Update 732


Strength in Unity; Enduring

On April 9, 2016, Mike Link will present the sermonette, titled, “Strength in Unity,” and Rene Messier will present the sermon, titled, “Enduring.”

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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When Did the Skipping Stop?

by Robb Harris

We often see children skipping as they play and move about.  This lightly jumping movement is an outward sign of joyfulness and exuberance in children and an action rarely seen in adults.  An adult not skipping has much to do with the limitations of an aging body or even the stigma of it being childish.  But, the same enthusiasm that drives children to skip is necessary for a Christian.  As adults, we must be joyous if we are to become part of God’s Family.

In the book of Psalms we get a picture of a servant of God whose heart was full of joy for God.  David exemplified this attitude in song, “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Psalm 98:4).  He also entreated those who know God to live and breathe with this same attitude, “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11). Because, as David was well aware, God’s Character is the essence of joyfulness, “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance” (Psalm 89:15).

Why is this world so quickly falling into ruin?  Because joyfulness of the Truth has been replaced by satisfaction in lies.  Happiness is false and fleeting at best, if man seeks it without God.  The true joy of God, manifest in the brightness of His chosen people (see Matthew 5:16), holds back the darkness of Satan’s deceit. “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).

The gauntlet is before our feet!  If we refuse to take it up, the light within us will extinguish.  As God’s people, we must stay committed to shining our lights with ever increasing brightness, especially as the world around us grows darker.  We must, as Paul stated to the Church at Philippi, “…become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ…” (Philippians 2:15-16).

At his greatest times, King David cared little for the cares of this world. He focused intently on the Joy found in serving the Eternal.  “Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!’ So David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD’” (2 Samuel 6:20-21).  As we examine our hearts during this Passover season, let’s not forget the joy we felt as new babes in Christ.  It’s that excitement for God’s Truth that will enable us to finish this race.

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We begin with reporting on the “Panama Papers”—the “biggest financial data leak in history” of over 11 million files, revealing the dubious and potentially criminal activities of literally hundreds upon hundreds of mega-rich and powerful people and institutions around the world.

We comment on a mind-boggling crazy law in Germany; the Dutch vote against a deal between the EU and Ukraine; the prognosis of most economists that a Brexit would prove disastrous for Britain’s economy; and Donald Trump’s stern (and mostly rejected) warning that the USA is heading towards a “very massive recession.”

We continue with Hillary Clinton’s statement that an unborn child or person does not have constitutional rights, leading to criticism from pro-choice groups claiming that an aborted fetus is neither a child nor a person. 

We focus on the pain and suffering of migrants who are being deported from Greece to Turkey, facing a very uncertain future; and publish an article by the New York Times speculating whether Russia was steering migrants toward Europe. Additional articles discuss Russia’s nuclear ambitions and the bad relationship between Russia and Germany.

We also quote David Cameron’s warning that “Isil terrorists are planning to use drones to spray nuclear material over Western cities in a horrific ‘dirty bomb’ attack.” We refer to an article by Reuters, wondering whether Europe will reintroduce requirements for visiting Americans and Canadians to obtain a visa.

We conclude with articles on transgender Jews and a sickening transgender “dragon lady”; the sad reputation of Palm Springs; Muslim “sensitivities” in Switzerland; and a rather foolish “finding” by scientists concluding that “chimpanzees may believe in God.”Please view our new StandingWatch program, Do Chimpanzees Believe in God?”  which addresses this ridiculous concept.

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The Panama Papers–the Crooked Offshore Deals of the World’s Most Powerful “Mega-Rich”

The website of thenextweb.com reported the following on April 3:

“It’s an open secret that the mega-rich and powerful people in the world go to great lengths to keep their financial situations hidden from world governments (and tax collectors), but a collection of 11.5 million documents called ‘The Panama Papers’ shows just how tangled the web gets… money flowing through Panama and other common tax havens come with salacious tales of drugs, guns and sports stars… There are plenty of well-known names found within the papers… Associates to Russian leader Vladimir Putin tie him to $2 billion of shady money-moving tactics. Prime ministers of Iceland, Ukraine and Argentina are specifically linked to various shell companies that hide assets, bonds and inheritances from possible taxation. All in all, there are 140 former and current politicians named in the documents…

“One organization tied frequently to the dealings of Mossack Fonseca is FIFA — and football darling Lionel Messi is named specifically in some deals. There are also known entities that deal specifically with Mexican drug lords, terrorists and even North Korea… the documents show clear tax-dodging, money laundering and other criminal activities, at times propped up even by big banks… The leak is being touted as ‘The Wikileaks of the mega-rich’ and will have significant impact on how countries regulate and accept off-shore accounts for businesses.”

The Panama Papers were issued by Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung on April 3. Another named prominent figure allegedly involved in these kinds of transactions was the late Ian Cameron, father of Britain’s David Cameron.

The Telegraph wrote on April 7:

“David Cameron has admitted that he had a stake in his father’s offshore company which he sold for £30,000 shortly before he became Prime Minister.”

Express wrote on April 6:

Panama Papers: Cameron evades questions over family’s offshore funds as pressure mounts. The Prime Minister came under further scrutiny today over his financial affairs after he was dragged into a global offshore tax avoidance scandal.”

The Daily Mail wrote on April 4:

“The biggest financial data leak in history has revealed how Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and a ‘dirty dozen’ list of world leaders are using offshore tax havens to hide their wealth. A host of celebrities, sports stars, British politicians and the global rich are all implicated in the so-called Panama Papers – a leak of 11million files which contain more data than the amount stolen by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. Documents were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, and show how the company has allegedly helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.

“Megastars Jackie Chan and Lionel Messi are among the big names accused of using Mossack Fonseca to invest their millions offshore. And the Panama Papers also reveal that the £26million stolen during the Brink’s Mat robbery in 1983 may have been channelled into an offshore company set up by the controversial law firm. Meanwhile, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and Chinese president Xi Jinping are among those alleged to have links to tax havens through families and associates.

“Lord Ashcroft, Baroness Pamela Sharples and former Tory MP Michael Mates are the only British politicians who have been named in the data release so far, while several dictators make up the 12 world leaders listed… Putin’s name is not included in the records but his friends and associates appear to have earned millions of pounds from deals that would have been difficult to secure without his patronage…

“Campaigners said David Cameron now faces a ‘credibility test’, having promised to end tax secrecy four years ago… While using offshore companies is not illegal, the practice has long been morally dubious and is under the spotlight amid a wider examination of tax avoidance by large companies such as Google… The Prime Minister will now come under intense pressure to abolish all the UK’s tax havens, including the crown dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man…”

AFP added on April 4:

“A furious Kremlin said Monday it was the target of a plot to destabilize Russia after a massive leak of confidential documents fingered President Vladimir Putin’s close associates along with other world leaders in allegations of shady offshore financial dealings…

“President Francois Hollande promised Monday that French tax authorities would investigate the disclosures of the Panama Papers and that legal proceedings would follow. Australia said it, too, had launched a probe into 800 wealthy Mossack Fonseca clients…

“More than 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches have worked with Mossack Fonseca since the 1970s to help clients manage offshore companies… The documents show ‘banks, law firms and other offshore players often fail to follow legal requirements to make sure clients are not involved in criminal enterprises, tax dodging or political corruption,’ the ICIJ said. Mossack Fonseca is already subject to investigations in Germany and Brazil, where it is part of a huge money laundering probe that has threatened to topple the current government.”

Breitbart wrote on April 6:

“Iceland’s prime minister has resigned, the first political victim of a mushrooming global scandal over hidden offshore financial dealings exposed in the so-called Panama Papers.”

Crazy German Law

The Local wrote on April 4:

“Germans and non-Germans alike who reside in the country are required to pay €17.50 per month towards public broadcasting. The fee has long been a source for contention, especially when authorities changed the policy in 2013 to imposing a blanket charge on all households, regardless of whether they have a television or radio.

“Previously, collecting agencies had sent inspectors to visit each household to determine the number of televisions or radios in possession… The fee recently went before a high administrative court with plaintiffs arguing the blanket fee was unjust, but the court sided with the broadcasters.”

These kinds of ridiculous laws are made when a government has too much power.

Netherlands Against EU Deal with Ukraine

Express wrote on April 6:

“The Dutch people have tonight delivered a devastating blow to the whole European Union project… by sinking a Brussels plot to expand further into Eastern Europe… voters in the Netherlands have overwhelmingly rejected a plan by EU bureaucrats to bring Ukraine into the bloc’s sphere of influence… Disconsolate Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tonight conceded the overwhelming defeat, and said the ratification of the EU treaty now ‘cannot go ahead’…

“… populist Dutch eurosceptic leader Geert Wilders predicted that the result will provide a huge boost to the crusade to get Britain out of the EU.  He said: ‘I think many Dutchmen are fed up with more European Union and this treaty with Ukraine that is not in the interests of the Dutch people…’ The deal proposes a huge shift in political, trade and defence cooperation between Brussels and Kiev which is seen as the first step towards Ukraine becoming a full EU member.”

Would Brexit Be Economically Disastrous for Britain?

The New York Times wrote on April 2:

“Those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union in a national referendum on June 23 focus their arguments on reclaiming national sovereignty and reasserting national identity in the face of immigration. But proponents of exit are also now confronting the challenge of convincing the country that any freedom it gains from divorcing the Continent would not be offset by the risks to Britain’s prosperity… Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, framed the stakes recently, saying the prospect of British exit is ‘the biggest domestic risk to financial stability because, in part, of the issues around uncertainty.’

“Mr. Carney was immediately attacked by ‘leave’ proponents for playing politics and defending the position of Prime Minister David Cameron, who is leading the campaign for Britain to stay. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative member of Parliament who favors exit, responded archly by saying Mr. Carney’s position was ‘speculative and beneath the dignity of the Bank of England.’…

“Those who favor breaking away argue that a country with close ties to the United States and the Commonwealth as well as Europe would emerge better off, freed from onerous regulations and Britain’s net annual contribution of 8.5 billion pounds ($12.1 billion) to the European Union budget…

“If Britons vote to leave, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will come into force, giving the remaining 27 nations of the bloc up to two years to unwind their 43-year marriage to Britain and negotiate a new arrangement… [Most economists] believe that Brexit would create havoc with the pound, cut growth, damage the financial center of the City of London and provoke a lengthy period of uncertainty, with no guarantee that Britain could quickly negotiate free-trade agreements…

“Multinational banks like HSBC and Goldman Sachs have warned that Brexit would mean the export of jobs and headquarters to other European countries, because London-based companies would no longer have ‘passporting rights’ for their services in the European Union…”

Trump: “USA Heading for a Very Massive Recession”

The Washington Post wrote on April 2:

“Donald Trump said in an interview that economic conditions are so perilous that the country is headed for a ‘very massive recession’ and that ‘it’s a terrible time right now’ to invest in the stock market, embracing a distinctly gloomy view of the economy that counters mainstream economic forecasts…

“In his first 100 days, Trump said, he would cut taxes, ‘renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals,’ including altering the U.S. role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He insisted that he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt ‘over a period of eight years.’ Most economists would consider this impossible because it could require taking more than $2 trillion a year out of the annual $4 trillion budget to pay off holders of the debt. Trump vehemently disagrees… He said that economic growth he foresees as a consequence of renegotiated deals would enable the United States to pay down the debt — although many economists have said the exact opposite, that a trade war would be crippling to the U.S. economy…

“Trump has for months contended that the U.S. economy is in trouble because of what he sees as an overvalued stock market, but his view has grown more pessimistic of late and he is now bearish on investing, to the point of warning Americans against doing so. ‘I think we’re sitting on an economic bubble. A financial bubble,’ Trump said… ‘First of all, we’re not at 5 percent unemployment. We’re at a number that’s probably into the twenties if you look at the real number,’ Trump said. “That was a number that was devised, statistically devised to make politicians — and, in particular, presidents — look good…’

“He mentions the Trans-Pacific Partnership as one pact he would immediately seek to renegotiate, putting him at odds with congressional Republicans who supported giving the president fast-track trade authority last year…”

Hillary Clinton: “No Constitutional Rights for Unborn Child or Person”

The Washington Times wrote on April 3:

“Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton ran afoul of both the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the abortion debate Sunday when she said constitutional rights do not apply to an ‘unborn person’ or ‘child.’…

“Describing the fetus as a ‘person’ or ‘child’ has long been anathema to the pro-choice movement, which argues the terms misleadingly imply a sense of humanity. In addition, the specific term ‘person’ is a legal concept that includes rights and statuses that the law protects, including protection of a person’s life under the laws against homicide. Pro-choice intellectuals have long said that even if an unborn child is a ‘life,’ it is not yet a ‘person.’

“Guidelines issued by the International Planned Parenthood Federation discourage pro-choice advocates from using terms such as ‘abort a child,’ instead recommending ‘more accurate/appropriate’ alternatives such as ‘end a pregnancy’ or ‘have an abortion.’… The guidebook also advises against the terms ‘baby,’ ‘dead fetus,’ ‘unborn baby’ or ‘unborn child’ when discussing what it is that’s being aborted…

“Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro also said that Mrs. Clinton’s statement ‘demonstrates just how incoherent and evil the left’s abortion position is.’”

The position of the pro-choice movement, as described in this article, is indeed evil, abominable and totally ungodly. Those who support it scoff at their Creator… and at the Creator of the MURDERED unborn CHILDREN.

The Migrants’ Pain and Suffering

BBC News reported on April 4:

“The first boats carrying migrants being deported from Greece have arrived in Turkey as part of an EU plan aimed at easing mass migration to Europe. Most of the 202 people who left Lesbos and Chios, and arrived at Dikili in western Turkey, are Pakistanis. Under the deal, for each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request. Thirty-two Syrian migrants were the first to arrive in Germany from Turkey. They were flown to Hanover in Lower Saxony, officials say…

“Syrians refused asylum in Greece will be taken to refugee camps in southern Turkey where, in time, they will take the place of those Syrians directly resettled in the EU under the so-called ‘one-for-one plan’. The arrangement has alarmed rights groups, who say Turkey is not a safe country for migrants. Amnesty International has accused Turkey of illegally returning Syrians to their homeland, something Turkey denies. Save the Children called the deal ‘illegal and inhumane’…

“Tens of thousands have been stuck in Greece after northern countries closed their borders. There have been clashes in camps amid dire conditions. One million migrants and refugees have entered the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece since last year. Many are keen to travel to Germany and other northern EU countries and experts have warned the deal could force them to take alternative, more dangerous routes.

“In Austria meanwhile, pro-migrant protesters clashed with police at a border crossing with Italy. Austrian Defence Minister Peter Doskozil recently said soldiers would be deployed at a key transit point, saying the EU’s outer borders were not properly protected.”

Is Russia Steering Migrants Toward Europe?

The New York Times wrote on April 2:

“Like the conflict in Syria, Europe’s migrant crisis has given Moscow an opportunity to assert itself as an indispensable power that Europe cannot afford to ignore, much less antagonize…

“While Russian officials have strenuously denied steering migrants toward Europe, the Kremlin has taken thinly disguised delight in Europe’s troubles, particularly those of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who has dominated European policy toward Russia on sanctions and other matters. State-controlled Russian television has served up a daily diet of migrant-related horror stories…

“Mr. Putin, meanwhile, recently hosted visits to Moscow by two of Ms. Merkel’s most vocal critics, President Viktor Orban of Hungary and Premier Horst Seehofer of the German state of Bavaria.

“… stranded migrants from West and Central Africa said they had each paid thousands of dollars to ‘guides’ who promised to get them to Finland and who worked closely with Russian officials. The system was highly organized, the migrants said, with no more than 30 people allowed to make the journey to Finland each day. Who went when, and in which vehicle, was established in advance, they said, with the guides and officials drawing up detailed lists with names, departure dates and cars…. Like many of the other migrants who traveled to Kandalaksha [a city in Northern Russia], [a young migrant from West Africa] said he had been issued a Russian deportation order before setting out and been told to leave quickly for Europe…”

Russia Not Interested in Cutting Its Nuclear Arsenal

Time wrote on April 4:

“Vladimir Putin skipped the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last week—one more sign that Russia isn’t interested in cutting its arms…

“Over the course of Obama’s presidency, Russia has managed to negotiate deep cuts to the U.S. arsenal while substantially strengthening of its own… In its rhetoric, Moscow has also returned to a habit of nuclear threats, while in its military exercises, it has begun to practice for a nuclear strike…”

Russian-German Relationship at a Low Point

Reuters reported on April 4:

“German and other European security officials accuse Russian media of launching what they call an ‘information war’ against Germany. By twisting the truth in reports on Germany’s migrant crisis, the officials say, Russia hopes to fuel popular angst, weaken voters’ trust in Chancellor Angela Merkel, and feed divisions in the European Union so that it drops sanctions against Moscow…

“Both sides agree on one point: relations between the two countries are at their lowest point since the early days of the Cold War.”

Terrorist Drones to Spray Nuclear Material over Western Cities?

The Telegraph wrote on April 1:

“Isil terrorists are planning to use drones to spray nuclear material over Western cities in a horrific ‘dirty bomb’ attack, David Cameron has warned. World leaders are concerned that  jihadists want to buy basic drones that are widely available online to transport radioactive material into the heart of major cities in a strike that could kill thousands. The Prime Minister warned that the dangers of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) getting hold of nuclear material was ‘only too real’.

“Mr Cameron on Friday met world leaders, including the presidents of America, France and China, to plan how they would react to such an attack. Footage has reportedly emerged showing Isil using drones and the threat was deemed so serious that – in a highly unusual move – world leaders were asked to take part in war games to plan how they would respond…

“Isil is believed to have seized around 90 pounds of low grade uranium from Mosul University in Iraq after taking over the city in 2014, though its limited toxicity means its use would likely cause panic than serious harm. In Europe, fears have also been raised by apparent attempts to infiltrate nuclear facilities…”

Visas to Be Required for Visiting Americans and Canadians in Europe? 

Reuters reported on April 7:

“The European Union executive is considering whether to make U.S. and Canadian citizens apply for visas before traveling to the bloc, a move that could raise tensions as Brussels negotiates a trade pact with Washington.

“Only Britain and Ireland have opt-outs from the 28-nation EU’s common visa policy and the European Commission must decide by April 12 whether to demand visas from countries who have similar requirements in place for one or more EU state.

“Washington and Ottawa both demand entry visas from Romanians and Bulgarians, whose states joined the EU in 2007. The United States also excludes Croatians, Cypriots and Poles from a visa waiver scheme offered to other EU citizens. ‘A political debate and decision is obviously needed on such an important issue. But there is a real risk that the EU would move towards visas for the two (Americans and Canadians),’ an EU source said.

“Whether such a step would be practical, however, is in question given that it would seriously undermine the EU’s vast and lucrative tourist industry.

“The U.S. mission to Brussels highlighted that any proposal by the European Commission to introduce such visas could later be overruled by the European Parliament or the European Council – which brings together the 28 EU leaders – on the grounds of foreign policy, among other considerations.”

Orthodox Jews Wrestle with Transgender Issues

JTA wrote on April 5:

“Here’s a riddle: If a transgender Jew shows up at an Orthodox synagogue, on which side of the mechitzah barrier separating the sexes should the person be seated?… Can a man who becomes a woman marry under Orthodox law?… Can the circumcision requirement of conversion be waived if the convert is male but has no penis? With the growing visibility of transgender people, these are no longer theoretical questions…

“The more liberal movements have been the most progressive on transgender issues. But even in the Orthodox world, which presents the most barriers to transgender acceptance, both culturally and in Jewish law, some community figures are talking about the need to find a place for trans Jews…

“Last November, the Union for Reform Judaism passed a landmark resolution affirming transgender equality. It called on Reform institutions to adopt changes to embrace trans individuals without impediment: referring to them by their chosen identity, providing gender-neutral bathrooms, instituting sensitivity training for staff and community members, and making liturgical language more gender neutral. The trans equality resolution went further than any major religious denomination in America has gone – Jewish or non-Jewish.

“In the Conservative movement, the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is nearing a vote about what constitutes sufficient grounds in Jewish law for someone to change their gender: Is it enough to ‘present’ in the new gender identity, or must there be at least hormonal change, or is sex reassignment surgery required?

“There are practical implications to this question. Even in egalitarian Conservative Judaism, gender determines how one is prepared for burial, what kind of wedding ceremony one has (same-sex or traditional) and whether one must undergo a circumcision in order to convert…

“Though most but not all Orthodox authorities who have considered the issue say the hallmarks of transgender identity – cross-dressing, hormonal treatment, sex reassignment surgery – are forbidden, that still leaves two key questions. One, if someone has surgically altered their anatomy, what gender are they according to Jewish law? And two, how should Orthodox communities strive to treat trans Jews?…”

What a terrible world we are living in…


Daily Mail wrote on April 5:

“A transgender former banker claims to be the first and only person to have both ears cosmetically removed as part of her ongoing quest to become a ‘dragon’… the 55-year-old has undergone a number of painful procedures over the past few years including nose modification, tooth extraction and eye colouring. She also has a forked tongue and a full-face tattoo as part of her transformation into a ‘mythical beast’… she has taken on several personas over the years and undergone multiple stages of transformations before finally settling on becoming a dragon.

“She has also had horns implanted onto her forehead, and tattoos and scarification on her face and chest that resemble reptilian scales. The whites of [her] eyes are stained green, giving her what she calls her ‘Medusa green eyes of death’. She now likes to be known as the Dragon Lady and describes herself as a mythical beast…”

Palm Springs’ Gay Community and Festivals

The Guardian wrote on April 7:

“Every very year at the end of March, 20,000 lesbians from around the world fly into the Californian desert for five days of debauchery… [It takes place] at the Dinah, also known as the largest girl festival in the world… the Hilton in Palm Springs… is hosting the famous Dinah pool parties, and the hotel feels like a homosexual harem…

“It’s a surreal experience: for a few days the world is turned upside down, the minority is suddenly the majority… Speaking of economics: corporations have finally woken up to the profit margins of the margins, and the Dinah has become a lot more attractive to brands. Bacardi, Bud Lite, Smirnoff and Barefoot Wines are all big sponsors this year… The Dinah has also started to attract more big-name talent.

“… the city of Palm Springs has long been cognizant of the economic benefits of embracing diversity. It grew to prominence in the 1930s when closeted Hollywood movie stars would head to the desert to escape the studios’ scrutiny. The likes of Rock Hudson, Liberace, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich all spent time there… Today it’s estimated that almost half the population of Palm Springs are gay, and it has the highest per capita gay population in the US, if not the world…

“Rob Moon, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, told me that ‘now more than ever, the city is experiencing a tremendous renaissance and Dinah Shore Weekend has been a huge economic driver. We owe a debt of gratitude to the LGBT community for helping Palm Springs evolve into the ultra-cool, stylish and sophisticated city it is today.’”

Switzerland Shocked by Muslim Teens Who Refuse to Shake Hands with Female Teachers

The Washington Post wrote on April 6:

“It’s widespread practice for schoolchildren in Switzerland to shake the hands of their teacher at the beginning and end of each day. Now, one school’s decision to exempt two children from this tradition – because the children are Muslim and their teacher is a woman – has caused a storm of controversy across the European state.

“The two pupils at the school in the town of Therwil, near Basel, had requested an exemption from shaking a female teacher’s hand, citing their belief that it would go against Islamic teachings. The local school district later came up with what they felt was an acceptable compromise that could avoid discrimination: The pupils, who are age 14 and 15, would not be required to shake any teachers’ hands, whether they were male or female.

“However, the plan hit a hitch when the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper reported on it, sparking a public debate about the compromise. ‘We cannot accept this in the name of religious freedom,’ Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said in an interview with Swiss-German broadcaster SRF. ‘The handshake is part of our culture.’ Others agreed. ‘Today’s it’s the handshake, and what will it be tomorrow?’ Felix Mueri, a member of the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party and head of the Swiss parliament’s education commission, said in an interview…

“The situation is the latest controversy over the integration of Islam into Swiss society, where Muslims are thought to make up around 5 percent of the population. In 2009, Swiss voters banned the construction of minarets, and last year the canton of Ticino passed a law that made the wearing of a burqa in public punishable by a $10,000 fine.

“The Swiss Muslim community has largely suggested that the boys are misinterpreting Islamic teachings with their refusal to shake their teachers’ hands. ‘[To] the students and parents I would suggest the following reflection: Can the denial of shaking hands be more important than the Islamic commandment of mutual respect?’ Montassar Ben Mrad, president of Federation of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland, said in the statement.

“However, another group said the backlash against the boys was overblown. ‘One would think that the continued existence of Switzerland’s core values was at stake, when this particular case in fact involves just two high school students who have said they wish to greet their teacher in a different way than with a handshake,’ a statement from the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland said.”

The Local added on April 6:

“A Swiss legal expert will decide on the validity of a controversial decision by a school in northern Switzerland that allows male Muslim students to avoid shaking hands with female teachers for religious reasons, an official said on Tuesday… ‘We have asked for an expert opinion from our legal service,’ said Deborah Murith, spokeswoman for the education department in the canton of Basel-Country, where Therwil is located… Murith told AFP that the case was ‘not simple’ and that Basel was now trying ‘to find a balance between religious liberty, the right to education and the legally enshrined equality between men and women.’…

“Nabil Arab, manager of the foundation running the Basel mosque attended by the two boys – where their father is the Imam, according to reports – defended the boys, saying that they simply want to practise their religion. Their refusal to shake hands with women was guided by the life of the Prophet, he said, and was actually a sign of respect. ‘No woman wants to be a sex object,’ he told the paper, saying that physical contact with women was a stimuli for young men that could end badly…

“Previous similar disputes have centred on Muslim parents who demanded that their daughters be exempt from swimming lessons, a case that led to the parents being fined. Muslim families have however secured victories in court against schools which sought to ban the full face veil.”

“Scientists: Chimpanzees May Believe in God”

 Newsmax wrote on April 4:

“Researchers at Humboldt University in Berlin say a new video shows a group of chimps engaging in what may be “spiritual practices,” including throwing rocks into holes in trees, suggesting their belief in a higher power…

“‘This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees,’ the researchers wrote in a study. ‘The ritualized behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations … may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites.’’

When you might have thought that scientists’ desperate attempts to explain the ungodly concept of “human evolution” could not have gotten any crazier, you are being confronted with this extraordinary nonsense.

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Was Jonah Alive or Dead in the Belly of the Whale for Three Days and Three Nights?

There are explanations from both sides on this issue.

Let us examine what Christ said about the sign that He gave in regard to His messiahship.

“But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’” (Matthew 12:39-40).

So just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so Christ would be three days and three nights in the earth (in the tomb or a grave; “hades” in Greek). This was reiterated in Matthew 16:4: “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah…”

Let us look at the account of this event, as it pertains to Jonah:

“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). Notice, the LORD had prepared the fish and it was big enough to swallow Noah whole.

Then it states that Jonah prayed from the fish’s belly, in Jonah 2:1-9:

“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: ‘I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol [the grave] I cried, And You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Some have assumed that because he prayed from the fish’s belly, he was alive for the three days and  nights. Is this a compelling conclusion?

Notice what Jonah said in this prayer. He cried out from the belly of Sheol or the grave (compare verse 1), and he said in verse 6: “Yet you have brought my life from the pit.”

This is what Barnes’ Commentary says:

“The deep waters were as a grave, and he was counted ‘among the dead’ [Psalm 88:4]. Death seemed so certain that it was all one as if he were in the womb of hell, not to be reborn to life until the last Day. So David said [in Psalm 18:5:] ‘The bands of death compassed me round about’; and [in Psalm 30:3:] ‘Thou hast drawn my life out of hell.’ The waters choked his speech; but he cried with a loud cry to God Who knew the heart. ‘I cried; Thou heardest.’ The words vary only by a kindred letter. The real heart’s cry to God according to the mind of God and His hearing are one, whether, for man’s good, He seems at the time to hear or [not].

“Not of the voice but of the heart is God the Hearer, as He is the Seer. Do the ears of God wait for sound? How then could the prayer of Jonah from the inmost belly of the whale, through the bowels of so great a creature, out of the very bottomless depths, through so great a mass of waters, make its way to heaven? Loud crying to God is not with the voice but with the heart. Many, silent with their lips, have cried aloud with their heart; many, noisy with their lips, could, with heart turned away, obtain nothing. ‘If then thou criest, cry within, where God heareth.’ Jonah cried aloud to God out of the fish’s belly, out of the deep of the sea, out of the depths of disobedience; and his prayer reached to God, Who rescued him from the waves, brought him forth out of the vast creature, absolved him from the guilt. Let the sinner too cry aloud, whom, departing from God, the storm of desires overwhelmed, the malignant Enemy devoured, the waves of this present world sucked under! Let him own that he is in the depth, that so his prayer may reach to God.”

Notice what Clarke’s Commentary says:

“The text, and the use made of it by Christ, most plainly teach us that the prophet was literally swallowed by a fish, by the order of God; and that by the Divine power he was preserved alive, for what is called three days and three nights, in the stomach of the fish; and at the conclusion of the above time that same fish was led by the unseen power of God to the shore, and there compelled to eject the prey that he could neither kill nor digest. And how easy is all this to the almighty power of the Author and Sustainer of life, who has a sovereign, omnipresent, and energetic sway in the heavens and in the earth.

“But foolish man will affect to be wise; though, in such cases, he appears as the recently born, stupid offspring of the wild ass. It is bad to follow fancy, where there is so much at stake. Both ancients and moderns have grievously trifled with this prophet’s narrative; merely because they could not rationally account for the thing, and were unwilling (and why?) to allow any miraculous interference.”

So the belief by some is that Jonah was alive for three days and three nights, but is this compelling in relationship to what happened to Christ?

We need to emphasize that Christ was dead in the grave for three days and three nights. During that time, He had no consciousness. He was in a dark tomb [he also called it “a pit”] with the temperature cool enough so that He did not decay during the three days and three nights. After the three days and three nights, He was resurrected from the dead as a glorified God being.

If Jonah was alive for the whole time, then the significance of the parallel between Jonah’s fate and Christ’s sign would be lost to an extent. Christ said that AS Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, SO Christ would be three days and three nights in the tomb. It appears that the sign was not only in regard to the three days and three nights, but also in regard to the condition of both Jonah and Christ. As Christ would be dead in the grave—the heart of the earth–, SO was Jonah dead in the watery grave or pit of the fish’s belly.

It appears therefore much more likely that Jonah was dead in the belly of the sea monster, but just before losing consciousness, he said his prayer, as it was later recorded in the second chapter of the book of Jonah. It is a remarkable prayer, as it expresses the confidence that he would live again and bring God sacrifices and fulfill his vows (verse 9). He was in a dark place, as Christ was in the tomb, and after three days and three nights, Jonah was resurrected to physical life, as Christ was resurrected to immortal life.

Lead Writers: Rene Messier (Canada) and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

The 2016 Church Conference for Church of the Eternal God, Church of God, A Christian Fellowship and Global Church of God will be conducted April 7th through April 13, 2016, in Ramona, California.

Our new German booklet, “Engel, Dämonen und die geistige Welt,” (“Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”) has been received from the printer.

Do Chimpanzees Believe in God?” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

This question is no joke for the scientific community. They allege now that a group of chimps “may be engaging in spiritual practices—and could even believe in God.” This “discovery” may help explain “how human religious rituals started.” What we are being bombarded with is another aspect of the God-defying atheistic evolution theory, which is a foolish abomination in God’s eyes. The Bible proves—and some honest scientists admit—that the entire evolution concept is wrong and a scientific impossibility.  We are offering two free booklets, discussing this fact.

“Hebt Apostelgeschichte 15 das Gesetz auf?” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. Title in English: “Does Acts 15 Abolish the Law?”

“The first Step,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Robb Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

The Christian path is one built upon perseverance.  We achieve our ultimate goal of eternal life by methodically pushing forward.

“It’s A Miracle!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Dave Harris, is now posted. Here is a summary:

According to the Bible, extraordinary events which defy human experience or understanding have and will occur. Some miracles are from God, but we are warned that Satan can also bring about unexplainable wonders. It is extremely important that we know the difference!

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by Delia Messier (Canada)

I received a phone call today from a long-time friend who left the Truth several years ago. We had kept in touch over these years,  but she had changed. There was no joy in her voice; there was no hope in her life.  She seemed so empty, compared with what she used to be. The person I knew from years ago was gone.

Then I began to think of why?

Christ said that He would send us a Comforter from the Father. I know that there have been times when I have been very concerned and anxious. But when asking for peace from our Father,  and when doing my part in leaving the problem in His hands, I receive peace.

I can leave all of my concerns and troubles with Him and He gives me this peace. It is such a big comfort when I experience joy and peace, and I can have this any time I ask for it.

Sadly my friend does not have His comfort right now. I pray that she will receive it again in the future.

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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

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