichment program. A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential talks, said the article in the Haaretz daily was incorrect.

“Haaretz said National Security Adviser Tom Donilon laid out the plans before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a dinner at a visit to Israel earlier this month. It cited an unidentified senior American official as the source of its report, which came out as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was telling Israel he would back an Israeli military strike against Iran.

“The American official also said Donilon shared information on U.S. weapons that could be used for such an attack, and on the U.S. military’s ability to reach Iranian nuclear facilities buried deep underground, the newspaper said. It cited another U.S. official involved in the talks with Israel as concluding that ‘the time for a military operation against Iran has not yet come.’

“The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential meeting, said, ‘Nothing in the article is correct. Donilon did not meet the prime minister for dinner, he did not meet him one-on-one, nor did he present operational plans to attack Iran.’ He had no information when asked if Donilon had discussed any kind of attack plans with any Israeli official. Haaretz said another Israeli official attended for part of the meeting.

“The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment. Haaretz cited Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, as declining to comment on the confidential discussion between Netanyahu and Donilon…

“Israeli leaders have repeatedly said they would not contract out their country’s security to another nation. In Jerusalem on Sunday, a top Romney foreign policy adviser told reporters, ‘If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability (to build a nuclear weapon), the governor would respect that decision.’ Romney also thinks the option of a U.S. attack should also be on the table.”

Attack on Iran Could Devastate Global Economy

Newsmax reported on July 28:

“The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, has now stated publicly that Iran and its agents masterminded the recent terror attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Rogers stated flatly: ‘I believe there were certainly elements of Hezbollah [involved] and I believe it was under the direction of their masters in Iran.’ And former UN Ambassador John Bolton has urged Israel to retaliate directly against Iran for this barbaric attack. Such an attack, experts fear, could escalate quickly into a wider military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“Meanwhile, Iran is also ratcheting up its support for Syria’s Assad regime. ‘The Iranian people have an unchangeable stance on Syrians and will always stand by them,’ Iran’s Vice President Rahimi said this week.

“Iran appears to be on a collision course with Israel, the U.S. and other Western allies. The implications of a crisis in Iran are grave. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brzezinski has warned that an attack on Iran could lead to a series of events that ‘devastate’ the global economy.”

A war in the Middle East, involving Israel and Iran, would indeed have terrible consequences for the entire world.

Fierce Fighting in Ethiopia

BBC wrote on July 28:

“Ethnic clashes in southern Ethiopia are reported to have left at least 18 people dead and 12 others injured. More than 20,000 people have crossed into Kenya to escape the fighting, the Kenyan Red Cross says.

“A spokesman told the BBC that people were continuing to cross the border although Ethiopian government forces had intervened to stop the fighting… Local reports speak of armed militias taking up positions in outlying villages on Wednesday, with the fighting spreading to Moyale town, on the Ethiopia-Kenya border, on Thursday.”

Keep your eye on Ethiopia!

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In 1 Corinthians 11:1, we read that we are to imitate Paul, just as he imitated Christ. Could you elaborate further on this?

In the Q&A in Update 234 of March 10, 2006, the question of the first two verses in 1 Corinthians was discussed, and the conclusion was that “1 Corinthians 11:1 can, and must be taken at face value: We are to follow Paul or any other servant of God ONLY to the extent that he follows Christ.”

In this Q&A, let us look specifically at the meaning of “imitate”. “Mimetes” (pronounced mim-ay-tace) is the Greek noun to be translated as “imitator” (see Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). The Greek verb, which means “to mimic” or “to imitate”, is “mimeomai” (see Young’s Analytical Concordance).

Note the different translations of 1 Corinthians 11:1:

The Authorized Version (old King James Bible) says “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

The New King James states: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

Moffatt says: “…copy me.”

The Living Bible says: “…and you shall follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.”

The 20th Century New Testament says: “Imitate me, as I myself imitate Christ.”

The New English Bible says: “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s.”

Also, 1 Corinthians 4:16 states: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me”.   The word for “imitate” is again a translation of the Greek noun “mimetes”,  which is used altogether seven times in the New Testament. The Greek verb “mimeomai” is used four times.

And so, judging based on the different translations, the words “follow” and “imitate”, as well as “follower” and “imitator,” seem to be interchangeable – but are they?

The Dictionary definitions are as follows:

“Follow” is defined as, “go after as an admirer; strive after; aim at”.

“Imitate” is defined as, “mimic: try and get as close to the real thing as possible; impersonators”.

In 2 Timothy 2:14, we read; “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers”.  Even though we are not to strive about words, translating words correctly with their full intent and meaning is important.

Therefore an imitator, by definition, gets as close to the original as possible.  And that must include fruits.

There are many so-called followers of Jesus Christ, but they want to do their own thing. They twist and turn when it comes to imitating Christ – as one UK celebrity once said that “he gave his heart to the Lord and he didn’t have to change anything!”   He would have considered himself to be a follower of Christ. But he certainly didn’t imitate Christ because he kept doing what he was doing before, and that certainly wasn’t keeping the Sabbath, the Holy Days and God’s Law.  However, we have to imitate Christ – we must get as close to Christ’s actions and Way of Life as we possibly can.

In Luke 4:16 we read of the time when, as the sub-heading states ”Jesus was rejected at Nazareth”:  “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”                   

Now if the world’s Christianity was mimicking Paul (who was himself a Sabbath keeper), they would be mimicking Christ who kept the Sabbath. Paul said to “imitate me as I imitate Christ”. However, most of Christ’s followers keep Sunday today and are therefore not mimicking or imitating His (and Paul’s) actions. They follow as they see it, but they don’t see the need to do precisely as Christ did.

Likewise, in John 7:37-38 we read of Jesus keeping the last day, that great day of the feast, speaking of the Last Great Day or the Eighth Day, immediately following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  

If we imitate Christ, we will keep the annual Feast Days, as He did—and as Paul did as well (For more information, please read our free booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days”). As we know, many “followers” ignore this and do what is right in their own sight. But imitators can’t.

It also precludes us from imitating a man – or men – whose fruits are not good. We should not ever follow such a man.  

Today, people, modern icons, personalities, politicians, pop stars, sportsmen and women and even church leaders can and do have a following—and many times, people even try to imitate their conduct and behavior–but breaking the first and second commandments can loom large in their lives if they are not careful.

But why did Paul say to imitate him as he imitated Christ? It is easier to imitate a physical example than just reading about it; examples are seen and then imitated.   A good impersonator will be difficult to tell from the real person if the imitation is very good.   And that’s how we should be in relation to the way we imitate Jesus Christ.   Examples are important and they can be good or bad.   So it was perhaps easier for the disciples of Paul’s day to imitate a physical example (Paul) than just reading or hearing about the great example of Jesus Christ, and that is probably why Paul said to imitate him as he imitated Christ.

But if any leader says, “follow me as I follow Christ”, and he is very deficient in some areas, it can be distracting and some can get mixed up.   Conduct – the fruits of a person’s life – is all part of doctrine.

We read in 1 Timothy 1:8-10:  “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”           

Here it describes actions, the way we behave, what we do, and it says, “if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”.   So conduct or behaviour is part of doctrine, and if therefore any person’s conduct or behaviour is unacceptable (like lying, stealing, committing adultery, being a drunkard, etc.), then he is going contrary to sound doctrine, and we shouldn’t try to imitate him. We should not even follow him. The true imitation of Christ can be lost in the poor example of a human being, with other human beings not being able to discern as they should.

So we need to know – and be sure – what Scripture says and imitate any leader only according to revealed Scriptural instruction and not even follow him, when he adds on any unbiblical unnecessary, unwanted, unwarranted or personal additions or baggage.

The Christian life, as revealed in the Bible, is one of overcoming and growing spiritually toward the goal of being spiritually mature like Christ. God expects us, as Spirit-begotten Christians, to be developing more and more of the very character of Christ as we learn to imitate His Way of Life.

To imitate means to get as close to the original as possible. It indicates being skin-tight. To follow is a much looser term and whilst it can be correct and necessary in many ways (compare Matthew 4:19; Mark 8:34; 1 Peter 2:21), the word “imitate” includes “following” Christ, but it is much more all-encompassing. To imitate is to do everything Christ did and wants us to do according to His perfect example. So this is not striving after words but making sure that we fully understand the difference and take to heart that the original meaning of the Greek word “mimetes” is to be an imitator of Christ. And that is much more critical than just being a “follower”.

That is why imitator is the correct translation of “mimites,” and this is vital. Otherwise, it could slightly lead us off track. We are not just to follow, but also to imitate–always with Christ and the written Word of God as our focus.

Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Norbert and Johanna Link are traveling to Colorado this week, and Mr. Link will be presenting the sermon in Fort Collins, Colorado, this coming Sabbath (August 4, 2012).

A new German sermon has been posted. This is part three of a series by Norbert Link on the subject of “hell.” The title is: “Gibt es eine Hoelle? Teil 3.”

A reminder for those wishing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with us for 2012–please review details posted on our website under the “FEASTS” heading. Our locations for this year are Pismo Beach, California, and Deganwy, North Wales.

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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

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United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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