The High Life

The High Life

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Voices from Hollywood to the White House are normalizing drug use—even as it destroys more lives than ever.
From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most ambitious and respected actors of his generation, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment last month with a heroin needle still sticking out of his arm. He left behind his three children, ages 10, 7 and 5.

The tragedy comes in the midst of a nationwide surge in heroin overdoses.

Many media voices have blamed Hoffman’s death and the overall increase of such tragedies not on the users—but on U.S. laws that criminalize drugs.

“Would he have OD’d if drugs were regulated, controlled and professionally administered?” asked Russell Brand in the Guardian.

“Legal pot isn’t enough,” social worker Jeff Deeney wrote in the Atlantic. “If Philip Seymour Hoffman had taken his last bags to a legal injecting space, would he still be alive?”

“The drug war has failed,” Mike Adams of Natural News wrote. “If street drugs like heroin could be decriminalized, regulated, controlled and distributed in a medical context along with serious addiction treatment protocols, those who choose to abuse the drug would, at the very least, be able to count on consistent dosing and drug composition. … Hoffman’s untimely and tragic death is yet another urgent reminder that our current drug policies in America … must urgently change.”

A look at the results of America’s war on drugs confirms that it has failed. Despite spending $2.5 trillion in the four decades since President Nixon declared that war, illicit drugs today are easier than ever to obtain, potencies are far greater, and drug use and overdose rates are soaring to unprecedented heights.

From 1980 to 2008, the number of America’s drug poisoning deaths increased sixfold. Since then, it has continued to skyrocket. Heroin deaths have gone up about 45 percent just in the last five years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc) reported that in 2009, drug overdoses surpassed car accidents to become the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.

The death toll is equivalent to a hundred 757s crashing and killing everybody on board every year.
Dan Bigg, Chicago Recovery Alliance
“The death toll is equivalent to a hundred 757s crashing and killing everybody on board every year,” said Dan Bigg of the Chicago Recovery Alliance. “But this doesn’t make the news.” It takes a death by someone of Hoffman’s prestige to force the media to acknowledge the pandemic, however fleetingly.

It’s clear that America’s vaunted war on drugs has utterly failed. But do this failure and Hoffman’s death show that the U.S. should hoist up the white flag on the drug war? Is the solution to the rising number of lawbreakers to abolish the laws?

Prescription for Addiction

Some of the arguments for legalization may sound compelling at first listen. But the increasing numbers who cry out for “an end to drug prohibition” seem to forget that 60 percent of all drug overdoses are from pharmaceuticals that are already legal and regulated.

And deaths are only the tip of the needle. For each person who dies from legal drug overdose, 10 more are so damaged that they require long-term abuse treatment, 32 more need emergency medical care, 130 more are drug-dependent, and 825 more are using them illegally. So each death represents about a thousand people abusing or misusing pharmaceuticals to some degree.

When you talk to people who are using heroin today, almost all of them will tell you that their opioid addiction began with exposure to painkillers.
Dr. Andrew Kolodny
All these rates—death, addiction, abuse and misuse—have gone up as doctors have issued an increasing number of prescriptions. According to ims Health, pharmacies dispensed more than $9 billion in prescription opioid painkillers in 2011, which was more than twice the amount a decade earlier. Today, one in five Americans have at least one psychiatric medication prescription.

Legal pharmaceuticals are also proven to lead hordes of people on to illicit drugs. “When you talk to people who are using heroin today,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer for the Phoenix House Foundation, “almost all of them will tell you that their opioid addiction began with exposure to painkillers. … It’s not easy to get the opioid genie back into the bottle.”

These users become hooked on legal prescription opioids and then discover that illicit heroin is easier to obtain, less expensive and more potent than the prescription med. Many make the switch. The end result, too often, is what happened with Hoffman.

No matter how carefully regulated and controlled, if we legalized street drugs, the U.S. drug plague would only worsen. So, the failure of the war on drugs isn’t a result of the laws that ban narcotics. For the real cause, you have to look for something else. Something that is hiding in vivid, high-definition, plain sight.

Glamorizing Gomorrah

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” Oscar Wilde said. Human minds—especially younger ones—are often highly susceptible to the influence of music, movies, magazines and other media and art. What we see in movies and hear in songs, we’re often inclined to imitate.

So much of our drug problem is created by an entertainment industry that glamorizes drug culture. Take Justin Bieber, for example. He travels the world smoking cannabis, sometimes dodging arrest and sometimes not, yet he remains one of pop culture’s most iconic figures, with millions of die-hard “Beliebers” practically reverencing him as a god. Then there’s Miley Cyrus, who often smokes pot on stage to the cheers of thousands of young fans because, in her words, it’s “really funny.” She sings songs about her love of illicit drugs and openly discusses her experiences using peyote, cocaine, marijuana and molly. In a Rolling Stone interview, she called the last two her “happy drugs.” It’s a similar situation with Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake, Seth Rogen, Snoop Dogg, Dave Chappelle and many, many others. Hollywood often depicts drug use as the hallmark of trendiness. It should come as no surprise when young people who adore these celebrities decide to experiment with recreational narcotics.

Sometimes, though, entertainment is more subtle.

For example, the tv show Breaking Bad recounted the exploits of a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life of crime, cooking and selling extremely potent, blue methamphetamine. The gritty show was a smash hit and is regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time.

But in 2010, two years into the series, a new strain of blue crystal meth—dyed to look like the show’s signature drug—began to appear on the streets of Kansas City. Then in 2012, a real-life chemistry teacher in Texas was arrested for selling homemade meth at the school where he taught. In 2013, a month after the show’s ultra-hyped series finale, Oklahoma police seized 40 pounds of crystal meth dyed “Breaking Bad blue.” It was one of the largest meth busts in history. In January of this year, another strain of blue meth began appearing in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Also in January, one of Breaking Bad’s biggest fans (who had previously won a high-profile contest to watch the final episode with the stars of the show) was arrested for possession of more than $1 million of synthetic drugs.

Some may argue that Breaking Bad didn’t glamorize crystal meth use, but it certainly did normalize the idea of making, dealing and using drugs in the minds of many of its viewers. And for a portion of the audience, it validated and sensationalized their existing destructive drug habits. For others, it appears to have inspired them to “break bad” themselves, and turn to lives of criminal behavior.

This is just one example of the power pop culture has on the populace. Breaking Bad is far from the only drug-themed production in pop culture.

Movies about illicit drug use have been rising sharply for years. In the 1950s, only 16 such films were produced. That number grew to 23 for the 1960s, and then to 61 for the 1970s. The climb continued, reaching 77 for the 1980s and 139 for the 1990s. For the 2000s, the number almost doubled to 276. The current decade is on pace to smash that record. In more ways than one, we are entertaining ourselves with drugs.

The same pattern has been underway with popular music. Just a few decades ago, drug-themed songs were fairly rare, but in 2005, the American Public Health Association examined the bestselling songs of several genres and found that one third of them referenced illicit drug use. A separate study found that, in the rap genre, more than 60 percent of songs referred to using illegal drugs.

Not so long ago, drug arrests of famous people were relatively rare. They were viewed as shameful and often resulted in boycotts and protests. Now such occurrences seem to happen weekly, and the public cheers on celeb-stoners and practically applauds them for their abuse.

Some movies, shows and songs that mention drugs don’t promote smoking cocaine any more than Schindler’s List promotes Nazism. But a stupefying number do glorify narcotics. Song after song and film after film talks down the dangers of drugs, removes their stigma, and whispers to the people of the nation: Dealing is glamorous, excess is poetic, getting high is normal.

Puzzlingly, all of this pro-narcotic propaganda is multiplying at the same time as Washington injects billion after billion into the tattered arteries of the drug war. The U.S. is talking out of both sides of its mouth—and the side many Americans are listening to is the one with a joint hanging casually from it.

Beyond Entertainment

Sadly, those who glamorize drug use and minimize its dangers are no longer confined to the world of art and entertainment. Leading business moguls, affluent scientists and even America’s highest authority are now singing the praises of an occasional—or habitual—tryst with narcotics.

The late Steve Jobs, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in history, made no attempt to hide his use of recreational drugs. In fact, he said taking lsd was “one of the most important things” in his life, and credited the drug with opening his mind and enabling him to become the innovator he was.

And consider this story: Once there was a teenage boy who enjoyed some of the edgier aspects of American youth culture. He was in a type of gang, he regularly smoked marijuana and even used cocaine from time to time. Then he ended that chapter of his life, worked his way into the political sphere and ended up as the president of the United States of America!

That is the way Barack Obama seems to want his story to be understood. He chooses his words carefully when discussing his drug use, and he doesn’t want the world to forget it. Using pot and cocaine was a rite of passage for him—a part of his journey toward success. It was a vital part of his “path to enlightenment.”

That narrative blends smoothly with pop culture’s increasing embrace, celebration and glamorization of illicit drug use.

It’s important for [legalization of marijuana] to go forward [because it’s no more than] a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.
U.S. President Barack Obama
In January, the president said: “It’s important for [legalization of marijuana] to go forward” because smoking the drug is no more than “a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

The Drug-Free America Foundation said the president’s comments show that he is either “seriously ill-informed about the issue or is completely ignoring warnings from his highly esteemed advisers.” The foundation said it was “an irresponsible move for such a person in the most highly regarded position in this country.”

Whether the president likes it or not, he plays a key role in setting the moral tone of the United States. His decision to wade into this controversial topic and flippantly undercut U.S. law is intensifying the nation’s appetite for drugs and lawlessness.

Want evidence? Back in 1969, when Gallup conducted the first poll on the topic, 12 percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing marijuana. Over the next 40 years, the public responded to pop culture’s suggestions, and that number gradually and slowly climbed 28 percentage points by the time President Obama was elected. During his time in office, the climb has rapidly accelerated, gaining 18 percentage points in just 5 years. It now stands at 58 percent. For the first time in history, the majority of Americans favor legalizing pot.

How could we expect the war on drugs to succeed when U.S. pop culture is dripping with drug glamorization? How could it be anything but a spectacular failure when leaders—including the president himself—routinely downplay the dangers of narcotics?

To solve America’s drug addiction, the nation would have to stop talking out of both sides of its mouth. Entertainment would need to stop aggressively pushing such destructive themes, politicians would need to stand in solidarity with anti-narcotic efforts, and laws would need to be consistently enforced. Yet, even if Washington somehow implemented all these drastic measures, much of the demand for drugs—which is the central problem—would remain.

A Complete Solution

The only way to completely rehabilitate America’s addiction would be to totally snuff out every individual’s demand for drugs. To the pragmatist, this may sound like a non-solution—like saying, “Let’s just wave a wand that magically makes everyone healthy, happy, productive, reliable, rational, stable and loving, toward themselves and others.”

But there really is a way to remove all demand.

Why do so many crave a substance that will alter their mind, dull their pain, satiate their appetite and make them forget themselves? Because they feel empty. They have been duped into believing unimportant things are meaningful, and that meaningful things are unimportant.

Addiction is complex, and there is a tendency among some prohibitionists to sometimes oversimplify it. Nevertheless, how could someone like Hoffman—with three beautiful, young children, the admiration of millions and a comfortable life—trade it all in for a needle?

Russell Brand’s Guardian piece offers an answer: “[I]n spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason, and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.”

This “void” is actually not just inside addicts, but all people. The Creator God made human beings so that, without Him in our lives, we are incomplete. Without His Holy Spirit in and completing us, a deep emptiness nags at all men and women.

Mankind’s Creator planted within us a deep longing for something beyond ourselves. We crave a purpose, a connection with others, a cause, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. But more than that, we actually need a relationship with the true God. And a relationship with the Creator is the only thing that can fill this God-shaped void in our lives.

The majority of people try to fill this void with devotion to man-made gods like Vishnu, Buddha, Krishna, Mary or a false Jesus. But it doesn’t work. Many try to fill it with devotion to friends or family, which can be healthy but doesn’t fit into that God-shaped hole. Some try to fill it with a pious devotion to knowledge, entertainment or career. That doesn’t work either. Some turn to illicit sex. Others try to fill it with substance abuse.

Mind-altering drugs can make a person feel like he has filled that emptiness! But only for as long as the high lasts. Then the emptiness returns—this time a little deeper, a little more urgent, a little sharper. A user reaches for the pipe, pills or needle again, and often discovers that he requires more than before to obtain the same feeling of satiety—and thus a downward spiral results whose name is addiction.

Solomon understood the void in mankind, in part because he had experienced some of the emptiness that spurs some people to use drugs. As one of the richest men on the planet at the time, he determined to perform a perilous experiment in which he sampled almost every pleasure known to man. Solomon drank liberally, planted extraordinary gardens, constructed magnificent buildings, assembled orchestras to play at his command, and surrounded himself with all kinds of pleasures and beautiful women. “Anything I wanted,” he said, “I would take” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10; New Living Translation).

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless
King Solomon
Yet, God was not first in his life, so he still found himself unfulfilled. At the end of this experiment, he said, “[I]t was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (verse 11; nlt).

All that extravagance took him beyond mere listlessness, and into misery: “So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless …” (verse 17; nlt).

At the time that Mr. Hoffman injected the fatal dose of heroin into his arm, his three children—whom he is said to have loved exceedingly—were waiting for him at a playground just a block from his apartment. But by that time, his addiction was too vicious and powerful. The void in his life was too dark, urgent and jagged.

Russell Brand said the void is “unfulfillable.” But Solomon learned that a close relationship with the true God can perfectly fill that emptiness! “Here now is my final conclusion,” Solomon said at the end of his social experiment: “Fear God, and keep His commands, for this is the whole of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13; New Living, Young’s Literal).

People have been deceived into believing that deeply meaningful things—like keeping God’s commandments and living His way of life—are unimportant. But these things are actually “the whole of man”!

If every person cultivates a close relationship with the Creator of mankind—loving and fearing Him in the correct way and following His perfect law in every aspect of life—then demand for narcotics will become a hazy memory.

Scripture reveals that, at present, mankind as a whole is cut off from access to God, with very few exceptions. (This truth is explained in our free book Mystery of the Ages.) However, the good news is that, very soon, the true Jesus Christ will return to Earth. When He does, lasting healing and relapse-proof rehabilitation will begin for all of mankind’s problems. All people will be devoted to building close, fulfilling relationships with their Creator. And the void in every man’s life will be perfectly, joyously filled.

Dirt Cheap

Dirt Cheap

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What modern farming is doing to our soil—and why you should care
From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Last year a group of scientists gave an unusual warning about the collapse of global civilization. The threat wasn’t global warming, an asteroid impact or even nuclear war. Their warnings revolved around something much more mundane: dirt.

Except, as those scientists are discovering, dirt isn’t really boring at all. In just a cupful of healthy soil, there are more living organisms than there are stars in our galaxy. More different types of organisms live in that cup of dirt than in the whole of the Amazon rainforest.

An incredible world lies hidden beneath our feet. But this subject is of much more than simply academic interest. Our survival relies on the health of that soil.

This is a world we are only just beginning to explore, let alone understand. But modern farming practices, such as our widespread use of fertilizer, are destroying those amazing and critical organisms.

What we have been doing to our soil is the equivalent of strip-mining the Amazon rainforest. And we have little idea what the results of that destruction could be.

The Wonders of Dirt

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot,” said Leonardo da Vinci. Modern scientists say that remains the case today. But we are starting to get a glimpse into that world.

One of the most recent discoveries revolves around something called mycorrhizae. These are filaments of fungus that grow on plant roots. These fungi act as extensions to a plant’s root network, allowing it to draw nutrients from a much larger area.

That in itself is amazing—plant and fungus working together to their mutual benefit. But last summer, researchers from the UK found that these mycorrhizae link up, creating a sort of underground Internet, connecting different plants together.

Perhaps a telegraph system would be a better analogy. The researchers found that when one plant was attacked by aphids, it would send a signal through the mycorrhizal filaments warning the other plants. These plants would have an early warning to go into defense mode, producing chemicals to repel aphids and even call for reinforcements by secreting a chemical designed to attract wasps, which eat aphids. The mycorrhizae help plants defend against disease in the same way, with sick plants using the network to get out an early warning.

All this is from just one type of fungus. Yet dirt holds many more potential wonders.

Destroying the Rainforest

Modern farming, however, is destroying these living organisms. Our use of chemical fertilizer has radically changed the soil we farm, according to a recent study of the American prairie conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado. The soil’s fertility could collapse because of the damage done to the range of microbes that play a vital but little-studied role in soil fertility, they concluded.

“The soils currently found throughout the region bear little resemblance to their pre-agricultural state,” concluded the study, conducted under associate professor of microbial ecology Noah Fierer. “We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet, but we do know that soil microbes play a key role, and we can’t just keep adding fertilizers.”

The study showed that uncultivated soils contain minute living organisms that put nutrients back into the soil. These bacteria are not present where fertilizers have been used, which means that this kind of fertilized soil has no way of replacing lost nutrients except through the use of more fertilizer.

This study looked specifically at the soil of the American prairie, but others have shown that it applies more generally. Fertilizers and synthetic pesticides destroy microbial activity. They stop the growth of mycorrhizae, for example, causing the network to break down and plants to draw in fewer nutrients.

How serious is this problem? The study, published in the November 1 edition of Science magazine, was accompanied by another piece warning of the threat that a collapse in soil fertility poses to civilization.

The Lesson of the Dust Bowl

“In the past, great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded,” wrote Mary Scholes of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Robert Scholes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, also in South Africa. “The modern world could suffer the same fate at a global scale.”

“The inherent productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity and nutrient depletion. Although improved technology—including the unsustainably high use of fertilizers, irrigation and plowing—provides a false sense of security, about 1 percent of global land area is degraded every year” (ibid).

Citing Fierer’s study, the authors warn: “We have forgotten the lesson of the Dust Bowl: Even in advanced economies, human wellbeing depends on looking after the soil.”

The authors say that the perception of soil as merely a kind of container for nutrients has led to “an unprecedented increase in food production”—and a huge amount of pollution and environmental destruction.

Scholes and Scholes dismiss a “dogmatically ‘organic’” approach as impractical, but admit that “feeding the world and keeping it habitable” will require some major changes in agriculture.

Coming Famine?

Robert Scholes warns that governments eventually reach a point where, in order to feed people, they destroy the long-term health of their land. “We’re running out of new agricultural frontiers, and we don’t have the freedom to make errors any more,” he said. “We are using up our nutrient capital and face a looming food crisis over the next 30 to 40 years. There is a risk that we are going to paint ourselves into a corner. Famine is a very real possibility.” The Scholes point to past civilizations that have overexploited the land to the point where it cannot be rehabilitated. The effects on society can be devastating.

The Telegraph’s international business editor, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, wrote, “Cautionary stories abound. The east side of Madagascar has been destroyed by slash-and-burn deforestation, perhaps irreversibly in any human time horizon. Iceland’s Norse settlers turned their green and partly forested island into a Nordic desert in the 10th century. They have yet to restore the fragile soil a thousand years later, despite careful husbandry,” (Nov. 27, 2013).

Evans-Pritchard concluded with the following warning: “We are becoming complacent again. The blunt truth is that the world cannot afford to lose one hectare of land a year, let alone 12 million hectares. The added discovery that we’re doing even more damage than feared to the soil microbia should bring us to our senses. We argue too much about global warming, which may or may not be caused by man’s actions, and may or may not catch us this century.

“The global land crisis is almost entirely our own doing. It is closing in on us right now. It can be reversed if world leaders choose to reverse it.”

There is a tremendous lesson in this trend—if only people had the humility to acknowledge it.

Keeping the Law

The entire material creation—this Earth, the universe and everything in it—operates according to laws, both physical and spiritual. These laws regulate human behavior: Keep them, and you’ll be happy. They apply to health: Keep them, and you’ll be healthy. And they apply to agriculture: Keep them, and you won’t starve. Whenever we suffer problems and curses, whether we realize it or not we are experiencing the effects of breaking these laws.

What is happening to soil microbes is a familiar story. Human beings believe that, no matter what the law, they can find some way to get around it if they want to. Sometimes it seems we have done exactly that—but then comes the sickening realization that we didn’t see the full picture.

In trying to circumvent the law, we are actually rebelling against the Lawgiver.

While scientists and the rest of mankind must respect certain physical laws that govern our daily lives, many people view the laws revealed in the Bible—governing civil life, morality and personal conduct, and religious life—with scorn and contempt. However, defying those laws leads to trouble just as surely as breaking the physical laws does.

One law in the Old Testament that critics ridicule is the land sabbath. God commanded that every seven years, the land be allowed to rest—there was no pruning or planting (for commercial harvesting), and nothing was to be harvested except what people picked for their own personal consumption (Leviticus 25:2-7, 18-22). To many, this law seems obsolete: Modern farmers can get around resting the land by using fertilizers.

But scientists are now beginning to learn that there is no getting around this law. The use of fertilizers to avoid letting the land rest is a shortcut that wreaks considerable damage to the land in the long run.

God’s law doesn’t give us all the details we need to be successful farmers. But without keeping these laws, we cannot maintain healthy and productive soils. This land sabbath was probably a time to allow plants that put nitrogen back into the soil to grow, and let animals fertilize the land with their microbe-rich manure. The soil even benefits from just being left still. The microbes can grow much faster without the physical disruption that comes from plowing the fields and sowing seeds.

Because of these biblical laws, the Plain Truth, the Trumpet’s predecessor, was warning about the dangers posed by the loss of soil microbes decades ago. At the time, these warnings were far from mainstream. Today, some of the recent papers coming from the world’s experts sound remarkably similar to those Plain Truth articles. The Plain Truth was ahead of its time because it relied on the Bible.

The Scholeses’ paper dismisses a return to this kind of farming as impractical. They are correct in saying that it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, keeping the land sabbath God’s way would require a complete reordering of society. It would require a society that trusts in God to provide a bumper crop of food in the sixth year of harvest. It may require most families to have a garden of their own. It may mean that some of the world’s deserts have to be reclaimed for use as agricultural land—something which, as Evans-Pritchard points out, is possible, but is ignored because of the expense.

But as all these experts acknowledge, our current way of farming is not working. If we keep trying to do it this way—and we will—it will bring famine. The land sabbath, as well as God’s other laws, are the changes we need.

Scientists are now ready to admit, “We really know very little about one of the most productive soils on the planet.” The problem is that they’re not yet ready to admit that the God of the Bible knows all about these soils—and a lot more besides. After all, He created that soil, with all its vast complexity. Sadly, it will take the complete failure of man’s civilization before he acknowledges this.

Once mankind admits that God knows better than they do—on all subjects from family life to international relations and even agriculture, the blessings will flow. We probably won’t completely understand how great the blessings that come from laws like the land sabbath are until the whole of society is keeping them and able to experience those blessings.

But we can still get a sneak peak. Our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like describes that complete change that God’s laws and resulting blessings will bring to the Earth. By studying and thinking on the many prophecies of this coming time of abundance, we can get a glimpse of the blessings that come once man admits that he just doesn’t know best, and the whole planet starts obeying God.

Germany’s Urgent and Dangerous Military Decision

Germany’s Urgent and Dangerous Military Decision

RONNY HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images

From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Germany’s foreign policy has just been dramatically and historically transformed.

The pivot occurred in January, and it was front-page news globally. However, few people truly grasped the magnitude of what they had just witnessed, and the catastrophic ramifications for Europe and the world. Many, especially in America, actually embraced the news!

Before we review what happened in Germany, we must consider the context of world events.

You are probably aware of the political and social upheaval that has recently unfolded in Ukraine. Even now, that country teeters on the brink of political and economic collapse, and possibly civil war. Why? In essence, it’s because—as I wrote in the last issue of the Trumpet—Ukraine is being held hostage by Russia.

Many Ukrainians want their country to develop stronger ties with Europe. Until recently, Ukraine’s government was moving in that direction and was working to sign a formal trade agreement with the European Union. But last November, that agreement was destroyed when Russian strongman Vladimir Putin made it clear to Kiev that it had better not get any closer to Europe. Fearful of disobeying Putin, Ukraine’s government gave in. This infuriated millions of Ukrainians. Many of them demonstrated on the streets, sending the nation into pandemonium.

Germany is monitoring events in Ukraine closely. There is a lot of bad blood between Germany and Russia. They were bitter enemies in World War ii, and Berlin is fearfully watching Russia’s forceful attempt to get control over Ukraine. As I explained in the February Trumpet edition, a confrontational and imperialist Vladimir Putin is certain to provoke Germany to take action!

That is the context of what happened in Germany in January. A large part of Germany’s foreign policy shift is a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s recent behavior, especially in Ukraine!

Viewed through the lens of Bible prophecy, the prince of Rosh is awakening the Beast! (I explained that prophecy in our February issue.)

The Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, have been prophesying about the end-time emergence of a German-led, Catholic-inspired beast power for more than 70 years! We delivered this warning even in 1945, when Germany and Europe were still smoldering after World War ii. We prophesied it for decades before Germany’s unification in 1989. Today this prophecy is being fulfilled before your eyes! It is obvious that Germany today dominates Europe politically and financially. Now Germany is revolutionizing its foreign policy. Keep watching: Very soon now, Germany will become a superpower even greater than America and Russia. It is prophesied!

You need to think about what this means for you individually. Are you concerned? You need to be! The Bible says the emergence of a German superpower is going to affect you directly!

So, what exactly has Germany done that is so alarming?

A More Assertive Foreign Policy

There’s no way to know precisely when Germany made the change, but it appears a meeting on January 15 could have been significant. As Spiegel reported, this was the day Chancellor Angela Merkel met with her lieutenants—new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and new Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen—to discuss France’s military missions in Africa, whether Germany ought to provide more assistance, and Germany’s broader foreign policy.

Since then, the message coming from Germany—from Steinmeier and von der Leyen, from lower level government officials, from Germany’s media and from numerous German analysts and think tanks—has been loud and consistent: The time has come to pursue a much stronger foreign policy, both militarily and politically.

Many people are unconcerned by the idea of a newly assertive Germany. Some even think it positive that this nation is willing to help out more. But we have to consider the historical context.

Consider what Stratfor ceo George Friedman and Marc Lanthemann wrote in February: “Since the end of World War ii, Germany has pursued a relatively tame foreign policy. But over the past week, Berlin appeared to have acknowledged the need for a fairly dramatic change. German leaders, including the chancellor, the president, the foreign minister and the defense minister, have called for a new framework that contravenes the restraint Germany has practiced for so long. They want Germany to assume a greater international role by becoming more involved outside its borders politically and militarily …” (emphasis mine throughout).

Here’s how Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s largest and most popular news magazines, put it: “The new German government, inaugurated just a month ago, is charting a new course in foreign policy. Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen believe that an economic powerhouse like Germany can’t continue to stand on the sidelines. They want to show Germany’s allies that the country can be relied upon.”

The New York Times wrote: “German leaders are pushing a vigorous new case that it is time for their nation to find a more muscular voice in foreign affairs.” The Times noted how, in response to multiplying global crises and a retreating U.S. superpower, “senior [German] officials are urging a rethinking of the country’s assumptions about its diplomatic and military role.” Again, all these observations were written at the end of January, in response to a foreign policy shift that began around January 15-16.

Our booklet He Was Right explains the shocking step-by-step process of how we prophesied this change for many years—and what it means for America, Britain and the Jewish state. Request a copy and we will send it to you at no charge.

Why the Change?

In many respects, Germany’s decision to step up its involvement in world affairs makes sense.

Norbert Röttgen heads the foreign affairs committee of the German Parliament and is a member of Merkel’s conservative party. The New York Times quoted him saying that the change in Germany’s tone stems from “a coincidence of several events that shake you awake” (ibid). Germany’s leaders are watching, for example, what Russia is doing in the Middle East and Ukraine and other places—and they are being shaken into action!

These politicians are beginning to move because the nations are shaking! Instability is increasing, and the need for robust leadership is growing. More and more people view Germany as being the nation best suited to provide that leadership.

The Trumpet has been following this trend for some time. In our December 2013 cover story, “We’re All Falling in Love With Germany,” we described how leaders the world over have been calling upon Germany to be more dominant. Now, German leaders are joining the chorus and expressing their desire to do just that. In our January 2014 edition, we focused on how much of this is coming about as a result of America’s historic abdication of its leadership role!

Notice what George Friedman wrote about why Germany is making these changes: “[Germany] has to adjust to the U.S. policy of global disengagement and it must manage a complex, necessary and dangerous relationship with Russia.” He is exactly right. Can you see what is happening? German leaders have even admitted that their nation must rise because America is declining (“‘Don’t Hide Behind Your History’”). America’s retreat has left a huge vacuum in the world, and the Germans, Russians and others are filling it! We will soon see that this is going to make our world far more dangerous than ever before.

German-Foreign-Policy.com wrote on January 27 about “The World’s Expectations” and how Germany’s leadership is getting bolder. “Germany must lead,” former Defense Minister Volker Rühe wrote in a recent newspaper column. Wolfgang Ischinger, who recently served as director for the Munich Security Conference, said Germany “must massively bring to bear its foreign policy in Europe.”

You need to understand what a drastic change this sort of language is! There is a strong reason why Germany hasn’t been talking like this for many decades—and why these statements are so alarming today!

Unlike most Western journalists, Friedman didn’t shy away from invoking historical reality. “Such a reconfiguration … for Germany … is a radical position, given its experience in World War ii. It has refrained from asserting a strong foreign policy and from promoting its national interest lest it revive fears of German aggression and German nationalism” (ibid). That is right: For years Germany has refrained from being too assertive because of its warmongering past. But now, it is casting off that restraint!

Look closely at what Germany has done in the past: It started World Wars i and ii, as well as other wars! Germany is a great nation and the German people are a great people, but they have been shaped and molded to a great extent by what is called the Holy Roman Empire, which they have been a part of off and on since a.d. 554—right up to the present!

“Either something new must be introduced into the European experiment or it might come undone,” that Stratfor article went on to say. “Berlin believes that holding the European Union together requires adding another dimension that it heretofore has withheld in its dealing with the bloc: military-political relations.” They have to unify. They have to have a strong military. Where is this leading?

A Warning From Edward R. Murrow

Most authorities agree that Edward R. Murrow was the foremost American reporter in World War ii. He was upset that the U.S. wouldn’t join in and support Britain much earlier than it did. He said America didn’t really choose to join Britain in that war—it was bombed into it by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Murrow condemned America for being very isolationist.

Murrow had a tv news program after World War ii called See It Now. He traveled to Germany and visited all of the concentration camps—which he called “extermination camps”—and was shocked by what he saw! He became very angry because of what the Germans had done. The radio broadcasts he produced were some of the most powerful this world has ever heard, and you can still access them today. Murrow was deeply convicted about the importance of what he reported. After broadcasting from those extermination camps, he said that if he had offended people he wasn’t the least bit sorry.

When Murrow returned to London from Germany, he said, “I was impressed with the absence of any feeling of guilt.” Even after the nightmare of World War ii, the Germans didn’t seem to show any remorse for what they had done to other nations and peoples.

During a 1958 radio broadcast, Murrow said, “No one has yet produced a formula for ridding the German people of their appetite for war, their recurring desire to shoot people and to take their land and their homes.” That is a serious accusation, but it is true. Murrow also warned about “the reemergence of Germany as a world power.” It was his exposure to the nightmares of the Holocaust that made him deeply concerned about that.

The April 1952 Good News magazine wrote, “Does America dare arm Germany? … Our leading generals in Europe adamantly warn that Germany is a calculated risk”! What happened to those pragmatic voices? Nobody even thinks about that risk today. Nobody remembers that recent history. “Why will the diplomats think that today the hearts of the people in Germany are different from yesterday?” it continued. “Every one of those undemocratic nations, when once armed, has turned upon us.”

Do you really understand what is going on in Europe? Again, the German people are in many ways a great people. This is not a put-down of the German people. It is simply a statement of facts. This is recent history! We ought to know it. It teaches powerful lessons that we need to learn. Sadly, we don’t seem to have an interest in history today; it is almost nonexistent in America’s universities.

Our educational institutions, the media and many politicians have caused the Western world to be blind to the worst crisis ever, which is about to strike this planet!

Germany and the Holy Roman Empire

Revelation 17:10 contains this electrifying prophecy: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.”

This verse is loaded with important prophetic information. (My free booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation explains it in detail.) It is talking about the seven resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire. History has already recorded six of them, and this prophecy is written from the perspective of when that sixth resurrection was on the scene. That empire was the Hitler-Mussolini axis of World War ii. At that time, Herbert W. Armstrong came along (when “one is”), and he prophesied what would happen in Germany and Europe. Everything he prophesied is coming to pass today! These are facts; I’m not telling you anything that you can’t prove from your own Bible.

Notice that the scripture says one “is not yet come.” When Mr. Armstrong was around, that seventh resurrection was “not yet come.” But now, some years later, itIScome! It is right there before our eyes! It is forming, and Germany has everything to do with forming it. Germany will lead it, according to your Bible. Isaiah 10:7 and many other scriptures make that clear. That is where we are right now in Bible prophecymost of which is for this end time. What is happening in Europe and to the military inside Germany is prophesied over and over in your Bible.

Otto von Habsburg, once a member of the European Parliament, said this 25 years ago: “The European Community is living largely by the heritage of the Holy Roman Empire, though the great majority of the people who live by it don’t know by what heritage they live.” The Holy Roman Empire is their heritage.

Habsburg went on to say, “We possess a European symbol which belongs to all nations of Europe equally. This is the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which embodies the tradition of Charlemagne.” That empire began in a.d. 554 with Justinian. Then came Charlemagne, the second of seven iterations of this Holy Roman power. Charlemagne waded through rivers of blood to bring people under subjection to that empire. At that time it was called the First Reich. Adolf Hitler was the sixth resurrection, and he called his the Third Reich. How many people know what that means? You need to understand about the Holy Roman Empire; even the people in Europe need to understand it better.

If you study the biblical prophecies about the seventh and last resurrection of that empire—which is to rise just before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming—then several details of what is happening in Europe today become far more striking.

For example, Defense Minister von der Leyen told Spiegel, “Europe must speak with a single voice in the future when it comes to security policy” (op. cit.). Right now, with 28 nations in the European Union, it cannot speak with one voice, and this creates serious problems. To be able to speak in a more unified way, you can be sure they will have to pare down the number of nations in the Union.

This points toward the prophecy in Revelation 13 and 17 that this European empire is going to consist of “ten kings”—probably 10 nations. Once that occurs, then Europe will speak with one voice.

We can also take note of the prophecy in Daniel 2, which pictures this end-time empire as being part of a great statue. The legs on this statue, made of iron, prophetically portray the Roman Empire, which had two capitals—one in the east and one in the west, Constantinople and Rome. The last resurrection of this empire is pictured by two feet, made of an unstable mixture of iron and clay (Daniel 2:31-33, 40-43). Is there a more apt description of Europe today? It is an unstable mixture of iron and clay!

In August 2005, I wrote, “There is some real tension between Russia and Germany over Ukraine” (Royal Vision). I wrote that nearly nine years ago—because of this prophecy in Daniel. “It’s all about the eastern leg of the Holy Roman Empire taking shape,” I wrote. If you know anything about the Daniel 2 image, you can see what I’m talking about. (We have more explanation about that image in our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire; request your free copy.)

A European Strongman

Here is another prophecy we need to watch in light of what is happening in Germany and Europe today: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” (Daniel 8:23). The book of Daniel is prophecy for the end time (Daniel 12:4, 9). This is talking about the fact that sometime soon, this European empire will be led by a strongman—as it has been so many times in the past.

This man is also described in Daniel 11:21: “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries”—in other words, it strongly indicates that this “vile person” will not be voted in. Watch Europe for this strongman! He is about to come on the scene.

This change in Germany’s military policy is creating a framework that this individual will be able to take advantage of. What does Germany do when it gets a strong military? Do you dare read its history and see? Once that military is in place, it will be put to use! This world doesn’t comprehend that because it doesn’t understand history and Bible prophecy. We just have to look at the truth to understand what we’re dealing with. Everything is moving at lightning speed.

Chancellor Merkel has yet to weigh in on the use of the military. She is known as a very cautious lady—and that could actually lead to her downfall. Spiegel wrote, “In her eight years in office thus far, Merkel has lost faith in the notion that military intervention can bring about improvements. She was particularly disillusioned by the German Army’s mission in Afghanistan” (op. cit.). Other German leaders, like former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, certainly disagree with her on that issue. It appears she is out of step with many of the elite in Germany. When that strongman comes along, he is going to handle things very differently than the current chancellor. That is what Bible prophecy tells us.

Daniel 8 continues: “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power”—this leader is going to have help from an evil spirit—“and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many …” (verses 24-25). This is describing the terrible Great Tribulation that is foretold in dozens of biblical prophecies. That nightmare is just ahead of us!

In 1957, when Germany was a pile of rubble, Mr. Armstrong said, “Germany is going to rise again with great power.” He said the same thing in 1970. In 1980, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “I have been forecasting this revived Roman Empire publicly since February 1934. Now, it may go together suddenly, rapidly.” It is doing just that today! In 1983, he said, “The Bible prophesies of this coming United States of Europe, a new united superpower, perhaps more powerful than either the Soviet Union or the United States.” He went on to say that we don’t realize the thoroughness of the Germans, and that they are going to carry through what they started in World Wars i and ii in another world war—World War iii.

He said that in 1957!

In the Second World War, Mussolini’s son-in-law was speaking with the German foreign minister, and he asked: “What do you Germans want? Do you want Danzig? Do you want the corridor?” The German foreign minister said: “We want war!”

Winston Churchill said, “The history of man is the history of war!” The Western world has had relative peace for so long that we have allowed ourselves to forget the vital lessons of history.

Thankfully, however, this last resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire is tied directly to the coming of the Messiah. Notice how Daniel’s prophecy of this end-time Roman emperor concludes in verse 25: “… he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” That means he will be broken by God Himself! The Messiah is going to break that man, that empire and all of its power—destroy it completely! And then, the Bible promises, He is going to bring real peace and joy to this world forever!

Find Solitude in This Crazy World

Find Solitude in This Crazy World

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From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

In a 2010 study, the University of Maryland asked 200 students to refrain from using electronic media for a day. After the exercise, one student commented: “Texting and im-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.” Not being able to communicate via technology, he complained, “was almost unbearable” (emphasis added throughout).

What a sorry state of mind. This young man was tethered so tightly to gadgets—and the perpetually connected world they open up—he feared being alone. His existence was defined by his place in the crowd. Solitude was his enemy.

In his international bestseller The Art of Thinking, Ernest Dimnet wrote that the art of thinking is the art of being one’s self, and this art can only be learned if one is by one’s self.” Deep, strong, independent thinkers, he wrote, love being alone—they crave and create moments of solitude.

Great thinkers—or as Dimnet called them, “people possessed of a mastering purpose leaving no room for inferior occupations”—stand apart for the “directness of their intellectual vision.” The mind of the weak thinker, on the other hand, has a “fatal capacity for letting in extraneous thoughts or mental parasites.”

To engage in deep, single-focused thinking, we must create an environment devoid of distractions. We must love solitude.

This is not easy. These days, if we carry a cell phone or iPod, we are not alone. If we’re logged into Facebook or Googling, we are not alone. If we’re sitting in a silent room pecking away at the computer but have e-mail or instant messenger open, we are not alone.

Creating the solitude needed for thinking requires flicking the off switch on every screen in our lives! Here are some other tips for creating solitude in our lives.

Whether using a gadget or creating space for serious thought, budget your time. Put a limit on your recreational Internet use. When you’re on the computer, set the timer so you don’t lose track of time. Limit the number of texts you (and your teenager) send each day. Force yourself to only check your e-mail once an hour, or once a night. Turn the television off after the specified maximum time each day or week. Carve out blocks during the evening when all cell phones, or all gadgets, are off.

By exerting more self-discipline—both with our time as well as our use of gadgets—most us could quite easily create the nooks of solitude required for quality thinking.

In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers explains the value of what he terms the “Internet sabbath.” A few years ago, he and his wife began turning off the modem on Friday night and not switching it on until Monday morning. For the entire weekend, the family was disconnected from the Internet and the digital crowd. It wasn’t easy at first. But as time passed, the impact was noticeable and welcomed.

On the weekends, Powers writes, the house became a “kind of island away from the madness.” Instead of each family member retiring to a room with a gadget, they gathered for board games and conversation. Naturally, the family grew closer. During the day they spent more time outdoors and grew to love nature. They got to know their neighbors.

Why not consider following Powers’s example and instituting a rest day from the Internet, or even all gadgets in your household? If switching off gadgets for an entire day isn’t practical, then carve out time—perhaps during dinner and for an hour afterward—when all screens must be off.

Here’s another idea: Create within your home nooks of solitude—areas where family members can go to be free of noise, distractions and screens. Teach the family to respect these as places where the stressed can unwind and read a book or poem, or simply reflect and contemplate.

Realize, though, we can be isolated in a silent environment and still be plagued by thought-destroying noise and bustle within. The mind that is overloaded, filled with commotion and unorganized, unfiled information, is incapable of in-depth, concentrated thought.

To think and reflect, we must also strive to create interior solitude. This means switching off any extraneous programs running in our minds. It means removing mental distractions, obstacles to focused concentration. If you’re distracted because you haven’t paid a bill, pay it. Forget about the tv show you might be missing. When you sit down to read a book, switch the computer off so its alluring glow won’t entice you. Switch off your cell phone too. Do whatever it takes to purge the distractions from your mind.

“[T]o lead happy, productive lives in a connected world,” writes Powers, “we need to master the art of disconnecting.” This will certainly go a long way to creating an environment conducive to deep, independent thought. But, alone, it won’t result in our leading “happy, productive lives.” If we want our lives to be happy and positive, productive and forward-moving, we need more than just peaceful solitude. And we need more than just the ability to think deeply.

To attain the heights of happiness, our minds, as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12, need to be “transformed” by the truth and Spirit of God. Fact is, the way to possessing the ultimately satisfied mind is to immerse oneself in truth, law and obedience. To learn more about this ultimate mental and spiritual transformation, read The Incredible Human Potential.

The Lightweight

The Lightweight

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François Hollande’s surrender makes Germany the undisputed head of a union capable of shaking the world.
From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

France might be the most underestimated power in the world. For decades after World War ii, it was the leader of Europe, then co-leader with Germany as the latter rose in power. Its former empire, while less famous than Britain’s, still affords Paris a global system of military bases. France has been a nuclear power since 1960 and is one of only five nations with a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Now, however, France’s time of co-leadership with Germany is over. At a little-noticed press conference in January, it effectively surrendered that leadership to Berlin. And Germany, by bringing France to heel, massively extended its own power.

That conference finalized a fundamental shift in the Franco-German relationship that has been taking place for some time. It has been clear for years that Germany is the major power in Europe.

A French Rebellion

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy worked hard to make France look like Germany’s equal. During his tenure, the party line was that France wasn’t surrendering to Germany—the two nations just happened to agree on everything. Sarkozy worked so closely with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the two became known as “Merkozy.”

When François Hollande was elected in 2012, he destroyed that partnership, threatening war against Germany—fought not on the battlefields, but in the conference rooms. Hollande was Europe’s anti-austerity champion, the antidote to Merkel’s draconian spending cuts. For a while, it looked like Hollande might lead southern Europe in an uprising against German dominance. After all, France was the only EU nation with enough power to challenge Germany.

Now, less than two years later, the promise of a French counterweight to Germany seems like a distant memory. Hollande never really fought in earnest. The southern European confederation didn’t materialize. And at a press conference on January 14, Hollande waved the white flag.

In that press conference, Hollande acquiesced to the German way of doing things, promising to cut taxes and spending. He told the world that Germany’s austere leadership was what Europe needed after all. Whether or not Hollande adopts Berlin-style austere economic policies, that press conference marked his relinquishing of his role as the anti-German champion.

Hollande went on to discuss German-France military relations, again making a U-turn from his previous speeches and promising to increase his country’s cooperation with Germany. “This Franco-German momentum will enable us, if we are able, as I believe we are, to revitalize the European ideal,” he said.

Hollande has now joined a new Franco-German partnership—and his country is clearly the junior partner, doing what Germany tells it to do.

How did this happen? Despite all its power, France has a major weakness: its fragile economy. And one of the major triggers for this capitulation—if not the major trigger—was events in central Africa.

The Fight for Africa

Soon after taking office in May 2012, Hollande launched an offensive in Mali. Germany backed him; after all, radical Islam was an urgent threat, and the potential of a terrorist breeding ground in the heart of North Africa was too serious to use as a pawn in a political game with France.

Then, in December 2013, Paris sent its military into the Central African Republic (car)—alone, without taking the matter to the EU. This was fatal. France’s economy was already weak, probably on the road to requiring a bailout of its own. With the government budget stretched close to its limit, the nation now bore the burden of two extra—and quite substantial—military deployments. These military commitments were unsustainable without help.

Hollande then turned to the EU for support, desperate for money as much as for EU troops. Angela Merkel said no. France could not just launch a military mission, she said, and then turn around and ask for a check.

It was right after this that Hollande gave in to Germany at that January 14 press conference. And less than a week later, Merkel changed her mind. On January 20, twenty EU foreign ministers announced that they would send up to 1,000 soldiers.

Did Germany initially refuse to allow the EU to support France in order to force Hollande’s surrender?

Even though the Germans have now removed their roadblock to France receiving help, they still refuse to give any meaningful support to the car mission themselves—a move that also seems designed to keep France in check.

Historically France has been the dominant colonial power in central Africa. Even now, many of the countries in this region speak French as their main language. France maintains military bases in many of its former colonies and has a high level of involvement in their governments.

Yet despite those advantages, France is losing its economic connection to the region. In 1960, around 17 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s trade was with France—second only to the UK. As recently as the year 2000, France was the main exporter to sub-Saharan Africa. Now it is in fifth place, behind China, America, India and Germany.

Germany is not content to let France manage North Africa on Europe’s behalf. It has its own separate interests in the region. And it is worried that France will try to use its military operations to regain the influence it has been losing to Germany, among others. So instead of sending troops to the car, Germany has offered to increase its presence in Mali—freeing up France to send more to the car. Rather than being France’s lackey, Germany is concentrating its limited resources in one place so it can maximize its own influence in Africa.

A Staging Ground for Germany

Germany is already doing well in Mali. When Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta traveled to Europe, he hailed Germany as Mali’s “most important partner” and, on “the international level,” its “main partner country.” That statement is a bit shocking, considering that the nation that put him in power was France.

But German ambitions stretch further. Writing for the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, a think tank that advises the German Parliament and government on foreign policy, research group leader for the Middle East and Africa Dr. Annette Weber wrote, “For the long-term development [of the car], France is the wrong partner.” France’s knowledge and history of the country makes it the most suitable leader of a quick military intervention, she said. But “[i]n the long-term stabilization and support of political actors … France should hold back just because of its past” (Dec. 12, 2013).

If its actions are an indication, Berlin sees the situation the same way. Germany will allow and even support France as it confronts radical Islam in Africa. But it won’t allow France to use these missions to rebuild its influence in its former colonies.

North Africa used to be France’s backyard. Now, it seems, the French can’t launch an engagement without getting German permission.

By initially refusing Hollande’s request for help from the EU, Merkel made an important point. France can’t afford to go it alone anymore. And if it wants help, it had better coordinate with Berlin right from the start. Not only is Germany leading France in Europe, but it is using that dominance to establish veto power over France’s missions in Africa too.

As German leaders began calling for a more aggressive military earlier this year (article, page 2), North Africa was one of their main focuses. “Germany wants and will provide a catalyst for a common European foreign, security and defense policy,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Munich Security Conference on February 1. “Only when we throw our weight together … in the south and the east, will Europe’s foreign policy be more than the sum of many small parts. In this spirit, we are now considering how we can support militarily, specifically the stabilization of fragile states in Africa, especially in Mali.”

At the same event, Germany’s President Joachim Gauck asked, “Are we doing what we could do to stabilize our neighborhood, both in the East and in Africa?”

Last April, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications.” He noted that Iranian-backed terrorists were spreading throughout the region. “But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa,” he wrote. “Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can.”

No Western nation has a greater presence in North Africa than France. America claims only one base in the region (though its clandestine presence is significant and hard to quantify), while France has thousands of troops in about half a dozen major bases.

But Germany is using its dominance in Europe to give itself major leverage in France’s African policy. As the EU moves toward a combined military, France’s bases will become more European in nature.

If French power is often underestimated, then so too is the combined power of France and Germany. The EU may be bureaucratic, inefficient and fractious, but it brings together the economic strength of Germany, the military reach of France, and the wealth, resources, experiences and reach of many other nations that are powerful in their own right. There are some huge obstacles to be overcome before they all work together effectively. But the potential for power is huge.

And at the head of this conglomerate is Germany. Now that it has made it clear that France is the junior partner, German power will only grow.

One of the first places we will see that power projected is into strategically vital North Africa!

What Is a Real Christian?

What Is a Real Christian?

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The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the April 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Many people call themselves Christian! Nearly one third of people on Earth say they are Christian—about 2.18 billion out of about 7 billion. And the number is growing.

But what exactly does that mean? Do all those people conform to the criteria described in the book that forms the foundation of Christian beliefs, the Bible?

The book of Acts is the history of the early New Testament Church of God. It covers the major events in briefest summary form. This book attests to the fact that to live a Christian life is to live a certain way—to do certain things—to conform to certain standards.

One of the early Christians was a man named Apollos. He was an excellent speaker and well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. He preached boldly. However, Apollos needed more understanding. A dedicated couple in the Church of God gave him further instruction. Notice the account in Acts 18:26: “… whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”

Real Christianity, as described in the Bible, is a “way” of life—God’s way! But what exactly is that “way” that a Christian is supposed to live?

How Does a Christian Live?

The word Christian, derived from Christ, in a literal sense refers to one who follows Jesus Christ. Jesus described the very basis of real Christianity in what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This “sermon” actually started out as a private lesson for His disciples (students or learners). Jesus pointed out those characteristics that would clearly identify His true followers.

Before we focus on several of these Christian characteristics, you should first read all of Matthew 5, 6 and 7. This passage describes several aspects of the Christian way of life.

1. What did Jesus say about the “poor in spirit”? Matthew 5:3. Did He mean they would be lacking the Spirit of God? Romans 8:9.

If someone doesn’t possess the Holy Spirit, “he is none of his”—he is not a Christian! A real Christian is one who is led by the indwelling Spirit of God (verse 14), which provides the power to live God’s way. By “poor in spirit,” Jesus was not suggesting that they would lack God’s Spirit. Rather, He went on to show that those who are truly humble will be blessed because they will be in God’s Kingdom.

2. What will the meek inherit? Matthew 5:5. Was Jesus meek? Matthew 11:29. Will a Christian exhibit meekness in his daily life? Ephesians 4:1-2.

There is a difference between being meek and being weak. Jesus was meek, but not weak! He endured abuse and injury with patience and without resentment. A meek person will not try to justify himself when he is wrong. Neither does he feel superior to others. He will not try to get even with others, nor try to get revenge.

3. What will a true follower of Christ “thirst” for? Matthew 5:6. How does the Bible define righteousness? Psalm 119:172.

To “hunger and thirst” for righteousness is to be deeply motivated to obey God—to keep His laws, which He gave to us in loving concern for our own good.

Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will be studying God’s Word for true understanding. They will be willing to change when they see they’ve been wrong, admitting their wrong beliefs, mistakes and sins. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), wrote Paul. “Prove all things,” he also said (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

4. Who did Paul say are justified before God? Romans 2:13. Paul made it plain that the unmerited pardon of our sins is by the grace of God through faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Nevertheless, a Christian is still required to keep God’s law. Read Romans 3:31 and all of chapter 6.

5. Who did Jesus say will enter the Kingdom of God? Matthew 7:21. What did the Apostle Paul plainly say was most important for a Christian to be doing? 1 Corinthians 7:19.

Notice that in order to enter God’s Kingdom, there is doing required—not just the confession of Christ as our Savior. God is very concerned about our spiritual “works” after we become Christians. He makes it plain that we cannot enter the Kingdom of God just by thinking Christ has done it all for us.

6. Unless one has the love of God, can he really be a Christian? Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13 (the word charity in the King James Version means godly love). What are we if we lack the love of God? Verse 2.

7. Will God’s love, which He imparts through His Spirit, lead one to keep the Ten Commandments—all 10 of them? Romans 13:8-10. In what way did God inspire John to confirm Paul’s statement—what is the Bible definition of God’s love? 1 John 5:2-3. How is God’s love perfected in a Christian? 1 John 2:5.

A Christian ‘Walks’ With God

1. Is a real Christian one who strives to follow Christ—to imitate His example—to “walk” with Him? 1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21.

2. Who was one of the first men in the Bible who “walked” with God? Genesis 5:22-24.

3. What other great patriarch walked with God and found grace in God’s sight? Genesis 6:8-9. Was Noah clearly a faithful and righteous man who pleased God? Hebrews 11:7.

4. What was God’s command to Abraham? Genesis 17:1. Why could it be said that he did indeed walk with God? Genesis 26:5; Hebrews 11:8-10.

5. Was God also Abraham’s friend and companion? 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23. Did God talk with Abraham as a close friend would? Genesis 18:17-19, 23-33.

6. Did God also talk to Moses as with a close friend? Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:7-8; Deuteronomy 34:10.

7. How can we become Jesus Christ’s friends? John 15:14-15.

True friends walk together and talk together freely, without fear or embarrassment. They think much alike and are in agreement, or else they are not real friends.

8. Did God specifically command His Church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38)—the ancient nation of Israel—to walk in His ways; that is, to keep His laws? Deuteronomy 5:32-33; 8:6; 10:12-13; 11:22; 13:4; 26:17; 28:9.

9. Did God promise to walk with His people if they would walk with Him? Leviticus 26:3, 12. Would He greatly bless them if they walked with Him? Verses 4-11.

10. But if the people of Israel chose to walk contrary to God, what did God say would happen to them? Leviticus 26:14-39.

To “walk with God” clearly means to keep His commandments and laws, and to do what is pleasing in His sight. It is the only way to be a real Christian!

Relations With the World

1. What will a real Christian’s attitude be toward the sinning society around him? 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Peter 4:1-4; Revelation 18:4. What will he be striving to live by? Matthew 4:4.

A real Christian will no longer follow all the customs and practices of the society around him. Where he formerly “went along with the crowd,” thoughtlessly participating in various social activities and business practices, he will now begin to question his lifestyle. He will begin asking: “What is God’s will? How does God say I should live?” He will begin saying, with Christ, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” And he will begin to diligently search the Word of God to learn the will of God, and follow it.

Of course, God’s people must live in this world (John 17:15-16). And while striving to fully obey God, not being conformed to this world’s ways (Romans 12:1-2), they should strive to “live peaceably with all men” (verse 18). If a Christian has to disagree because of a biblical teaching, he does so without being disagreeable or self-righteous about it.

2. What further responsibility do Christians have toward the world? Matthew 5:14-16.

While not “of the world” in the sense that Christ meant in John 17:16, those men and women of God who have the Holy Spirit and knowledge of God’s truth and abundant way of life have a responsibility to be bright “lights” in the world. They should exhibit the “fruit,” or characteristics, of God’s Holy Spirit in their daily lives. They should strive to be friendly, helpful and kind toward their neighbors and those they come in contact with every day. People not yet called of God will be encouraged as they see a little of the mind and character of God in action through the living example set by individual Christians.

3. What steps has a Christian already taken to be recognized by God as one of His children? Acts 2:38. What has God bestowed upon him as a free and unearned gift because of his obedience? Same verse and Acts 5:32. (“Holy Ghost” is an archaic rendering in the King James Version. It should be translated “Holy Spirit.”)

A Christian has been conquered by God. His carnal, antagonistic attitude toward God (Romans 8:7-8) is broken. He has come to realize he has sinned against God, having broken His holy, righteous law (1 John 3:4). Therefore he cried out to God and asked His forgiveness for those sins through the sacrifice of Christ, and for a lifting of the death penalty, which every sin incurs (Romans 6:23). Then he obeyed the command to be baptized, indicating to God his deep sincerity.

As a result of his repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands, he was given the Spirit of the Father, becoming a Spirit-begotten child of God. It was then that he became a real Christian!

4. Can one be a Christian without having the Spirit of God? Romans 8:9-10.

5. What does God call the person who claims to “know” Christ, but refuses to walk in His ways—refuses to keep His commandments? 1 John 2:4. What will the one who says he is a Christian actually be doing? Verses 3, 5-6.

A Christian has sincerely repented of his sins and is striving, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, to live by his Savior’s teachings. He is seeking to do God’s will in every aspect of his life as it is revealed in the Bible. And he is becoming a recipient of the happiness and blessings that come from being obedient to God!