Update 726


Fertile Ground?; Not of This World

On February 27, 2016, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Fertile Ground?” and the sermon will be presented by Mike Link, titled, “Not of This World.”

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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Proper Education

by Michael Link

As the race for the 2016 presidency gets closer, the debates between the candidates are getting more aggressive in their attempts to capture the votes among the citizens.  Specific questions are being asked as to what they can accomplish once they take office to solve the problems that this country is faced with.

One particular question is how they would tackle the national debt and financial situation plaguing this nation.  We have heard some answers from certain candidates about how they plan on solving this problem, as well as vague ideas that may seem farfetched, which could in all likelihood impact the rest of the world. Ideas of lowering taxes and bringing jobs back from overseas alone will not solve the debt crisis.  The idea of perhaps wiping out the national debt completely by simply not paying what is owed, as has been done in the past, could very well have detrimental effects this time from the rest of the world, as we point out as part of our comments in our update 724 as to how Donald Trump would possibly solve the national debt.  (See also our StandingWatch program, “Trump Shocks Europe.”).

The problem however has been years in the making.  Throughout history, America has struggled with debt and as one candidate recently pointed out, and rightly so, this country has a “saving problem” and this unfortunately stems all the way back to grade school.

CNBC published an article in January 2016 entitled, “US Schools Get Failing Grade for Financial Literacy Education.” Out of the 50 states, only 20 states currently mandate that high school students take economics, according to the Council for Economic Education, and only 17 of those states require high school students to take a course in personal finance.  Those who are required to take personal finance courses have better average credit scores and lower debt delinquency rates as young adults, according to data recently released.  Being properly trained and educated is the key.  Many at a young age lack basic personal finance skills because they haven’t received the proper education at home which in turn sets them up for failure in the years immediately following high school graduation.

The article points out that “a 2012 study of nearly 30,000 teenagers from 18 countries found more than 1 in 6 students in the U.S. failed to reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.  Overall, American students fall in the middle of the pack globally.  Financial education classes offered in the K–12 [kindergarten through high school] setting don’t delve into complex concepts… Instead, they teach students practical life skills, like how to balance a checkbook, the effect of interest rates and how investments can benefit from compounded growth. To be successful, most kids don’t need to learn about collateralized debt instruments, but they do need to know how to open a bank account, how much they need to save each month to reach their goals and, if they borrow this amount of money, how much money they will need to earn to pay it back.”

This common sense thinking of how to save money from an early age could have lasting results in the future, which this country has failed to do.  Instead, they spend and borrow, borrow and spend, and the cycle repeats itself, which is why the national debt continues to increase even at this very moment you are reading this editorial.  Proverbs 21:5 states that “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”  Also Proverbs 21:20 states (Authorized Version): “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”  The Ryrie Study Bible comments: “The wise man plans and saves for the future, but the foolish person squanders what he has.”

Applying the principle of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 when it comes to saving is very beneficial and could also have life-long benefits.  One of the ways that God provides for us is through money and it is our duty to manage that money well.  Just imagine if this nation had utilized this way of thinking from the beginning instead of letting it get out of hand as we see today.  Saving money demonstrates good stewardship of the resources God gives us and we are accountable to God how we use everything He gives us in this life, including money.  It’s also vital in that saving allows us to be better prepared for the future, which is obviously a good thing.  Even in nature, this principle is expressed in Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

Brian Gale stated in his editorial in update 722, “… had these biblical admonitions been implemented with children from a very early age, we would have a very different society today, but the basics have been missing.   It is because man thinks he knows better than God, we have the problems that we have today.”  This is why it is important to be properly trained and educated by also applying biblical principles in our lives.  Properly saving money makes it easier to accomplish goals and become more effective. Applying basic principles set forth in the Bible for our admonition should give us an advantage on how we can utilize the importance of planning ahead – a stark contrast to this nation’s current situation.

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We begin with reporting on a “battle” between Pope Francis and Donald Trump, while emphasizing astonishing facts pertaining to the Catholic Church as well as Donald Trump. We are also reporting on the curious and undemocratic institution of American superdelegates.

We continue with articles about Apple’s fight with the FBI; the fragile Syria deal; Turkey’s relationship with Israel; and the fear that Russia might continue its aggressions against countries outside the former Soviet empire.

We also focus on the extremely controversial “deal” between Mr. Cameron and the EU, which was “reached” in Brussels on February 19, and the question as to whether or not the British people will vote for a Brexit in the referendum on June 23, 2016.

We conclude with an article about “fireballs from heaven.”

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Catholic Church vs. Trump

The Washington Post wrote on February 19:

“First was the British prime minister, who called Donald Trump ‘divisive, stupid and wrong.’ Then came Britain’s Parliament, which denounced him with colorful language. The French prime minister, the Turkish president and a Saudi prince also weighed in: The Republican presidential front-runner, they agreed, was a demagogue disgracing the United States.

“On Thursday, Pope Francis added the strongest voice yet to a growing chorus of world leaders taking a stand against the celebrity candidate — condemning Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda and suggesting he was not a Christian because of it… Trump, a Presbyterian, strongly rebuked Francis for his comments…

“For generations, the role of the papacy has been shaded by politics — and Francis’s papacy especially, with his efforts on global climate change and general outspokenness. But it was striking for him to comment on U.S. electoral politics during a campaign…”

Does the Pope Speak With Authority on Christian Teachings?

In a related article, The Washington Post published this article by James Martin, a Jesuit priest:

“Like any good Jesuit, who knows that this rule is ingrained in the thinking of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Jesuit founder, the pope says that he is giving Trump the ‘benefit of the doubt.’… Pope Francis is correct. Any person who consistently speaks of excluding people, who trumpets his desire to (literally) build more walls between communities, and who manifests a desire to increase division, is not walking the Christian way… one of the pope’s traditional titles is ‘Pontifex Maximus,’ the Great Bridge Builder.

“… the billionaire businessman has directed hatred against a great many people — migrants of course, but also Mexicans, women, his fellow presidential candidates and on and on. This, too, is not of God. The kind of hatred that issues from Trump’s mouth —from anyone’s mouth — is not motivated by God. Hatred of this sort is motivated by evil; so is contempt for the poor…

“The pope speaks with authority. If anyone has the right to pronounce on such matters, it is Pope Francis. Learned, prayerful and humble, Francis is someone whom the world has rightly come to trust. As much as we would listen to the Dalai Lama when it comes to Buddhist practice, we would listen to Pope Francis when it comes to Christian teachings…  Trump has responded to Pope Francis with a hateful comment about the Islamic State bombing the Vatican…”

This is a rather odd article by a Jesuit priest, speaking about a Jesuit pope. Since when does the pope speak with authority on Christian teachings? Virtually all non-Catholics would strongly disagree with this assumption, and quite a few Catholics disagree with this premise as well.

Religious Leaders Rush To Trump’s Defense After Pope Francis’ Comments

The Huffington Post wrote on February 19:

“Religious leaders voiced support for Donald Trump after Pope Francis implied that the Republican presidential candidate is ‘not a Christian.’

“Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., who is the son of the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, told CNN that ‘the pope is mistaken … I do believe Trump is a Christian.’ He added that ‘JFK would be rolling over in his grave right now.’ Falwell has endorsed Trump for president…

“Franklin Graham, the son of Evangelist minister Billy Graham, also defended Trump. ‘My advice to the pontiff: Reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump,’ he said on Facebook. ‘Who knows where he may be this time next year!’

“But it’s not just evangelists who have Trump’s back. Catholic League President Bill Donohue defended the former reality TV star and accused the media of twisting Pope Francis’ words. ‘The pope was set up by the reporter,’ he said. ‘He’s been lied to about what Trump has said.’”

“God Told Israel to Build a Wall”

Newsmax wrote on February 19:

“Pope Francis should know that walls sometimes are commanded by God, former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Thursday in response to the Pope saying Christians don’t build walls… ‘It’s just absolutely stunning,’ Huckabee said. I don’t remember in my lifetime that a Pope has ever injected himself into the specifics of an American presidential election and specifically calling out of a candidate.’… Huckabee said that all the Republican candidates have called for a secure border, so Francis should not have singled out Trump.

‘‘I have been to the Vatican,’ he added. ‘There is a big wall that surrounds the Vatican. I’m wondering, when the Pope gets back home, is he going to it take that down and say we don’t build walls anymore?’ Further, the Old Testament figure Nehemiah built a protective wall around Jerusalem at God’s command, said Huckabee, a former Baptist minister. ‘I don’t know what the Pope thinks a country should do if it doesn’t protect its borders and protect its people,’ he said. ‘A country without a border is not even a country anymore.’”

“Huge” Win of Trump Against the Pope, as Vatican Backs Down

The Daily Mail wrote on February 19:

“The Vatican today executed a speedy climb-down in its feud with Donald Trump – handing the Republican White House hopeful a major political victory. Pope Francis’s suggestion that Trump was ‘not Christian’ because of his views on immigration was not a personal attack on the candidate, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Friday…

“[The Pope’s comments] promoted an immediate and furious denunciation from Trump, as well as a massive backlash on social media, where the Pope was mocked for living in the Vatican, itself a walled city-state…

“By day’s end the conflict drew Trump’s Republican rivals out of the shadows, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – the presidential race’s two Roman Catholics – backing The Donald over The Pontiff…

“Rubio… defended the Republican Party’s line – essentially, Trump’s position – on immigration… Noting that the U.S. takes in a million immigrants a year, he declared that ‘Mexico doesn’t do that. No other country in the world does that… We’re a sovereign country. We have a right to control who comes in, when they come in and how they come in… Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come and how they come in, as a nation-state, or a city-state. And as a result, the United States has a right to do that as well.’

“Bush also rushed to Trump’s defense and insisted that no one should determine the validity of another person’s faith in God…”

The Hill added on February 19:

“Donald Trump is praising Pope Francis a day after he blasted the pontiff for seemingly questioning his faith and criticizing his proposal to build a wall on the nation’s southern border.  ‘I think he’s a terrific person, frankly,’ Trump said of Francis during an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren… The real estate mogul suggested afterward that he appreciated the Vatican walking back the remarks, telling Fox News, ‘The fact that he said that, I’m very honored by it.’”

The Vatican’s Stone Wall

In a related article, the Daily Mail explained the history, purpose and function of the Vatican’s wall:

“Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. An enormous stone wall acts as a boundary between the micro-nation and the rest of Italy. Nowadays, it serves as a way for the Swiss Guard to control the stream of tourists coming in and out of the Pope’s home. But, just over 1,200 years ago, it was an integral form of protection for the Pope, who was a targeted figure after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire .

“The fortification was first built after a raid by Muslim pirates in 846. Arab raiders sacked Rome in a bid to find treasures. Watch towers were put in place to watch for would-be intruders. It also helped to protect Pope Gregory VII around 200 years later when the Holy Roman Emperor besieged Rome.

“In the 1640s, Pope Paul III expanded the fortifications, and additional defenses. In 1870, the Pope’s residency in the Vatican was left in flux when Rome was annexed by the Piedmont-led forces which had united the rest of Italy. They had created the Kingdom of Italy, a change opposed by Pope Pius XIII as it undermined his autonomy in some areas.

“Between 1861 and 1929 the status of the Pope was referred to as the ‘Roman Question’ and the walls served as a way of keeping him isolated from the rest of Italy. Within the walls, Italian politicians did not challenge the Pope’s autonomy. But, in other parts of the country, church items were confiscated.

“In 1871, the Palazzo Quirinale, the Papal palace since 1583, was confiscated by the king of Italy and became the royal palace. Thereafter, Popes resided undisturbed within the Vatican walls. Certain papal prerogatives were recognized by the Law of Guarantees, including the right to send and receive ambassadors. But the Popes did not recognise the Italian king’s right to rule in Rome, and they refused to leave the Vatican compound until the dispute was resolved in 1929. Ever since the autonomy of the Vatican within the walls has not been challenged by the Italian government.”

Pope Should Stay Out of Politics…

Newsmax wrote on February 18:

“Pope Francis should not become involved in American politics because ‘he’s probably not up to speed on what we’re arguing about,’ conservative columnist George Will [said] on Thursday. ‘This Pope has shown a proclivity, to put it politely, for speaking about things about which he has no particular expertise: climate change, income redistribution, all the rest… He has a long sort of Latin American, left-wing political agenda — and I think it influenced this.’”

Will also criticized Trump for his initial answer to the Pope, stating it did not help the cause.

More Controversial Comments by the Pope

The Associated Press wrote on February 18:

“Pope Francis has suggested women threatened with the Zika virus could use artificial contraception, saying ‘avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil’ in light of the global epidemic. The pope unequivocally rejected abortion…  But he drew a parallel to a decision by Pope Paul VI in the 1960s to approve giving nuns in Belgian Congo artificial contraception to prevent pregnancies because they were being systematically raped…

“Theologians and some Latin American bishops cautioned the pope was not giving a green light for Catholics to use artificial birth control, nor did his remarks amount to a change in church teaching…

“U.N. officials have called on Latin American countries to loosen their abortion laws to allow women to terminate pregnancies if they fear the fetus may be at risk for microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes brain damage and may be linked to the virus. But Francis told reporters, ‘Taking one life to save another, that’s what the Mafia does. It’s a crime. It’s an absolute evil.’…”

Trump Did NOT Oppose the Iraq War?

Newsmax reported on February 18:

“Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in 2002 that he supported the Iraq War — despite his insistence that he opposed the conflict during the George W. Bush administration. ‘Yeah, I guess so,’ Trump said in response to a question about whether he supported the war from radio host Howard Stern on Sept. 11, 2002. ‘I wish the first time it was done correctly.’

“When asked Thursday at a CNN town hall in South Carolina whether he made the statement, Trump responded that ‘I probably said that’… ‘By the time the war started, I was against it. Shortly thereafter, I was really against it.’”

However, note the next article.

Newmax reported on February 19:

“On the second day of the Iraq War in 2003, Donald Trump said that the effort begun by President George W. Bush appeared to be ‘a tremendous success from a military standpoint.’ Trump… told Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Channel that the conflict would help Wall Street… BuzzFeed obtained audio of the telephone interview, from March 21, 2003, through Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 20, 2003, ending that May 1. ‘Wall Street’s just gonna go up like a rocket, even beyond, and it’s gonna continue and, you know, we have a strong and powerful country and let’s hope it all works out,’ Trump said.

“He added that he believed that any international objections to the war would not endanger American’s economy. ‘I guess the French never liked us much, except when we’re bailing them out, you know, to be totally honest with you,’ he told Cavuto. ‘But certainly, we’re going to have to work on our public relations, because there’s no question that there are a lot of countries in the world right now that aren’t too fond of us — but I think that can be solved and probably pretty quickly.’

“The developer added that, ‘the main thing is to get the war over with and just make it a tremendously successful campaign — and it’ll be very interesting to see what kind of weapons they uncover.’”

Cruz Parrots Trump

The Huffington Post wrote on February 22:

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has taken a page from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign playbook, hardening his rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. Cruz told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday that yes, should he be elected president, his administration would deport all 12 million undocumented people estimated to be in the U.S. and wouldn’t allow them to return… Cruz said America would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, triple the border force and establish biometric entry systems ‘so we will know the day someone overstays their visa.’

“The senator’s comments represent an escalation in rhetoric from a candidate who rejected the notion of a ‘deportation force’ of ‘jackboots’ just last month, and lambasted the idea after it was proposed by GOP front-runner Trump. Cruz in January said such a policy would reflect ‘a police state,’ adding, ‘That’s not how we enforce the law for any crime.’”

The Scam with GOP’s Superdelegates

Bustle wrote on February 20:

“The dominance of Trump’s campaign, as well as the refusal of many to believe that Trump might actually win, is leading to increased speculations that the GOP might be headed toward a contested convention. As Republican officials dust off convention rulebooks in preparation for the possibility, many others are curious: How would superdelegates affect a contested convention?

“The GOP has about 2,472 delegates, and 168 of them are ‘super’ (or unbound). In theory, they can vote for whoever they want, and would thus have a lot of power at a contested convention. However, the Republican National Committee changed its rules in 2016, and so this year, those 168 superdelegates won’t actually be super at all. Instead, they’ll be obligated to vote for the candidate that their state supported, either on a proportional or a winner-take-all basis.

“If the convention is contested, however, this will change. How exactly it will change is complicated…

“In normal circumstances, a candidate wins the majority of delegates during the primary and caucus stage, those delegates vote for that candidate at the convention, and the candidate becomes the nominee. But if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the party’s total delegates by the time the national convention is held, nobody will win the majority of delegates at the actual convention vote, and as a result, the party will be left without a nominee…

“The delegates have to keep voting until more than 50 percent of them rally behind one candidate, and so multiple rounds of voting are held. In between these rounds (which are officially, and confusingly, called ‘ballots’), the candidates and their supporters will lobby individual delegates, attempting to convince them to change their votes. This keeps going until one candidate secures the support of more than half of the delegates…

“The bottom line is that if the GOP does indeed end up with a contested convention, the nomination would be decided by an elite group of superdelegates. It’ll be way, way messier than that.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, read the next article about the superdelegates within the Democratic Party.

The Scam with Democrats’ Superdelegates

The New York Times’ Editorial Board wrote on February 19:

“Superdelegates are party bigwigs – 712 Democratic leaders, legislators, governors and the like. They can vote for any candidate at the nominating convention, regardless of whether that candidate won the popular vote. These unpledged delegates make up 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates whose votes are needed to win the nomination, and could thus make all the difference.

“The status of Hillary and Bill Clinton as senior figures in the Democratic Party has allowed Mrs. Clinton to secure public endorsements from many more superdelegates than Mr. Sanders. Late last year, The Associated Press surveyed 80 percent of the Democratic superdelegates and found that 359 had endorsed Mrs. Clinton, versus eight for Mr. Sanders. The rest remained uncommitted.

“In the New Hampshire primary…, which Mrs. Clinton lost by 22 percentage points, Mr. Sanders won 15 of the state’s 24 pledged delegates, and Mrs. Clinton won nine. But because she has the support of six of the state’s eight unpledged superdelegates… she is virtually tied with Mr. Sanders in the New Hampshire delegate count…”

So while superdelegates play an important role within the GOP in case of a contested convention, superdelegates may play a decisive vote at the Democratic convention, even if the convention is not contested. One is tempted to ask: Why even vote, if the results may mean nothing?

Boycotting Apple?

Newsmax reported on February 19:

“Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called on Friday for a boycott of Apple products until the tech company agrees to help the U.S. government unlock the cellphone of one of the killers in the San Bernardino, California, attack… Trump made the off-the-cuff comment at a town hall-style event at a country club in Pawleys Island, (South Carolina)… He also called for the boycott on Twitter.

“The Republican front-runner in the 2016 White House race has been a frequent critic of Apple and called on the company to make more products in the United States…

“The filing [of a lawsuit by the US government against Apple] escalated a showdown between the Obama administration and Silicon Valley over security and privacy that ignited earlier this week.”

Please view our StandingWatch program, titled, “Why Would Apple Resist the FBI?” which shows why Donald Trump is wrong on this issue. Apple responded that they are in good company, given the many unsuccessful attempts of Trump to boycott companies and individuals in the past…

Apple vs. FBI: “FBI Screwed It Up”

Business Insider wrote on February 21:

“The FBI has shed more light on its involvement in what is shaping up to be the most controversial piece of evidence in the investigation of San Bernardino terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook: his iCloud account password.

“Hours after Farook’s iPhone was recovered by law enforcement, the password to his iCloud account was reset. The reset was an attempt to gain access to his account. It also likely prevented the iPhone from doing an auto-backup, which could have yielded useful information about Farook’s activity leading up to the shooting that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others.

“That kicked off a round of finger-pointing by Apple executives, the FBI, and San Bernardino County officials over who reset the iCloud password… the FBI confirmed it was working with San Bernardino County officials when the password was reset. Apple executives said…  that if the FBI hadn’t changed the iCloud password, it wouldn’t need to create a backdoor to the iPhone.

“It sounds like the FBI screwed this whole process up…”

Many legal scholars agree that Apple has no choice but to resist the FBI. Please view our StandingWatch program, “Why Would Apple Resist the FBI?”

Apple Prepared to Go All the Way

The Telegraph wrote on February 24:

“Apple is ready to fight the FBI’s demand that it unlocks the phone of Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino killers all the way to the Supreme Court, Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, has said. Mr Cook said that complying with a court order to help the FBI break into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters would… set a legal precedent that would offend many Americans…

“Apple’s chief executive officer also said there should have been more dialogue with the Obama administration before the US Justice Department’s decision to seek relief from a federal magistrate judge in California. ‘We found out about the filing from the press, and I don’t think that’s the way the railroad should be run, and I don’t think that something so important to this country should be handled in this way,’ Mr Cook said in an interview being aired on ‘ABC World News Tonight.’”

Fragile Syria Deal

The Washington Post wrote on February 22:

“The United States and Russia announced Monday that they have agreed to the terms of a partial cease-fire in Syria, a deal that will depend on their ability to cooperate amid deep mutual suspicion and test their willingness and ability to dictate terms to their allies on the ground.

“Under the agreement, Washington and Moscow are to establish a hotline between them to monitor compliance and resolve potential problems, a joint statement said. The two are also ‘prepared to work together to exchange pertinent information’ delineating territory currently held by various Syrian combatants and ensuring that neither country, nor any of their allies, bombs groups or areas covered by the accord.

“Opposition groups, and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have until noon Friday to inform the United States or Russia that they agree to the terms, or risk coming under renewed attack. The agreement excludes the Islamic State, al-Qaeda’s affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and any other ‘terrorist’ group that in the future may be designated by the United Nations.

“While the United States is depending on Russia to bring the Syrian government and Iran to heel, rebel backers including Turkey and Saudi Arabia are under pressure to rein in groups thought to be under their control.”

One has to ask: How could this “deal” possibly work?

Turkey Won’t Be Israel’s Friend

The Times of Israel wrote on February 19:

“There is little chance that Israel will be able to rehabilitate its ties with Turkey, Greece’s defense minister told Israeli journalists on Thursday.  ‘The fact [that] Turkey trades with Daesh [Islamic State], as Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has described, funds Daesh, and allows its fighters to enter and leave Syria raises questions in both Israel and Greece,’ Panos Kammenos told Israel Radio in an interview while on a visit to Israel… ‘Turkey’s… stance toward Israel remains as hostile as in the past.’

“Kammenos noted that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last year said he longed to see the Palestinian flag flying over Jerusalem.”

The Bible shows that, ultimately, Turkey will become extremely hostile towards Israel.

“Russia Might Strike Anywhere in the World”

The Guardian wrote on February 19:

Vladimir Putin’s new geopolitical ambitions have led the US to realise it made a strategic mistake turning away from Europe and making a pivot to Asia, the foreign affairs adviser to the Polish president has said.

“Krzysztof Szczerski urged the west to recognise that the Russian president was no longer simply seeking to restore his country’s dominance in former Soviet states such as Ukraine, but to adopt a more dominant military posture across the globe. He told the Guardian: ‘It is now a strategy of geopolitical confrontation, so the next strikes of Putin are not guaranteed to be in the post-Soviet sphere. It could be anywhere in the world. It is wrong to think that Putin has narrow territorial limits. Syria has shown that is not the case.’

“Szczerski said Putin’s Syrian intervention last year showed Russia had the capacity to move large amounts of equipment at speed across a great distance without their preparations being noticed…”

“Deal” Reached between Brussels and Britain

The Washington Post wrote on February 19:

“Round-the-clock negotiations between British Prime Minister David Cameron and his fellow European Union leaders yielded a deal late Friday night that they hope will keep Britain from becoming the first country to leave the 28-member bloc… A British exit — popularly known as ‘Brexit’ — is strongly opposed by all E.U. leaders, Cameron included…  Cameron said after the deal was announced that the agreed package of E.U. reforms was ‘enough’ for him to recommend that Britain remain in the union… [The British referendum has been subsequently set for June 23, 2016.]

“Cameron received concessions that amounted to far less than the fundamental renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the E.U. that he had promised. But he was expected to declare victory nonetheless… But already on Friday, British Euroskeptics were lining up to proclaim the long and protracted talks as Exhibit A in their portrayal of the E.U. as a hopelessly dysfunctional institution that is beyond hope for serious reform…”

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 19:

“Cameron noted that migrants would no longer be able to come to Britain and start collecting social benefits before they have even had time to look for work. Indeed, he said they won’t have access to it for four years. Paradoxically, he also voiced support for the free movement of people and labor.”

The Telegraph wrote on February 20:

“David Cameron finally has his deal with the Europe – a deal that, it is claimed, gives Britain a ‘special status’ within the EU… It is astonishing that such humble proposals caused that much difficulty… Is it really a step too far to protect the interests of countries outside the eurozone? And what is so shocking about the proposition that British taxpayers should not [have] to pay such generous child welfare payments to children living overseas?… It will probably astonish British voters that all of this proved so problematic, particularly when Europeans have such terrible problems as the refugee crisis to chew over…

“But, then again, this should not surprise us. The EU leadership has decided that the future lies with greater integration, so even the smallest reform will be regarded as a challenge to this philosophy…”

“Call That a Deal, Dave?”

The Daily Mail wrote on February 19:

“All that lost sleep, and for what?… you have only to read David Cameron’s defiant quotes… to see the chasm between the ‘fundamental changes’ he promised and the pathetic ‘compromise on a compromise’ he has struggled to clinch this week.

“Gone are his commitments to ‘full-on treaty change’, war on bureaucracy, sovereignty for Westminster, ‘a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights’, the return of border controls, limits on the jurisdiction of the European Court and more besides.

“In their place are measures so complex and trifling that they promise only more work for the bureaucrats, who will absurdly have to calculate 27 different rates of child benefit for migrant workers, according to the cost of living in their countries of origin.

“As for his vaunted ‘red card’, which would allow blocks of 15 nations to veto Brussels diktats, you have only to witness this week’s infighting to see the difficulty of getting three nations to agree, let alone 15…

“No, from the moment Mr Cameron made clear that he was determined to remain in the EU, come what may, any fleeting hopes of an agreement that might have made a real difference flew out of the window… As they bickered over the minutiae of child benefit at their banquets, a tide of migration unseen since 1945 was sweeping over the continent they purport to control, with 6,000 arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos in only three days. And that’s in the depths of winter, months before the peak season. Among them will be unknown numbers of jihadis, posing as war refugees to join the 5,000 IS-trained terrorists estimated by the EU’s police chief to be at large in Europe.

“In the fantasy world of the summit, leaders may mouth pious platitudes about the ‘non-negotiable’ principle of free movement. Yet in the real world, razor-wire fences are being erected between member states — while Austria sensibly breaks all the rules by refusing to accept more than 80 asylum-seekers a day…

“One thing is clear. Nothing agreed in Brussels will tempt a single voter to cross from the Out to the In camp (though it may swing some people the other way)… Indeed, the Prime Minister comes out of this sorry saga badly wounded, just eight months after his surprise election triumph made him look all but invincible on the domestic political battleground. But it is not too late for him to redeem himself. He should tell voters, humbly and frankly, that he has tried hard but failed to secure a deal worth having…”

Strong Opposition to Cameron’s “Deal”

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 20:

“65 of the 330 members of Cameron’s Conservative party in the parliament [want] Britain to opt out of the bloc. Many opposition politicians dismissed Friday’s agreement. Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn of the Labour Party said Cameron had done ‘what he decided he had to do because he was too weak to stand up to his political party.’ Labour Party Chief Jeremy Corbyn, who supports Britain’s membership in the EU, described Cameron’s trip to Brussels as a ‘theatrical sideshow… designed to appease his opponents within the conservative party.’”

The Times of Israel wrote on February 20:

“Many British newspapers reacted sceptically to the Brussels deal, which contained restrictions on welfare payments for EU migrants and an opt-out for Britain from the EU’s goal towards ever closer union. ‘Cameron’s Climbdown,’ read a headline on the Daily Express website… The Daily Telegraph said Cameron had made ‘puny gains’ and The Times called it ‘Thin Gruel.”

Der Stern Online questioned whether the “deal” was enough to convince the British people to stay in the EU. The publication said that the alleged special status for Britain, exempting them from working towards “ever closer” European Union, was meaningless, as they were already exempt from many regulations, such as the Eurozone and the Schengen agreement.

Bild Online quoted Angela Merkel as saying that even though making some of the concessions to Britain were “not easy,” they did not give Britain “too much.” Still, she wished that Britain would have agreed to participating in creating an “ever closer union.”

Cameron vs. Johnson… the Fight for or against Brexit

The Daily Mail wrote on February 23:

“David Cameron today said Boris Johnson [mayor of London, conservative MP and potential successor to David Cameron] was a ‘fantastic friend’ but one who was ‘wrong’ on the EU… Mr Johnson… promised a ‘fantastic new future’ outside the EU where Britain was the ‘hub’ of new trading arrangements around the world… Mr Cameron insisted Britain was ‘better off’ inside the European Union because of the uncertainty a Brexit would bring…

“Mr Johnson…  has become the standard bearer for the campaign to get Britain out of the EU, said those promoting danger had been proved wrong before… Mr Johnson today said he was determined to seize the opportunity to quit a European Union which was ‘wasteful, anti-democratic and I think evolving ever forwards towards a super state I don’t think most British people want to be involved with’…

“The six Cabinet rebels voting for Britain to leave the EU have been banned from using any government material or resources to campaign for Out, under strict new rules published today. Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, sent a letter to all civil servants this morning telling them that government resources must only be used in the referendum campaign if it supports the Government’s official stance in support of Britain’s membership of the EU. It risks causing further anger among Tory Eurosceptics as it will put pro-Brexit ministers at a significant disadvantage to pro-EU members of the Government in the run up to June’s referendum.”

That is how politics are made in a supposedly free and democratic country.

“Deutsche Boerse Plans London Stock Exchange Takeover”

CNN wrote on February 23:

“The London Stock Exchange could soon have a new German owner. A huge merger looks set to reshape Europe’s stock exchanges.

“German market operator Deutsche Boerse… wants to join forces with the London Stock Exchange…, the companies said Tuesday. They described the proposed transaction as a ‘merger of equals,’ but Deutsche Boerse shareholders would end up owning more than 54% in the new company. Shares in the London Stock Exchange soared by as much as 20% after the announcement and Deutsche Boerse shares jumped by about 9%.

“The combined exchanges would have more heft to compete against the New York Stock Exchange operator, Intercontinental Exchange, which also owns markets in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the U.K. through its Euronext business. Shares in Intercontinental Exchange were dipping by about 1.5% Tuesday. Based on U.K. rules, Deutsche Boerse will have to make a formal offer by March 22 or walk away from the deal…”

British Schoolchildren Under Attack

NewsWithViews wrote on February 20:

“British schoolchildren are being heavily targeted and ‘used’ to reform society… This was illustrated in a recent survey carried out by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England who recently distributed a questionnaire to schoolchildren in Brighton and Hove.

“The questionnaire asked the children, aged from 13 – 18 to choose from over 20 gender options on how it best described their gender, to include: Tomboy, Trans boy, Gender fluid, Agender, Androgynous, Bi-gender, Non-binery, Gender queer, Gender non-conforming, Tri gender, In the middle of boy and girl, Intersex.

“… you can only imagine the type of identity crisis and confusion you would experience when you are just 13, in relation to the suggestion that you should fall into one of these categories.

“In an article from the Telegraph it read that the head teacher from one of the schools said: ‘We want all our young people to feel comfortable with who they are, to understand that the notion of gender can go beyond the traditional idea of simply being either male and female, and to recognise that people can use a range of terms to describe their gender identity.’…

“It is reported that the survey was later withdrawn for amendments, yet not abolished, after the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield received complaints. The problem with labels, thoughts and feelings, is that they are terribly hard to shake off once you have accepted their distortion of reality…”

The abominations continue. See the next article.

Jesus a Transgender Woman?

The Daily Mail reported on February 14:

“A play that portrays Jesus as a transgender woman who refers to God as ‘Mum’ is to be performed in a Church of England church today. To the fury of critics who say the play is deeply offensive, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, will not block the staging of The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven.

“The one-woman play by Jo Clifford, an award-winning Scottish playwright who has herself changed gender, imagines Jesus returning to earth as a ‘trans woman’ and retelling the parables with a transsexual slant.”

God’s patience with this evil generation is amazing!

Fire From Heaven

The Daily Mail wrote on February 22:

“A huge fireball crashed into the Atlantic earlier this month – and went almost unseen. The event took place on February 6 at 14:00 UTC when a meteor exploded in the air 620 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Brazil. It released energy equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT, which is the same as the energy used in the first atomic weapon that leveled Hiroshima in 1945…

“Nasa tracks around 12,992 near-Earth objects which have been discovered orbiting within our solar system close to our own orbit. It estimates around 1,607 are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids… scientists have long said that these space rocks could threaten life on Earth…

“In fact, the Earth had a ‘near-miss’ only a few months ago… The bus-sized asteroid, named 2014 EC, came within 38,300 (61,637km) miles of Earth in March – around a sixth of the distance between the moon and our planet…

“The threat is so serious that former astronaut Ed Lu has described it as ‘cosmic roulette’ and said that only ‘blind luck’ has so far saved humanity from a serious impact.”

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Is Footwashing Still Necessary Today as Part of the Passover Ceremony?

First of all, not all “Christian” churches keep the Passover.   Wikipedia states the following (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footwashing ): “Washing of the Feet is a religious rite observed by several Christian denominations. John 13:1–17 mentions Jesus performing this act.  As such, many denominations (including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics) observe the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. Moreover, for some denominations, foot-washing was an example, a pattern.  Many groups throughout Church history and many modern denominations have practiced foot washing as a church ordinance including the Adventists, Anabaptists, Baptists, and Pentecostals.”

Wikipedia also states that “The Eucharist (also called Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, and other names) is a rite considered by most Christian churches to be a sacrament. According to some New Testament books, it was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper.”

In a Church of God article some years ago, the following was noted: “Jude tells us in verse 4 that certain ungodly men crept into the church, during the second half of the first century A.D. and began teaching that obedience to God’s law was unnecessary.   They forsook observing God’s Holy days.   However, in order to deceive, they used familiar terms such as Passover and Pentecost to refer to new festivals preserving the outward form long after the spiritual substance disappeared.  To this day, the Roman Catholic Church uses the term ‘Paschal season’ to refer to the time of their Easter observance.  Paschal is derived from the Latin word for Passover.   Latin-based languages, such as French and Spanish, still use the word for Passover to refer to the Easter celebration.

“There was this desire to get away from the fact that the symbols introduced by Jesus Christ on the night of His final Passover were to be observed annually by true Christians.   To accomplish this, alternate terms for the observance of the Passover symbols were introduced.   By the beginning of the second century, terms such as ‘communion’ or ‘eucharist’ were being used.

“However, by using names that focus total emphasis on the symbols of bread and wine, the footwashing part of the service was easily and quickly obscured.   Also veiled was the fact that partaking of these symbols was part of an annual observance, a fact made clear by the use of the Biblical term Passover.”

This is yet another example of the confusion that exists in many areas of biblical understanding.   The Passover became Holy Communion in many mainstream Christian churches and is now taken whenever a church desires rather than the annual practice of Passover, and footwashing is generally no longer practiced as part of this service.

It is worth looking briefly at some of the objections that are raised about doing this as Jesus Christ clearly instructed His disciples to do. We can see the conclusions that can be established when not being obedient to living by “every word” of God (compare Matthew 4:4). We hasten to add, however, that the entire Passover service is only for properly baptized true Christians who have received the Holy Spirit. Those who have not been baptized in accordance with Scripture should not participate in the annual Passover service. An upcoming Q&A will discuss this important issue in more detail.

One website source addressed the question of footwashing as part of the Passover service as follows:

“It should be observed first of all that just because Christ gave a command to someone, at some time, during his ministry, does not mean that that same command was required of all people for all time.  One must look at the nature of the command, to whom it was given, the purpose thereof (if stated), and whether or not it initially applied in a limited way, or whether it was for every person throughout history.

“For example, the Lord once commanded a man, ‘take up your bed and walk’ (John. 5:8).  Surely it is not difficult to understand that this particular injunction was not universal in its application.  To another he said, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (John. 9:7).  That requirement applied to no one but the man to whom it was given.  To the apostles Jesus said, ‘Wait in the city [of Jerusalem], until you are clothed with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49).  That command was for the apostles exclusively.”

The man who was healed was told to take up his bed and walk and it was specific to one individual and Christ did not say that everyone had to do this; likewise the one in the pool of Siloam.   The apostles were certainly told to wait for what we know was the day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit, and it was a unique event.   As we will see later, the Passover was to be kept by all of the disciples then and down through the ages.

This same writer then states: “In order to appreciate the situation that occurred during the Passover supper, one has to have some ‘background’ knowledge in a couple of areas – pertaining to the customary act of feet-washing itself, and that of the events that led up to the ‘supper’ incident.  Notice first that Jesus washed the feet of all the disciples.  If one is going to bind precisely this ‘example’ as a church ordinance, as a few small religious groups have done, then the feet of everyone present will have to be cleansed.   Further, everyone who washes the feet of others will need to have his own feet bathed by everyone else.  If there should be a group of several hundred people, this ‘ceremony’ would consume the better part of a day – or even longer.”

This is a ridiculous answer.   All the disciples had their feet washed. The same happens in the Passover services today of the Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship and the Global Church of God.   The Bible doesn’t say that “the feet of others will need to have his own feet bathed by everyone else” and is a complete misunderstanding of what is written.  A baptised member of the church will have his feet washed and wash another one’s feet and that is sufficient to fulfill the instruction by Christ.

The writer then states: “That Jesus was not washing the disciples’ feet as a literal act to be required henceforth is very clear from what happened in the meantime, and how the Lord responded.  Peter knew that Jesus was about to wash his feet (in a literal sense), but Christ says, ‘You do not know what I’m doing.’ Obviously, it was not the act of washing feet per se that was the point; rather, it was the lesson to be conveyed.  And so, in a mild rebuke, Jesus told his apostle (if we may paraphrase), ‘If you do not learn the lesson I am attempting to demonstrate, you will have “no part” in my ministry’ (v. 8).”

A further assertion by this same writer is that “The Son of God was demonstrating an attitude, not requiring a literal act.  The error, then, on the part of some religious people, is in not discerning the difference between what the Lord was doing literally, and the symbolic significance of the act.”

This is a further ludicrous answer to try and circumnavigate what Jesus was clearly teaching.   The lesson was about humility and not having a self-serving attitude.   Jesus said what they (and we today) have to DO – “you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).   That takes action and is, therefore, a literal act.   Jesus demonstrated a literal act by doing the footwashing – doing means action and it takes effort.   And, in addition to, not in place of this, we demonstrate an attitude of service to others.   It is an instruction that has two facets to it.

Let us review what the Bible instructs on this matter; after all, this is what matters, not some human explanation that can employ mental gymnastics to show that what the Bible teaches is not necessarily so.

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them: “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). His disciples then and as His followers today, we are to emulate that same example as instructed.   When we wash one another’s feet we serve one another as we should do in humility, lowliness of heart and mind, not seeking our own way but looking to help and encourage each other in humility and love. So many today seek pre-eminence which Christ clearly condemned (as an example, see Matthew 23 for Christ’s condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees and their approach to many matters).

In Mark 9:33-37, Jesus answered the disciples who were disputing about who was the greatest amongst them when he said: “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (v 35).   In Mark 10:42-44, we read: “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.’”

We have seen some of the arguments that are propounded to claim that Christ was merely teaching the disciples about humility and that He did not establish a ceremony for the Church to practice in the future, believing that it is only the attitude that counts and the performance of the physical act of footwashing today is unnecessary. However, the correct understanding of what the Bible states is clear; physical action is needed.

Jesus Himself clearly explained the primary lesson of foot-washing: “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:13-14).  He added in John 13:17: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” In Matthew 28:20, Jesus described the responsibility of the church as  “‘teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

In our Statement of Fundamental Beliefs we state the following about keeping the Passover and the annual Holy Days:

“The Passover once a year in the evening by engaging in a footwashing service as an example of humility in accordance with Christ’s example, and partaking of the unleavened bread and wine, symbolizing physical and spiritual healing and forgiveness of sin. The entire service symbolizes a remembrance of Christ’s death (Leviticus 23:5, Luke 22:14-20; John 13:1-5; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29).”

By simple deduction and correct biblical understanding, we see that Jesus Christ was willing to humbly and unconditionally serve the disciples in doing such a menial task and baptized members of the Body of Christ are instructed to follow His example in the matter of footwashing and ignore those who, erroneously, deem it unnecessary.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

StandingWatch programs have now been more closely integrated into the CEG homepage. This provides much easier access to both our new and past programs. You may check this out by going to: www.eternalgod.org

The dates for the annual Holy Days until 2022 have been posted on our English and German websites, under “About” and “Wir Ueber Uns,” respectively.

“New German Leadership Out of Nowhere?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

While it is becoming more and more probable that Donald Trump will become the Republican nominee and even the next American President, we are focusing on Europe and especially Germany where the situation is not all that different. People here and there are upset with the political establishment and looking for “outsiders.” Angela Merkel is no longer the “Queen of Europe,” the “Iron Lady of Europe,” or the “most powerful politician in Europe.” Rather, she has become a lonely figure, and Europeans are wishing for new leadership, which has to “emerge somewhere,” “out of nowhere.” The Bible indicates that this is exactly what will happen. We are offering free booklets on this program for further information.

“Warum Sich Apple dem FBI Widersetzt!” is the title of a new AufPostenStehen program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. This is similar to the recent StandingWatch program on “Why Would Apple Resist the FBI,” but with special focus on German reactions.

“Gehen Sie zu Weit?” is the title of this week’s Sabbath sermon. It deals with compromise, with heavy emphasis on Easter. Title in English: “Are You Going Too Far?”

“How Far Do You Want to Go?” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

This world looks at compromise as a great thing. But how does God view this? How should Christians look at compromise? Are we at times willing to compromise in respect to Church doctrine and practices? Many did compromise in the past, to their own demise. How convinced are we that we must never compromise with God’s Truth?

“The Servant of the Lord,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted. Here is a summary:

We often read about servants in the Bible. What does it really take to become a true servant of God? Are there requirements? Are there benefits from being a servant? In the sermon we will look at three specific areas: 1) Actions of true servants 2) Knowledge of servants 3) Responsibilities. These should give us a good idea of what it means to be a Servant of the Lord.

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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