Update 678


Heaven or Hell?

On March 7, 2015, Kalon Mitchell will give the sermon, titled, “Heaven or Hell?”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://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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Why Are We Not All Together?

by Norbert Link

I hear it all the time from our viewers and readers: “Why are you not together with this or that organization which is also a part of the Church of God, since we are all believing the same thing?” If that were true, then we should all be together, but in reality, this perception is simply not accurate. In fact, we differ greatly in doctrine, administration, approach and purpose.

The founding documents of the Church of the Eternal God state the following in our Statements of Beliefs, under “Doctrinal Foundation”:

“The major doctrines of the Church are those, which were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong, derived from the Biblical teachings as followed by God’s faithful servants, and originally established by Jesus Christ through the founding of His Church in the time of His chosen early apostles. Since we are to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are committed to review and alter any of our teachings, if and when proven to be wrong by from the Bible.”

Unlike other Church organizations which declared from the beginning of their existence that “everything is on the table” and that all doctrines and teachings of the Church must be reviewed and reconsidered, we have been taking the opposite approach. For us, nothing is on the table, unless a doctrine, teaching or administrative practice is proven to be wrong, based on Scripture. This means, even if we cannot fully prove a particular established teaching from the Bible, we will not change it, if we cannot prove it to be in violation of God’s written Word.

At the same time, we will change if a doctrine or administrative practice is shown to be in contradiction with the Bible. However, there are groups which say that nothing can be changed after Herbert W. Armstrong’s death in 1986… and some even go so far as to say that none of the Church’s changes can be accepted which occurred subsequent to 1974 and 1975, including major changes pertaining to the correct day of Pentecost and our teaching on divorce and remarriage. This concept that nothing can be changed today is clearly unbiblical and must be rejected.

Our approach, as described herein, is the ONLY safe approach which ALL Church organizations in the Body of Christ should take, because only then true unity in doctrine and administration can be achieved. To just give one example, it is simply not acceptable that one organization disfellowships a person for Scriptural reasons (compare Matthew 18:17-18; Romans 16:17), and another organization, claiming to be in the same spiritual Body of Christ, embraces him or her with open arms, without even inquiring into the cause of the excommunication. Another unacceptable policy prevails in many Church organizations which sanction and officiate over the re-marriage of divorced persons in their fellowship who are still married in the eyes of God, since God had bound their marriage (Matthew 19:4-9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-15) and no subsequent biblical grounds existed for divorce and re-marriage. Such conduct gives some of the many reasons as to why there is no unity amongst many Church groups. Unity can only come through the working of the Holy Spirit, based on the teachings of God. How CAN two walk together, unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3)?

We in the Church of the Eternal God and our affiliates in the UK, Canada and German-speaking areas are committed to grow in Christ’s knowledge. As Mr. Armstrong changed or modified doctrines and practices when he found them to be wrong, so have we. A careful study of our literature shows our willingness to change in areas of administration and teaching, but all of our changes have been clearly documented and proved by the pages of the Bible.

If someone wants to find out what we teach, he or she must study our literature and listen to our messages. Just to go back to old and ancient Church literature may or may not give an accurate picture of our current teaching. At the same time, all our changes and modifications are based and built on the doctrines which all of us have learned. We are not going to deviate and depart from the faith which has been—once for all—delivered to the saints (Jude 3). This is our commission and God-given responsibility, which we are determined to fulfill to the best of our ability.

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We begin with reports on the murder of Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the more than dubious role Mr. Putin and the Russian government have been playing in this affair. Many observers are convinced that Mr. Putin was directly or at least indirectly involved, and far too many “unusual” developments occurred in connection with the murder than to believe in a random crime without political background and motivation.

We also report on Russia’s militaristic ambitions and its new-found “friendship” with China, while Germany is planning to increase the flexibility and capability of its armed forces.

We continue with pointing out growing anti-Semitism all over the world, including in Europe; Israel’s temporary collaboration with Jordan; and further provocations from Iran. In light of these developments, the big news of this week has been the further confrontation and alienation between Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barak Obama and Netanyahu’s powerful speech before the American Congress, warning of the danger of a nuclear Iran.

We conclude with reports on the dangers of smoking and an unconscionable decision of a British flower supermarket giant prohibiting the use of the word “Christ” in gift messages.

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Lawlessness and Terrorism Pervades Putin’s Russia

Reuters reported on February 28:

“Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine, was shot dead steps from the Kremlin in central Moscow late on Friday. Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back by assailants in a white car as he walked across a bridge over the Moskva River with a Ukrainian woman who was unhurt…

“Nemtsov was by far the most prominent opposition figure killed in Russia under Putin’s 15-year-rule and the Kremlin swiftly sought to deflect any blame for the murder. Putin condemned the ‘brutal’ slaying and took the investigation under presidential control, saying it could have been a contract killing and a ‘provocation’ on the eve of a big opposition protest [against the war in east Ukraine] Nemtsov had been due to lead on Sunday.

“But the killing focused attention on the tough treatment of Kremlin opponents in Putin’s third term, during which several leading critics have been jailed or fled the country following mass rallies against the former KGB spy three years ago. ‘That a leader of the opposition could be shot beside the walls of the Kremlin is beyond imagination. There can be only one version: that he was shot for telling the truth,’ Mikhail Kasyanov, an opposition leader and a former prime minister under Putin, said at the scene…

“Ed Joyce, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said ‘lawlessness now pervades Putin’s Russia… Regardless of who killed Boris Nemtsov, this shocking murder is the latest assault on those who dare to oppose the Putin regime,’ he said…

“Nemtsov briefly served as a deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990s, when he gained a reputation as a leading liberal economic reformer… Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist and Putin critic, was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment in 2006. Paul Klebnikov, an investigative U.S. journalist, was shot dead in 2004.”

Putin’s Murderous Dictatorship

CNN added on February 27:

“Critics like [Opposition leader Ilya] Yashin and [World chess champion-turned opposition activist Garry] Kasparov pointed fingers in the direction of Putin or a supporter of the Russian President. ‘It’s clearly a political murder. It’s definitely a contract one,’ Yashin said. ‘I don’t know who killed Boris, but I know that it’s the government and personally Putin who are responsible for it. They’ve been constantly promoting a hatred towards everyone who doesn’t support their course and thinks different.’…

“Kasparov said the Russian President is to blame even if not directly involved. ‘If Putin gave order to murder Boris Nemtsov is not the point. It is Putin’s dictatorship. His 24/7 propaganda about enemies of the state,’ Kasparov tweeted. ‘In Putin’s atmosphere of hatred & violence, abroad & in Russia, bloodshed is the prerequisite to show loyalty, that you are on the team,’ he added.

“Critics of Putin have in the past suffered miserable circumstances and demises. Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky accused Putin of corruption and wound up spending 10 years in prison and labor camps. Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko accused state security services of organizing a coup to put Putin in power. He was poisoned by a lethal dose of radioactive polonium and died in London in 2006. No killer has been caught.

“Viktor Yushchenko, the former Ukrainian president, was poisoned, disfigured and nearly killed by a toxic dose of dioxin in 2004…”

Did Putin Set It Up?

The Washington Post wrote on February 27:

“The killing was a dramatic and bloody turn for Russia’s oppressed opposition movement, which has struggled to find its footing during a wave of nationalistic fervor unleashed by the annexation of Ukraine’s semi­autonomous Crimean region last year. Many leaders have been marginalized with prison terms or other forms of harassment, and public rhetoric has grown extremely aggressive toward those who deviate from the majority line…

“Politically motivated slayings are not unknown in Russia, but not once in the 24 years since the breakup of the Soviet Union has such a high-profile figure been the victim…

“Just hours before his death, Nemtsov told Ekho Moskvy radio that Putin had pushed Russia into an economic crisis through his ‘mad, aggressive and deadly policy of war against Ukraine’… Nemtsov had been working on a report that he said would prove that Russian soldiers were fighting alongside pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, where a bloody 11-month-conflict has claimed nearly 5,800 lives. The Kremlin has hotly denied any direct involvement, which Russian opinion polls suggest would be deeply unpopular…

“Russian opposition leaders said Saturday that they were fearful that Nemtsov’s slaying was only the first in a new era of political repression…

“In 2012, Putin warned publicly that his opponents were prepared to murder one of their own so they could blame him for the death. ‘They are looking for a so-called sacrificial victim among some prominent figures,’ Putin, a former KGB agent, told a gathering of the All-Russia Popular Front, a group organized to support him, ahead of Russia’s 2012 presidential election. ‘They will knock him off, I beg your pardon, and then blame the authorities for that.’”

This sounds like Putin might have been toying with the idea as early as 2012, if not even earlier. US Secretary of State John Kerry has claimed that Putin blatantly lied to him and the West when denying Russia’s militaristic support of pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine.

All Signs Point at Putin

The Telegraph wrote on February 27:

“The leading liberal politician who organised street demonstrations against the authorities was shot four times by unidentified attackers yards from the Kremlin walls… His uncovered body lay for about an hour at the spot where he was killed…

“Only two weeks ago Mr Nemtsov said he feared for his life and that President Putin might order his killing. Speaking to Russia’s Sobesednik news website, he said: ‘I’m afraid Putin will kill me. I believe that he was the one who unleashed the war in the Ukraine. I couldn’t dislike him more.’”

The Guardian added on February 27:

“His murder took place in the heart of Moscow, within touching distance of the Kremlin and the fantastical bulbous domes of St Basil’s cathedral. It is an area infested with police, who typically break up opposition manifestations within seconds. And yet Nemtsov’s killer was seemingly able to escape, having shot his target four times in the chest from a white car…

“In the end, Nemtsov fell victim to old-fashioned mafia methods. His shooting is the first assassination of a major political figure in Moscow for a decade. It robs Russia of a brave, authentic and distinctive voice at a time when the country is locked in a dark spiral of war and propaganda.”

Developments in Russia begin to mirror events in Nazi Germany after Hitler came to power.

How Putin Supresses the Truth

Deutsche Welle reported on March 2:

“The murder of staunch Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov on Friday and the march in his memory through downtown Moscow on Sunday were the main media topics over the weekend, and Russian media were no exception. This politically motivated attack is, without doubt, a tragic and significant event in recent Russian history. It was also interesting to observe how the Kremlin and Russia’s state-controlled media began churning out the usual disinformation in an attempt to obscure the facts.

Normally, Russia’s state-controlled media remain silent about events involving criticism of President Vladimir Putin. That most likely would have been the case for the opposition march that was actually planned to take place on Sunday. But there was no way to avoid reporting about the murder of a leading opposition politician on a bridge in full view of the Kremlin. Nemtsov was an internationally known figure from his years serving as deputy prime minister in the 1990s. But it would be wrong to speak of any independent reporting – quite the opposite. Instead, the reporting highlighted the skill with which the Kremlin manipulates the media, and in turn, the Russian people.

“Shortly after Nemtsov was killed, the Russian president issued guidelines to the media. He explained that the murder of his critic was a “provocation” aimed at destabilizing the country. Putin made it clear that he himself was actually the target and the victim of the attack – not Nemtsov. It followed that the state prosecution and the Russian media pointed the finger of blame at those who oppose Putin: ‘the Americans,’ ‘the Ukrainians,’ ‘the Islamists,’ and any other groups seen as a threat to Russia’s national security.

“In reporting on the possibility of an Islamist background to the attack, the Russian media seized the opportunity to emphasize that Nemtsov was Jewish. Given the widespread anti-Semitism in Russia, the effect of such information in relation to the murder was evident: to wipe out any sympathy for the 55-year-old victim who, in addition, was in the company of his Ukrainian (!) girlfriend. For all those comrades who remain skeptical of the usual conspiracy theories circulating in Russia, the media made sure to mention Nemtsov’s alleged involvement in dodgy real estate dealings.

The extensive reporting by the Russian media was not aimed at finding truth, but rather obfuscation. The responsibility of the Russian government, which has for years used the media to slander its opponents, was not a topic up for discussion. Nor was the question of why, right at the time of the murder, all the surveillance cameras around the Kremlin were either switched off, broken, or being repaired.

“With all the talk in the media concerning Nemtsov’s murder, the truth is being drowned out. Boris Nemtsov himself would hardly have been surprised.”

Only the willfully blind cannot see what is happening in Russia, under Putin’s totalitarian dictatorship.

China in Support of Russia

The Independent reported on February 27:

“China has voiced its support for Russia’s handling of the Ukraine crisis…  the Chinese ambassador to Belgium said the West should take ‘the real security concerns of Russia into consideration’… [and that the] ‘nature and root cause’ of the crisis was the ‘game’ between Russia and western powers the United States and EU, and that a change of approach is required to resolve it. After nearly a year of relative silence on the subject, China’s intervention is striking, not least because it comes just as harsher sanctions against Moscow are being discussed…

“This week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western powers of trying to dominate and impose their ideology on the rest of world. Meanwhile US and European delegations have slammed Moscow for its continued supported of the rebels in eastern Ukraine.”

No surprise that two totalitarian regimes would support each other…

Russia Heavily Militarizes Crimea

The Business Insider reported on March 2:

“Russia is heavily militarizing Crimea as a way to project power deep in to the Black Sea, USNI News reports citing supreme commander of NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove… Breedlove said that Russia had moved anti-air and anti-surface missile systems into the peninsula. These weapons could be used to hit targets in the Black Sea…

“The Kyiv Post reports that Russia has moved Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems into the peninsula. These missile systems can be redirected in flight to hit moving targets. In addition, Russia is developing a ‘rocket-artillery regiment equipped with Khrizantema, Msta, and Tornado-G missile defense systems’ in Crimea, according to the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM)…

“PISM notes that Russia is also making use of the shipbuilding facilities in Crimea to reconstitute its ageing Black Sea Fleet into a more viable force through the introduction of new ships and equipment. Russia elevated Crimea into one of its three main geopolitical priorities in a new military doctrine announced at the end of 2014. Alongside the Arctic and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Moscow has designated the militarization of Crimea as a key national priority in order to exert influence beyond the country’s borders.”

Germany’s Armed Forces

Deutsche Welle reported on February 27:

“Germany plans to activate a tank battalion that exists only on paper as it seeks to increase the country’s military capability. The defense minister spoke of a “changed security situation” amid the conflict in Ukraine….

“Among other things, von der Leyen called into question the ceilings for heavy weapons systems established by her predecessor, current Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere…

“Germany’s plans to increase the flexibility and capability of its armed forces come amid growing demands from NATO for member states to boost their reaction speed. In response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the military alliance called in September for the founding of a new rapid response force based in eastern Europe, in which the German Bundeswehr plays an important role…”

Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Europe

Reuters reported on February 26:

“Germany’s Jewish community leader has advised Jews not to wear skullcaps in areas with a large Muslim population, a warning that underscores fears about growing anti-Semitism in Europe… Seventy years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism remains a particularly sensitive issue in Germany, and other European countries, including France and Britain, are also worried by a growth in hostility towards Jews.

“Last week, Berlin’s Jewish community decided to send its monthly newspaper out in a neutral envelope to protect recipients. The number of reported anti-Semitic crimes rose by more than one third last year to 1,076…

“Some German politicians and German Jews blame the rise in anti-Semitism on feelings about Middle East violence. A survey by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation last November highlighted a blurring of the lines in Germany between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, with 27 percent of those asked equating the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews in World War Two…”

Cooperation between Israel and Jordan

JTA reported on February 26:

“Israel and Jordan signed a bilateral agreement to exchange water and to work together to save the Dead Sea. Government officials from the two countries signed the Seas Canal agreement at a ceremony Thursday on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. Dignitaries from both sides, as well as representatives from the World Bank and the U.S. embassies in Israel and Jordan, were on hand…

“The agreement implements the first stage of the Seas Canal project, including the construction of a desalination plant north of Aqaba to supply water to the Arava region in Israel and to Aqaba in Jordan. Residual saline brines will be piped to the Dead Sea through an approximately 125-mile pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in order to stabilize and save the Dead Sea.

“Also in the framework of the agreement, water from northern Israel will be piped to Amman… ‘This is the most important and significant agreement since the peace treaty with Jordan,’ said Silvan Shalom, Israel’s regional cooperation minister, who signed the agreement on behalf of his country. ‘This is the peak of fruitful and very good cooperation between Israel and Jordan and will assist in rehabilitating the Dead Sea and in resolving water issues in Jordan and the Arava.’”

“Iran Continues to Make Its Presence Felt…”

The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 27:

“A senior Iranian cleric with close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed on Friday that ‘we will raise the flag of Islam over the White House’ in response to the killing of Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards operatives on the Golan Heights last month… Israeli attack helicopters killed six Hezbollah terrorists along with six Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) operatives, including a high-ranking general…

“The cleric added that Iran continues to make its presence felt in a number of areas throughout the region, including Yemen, where a sect affiliated with Shi’ite Islam has overthrown a ruling government and taken power. ‘The Islamic Republic directly supports the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq,’ he said.”

Netanyahu Warns Obama Against Iran

Thomson/Reuters reported on March 3:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday against accepting a nuclear deal with Iran that would be a ‘countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare’ by a country that ‘will always be an enemy of America’. ‘If the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons – it will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons, lots of them,’ the Israeli leader said in a 39-minute speech to the U.S. Congress that offered a point-by-point critique of Obama’s Iran diplomacy.

“In an appearance that strained U.S.-Israeli relations and was boycotted by dozens of Obama’s fellow Democrats, Netanyahu said Iran’s leadership was ‘as radical as ever,’ could not be trusted and the deal being worked out with world powers would not block Iran’s way to a bomb ‘but paves its way to a bomb.’ ‘This deal won’t be a farewell to arms, it will be a farewell to arms control … a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare,’ Netanyahu told lawmakers and visitors in the House of Representatives. His speech drew 26 standing ovations…

“Obama refused to meet Netanyahu, saying that doing so just ahead of Israel’s March 17 general election would be seen as interference. Aides to Obama said he would not be watching the speech, broadcast live on U.S. television [but he did announce that he had read Netanyahu’s transcript of the speech]. Underscoring the partisan divide over Netanyahu’s address, House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said afterwards that as a friend of Israel, she was near tears during his speech, calling it ‘an insult to the intelligence of the United States.’ She said she was ‘saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran.’…

“Netanyahu, who has hinted at the prospect of unilateral strikes as a last resort on Iranian nuclear sites, told lawmakers Israel would stand alone if needed…

Even though the New York Times Editorial Board and many other left-liberal commentators, including President Obama himself, criticized the speech as unconvincing and lacking true alternatives, we feel that his speech was very persuasive and convincing. The alternative to a deal with Iran was very obvious and clearly spelled out: No deal! Why should there be a deal with Iran, if it does not guarantee peace and safety in the Middle East for all parties? Netanyahu also stated that America’s desire to fight with Iran against ISIS was ill-conceived, because “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” He said:

“Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam… Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire, first on the region, then on the entire world. They just disagree who will be the ruler of this empire. In this deadly game of thrones, there is no place for America or Israel…When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”

To counter Nancy Pelosi’s comments, it truly appears that the Obama Administration and many lawmakers, as well as a majority of Americans who favor a deal with Iran, are indeed oblivious to the danger of a nuclear Iran.

Will Israel Stand Alone?

Breitbart wrote on March 3:

“Netanyahu got to the heart of his message: absolutely devastating Obama’s reported Iranian peace deal. In the shadow of the Jewish holiday of Purim, when a Jewish woman pled for the survival of her people from the genocidal intentions of a Persian anti-Semite, Netanyahu echoed Queen Esther’s language: ‘I feel profound obligation to speak to you about a threat to the survival of my country and the survival of my people, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. In nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people.’”

Netanyahu added:

“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed. For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.”

The article in Breitbart continued:

“Netanyahu concluded by citing the Bible, in Hebrew. He quoted the parting words of Moses as the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel, from Deuteronomy 31:6: ‘Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years…Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them. My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute, may we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead, may we face the future with confidence, strength and hope. May God bless the state of Israel, and may God bless the United States of America.’

“The controversy over the politics of the speech is over. Now the world must answer Netanyahu’s question: will Israel have to stand alone?”

It might very well have to.

The Deadly Dangers of Smoking

Newsmax wrote on March 1:

“When beloved actor Leonard Nimoy was rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment eight days before his death, it signified his final struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition he had battled for years. Although the ‘Star Trek’ star had quit smoking 30 years earlier, Nimoy said that the damage from the habit didn’t surface until later. And when it did, the results were tragically lethal. The 83 year old, best known for his portrayal as Mr. Spock, died in his Bel-Air home on Friday…

“There are three degrees of COPD – mild, moderate, and severe. When COPD becomes severe, it causes flare-ups, which are called ‘exacerbations.’ With each exacerbation, COPD patients lose more lung tissue, further eroding their breathing capacity. Nimoy was apparently suffering a flare-up when he was rushed to the hospital on Feb. 19 complaining of chest pain…

“In the last year of his life, Nimoy made it his mission to warn others about COPD, often taking to social media to warn against smoking, which is the primary cause of the illness. Although he was able to make public appearances during his fight with the ailment, he used an oxygenator, a portable device that helps people with COPD breathe. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

“Before he quit in the 1980s, Nimoy was a three-pack-a-day smoker. He said he was shocked to be diagnosed with COPD decades after quitting… Last year he took to Twitter in an effort to help others avoid his fate: ‘Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late… learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP (Live long and prosper).’”

Smoking is a deadly killer… but far too many, following their own carnal desires, do not want to see this, until it is too late.

British Flower Supermarket Giant Prohibits the Use of the Word “Christ’ in Gift Messages

The Daily Mail wrote on March 1:

“The words ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ have been placed on a list of banned words by Marks & Spencer and cannot be used in gift messages. Customers buying a bunch of flowers who try to add a free message containing them are prevented from completing their order. An on-screen notification, which pops up if any blocked words are entered, reads: ‘Sorry, there’s something in your message we can’t write.’… ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ join other banned words including ‘f***’ and ‘gay’ – but some terms including jihad, Buddha and Allah are accepted. ‘Terrorist’ and ‘d**k’ can also be included in messages. The policy emerged earlier today after one customer was stopped from buying a £35 bouquet for a funeral because she said in the gift message that it was from a family in ‘Christ Church Teddington’…

“When Gerardine Stockford, 53, phoned customer services an employee told her that it must be a blocked word. Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, was shocked. He said: ‘If Christ becomes an offensive word in a Christian land then all of us should be alarmed.’ Despite the supermarket giant being made aware of the issue yesterday, it still has not changed the facility. A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said: ‘An automatic phrase checker is in place to prevent the use and misuse of certain words and it includes hundreds of words of varying nature. ‘The words Jesus and Christ are included to prevent their misuse.’”

This is SO ridiculous and offensive at the same time!

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Does God Have Feelings and Emotions?

Some have a totally wrong concept of God and view Him as an impersonal “Something” without “parts,” form and shape. That is not the God of the Bible who created man after His own image, and according to His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27)! In fact, God the Father created everything through His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:1-3). The Father and the Son are a Family, and the Members of the God Family are described as Personalities with feelings and emotions.

The following sets forth descriptions of just some of God’s feelings and emotions:

We read in Psalm 16:11: “In Your presence is FULLNESS of JOY…”

Zephaniah 3:17 says: “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One… will REJOICE over you with gladness… He will REJOICE over you with singing.”

Deuteronomy 30:9-10 adds that God will REJOICE over us “for good” IF we obey Him and keep His commandments. Compare also Isaiah 62:5 and Jeremiah 32:41.

We are told that we are to “enter into the JOY of” our God (Matthew 25:21). We are also told that if a sinner repents and finds his way back to God, “there will be… JOY in heaven” (Luke 15:7), which even includes the joy of God’s angels (verse 10).

God gives us His Holy Spirit, which emanates from Him. The fruit of the Spirit reflects what God is, and God’s Spirit is a Spirit of JOY (Galatians 5:22; compare Romans 14:17; 15:13).

At the same time, God shows His emotions towards sinners and sinful nations who refuse to repent and plan to “fight” against God, by laughing at them, or laughing them to scorn (Psalm 2:2-4; 37:12-13; 59:7-8).

In this context, we need to realize that God is pained when we sin against Him and when we forsake Him. We read that He was “SORRY” that He had made man, and that “He was GRIEVED in His heart” over the sins which they were committing and the terrible lifestyle that they were leading (Genesis 6:6). We read in Psalm 78:40 that sinning Israel “GRIEVED Him in the desert”. Psalm 95:10 quotes God as follows: “For forty years I was GRIEVED with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.'” We also read that we should not GRIEVE the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30); that is, we should not sin and thereby grieve God who dwells in us through His Holy Spirit.

We even read that God HATES the one who sins wickedly against Him—that is, He hates the wickedness in that person: “The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul HATES” (Psalm 11:5). God warns us not to provoke Him to ANGER through our sins (Jeremiah 25:4-7).

But even when God must punish us for our sinful and wicked conduct, He does not do it “joyfully.” Rather, we read the following about God’s punishment of Moab, in Jeremiah 48:30-33:

“‘I know his wrath,’ says the LORD, ‘But it is not right; His lies have made nothing right. Therefore I will WAIL for Moab, And I will CRY OUT for all Moab; I will MOURN for the men of Kir Heres. O vine of Sibmah! I will WEEP for you with the WEEPING of Jazer. Your plants have gone over the sea, They reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and on your vintage. Joy and gladness are taken From the plentiful field And from the land of Moab…'”

We must also understand that God is moved when we suffer. He feels the pain which we endure. He suffers with us. We read in Judges 10:16 that after Israel repented, God’s “soul could no longer ENDURE the misery of Israel.” Isaiah 63:9 tells us that “In all their affliction He was AFFLICTED…” He was “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19), when He went through all of His suffering and when He died for us, thereby reconciling us with the Father. With God’s Spirit in us, all of us SUFFER when one member of the Body of Christ suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26).  And so we read that when we go through suffering, God is there to give us joy: “… Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

We also read in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for us with GROANINGS which cannot be uttered.” We know from other passages that it is Christ who intercedes for us (verse 34) with such groanings, through His Spirit, pleading our case before God the Father. Since He experienced suffering, trial and temptation in the flesh, He, as the second member of the God Family and as our merciful High Priest, can aid and represent us; He knows what it is like to suffer in the flesh.

God is full of COMPASSION and has consideration for our weaknesses (Psalm 78:38-39; 86:15). We read that God PITIES His people, as a father pities his children (Psalm 103:13).

However, His pity has limits. In Ezekiel 16, God describes His love and compassion for ancient Israel when no one else pitied her. He married her and adorned her with the most precious things, so that her “fame went out among the nations because of [her] beauty, for it was perfect through [God’s] splendor which [He] had bestowed on [her]” (verse 14). But Israel became proud and trusted in her beauty (verse 15), and she paid God back with sinful and rebellious behavior, committing spiritual harlotry (verse 17). Finally, God put her away, being “agitated”  (verse 43) by all her terrible actions. Reading the entire chapter, one can get a feeling as to how hurt God must have been, seeing His beautiful wife forsaking Him for other lovers.

God does not allow us to serve anyone but Him. Exodus 34:14 says: “… you shall worship no other God, for the LORD, whose name is JEALOUS, is a jealous God…” When we behave wickedly, He is jealous and furious and He avenges and will take vengeance on us (Nahum 1:2). He is slow to anger, but He will not acquit the wicked (verse 3).

If we do not repent, He—the jealous God—will not forgive us our transgressions and our sins, and if we forsake Him and serve foreign gods, He will turn and do us harm and consume us, after He has done us good (Joshua 24:19-20). Please note also Psalm 78:56-59; Deuteronomy 32:16; and 1 Corinthians 10:22.

Paul expressed the same feeling towards those who were listening to false teachers and who were in the process of departing from the living God, saying: “I am jealous for you with GODLY JEALOUSY” (2 Corinthians 11:2).

God the Father and Jesus Christ have feelings and emotions. They are touched by what we do and experience, and we should be very thankful for this and think and behave accordingly.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“HEAVENS AND EARTH…BEFORE AND AFTER THE FIRST MAN!” has been sent to the printer. We anticipate that this newest booklet, written by Norbert Link, will be available in April.

“Listen to Netanyahu!” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Many have criticized Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his address to the American Congress. However, his warnings against Iran were extremely important and very convincing. This program quotes and analyzes some of his major statements and points out what is in store for Israel, Iran, America and the rest of the world. We are offering two free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.”

“The Mystery of the Holy Spirit”–the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link — is now posted. Here is a summary:

Who gives us the Holy Spirit? In what way is the Holy Spirit “one”? Who resides in true Christians? Is the Holy Spirit a person? The Bible many times uses figurative language when referring to the Holy Spirit. Still, why are descriptions used which seem to imply personhood and conscious activities of the Holy Spirit? Are we unduly restricting and misunderstanding some of those passages?

“Erfolgreiche Gebete um Erlösung vom Bösen,” is the title of this week’s German sermon. It covers successful prayers for deliverance from evil.

Please remember to pray for God’s guidance during our upcoming 2015 Church Conference. We will meet in San Diego, California, beginning Friday, March 20th and continue through Tuesday, March 24th.

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by Ben Agbayani

Once I was a part of a movement which fought for the labor class. I saw many atrocities and appalling situations, resulting in imprisonment, torture and even death of my friends by the hands of authorities—authorities, which were backed by the Tycoon business class, being tied with the local government.

My heart bled in despair, seeing my friends perish for something they fought and believed in, trying to improve the needs of families. I had become a part of a group that ended up as becoming a guillotine for the corrupt. Finally, I realized that we were fighting a losing battle, trying to stand up against a force which was too strong for us.

Now that I am a member of the Church of God, I know that this is not God’s world, but one day, when Jesus Christ rules the earth, none of these terrible things will happen again. I can’t wait to see my dear friends alive and smile again.

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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

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God