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The Future of Germany

A couple of weeks ago, Angela Merkel was finally able to piece together a coalition government. Although some are happy, her opponents have been critical of the concessions she was forced to make with the opposing Social Democratic party. Now, an increasing number of people, even within Mrs. Merkel’s own party, are calling for an end to her leadership (Financial Times, February 13, 2018). Many are calling for new, younger leadership in Germany. Speaking of the future of German politics under the influence of the rising Social Democratic party, one reporter commented that these politicians, “most of whom are relatively unknown outside Berlin, will be the ones to shape the politics of Europe and Germany, the EU’s mightiest member, in the years to come” (Politico, February 9, 2018).

Although Chancellor Merkel has vowed to fulfill her four-year term, some are calling for her immediate step-down—after twelve years as Germany’s powerful head (Financial Times, November 20, 2017). Who might the next German leader be? Many have speculated, but whoever it is, this person will likely bring changes to both Germany and Europe.

Germany has functioned as both the financial and political head of the EU in recent years. While other EU leaders desire the leadership reins, their nations are not positioned as Germany. Bible prophecy reveals that an end-time “beast” power will arise from Europe, very likely led by Germany. Its leader will be powerful, shrewd, ambitious and even pompous. Will the next German leader be the one spoken of in Bible prophecy? We must watch and see. Meanwhile, instability continues, as Germany and much of Europe seem to be in a sea of political change—not unlike much of the rest of the world. For more on the future of Germany, watch “Four Prophecies for Germany.”

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God Did NOT Say "Be My Valentine!"

The sign in a church yard caught my eye as I drove by: “XOXOXOXO Be my Valentine. Love, God.”

X’s and O’s are commonly used to represent “kisses” and “hugs” when writing romantic notes. Valentine’s Day is a religious holiday for some, but to most it is secular—a day of romance, exchanging cards expressing love, and giving gifts of chocolates and flowers.

Certainly, God loves mankind as is stated in the oft-quoted scripture John 3:16. (Read our eye-opening booklet with that title). But God would NEVER say, “Be my Valentine” to express His love for us.

Why? Even a superficial Internet search reveals the historical connection of Valentine’s Day to the pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. Consider also the symbols of Cupid (Eros), arrows, the heart, etc.

In the early 4th Century AD, the Roman emperor Constantine legalized popular Christianity as an accepted religion, largely ending persecution of Christians. By the end of the 4th Century, a highly distorted version of Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire. To facilitate pagans’ accepting and converting to this Roman “Christian” religion, old pagan celebrations were given new, supposedly Christian meanings, but leaving associated traditions intact. So, “conversion” to Christianity was easy. Keep doing the same things, but under a new banner.

Famous historian Edward Gibbons, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, states: “After the conversion of the Imperial city (Rome), the Christians still continued, in the month of February, the annual fertility celebration of the Lupercalia…” (vol. 3, p. 475).

The Lupercalia festival partly honored Lupa, the mythical she-wolf that suckled the abandoned twins, Romulus and Remus, in a cave called the Lupercal. It also honored the Roman god of shepherds, Lupercus, also known as Faunus, Rome’s equivalent to the Greek god Pan—a being depicted as half-man, half-goat.

The Lupercal was the center of the fertility festival of February 13–15. Sandwiched in the middle, February 14 was a festival to honor Juno, the goddess of women and marriage. On the eve of the Lupercalia festival, girls’ names were put in an urn, and the boys would draw out a girl’s name to determine his partner for the feast. The couples exchanged gifts. A goat and a dog were sacrificed by the pagan priests. Young men were blessed by the priest and given thongs called “Februa,” which were strips of hide made from the skins of the sacrificed animals. The young men ran through the streets to lightly whip the girls with the thongs. The girls wanted to get whipped so that they would be fertile. This was a pagan fertility festival, so you can imagine the activities that followed the Lupercalia.

Around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated February 14 to be a day to honor “St. Valentine” as the patron saint of lovers. The day remained a religious holiday for the Roman Catholic Church until 1969, when Pope Paul VI removed it from the church’s Calendar of Saints. It is still a religious holiday to the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church observes a day for another St. Valentine on July 6.

Some might reply, “Aw, lighten up! It is just harmless fun. People are simply expressing their love for each another.” But like most “Christian” holidays celebrated today, observers never seem to think about checking with the HEAD of God’s Church, Jesus Christ, to see what HE thinks!

Christ does not want His people following pagan practices. God told His people in Deuteronomy 12:29–32 not to follow the practices of pagan nations or to worship God in that way, but to observe what He commanded, neither adding to it nor taking away from it. Jesus asked, in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Order and read our booklets, Restoring Original Christianity and The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. Find out what godly love really is!

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How to Redeem the Time

The older we get, the truer is the statement “Time flies!” It is 2018, and we still get 24 hours every day to use as we see fit. How can we best use the time we have?

Those of us who are older may feel more urgency as we wonder: “How much time do I have left? And what should I do with that time?”

I remember going back to my parent’s home for a visit, 35 to 40 years ago. We talked and reminisced about events in our lives from days gone by. I will never forget my Dad commenting in wonderment, “Where did all the years go?”

In the 1960s, the Smothers Brothers were well-known comedians. Tommy Smothers had a funny little song that went, “What has happened to time? It doesn’t come around anymore. The very last time I saw it, it went whistling out the door!”

Time passes. In 2016, we all received a leap second! Periodically, a leap second is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize clocks to the Earth’s slowing rotation. On Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 6:59:60 p.m., the second was added. And then, whoosh, it was gone!

When a second, a minute or an hour passes, it is gone forever. It cannot be retrieved. Science fiction loves the idea of time travel, which is delightful to think about because we would all like to go back in time and change some things in our own lives. But we can’t do that! We can’t revive even a single solitary second that is already past.

Many of us try to make good use of our time. Time can be squandered, or time can be used productively. Why not benefit from the proper use of our time?

The Bible uses the term “redeeming the time” in Colossians 4:5 and in Ephesians 5:16.

In English, the word redeem can mean to vindicate or compensate for faults, and to regain possession in exchange for payment—buying back.

But as previously mentioned, when each second passes it is gone! And we can’t get it back for love nor money! So, how can we redeem or buy back the time?

The Greek word translated “redeeming” in English is ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazō is the English transliteration). One of the definitions of this word is: “to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity… by which we make the time our own.”

We have all heard the saying that “Time is money.” We can spend money and we can spend time. We can invest and manage money and we can invest and manage time. We can allocate our money for various expenditures (housing, automobile, food, etc.), and we can allocate our time for various activities (sleeping, eating, etc.). The central question is whether we do that wisely, or foolishly?

Matthew Pool’s Commentary says of the “redeeming the time” term: “buying the opportunity: a metaphor taken from merchants, that diligently observe the time for buying and selling, and easily part with their pleasure for gain.”

Other Bible translations render the phrase, “making the most of the time” (Revised Standard Version), “take advantage of every opportunity” (Common English Bible), “making the best use of your time” (International Standard Version), and “make every minute count” (Contemporary English Version).

Three simple things we can do to “redeem the time” are:

     Step #1. Analyze where our time is being spent.

     Step #2. Reduce or eliminate time not well spent!

     Step #3. Redeem the time by wisely taking the opportunity to use the time we have to do those things that will be      most beneficial.

Time does fly. But, we can redeem it by taking the opportunity to use it wisely. One excellent use of time is in studying God’s word faithfully. Click on this link to register for the free Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course.

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Finding Beauty in Wifely Service

In my life, I have seen some very successful marriages and some that badly failed. I’ve seen marriages where women didn’t want to give up their life goals after marriage so they held on to what they wanted and eventually left. Then I’ve seen the opposite, where a wife gave up everything to do what her husband wanted and lost part of herself in the process. I’ve seen women whose husbands “rode roughshod” over them or cheated on them, or simply treated them awfully for no fault of their own. I have seen wives who have been pushed down over and over get back up again. I’ve seen strong women dealing with adversities at home who have the strength of character to keep going when it seems like everything in life is against them. And I have seen the best of women, whose experiences would humble you just knowing about them. My own mother was an excellent example of what a wife should be.

So, in examining myself and my marriage, where do I measure up as a wife?

When I was a new bride, I used to think that being a successful married woman meant giving up my career goals and dreams as a single woman. What I didn’t realize until years later was that my goals and dreams didn’t die upon our wedding day. They just took on a new shape. After ten years of marriage and getting to know some very special ladies, I am starting to see things more clearly.

Oh, how I used to love to serve and help at church in any way I could! Side by side with my husband, I would greet or help set up. Then my beautiful children came along and suddenly all of my time at services was spent chasing a running toddler, changing diapers or pulling my children off of the stair railings. It was frustrating to me to watch my husband get to serve and fellowship while I was wrestling my two-year-old to the ground for a nap.

Then one Sabbath, years ago, I mentioned this to a minister’s wife. She must have thought I was crazy considering I was probably “preaching to the choir.” But she gracefully replied to me that in doing all that I was doing, I was serving my husband so that he could serve. It blew me away! All this time I had been disgruntled, thinking I wasn’t getting to serve, when I was already doing a huge service.

That’s when I began to see more clearly the way God intended for me to be as a wife. I began to see the benefit of the order that God created for a marriage. For a husband to prosper in service, there had to be a loving wife serving for him. God created woman to be a helpmeet and complement to man.

Ephesians 5:22 states: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

I have seen marriage get very competitive and ugly when a husband and wife were vying for leadership of the family. Knowing the correct roles in marriage could save a wife a lot of misery and frustration over the years. That is why God made it clear that woman is made to support man; not to be pushed down, ignored, or abused, but to work alongside of her husband.

I willingly admit that there are times when a woman has to lead. The very minister’s wife, who set me straight, was in fact head over the kitchen at services. Some women are meant to run the show and some are better at being the support. And that’s perfectly alright in each particular circumstance. After all, God did allow for the prophetess Deborah to be the judge of Israel in Judges 4:4–5 of the Bible.

The fact of the matter is, a building would crumble without its foundation. And someone’s husband might very well go to work wearing yesterday’s dirty clothes if his wife didn’t wash them for him. Just saying…

Just as the Church is the bride of Christ, serving Him and fulfilling His work and purpose, wives are doing a work that is just as important to serve their husbands. My role as a wife is not to diminish, but to be strong and joyful in servitude so that my husband—and my whole family—can be stronger.

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