Update 668


The Joy of Sin

On December 27, 2014, Robb Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The Joy of Sin.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at https://www.eternalgod.org/live-services/ (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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A Flash in the Pan

by Rene Messier (Canada)

Over the years in the church we get to see various types of individuals who start attending Church services with us. One in particular is what I call a “Flash in the Pan.” People who have cooked have at times experienced this and that is when oil in a pan, unattended for whatever reason, reaches its flash or ignition temperature and catches fire. These are usually small fires, easy to extinguish.

There are some individuals who are this way. When we first meet them, they are bubbling over with enthusiasm and are all fired up about the new truth they are learning. Later their enthusiasm wanes, usually when facing a trial in regard to obeying God or perhaps some persecution from family members, so they begin to waffle a bit.

Christ warned us about some of the problems we would encounter. They are outlined in Matthew 13:3-8:

“Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

The flash in the pan is described in verses 20 -21:

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

Notice, they endure for a little while, and like a jet when it flames out, crashes and burns, they are suddenly gone. We have to have a certain degree of toughness and ability to endure in order to stay true to the course. When we have to make those tough decisions in regard to obeying God, we must do the right thing, and God will support us.

I remember so well how happy I was when I came to the knowledge of the Sabbath. What did not dawn on me at first was that I could not work or earn a living on that day.

What was I to do? I had a government job that required me to work on the Sabbath on a rotating basis, and there was no practical way around it. I had two children and one on the way, and a mortgage to pay. I was working in a prison hospital at the time on the second floor, by myself, pacing back and forth, realizing I could not work on the Sabbath coming up in a few days.

I decided then and there that I was not going to work that Saturday, regardless of the consequences. In less than ten seconds my boss came up the stairs and told me that a fellow worker who was scheduled to work that afternoon phoned in sick and that I could work a double shift that day to cover for him. I immediately said I would if I could have Saturday off, which he agreed to give me.

I later had to resign my job and I worked for several months at several jobs before I eventually got a good job–a month after I was baptized. I worked at that company for more than 38 years, until my retirement in 2007.

I reflect on this incident at times and it reminds me of what Christ said about never forsaking us. If we step up to the plate with faith, not wavering, we can hit a home run. When we are called, we are called for the duration and Christ never said it would be a slide downhill into the Kingdom. If we endure to the end, we will be saved and receive the reward.

The one thing we don’t want to be is a “Flash in the Pan.”

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We begin with reports on Russia’s current financial crisis and the willingness of China and other Far Eastern nations to come to Russia’s rescue; and we point out Russia’s attempts to reach out to North Korea, while the relationship between America and North Korea has reached an absolute historical low point.

We continue with reports on Cuba’s victory celebrations over a weak USA; the astronomical costs spent by the USA on their fight against ISIS; and the ongoing turmoil in New York City.

Turning to Germany, we report on growing anti-Islamization demonstrations especially in the city of Dresden, which coincide with outrageous comments by Turkey’s President Erdogan; and continue with several articles on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. The power struggle between the Pope and numerous cardinals and bishops within the Vatican is continuing, and Catholic news agencies feel that a “direct confrontation” is probably inevitable, while English-speaking spokesman of the Vatican referred to Pope Francis as a “prophet.”

We conclude with reports on Christmas, quoting the Pope’s ill-conceived “Christmas message,” and showing that many non-Christians and people without any religious beliefs delight in Christmas celebrations and activities. We also speak of “Man’s Ten Commandments” and other humanly devised “standards of righteousness.”

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China and India Come to Russia’s Rescue

On December 22, the EUObserver published an article with the following headline: “China ignores EU, offers to help Russia.”

The article continued:

“China has joined India in helping the Russian economy… Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in China Daily, a state mouthpiece, on Monday (22 December): ‘Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation. If the Russian side needs [help], we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity’. China Daily noted that Russia has ‘hundreds of billions of [US] dollars’ in its foreign reserve fund and is far from collapse. It added that China is ready to offer loans and investments in infrastructure projects, with a new Russia-China gas pipeline, a deep-water port in Crimea, and railway schemes in Russia’s Far East under discussion. The Chinese statement comes after India, earlier this month, bought 12 nuclear reactors from Russian firm Rosatom and launched joint production of military helicopters…

“Going further back, China and India, as well as Brazil and South Africa, showed solidarity by abstaining in a UN vote on the non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The actions of the non-aligned powers are a diplomatic defeat for the EU and US, which imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its war on Ukraine…

“The main cause of Russia’s financial problems is the slump in oil prices. But EU sanctions on banks and energy firms are making matters worse by blocking blacklisted companies from buying debt on international markets. For his part, former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin told press in Moscow also on Monday: ‘Today, I can say that we have entered or are entering a real, full-fledged economic crisis’. He spoke after Russia announced the National Bank Trust, one of its largest lenders, needs a half-a-billion-dollar bailout.

“Russia also imposed curbs on wheat exports, which have surged due to the record-low value of the rouble, prompting hikes in Russian bread prices. The financial crisis is having a strategic impact in Europe. The rouble crash prompted Russia to cancel the South Stream gas pipeline project…

“EU institutions have all-but packed up for the Christmas break. But the European Commission on Monday noted that the EU, which has extensive trade with Russia despite the Ukraine rift, could, like Belarus, suffer knock-on effects from the rouble problem…

“Diplomats say it’s too early to predict if the rouble crisis will serve doves, who say a Russian economic collapse would it make it more dangerous, or hawks, who say long-term economic pain will stop Russian aggression. Some states – such as Austria, Hungary, France, and Italy – are saying they want to rebuild Russia ties. But Germany at last week’s EU summit said sanctions can be rolled back only if Russia gives up conquered territories in Ukraine…”

While Europe—and especially Germany—is moving further and further away from Russia, Far Eastern nations such as China and India are moving closer together.

And Now—Russia in Collaboration with North Korea

The Guardian wrote on December 19:

“The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has invited the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in the second world war, the Kremlin’s spokesman said on Friday. It would be Kim’s first foreign visit since taking the helm of the reclusive east Asian state in 2011. His personal envoy travelled to Moscow last month as part of efforts by the two Cold War-era allies to improve relations…

“Moscow needs North Korean cooperation to boost its natural gas exports to South Korea as Gazprom would like to build a gas pipeline through North Korea to reach its southern neighbour. Pyongyang is also seeking support from Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN security council, against international criticism relating to accusations of human rights abuses and its nuclear programme.”

Collaboration between powerful nations in the Far East are prophesied. China, Russia, India and Japan will apparently belong to this collaboration which will be hostile to the West. Will even North Korea be part of it?

North Korea Threatens USA

CNN reported on December 21:

“North Korea is accusing the U.S. government of being behind the making of the movie ‘The Interview.’ And, in a dispatch on state media, the totalitarian regime warns the United States that U.S. ‘citadels’ will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of the film’s release.

“While steadfastly denying involvement in the hack, North Korea accused U.S. President Barack Obama of calling for ‘symmetric counteraction.’… ‘Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,’ the report said, adding that ‘fighters for justice’ including the ‘Guardians of Peace’ — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack – ‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.’

“The FBI on Friday pinned blame on North Korea for a hack into Sony’s computer systems… In a CNN interview on Friday, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton said the studio had not ‘given in’ to pressure from hackers and was still considering ways to distribute the movie…”

Newsmax added on December 23:

“Less than a week after Sony pulled ‘The Interview’ from theaters, the studio has reversed itself and set a limited theatrical release in the United States on Christmas Day. ‘The Interview,’ directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, will now open in more than 200 independent cinemas rather than in the major chains, sources confirm.”

American Retaliation Against North Korea?

The Huffington Post wrote on December 22:

“North Korea’s Internet service went down in a suspected cyberattack Monday, just days after the U.S. government blamed the country for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment and the White House said it was considering a ‘proportional response’ to the crime…

“During a Monday briefing, Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, called on the North Korean government to ‘admit the culpability and compensate Sony’ for the financial damage the hacks have caused. But Harf also offered an interesting choice of words when discussing the administration’s possible response to the responsible parties. ‘As the president said, we are considering a range of options in response,’ she said. ‘We aren’t going to discuss, publicly, operational details about the possible response options — or comment on those types of reports in any way — except to say that as we implement those responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.’”

Communism and Human Rights Violations to Stay in Cuba

The Associated Press reported on December 20:

“Cuban President Raul Castro sent a blunt message to Washington Saturday as the White House works to reverse a half-century of hostility between the U.S. and Cuba: Don’t expect detente to do away with the communist system. Castro’s speech to Cuba’s National Assembly was a sharp counterpoint to the message U.S. President Barack Obama gave in his year-end news conference the day before. Obama reiterated that by engaging directly with the Cuban people, Americans are more likely to encourage reform in Cuba’s one-party system and centrally planned economy.”

Breitbart added on December 22:

“Cuban dictator Raúl Castro… visited the Cuban National Assembly to declare that, against the United States, ‘now we’ve really won the war.’… He once again reiterated his desire for President Obama to act unilaterally, without the support of Congress, on as many issues in the White House’s Cuba proposal as possible…

“He added that he does not expect any changes in the Cuban regime: ‘just as we have never proposed to the United States a change in their political system, so too do we demand respect for ours.’”

It appears that the new “détente” between the USA and Cuba has really accomplished nothing. While Cuba celebrates its victory, America is looked upon as a gullible loser.

America’s “Price Tag for ISIS Fight Passes 1 Billion Dollars”

Newsmax reported on December 22:

“The U.S. military has spent more than $1 billion fighting the Islamic State (ISIS), the Pentagon says. The campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria began Aug. 8 via airstrikes, and Pentagon spokesman William Urban said Monday that the cost of the military offensive continues to climb. ‘As of Dec. 11, 2014, the total cost of operations related to [ISIS] since kinetic operations started on Aug. 8, 2014, is $1.02 billion, and the average daily cost is $8.1 million,’ Urban said, The Hill reports. That figure does not include an earlier campaign against ISIS that began in June, The Hill says.

“Over the weekend, it was reported that U.S. ground troops were fighting ISIS forces in western Iraq, despite the Obama administration’s stance that the campaign would consist only of airstrikes. About 1,700 U.S. troops are in Iraq, a number that will increase over the coming weeks after it was announced that another 1,500 will be deployed.”

In light of these nonsensical developments, we are reminded as to why we are to pray to God the Father: “Your Kingdom Come!”

New York City in Turmoil

Politico wrote on December 22:

“New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that tensions in the city are echoing those in the 1970s — a fear he expressed only days prior to the ambush killings of two police officers. ‘Who would’ve ever thought déjà vu all over again, that we would be back where we were 40-some-odd years ago,’ Bratton said in an interview on NBC’s ‘Today.’

“When asked whether he had seen such tensions or divide before, Bratton replied, ‘1970, when I first came into policing — my first 10 years were around this type of tension.’

Bratton’s assessment comes as two NYPD officers were shot and killed Saturday afternoon. The suspect in the killings invoked the police-involved deaths of Missouri teen Michael Brown and New Yorker Eric Garner in an Instagram post before shooting officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in their patrol car.

“Bratton identified protests that followed the decisions by separate grand juries to not indict police officers in Brown and Garner’s deaths as a factor in the subsequent killings of Ramos and Liu. ‘It’s quite apparent, quite obvious, that the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spinoff of this issue of these demonstrations,’ the police chief said. Lawmakers and police unions have accused New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of inciting anti-police rhetoric — or at least failing to do enough to cool tensions. Over the weekend, a video circulated online showing police officers turning their backs to the mayor as he entered the hospital where the two slain officers were taken…

“On ‘Today,’ Bratton acknowledged the internal rift between City Hall and the police… Only the day before the shooting of the two officers, Bratton had expressed concern that tensions and issues of ‘poverty, of race, of unemployment, of inequality in housing, educational systems’ were escalating. Similarly, in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll… released last week, a majority of 57 percent of Americans said race relations are ‘bad,’ including 23 percent said they’re ‘very bad.’…”

While fears are being expressed that the tensions in New York City will spread across the nation, the blame game continues, trying to find culpability with the media and President Obama, as well as with the protestors. The truth is that this country has turned its back on God, and curses in every shape or form are the consequence. See the next article.

Not Again!

The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 22:

“A white police officer killed a black teenager who was allegedly armed in a St. Louis suburb late Tuesday… The death of Antonio Martin, 18 years old, comes as tensions run high in U.S. cities over the use of deadly force by police. The shooting happened in Berkeley, Mo., just miles from the town of Ferguson, where the death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in August sparked months of demonstrations that turned violent at times.

“Berkeley officials moved quickly to keep the public from drawing a connection to Ferguson. Berkeley’s population is more than 80% black, and Mayor Theodore Hoskins pointed to its large number of black police officers and he and other elected officials who are African-American. In Ferguson, the city’s population is two-thirds African-American, while its city council and police force are largely white. The mayor also said, unlike Ferguson, the shooting was captured on a surveillance camera and a weapon was recovered on the scene.”

Longing for the “Good Old Days”?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 21:

“Disenchanted German citizens and right-wing extremists are joining forces to form a protest movement to fight what they see as the Islamization of the West. Is this the end of the long-praised tolerance of postwar Germany?…

“What is going on in Germany, the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants? Has the open-mindedness for which Germans had long been praised now ended?…

“… many Germans share the protestors’ views… Some 34 percent of citizens agreed with the PEGIDA protestors that Germany is becoming increasingly Islamicized…

“[An American journalist stated] that she had been under the impression that many were mourning the ‘good old days.’

“The only question is: Which good old days? Those after 1933, when Dresden, displaying the Nazi swastika, drove out its Jewish residents? Or those after 1945, when the East German Communist Party transformed an entire region into one that was virtually cut off from the Western world…”

Another question is whether many Germans are mourning the good old days when a strong leader ruled the nation. Sadly, Germany’s history is such that their strong rulers usually turned out to be disastrous leaders. Another strong ruler—worse than anyone before him—is still to arise. But finally, and very soon, Germans and all the world will experience—for the very first time—a strong truthful ruler who will establish a righteous government on this earth and who will bring peace and prosperity—Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Germans Concerned About Islamization

AFP wrote on December 22:

“A record [17,500] anti-Islamic protesters rallied for their tenth demonstration in as many weeks Monday in eastern Germany, celebrating the rise of their far-right populist movement by singing Christmas carols. Germany has for weeks grappled with the emergence of the ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident’ or PEGIDA, whose ranks in the city of Dresden have swelled rapidly from just a few hundred in October.

“About 4,500 counter-demonstrators marched through the city under the slogan ‘Dresden Nazi-free’, warning that there was no space for racism and xenophobia in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust. Most PEGIDA followers insist they are not Nazis but patriots who worry about the ‘watering down’ of their Christian-rooted culture and traditions. They often accuse mainstream political parties of betraying them and the media of lying…

“The Protestant bishop of Saxony state, Jochen Bohl, said the PEGIDA followers, by singing Christmas carols, were seeking ‘to exploit a Christian symbol and a Christian tradition’ for political purposes…

“Smaller clone groups rallied Monday in the western cities of Bonn, Kassel and Wuerzburg, but they only drew up to 200 followers each and were all vastly outnumbered by counter-demonstrations that drew 20,000 nationwide… The biggest anti-PEGIDA march was held in the southern city of Munich, where at least 12,000 rallied under the banner ‘Make space — Refugees are welcome’…

“Politicians from all major parties have been stunned by the emergence of the right-wing nationalists who vent their anger against what they consider a broken immigration and asylum system. The movement has emerged at a time when Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has become the continent’s top destination for asylum seekers, and the world’s number two destination for migrants after the United States. The influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and several African and Balkan countries has strained local governments, which have scrambled to house the newcomers in old schools, office blocks and army barracks…”

Deutsche Welle added on December 22:

“Chancellor Angela Merkel has cautioned Germans against falling prey to any form of xenophobic ‘rabble-rousing,’ but several conservative politicians have argued the government must ‘listen’ to the people’s concerns about immigration. Only the fledgling anti-euro AfD party has openly sympathized with PEGIDA, saying its message has struck a chord in German society.”

Breitbart wrote on December 23:

“Despite the essentially ordinary character of many of the people taking to the streets for the peaceful strolls, and the admission by senior government and police figures that a great many of those joining in are families bringing their children, the organisation has come in for stiff criticism and rejection by the heights of the German elite.

“Chancellor Merkel has suggested the leadership of PEGIDA have an ulterior motive, despite their focus on non-violent protest and apolitical principles. She even went as far to warn people thinking of going on the weekly stroll to ‘watch out that they are not instrumentalised by the organisers’. The SPD, Germany’s Labour-party equivalent have gone as far as calling PEGIDA ‘Nazis in pinstripes’. This is despite a report by the German police that there are significantly more known troublemakers in the counter-protest movements, than in PEGIDA itself.”

These developments remind us of events in Germany leading to the rise of Adolf Hitler, when groups of different persuasions –notably Socialists, Communists and National Socialists – demonstrated against each other, while the “established” parties had become helpless bystanders. At the same time, German concerns ARE understandable—at least to an extent—also in light of the following article.

Turkish President Condemns Birth Control as Treason

NDTV reported on December 22:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described efforts to promote birth control as ‘treason’, saying contraception risked causing a whole generation to ‘dry up’, [and constitute] a betrayal of Turkey’s ambition to make itself a flourishing nation with an expanding young population. ‘One or two (children) is not enough. To make our nation stronger, we need a more dynamic and younger population. We need this to take Turkey above the level of modern civilisations,’ Erdogan said.

“Erdogan’s government has long been accused by critics of seeking to impose strict Islamic values on Turks and curtailing the civil liberties of women… [He] has angered feminist groups for declaring that every woman should have three children and saying that women are not equal to men…

“Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, a doctor with two children, had at the weekend also caused controversy by declaring pregnant women did not have the right to decide how they would deliver their child. ‘It is the duty of the midwives and the doctors to prepare them for the birth. The patients cannot say “I want a Caesarean”. They don’t have such a right,’ he said. ‘The doctors’ job is to fulfil their medical responsibilities not to follow the patients’ demands. Doctors must give the medical treatment that the patients have a right to. The C-section is not one of those rights.’”

All of this is so reminiscent of laws which were enacted in Nazi Germany. Sadly, the Catholic Church also prohibits birth control—in direct violation of biblical principles.

The Fight Between the Pope and the Vatican Continues…

The Washington Post wrote on December 22:

“Every year around this time, Pope Francis and the senior governing cardinals, bishops and priests of the Vatican — referred to as the Curia — meet for an exchange of Christmas greetings. This year, Pope Francis brought a little something extra for the Curia: a 15-point ‘catalog’ of spiritual diseases he’s seen among leadership there…

“The list of diseases included ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s,’ ‘spiritual petrification,’ a feeling of being ‘immortal,’ and ‘funereal face,’… The pope also blasted gossiping among officials as a form of ‘satanic assassination.’…

“Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the ‘sowers of discord.’ Which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips ‘cold-blooded murderers’ of reputations. ‘It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back. … Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!’ he said.

“… the pope   may have made an oblique reference to the sex abuse scandal while discussing a ‘disease of a closeness,’ which he said was a ‘cancer which threatens the harmony of the body and causes a lot of evil and scandal, especially towards our small brothers and sisters.’ …

“The Vatican’s English-speaking spokesman Fr. Thomas Rosica addressed the Pope’s remarks in a Monday statement: ‘… Now and then in our religious history, prophets arise to call us back to our origins, our roots and also our intended mission. That is what Pope Francis is doing. His words apply not only to the Roman Curia at the Vatican but to the entire Church throughout the world. His words are also valid for many institutions in the world today that lose sight of their original mission’…

“Before becoming pope, Francis was an outsider to the bureaucratic body of the Curia, which has a reputation for ineffectiveness and corruption. As pope, Francis has pledged to reform it.”

The description of Pope Francis as a “prophet” is quite interesting.

Deutsche Welle added on December 23:

“‘This is a speech without historic precedent,’ church historian Alberto Melloni, a contributor to Italian daily ‘Corriere della Sera,’ told the Associated Press… Marco Politi, a Vatican expert who writes for the ‘Il Fatto Quotidiano’ daily, told dpa news agency that Monday’s address was ‘a frontal attack’ against his enemies inside the Curia, and could be seen as ‘one last warning’ before a direct confrontation.”

The Pope’s Christmas Reflection

Zenit reported on December 21:

“Pope Francis today assured that Christ is coming into our lives this Christmas and is asking for a response like Mary’s, but warned that we might be too busy to pay attention… Jesus is coming this Christmas in the ‘today of the liturgy,’ the Pope explained. ‘The Word, who dwelled in the virginal womb of Mary, in the celebration of Christmas, comes to call anew the heart of each Christian…

“Jesus, he said, ‘comes to bring to the world the gift of peace. […] The precious gift of Christmas is peace and Christ is our true peace…”

Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s dwelling in our hearts, or with a precious godly gift of true peace.

Non-Christians Celebrate Christmas

The Associated Press wrote on December 22:

“Christmastime is here and a new poll reveals the cards and gifts that are part of celebrating the holiday are ubiquitous, even among those who don’t share the Christian beliefs behind the story of the Magi who gave the first Christmas gifts…

“77 percent of Americans plan to exchange gifts this holiday season and 48 percent will send greeting cards. The gift-giving set includes about 8 in 10 Christians and 73 percent of those who say they have no religious beliefs. Greeting cards also cross denominational lines, with 53 percent of Protestants, 55 percent of Catholics and 40 percent of those without religious beliefs saying they will send cards this year.”

This is mind-boggling and so twisted, but then, it is reflective of a much deeper truth: That Christmas is anything but Christian.

Man’s Ten Commandments

CNN wrote on December 20:

“What if, instead of climbing Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God, Moses had turned to the Israelites and asked: Hey, what do you guys think we should do? Considering the Hebrews’ bad behavior in the Bible, what with the coveting of neighbors’ wives and murdering their own brothers, that might have been a disastrous idea. But in our own more enlightened age, we’re perfectly capable of crowdsourcing our own commandments — or, at least, that’s what a new project would have us believe…”

To better understand the following, Lex Bayer and John Figdor, authors of the book “Atheist Mind, Human Heart,” recently organized a crowdsource contest to determine the 10 best atheist commandments and to modernize Old Testament ideals. The public submitted their ideas in recent weeks for alternative secular commandments, with a panel of 13 prominent atheists and secularists weighing in to pick their favorites (compare “The Blaze,” December 19). The above-quoted article by CNN continues:

“The contest drew more than 2,800 submissions from 18 countries and 27 U.S. states, according to Bayer and Figdor… A team of 13 judges selected 10 of the more sober and serious submissions, and announced the winners Friday. There’s nary a ‘thou shalt’ among them — nothing specifically about murder, stealing or adultery, although there is a version of the Golden Rule, which presumably would cover those crimes…

“Here are the ‘Ten Non-Commandments’ chosen as the winners:

“1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.

“2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.

“3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.

“4. Every person has the right to control of their body.

“5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.

“6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.

“7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.

“8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.

“9. There is no one right way to live.

“10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.”

Especially Nos. 4, 5 and 9 are the most sickening. Other commandments are problematic too, such as No. 3 and specifically No. 10. We can be glad that God does not leave it to man to decide what is good and bad.

43 Countries Have Outlawed Spanking

On December 11, 2014, Time magazine wrote the following:

“Every time a new controversy erupts about parents who use spanking to discipline their kids… there’s a whole new round of discussion about the most appropriate way to discipline kids… So far 43 countries have outlawed spanking, and two more are about to.”

According to the article, countries banning corporal punishment include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Poland, Italy and Israel.

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Is it foolish to set dates regarding the return of Jesus Christ?

The definition of the words “foolish” or “folly” can be “a lack of good sense; foolishness: a foolish act, idea, or practice.” In other words, it is just not a good idea!

For almost 2,000 years, there have been many predictions about the return of Christ. Damian Thompson wrote a book called “The End of Time”. In his book of 393 pages, he lists hundreds of failed predictions over the last nearly 2,000 years. This book covers not only the return of Jesus Christ but the beliefs of many other religions and movements over two millennia.

The book was written in 1999 when there was the fear of what Y2K might produce which Mr Thompson describes as “three little digits signifying a crisis of spectacular proportions caused by just two digits. A few years ago, only those initiated into the mysteries of the software code knew or cared what this meant. By 1998, however, most people in the West knew about the problem and were beginning – just beginning – to feel seriously worried by it” (page 334).

As we know, nothing major happened at the turn of the century in terms of computer systems shutting down and all the dire consequences and inter-related problems that that would have produced.

A total solar eclipse occurred on 11 August 1999 and this caused many to predict that it would be the end of the world. One person wrote to us at our office in Derby in the UK saying that Jesus Christ would return to earth on August 11th 1999 at 12:50pm. One website stated that there were 45 failed predictions for the end of the world in 1999.

According to Wikipedia, four different people predicted the year 2000, and one more specifically on April 6th 2000. One minister claimed that “the rapture” (a concept which is not taught in Scripture) would be on May 21, 2011, followed by the end of the world on October 21 of the same year.

Another minister predicted that Jesus would return on September 29, 2011 and when his prediction failed to come true, he moved the date of Jesus’ return to May 27, 2012. That prediction failed too and he changed the date to May 18, 2013. As we know, that date has come and gone.

Others have predicted various other dates, including 2012 and 2017, and one senior minister said recently that a number of other ministers, some years ago, came to realize during their study of biblical chronology that we could “easily” be 20 or 30 years off in either direction and that therefore, it should be easy to realize that Christ may not come until about 2030AD! However, that minister added that he personally did not believe that it would take that long. (In fact, that same senior minister had predicted earlier that Christ would come back in 2017, give or take a year or two).

We must not forget that even though God established a 7,000-year plan (with man ruling on earth for about 6,000 years, followed by Christ’s millennial rule of 1,000 years), it does not have to be exactly 6,000 years from man’s creation, as we can hinder or delay Christ’s return (compare Matthew 24:21-22; 24:48; 2 Peter 3:9, 12). For a more detailed explanation on this, please read chapter 4 entitled “The Day of Christ’s Return – Fixed?” in our new booklet “When and How Will Christ Return”.

Other dates, and those proposing them, are listed in Wikipedia showing that Christ will allegedly return on September 28th 2015, or in 2020, 2021, 2025, 2028 and 2057.

Of course, history shows that date setting has been a problem down through the centuries and hundreds, probably thousands of predictions have all failed. We must be honest enough to admit that some within the Church of God in times past have not been immune from date setting—and some don’t seem to be immune from it today.

Why is it that for those who, from a Christian perspective, supposedly take Scripture seriously, continue to think that they know better than God?  If they all took the time to read, review and accept Scripture, they would realise that NO ONE but the Father “knows” the date of Christ’s Second Coming – not even the angels or Christ Himself—and that the date may not be set in stone as far as the Father is concerned! He “knows” the date because it is HE—and HE ALONE—who will decide when it has arrived.

Demonic activity will increase towards the end of the age and it seems likely that many, if not all who predict a date (and sometimes even the hour) are deceived by the great deceiver, Satan and his demons, or that they have personal delusions of grandeur, erroneously thinking that they know something that no one else knows. Unfortunately, groups or churches can be formed around such a person only for everyone to be disappointed when the prophesied event does not occur.

Of course, many may be entirely convinced of their prognostication(s) and may be entirely sincere, but they have all been (even sincerely) wrong.

We know that some of the early apostles thought that Jesus might return in their lifetime but no dates were set, just a general view that it could happen in their lifetime.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul stated:  “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

In 1 Corinthians 7:29, Paul stated:  “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none…”

In 1 Corinthians 15:52, Paul stated, referring to the time of Christ’s Coming: “…For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

In Acts 2:16-21, Luke quoted Peter as applying an end-time prophecy to his day and age: “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’” The process had started but has yet to be completely fulfilled.

In Hebrews 1:2, Paul stated: “(God) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…”

In James 5:3, James stated: “Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire.  You have heaped up treasure in the last days.”

In 1 Peter 1:20, Peter stated: “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…”

In 1 John 2:18, John stated: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”

As we pointed out in a recent Q&A on the “last days,” all these passages, and many more, give testimony to the fact that Scriptures, using prophetic terms such as “last days,” “end time” etc., must be read in context, and that they might refer to events of the past leading to an end-time fulfillment. At the same time, we also need to realise that those who wrote certain passages were apparently under the misimpression that the last days had already arrived in their time. In every case, they later realised that Christ would not return during their life time, but God had inspired their writings and included them in His Word, as they DO refer to the ultimate fulfillment of prophetic predictions at the time of Christ’s Second coming—and beyond.

We have to fully appreciate that God’s sense of timing and our sense of timing are very often entirely different. Peter points this out when he writes, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

The belief that Christ would return during a Christian’s lifetime has been the hope of all Church members down through the ages.

One commentator wrote: “The doctrine of imminence is meant to keep Christians from being lazy and lax.  If we live each day in the expectant hope that Christ can return at any moment, how does that affect how we live our lives?  The answer to that question is the whole point of the parables that Jesus tells at the end of the Olivet Discourse (The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, and the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30).  These parables teach that Christians should live in constant expectation of the imminent return of Christ.  What does that look like?  The Parable of the Ten Virgins essentially teaches that Christians should be prepared for Christ’s return by being vigilant because we don’t know the hour of his return.”

This observation is of course unbiblical, as stated, because Christ cannot come back at just about any moment—prophetic events such as the Great Tribulation must first be fulfilled. But the point of the author is well-taken, when applied to our personal situation. We should live with a constant expectation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ FOR US; that is, we do not know when we will die, and we must be READY at the time of our death and therefore at all times, because within the next second of our consciousness, we will be resurrected to face Jesus Christ who will judge all of us.

There are those who understand that Christ did not know the date of His return when He was here on earth nearly 2,000 years ago, but they believe that He does now know! Where does the Bible say anything to this effect? It’s just not there!

Let us briefly review some Scriptures that should stop the folly of trying to out-guess the great God.

Matthew 24:23-27 is very clear: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Matthew 24:36 adds: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

Mark 13:6, 21-22 states: “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many… Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

Luke 17:23 says: “And they will say to you ‘Look here!’ Do not go after them or follow them.”

Christ tells us that no one is to follow those in respect to such false predictions.

That still applies today, so why should anyone feel that they have “the inside track” on this information?   There has always been deception but this is prophesied to increase right at the end of this age.

2 Peter 3:9 warns us: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Because of all those wrong predictions (everyone to date has been wrong), this gives the gainsayers ammunition to attack and deride the Christian message. However, this was expected as Peter addresses this question in 2 Peter 3:3-4: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

People can get concerned, worried, flummoxed or even suicidal about “the end of the world” but we shouldn’t. Nor should we be concerned about those who sneer saying that Christ will not return or even that He does not even exist. Whatever anyone says or does will not affect God’s timetable. The Father will send Christ at precisely the right time; not at some time predicted by yet another misled individual.

These predictions have not yet finished and so we should be prepared for even more predictions from those who have had “special revelation” they will claim, maybe even from God Himself! But remember, such predictions to date have had a 100% failure rate!

God WILL reveal His Will to His people at precisely the right time and we should completely rely on our great God to do this. To try and speculate and predict the time of Christ’s return, as so many have done over the last 2,000 years, is a waste of time, an exercise in futility and a folly. To anyone who disagrees with this approach and comes up with yet another date, they should be given a wide berth!

In our Update 658 dated September 26th 2014, the Q&A on the age of man and the 6,000-year plan, concluded with these words:

“However, we are not to set dates, even though we are to watch to determine the signs of the time (Matthew 24:32-35).  But Christ warned us very specifically: ‘Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming… Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ (Matthew 24:42, 44).”

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

On December 21, 2014, the NEWLY DESIGNED WEBSITE for the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates became operational! This represents a major effort on the part of our volunteer technical team–led by Eric Rank. Please take the time to view and become familiar with our new format. We will continue to refine and build this site as we seek to effectively fulfill the commission given to us by Jesus Christ (https://www.eternalgod.org/).

On Friday evening, December 19, 2014, longtime member, Gilbert DeVaux (77), died. Gilbert lived in Jefferson, Oregon, and attended with brethren in Woodburn, Oregon. His faithful commitment to God’s calling remains an inspiring example to all of us.

“Pope Francis’ Fight with the Vatican,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link, here is a summary:

It has been almost a recent routine by the Vatican to ignore, dispute or “clarify” something that Pope Francis has (allegedly) said. This includes statements about communism, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and whether animals go to heaven when they die. Pope Francis is also involving himself more and more in political affairs, such as the relationship between the USA and Cuba. His popularity is enormous, especially in Europe, due to his charming appearance. His most recent strong attack against the Curia has been described as “without historic precedent” and “one last warning before a direct confrontation.” A spokesman for the Vatican has also referred to him as a “prophet.” What can we expect to occur in the future? We offer two free booklets, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?” and “Man’s Holidays or God’s Holy Days?”

“Leben wir in der Endzeit?,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. It is basically covering what we wrote in our Q&A on the terms “end time,” “last days,” etc., with special emphasis on the concept of a king of the south. Title in English: “Are We Living in the End Time?”

“Papst Franziskus im Kampf mit dem Vatikan,”  is the German version of the SW program described above, and it is also available on www.aufpostenstehen.de.

A new StandingWatch Talking Points program has been posted. In this presentation, Pastor Rene Messier reviews highlights from our booklet, “Old Testament Laws–Still Valid Today?”

“The Inner Man,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Christians are undergoing a profound change! It involves the renewing of how we think and behave, and it will lead to a transformation from mortal, fleshly existence into that of immortal, spirit life in the Family of God!

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It Will Get Better!

by Manuela Mitchell

Every December I encounter a bit of anxiety as the days lead up to Christmas. I just find it almost impossible to get the most simple tasks accomplished, such as shopping. There seems to be an over abundance of people hurrying and scurrying to get their last errands done, and I never seem to plan accordingly when I need to run to the store, or even get gas. This year, however, has been a bit more stressful because my son Sam (4) now understands a bit about this strange holiday. He understands it is wrong to keep, but he also understands that he is the only child in his school that does not keep it. He understands that while all the children are singing their morning Christmas songs, he sits with them and keeps his mouth closed. He understands that while they are painting Christmas trees with decorations, he is painting his realistic looking pine tree and correcting the teacher who referred to it as a Christmas tree. He seems so strong and bold to have to stand up for himself and I am so proud of him for that.

But, I’ve recently learned that he hates going to school, when he used to love it. He has recently fought me as I’ve tried to bring him there, begging and crying that I don’t leave him. He told me that they will always keep Christmas. I understand that my 4 year old son feels like an outcast due to the rebellious ways of our generation, and that makes me very sad. My young son feels like the rest of us do every single day. The difference is that I have more knowledge, understanding and comfort knowing that I am trying to live a Godly way and will be protected. Sam is still learning that, and for now only believes what I can tell and show him, and therefore have to be the best example, by staying positive.

Sam is currently on winter break and I reminded him that Christmas will be over and done with when he starts school again, and things will get better. Knowing of course that things will only get better temporarily until another disgraceful holiday comes up. While I feel sad that he has to go through this at such a young age, I feel blessed that he is doing such a good job of being an example to all, even if they don’t know it yet; someday, they will understand. I often explain to Sam that these stresses and anxieties will indeed pass, leaving us stronger and more encouraged to do the right things that God so clearly shows us. Until then, we need to stay strong, and stand up for what we believe, no matter how old we are or how small we may seem. It will get better!

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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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