Pastors Report - 30 Jan 2015
crossesAndAuschwitz

No More Death ...

"... and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4)

Auschwitz:

Robert Hardman — who was at Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation — wrote the following in The Daily Mail:

"When the original Auschwitz concentration camp could not cope with the slaughter expected of it, the Nazis created an even larger, industrial death plant and railway yard next door here at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Its pointed, red-brick watch tower, beneath which every cattle wagon hauled its tragic cargo to the end of the line and the ‘selection’ ramps, is now a global symbol of genocide.

"Yesterday, it was the dramatic backdrop to the desperately poignant, emotionally-charged international ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

"That event is now enshrined as Holocaust Memorial Day in honour not only of the 1.1 million Jews murdered here but of all six million Jews and five million others executed at all those synonyms for cruelty – Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Sobibor, Buchenwald…

"Neither the passage of time nor the erection of a gigantic marquee over the entire tower and the temporary arena for 2,000 people – including 250 survivors and dozens of world leaders – could diminish the ghastliness of the ‘Death Gate’ of Birkenau. Its brief transformation into theatrical scenery made no difference..." (dailymail.co.uk - 27 Jan 2015)

Personal stories of immense courage in the face of misery, deprivation and the witnessing of death on an almost hourly basis brought tears to the eyes of those in the audience. As one survivor put it: "We do not want our past to be our children's future... that is the key to my existence"

Closer to Home:

On a much smaller scale, our daughter attended the funeral of a friend on Wednesday, who died on her 40th birthday from complications after minor surgery. She leaves behind a husband and young daughter to mourn her and carry on as best they can without her. As one of our grandchildren declared after the funeral.... "I wish nothing ever died!" Death is indeed an enemy and from the death of millions, to just one mother, the personal grief and loss is the same. Sadly we are aware prophetically that this wretched world is once again going to find that: "our past will be... for a short time ...our children's future", for we understand the prophecies relating to the time of Jacob's trouble, and that the horrors of the second World War will be repeated, but this time taking in most of humanity.

  • For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.
  • If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21,2 NIV)
A Learning Process:

We still witness anti-Semitism in Europe even in these supposedly enlightened times. We still witness genocide in various African countries.... and horrendous acts of terrorism around the globe.... so what have we learnt? To get the message across, God must keep His hands-off policy for just a little longer and allow humanity to reap was was sown back in the garden of Eden. Indeed, reading the news within this present evil world can indeed be depressing but only if we lose our true focus. If we begin to focus down – instead of up – then yes, we can be depressed. But "looking up" is something Christ specifically tells us to do when He warns us of the times we are now entering:

  • "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
  • Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
  • And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
  • And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:25-28)
A Temporary Life:

James describes this life we are in as a mere vapour (James 4:14) – a "temporary chemical existence" as Mr Armstrong used to call it – sustained by the blood in our veins, rooted to our stomachs and fired by each breath of air we breathe. And yet, we become so absorbed with this taste of existence. Our trials and problems seem to take on a life of their own, even though the reality of the situation is that our very life itself is not even Real Life at all! That is up ahead. Real Life comes from above and must be given to us – "after we have suffered a while" (1Peter 5:10) during this present evil age.

But "the key to our existence" is the knowledge of what the future holds for those that have perished, and in particular Israel!

  • But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
  • When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
  • For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
  • Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
  • Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
  • I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
  • Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:1-7)
Look Upwards:

Notice this passage from Isaiah — read in the light on what the apostle Paul brings out in Hebrews 12:10-13, (applying it to mankind as a whole) — and realise that it is only by focusing on the glorious future — lifting our eyes and thoughts above the present seemingly insurmountable problems — that we are able to strengthen and lift up our weak hands and feeble knees as well:

  • The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
  • It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
  • Strengthen (lift up - Heb 12:12) ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
  • Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. (Isaiah 35:1-4)

And more encouragement from Isaiah to look beyond the present evil:

  • "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these [things], that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that [he is] strong in power; not one faileth."(Isaiah 40:26)
  • "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."(Isaiah 51:6)
God of Israel:

Focusing on the future, we read that anti-Semitism will be turned on its head! Never again another Auschwitz. Never again the white-hot hatred currently being broadcast from a distorted satanic mind that loathes the laws and ways of God, and especially the tribe of Judah, from which his replacement on the throne of this earth was destined to come! There will instead be a complete recognition of the great Eternal God of Israel that the Jews will then represent:

  • Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:
  • And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
  • Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
  • Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. ( Zechariah 8:20-23)
Staying Centred:

So let us always remember: depression, despair and various problems come when we begin to get our minds off the True Goal set before us. That Goal is not here within this present, temporary, chemical existence. It is the goal of Real Life – Spirit Born Life – the same kind of Life that Christ and the Father enjoy and have enjoyed from eternity (John 1:4; 17:5). And when that Way of Life has at last been universally accepted, then will come True Life itself — and a time when: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

We are destined to become the Spirit Born Sons of God in the everlasting Kingdom of God, as part of the very Family of Almighty God — ultimately working with those that will be brought back to life in the second resurrection. Instead of staring at the grim walls of the concentration camp, with the stench of death all around them ... their last memory... they will find themselves in Paradise, and reunited with the loved ones they thought were lost for ever. Instead of "Work Makes you Free" - the meaning of the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" they will find that it is the Truth that will make them free: eternally free from sickness, heartache and even death. That Gospel – Good News beyond man's wildest imagination – is utterly sure, absolutely true, and as reliable as tomorrow's sunrise, as they both rest on the same unswerving Word of God! And if we are indeed focused – looking to the source of that True Life – then we will indeed be "looking up", understanding and appreciating that as we witness these things on earth that are now beginning to take place all around us, then our redemption — and that of all mankind, including the victims of Auschwitz — does indeed draw near.

  • For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
  • In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
  • For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
  • For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
  • O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
  • And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
  • And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
  • In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
  • Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
  • Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
  • No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 54:7-17)
News Review - 30 Jan 2015
MrTsiprasAndMrsMerkel

the immovable object… Germany
being met by the irresistible force… Greece

EUROPE: Whoever blinks first - loses!


After victory for the far-Left Syriza party in Greece, Europe enters yet another crisis. As we look at the events of the last few weeks, notice that most of the time the concern is over how Germany will react. The present situation in Europe, - a financial union without a political union - is doomed. Something has to give – and soon!

Is Germany Losing Faith In Euro Project?

8th December 2014

The Nordic bank Nordea has pointed to potential ‘breaking points’ in the euro area. They feel that the number one problem is Germany losing faith in the euro project.

“Unrest over the European Central Bank’s (ECB) policy, considered to be too stimulatory for the German economy, could reach a tipping point. As the likelihood of outright quantitative easing by the central bank increases, faith in the institution may crumble in Germany. QE would ‘emphasise the differing views of the German Bundesbank, in which the Germans take great pride, and the ECB’, said Mr von Gerich [chief strategist for developed markets at Nordea]. This could in turn increase the popularity of the anti-euro ‘Alternative for Germany’ party, and heighten investor fears that the country will launch its own currency.(telegraph.co.uk)

German Courts Vs The European Central Bank

14th January 2015

“Conflicting views between EU and German courts on whether the European Central Bank’s 2012 bond-buying programme broke EU law might mean Germany leaving the euro zone, the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said on Wednesday. An adviser at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on Wednesday that the scheme, which has never been used but is credited with stabilising the euro, fell within the ECB’s remit.

That appeared to contradict the view of Germany’s Constitutional Court, which last year said there was reason to think it went beyond the bank’s mandate. AfD leader Bernd Lucke said that if the ECJ followed the adviser’s opinion - which is usually what happens - it would be in ‘serious conflict’ with Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, southwestern Germany.

The judges in Karlsruhe would then consider the ECJ’s ruling tantamount to contempt of the (EU) Treaties so they’d have to conclude that the euro is no longer a community of stability,’ he was quoted as saying by Handelsblatt.

According to the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, this would open the possibility of Germany leaving the euro zone,’ said Lucke, who is an economics professor.” (reuters.com)

‘Francogeddon’

15th January 2015

Just days before Europe’s QE announcement, dramatic events in Switzerland shocked the financial world!

“The Swiss National Bank shocked financial markets on Thursday by scrapping a three-year-old cap on the franc, sending the currency soaring against the euro and stocks plunging on fears for the export-reliant Swiss economy.

Only days ago, SNB officials had described the 1.20 francs per euro cap, introduced in 2011 at the height of the euro zone crisis to fend off deflation and a recession, as a policy cornerstone.

The U-turn sent the franc nearly 30 percent higher against the euro in chaotic early trading. Coming a week before the European Central Bank is expected to unveil a bond-buying program to counter deflationary pressures, it fed speculation that this quantitative easing (QE) scheme will be so big that the SNB would have struggled to defend the cap. On social media, the move was dubbed ‘Francogeddon’.” (reuters.com)

Germany Could Be Next

16th January 2015

“The tsunami that hit global currency markets following the SNB’s decision was the most dramatic I can remember. The euro trashed 30% almost immediately. That is to say, the Swiss franc appreciated 30%. Bam – Swiss citizens were 30% richer! Now, admittedly the Swissie has since retraced some of its gains. But the move to abandon the euro peg is bound to stir some emotions in the German psyche.

Deliberately weakening currencies has been the game-plan for most central banks ever since the financial crisis erupted.

The dogma says that ‘a lower currency helps exports’ – that’s the line we’re all fed. And in the short term, there’s clearly logic there. A lower currency means lower export prices.

But here’s the problem. If every central bank tries to weaken, then it’s a zero-sum game.

Over the long run, a strong currency regime such as Switzerland’s is far healthier for the economy. It encourages savings and investment, things the Germans know all about. In modern times, Germany has rebuilt its nation, not once but twice (as it incorporated East Germany). Like the Swiss, they’re not keen on the southern European economics.

Here’s the point. I contend that Germany will, at some point, make a volte face, much as the Swiss have now done.” (moneyweek.com)

Switzerland’s Defences Decimated

16th January 2015

Switzerland, a country that has until now been seen as one of the most financially stable nations in the world, appears to have ‘lost control’, according to the next article.

“A month ago the Swiss authorities were still claiming that their currency floor was crucial to prevent a deflation trap. They were right. The Swiss National Bank has lost control. It is the latest in a list of venerable central banks to be overwhelmed by deflationary forces and global economic disorder.

The country is already in deflation. The Swiss franc ended Thursday 13 per cent higher after the SNB abandoned its three-year efforts to defend a currency floor of 1.20 to the euro. ‘We have a free exchange rate once again,’ said the SNB’s president, Thomas Jordan.

It means that the European Central Bank can no longer keep dragging its feet on QE. Whether the ECB announces a €1 trillion blitz next week, or just €500 billion, funds are already flooding into Switzerland from the eurozone. The SNB has to pick its poison. It is damned for one set of reasons if it holds the currency peg, and damned for another set if it ditches the peg. Welcome to the world of horrible dilemmas facing modern central banks.” (telegraph.co.uk)

ECB Launches 1 Trillion Euro Rescue Plan

22nd January 2015

“The European Central Bank took the ultimate policy leap on Thursday, launching a government bond-buying program which will pump hundreds of billions in new money into a sagging euro zone economy.

The ECB said it would purchase sovereign debt from this March until the end of September 2016, despite opposition from Germany’s Bundesbank and concerns in Berlin that it could allow spendthrift countries to slacken economic reforms.

The flood of money impressed markets: the euro fell more than two U.S. cents to $1.14108 on the announcement, and European shares hit seven-year highs.

All eyes were on Mario Draghi and he has delivered a bigger bazooka than investors were expecting,’ said Mauro Vittorangeli, a fixed income specialist at Allianz Global Investors, adding that the news marked ‘an historic crossroads for European markets’.

The ECB and the central banks of euro zone countries will buy up bonds in proportion to its ‘capital key’, meaning more debt will be scooped up from the biggest economies such as Germany than from small member states such as Ireland.

A German lawyer who has been prominent in attempts to halt euro zone bailouts said he was already preparing a legal complaint against the bond-buying program.

One euro zone central banking source said five policymakers opposed the expanded asset-purchase plan: the central bank chiefs of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Estonia, along with Executive Board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger, a German.” (reuters.com)

How Draghi Got Divided ECB To Say ‘Yes’ To ‘Money-Printing’

26th January 2015

“When Mario Draghi announced the European Central Bank’s trillion-euro scheme to buy government bonds, he acknowledged that in the round of strategies to revive inflation and boost the economy, the bank had just played its last hand. Asked by reporters what would happen if the plan to purchase 60 billion euros of assets a month for 19 months failed, Draghi answered: ‘We have Plan A. Period.

For more than a year now, economists and central bankers have pressed for dramatic action to halt tumbling inflation, sagging price expectations and a stagnating economy. But fierce resistance from German politicians and the influential Bundesbank meant Draghi could not move until he had slowly and painstakingly built overwhelming support in the ECB’s policy-making governing council for his monetary gamble.

The Italian ECB chief’s first tactic was to chop the decision into separate questions, a strategy he thought most likely to construct as broad a consensus as possible for QE. He first sought agreement on the principle that buying sovereign bonds of all euro zone member states in the secondary market in proportion to their share in the central bank’s capital was a legitimate tool of monetary policy.

This not only built a vital foundation, but also neutralized official German opposition. ‘For me, the most important thing was we all agreed it was legal - including the Germans on the council,’ one participant said.

He suggested that only liability for jointly issued EU and European Investment Bank bonds be mutualised, and that the default risk on the other 80 percent of government debt to be bought should fall on national central banks. ‘Draghi argued that while many of us want to see a European fiscal and political union with mutualised debt issuance, this requires a political decision, and unelected central bankers should not do this through the back door,’ one participant said.

This most disputed aspect of the decision - to ring-fence most of the risk - was a concession to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Bundesbank ‘designed to allay German hysteria’, said another source. The source added that it was of little practical relevance since risks would inevitably be shared among Euro system central banks if a euro zone country defaulted.

Draghi briefed Merkel on his intentions at a private meeting in Berlin on January 14. Despite her stated concerns about the ‘sweet poison’ of easy money causing speculative bubbles and loosening pressure on governments to carry out painful reforms, Merkel indicated she would respect the bank’s independence, a source briefed on the conversation said. ‘The purpose was to let her know what was in the pipeline so she would not negatively surprised,’ the source said.

‘The main change was more front-loading to try to achieve a sense of “shock and awe” in the markets,’ another person involved in the decision said. ‘And the program is semi-open-ended. We subtly kept the door open for more if needed.

Advocate-general Pedro Cruz Villalon rebuffed a German legal challenge to a previous, as yet unused, bond-buying scheme. He found overwhelmingly in the ECB’s favor. ‘That opinion made things much easier. It was very helpful in the process. It made it much harder for the Germans to argue against QE,’ an ECB policymaker said.

By upholding the ECB’s independence and refraining from public criticism, Merkel has blunted German dissent against the decision, which will be reviewed in September 2016.” (reuters.com)

How The European Dream Is Dying, State By State

26th January 2015

“As the victory of the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece shakes financial markets across Europe, Europe is being swept by a wave of popular disenchantment and revolt against mainstream political parties and the European Union. In 2007, a majority of Europeans - 52 per cent - trusted the EU. That level of trust has now fallen to a third. Once, Britain’s Euroscepticism was the exception, and was seen as the biggest threat to the future of the EU. Now, other countries pose a far bigger danger thanks to the political discontents unleashed by the euro,

There are plenty of opportunities for revolt: parliamentary elections take place in Greece, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Early elections are also expected in Italy.” (telegraph.co.uk)

1930s-Style Depression Creates 1930s-Style Politics

27th January 2015

“It’s never good when neo-Nazis who can’t even campaign because their leaders are in jail for murdering a political opponent still manage to come in third in your elections. That’s what happened in Greece, though, after its mainstream parties discredited themselves by presiding over so much austerity that voters are willing to turn to quite literally anyone who promises to end it.

That includes actual Nazis, crypto-Nazis, actual Communists, and former Communists like Syriza, who won power, though not an outright majority, with an unexpectedly strong 36 percent of the vote. It turns out that keeping a country in a 1930s-style depression creates 1930s-style politics.

Europe isn’t panicking, though, because things are going according to plan. Or at least close enough. Any economist could have told them, and plenty of them did, that something like this was bound to happen if countries share monetary, but not fiscal, policy. That’s because, at some point, one country will need hard and another one will need loose money. And whichever one loses out will spiral out of control if there aren’t fiscal transfers to slow them down or speed them up. But the common currency doesn’t have these kind of shock absorbers. That means the euro not only pushes countries into, but also keeps them stuck in depressions.

The irony, of course, is that the euro was supposed to be a paper monument to peace and prosperity that brought people together. But, for now at least, it’s made prosperity impossible and driven them apart instead, reviving old prejudices, stirring new ones, and making people more, not less, nationalistic. So much for a United States of Europe.(washingtonpost.com)

GREECE: There Is Another Side To The Story

27th January 2015

Dominic Sandbrook, writing in the Daily Mail, is one of the few writers to point out the real reason behind the situation in Greece. He also sees the coming battle, not between Greece and the EU, but between Greece and Germany!

“Although it is tempting to feel sympathy for the Greeks, it is not Mrs Merkel’s fault they are in this mess. It is their own. Reading the tear-stained paeans to Syriza’s victory in yesterday’s Guardian, I was amused to see that not one of them mentioned the reason the Greeks are in this predicamenttheir own shameful profligacy, corruption and mismanagement.

Was it Angela Merkel’s fault that the Greeks borrowed far more than they could afford and then fiddled the figures?

Was it Mrs Merkel’s fault they ran one of the most corrupt tax-collection systems in the Western world, losing an almost incredible €20 billion a year in unpaid taxes?

Was it Mrs Merkel’s fault that the Greeks were forced to come begging to her for help?

For the plain, unarguable fact is that Mr Tsipras cannot possibly match the inflated expectations of his supporters. Basic economic common sense — not to mention the implacable Mrs Merkel — simply will not allow it.

It is perfectly possible, therefore, that the next few months will see increasingly bitter exchanges between Berlin and Athens, culminating in a messy and acrimonious Greek exit from the euro.(dailymail.co.uk)

What’s Next?

The situation in Europe is approaching a critical stage, and there are several interesting questions being asked:

Will the German Courts overrule the QE set in place by the European Central Bank?

Germany is continuing to repatriate its gold as a serious policy, is this a clue that they are preparing to exit the Euro?

Mrs Merkel and Mr Tsipras: Is this a case of the immovable object being met by the irresistible force? Who will blink first? One of them has to give way – yet neither can afford to!

If Mrs Merkel gives way, then the other nations that are also enduring austerity - Portugal, Italy and Spain - will also demand relief. This would be a financial impossibility!

If Mrs Merkel does not move, then we could witness a “messy and acrimonious Greek exit from the euro”, which would cause even more chaos in Europe.

The final crisis, which will lead to the formation of the final 10 nation Holy Roman Empire, is not far off…

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them(Luke 12:37).

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Transcript - 30 Dec 2014
Mr Armstrong

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