Update 680


Love For The Truth

On March 21, 2015, Rene Messier will give the sermon, titled, “Love For The Truth.”

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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Beware of Infections

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Infections and infectious diseases can be a source of great worry and concern for those who suffer from them. We have recently had Aids and the Ebola crisis; there is bird flu, blood poisoning, chicken pox, scarlet fever, cholera, glandular fever, measles, malaria, salmonella, shingles, whooping cough and a whole range of other infectious diseases, a list of which could probably fill a book.

We try not to become infectious in the first place by avoiding contact with those who have anything that is contagious, and those who have such health problems should stay away from others. This is not only an act of kindness but is the way that true Christians should behave; that of esteeming others better or more important than self, and that of caring for others.

For many years, the Church has issued instructions about this matter in respect of attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles along the following lines:

“Elders will be available at all times during the Feast. However, if you think that you have a contagious illness, please do not come to services or to the Festival Desk to be anointed. Likewise, please do not bring children with contagious illnesses to services, to the Festival Desk or to any of the activities.” Of course, this also applies to the weekly Sabbath and other Holy Days.

Avoidance of infection should always be our aim, and we do have a Q&A on the quarantine principle.

If we are infected and have a health issue, we are admonished to call for the elders in the Church for anointing (see James 5:13-14). This is what we should do in such circumstances as outlined above, but what about this matter in a spiritual context?

Satan, the god of this world (see 2 Corinthians 4:4), wants to infect us with as many of the works of the flesh as possible (see Galatians 5:19-21), and he does this in many ways. Often, he can work through others to cause as many problems as possible to those called by God. This is a much greater threat to us than physical infection because the consequences can be much more serious!

For example, someone with a wrong spirit who may have taken issue with a member, a minister or a particular Church teaching can cause serious problems with those whom he/she knows or attends Church. We understand that tares will grow with the wheat (see Matthew 13:24-30), and they will often grow together until the harvest when a reckoning will take place, and so we shouldn’t be too surprised when someone from amongst us tries to cause problems.

The key to this situation is to look at the fruits of the ones causing the problems. Are they taking their concerns only to the ministry (if applicable), or are they trying to resolve any issues with brethren quietly and discreetly, as Matthew 18:15-17 instructs? If so, then other brethren may not be aware of any such concerns; however, if the person concerned is spewing bile out at all and sundry, then the fruits are not good and some, or many, may be “infected.”

Human nature, being what it is, can push us to get involved and to take sides. Spiritual infection can spread and this can be unfortunate where others may be involved. The apostle Paul faced problems in the Corinthian Church where he writes about envy, strife and division (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

Satan causes division (Revelation 12:10), and we must not adopt any such attitude that is not a Godly one. One writer observed: “Anyone versed in military tactics knows the maxim ‘divide and conquer.’ If you can get your enemies to break ranks, turn on themselves and fight each other, you can quickly rout them”— and this is a tactic used successfully by our adversary.

If accusation, division, antagonism and animosity are the results of anyone’s actions, then you can be assured that this is not of God, and we must avoid being infected by anyone acting in such a manner. Irrespective of our relationship with that person, God and His way must always come first. Taking sides with someone with a rebellious attitude, even if they are very closely related to us, is asking for trouble.

We must always remember that there have been difficulties in the Church down through the ages, and a falling away from the truth has happened many times. We experienced that in the 1990’s, and since that time, and we must remember that Matthew 24:12 clearly spells out conditions at the end of this age: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” We have been warned, and being on our guard against rogue elements will stand us in good stead.

Ephesians 2:10 states: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Good works do not include rebellion, accusation, division and an angry spirit.

We should be developing holy righteous character, as Romans 12:1-2 states: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

When we are approached by someone with a “grievance” or different mindset, we must always look at the fruits! If the person is suffering from a contagious spiritual disease, we must avoid contact and make sure that we do not become infected.

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We begin with interesting articles about Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning victory and its possible consequences; America’s dealings with Iran and consequential heart-rendering criticism from Saudi Arabia and Iran’s political prisoners and dissidents; speak about threats from ISIS and other radical terrorist groups in Nigeria, Yemen and Tunisia; and address Vladimir Putin’s unscrupulous intentions and the resulting ongoing discussion about a pan-European army—with or without American help—to counter perceived Russian aggression.

We continue with remarkable statements by Pope Francis and the Catholic faith of Jeb Bush; address the ongoing email controversy pertaining to Hillary Clinton; a dangerous idea by the American President; religious confusion amongst Americans and Jews; and we conclude with a shocking article about the dictatorial measures of US governmental DCF employees, judges, doctors and nurses to impose their will on a 17-year-old girl (and her mother), suffering from cancer.

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Netanyahu Wins

Breitbart wrote on March 17:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has… defied the mainstream media and the Obama administration with a stunning, come-from-behind victory in Israel’s elections on Tuesday. Netanyahu’s Likud Party had been projected to lose to Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union by a margin of 26-22… Netanyahu is now expected to form a new governing coalition.”

JTA wrote on March 18:

“After weeks in which polls consistently showed Zionist Union holding a slight lead over the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader effected a dramatic comeback to win a decisive victory in Israeli elections. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Netanyahu’s Likud had won 30 seats  — a quarter of the Knesset and six more than the Zionist Union’s 24.”

The Associated Press added on March 18 that Netanyahu is now “in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.”

The Netanyahu Miracle–CNN Wrong Again

Breitbart wrote on March 17:

“All day long CNN has been relentlessly beating the drum and practically celebrating the forgone conclusion that sitting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to lose today’s elections. Every move Netanyahu made over the past few weeks that outraged Obama and his media allies was framed by CNN today as a blunder — from the speech he made before Congress to  sounding the alarm today about Israeli Leftists busing Arabs to the polls.

“CNN was quite obviously setting up a Narrative to explain and gloat over what polls said was almost certain to be a Netanyahu defeat. A funny thing happened at 4 pm ET when the exit polls from Israel came in. Netanyahu was tied or slightly ahead. An hour later news reports suggested Netanyahu had already cobbled together enough allies from other parties to form a governing coalition. This means he will remain Prime Minister. This is why he took to Twitter to declare victory.

“By 6pm, the biggest story in the world, and one of the biggest electoral upsets in recent memory, was no longer the biggest story on CNN. Despite all the domestic and international ramifications of Netanyahu’s almost certain victory, despite all the backfilling CNN had done all day to ‘explain’ Netanyahu’s defeat, Netanyahu’s upset did not lead CNN’s 6 pm hour with Wolf Blitzer. Netanyahu giving his victory speech  did not lead the 7 pm hour with Erin Burnett.

“At 6 pm and 7pm, CNN decided that the story of the night was … a single Air Force veteran trying to join ISIS. At around 7:10 pm, Burnett finally decided it was time to talk about the Israeli elections, and when she did she read a chyron that read, ‘Is Netanyahu About to Lose?’ Not ‘Too Close to Call.’ Not ‘Bibi Upset Victory?’ Nope. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, CNN stuck to its ‘about to lose’ narrative.

“Things got much worse. An obviously rattled Burnett came back from commercial and then went on to prove she knows absolutely nothing about how the Israeli government works. For some ignorant reason she is under the impression that a tie or something close to it means Netanyahu is weakened and will — this is a direct quote — ‘have to share a significant amount of power with Isaac Herzog.’…

“CNN isn’t alone. But CNN was the news outlet that had gone further out on a limb than any other in gambling big on a Netanyahu loss.

“As far as the rest of our unbiased, objective media, let me put it this way: All the planned and hotly anticipated ‘Did Bibi’s Speech to Congress Backfire?’ narratives and thought pieces will not be replaced with ‘Did Obama’s Meddling In the Israeli Elections Backfire?’ narratives and thought pieces. The media likely lost this one…”

No Palestinian State?

The EUObserver wrote on March 17:

“Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said that if he is re-elected there will be no Palestinian state, putting in doubt the future of EU-Israel relations… his anti-Palestine comments pose fundamental questions for EU relations…

“EU diplomats are waiting for the US to restart talks in the final months of president Barack Obama’s second term in office. But the prevailing mood in Washington is that there’s no point if Netanyahu retains office, meaning the two-state idea would be put on hold for years to come… But without US engagement, neither EU restrictive measures nor diplomatic recognitions would change facts on the ground. The two-state solution, in any case, involves moving, by force, more than 110,000 Israeli settlers from East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Iran a Disruptive Player in the Arab World

BBC News reported on March 16:

“A senior member of the Saudi royal family has warned that a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could prompt other regional states to develop atomic fuel. Prince Turki al-Faisal told the BBC that Saudi Arabia would then seek the same right, as would other nations…

“With a late March deadline for an Iran deal approaching, Saudi Arabia last week signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with South Korea that included a plan to study the feasibility of building two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. Riyadh has also signed nuclear co-operation agreements with China, France and Argentina, and intends to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years.

“The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, flew to Riyadh earlier this month to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab allies that America would not accept any deal unless it prevented Iran from building a nuclear weapon. He was told that they found Iran’s support for armed Shia Muslim groups in regional conflicts as troubling as the prospect of an atomic bomb. ‘Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain,’ said Prince Turki.”

The Other Side of Iran—Iranian Dissidents Lashing Out at Obama’s “Diplomacy”

The Washington Free Beacon wrote on March 17:

“A group of Iranian dissidents and political prisoners have lashed out at the Obama administration, lambasting its ongoing diplomacy with Iran, according to two open letters sent to the White House in recent days… In each letter, the dissidents—most of whom are currently political prisoners in Iran—criticize the White House for ignoring the issues of human rights and democracy in Iran as they push to finalize a deal with a regime that the dissidents says     is murderous and untrustworthy.

“Iranian reformers and those seeking a change in the country’s leadership say they do not view the agreement as representing the plurality of Iranians. ‘Any deal in which the real representatives of Iranian people are not present and human rights are ignored, is basically a deal between President Obama and Khamenei’s agents, and Iranian people will not consider it to be legal,’ 21 Iranian political prisoners wrote in an open letter to Obama…

“As the Obama administration negotiates with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to execute scores of political prisoners and dissidents each day, the letter states. An American pastor, Saeed Abedini, also continues to be imprisoned in Iran. ‘In this chaos, Iranian people, human rights, and basic civil rights are absent without any representation,’ they write. ‘During President Obama’s negotiations for a profitable deal with the non-democratic Regime of Iran, the number of people executed increases every day; freedoms of speech, religion, women, and journalists are restricted more and more, and civil, labor, and political associations are suppressed heavily.’

“On Sunday, another Iranian dissident currently in jail for leading protests against the regime sent his own letter to Obama. Heshmat Tabarzadi says that the Obama administration has been ignoring human rights issues in order to placate the Islamic Republic in talks. ‘When the people of Iran asked you to support them against the tyranny of the Shia clerics over five years ago you, the president of the most powerful country on earth, were secretly writing letters to the dictator of Iran,’ he writes in the letter, which was smuggled out of Iran by human rights activists and provided to the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, an advocacy group.

“Obama’s outreach has only empowered Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, writes Tabarzadi, who says he shares a prison cell with Saeed Abedini. ‘In June 2009, as Khamenei ruthlessly ordered his paramilitary forces to kill people on the streets and on university campuses, imprisoning and torturing journalists, intellectuals, the young and the old mercilessly, your friendly communications with the tyrant of Iran continued in the name of the people of the United States, ignoring the human rights of the people of Iran,’ the letter states. ‘You helped Khamenei to continue his Islamic tyranny in the name of Allah and Islam… The Islamic clerics have taken our nation hostage to their fanatical Islamic tyranny…

“‘In 2009 when the people of Iran loudly and clearly asked for your support for their freedom and sovereignty, you ignored us and empowered the tyrants to imprison, torture, and kill us.’ Nations such as the United States should be supporting ‘the People of Iran, not the tyrants,’ according to Tabarzadi…  ‘You claim that the only choice that you have is either to make a deal with Khamenei—which I believe means surrender—or war,’ he states. ‘I dare say this claim is a form of misinformation and intimidation of the people of America… Please sanction and weaken the illegal regime of Khamenei, and empower the people to overthrow this tyranny… You know that you can support the people in many ways, such as giving us Internet access that the Khamenei regime cannot police. This would allow us to organize and rise up against these godless tyrants.’…

“Saeed Ghassiminejad, an Iranian dissident and expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that the letters reflect growing frustration with the Obama administration among reform-minded Iranians… ‘[Obama] has shown that he does not care at all about human rights and democracy. Whether it is Cuba, Iran, or Syria he and his secretary of state are either neutral or on the side of dictators.’”

ISIS and Boko Haram Join Forces

Newsmax wrote on March 13:

“ISIS has declared its intention to ‘blow up your White House, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower,’ its official spokesman said in a new audio message [continuing] that the organization had accepted a pledge of allegiance from the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram… [The] ISIS spokesman… declared that Boko Haram’s move was ‘a new door opened by Allah’ and said jihadists should go to West Africa… [and that] ISIS wanted control of numerous cities across the globe, including Jerusalem, Kabul, Rome, and Paris.

“The ISIS spokesman warned Jews and Christians that they could either ‘convert to Islam or pay the ultimate price when your armies are expelled from Muhammad’s peninsula, from Jerusalem, and all Muslim lands.’”

Lost–$500 Million in US Military Aid Given to Yemen

The Washington Post wrote on March 17:

“The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials. With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering apart, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of U.S.-donated small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.

“In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands…

“Yemen’s government was toppled in January by Shiite Houthi rebels, who receive support from Iran and have strongly opposed U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have taken over many Yemeni military bases in the northern part of the country, including some in Sanaa that were home to U.S.-trained counterterrorism units. Other bases have been overrun by fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula…”

Terror Attack on Tourists in Tunisia

Deutsche Welle reported on March 18:

“At least 19 people have been killed when militants attacked a popular museum in Tunisia’s capital, the prime minister confirmed. The attack was the country’s worst in nine years… Tunisian state television reported that two gunmen had died in the violence, but Prime Minister Essid said some of the terrorists could still be at large.

“Tourists from Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain were among those who lost their lives in Wednesday’s attack, the prime minister added. Another 22 tourists and two Tunisians were injured… The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini condemned the attacks, blaming the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) militants, who were, according to her ‘once again targeting the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region. This strengthens our determination to cooperate more closely with our partners to confront the terrorist threat,’ she said, adding that the EU was willing to ‘mobilize all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in its fight against terrorism.’

“Gunmen opened fire on tourists as they were getting off buses outside Tunisia’s national museum on Wednesday, officials said. Many tourists remained inside the museum until security forces stormed in and killed the two militants. The attack dealt a huge blow to the small country which is still recovering from the political uprising, also known as the Arab Spring in 2011. Tunisia relies heavily on tourism from Europe and has tried to avoid terror attacks since leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted four years ago… Officials estimate that around 3,000 Tunisians have joined the ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq, raising fears that they may plan terror attacks at home.”

Deutsche Welle reported on March 19 that ISIS claimed responsibility for the abominable and cowardly terrorist attack, and that at least 20 people were killed. In an audio message, ISIS said that this was only the first drop of the rain.

Putin Was Willing to Use Nukes Over Crimea

AFP wrote on March 15:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to put the country’s nuclear forces on alert as he sought to annex Crimea last year after the fall of a Moscow-backed government in Kiev.

“In a nearly three-hour documentary aired on state TV in Russia on Sunday a year after the takeover of the Black Sea Peninsula from Ukraine, Putin showed the lengths he was willing to go to in order to protect Russian-speaking citizens of the province he considered a historic slice of Russia. The documentary, ‘Homeward Bound’, features interviews with Putin and reconstructions in which the Russian leader presents himself as the saviour of Crimea, forced to deploy elite troops to prevent a war with ‘nationalists’ who took power in Kiev… And unsure whether the West would intervene militarily to stop the annexation, he was ready to face ‘the worst possible turn of events.’”

Putin Does It Again

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 18:

“Russia tightened control over South Ossetia on Wednesday, when… Putin and his self-declared counterpart, Leonid Tibilov… signed the 25-year ‘Treaty on Alliance and Integration.’ The tiny mountainous region’s 50,000 inhabitants broke away from Georgia in the 1990s, and Russia effectively gained full control over it and a second secessionist territory, Abkhazia, after a brief war between the government and separatists in 2008, stationing troops there to preserve the peace. ‘This step made against the territorial integrity of a sovereign state further worsens the situation created as a result of the occupation and brings it to the level of an annexation,’ Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in a statement Wednesday…

“The treaty hands border control to Russia, which would also formally take charge of South Ossetia’s economy and military… ‘A joint defense and security zone will be created between our two countries, our customs agencies will be integrated, and border crossings for our citizens will become open,’ Putin said on Wednesday…

“On Wednesday, the European Union’s diplomacy chief said that the agreement undermined efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region. ‘This ‘treaty’ – which includes references to a transfer of powers in some areas – clearly violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ EU Foreign Policy coordinator Federica Mogherini said.”

“Putin Has Started a War, and Ten Million Could Die”

Express wrote on March 17:

“Vladimir Putin has started a war with the ‘whole civilised world’ which could leave ‘ten million people dead’. Polish statesman Lech Walesa made the ominous warning as the Russian President made clear he will deploy the nuclear-capable Tupolev bomber to annexed Crimea. The 62-year-old has also signalled his attentions to send Iskander surface-to-surface missile systems close to Poland’s border.
“The man who as a Gdansk trade union leader inspired the end of the Cold War accused the Kremlin leader of playing with fire… ‘He broke agreements, contracts, guarantees. The world cannot just leave it like this. If something like this happens, only force is left… If Russia takes a risk and attacks Poland and other countries… there will be a war… a million will be killed, ten million maybe’…

“World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko echoed Mr Walesa, saying… ‘What is happening at the moment could set off a third World War… I think that the European community is sleeping. Putin is doing what he wants to… He will continue to march forward.’”

Russia’s Northern Fleet on Full Alert

CNN reported on March 17:

“As the U.S. and several Eastern European NATO countries conduct a series of military exercises near Russia’s border, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his Northern Fleet ‘to full alert in a snap combat readiness exercise’ in the Arctic, state-run media reported Monday.

“… a Kremlin spokesman described the Northern Fleet inspection as routine practice aimed at improving military capabilities… Conversely, a diplomat told Tass that Russia was ‘deeply concerned’ about NATO drills near its border…”

Dangerous Putin and Helpless EU

The EUObserver wrote on March 16:

“Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in a pre-filmed interview, has said he was ready to use nuclear weapons if the West had tried to stop him seizing Crimea… He said he also deployed high-tech coastal defence missiles, which can be seen from space, to deter outside intervention.

“He added that he warned his Western counterparts he is prepared to go to war… Russian propaganda outlets have said it is capable of reducing the US to ‘radioactive ash’. Putin has also claimed he could conquer Kiev, Bucharest, and Warsaw ‘in two days’ by conventional means if he is provoked…

“But speaking to European media at the weekend, EU Council chief Donald Tusk noted how hard it is to maintain EU unity.  ‘A common policy of the 28 member states doesn’t exist. We have 28 different foreign policies’, he said.

“He noted he has little faith in the recent, so-called Minsk 2, ceasefire accord… He added that any EU leader who believes Putin is ready to make peace is guilty of ‘naivete or hypocrisy’.”

“A Pan-European Army with or Without American Help”

NBC News wrote on March 15:

“As conflicts worsen on NATO’s eastern borders, the case is being made for a pan-European army as commanders seek multinational ‘coalitions of force’ — with or without American help… ‘Europe must accept that the world regards the E.U. as more than just an economic union,’ Raimund Kirch, editor in chief of the Nürnberger Zeitung, wrote in an editorial. ‘Therefore, it must develop an independent moral and military power, in order to survive between the bi-polar forces.’…

‘‘This is not about having more influence in NATO,’ former German NATO general Harald Kujat told NBC News. ‘But the idea is that Europe wants to show “we must be more powerful” in light of the Ukraine crisis. NATO’s reaction time is too long because the Europeans have reduced the readiness status of their forces so much that they are, in practice, not available within the necessary time frame… the fact that the Europeans are not in a situation to defend their eastern allies in the Baltics and Poland without American support is shameful,’ said Kujat… ‘Germany spends about 1.3 percent of its GDP on the military. That’s not enough’…

“Stefan Soesanto, of the RAND research institute in Brussels, argues for an ‘enhanced interoperability among European soldiers’ which in the long term could also lead to more independence from American dominance within NATO.”

How Pope Francis Sees It

Breitbart wrote on March 13:

“In an exclusive interview Wednesday, the second anniversary of his election to the papacy, Pope Francis spoke on a wide range of topics, many of which revolved around Mexico. He said that ‘the devil doesn’t forgive Mexico because there [the Virgin Mary] revealed her Son,’ referring to the appearances of the Virgin of Guadalupe…

“‘I think the devil punishes Mexico fiercely.’… ‘Mexico… is privileged in martyrdom, for recognizing and defending its Mother… You will find Catholics, non-Catholics, and atheists in Mexico, but they are all ‘guadalupanos.’ That is, everyone feels like her child. Children of the one who brought the Savior, who destroyed the devil.’”

Reuters reported on March 13:

“Pope Francis said in an interview published on Friday he believes his pontificate will be short and that he would be ready to resign like his predecessor [Pope Benedict] rather than ruling for life… ‘I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief – four or five years, even two or three. Two have already passed. It’s a somewhat strange sensation,’ he said… ‘I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time…”

The Associated Press added on March 13:

“Francis announced a special Jubilee Year starting Dec. 8 [and ending November 26, 2016] to focus the church on forgiveness and mercy. It’s only the 27th time in the history of the Catholic Church that there has been a Holy Year. [The first one was in 1300] The last one was called by St. John Paul II in 2000 to mark the start of the third millennium.

“Holy Years allow the faithful to receive special indulgences, ways to repair the damage of sin beyond the absolution granted by going to confession. The year begins with the symbolic opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.”

These are interesting developments. If Francis steps down soon or if he dies, it would be quite important to see who the next pope would be… and how he would view things. Would he be another more “liberally” minded pope, or a conservative follower of Catholic Church doctrine? In addition, Francis’ comments regarding Mexico show the fascination with the “Virgin Mary”—regardless of the religious convictions of the Mexicans. In fact, it may be the symbol and “appearances” of the “Virgin Mary” which might bring about strong collaboration between the Catholic Church and other religious groups believing in apparitions of Mary… such as Greek and Russian Orthodox believers and many Muslims. The Bible warns against such “visions and dreams”—since they are not Godly in any way. For more information, please read our free booklets,Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World” and “The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

The Catholicism of Jeb Bush

The New York Times wrote on March 17:

“Twenty years after Mr. Bush converted to Catholicism, the religion of his wife, following a difficult and unsuccessful political campaign that had put strain on his marriage, his faith has become a central element of the way he shapes his life and frames his views on public policy…

“Many of his priorities during his two terms as governor of Florida aligned with those of the Catholic Church — including his extraordinary, and unsuccessful, effort to force a hospital to keep Terri Schiavo on life support, as well as less well known, and also unsuccessful, efforts to appoint a guardian for the fetus of a developmentally disabled rape victim, and to prevent a 13-year-old girl from having an abortion…

“He differed from his church, significantly and openly, over capital punishment; 21 prisoners were executed by the state on his watch, the most under any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. But he has also won praise from Catholic officials for his welcoming tone toward immigrants, and his relatively centrist positions on education — two issues in which he is at odds with the right wing of his party…

“The son and brother of Protestant presidents, Mr. Bush, if elected, would be the nation’s second Catholic president. He carries a rosary in his pocket, fingering its beads at moments of crisis, is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has retweeted Pope Francis. He was part of the American delegation to the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, and during his travels in the United States he sometimes attends Mass in local churches…

“Mr. Bush is not the first Catholic in his family. His great-grandfather George Herbert Walker was a Jesuit-educated Roman Catholic. But Mr. Walker married a Presbyterian and joined her church, a pattern that would be repeated multiple times in Mr. Bush’s family tree. George Bush, the former president, joined the Episcopal Church of his wife, Barbara; George W. Bush joined the United Methodist Church of his wife, Laura…

“Mr. Bush was officially received into the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil of 1995, making a profession of faith and being anointed with oil before receiving Communion for the first time as a Catholic… He has also suggested that concerns about the Episcopal Church, which has moved steadily to the left on social issues and liturgical matters, played a role in his decision…

“Mr. Bush is now courting Protestant leaders as well, presenting himself as a man of faith who understands the concerns of religious voters…”

Is Obama Trying to Stop Clinton?

Newsmax wrote on March 17:

“President Barack Obama definitely knew that Hillary Clinton was using a private email account as secretary of state — and he cautioned her not to, veteran political journalist Edward Klein told Newsmax TV.  ‘According to State Department, White House, and Clinton sources — three separate sources — the president of the United States was … aware she was using a private server, a private email,’ Klein said… ‘And either he or his people told her and warned her not to.’…

“Klein called Clinton’s apparent skipping of a separation agreement, requiring her to return all government documents when she left the State Department, a ‘classic Clinton avoidance.’ ‘She knew what she was doing when she used the server to begin with, which meant that nobody could get it,’ he said. ‘And … when she was asked or knew she was supposed to sign a separation agreement, she didn’t because that separation agreement requires you to then turn over all your emails to the State Department.’

“Last week, Klein said the Obama administration ‘is up to its eyebrows in efforts to stop’ Clinton from running for the White House — including six investigations launched by longtime presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett involving Clinton’s years as Secretary of State. ‘This administration… will do virtually anything to prevent Hillary from becoming president,’ Klein [said]. ‘It’s their view that if she does become president — like her husband, Bill — she will govern from the left of center and not be a true liberal,’ Klein said, ‘and will, therefore, compromise with Republicans like Bill did when he was in office, and will undo a lot of the Obama legacy. They are determined to stop her — and of course, it’s not going to be easy,’ he said.”

Danger Alert–Voting to Become Mandatory in the USA?

The Associated Press reported on March 19:

“President Barack Obama is floating the idea of making it mandatory to vote in the United States… He says the U.S. should be making it easier — not harder — to vote.

“The president is noting that countries like Australia have mandatory voting. He says if everyone voted in the U.S., it would completely change the political map… Obama says it would be ‘transformative’ and would counteract the influence of money in politics more than anything else.”

One of the many problems with (mandatory) voting is that there are NO qualified candidates to vote for.

Religious Confusion of Americans and Jews

Times of Israel wrote on March 18:

“An Idaho state senator’s description of Hinduism as ‘a false faith with false Gods’ drew calls from Jewish clergy for an apology. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll joined two other Republican senators in refusing to attend the daily invocation on March 3 because a Hindu chaplain, Rajan Zed, led it.

“Nuxoll was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that she refused to attend because she sees the United States as a Christian nation… Her statement led Rabbi Daniel Fink of Boise’s Congregation Ahavatah Beth Israel to recruit a slate of local clergy to sign on to a letter he wrote calling for an apology. ‘Being a public official who is expected to represent all citizens, it is highly inappropriate and insensitive for Ms. Nuxoll to unnecessarily label a major religion as “false,” as there are about 3 million Hindus in U.S.A., including some in Idaho,’ said the March 14 letter, organized through the state’s Interfaith Equality Coalition. It was signed by 28 clergy and a number of other people.

“Also asking for an apology was Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer of congregations in Reno, Nev. and Tahoe Vista, Calif., who has served with Zed on interfaith panels. ‘If Nuxoll had a clue, she would know that Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world and it offers rich philosophical thought,’ Beyer said in a statement…”

What ridiculous reasoning and utter confusion! Because someone is a public official and because a religion is the third largest in the world, he or she must participate in its religious practices? 

No, It’s Not Russia or China… It’s the USA—the Land of the “Free”!

People Magazine published the following article on its website, people.com, on March 15:

“After being forced by the state of Connecticut to undergo chemotherapy treatments she did not want, the 17-year-old known in court papers as Cassandra C. is now in remission – fighting to get out of the hospital where she has been held since Dec. 9. ‘I have been alone in the hospital for the most part,’ the Windsor Locks, Connecticut, teen tells PEOPLE from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, where she has been legally required to stay since late last year under the temporary custody of the state Department of Children and Families…

“Even though the chemotherapy she received brought her into remission, she says, ‘I would never get chemo again after this if I ever relapsed. I would explore alternative methods like I originally wanted to. I don’t want to go through this again.’

“Last fall, when Cassandra’s doctors at CCMC suspected she might have Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she began researching chemotherapy, its standard treatment, which medical experts say has about an 85 percent chance of curing it. Without it, her doctors said she could have died. She says she wasn’t that concerned about side effects such as nausea or hair loss. She says she was most worried about other ‘major possible side effects’ she had read about including possible heart damage and secondary cancers…

“Her mother, she says, initially wanted her to have chemotherapy. ‘She told me as a parent that she didn’t want to lose her only daughter and that we would get through the chemo, but that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to try anything else that wasn’t as potentially harmful as chemo. Eventually she chose to not fight with me about it. She chose to stand by me’…

“After doctors confirmed her diagnosis, Cassandra says, CCMC scheduled appointments for Cassandra to begin chemotherapy. Instead, Cassandra and her mother went to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, to get a second opinion, she says. When she missed several appointments at CCMC (Cassandra says her mother told the hospital she would reschedule them), doctors there notified DCF, according to court records…

“DCF took temporary custody of her and placed her in a foster home with a family member, she says. She returned home after she agreed at a Nov. 12 court hearing to undergo the chemotherapy. But on Nov. 18, on her second day of treatment, her oncologist told her that she needed surgery the next morning to insert a chemotherapy port in her chest, which she did not want and thought she would not have to get for another month. ‘I was freaking out.’ She ran away, leaving home after her mother fell asleep…

“On Dec. 9, after she returned home, a Superior Court judge granted DCF temporary custody of Cassandra… ‘ DCF kind of just took me away, so there was really no time to make a decision on what we wanted to do or to research alternative treatments. No one ever sat down and talked to me about the chemotherapy. It was, “You have cancer. You have to get in here so we can start chemo.’”

“Life in the hospital was bleak at first for Cassandra. She wasn’t allowed to have a phone. DCF limited who could come see her, banning visits from her mother after Jan. 8, though she is trying to regain her visitation rights. Someone even stood guard outside her room for the first few weeks to make sure she didn’t try to leave. ‘I feel like a prisoner,’ she says.

“On Dec. 17, she says, her doctor told her that she was scheduled for surgery the following morning to insert the port she feared, so that she could get the chemotherapy she had fought so hard against. On the morning of the surgery, ‘a nurse came in and I told myself just to fight. When she started to put an IV in me, I wouldn’t let her.’

“After spending two hours telling her doctor, DCF and other hospital staff that she didn’t want the surgery, ‘Security had to pick me up, pin me to the bed and strap me down by my wrists and ankles,’ she says. ‘When I woke up, I looked down and there was a port in my chest. I thought, “I cannot believe they did this to me”’…

“The following day, she was forced to resume the chemotherapy. And on Jan. 8, the Connecticut Supreme court ruled that Cassandra had to continue the state-ordered treatments, saying she was not mature enough to make that decision for herself…

“Looking back on everything she has gone through, she says, ‘I can only hope that if there is a kid out there who doesn’t want chemo, they will show my story to a judge and say, “Remember this girl?’””

To read something like this makes one wonder how insensitive governmental officials, doctors, nurses, judges and above all DCF employees can be when it comes to human beings who are being treated like cattle and prisoners to follow medical procedures which are questionable at best. As we have pointed out in our Updates, personal liberties and freedoms ARE being taken away from American citizens on a CONSISTENT BASIS.

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Would It Be Wrong to Light a Candle in Memory of a Deceased Loved One?

It depends.

Before answering the particular question at issue, we need to understand that a true Christian is not obligated to avoid a certain practice or conduct, only because pagans are engaged in it. We addressed this question in two previous Q&As, titled Should Christians Use Symbols which Are Used by Pagans? and Should Christians Wear Wedding Rings?” .

We pointed out the following in the Q&A on wedding rings:

“… we must be careful that we do not… prohibit everything, whether it is used in worship services or otherwise, only because pagans might have engaged in it. We addressed this issue in a recent Q&A, which answered the question as to whether Christians should use symbols which are used by pagans. Among other symbols, we discussed the symbol of the heart, certain symbols which are being used in sign language, the Star of David and the symbols of stars in general. We also pointed out that the mere fact that pagans and occultists attach a particular meaning and human interpretation to certain symbols should not compel a Christian to refrain from using these symbols. This same principle applies to wedding rings…

“Inasmuch as the Bible has to be our guide on whatever questions might arise, it is immaterial as to what superstitious meanings pagans and occultists may give to their use of wedding rings. Since the Bible clearly allows the wearing of wedding rings, pagan and occult interpretations are meaningless for us—as long as we do not wear wedding rings with a superstitious understanding of occult practices.”

This same principle applies to the lighting of candles in memory of a deceased loved one.

Even though not compelling, it is still interesting to note that this tradition has been used in Judaism.

The website of JewishBoston.com addressed the question: “Where does the custom of lighting memorial candles for the dead come from…?”

Rabbi Neal Gold responded as follows, especially addressing the annual memorial day of “yahrtzeit” — the yearly anniversary of a loved one’s death which goes back to Talmudic times:

“A Yahrtzeit candle should be lit on the evening of the anniversary (remembering that in the Jewish calendar days begin at sunset). If the anniversary falls on Shabbat or on a holiday, the Yahrtzeit candle is lit before the Shabbat/holiday candles. The candle typically will burn for 24 hours…”

We are also informed by another source that Jews light a Yahrzeit candle to remember someone who brightened our lives, stating that amid the sadness and gloom of mourning, light is a symbol of hope and of comfort. Mourners light a candle in honor of the decedent that burns for 24 hours. This ceremony is conducted on the anniversary of special family members each year to ensure that their memory is cherished. In addition, during services on Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Passover, and Shavu’ot, close relatives recite the mourner’s prayer, Yizkor (“May He remember…”) in synagogue. Yahrzeit candles are also lit on those days.

Even though the Bible does not say anything about an annual memorial of loved ones (or a “Yahrtzeit”), it is important for us to note that the lighting of candles is associated with it, as well as on other occasions in Judaism, without pointing at any pagan origin.

At the same time, we find in Scripture that mourning for dead loved ones and also remembering those who have died is very clearly not against God’s Will. We read in Genesis 37:34-35 that Jacob mourned many days for his son Joseph (who he thought had died). In turn, the Egyptians mourned for dead Joseph seventy days (Genesis 50:3-4). The Israelites mourned for Moses thirty days (Deuteronomy 34:8). A reference to a long-time mourning for the dead is also found in 2 Samuel 14:2-6. King David mourned for his dead son Absalom even though he had betrayed him (2 Samuel 19:2-4). We read that Israel will mourn for Christ and His death, when they realize why Christ died, “as one mourns for his only son, and… as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

As we will see, since we are allowed to mourn over the death of a loved one, we most certainly are allowed to express our good memories of him or her and our hope in his or her future life.

It is true, of course, that lighting a candle is applied in Catholicism and paganism. Candles burning in a Roman Catholic church are thought to continue the prayer’s petition long after he/she has left the church. But to ascribe power to candles is unbiblical. On the eve of All Souls’ Day in Ireland, families lit a candle in the window to guide the souls of the dead back to their old homes. Candles are lit for the dead as a way of symbolizing their rebirth and transition. This is equally unbiblical, as man does not possess an immortal soul which continues to live when a person dies.

This brings us to the question as to whether a Christian would be free to light candles in memory of a deceased loved one, as long as he does not do it with the wrong understanding of ascribing power to the candle or believing in an immortal soul concept.

We know that in Old Testament times, candles played an important role even in worship services. We read about the golden lampstand with seven lamps (Exodus 25:37), and the lamps had to burn continuously (Exodus 27:20-21). In the New Testament, Christ often used the symbol of light to express His love and concern for the world, and we are told that we are the light of the world and that we are not to light a lamp (or a candle) and put it under a basket. New Testament Christians would light candles at the beginning of the Sabbath, as they would do in the evening of every new day (remember, they did not have any electrical lights). In addition, Christ refers to entire churches as “candlesticks.”

There is rich symbolism in the act of lighting a candle on behalf of a loved one, if we combine with it the contemplation on the promise that one day our loved one will rise from the dead and that we will see him or her again.

We read in Proverbs 20:27 that every human being has a spirit, which is the “lamp of the LORD.” The Authorized Version says that the human spirit is “the candle of the LORD.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us that when a person dies, his or her spirit goes back to God in heaven who gave it (compare Zechariah 12:1). God preserves the human spirit in heaven until He uses it for the resurrection of the dead person. We understand of course, that the spirit in man is not conscious while it is preserved in heaven. It is not a living soul, and we do not pray or communicate in any way to the human spirit or a conscious soul, when we think of a deceased loved one, by lighting a candle.

Nevertheless, in lighting a candle for a deceased loved one, we might think of the fact that his or her spirit (“the lamp of the LORD”) is preserved in heaven and that God has promised that one day, the deceased loved one will be resurrected and brought back to life. We read in Hebrews 12:22-24 that in prayer to God, we come to the heavenly Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, the general assembly and church of the first-begotten registered in heaven, AND to the “spirits of the just men made perfect.” But the promise of the preservation of the human spirit and future resurrections applies to everyone—not just to those who have been “made perfect” and will be in the FIRST resurrection. The overwhelming majority of human beings will be brought back to life in a SECOND resurrection (compare Revelation 20:5, speaking of the “first” resurrection, with Revelation 20:11-12, describing the second resurrection).

To light a candle in memory of a loved one would not be wrong with the understanding, as described herein. However, we do not advocate, nor will we follow the practice, of lighting candles in general church services—apart perhaps from a one-time special memorial service for a deceased loved one.

The comments herein are meant to constitute a permission and not a command. If someone would feel uncomfortable with lighting a candle for a deceased loved one at any time, he or she should not do it, because whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

“Should Christians Keep Easter?” is the new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link, as part of our promotional endeavor to call attention to our message and the many aspects of the Work of the Church.

Here is a summary:

Was Jesus crucified on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning? If so, how did He fulfill the sign of His Messiahship that He was to be three days and three nights in the grave? If not, how did Christianity come to believe in a Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning resurrection? And where do our Easter customs come from? Why do we color eggs and believe in an egg-laying rabbit? Did early Christians keep Easter?

A new Member Letter has been written by Norbert Link. In it, Mr. Link reviews the theme of preparing for the Passover and points to several written messages from the ministry during the past several weeks which have all focused on our need to really take our calling to heart!

In addition, a new Member Letter to the German brethren has been written in which Mr. Link addresses points relative to the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. He, along with Mike Link, will depart for Germany following the Church Conference which is currently in progress in San Diego, California.

“Erfolgreiche Gebete—Dein Ist die Herrlichkeit” is the title of this week’s German sermon. The title in English is “Successful Prayers—‘Yours Is the Glory!’”

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Am I Doing Enough?

by Rhonda Cagle

As I sit here and think about my eight-year work anniversary coming up in May, I pause and reflect on the many truly wonderful blessings my Heavenly Father has given me.  When I hear so many of my friends tell me of their struggles in life, both materially and personally, I realize just how blessed I really am.

I have gone through trials especially the past couple of years. The loss of my mother was extremely hard for me, yet out of that I was blessed in so many different ways. I went through three different company-wide layoffs, yet all the time never having my job in jeopardy. I have gone through many health issues and have learned and grown through them to trust God and His promises about healing. I have even experienced a healing this last year. I know that God does hear and answer prayers! But I must always trust He knows what is best for me and that in His time, He will answer. Yes, there are trials and there are hard days to get through, but the more I go through these trials and blessings, I learn more and more to trust our Heavenly Father. I know that He is faithful and true.

I am grateful for all He has given me and I wonder at times if I am doing enough to show Him how thankful I am. As we approach Passover, I ponder deeply about this–do I live the life that is accepting to Him? Do my actions in all I do praise Him? Do I thank Him enough for not just the material things in life but for His Son and His Sacrifice for me? Do I thank Him enough for His Holy Spirit that lives in me and helps me each day? Do I thank Him enough for my calling and all that it means? Do I find it a joy and an honor to serve Him? Do I really show Him how truly grateful I am for His love and the eternal life He has promised me if I am only faithful?  Am I doing enough to hear the words, “Well done, enter into your rest!”

I know, of course, that I will never reach perfection in this life. But I also know that as long as I follow God and rely on His help, I will grow in all of these areas.

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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