Update 602


Death and Life

On August 17, 2013, Eric Rank will give the sermon, titled, “Death and Life”

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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“The Way”

by Dave Harris

Christianity in its beginning was called, simply, “the Way,” and this a reference mentioned several times in the Book of Acts (compare Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22). Acts 18:25 speaks of “the way of the Lord,” and in verse 26, “the way of God.”

Time and again, Christians are encouraged—in fact, commanded—to behave in the same fashion as Jesus Christ did. Paul went so far as to use this as a standard for himself in his ministry when he sought to teach others, saying, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

We find that Paul consistently taught that Jesus Christ was the example he followed and the example for all Christians:

“Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Additionally, Paul teaches, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1). The New Testament also uses the word “godliness” to describe how Christians should live their lives (compare 1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:11).

Being able to live in this manner testifies to our conversion and to whether or not we are truly overcoming sin. Most of you who read our Updates are to one degree or another interested in the subject of Christianity. But Christianity is not a mere curiosity; it is a life-changing way of living. It isn’t a part-time endeavor; rather, this Way is an all-consuming commitment to obey and love God, “‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matthew 22:37).

So by this standard, how do you judge yourself?

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We report on the ongoing deteriorating relationship between Israel and its Western allies, especially the USA and Europe, and the danger of Israel’s total isolation. We also report on Glenn Beck’s stunning recognition that the American people are in fact part of the lost tribes of the house of Israel.

We report on developments in Egypt and America’s failed diplomacy; and developments in Iran and America’s icy relationship with Russia. We then focus once again on the ongoing NSA spying scandal and its fallout in Germany, which might even jeopardize Angela Merkel’s re-election in September—even though her challenger does not seem to be a valid alternative for many Germans. In any event, trust of the American and German people in their governments is reaching a low level, which is unparalleled in recent history.

We address the century-long and recently rejuvenated dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar—one of the “doors” promised to the modern nations of the house of Israel and especially the modern descendants of Joseph—Ephraim and Manasseh. Another hotly debated issue are the British-controlled Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims to be theirs.

We report that Europe’s recession seems to be over; and we address intriguing and troubling subjects such as “near-death experiences”; California’s decision regarding transgender children; a decision of a Texas court regarding cloned horses; and worsening fires in the USA.

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America’s and Europe’s Serious “Concerns” About Israel

On August 12, dpa wrote the following:

“The United States on Monday said it has ‘serious concerns’ about Israel’s approval of more than 1,000 new homes in Palestinian areas ahead of the launch of new peace negotiations. ‘We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity,’ State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.”

Netanyahu Challenges Europe

The Times of Israel wrote on August 12:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the European Union’s new anti-settlement directives Monday in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was on an official visit to Israel…. ‘I have to say, on a sad note, that I think Europe — the European guidelines by the EU — have actually undermined peace.’…

“The day before, President Shimon Peres met with the German foreign minister and called on the EU to halt the implementation of the measures, saying that when the future borders are determined between Israel and a Palestinian state, the issue of settlements will be solved… Earlier Sunday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state will be determined by the two sides, and not by the European Union.”

Israel Facing Total Isolation

Bloomberg wrote on August 12:

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace mission to the Middle East is semi-quixotic, if not wholly quixotic. I doubt he’ll reach his goal of negotiating a final-status agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The two sides haven’t even agreed yet to the topics they’ll discuss in negotiations…

“There are some early signs that Netanyahu is realizing the price his country may one day pay for its settlements, in particular those near Palestinian population centers. He met recently with some of Israel’s leading manufacturers, who expressed their worry that their products may one day be boycotted in Europe, a worry he shares. Kerry, capitalizing on this anxiety, has warned Netanyahu in recent weeks that if the current peace talks bear no fruit, Israel may soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign — in his words – ‘on steroids’…

“Kerry thinks the one thing Netanyahu fears as much as Iran’s nuclear program is the growing power of the international movement that seeks to isolate, scapegoat and demonize his country…

“Although Netanyahu is worried that the campaign to make Israel appear to be an illegitimate state could hurt the country’s robust economy, he is said to be even more worried that this campaign will erode Israel’s ability to defend itself. The theory is simple: A country seen as illegitimate, not only by the powerful Arab lobby at the United Nations but also by Western powers, will have little standing if it is forced to retaliate against sustained attacks from groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which remain committed to Israel’s extermination. Netanyahu thinks that the campaign to delegitimize Israel could force Western powers to rein in Israel, or at the very least, rush to condemn it before it has the chance to defend itself.

“Netanyahu’s two fears are related. Israel will find it increasingly difficult to one day act against the Iranian nuclear program if it is hobbled by the hostility of the international community…

“So, when the European Union recently issued guidelines that will restrict its members from (among other things) funding research conducted on the far side of Israel’s 1967 borders, these politicians decided, in their wisdom, that Israel should engage in a partial boycott of the EU. They’re demanding that Israel withdraw from a lucrative EU-sponsored research-funding program to protest the settlement exclusion guidelines.

“Netanyahu also finds the new EU guidelines reprehensible (and they are, in fact, highly problematic, potentially placing settlers in the far-flung Jewish colonies of the West Bank in the same category as Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City). But he understands that he can’t win a fight with the entire EU if it decides to enact a partial boycott of his country… Threats directed at Israel from Europe, the continent whose cruelty and hatred helped create a need for a Jewish national refuge in the first place, may… bolster Israel’s far-right…”

Israel will end up in total isolation. The USA or the UK won’t be able to help it, and continental Europe will ultimately invade the country, as the Bible clearly predicts.

Glenn Beck and the Lost Tribes of Israel

In a recent TV program, widely-known moderator Glenn Beck stated his belief that the United States of America and Great Britain are among the descendants of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel. A pertinent portion of the program can be watched on YouTube. A longer version can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVkKFcl3fOU . In the program, Beck also pointed out that the ancient Assyrians settled in Western Europe, including Germany.

Glenn Beck is right on these points. For more information, please read our free booklets, Germany in Prophecy; Europe in Prophecy; and the Fall and Rise of Britain and America.

Iran’s True Intensions

The Washington Times wrote on August 13:

“Newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has picked his defense minister [Hossein Dehghan. In 1982], after Israel invaded Lebanon, sparking a decade-long civil war, Mr. Dehghan was sent to Lebanon to help establish a military wing for Hezb’Allah, the Iranian-backed Shi’ite political movement.

“The following year he was appointed the commander of IGRC forces in Lebanon. Shortly afterwards, the IGRC received orders from Tehran to attack multinational peacekeeping forces in Beirut. On October 25, 1983, a Shi’ite suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241; simultaneously, another suicide bomber blew up the French paratroopers’ barracks in Beirut, killing 58 soldiers… The order to carry out the attacks was transmitted, and the funding and operational training provided, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon under the command of Hossein Dehghan…”

Turmoil in Egypt… Again

The Associated Press reported on August 14:

“In Egypt’s bloodiest day since the Arab Spring began, riot police Wednesday smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president, touching off street violence that officials said killed nearly 300 people and forced the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew.

“The crackdown drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West… and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as the interim vice president in protest – a blow to the new leadership’s credibility with the pro-reform movement.”

Der Spiegel Online added on August 14:

“Horribly battered corpses lie in the streets, and there are more than 1,000 injured. The government sought to bring calm to Cairo by clearing the Morsi camps, but now the entire country is under a state of emergency. Residents fear a ‘war between two Egypts.’”

We warned that this would happen. Please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”  

Irreconcilable Differences

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on August 15:

“The three most important institutions that ensured the country’s cohesion and stayed out of politics — the military, the Islamic Al Azhar University and the Coptic Church — were parties in the putsch this time. Morsi’s supporters are now disputing their integrity and view these institutions as political enemies. The basis for possible consensus in Egypt has collapsed.”

Handelsblatt wrote on August 15:

“The bloodbath on the Nile … is a scandal. A scandal for the country, but also a scandal for international diplomacy… But warnings or expressions of concern are insufficient because what is beginning in Egypt is a serious drama — a vicious cycle of lasting violence.”

Even though news commentators are saying now that nobody could have foreseen these recent developments, we did warn from the outset that this would happen. Please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.” 

America’s Failed Diplomacy

The Christian Science Monitor wrote on August 14:

“Since the military coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi from the Egyptian presidency on July 3, the Obama administration has bent over backwards not to call it a ‘coup.’ The reasoning behind this decision was that Egypt’s military is the most powerful force in the country and that alienating and punishing them for their action would both undercut US influence and create the conditions for a broad military crackdown…

“So while principled talk about ‘democracy’ and getting militaries out of politics is one thing, the world of realpolitik is something else. While emissaries from Obama danced around the ‘coup’ question, the US government refused to announce a cut off in the Egyptian military’s $1.3 billion annual subsidy, and continually urged restraint and reconciliation. These decisions led to odd rhetorical constructions from the US government, as when State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was pressed last week on whether the Obama administration thought Egypt’s military had carried out a coup. ‘We have determined that we do not need to make a determination,’ she said.

“Today, the military… delivered the military’s own determination: We’re going ahead and doing it our way. This morning Obama White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said that the US is opposed to the state of emergency declared by Egypt’s military, which gives it sweeping powers, much as a state of emergency after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 formed the backbone of the military-backed Mubarak dictatorship that prevailed until 2011. Mr. Earnest said the US believes today’s actions will make achieving ‘stability’ more difficult. He also said that the US is not ready to determine whether Egypt has had a military coup. He said Egypt’s interim rulers have promised a swift creation of a democracy and ‘it’s a promise we’re going to encourage them to keep’…

“A cycle of violence, with the military calling the shots, is all but assured for the foreseeable future. Elections, let alone free and fair ones, this year? Not likely to happen. Forming a national consensus on a revised constitution any time soon? Also hard to imagine…

“It’s a truism that you can’t please everybody. But in the case of Egypt, the US has pleased precisely no one. And the Arab world’s most populous country is heading into a period of turmoil likely to dwarf the troubles of the past few years.”

The New York Times added on August 14:

“Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday condemned the Egyptian military’s crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters… Mr. Kerry, who was speaking on behalf of a vacationing President Obama, did not disclose any specific American response to the crackdown and left without taking questions from reporters. For Mr. Obama, who was wrapping up a round of golf on Martha’s Vineyard as Mr. Kerry stepped before the cameras, the upheaval in Egypt put him in an awkward but familiar place: on vacation, confronting a wave of bloodshed in the Middle East…

“A spokesman, Josh Earnest, said Mr. Obama had been briefed Wednesday morning on the situation… He said, however, that the administration did not plan to shift its policy, which is to keep open lines of communication to Egypt’s generals and maintain the flow of American military aid. Mr. Earnest declined to label the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi a coup, a designation that could prompt a cutoff of $1.5 billion a year in aid…

“The United States has walked a fine line in dealing with the Egyptian military… ‘The outcome of the current Egyptian crisis will determine how America is seen in the Muslim world for years,’ said Bruce O. Riedel, a former intelligence officer and adviser to the administration who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. ‘If it looks like the U.S. effectively colluded in a counterrevolution, then all the talk about democracy and Islam, about a new American relationship with the Islamic world, will be judged to have been the height of hypocrisy,’ Mr. Riedel said. However horrifying the images from Cairo, analysts said, the president faces the same conundrum he has had since early 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak was forced out in a mass uprising: the United States, even with its aid, has little leverage over events there…”

In other words, who cares what America says and does…? And America’s ill-conceived actions and lack thereof make matters only worse…

America’s Middle East Policy—a Lot of Empty Words

The Washington Post wrote on August 15:

“Put it this way: President Obama’s Egypt policy is about as effective as his Syria policy. And for the first time Wednesday, with the number of dead and injured mounting, one could almost envision Egypt’s descent into out-and-out civil war.

“Obama was briefed, said nothing and went back to golf. Secretary of State John Kerry took a break from his fruitless obsession with the nonexistent ‘peace process’ to condemn the violence, but took no questions and had no policy announcement. This, in a nutshell, is the White House’s approach to the Middle East — the absence of any policy and a lot of empty words.

“Sam Tadros, a Egyptian expert at the Hudson Institute who is also affiliated with the Hoover Institution, is not optimistic… The question now is what can be done and what role the United States should play. Tadros is blunt: ‘As to outside powers, I am afraid it is too late now…’

“In a sense, then, Obama might as well play golf. He’s dropped the ball on Egypt and the entire region, leaving the United States with few options and the Egyptian people to a bloody future in the short run and a repressive authoritarian junta in the longer run. This is a policy failure of the highest order.

“Isolationists on the right and left argue that the United States has no interest in places like Egypt. But without U.S. leadership, what follows in places such as Egypt and Syria is a humanitarian and geopolitical nightmare that doesn’t stay within one country’s borders. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah must be gleeful to see the United States so weakened and insignificant.”

It would not be fair to just blame the military for the violence. The Muslim Brotherhood is clearly provoking and committing violence as well, as they did from the outset. Both sides are to blame. Of course, in this world of Satanic violence and a total lack of worship of the TRUE and ONLY God, there are NO solutions. It will take the return of Jesus Christ to bring peace and end the violence.

On a “Working Vacation…”

NBC News reported on August 15:

“President Barack Obama strongly condemned  Egypt’s interim government Thursday, saying the United States was canceling a planned joint military operation in protest over violent clashes that left at least 525 dead.

“He also called on Egypt’s army-backed interim government, which took power after the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohammed Morsi, to cancel the month-long state of emergency it imposed after Wednesday’s bloodshed. ‘The cycle of violence needs to stop,’ he said in Martha’s Vineyard where he is on a working vacation.”

On August 15, the Huffington Post reported Obama’s condemnation with the following headline:

“’We strongly condemn attacks’… that we are paying for.”

Der Spiegel Attacks Obama

The Local wrote on August 15:

“The German government summoned the Egyptian ambassador on Thursday morning over the deadly crackdown on protest camps of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi…. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said: ‘On the orders of Foreign Minister [Guido] Westerwelle, the ambassador was told the position of the German government in no uncertain terms.’… In the face of rising violence, magazine Der Spiegel attacked Barack Obama accusing him of being ‘powerless’ to stop the fighting and failing to take a clear position on the conflict. The US government provides $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military.”

Obama Administration Complicit in Egypt’s Bloodshed

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post wrote on August 14:

“Before the July 3 coup in Egypt, the Obama administration privately warned the armed forces against ousting the government of Mohamed Morsi, pointing to U.S. legislation that requires the cutoff of aid to any country where the army plays a ‘decisive role’ in removing an elected government. Yet when the generals ignored the U.S. warnings, the White House responded by electing to disregard the law itself. After a prolonged and embarrassing delay, the State Department announced that it had chosen not to determine whether a coup had taken place, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared that Egypt’s military was ‘restoring democracy.’

“Because of those decisions, the Obama administration is complicit in the new and horrifyingly bloody crackdown… The military’s disregard for these appeals [by the Obama Administration] was logical and predictable: Washington had already demonstrated that its warnings were not credible…

“This refusal to take a firm stand… is as self-defeating for the United States as it is unconscionable. Continued U.S. support for the Egyptian military is helping to push the country toward a new dictatorship rather than a restored democracy…”

Relationship between USA and Russia Deteriorating Further

BBC News wrote on August 8:

“Several analysts in Russian newspapers see the decision by US President Barack Obama to cancel his visit to Moscow next month as a sign that ties between the White House and the Kremlin are set to deteriorate further. Some say that Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to the fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is the reason for the crisis in bilateral relations. Others, however, point to stalled negotiations on nuclear arms reduction and the lack of progress on other important issues for the past several years. According to one commentator, problems between Washington and Moscow have now become ‘strategic and long-term’, while another writes that the US has ‘struck Russia off its priority list’’’.

The paper then quoted the following excerpts from several Russian commentaries:

“After President Obama publicly said that the issue of Snowden’s extradition was extremely important and fundamental, it became impossible to reduce the scale of this problem between Russia and the USA. Figuratively speaking, the head of the White House has climbed up a high fence from which he can no longer jump down… The meeting (with Russian President Vladimir Putin) would have been meaningless anyway, as no progress has been achieved on any issue (in bilateral relations)… Even in 2008, during the war with Georgia, there were problems in (US-Russian) relations. Now these problems have become strategic and of a long-term character…”

Lavabit Website Shuts Down—Is the Handwriting on the Wall—and Has America Been Found Wanting…?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 9:

“The latest casualty of the American government’s online surveillance program seems to be Lavabit, the email service supposedly used by Edward Snowden to protect himself against National Security Agency (NSA) snooping. In a dramatic letter posted on Lavabit’s website Thursday, Ladar Levison, the company’s owner and operator, announced that he had decided to shutter the site rather than become ‘complicit in crimes against the American people.’

“Although it didn’t include any mention of the NSA, Edward Snowden or government surveillance, the letter seems to refer to a court order asking for cooperation in the US government spy programs: ‘I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on — the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.’…

“At Wired, Kevin Poulsen speculated that Levison had been served with either a National Security Letter (which comes with a gag order) or a ‘full-blown search or eavesdropping warrant.’ If this is the case, it marks the first time that an American company has chosen to shut down instead of cooperating with such a request from the American government. In the wake of Lavabit’s announcement, another American online company, Silent Circle, shut down its encrypted email service because, according to a blog post, it sees ‘the writing on the wall.’…

“Levison announced in his letter that he is ‘preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ — he has created a Legal Defense Fund for this purpose — and that, if possible, he will re-form his service as an American company. But he ends his letter on a grim note that would likely have sounded paranoid a few months ago: ‘I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.’”

If all of this is correct, then we must ask whether we are facing the danger of dictatorial intimidating dictatorship in the United States… We have warned for years that our individual liberties and freedoms are gradually being eroded and chopped away….

The Media Abrogated Their Duty

The Huffington Post wrote on August 13:

“The New York Times secured an interview with Edward Snowden for the first time since he ousted himself as the leaker of NSA documents in June. The brief Q-and-A appeared Tuesday alongside a lengthy profile of Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who, along with Glenn Greenwald, has been the journalist most at the center of the Snowden saga. Both pieces were written by reporter Peter Maas.

“In one portion of the interview, Snowden talked about why he turned to Poitras and Greenwald, instead of the Times or the Washington Post: ‘After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period.’”

This assessment seems to be absolutely correct.

President Obama’s Attempts to Deal with Fallout from US Spying Activities “Destined to Fail”

Business Insider wrote on August 13:

“In the wake of seemingly endless leaks from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, President Obama’s attempt to manage the political fallout seems destined to fail. On Friday, Obama announced that he would form a ‘high-level group of outside experts’ to review intelligence and communications technologies. This group, Obama said, would be ‘independent’ — able to step back freely — to review surveillance technologies and ‘consider how we can maintain trust of the people.’

“It only took the weekend for much of any trust in that group to fade. On Monday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed that yes, the review group would happen. He also confirmed that, yes, he would be establishing it. This is the same James Clapper who gave false information to Congress when asked whether the NSA was collecting data on Americans. He later apologized.

“Perhaps most interesting in Clapper’s statement on Monday is the absence of wording used on Friday: independent, and outside. In an expanded statement, the White House said the group would present their interim findings to his office, and the final report would go ‘through the Director of National Intelligence.’ ‘In practice — not theory — Clapper gets to chop the draft of the interim and final reports, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would — again, in practice — assist in selecting the members of the review group,’ Robert Caruso, a former assistant command security manager in the Navy and consultant, said in an email.

“This arrangement is sure to arouse suspicions, with many Americans showing distrust after leaks of previously unknown spying programs. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a veteran politician and national security hawk, admitted as much to Fox News Sunday… ‘Young Americans do not trust this government,’ McCain said…”

There can be no doubt that due to the American government’s questionable and controversial conduct, trust of many American citizens in their government has been eroded and destroyed… And without trusted and trustworthy leadership, a country is doomed to fall…

Germany Spying and Being Spied On…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on August 12:

“German intelligence services cooperate closely with the NSA, but the country is also a target of US surveillance, as a document seen by SPIEGEL makes clear. The spy software XKeyscore is operated from a facility in Hesse, with some of the results landing on President Obama’s desk… Lawmakers in the German parliament, the Bundestag, have… expressed an interest in the group of buildings near Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt. The campus houses one of the most important European branches of the National Security Agency (NSA)…

“Germany is a special place for the NSA, in many respects. Few other countries are the source of as much data for US intelligence agencies, much of which comes from the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. At the same time Germany itself, despite all friendly assurances to the contrary, is also a target of the surveillance. According to a ‘secret’ summary among the documents obtained by Snowden, which SPIEGEL was able to view, Germany is one of the targets of US espionage activity… the European Union is also one of the targets of American surveillance… Only the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — referred to as the ‘five eyes,’ together with the United States — are seen as true friends, largely off-limits in terms of espionage, and with which there is an open exchange of information…

“More than six weeks after the scandal began, the German government is still waiting for answers on what exactly the NSA is doing in — and against – Germany… The Americans are hardly likely to admit to the German government what exactly the group in Griesheim is doing and whether the Americans there also have targets in Germany under surveillance. Former NSA Director Michael Hayden told SPIEGEL that ‘the damage for the German-American relationship is huge.’…”

Der Spiegel Online added on August 13:

“Chancellery chief Ronald Pofalla’s appearance before a parliamentary committee on Monday was supposed to pacify public misgivings in the wake of the NSA spying scandal. But his announcement of a German-American no-spying agreement raised far more questions than it answered… The core of Pofalla’s message was simple: The American intelligence agency and its British counterpart adhere to German law and have agreed in writing to do so. Pofalla went on to say that the rights of millions of Germans have not been violated, ostensibly in response to recent criticism by the opposition Social Democrats. The data that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has handed over to America’s National Security Agency pertained to reconnaissance abroad and not to German citizens, he assured the panel.

“It was a peculiar sort of political spectacle… Pofalla painted a picture of a harmonious world of German-American intelligence cooperation. And it’s this collaboration, he said, that has prevented terrorist attacks on German and US soldiers in Afghanistan…

“The BND and the NSA have agreed on pursuing a brand-new ‘no-spy pact.’… Yet the establishment of such a no-spying agreement implies that espionage has been allowed up to now, an unwitting confirmation of the information in the documents leaked by Snowden… The no-spying agreement isn’t likely to make the NSA scandal disappear. On the contrary, Berlin will be faced with new questions: What should comprise such a pact? Will it only pertain to the work of foreign intelligence agencies? Or will it address the interests of citizens whose Internet data flow through American servers and can potentially be captured and cached? None of this has been definitively answered, all written assurances to the contrary.

“Pofalla obviously anticipated what new questions might be raised by the envisaged agreement. It was he who carefully said that the US agency would not have made the offer, ‘if their assurance that they would abide by the law were not true.’ This is twisted logic — logic that only Pofalla himself could explain. But an explanation never came. Just like at his last appearance before the committee, the Chancellery chief declined to take any questions. After Item 15, Pofalla exited without a word.”

Pofalla acted as proverbial politicians would act. But it appears that Germany has played a very dubious and hypocritical role in the spying activities. It will have to be seen whether Angela Merkel’s political survival and her victory in the September election are in jeopardy. Until recently, most were convinced that Merkel would win, but the recent revelations could perhaps change all of this. However, it does not appear that her challenger, Peer Steinbrueck, is a very convincing alternative to many Germans, and the fact that his own party had a finger (if not both hands) in the spying pie does not help him either.

Britain and Spain Battle Over Gibraltar

Deutsche Welle reported on August 12:

“Britain is considering taking legal action against Spain over stringent border checks imposed at the border with Gibraltar. It is the latest in an escalating row between the two countries and the disputed territory. Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said on Monday that tighter checks by Spanish officials at the border of the contested territory are ‘politically motivated and totally disproportionate.’… Also on Monday, several British warships set sail for the Mediterranean in what the defense ministry stresses was a routine exercise. However, one of the ships is set to dock in Gibraltar later this week.

“Last week Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said the country would consider introducing a 50 euro ($66) tax to enter or leave Gibraltar… It is the latest in a string of spats going back decades between Spain and Britain over Gibraltar, the territory known as ‘The Rock’. The diplomatic disputes are frequently sparked by disagreements over fishing rights around the British outpost, which Madrid wants to reclaim as its own.

“Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. Britain refuses to do so against the wishes of the territory’s residents. In 1969, Spain closed the frontier crossing with Gibraltar, which is just 6.8 square kilometers in size (2.6 square miles) and home to about 30,000 people. It was fully reopened only in 1985.”

Der Spiegel Online added on August 12:

“Britain is dispatching warships to Gibraltar. The frigate HMS Westminister is due to set sail on Tuesday and three other vessels left on Monday. The British government played down the move as being part of a long-planned military exercise. But Spanish media said the plan for HMS Westminster to stop at Gibraltar was an intimidating move by Britain…

“Madrid argues that Gibraltar doesn’t belong to Europe’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel and that the checks are a legal and proportionate step to prevent money laundering and smuggling of tobacco and other products from Gibraltar… Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported that Madrid is also seeking support from current UN Security Council president Argentina in its dispute with Britain. Both countries have similar complaints about Britain, with government officials in Buenos Aires currently seeking to reclaim the British-controlled Falkland Islands.”

The Washington Times added on August 13:

“Gibraltar, the 2.5-square mile tip of the Iberian Peninsula that juts into the narrow strait between Spain and North Africa, guards the gateway to the Mediterranean.”

The Chicago Tribune wrote on August 12:

“HMS Westminster, a British Royal Navy warship set sail for the territory on Monday as part of an annual Mediterranean military exercise… It evoked the 16th century naval rivalry between the two countries in which the English repelled an attempt by the Spanish Armada to try to invade England in 1588 and the Spanish defeated an English ‘Counter Armada’ the following year.”

The Bible indicates that ultimately, Britain will lose Gibraltar (to Spain) and the Falkland Islands (to Argentina). God said that Britain will be given the “doors of their enemies,” but it would later lose them again. Gibraltar is most certainly such a door—a “narrow strait between Spain and North Africa, guard[ing] the gateway to the Mediterranean,” as one of the articles above points out.

European Recession Likely Over

The Associated Press reported on August 13:

“The recession that’s gripped the eurozone since late 2011 is likely over… economic growth among the 17 countries that use the euro inched up 0.2 percent from April to June compared with the previous quarter.  The increase is slight. But it would end six straight quarters of a debilitating recession — the longest to afflict the single-currency bloc since its creation in 1999.  And it would represent an encouraging sign for other economies… as the eurozone is the world’s biggest trading bloc…

“The strongest economy, Germany, is expected to post quarterly growth of 0.6 percent, thanks to its high-value exporters. Others continue to languish under the burden of austerity policies… ‘While welcome news, much of the return to growth is likely to be driven from Germany, which is likely to be cold comfort to countries like Spain, Italy and Greece buckling under crippling levels of debt and unemployment,’ said Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets.

“Few economists think the indebted countries can start producing German-style levels of growth in the coming years. Burdens from expensive public financing and unemployment will likely continue to weigh on their economies.  Yet for many people, even a mild improvement is cause to celebrate, however tentatively, and a suggestion that the darkest days are in the past.”

The Bible shows that continental Europe will recuperate and become the most powerful economic enterprise in the world.

Near Death-Experiences Just Function of the Brain?

The Washington Post wrote on August 12:

“You feel yourself float up and out of your physical body. You glide toward the entrance of a tunnel, and a searing bright light envelopes your field of vision. Rather than an ascent into the afterlife, a new study says these features of a near-death experience may just be a bunch of neurons in your brain going nuts. ‘A lot of people believed that what they saw was heaven,’ said lead researcher and neurologist Jimo Borjigin. ‘Science hadn’t given them a convincing alternative.’

“Scientists from the University of Michigan recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) signals in nine anesthetized rats after inducing cardiac arrest. Within the first 30 seconds after the heart had stopped, all the mammals displayed a surge of brain activity that had features associated with consciousness and visual activation. The burst of electrical activity even exceeded levels during a normal, awake state. In other words, they may have been having the rodent version of a near-death experience’…

“Near-death experiences have been reported by many who have faced death, worldwide and across cultures. About 20 percent of cardiac arrest survivors report visions during clinical death, with features such as a bright light, life playback or an out-of-body feeling…

“When the heart suddenly stops, ongoing blood flow to the brain stops and causes death in a human within minutes. A likely assumption would be that, without a fresh supply of oxygen, any sort of brain activity would go flat. But after the rats went into cardiac arrest, [George] Mashour and his colleagues saw the opposite… [such as] heightened communication among the different parts of the brain, actively seen in an awake state, but often lost during anesthesia. In the rats, this connectivity went above and beyond the levels seen during the awake state — which could possibly explain the hypervivid, ‘realer-than-real’ perceptions reported close to death…”

These discoveries would make a lot of sense, as we know that “near-death” experiences are not real. Nobody’s soul departs at the time of death and goes to heaven. It must also be emphasized, however, that those “experiences” do not occur every time, when a patient has congestive heart failure and is resuscitated.  It should not be ruled out, of course, that some of these “experiences” are demonic delusions, but this could hardly be the explanation for all of them.

Again… California Leading the Nation… Away from the Bible

The Washington Times wrote on August 12:

“California has enacted the first law in the nation that will require public schools to accommodate students based on their self-declared ‘gender identity’ in addition to their biological sex. The law means that biologically female students can use boys’ bathrooms, and biologically male students can join all-girls’ sports teams.

“The law, signed Monday afternoon by California Gov. Jerry Brown and sponsored by California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, is intended to assist transgender children navigate school from kindergarten to 12th grade, as their preferred gender. Major gay-rights groups supported the law, saying it builds on a national movement to end discriminatory practices based on gender identity and gender expression.”

AFP added on August 13:

“Transgender students in California public schools will be able to choose which bathrooms to use and which sex-segregated sports to play, according to new legislation passed. The bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown would allow students to be treated as their chosen gender rather than that listed on their official documents… The California Catholic Conference objected to the law… California, the most populous US state, has been at the forefront of a nationwide debate on gay, lesbian and transgender rights.”

Will California become a modern example of the conduct and fate of “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner as these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, [which] are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7)?

Our Liberal Laws, Juries and Judges… Cloned Horses

Reuters reported on August 13:

“A U.S. horse association soon will be required to add cloned horses and their offspring to its prestigious registry, a federal judge in Texas ruled on Monday. The decision could encourage cloning and open the way for the animals to participate in lucrative horse races… A jury last month ruled that the horse association violated anti-monopoly laws by banning cloned animals… No other horse breeding registry allows cloned animals, although the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association allows cloned horses to compete in rodeos…

“The quarter horse association, which has a registry of 751,747 animals, stated in court that it is a private organization and has the right to decide its membership rules… Cloning is the creation of an animal that is an exact genetic copy of another, with the same DNA. A cloned sheep named Dolly produced in Scotland drew international attention when she was shown to the public in 1997. Since then, cloning of agricultural livestock such as cattle and pigs as well as horses and sheep has become more common although it is still a small portion of total livestock production.”

Maybe for now… But where will it all lead? Scientists are toying with the idea of cloning mammoths and perhaps, from certain DNA samples, vicious extinct animals such as aggressive sable-tooth tigers or dinosaurs. And insofar as private organizations are concerned, our liberal legal system does apparently NOT allow them anymore to decide its own membership rules. As we mentioned before, individual liberties and freedoms are becoming more and more targets of governmental manipulation and erosion.

Fires Will Worsen

The Verge wrote on August 12:

“In June, the Black Forest wildfire in Colorado wiped out 500 homes in 48 hours and ultimately took two lives. Yet the catastrophe actually ranked as one of the smaller fires authorities have had to contend with this year. 100,000-acre wildfires have become a yearly occurrence — a worrying development in and of itself — and now NASA is raising warning flags about where things may be headed…

“Last week, NASA released new animations projecting how dry conditions may worsen in the decades ahead, leading to greater risk of fire across the Great Plains and upper Midwest US… NASA says even worse conditions await the Mountain West and other regions where fires already burn. The data is sourced from NASA’s own instruments and extensive knowledge of fire distribution across the planet.”

The Bible prophecies worsening fires for the USA and other countries.

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Does Ephesians 4:11-12 indicate that “teacher” is an ordained office or rank in the Church?

Ephesians 4:11-12 states the following: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”

Even though “teachers” is listed together with the offices of the ministry, including apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor, what was the original intent of this passage and the inclusion of “teachers”?

Looking at the qualifications of a bishop (literally, an overseer) or an elder (compare New International Version) will help us to clarify this issue.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 states:

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop [“elder,” New International Version], he desires a good work. A bishop [“elder”] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

Notice that we read in verse 2 that a bishop or better overseer or elder must be “able to teach.” [The same expression is used in Acts 20:17, where it is rendered in the New King James Bible as “elder.” In Acts 20:28, the New King James Bible states: “overseers.” Compare the Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary.] See also our Q&A on the biblical meaning of the term “elder”. 

We can conclude that a teacher is, at best, a function of an office or a rank–not itself an office or a rank. Sometimes, it does not even include a function of an office. We read that older women are to admonish or teach younger women (Titus 2:1-5), but older women do not function within a ministerial office or rank. In fact, Paul prohibits women to teach in church (1 Timothy 2:12). On the other hand, we have always understood that a minister’s wife fulfills a certain function (not an office or rank) in assisting, helping and supporting her ordained husband. We have usually referred to this fact by stating that a minister’s wife constitutes 50% of her husband’s ministry.

We also note that Jesus Christ was a Teacher. John 3:2  states: “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’” The Pharisees recognised that Christ was not only a teacher, but also a teacher from God. This was a function of His many titles–not a title per se.

He is called Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings, Chief Shepherd, High Priest, the Apostle, the Prophet, the Lawgiver (Shiloh, compare Genesis 49:10), and He had of course a great ability to teach others.

The revealed ministerial ranks or offices in the Church of God are (compare Ephesians 4:11-12):


Romans 1:1 describes Paul as “a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” He is also referred to as an apostle in 1 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1, and in many other places in the Bible. Jesus Christ is referred to as THE Apostle.

There is currently no one in the Church of God who holds this office or rank, although there might be some who have usurped this rank to themselves as “self-appointed” apostles. The only recognized apostle in the Church of God in recent years has been Herbert W. Armstrong who died in 1986. The Bible reveals that in the future, some (for instance, the two witnesses) will hold the office and rank of apostle, but this time has not yet arrived. Presently, we are warned not to accept those as apostles whom the Bible designates as false apostles and deceitful workers.


1 Corinthians 14:37 cautions us: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”

Paul and Barnabas were prophets (Acts 13:1). Jesus Christ is referred to as THE Prophet.

As with the rank and office of apostle, there is currently no one in the Church of God who holds the office or rank of prophet, although there are some who have usurped this rank to themselves as “self-appointed” prophets. In the future, there will be those who will be functioning as prophets (for instance, the two witnesses), but this time has not yet arrived. Mr. Armstrong—even though he was recognized as an apostle—was not perceived as holding the office or rank of prophet.


Acts 21:8 states:  “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.”

2 Timothy 4:5 states:  “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Today, there are several ministers in the greater Churches of God who hold the rank and office of Evangelist.


Today, there are quite a few ministers in the greater Churches of God who hold the rank and office of Pastor (compare Ephesians 4:11). In addition, this office or rank can be a little bit confusing to some because there are those in the Church of God who are fulfilling the function of a pastor or a “shepherd,” since they are looking after a group of people, but they have not been ordained (yet) to the office or rank of Pastor.

An Elder (see below) can be fulfilling the function of a Pastor, in that he looks after a group of God’s people.  But this is also true for an Evangelist, who fulfills the function of a Pastor and an Elder, being able to preach and teach. Usually, an Evangelist-rank minister was previously ordained to the rank of Elder and Pastor. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Chief Shepherd or the Chief Pastor.


Although not specifically mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12, it has been recognized that the Bible speaks of the rank and office of Elder in numerous places.

James 5:14 states:  “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Act 14:23 writes:  “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Compare also 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Peter 5:5; and note 1 Timothy 4:14, referring to “the laying on of hands of the eldership.”

Some of the ministerial offices overlap, since some of the apostles referred to themselves also as elders. In 2 John 1:1, the apostle John refers to himself as an elder. The apostle Peter also refers to himself as a fellow elder in 1 Peter 5:1.

Paul was an apostle, a prophet, an elder, a preacher and a teacher (compare 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11). He fulfilled all these functions, but he was specifically ordained to the ranks of apostle, prophet and elder—not to the rank or the “office” of preacher or teacher. A similar description of functions is found in 1 Corinthians 12:28—this passage does not necessarily describe ranks or offices, although some are of course included: “Now God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues…”

In addition, the Bible recognizes the non-ministerial rank and office of deacon and deaconess (1 Timothy 3:8, 11). In order to become a deacon or a deaconess, one must be ordained to these offices. Also, to become an elder, one [including a deacon] must be ordained to that office. When somebody were to claim that as a deacon, he was also a minister, then such claim would be false (even though a deacon may be asked to give sermonettes or even sermons in Church services, under the direction and supervision of a minister. But he is not to heal the sick, cast out demons, baptize or ordain others etc.). Likewise, to become a pastor, one must be ordained to that office (even though an elder may be asked to fulfill the function of a pastor, see above). In addition, to become an Evangelist, someone has to be ordained to that rank and office.

With each ordination, God gives the ordained person who is being raised in rank an additional amount of His Holy Spirit so that he can fulfill the role and function of that office. See our Q&A on John 3:34. When somebody were to claim that as a deacon or an elder, he had the same amount of God’s Holy Spirit as a pastor or an evangelist, then that person would be making a false claim. And of course, ministerial credentials can be revoked by the Church of God if a minister proves through his conduct that he has become disqualified of and unfit for the particular rank, office and function. The same is true for ordained deacons and deaconesses. The idea of “once a deacon or a minister, always a deacon or a minister,” is not biblical.

In conclusion, the recognized ministerial offices or ranks in the Church of God are Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Elder.  Any other designation for a rank or title is not biblical. “Teacher” or “Preacher” are not ranks or offices, but they rather describe various functions. We do not refer to a minister as “Reverent,” as this designation is reserved for God.

For further information, please read our Q&A on ministerial ranks in God’s Church. 

Lead Writers: Rene Messier and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new member letter has been written by Mr. Rene Messier. In this letter Mr. Messier comments on his recent visit to Kenya (Africa) to meet with members and interested parties. He also reflects on the Western world’s abuses of its freedoms and blessings while reminding us that the establishment of God’s Kingdom is now the only true solution. This letter has been mailed and is now posted on our website.

Two new StandingWatch trailers with Brian Gale for the British audience have been produced, titled “We Must Be Changed” and “Biblical Prophecy in the Light of World Events”. All five British programs (so far) can be viewed on  www.globalchurchswBG.

“Are You Following God’s Lead?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Does God lead you to choose or not to choose a certain course of action? Do you act at times against your better judgment, only to realize that you should have followed your “instincts” or your “first impression”? Do you sometimes feel that you are being motivated to do or not to do something, without fully knowing as to why that is? If you truly know God and are close to Him, you will experience that you are being directed in certain ways, and it is always good to carefully listen to and consider that guidance.

A new German sermon has been posted, titled, “Werden Sie von Gott geführt?” (“Are You Being Led by God?”).
As a reminder, here are the dates for the upcoming Holy Days: September 5th–Feast of Trumpets; September 14th–Day of Atonement; September 19th through the 25th–Feast of Tabernacles; September 26th–Last Great Day. We will be broadcasting services live in the United States from our location in Vail, Colorado. For further information on our Feast sites in Colorado and Germany, please consult our website: www.eternalgod.org. For additional information on our Feast site in Germany, please also go to http://www.aufpostenstehen.de/wir-uber-uns/laubhuttenfest-2013/.

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by Phyllis Bourque

In this past year, my husband and I have been doing some home improvements, with the goal of selling the house. We are unable to accomplish much of the work ourselves, so we have had to hire local contractors. Unfortunately, instead of being able to say “very good” with each phase of the work, we found ourselves having to address poor workmanship issues along the way. Some of these issues were remedied, but not necessarily to our satisfaction, causing us to seek another contractor for the next phase of work. After four contractors, it’s been an unsettling experience and begs the question, “Doesn’t anyone do quality work anymore?”

Manufacturing companies often boast about the quality of their products by using “quality catch-phrases” in their advertising campaigns, but even that is changing. On June 11, 2013, USA Today published an article that read: “A spate of flubs by Ford Motor is raising doubt about whether quality still really is — as Ford’s tagline used to boast — ‘Quality is Job One.’”

Wikipedia writes in regard to Zenith electronics company: “For many years, their famous slogan was ‘The quality goes in, before the name goes on.’” Zenith ultimately was unable to compete with a global market for cheaper products in the 1980s and was eventually taken over by a foreign firm.

On a more critical level, it is distressing for me to hear of buildings or bridges collapsing and causing loss of lives, only to find out that these “accidents” could have been avoided if quality standards had been implemented in the design, engineering, construction and/or maintenance phases. More recently, I was shocked to learn that a train crash in Spain that killed many people, was due to negligence on the part of the driver in adhering to the quality standards that had been put in place by the railroad company. I grieve when an event involves loss of lives, but even more so, when it is learned that it could have been avoided.

While thinking about this subject, I was reminded of the Scriptures that describe the building of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. I reflected on the fact that everything God designed was of the highest quality, and that He required the work to be carried out with the same degree of excellence. It’s fascinating for me to realize that He actually gave His Spirit to the people He chose to do the work so that they could produce the quality of workmanship that He specified in great detail! I think I would have enjoyed being part of the group that worked on the priestly garments. Wow! To be so skilled as to produce something “for glory and beauty” must have been thoroughly enjoyable!

My husband and I asked ourselves many times, what if we could enjoy that kind of delivery of workmanship today and not have to negotiate with those we hire to simply “do it right”? Wouldn’t that be wonderful!? Unfortunately, we experienced that greed and speed overrode quality assurance all too often, and it was yet another reminder for us  that this physical world won’t get any better under Satan’s substandard influence.

I look forward to the time when God’s Kingdom will be set up on this earth and people will be taught excellence in every facet of their lives, without hindrance from Satan. From all of these disappointments with our local contractors, I had to reflect once again on what an enjoyable and satisfying time that will be, both for those of us who will teach God’s way, as well as for those who will see the result of implementing His level of excellence in all that they do. And I am convinced that with people working and living under the direction of Jesus Christ in the Millennium,  God will once again be able to say that what will be accomplished will be “very good,” as He did when He initially re-created the physical world.

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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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