A Pattern of Good Works

A Pattern of Good Works

Thinkstock

Does your example lead others to God?
From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, He intended to lead them out of that worldly system into a new way of life. He wanted Israel to establish a new pattern—a godly lifestyle that submitted to God’s government and laws.

By Israel’s example, all other nations would be able to see firsthand the blessings that naturally result from following God’s laws. Israel, though, failed at this high calling. Rather than setting a righteous pattern for the rest of the world to follow, the Israelites followed after the world’s wicked pattern.

Today, God has given His Church—spiritual Israel—the responsibility of setting the right example for this world. He expects us to succeed where ancient Israel failed. Our way of life should serve as an example the world can follow.

At Herbert W. Armstrong College, students receive an abundance of instruction based on that godly pattern: how to pray, the keys to understanding the Bible, the principles of proper nutrition, the art of true Christian fellowship and dating, good sportsmanship, and so on. The way of life students practice at Armstrong College proves God’s way is best.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the Apostle Paul highlighted the importance of establishing a godly pattern of conduct. He told Timothy, “Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example [or pattern] for the believers, in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (Moffatt).

Timothy, though young, was expected to set the right example. Paul wanted the brethren to see a righteous pattern that they could follow.

In today’s world, this rarely happens. Most “leaders” just tell people how they should live without actually setting the example themselves. But true Christian leaders practice what they preach. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. But if a person is following God’s lifestyle, the example he sets will be one of constantly correcting bad habits and overcoming.

Verse 15 continues, “Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties, throw yourself wholly into them, so that your progress may be evident to everybody” (Moffatt). Meditate on God’s laws. Put those laws into practice. Give yourself wholly to the task. If you do, your progress will be evident before all!

Titus 2:6-8 also underscore the importance of example: “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all thingsshewingthyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

What a responsibility! We are here to practice a pattern of good works. That’s what true Christianity is all about. It’s a way of life—God’s way of living. God wants that righteous pattern on display for others to follow.

A Christian isn’t someone who merely learns about the Bible—it’s someone who lives it! Unless it changes our behavior, God’s Word serves no purpose.

Is your conduct blameless and above reproach? If someone started following your example today, even in the smallest ways, what kind of lifestyle would they live?

In Ezekiel 43, God showed His prophet a vision of His headquarters to be established in Jerusalem during the World Tomorrow. In verse 10, God says, “Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.”

Can you imagine how the Ezekiel temple will alter the course of this world?” my father asks in Ezekiel—the End-Time Prophet. “How it will capture the imagination of all earthly inhabitants? … The world will focus on the Ezekiel temple and have their thinking and way of life revolutionized! Then the whole world will be stirred and inspired to obey God.”

You could say we’ve been given a small foretaste of that headquarters vision with Armstrong Auditorium, here in Edmond, Oklahoma. This fabulous edifice, along with its exquisite concerts and musicals, has had a positive impact on the community in Oklahoma. Visiting Armstrong Auditorium for a concert uplifts the human spirit!

God told Ezekiel, “And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (verse 11). It still serves God’s purpose to establish that pattern—even if people reject God’s lifestyle. God says show them the form of the work of the building so they might be ashamed. A righteous example, in other words, serves as a visible warning to those who will not amend their ways.

Let them measure the pattern, God says. He can’t force repentance. But if people are willing, they can measure and prove everything about God’s way of life by simply examining the work of God’s true Church!

God’s work—of which you can be a part—is here to give this world hope! Even as this evil world falls apart, God tells His people to get out and build, both spiritually and physically.

Let your light shine so others might see, Jesus said. Show the world a righteous pattern, God told Ezekiel. Be an example in conduct, Paul admonished his young assistant Timothy.

In all things, show yourself to be a pattern of good works!

INFOGRAPHIC: 30 All-Time Weather Records in 30 Months

INFOGRAPHIC: 30 All-Time Weather Records in 30 Months

Trumpet

From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Are You Causing Climate Change?

Are You Causing Climate Change?

David McNew/Getty Images

If so, will solar power, recycling and Priuses solve the problem?
From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Brevard, N.C.—In the morning hours of July 4th, I stand sipping coffee on the deck of a house near the top of a mountain in the Appalachian range, enjoying the view of a sizeable lake in the valley below. But there is a problem. The plain in that valley is supposed to be covered, not with water, but with a sea of corn stalks.

Like many great swaths of the eastern United States, western North Carolina is receiving too much rain this year. More than 47 inches have fallen on the nearby city of Asheville so far, which is 23 inches above normal and 10 inches above the previous record for the wettest year to date.

The deluge has caused floods, landslides, evacuations and storm damage. It’s also delaying planting for many crops in this rich agricultural region and destroying much of what had already grown.

“It’s just catastrophic,” said Kirby Johnson, who grows corn and other vegetables near Brevard to sell to supermarket chains. “I’m 53, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Johnson’s shock exemplifies what many agricultural workers across the eastern third of the U.S. are experiencing.

Atlanta is on pace to have its wettest year in history, as it surges toward a record set in 2009 by a “once-in-500-years flood.” New Jersey and Delaware experienced their wettest Junes since at least 1895, when record keeping began. Farmers across several states have lost countless acres of wheat to pre-harvest sprouting, which happens when severe flooding delays harvest and the wheat kernels (still on the plants) absorb so much water that they come out of dormancy and begin sprouting roots down into the very plant they grew on.

Are the Wildfires Winning?

Meanwhile, people on the other side of the country are suffering the opposite problem. Severe drought conditions throughout the Southwestern states are destroying crops, making planting impossible and exhausting some key water sources. Utah suffered the driest of any June on record. Nebraska’s Platte River is drying up. After three years of blistering drought, three quarters of Texas is now grappling with severe to exceptional drought conditions. Medina Lake, near hard-hit San Antonio, is down to 5 percent capacity. Lake Granbury, near Fort Worth, is the lowest it has ever been.

Much of the region from Texas to California is getting hotter and drier almost every year, and the cumulative effect of all those back-to-back sweltering summers has generated almost “perfect” conditions for one of the country’s most savage enemies: wildfire.

Eight of America’s nine worst years ever for wildfires have occurred since the year 2000. And now, more large fires are burning than at any time in the past 40 years. The total area burned each year is also expanding.

In mid-June, the nation was captivated by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. California officials recently warned that the Golden State could suffer its worst season for wildfires in 100 years. Nineteen of the country’s elite firefighters were killed on June 30 as they battled a furious Arizona blaze.

That specific tragedy, and the general increase in abnormal conditions, prompted one of the nation’s leading wildfire experts, John N. Maclean, to call for a major change in firefighting policy: “We have entered a new world of wildland fire, and it’s going to get worse,” he said. “It’s hotter and drier; fire seasons begin earlier and last longer. Again and again, we hear firefighters say, as they did after the Arizona deaths, ‘These are the most extreme fire conditions we’ve ever seen.’ … The decisions about when to fight, and when not to, should be made by the firefighters …. [W]hen there are extreme conditions … it would become a shout: Stand down!” (High Country News, July 12).

Pat Veesart, a small business consultant in one hard-hit drought area, voiced her frustration with the nation’s weather imbalances to someone in a water-saturated region. “I’m so sorry for you with the flooding,” she said. “Out in western Kansas we are so desperate for water that they had to invent a term for our drought that was worse than the worst one they already had. I wish we could balance this and take away your excess.”

How can it be that so many states are drowning in deluge while just as many others are languishing in drought? Why is the balance that Veesart and so many others crave—a balance the Bible calls “rain in due season”—so elusive?

God’s words recorded in Amos 4:7 have never seemed more relevant: “I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.”

And America’s erratic weather doesn’t end with floods and droughts. This year the country has suffered record snowfalls, unprecedented high and low temperatures in several cities, record heat waves, and a spate of deadly tornadoes, one of which was the widest in world history. That tornado, in Moore, Oklahoma, killed 24 people, injured more than 270 and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and buildings. The overall economic loss exceeded $3 billion. And the year is not over.

This is not normal, and you need to be asking some big questions. Are the actions of nations and individuals causing the increasing weather extremes? If so, which actions? Could the global warming crowd actually be right on this one?

Atlas Shrugged

The situation is similar in countries all over the globe as people struggle to understand weather that is increasingly chaotic and destructive.

This summer, parts of Hungary, Germany and Austria suffered their worst flooding in history, while the United Kingdom—where some roads are melting—is on pace to have its driest July ever. Calgary, Alberta, suffered the worst flood in the city’s history; it killed three people and forced 100,000 to evacuate. Singapore just had its first hailstorm in history. Monsoon flooding called “absolutely unprecedented” hit the Indian Himalayas in June, dumping 22.36 inches of rain in less than two days. Entire villages were washed away, and at least 5,700 people were killed. The same month, typhoons killed three people in China, and forced the evacuation of half a million people.

Throughout man’s history, human beings have struggled with adverse weather events, but statistics show that the trend in recent decades toward extremes and disasters is getting worse. Part of the reason the damage and destruction are increasing is that the global population is growing, and recent decades have seen people around the world move en masse to large cities near water.

But there is also a concrete increase in the sheer number of large-scale, chaotic weather events. In the U.S., for example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that from 1953 to 1989, there was an average of 23 major disasters per year. In the 1990s, that number doubled to 46 per year. From 2000 to 2009, it leaped up to 56 per year, including some of the most destructive weather events in mankind’s history. Then, the year 2010 saw a staggering record of 81 major weather disasters strike. 2011 smashed that record with 99 major disasters at a total cost of $60 billion! Last year, the total number of disasters fell to 47, but the intensity and impact of the events increased so dramatically that the country’s total cost for weather disasters soared to $110 billion.

Never in living memory have so many people suffered so many severe, deadly and erratic extremes in weather. And the big question is why? Is mankind’s industry and pollution to blame for all of the extreme weather? Is there something larger at play?

What Controls the Weather?

The question of what controls the planet’s weather has become a political and deeply divisive one. Most on the political left say the increasingly erratic conditions are entirely the result of mankind’s destructive industrial activities. The breakdown, they say, is cosmic payback for man’s environmental sinfulness. They also say it’s the most pressing problem facing humanity, and they throw all their weight behind efforts to reduce the carbon emissions of the world’s industrialized nations. No matter what economic consequences may result, they argue, industry (especially American industry) must be curtailed so the planet can survive.

President Obama recently declared a unilateral U.S. war on global climate change, saying essentially that America must inflict a deep economic wound on itself in order to save the Earth. At its heart, this is a war on the U.S. coal industry, which would make it impossible to open new coal factories and would close most existing ones. But since India and China together are opening a new coal factory every week, U.S. efforts would greatly injure American industry even as global carbon emissions continue to rise.

For many on the political left, belief in global warming has become a religion. Anyone who dares voice skepticism about it is lambasted as a flat-Earth know-nothing. When believers are confronted with evidence that disproves their doctrines—like, for example, the landmark study published in March showing that global temperatures have been static for 15 years even though greenhouse-gas emissions have soared in that time—it only seems to strengthen their piety. The “persecution” only fortifies their resolve. The notion of man-made climate change has become not a science, but a faith—in many cases as radical and blind as any you may find among the Taliban.

Largely because of this ultra-orthodox leftist stance, many on the political right say the whole idea of man-made climate change is a hoax. “You’ve been offered a way out of the guilt for having contributed to the destruction of the planet,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show on April 1, “and that is if you will go out and buy a hybrid, or if you will oppose oil companies, or if you will oppose fracking; if you will oppose the Keystone pipeline, if you will oppose the growth of any fossil fuel industry, then you’re a good person. … It’s all a hoax. … Your time on Earth is barely the size of the head of a pin, if that big. So what possible impact could you be making?”

Despite the leftists’ noisy and frequent prayer calls, and despite some media sensationalism, the general public is not terribly concerned about the weather. A global shift from agriculture-based economy to knowledge-based work is well underway. Unprecedented numbers of people live in climate-controlled homes and buildings, insulated from the elements. Technology removes us from all but the most severe weather extremes, so we are not worried about it. A Pew poll earlier this year showed that concerns about climate change lie at the very bottom of a list of Americans’ worries, ranking 21st out of 21 concerns.

What is the truth? Are Americans right in thinking erratic weather conditions are not something we need to be too worried about? Are those like Limbaugh correct in saying mankind’s economic activity isn’t making an impact?

Take a look at the climate of the Middle East. Historically, much of this region was covered with lush forests and verdant vegetation. But in the early 1900s, the Ottoman Turks undertook massive tree-felling operations to build the Hejaz Railway from Damascus to Medina. The deserts that now dominate many parts of the region are the direct result of that project. Widespread deforestation begets desertification. Desertification alters regional climates. This is a clear example of climate change resulting from man’s actions.

Evidence shows that slash-and-burn techniques, converting forested areas into concrete jungles, pollution from industrial production and exhaust from planes, trains and automobiles have contributed to weather variation. It is also likely that developing irrigation systems, building lakes and dams, draining aquifers and swamps, and engaging in massive-scale monoculture farming contribute to climatic variation. It is clear that some of the weather calamity we are suffering is mankind reaping the results of environmental mismanagement, poor stewardship, errors and greed.

However, it is not scientifically possible to attribute the sheer scale of the increase in erratic weather to human behaviors.

He Has His Way in the Whirlwind

Scientific observation of physical evidence can only tell a small part of the story. To understand the rest, we have to turn to a source that most people would never think to consult for such matters: God’s revealed Word, the Holy Bible.

The earliest chapters of the Bible depict God creating the continents and oceans, the atmosphere and climate, the intricately woven ecosystems of Earth and the laws that govern it all. Unlike modern meteorologists who struggle even to predict short-term weather, the Bible accurately forecasts long-term trends and even pinpoints the primary cause of weather disasters.

“The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm,” the Prophet Nahum wrote. “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers …. [T]he earth is burned at his presence …. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof …” (Nahum 1:3-5, 8).

In the above passage and scores of others, the Bible makes plain that there is a crucial spiritual dimension to weather. Modern people generally view themselves as too sophisticated to believe such a fact, but the fact is not dependent on belief. Nature is not only the creation of God’s mind, but God also “has His way” in weather phenomena for the purpose of communicating with mankind.

What is the message? What is He communicating through the exacerbating floods, droughts and other disasters? Study Leviticus 26:19-20; 2 Chronicles 6:26-27 and especially Job 37:11-13. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then the message is inescapably clear: God intervenes through weather to deliver blessings for obedience and punishment for sinfulness.

Look at modern systems of education, politics, military, industry, entertainment and even religion. Look at the widespread, unprecedented embrace of sins like greed-driven commerce, homosexuality and pornography. We have shoved God out of every facet of our lives. By shaking up the weather, God is trying to get through to His creation so we will see this. He is trying to make us think about cause and effect, and about what happens when people reject the law of the God who gave them life. He is showing mankind that we are breaking laws which, if kept, would cause joy, peace, happiness and “rain in due season.”

Modern meteorologists fail to recognize this pivotal dimension in weather because they, like the majority of mankind, are deceived about the realities of life (Revelation 12:9). This failure prevents them from seeing the direct correlation between wrong ways of living and catastrophic weather.

Devotees of the man-made global warming church are wrong. They say man’s industry is entirely responsible for erratic weather, while they fight to accelerate the cultural shifts that are destroying families. Mankind’s industry and pollution are having some effect on unstable weather patterns, but the primary cause—by a wide margin—is man’s increasing and prideful lawlessness. You may not think the unprecedented proliferation of immorality, pornography, cohabitation, abortion, etc. are economically hurting nations, but the Bible says they absolutely are. Mankind’s actions are leading to the increase in unstable weather because these lawless actions cause our Creator to punish us—for our long-term benefit. And weather is a primary tool He uses to accomplish this punishment.

In the United States, on this July 4 holiday, Americans celebrate our nation’s history and freedom. One recurring theme, written on parade banners, sung in songs, and spoken between fireworks’ bursts, is the phrase, “God bless America.” But even a cursory glance at the weather trends shows that God is not blessing America anymore. Just the opposite—He is cursing it.

The Future Forecast

The Bible foretold the increase in floods, droughts and other disasters the world is now experiencing. It also says that today’s conditions will soon seem mild by comparison to the completely berserk weather ahead (Ezekiel 5:16; Revelation 8:4-12). God will soon unleash utterly unprecedented forces of nature upon the rebellious world in order to humble the people and bring the nations to their knees in repentance (Isaiah 45:22-25).

After that period of intense punishment and the resulting repentance, God promises He will “heal the land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). Under God’s government of love, all men will keep God’s law and abide by His commandments. Then, God promises that instead of the twin curses of drought and flooding, He “will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase” (Ezekiel 34:26-27). At this time, even the scorched deserts of the Earth will “rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).

‘Let Boys Be Girls. Or Goys or Birls’

‘Let Boys Be Girls. Or Goys or Birls’

istockphoto/thinkstock

Society is coming to embrace the notion of ‘gender fluidity.’
From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

The public now accepts homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” But the fight is not over. The offensive to reshape society in even more radical ways pushes forward.

An effort is gaining ground to create a world where not just “sexual orientation,” but sex itself, is a choice. Where boys can be girls and girls can be boys, or something in between. Where people are expected to ignore the biological reality of sex so that all people coexist androgynously, or according to whatever gender suits them at the moment. Where everyone pretends that gender confusion is normal, if not desirable, and anyone who doesn’t play along can be punished and silenced.

This demonstrates unprecedented contempt for reality and common sense, let alone morality.

Boys in the Girls’ Room

Think of the implications with respect to public bathrooms, sex-segregated activities, locker rooms, college student housing and countless other areas of human interaction.

Does the idea of a boy who thinks he’s a girl showering next to your daughter in P.E. class make you uncomfortable? Then you’d better brace yourself. This cause is winning critical legal battles—and it is starting with our youth.

In July, the California Senate passed a bill saying that throughout K-12 education, a student is “permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities [e.g. bathrooms, locker rooms] consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” “Gender identity” is the terminology these ultrasensitive, morally sophisticated lawmakers use to refer to the sex a person happens to identify with.

In June, a Colorado governing body ruled that a 6-year-old boy who thinks he’s a girl has the right to use the girl’s bathroom at his elementary school. The Colorado Division of Civil Rights said denying him that right “creates an environment rife with harassment” and is akin to racial segregation.

See where this is going? The public majority already agrees that denying same-sex couples the right to “marry” is exactly like prohibiting interracial marriage. Now, denying someone access to a public bathroom on the basis of biology is just like excluding blacks from white-only facilities.

These lawmakers and officials are determined to ensure that these children grow up in a world where sex confusion is welcomed, even encouraged.

What about the girl who feels awkward about having a boy walk in while she’s using the bathroom? Sorry. She is the one who needs to adjust her thinking—not the boy.

This is actually being promoted within our children’s education. Our sons and daughters are learning doubt about sexual matters. Teachers and administrators are implanting and fostering this confusion, and it is occupying more and more of our young people’s thinking. Misguided radical social engineers enthusiastically treat this like it’s the brave new front in civil rights and societal progress. And with coaching from these radicals, youths predisposed to question and reject authority are starting to view their own sex at birth as something “imposed” on them, and any social pressure to conform to it as a form of oppression.

Does that sound like an exaggeration?

Ze, Zim and Zer

“A new generation of young people is challenging our understanding of gender,” intoned National Public Radio in a July 16 report. (Speak for yourself, npr.) “They’re calling for more fluid categories, beyond just male and female.”

Beyond male and female. Within the politically correct cocoon of academia, students in many colleges and even high schools are so diligent to accommodate gender-confused people that they introduce themselves with their “pgps“—preferred gender pronouns. As in, “My name is Stacey and my pgps are he, him and his.” As in, Today, I would like to be identified as a male. These youths insist not only that whether their “emotional gender identity” aligns with biological reality is entirely a matter of choice, but also that everyone else needs to pretend this is perfectly sane.

These students “are going way beyond transgender,” npr reported. “They are arguing for a world beyond the gender binary.” In other words, not only is gender a choice, it is a spectrum. Even pronouns like he and she, they view as confining and unnecessary.

Lynn Walker, a director at a housing organization that caters to many transgenders, told npr, “We encountered high school students who said, I want you to call me ‘tractor,’ and use pronouns like ze, zim and zer. And in fact I reject the gender binary as an oppressive move by the dominant culture.”

Behold the product of our public schools: Students who are convinced that male and female—basic biology—is tantamount to tyranny that must be overthrown.

This is America’s up-and-coming generation of voters and lawmakers. This is a glimpse at where our world is headed.

We are looking at the next “logical” step in society’s wholesale departure from the understanding of masculinity and femininity. Though the concept of your sex having a bearing on your role in society and within a family has dominated human relations for humankind’s entire history, we are now throwing it out as if the facts are subjective. Today it is viewed with contempt. Now, it’s not just roles we reject, but biological absolutes. Everything is relative. Anything is respectable. Nothing is deviant.

Play Along, or Else

At present, in many circles the world remains a fairly hostile place for gender-confused individuals. But society is changing—fast. On July 15, Slate featured a photo blog of a camp for “gender nonconforming” boys. There young boys dress like girls and women, apply make-up, and walk a fashion runway to the cheers of their parents. Such examples are increasingly appearing in the national spotlight—to the cheers of the mainstream press.

Those boys are part of a generation that is receiving the message that it’s not they who must change, but everyone else. And they are gaining the advocacy of lawmakers who are determined to force the world to embrace their behavior.

On the surface, preventing society from badgering poor, gender-confused people may sound like a worthy goal. But this cure is far worse than the disease. Rather than helping people overcome thoughts and tendencies that lead to self-destructive, depressive, anti-social behavior, the transgender crusade encourages and inflames them—and demands that everyone else play along.

Hate crime laws increase penalties on criminals who are deemed to have been motivated by animus against a protected class. In 2009, the U.S. government expanded protected classes to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and/or “identity” exist in 21 states and more than 140 cities and counties. Illegal discrimination includes anything perceived as different treatment because of behavior perceived as not stereotypically male or female.

Ripple effects from these laws are enormous, and already spreading. Universities nationwide are hosting gender-neutral student housing, bathrooms and locker rooms. Transgender law advocates are pushing for health insurance plans to include hormones and sex-reassignment surgery. In June, the Social Security Administration changed its policy for those who want to switch gender on their Social Security card, removing the requirement of sex-reassignment surgery. After victories in California and Colorado, efforts to open public toilet facilities and locker rooms to transgenders continue. Thus, to protect the right of a man who says he feels more comfortable as a woman, the law is preparing to trample on the right of women who feel more comfortable in public bathrooms devoid of perverted men.

That is the truth of the matter. These social engineers want you to think their cause is all about inclusion and tolerance. But if you disagree with them, they have no tolerance for you. The push for transgender rights is a religious mission, aimed at converting the hearts of men. Its missionaries want the nation to repent of its archaic attachment to the traditional family, and to become devotees to the cross-dressing, bisexual, homosexual cause. The only victory is complete victory. Until transgender crusaders achieve this utterly impossible goal—every individual a true believer—they will continue their battle, using every tool of coercion they can summon.

This Affects You

Today, the lgbt life is relentlessly promoted as happy and bright, free of shadows—and without consequences. Mainstream media and politicians ignore its darker side—the diseases, the guilty consciences, the family breakdown.

While a minority still condemns it, the typical “conservative” opinion has become indifferent. As long as it doesn’t affect me, let them do what they want, people say.

But how can anyone look at what is happening in society today and still claim that homosexual-related behavior doesn’t affect those who disagree with it? When it fills our television screen and movie theaters—when it infiltrates our public school curricula, being taught even to elementary school children—when public discussion increasingly ridicules and bullies anyone who isn’t vociferously supportive of it—when judges overturn publicly approved measures to safeguard traditional family—when public policy punishes people who voice their disapproval or act on their conscience based on biblical standards? How can anyone sincerely continue to insist that this is a strictly private matter—so just mind your own business and keep your mouth shut?

They cannot. This issue affects everyone.

Our society has transformed into an immoral “do your own thing” world that tolerates and accepts anything and everything. It is just as it was in Israel during the cursed and bloody period of the Judges, when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). People pompously promote and push a way of life that ignores, insults, challenges and defies God in so many ways.

Our Creator made two sexes—male and female—not a gender spectrum (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4). In Scripture God strongly differentiates between the two, in what He expects in dress, hair length and appearance (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:5; 1 Corinthians 11:14-15). (Deuteronomy 22:5 specifically, directly forbids precisely what parents, policymakers and the media are applauding in our youth. It is a law by which God intended to accentuate and preserve the differences between the sexes. Problems are proliferating in society today because we ignore this law!)

God also makes dramatic distinctions in the roles men and women should fulfill within family and society (e.g. Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:29-33; 1 Timothy 5:8). He created male and female for a reason. Do you know that reason? “Gender spectrum” talk reveals complete ignorance of it. But it is a wonderful subject to study—because it radiates with spiritual significance and beauty!

New South African Political Party Threatens Mugabe-Style Land Grabs

New South African Political Party Threatens Mugabe-Style Land Grabs

MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The firebrand youth leader expelled from the ruling African National Congress two years ago is now preparing to ignite a political wildfire in the bushveld. On July 11, former anc leader Julius Malema pledged a comeback with a new party dedicated to land reforms in the style of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. This party—to be known as the Economic Freedom Fighters (eff)—will also be dedicated to the nationalization of South African banks and platinum mines.

Malema and his eff party have attracted considerable publicity by sporting red berets, using Communist jargon and advocating the state assets seizers of Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

“We are a protest movement,” Malema told a July 11 press conference in Johannesburg. “We have got a completely different plan. Ours is expropriation of land without compensation. We want to nationalize, and those mines we want to nationalize, we are not going to pay for them. Our enemy No. 1 is monopoly capital.”

According to the party’s manifesto, the South African government should “transfer all land to the state, which will administer and use land for sustainable development purposes.” Once the land is under state control, the manifesto dictates that those wishing to use land would have to apply for a land-use license, which would be valid for 25 years and could be renewed based on whether the land was being used as planned.

Though Malema has invited white South Africans to join in his planned socialist revolution, saying “nobody who will be driven to the sea,” he has a past track record of stirring up racial hatred. In 2011, he was tried by South Africa’s Equality Court for singing a song that calls for the shooting of white farmers with machine guns.

Considering the fact that more white farmers are murdered each year in South Africa than have been killed in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe came to power, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has already tried to calm tensions by assuring the media that the government will take action if Malema’s followers start occupying agricultural land.

As unemployment soars, Malema’s new party is primarily targeting the 50 percent of young black South Africans who are out of work and whose living conditions have not improved in the 19 years since the end of apartheid. Even political analyst Nic Borain—who described eff leadership as “the clowns and fools of our politics”—said the party could take up to 5 percent of the vote in the 2014 election.

Such a percentage would be enough to influence any future government in a more racist/Marxist direction as a means of gaining more votes. As Frans Cronje, deputy chief executive officer of the Johannesburg-based Institute for Race Relations, said in a 2011 interview: “It doesn’t take a majority of black South Africans in order to drag the country into a racial mess. It takes a few characters like Malema with the tacit consent of the anc.”

For more information on the future of South Africa, read our online booklet South Africa in Prophecy.

Iran’s Battle for Africa

Iran’s Battle for Africa

ATTA KENARE/AFP/GettyImages

It’s the most important war in the world right now, yet it barely makes the headlines.
From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

“Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in our April issue.

This battle has received little media attention. Occasionally a major crisis, like Mali, gets headlines for a short while. But how often do you hear about Sudan, Niger or the Central African Republic?

“Iran has designs on being the strongest power throughout the region,” Mr. Flurry wrote, “and is extending its reach throughout North Africa.” Despite the lack of attention, this is one of the biggest new stories of the moment.

“Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa,” Mr. Flurry continued. “Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can.”

You need to understand Iran’s power grab in Africa and where it is leading.

Fingerprints Throughout the Region

“Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and Hezbollah’s terrorist activity have reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa,” wrote the U.S. State Department in its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012,” published in late May. News sources have noticed the same thing, with articles like “Out of Iran, Into Africa: Hezbollah’s scramble for Africa” appearing in Israel’s left-wing paper Haaretz.

But this goes far beyond Hezbollah. From the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to rebel forces in central Africa, Iran’s own fingerprints can be found in militias across the continent.

The Iranians are also orchestrating a huge flow of armaments into Africa. Conflict Armament Research last year published the results of a six-year investigation of the trade in ammunition from Iran in nine African countries. The organization noted that “until recently most international observers would have described Iran’s role in this market as negligible to nonexistent.” Not anymore. “Although a recent entrant, Iran’s ammunition ‘footprint’ is widespread,” it concluded.

Although this organization focused mainly on small-caliber ammunition, it also found “clear evidence of Iran’s role in supplying a range of other ordnance to the continent, including mines, explosive light weapons, and larger conventional arms and ammunition.”

Other observers point to Iran’s efforts to woo African governments. In a paper titled “Africa: Iran’s Final Frontier?” Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, wrote, “Tehran sees many of Africa’s 54 countries as easy picking” (April 17).

“This outreach takes many guises and is geared toward specific diplomatic and military purposes that could challenge U.S. aims across Africa,” he wrote. “In comparison with recent American presidents, who made just three visits to Sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, [former] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejed travels to Africa at least annually, with key Iranian ministers visiting even more frequently.”

Iran’s Target

Rubin outlined three main goals in Iran’s outreach to Africa: to win support in multinational institutions like the United Nations; to establish a string of naval bases to expand the nation’s maritime presence; and to find sources for uranium.

He described how Iran has reached out to African nations that are non-permanent members of the UN Security Council or that serve on the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea).

For years, Iran has supplied South Africa with cheap oil. Quid pro quo, when the iaea found in February 2008 that Iran was violating two Security Council resolutions as it continued to enrich uranium, South Africa prevented the Security Council from imposing further sanctions.

When Gabon became a temporary member of the Security Council, Iran courted the nation with a flurry of activity. And Gabon used its Council seat to support Iran’s nuclear program.

But Mr. Flurry has spotlighted a larger goal of Iran’s push: confronting Europe, especially European trade. In his April 2011 article “Libya and Ethiopia Reveal Iran’s Military Strategy,” Mr. Flurry explained how Iran is gaining influence along the Mediterranean and Red seas. Why? These two seas “comprise the most important trade route in the world!” he wrote. He warned that Iran will push at Europe “probably from its trade route power.”

What kind of power does Iran have? Europe gets a great deal of its oil and gas from the Middle East and North Africa. Much of it comes through the Straits of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and through pipelines across Iraq. But pipelines from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco also carry natural gas into Europe. Several European companies want to support a project to build a gas pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria so Europe can get more of its natural gas from Africa.

To disrupt this trade, Iran doesn’t need to take over the governments of the countries along the route. Pipelines are easy to break. Narrow straits of water can be strewn with mines, making it too expensive to insure ships to cross them. If Iran can gain enough power in these areas—a goal it is working toward—it can hold Europe to ransom.

Russia famously brought Ukraine back to heel during the winter of 2008-09 by cutting off its natural gas supplies. Iran could soon have the same power over Europe. In 2011, nearly 37 percent of the eurozone’s oil imports came from or through Middle Eastern and African nations vulnerable to Iranian disruption. At the same time, a quarter of eurozone gas imports came from or through these areas. With control of these areas, Iran could shut off more of Europe’s natural gas than Russia.

When we examine southern European countries on their own, we see an even more disturbing picture. In Spain, 54 percent of crude oil and 77 percent of gas imports are vulnerable to Iranian disruption. In Italy, it’s 48 percent of oil and 46 percent of gas. (A few years ago, before Libya’s oil and gas output plummeted, this dependency was even greater.)

Iran is expanding the reach of its terrorist activities and creating goodwill with African nations to further spread its ability to strike at Europe. It’s a murky game that’s run, in part, by Iran’s secret service. Not all the facts are readily available. But Iran clearly has an extensive network—including rebel groups, rogue states and Islamists—throughout Africa. They are certainly capable of pushing back against Europe’s expansion in the continent and threatening the West’s access to Africa’s wealth of raw materials.

Iran’s Influence in Africa Infographic

Hezbollah

Hezbollah is one of Iran’s most important tools in this battle. The Shiite terrorist group is active throughout the world, but especially in northwest Africa. Over a century ago, a large number of Shia Muslims from Lebanon migrated to the area. Hundreds of thousands now live there, providing an excellent recruiting ground for Hezbollah.

Today, northwest Africa is a vital fundraising hub. Hezbollah collects donations from its Shia supporters, and also makes money through the drug and “blood diamond” trades, extortion and, in some cases, legitimate businesses.

Iran also appears to be building up weapons caches throughout the area for Hezbollah to use, should Tehran want the organization to become more active. Nigerian authorities arrested four Hezbollah agents in northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano, between May 16 and 28. The operatives had thousands of rounds of ammunition and a small arsenal of weapons.

Just days earlier, on May 13, two men were sentenced to five years in prison for their involvement in a 2010 plot to ship 240 metric tonnes of heavy weapons and ammunition to Gambia. One of the men, Azim Aghajani, is believed to be a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ infamous Quds Force. Conflict Armament Research reports that this could have been the third such shipment.

In February, Nigerian authorities arrested three men they accused of being members of an Iranian-trained terrorist cell that planned to attack U.S. and Israeli targets.

It has become clear, Haaretz concluded, “that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has become a hotbed for Iranian/Hezbollah terrorist activities” (June 17).

But Nigeria isn’t Hezbollah’s only base of operations in Africa. In June, the U.S. Treasury Department identified four men—one in Sierra Leone, one in Senegal and two in the Ivory Coast—as Hezbollah leaders in their respective areas, responsible for transferring funds to the organization.

We have yet to see Hezbollah’s full capabilities in Africa. The terrorists have been caught smuggling and hoarding weapons, but not using them. These individuals remain an asset that Iran can call upon at will. Working in conjunction with other terrorist groups or rebel armies, Hezbollah could do more than carry out terrorist attacks. It has the potential to destabilize nations.

Al Qaeda Affiliate Groups

The relationship between Iran and al Qaeda is dangerously misunderstood. Too many take false comfort in the Sunni/Shia divide, arguing that these two could never work together because they come from different branches of Islam. The war in Syria, at first glance, supports this view. Al Qaeda sends its men and resources to support the rebels, while Iran and Hezbollah prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad. But the truth is that the al Qaeda/Iran relationship is much more complicated.

The Sunni-Shia divide is real and significant. But Iran and al Qaeda’s hatred for the West is even more powerful. The two groups have fought in the past—but they have also patched things up and fought the West together. Moreover, al Qaeda is not a unified bloc, but rather a loose coalition of militants fighting under the same brand name. A local commander in North Africa doesn’t care who Iran is fighting in Syria, provided he gets the weapons he wants.

Al Qaeda and Iran maintain a cozy relationship, according to U.S. Treasury Department reports. In the summer of 2011, the Treasury announced that the U.S. had uncovered an al Qaeda network operating inside Iran under an agreement with the Iranian government. “Iran is a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it wrote.

“Al Qaeda’s core financial pipeline—which runs from Kuwait and Qatar, through Iran, to Pakistan—depends upon an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government to allow this network to operate within its borders,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in his October 2011 written testimony (emphasis added throughout).

The next February, the Treasury reported that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security “has facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.” The Treasury said that Iran had “also provided money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq (aqi) … and negotiated prisoner releases of aqi operatives.”

Then again in October 2012, Cohen unveiled new material that highlighted “Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.” At this point, the Syrian conflict was well underway. Yet Iran and al Qaeda were still working together.

“Under the terms of the agreement between al Qaeda and Iran, al Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities,” wrote the Treasury Department. “In return, the government of Iran gave the Iran-based al Qaeda network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families.”

What will be the fruits of this relationship? These kinds of links can often take years to fully uncover. Last November, a Washington District Court heard that Iran trained the al Qaeda operatives behind the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya. Have more recent attacks in Africa been carried out as a joint venture between al Qaeda and Iran? It took 14 years for Iran’s involvement in the Kenya bombings to become public. It may take time before all the facts are known, but already there’s some good evidence that Iran had a hand in the Benghazi attack.

In May, Egyptian authorities arrested three militants armed with 22 pounds of explosives and bomb-making equipment. Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told journalists that the group had received instructions from an al Qaeda leader called Dawoud al Asadi—an alias for the leader of al Qaeda in Iran. To cement the connection even further, Ibrahim said that one of the three terrorists had received military training in Iran.

Ibrahim said that Asadi (aka Fadhli) told the terrorists to get in touch with a group known as “the Nasr City Cell”—an Egyptian-based group, which has now been rounded up, with strong connections to both al Qaeda and the Benghazi attack.

Al Qaeda in Iran was working with some of the planners of the Benghazi attack.

Under its agreement with Iran, al Qaeda had to keep the Iranian government up to date with its activities. Did Iran merely know about the Benghazi attack, or was it a key part of it? As with the attack on the embassies in Kenya, the proof might not emerge for years.

But in another part of Africa, there is, almost literally, a smoking gun. In September 2011, the Nigerien military captured weapons and ammunition from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (aqim). It included ammunition that Conflict Armament Research identified as originating in Iran. In May 2012, the Nigeriens intercepted a shipment of weapons that also contained Iranian-manufactured ammunition.

To the east, in Somalia, al Shabaab also maintains strong links to Iran and is affiliated with al Qaeda.

Iran’s patronage of al Shabaab’s predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union (icu), is clear. The United Nations monitoring group in Somalia discovered several instances of Iran supplying it with weapons, including surface-to-air missiles.

Around the same time, the icu sent 720 of its best fighters to Lebanon to fight alongside Hezbollah. Some of the fighters stayed after the fighting for advanced training. In return, Hezbollah arranged for Iran and Syria to give the icu some extra support.

Since then, the icu has changed its name to al Shabaab and became the official Somalian wing of al Qaeda. But Iran’s support has continued. In July, un monitors reported that Iran could be using illegal fishing boats to ship weapons to al Shabaab.

It also reported that the African Union’s mission in Somalia had captured several “nearly new” rocket-propelled grenade (rpg) launchers that “closely resemble Iranian-manufactured” launchers. Monitors are also investigating a ship seized in January in Yemen that was packed with weapons and fuel. The UN believes some of that cargo could have been bound for Somalia.

On their own, each of these incidents of cooperation between al Qaeda and Iran would be interesting, though not conclusive. Together they paint a pattern of broad cooperation across Africa and the Middle East.

Hezbollah and al Qaeda are undoubtedly the two most powerful terrorist groups in the world. By working together with Iran’s support, they have nation-destroying potential.

The New Great Game

One hundred years ago, Britain and Russia fought what became known as “the Great Game” over control of Central Asia. The prizes included a land route to India, lucrative trade deals and access to any resources that could be discovered.

Today, some people speak of a new colonization of Africa. But that’s not accurate. As Europe gets more involved, it isn’t sending thousands of settlers to rule the continent. Instead, we are seeing a new “Great Game.”

Europe needs access to Africa’s resources. Iran wants to be able to cut off those resources, even for just a short time. So Germany arms friendly governments to fight Islamists. France, Germany’s ally, stays closely involved in the politics of its former colonies, maintaining military bases and even backing coups.

Germany is also looking for allies as it prepares to confront Iran, and bases it can use to push Iran back.

Meanwhile, Iran looks for friends among nations the West has rejected or ignored. It funnels weapons to its terrorist allies as it tries to exploit weaknesses in the nations Europe supports.

In Mali, the “game” turned into war. How involved Iran was is unknown. The fall of Qadhafi in Libya sent a torrent of weapons into the area. The rise of al Qaeda in Mali suited Iran’s agenda, but its assistance wasn’t really needed.

Algeria could be the next flash point. There, 76-year-old President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika is Algeria’s longest ever serving president. He suffered a mini-stroke in April and may not live much longer. His death could give the Islamists a chance to take over.

That is why Germany has been hugely supportive of Algeria’s military. It plans to sell Algeria $10 billion of weapons over the next decade.

The last part of Daniel 11:40 describes a clash between the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” that begins the chain of events that leads to Christ’s return. Right now, in Africa, both of these powers are preparing for that clash. In fact, they’re already clashing in Mali and Algeria. The Great Game is played primarily by individuals out of the public eye. In how many other countries are Iranian and European agents vying for control?

In his article in April, Mr. Flurry called these clashes a “prelude to the fulfillment of this prophecy.” This is what the “game” in North Africa is all about. These two powers are preparing to fight—they are jockeying for position. Once the situation comes to blows, Iran wants to be able to cut off the resources Europe desperately needs, strangling its economy. Meanwhile, Germany wants to be able to quickly take control of the region.

A great prophecy of your Bible is about to be fulfilled!” wrote Mr. Flurry in April. “You need to watch what is happening in the Middle East and Africa!” Nowhere can you see the buildup to World War iii more clearly than in North Africa. The media may ignore it, but the events in this region give a powerful warning to the world. In the silent war in Africa, we see a preview of the conflict that is about to ignite world war.