Your Family’s Most Important Textbook

Your Family’s Most Important Textbook

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Reap the rich rewards of regular family Bible study.
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

My family has a tradition that we all look forward to each week. On Saturday morning, we make coffee, warm up a couple of pastries, and give each member of the family a bit of each. Then we sit around in the living room and open our family textbook. For 30 minutes to an hour, we study and discuss.

That textbook is the Bible. And this is only the longest and most special of the several times during the week we enjoy such study.

If you are a parent with children living under your roof, then you are responsible for their spiritual education. That responsibility comes with the opportunity to instruct from Scripture.

In the book of Deuteronomy, you can see that Moses felt a similar responsibility to build the families of Israel. In this, his final instruction to God’s people just before he died and they entered the Promised Land, Moses repeatedly emphasized parents’ duty to pass their spiritual wisdom to their children and grandchildren.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, New King James Version). The phrase “teach them diligently” means to repeat intensively, to do something again and again—like sharpening a blade through repetitious grinding or friction. Surely Moses had witnessed a lot of failure among Israel’s families. You can sense his urgency: Commit these words to heart—then teach themdiligentlyto your children, and discuss them at every opportunity! This is how to survive as a nation!

Moses did more than command family Bible studies: He emphasized the importance of reinforcing those biblical lessons throughout the day, both at home (“in your house”) and away (“by the way”). He expected parents and children to be interacting often, and for the Bible to be a regular topic of discussion. He stressed the need for instructing each night before bedtime (“when you lie down”), and again each morning (“when you rise up”).

Moses followed up with a very practical instruction: He advocated writing certain scriptures and principles down and posting them in the house to help internalize them (verse 9; see also Deuteronomy 11:18-20).

Have you ever considered applying these scriptures? Have you ever tried—but never stuck with it?

Life can be a jungle of duties and distractions. We may agree with Moses’s statements in principle but then struggle to implement them. We may make an effort but lack the consistency these scriptures demand. The mention of diligence and repetition are aimed directly at countering our natural tendency to allow this duty to slip.

Generation to Generation

Consider the rewards of making family Bible instruction the priority God intends. Moses himself described the rich blessings these studies and discussions would bring, including a better relationship with God, stronger families, and longer and more abundant life for ourselves and our children and grandchildren (Deuteronomy 11:21; 4:9-10; 6:2).

All parents desire a close bond with their children. Quality family Bible study and discussion is a key to achieving that. Parent-to-child and grandparent-to-child spiritual instruction is the glue that binds generation to generation. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4). This is a powerful antidote to the poisonous influences of the world that aim to tear children away from their parents.

Even more: Obedience to this command welds individual families into a single nation under God. Moses showed that it does nothing less than ensure long-lasting national stability and guarantees a future as a godly nation! Meditate on those promises in conjunction with Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Consider the principle, and the incredible promise, in these scriptures. If parents in Israel had diligently followed the command to teach their children, the nation never would have departed from God’s way!

Let’s learn from this failure and heed the urgent plea from this great God-inspired man and make sure we’re rearing our children to know and love the Bible.

How to Go About It

The idea of expounding on the Scriptures for your family may seem daunting. Here are a few simple points that will help you move from agreeing in principle with this biblical command to actually making it a part of your family’s regular routine.

First, you yourself must be excited about the Bible. Look again at the passage in Deuteronomy 6. The two verses that precede the main instruction on teaching your children read, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (verses 5-6). You have to love God, and love His Word—to be stirred and moved and excited about your own Bible study. If you struggle with your own studies, then you won’t be motivated to teach; naturally, your children will struggle as well.

How much do you know about the Bible? Are you accustomed to searching the Scriptures for answers to the problems you face? Are you comfortable with using Bible helps like concordances, lexicons and alternate translations? Can you read a passage and expound on it? Can you relate Bible verses to real-life situations? These are skills a true Christian must continually develop and refine throughout life (Luke 12:42-43; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15-17; read also Hebrews 5:12-14).

As you build excitement in your personal Bible study, your eagerness to pass it on to your children will increase. Cultivate that enthusiasm by acting upon it.

Your aim is to build a regular habit of instructing your children from God’s Word and talking about the things of God. Until you are in the habit, it may feel awkward and forced—but keep at it. Over time, it will become easier for you, and your children will grow more receptive and accustomed to it. Have a set time each morning and each evening before bedtime to at least talk about God, His truth and way of life.

At least a few times a week, this time should include reading straight from the Bible. It is certainly fine to read high-quality youth Bible-based books to your children. But your main habit in family Bible study should involve the Bible itself. You may want to go somewhat methodically through a portion of the Bible such as the Proverbs or the Gospels. It would be wise to adapt your study at times according to your family’s specific needs at that time. You may want to choose a particular theme each week and give several related studies hitting that topic from various angles—law, history, proverbs, examples, prophecy.

Try to make God real to your children. Talk about His qualities of character. Explain to them what He looks like, and what His throne room is like. Give them a sense of His mightiness. Get into the details of His miracles; read to them about His mighty acts.

Each specific study may only involve a single verse, or perhaps two to three related verses. Read the scripture, then rephrase it in plain terms and explain it, making it very practical. Show how the scripture links to real-life examples. Be creative in getting the concepts across. Make it fun, exciting. Be sure the children understand. Ask them questions; have them think of examples of their own; encourage them to link the principles to their own daily lives. The more practical and understandable this teaching is, the easier it will be to reinforce it in discussion during the day.

Don’t go on for too long. Depending on your children’s age and attention span, you might go for 5 to 20 minutes. Work to hold their interest and keep it a positive experience. Praise your children as they progress. Don’t discourage them about things they forget—heap praise on them for what they remember. Take advantage of the fact that they want to please you. Ensure they have the overall feeling that studying the Bible is enjoyable, and that God’s way is great!

What a positive command it is that we share our spiritual riches with our children! Deuteronomy 6:7 and related scriptures embody a way of life. A way pulsating with life, with robust interactions between generations. A way where God’s government is firmly in place, with God at the top and every last member of the household experiencing the joy and stability that come as a result.

Family Bible studies require diligent effort—but the blessings they produce are well worth it.

“Harvard Taught Us How to Drink”

“Harvard Taught Us How to Drink”

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America’s elite universities have lost their purpose and their sense.
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Apparently, America’s best and brightest have such a hard time exercising self-control that one of the nation’s top schools feels compelled to take time to teach them how not to get drunk.

Harvard student Isabel Kaplan says learning to differentiate 12 ounces of beer from 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol is just one thing Harvard tells students on their second day of school.

Harvard also ensures all freshmen understand the college’s new alcohol amnesty program. Students are told that “no matter what, no matter how drunk or sick we got, if we called an ambulance, were picked up by Harvard University Police, were taken to the … infirmary … or hospital, we would not get in trouble,” wrote Kaplan. “Neither would our parents be notified. This is Harvard’s amnesty policy” (Daily Beast, April 20; emphasis mine throughout).

As Kaplan recounts, one boy raised his hand and asked, “Are there any loopholes?” The answer: an emphatic “No.”

Behold the state of education in America today. You can get so drunk that you pass out on 52 out of 52 Fridays of the year, and as far as Harvard is concerned, it doesn’t really matter.

As one Harvard representative said, “We realize that we’re in a college environment and that people are going to abuse these things, and so we’re here to basically reduce the harm.” School officials argue that by nixing the penalties, students who get plastered will more likely seek medical attention (and their friends will also be more willing to call for help), thus reducing the risk of drinking-related deaths. Meanwhile, 30,000 students across the country are treated at hospitals for over-consumption of alcohol each year, and the number of students who seek medical attention for alcohol-related sickness at Harvard is up 43 percent since the amnesty policy kicked in.

Some colleges have now even implemented amnesty policies for drug use. At the College of William and Mary, if you go to a hospital due to a drug overdose, your academic career and standing at the college remain unchanged. Student Assembly Vice President Ryan Ruzic believes that drug amnesty makes sense for the same reason as alcohol amnesty: student safety.

But do alcohol and drug amnesty programs really make students safer? No!

Intoxicated students may be more likely to be admitted into an emergency ward and thus have less chance of choking on their own vomit, and stoners may be less likely to die trying to crawl down Alice’s rabbit hole, but an amnesty policy actually makes the rest of the student body far less safe.

By removing deterrents—academic probation, suspension, expulsion, etc.—Harvard has opened the door to more abuse. If you are spending $80,000 per year or more on your education, knowing that you could lose your spot on the college rolls if you got drunk is a good reason to follow school policy.

Universities should be thinking of all the students that alcohol and drug prohibitions have helped—even saved. How many students has it prevented from becoming alcoholics or drug addicts, or from being injured because they are so intoxicated they can’t control themselves? How many accidental pregnancies has it prevented? Or needle-transmitted diseases? What about those it has saved from drunk driving? How many lives have those policies protected? Is a drunk or doped-up college student’s life more important than the lives of the other students?

Additionally, these selfish amnesty policies destroy character. The argument that students will get drunk and do drugs anyway, and that nothing can be done to stop them, is a fallacy. The reality is that nobody needs drugs and nobody needs to get drunk. Many college students go through their four years without getting so plastered they need to go to the hospital. In fact, many make it through their four years without ever getting drunk or taking drugs.

Here at Herbert W. Armstrong College, we try to provide an education that goes far beyond just preparing students for a career. We teach how to live a truly successful life.

Armstrong College understands the unbreakable, undeniable link between character and true success. You cannot attain true happiness and success without moral character.

For Armstrong students, that means they must comply with the college’s alcohol and drug policy. Illegal usage is not permitted, and alcohol is not allowed in student housing without the prior approval of the Dean’s Office. If a student were to become intoxicated, there would be academic repercussions.

Armstrong College is concerned for every one of its students—its policies are designed to protect and to foster the growth and development of the whole student body.

“At Armstrong College, the emphasis is on character building, developing a sound mind, becoming emotionally mature and socially balanced, building a well-rounded, service-oriented personality and learning to appreciate the finer things in life,” wrote dean of students Stephen Flurry in 2008. “There is no other college like Herbert W. Armstrong College—unaccredited by men and unshackled from the ever-tightening grip that is squeezing the life out of higher education: gross materialism, political correctness run amok and immoral, unregulated human behavior.”

Our college’s namesake, Herbert W. Armstrong, learned more than 60 years ago that true success is not reserved for those with superior ability, but for individuals—any individuals—willing to abide by a definite set of laws God set in motion that will guarantee successful results.

It is that set of laws that provides the foundation and standard for everything taught at Herbert W. Armstrong College.

If you want to learn more about the uniqueness of Armstrong College, request a free copy of the booklet named after our college motto: Education With Vision.

Rekindle Your First Love

Rekindle Your First Love

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Make your marriage the way it used to be!
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

My wife and I recently attended a beautiful wedding between two young people who faithfully promised, before God, to cleave to each other as one family for the rest of their natural lives. There is no more joyous ceremony than that, particularly if you understand that marriage and family are actually God-plane relationships. God ordained these institutions to help prepare us for eternal life in His divine Family.

That’s what makes a God-centered wedding so momentous. If the two remain faithful—to God first, then to each other—it marks the beginning of an exciting journey that leads right into the Kingdom of God.

As we observed that young couple the other night, my wife and I couldn’t help but reminisce about the days that led up to our own marriage vows more than 13 years ago—and the wonderful years of marriage we have enjoyed since that time.

Like those two young people we congratulated the other night, my wife and I were brought up in wonderful, God-fearing families. Marriage, we had been taught, was a career that one must prepare for. That meant using textbooks like The Missing Dimension in Sex to understand God’s perspective on dating, love, marriage and sex.

A good marriage, we were also taught, doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a submissive attitude toward God and hard work to make it happy and fulfilling.

Early on, when the romance is brand new, the work it takes to build the relationship can seem so effortless and smooth-going. For me, it hardly seemed like work at all!

When the soon-to-be wife of my youth lived far away from me, our eagerly anticipated weekly, three-hour phone conversations seemed as if they were short, five-minute chats. The handwritten letters and notes we exchanged would go on and on—page after page. And when I received them, I read them again and again.

When she moved to Oklahoma, those phone calls and letters turned into long walks together, stimulating conversations, family socials, game nights, church activities and dancing. The more we dated, the more we talked, the more time we spent together, the more we knew how much we loved each other.

We went through marriage counseling together—studied The Missing Dimension in Sex together. During the engagement, we worked together to plan the wedding—create a budget, look for the venue, order the buffet, write the guest list, mail invitations, choose music and arrange the honeymoon.

All that planning—the many years of preparing for our marriage career—culminated in the most joyous ceremony there is: our glorious wedding day! The elegant ceremony only lasted about 15 minutes—but what an exhilarating, emotionally draining experience it was for my wife and me.

We still laugh about the lighter moment we shared amid the formal setting.

For the start of the wedding, just before the bridal party entered the hall, my wife had choreographed a moving three-minute candle-lighting ceremony. It ended with our mothers walking onstage to light two candles.

In the ceremony, after my wife and I made our vows and exchanged rings, we took the two candles, joined their flames together and lit another, larger “unity candle.” After that, we were supposed to blow out the two smaller candles—which we did. Unfortunately, the forceful blast my wife exhaled also managed to extinguish the unity candle.

The flame we meant to keep burning had quickly died out! It was the one hiccup to an otherwise flawless ceremony.

Over the past 13 years, you could say, we’ve had our occasional hiccups. But the flame we lit together during our courtship—and faithfully promised to stoke forever after—is still going strong. It’s not always as easy and effortless as it once was. In fact, once the newness wears off, it is easy to let down in some areas.

For example, I don’t always open the car door for my wife like I used to. But you know what? When I do, it still makes her smile. And that’s the thing—all those little things that added up to a lot of love and affection still work, if I do them. She still loves a bouquet of fresh flowers—a thoughtful card or an unexpected chat over the phone. When I make omelets on Sabbath morning, it always reminds us of our honeymoon. We still make time for and thoroughly enjoy those long conversations. We try to plan getaways from time to time. We schedule lunch dates on the calendar. We still love to dance. And hold hands. And say I love you every day. We kiss every morning, before I head off to work—and again at night when I return home.

I guess you could say we’re still dating. It’s such an important, yet often overlooked, key to building and maintaining a great marriage.

In Revelation 2, God praised the first-century Christians for the way they began their relationship with God. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (verse 4). They grew weary in well doing. They stopped doing the things that made the relationship flourish early on in their spiritual romance. And notice—it doesn’t say God abandoned them. They left God. They left their first love.

In verse 5, God offers this simple solution: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.”

Herein lies the key to building a successful family relationship, whether it involves a newly begotten Christian and Jesus Christ or a newly married couple. Remember all the romantic little things you repeatedly did at the very beginning of your courtship? Keep doing them, God says.

If you do, the flame of your first love will never go out.

China vs. EU—East Meets West

China vs. EU—East Meets West

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Two great markets now dominate world trade—the European Union and China. What does this mean for the American and British people?

Two massive markets dominate the globe today—the European Union and China. Neither can at the moment survive without the other. This is a comparatively recent phenomenon that, given the normal pace of history, has developed quite suddenly in the wake of the rapidly descending power and influence of the Anglo-Saxons.

The 19th century saw Great Britain dominate world trade. Following World War i, America rapidly ascended to global dominance in trade, a situation that was to persist till the late 20th century. From the mid-20th century onward, competition from Japan sliced heavily into Anglo-American global market share. In the last decade of the 20th century, a united Germany powered the European Union into position as the most dominant trading bloc in the world. Then, a few months ago, China just edged the EU off its pinnacle.

Now, these two great markets are becoming mutually dependent on each other in order to maintain their present growth and economic standards—at the expense of the rapidly fading Anglo-Saxon emporium.

China’s view of the ascendancy of the EU was summed up in a strategic policy paper published in 2003. The Telegraph.co.uk reported (Oct. 14, 2003):

The European Union is the world’s rising superpower, poised to overtake both the United States and Japan as the biggest trade and investment force in China, according to a strategic policy paper published by Beijing yesterday.The Chinese government said the European Union was transforming the global landscape with its successful new currency and strides toward a joint foreign policy and a defense and judicial union.Describing EU integration as “irreversible”, Beijing marveled at Europe’s 25 to 35 percent share of the global economy and its projected 450 million population ….

The Chinese strategy paper pulled no punches when considering the effect of any China-EU trade nexus on the U.S. in particular (ibid.):

The white paper follows a flurry of Sino-European ventures, including the Galileo global satellite system, described as a direct challenge to the American [Global Positioning System] monopoly in space.The two sides are also working together on nuclear research.France and Germany have been pushing hardest for closer ties with China, hoping to cash in on a lucrative market but also to develop a strategic alliance as a counterweight to American power ….

Thus it becomes apparent that trade is not only the reason for warmer relations between China and the EU. There are strategic military interests involved as well, as these two powers vie with each other and with Russia in attempts to fill the global security gap that will eventuate as America’s uncontrollable economic and financial woes lead to the inevitable degrading of its global military presence. The Telegraph.co.uk continued:

Last June, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie proposed sharing sensitive military technology with Beijing. She called for a softening of the arms embargo imposed on the country after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. …Yesterday’s white paper said the ever-closer military ties rendered the EU embargo a relic from the last century.China’s efforts to court Brussels reflect a new mood of respect for the union across Asia. India is also rushing to upgrade its ties with Europe, recruiting extra staff to lobby EU officials and [members of the European Parliament].

Seven years after the release of that strategy paper, it has become apparent that the symbiotic relationship since developed between the EU and China has them in lockstep as leaders of the global economy. Apparent troubles surrounding Europe’s “successful new currency,” the euro, have recently served to highlight this.

Last week, as the markets were driven with the spurious fear of impending collapse of the eurozone, China came out in overt support of the EU. Wall Street reacted immediately with a 2 percent gain in the stock index: “Stocks rocketed higher Thursday after China reassured investors it doesn’t plan to sell the European debt it holds. … China’s show of confidence in Europe let the market resume a climb that stalled late Wednesday ….” (Associated Press, May 27).

Other reports last week showed the impact that China and the EU now have on global finance (EUobserver, May 27):

The vagaries of modern-day currency trading and the huge influence of Chinese policy decisions were on full display on Thursday (May 27) as media speculation about Beijing’s foreign reserve strategy caused the euro to see-saw. …But the euro then recovered during Thursday morning trading after China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange issued a statement [indicating] “China is a responsible and long-term investor in the investment of foreign exchange reserves and we will always follow the principle of diversification. … Europe was, is and will remain one of the major investment markets for China’s foreign exchange reserves.”

In a statement by EU Parliamentary President Jerzy Buzek also issued on Thursday, he mentioned that China’s increasingly important role in the global economy will be one of the themes he will address when he meets the country’s leaders in Beijing this week.

Buzek declared that “Europe appreciated China’s ‘steady commitment to macroeconomic stability and its recent development,’ but insisted that a multilateral approach to the global problems was needed” (ibid.).

Few understand the great prophetic significance of this strengthening of relationships between the European Union—in particular its leading power, Germany—and the great Eastern trading bloc led by China. Both China and Russia are seeking a closer alliance with the EU as Anglo-Saxon influence wanes globally. This will soon have profound influence on the future of this globe, especially in the Middle East and Eurasia.

Believe it or not, the outcome to this current change in the global order is prophesied in your Bible! Read our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy and tune in to the Key of David television program to hear our editor in chief expound soon on these vital prophecies as they are being played out today. These developing events surrounding the EU and China will soon drastically affect every human being on this planet!

The Week in Review

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Israel’s flotilla headache, Merkel’s Gulf outing, North versus South, sanctions for Iran—sort of—and remembering the Miracle.

Middle East

A convoy of humanitarian aid is making its way from Turkey to Gaza by boat. The nine-ship flotilla, belonging to a Turkish non-governmental organization and carrying 10,000 tons of medicine and construction materials as well as 700 pro-Palestinian activists, is putting pressure on Israel, which is labeling it a “provocation.” In a typical week, 15,000 tons of supplies already enter Gaza through regular channels, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Monday. International aid organizations are permitted to transfer goods to the Gaza Strip via land crossings—which are more efficient and where deliveries can be monitored so they are not commandeered by Hamas—but not by ship. Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying that the vessels would not be allowed into Gaza, but could offload their cargos at Ashdod Port where they would be inspected and then transferred to Gaza through regular channels. “The flotilla is a political and media provocation initiated by anti-Israeli activists and Islamist extremists under the cover of a humanitarian campaign,” the statement read.

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has said that America’s military exit from Iraq will remain on schedule, despite the rise in violence and continuing political instability. He says the U.S. military will reduce troop levels to 50,000 this summer, even if no new Iraqi government is formed. “It’s going to be painful; there’s going to be ups and downs,” Biden said in an interview this month. “But I do think the end result is going to be that we’re going to be able to keep our commitment.” The fact is, of course, that America’s military is stretched thin—especially as troop levels increase in Afghanistan. As John A. Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security, who helped write the Army’s counterinsurgency field manual, said, “We just don’t have enough Army to do everything we want it to do right now.”

On May 15, the head of Hezbollah in Iran called for the creation of a “Greater Iran” that would extend from Israel to Afghanistan. Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi said the new Shia imperialism would accomplish two key goals: destruction of the nation of Israel, and bringing about the return of Islam’s long-awaited Mahdi, or twelfth imam. “The Islamic United States will be an introduction to the formation of the global village of the oppressed and that will be a prelude to the single global rule of the Mahdi,” Kharrazi said. The cleric’s tirade also attacked what he called the “cancerous tumors” of Sunni Islam nations like Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Daniel wrote that a power would indeed grow to dominance in the Middle East in our time (Daniel 11:40-41).

Europe

Germany’s chancellor pledged to boost trade with Gulf countries on Tuesday as she kicked off a four-state Gulf tour by visiting the United Arab Emirates. The four-day trip to the region by Angela Merkel, accompanied by a high-level business delegation, is a sign of developing relations between Germany and Arab nations. In addition to promising to expand the estimated €60 billion (us$74 billion) in two-way trade between Germany and the Middle East, Merkel’s talks with Gulf countries focused on the Middle East peace process and the Iranian threat. Chancellor Merkel met with uae President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan before traveling to Saudi Arabia late Tuesday for a two-day visit, with talks focusing on expanding economic and political ties. Berlin’s developing relations with certain Arab nations are significant in light of an end-time prophecy that a confederation of Arab nations will together join in an alliance with Germany (Psalm 83). Read our April 29 article, “The Arabian-German Alliance” for more detail on this soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecy.

U.S. Patriot missiles arrived in Poland May 24, where they will be stationed only 25 miles from Poland’s border with Kaliningrad. Russia is trying to win Poland’s favor and steer it away from the U.S., so it will not be pleased with the Patriots’ presence. Watch for Russia to respond by trying to make life difficult for the U.S.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said May 27 that he needs more power as leader of the Italian government, quoting Italy’s former dictator Benito Mussolini. “As prime minister, I have never had the feeling that I was in power,” he said as a press conference. “Sometimes as a businessman, with 56,000 employees, sometimes I’ve had the feeling of being able to decide and be in control. But today in a democracy, I am in the service of everyone and anyone can criticize me and perhaps even insult me.” He went on to say: “I will dare to quote you a phrase from someone considered a dictator, a great, powerful dictator, Benito Mussolini. In his diary, I recently read this phrase. ‘They say I have power. It isn’t true. Maybe my party officials do. But I don’t know. All I can do is say to my horse go right or left. And I have to be happy with that.’” Of all European heads of government, Berlusconi probably has the most power. He is practically immune from prosecution and controls a large percentage of Italy’s media. But he evidently wants even more power. Expect this trend in Europe to grow.

The European Commission on May 26 recommended that the EU implement a tax on banks in the common market. José Manuel Barroso, the Commission’s president, said the fund would “minimize the cost to taxpayers in the event of an orderly resolution of insolvent banks.” It would also give the EU even more control over the banking system of EU nations.

Asia

Tension on the Korean Peninsula escalated this week to potentially dangerous levels. The March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship has created an enormous security crisis. Seoul has produced detailed evidence that North Korea was behind the attack, which killed 46 sailors; it canceled most economic links with Pyongyang. China, North Korea’s principal benefactor, has refused to blame Pyongyang, which reduces South Korea’s ability to marshal support for punishment against North Korea at the UN Security Council. In a demonstration of Beijing’s stance, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun called on Wednesday for “restraint” by both sides in the altercation. Tensions climbed further on Thursday when Seoul’s navy began exercises which included anti-submarine operations, and when Pyongyang threatened to attack any South Korean vessels entering its waters. China’s support of North Korea is a source of concern for South Korea, Japan and the U.S., and an indication that Beijing’s rapidly growing influence is not the benign force that many Western analysts imagine it to be.

Russian officials said on May 21 that current weapons contracts between Moscow and Tehran will continue even if they violate sanctions that world powers are considering for Iran. The U.S. and Israel have asked Russia not to fulfill its contract to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Tehran, as it could undermine any air attack against Iranian facilities. When asked if a sanctions package would stop delivery of the missiles, Mikhail Margelov, Russian’s Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee head, said: “The draft will not hit current contracts between Russia and Iran.” Russia has approved a draft resolution on a new set of sanctions against Iran, but the announcement about the S-300 contract has raised doubts about Moscow’s true stance on the matter. Analysts are also concerned about Russian-Iranian collaboration in building Iran’s first nuclear power station in Bushehr. It is plain that sanctions and diplomacy will not stop Iran’s nuclear push.

Latin America

Seventy-three people have been killed in Jamaica as security forces attempt to crack down on armed supporters of drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Coke is resisting extradition to the U.S. The deaths occurred as the police and army fought armed gang members in Tivoli Gardens—a slum in Jamaica’s capital, Kingstown, from where Coke draws most of his support. This is the kind of pain that drug addiction within America—a major customer for the Jamaican drug trade—causes abroad.

Anglo-America

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst spill in American history. Even by the most conservative estimates of the still-uncapped flow of crude, the leak has spewed out almost 19 million gallons. The estimate appears to be inconsistent with the data, however, and scientists estimate the volume may be as much as 39 million gallons. The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons. The Coast Guard reported that BP has had some success in stanching the flow using the “top kill” method, with the national incident commander for the spill saying on Thursday, “Everybody is cautiously optimistic, but there’s no reason to declare victory yet.”

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an alert to Texas law enforcement that a terrorist might be crossing the border from Mexico. Authorities are looking for a suspected member of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist organization. It recently emerged that a Somali man in Texas is accused of operating a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” that brings hundreds of East Africans, including some with ties to terrorist groups, up through South America and Mexico and into the U.S. with forged identification.

On Tuesday, the White House promised to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to try to reduce drug trafficking and gun smuggling across the border. A bid to send an additional 6,000 troops died in the Senate. The State Department specified that the Guard troops would not enforce U.S. immigration laws. The clarification came after the Mexican government pressured Washington not to use the troops to restrict illegal immigrants. About half of the 13 million Mexicans in the United States are there illegally.

The U.S. money supply is contracting at an increasing rate, similar to the pace of the 1930s. The Telegraph reported Wednesday that the M3 figure of the total stock of money, which is viewed as a warning signal of the direction of the economy, began shrinking about a year ago and has since shrunk faster. One economist said, “The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression.”

The United Kingdom will pay the European Union 60 percent more next year. Its net contribution to the EU will rise from £4.1 billion this year to £6.4 billion in 2010/11. Although the figure was released with a minimum of fanfare, it will fuel the debate over whether or not Britain gains from being in the EU. The Telegraph reports that this comes soon after more than a quarter of UK voters in the 2010 European elections supported parties that want to take Britain out of the Union.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa) said Thursday that 2010 will have an active Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1. noaa reported a 70 percent probability that 14 to 23 storms will be named, including 8 to 14 hurricanes.

This week, about a dozen veterans of the British military made a pilgrimage to France to commemorate the miracle of Dunkirk. This week marks the 70th anniversary of their “miracle of deliverance” from the Nazi war machine in World War ii when a motley flotilla of ships, boats, ferries and trawlers crossed the English Channel to save them. The men were teenagers when they were almost annihilated by the Luftwaffe along with almost 350,000 other servicemen on the flaming shores of France; now they are as old as 93. The Guardian reported the men disembarked and then turned to hail the other “guests of honor,” 50 of the same boats that crossed the Channel once again, 70 years after bringing salvation. “All the chaps with their little ships deserve as much praise as anybody,” one veteran said. “They didn’t know anything about warfare, but they came over and got us anyway.”

Salute Our Future!

Salute Our Future!

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Preparing the next generation for real abundant living

At the Herbert W. Armstrong College (AC) graduation earlier this month, after all the seniors had assembled on stage, the ceremony concluded with these words: “Ladies and gentlemen, please join the Armstrong College faculty and administration in saluting our future—the senior class of 2010.”

As we’ve written before, the abundant life and peaceful unity that exists on our small campus in Central Oklahoma is only a small foretaste of what life will be like during the wonderful World Tomorrow, when Jesus Christ will establish God’s loving government on Earth.

Today’s world, on the other hand, is full of unhappiness and misery—competition and strife. It makes for a dangerous and evil world to raise children in. Most parents are failing miserably at this God-given task.

You’ve probably seen the pitiful results now streaming in from numerous studies about Generation Y—the self-indulgent, narcissistic generation to emerge out of the self-esteem movement. Their lives are empty and fruitless. They often fill their spirit-starved souls with every form of illicit indulgence.

Raising children in an age Jesus Christ compared to Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t easy. But it is possible. Here are four key ingredients every parent needs in order to raise mature, well-balanced, God-fearing youths who are prepared for the responsibilities of marriage and family—and life in God’s Kingdom.

Teach Them to Study

Animals have it easy; they don’t need to learn anything. Animals do not read or study; from birth, they are equipped with instinct. Human beings are not like dumb animals. We must learn, or we won’t advance much further than dumb animals.

In his Autobiography, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Education comes from study—from books—from lectures—from contacts—from travel—from thinking about what you see and hear and read—and from experience.”

The Bible urges adults and young people alike to lead a studious life. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” For Timothy’s life to ever amount to much, he had to get into the habit of studying.

Another example of a studious young man was Solomon. When he was a youth, God offered him any gift of his choosing (2 Chronicles 1:7). What would most young people today ask for if God offered them anything they wanted? Solomon chose wisdom and knowledge rather than riches (verses 8-10).

What a mature request for such a young man!

Teach your children to be like young Solomon and Timothy. Get them into the habit of reading early and often. Put them on a reading program this summer. Challenge them to study Mr. Armstrong’s Autobiography—it can have the same impact on them that books like Ben Franklin’s autobiography had on Mr. Armstrong.

Encourage Physical Activity

Imagine a teenaged David, armed with only a sling and a few stones, standing in front of a giant—the champion of the Philistine army. Compared to Goliath, David might have looked scrawny and small (1 Samuel 17:42)—but he was no weakling! Like Jesus Christ as a teen, David was a powerful, agile young man.

He spent long days and nights tending his father’s sheep. On one particular occasion, when he saw a little sheep caught up in the jaws of a lion, David undoubtedly sprinted up from behind and, in one fluid motion, whacked that lion over the back of the head with his staff, grabbed hold of his beard and started clubbing him across the face. He was obviously acting in faith, relying on God—but don’t discount his superior physical attributes of quickness and strength.

David was also a young man of wisdom. When confronting Goliath, he didn’t grab one stone; he took five (1 Samuel 17:40). He refused to confront the giant with a sword and shield, Scripture relates, because he hadn’t yet proved those armaments. He was confident in fighting with what he used every day in the fields. Think of the many hundreds of hours David spent perfecting his aim with that little sling.

He ended up nailing that giant with just one shot!

This example highlights the importance of combining an educated, sound mind with a physically active and healthy body.

One of the best ways young people can stay in shape today is by participating in organized sports programs. Of course, parents must use wisdom here. Avoid sporting activities that put your children or their opponents in physical danger. But when the right kind of athletic event is offered as part of their overall education, what a character-building opportunity it can be!

In sports, young people see the benefits of hard work and learn how to deal with pressure. The lessons can be exhilarating—and humbling. Mr. Armstrong wrote in the March 1965 Plain Truth, “How many of our readers, I wonder, would realize that a basketball game … could be an important part of education?”

Expose Them to Uplifting Music

Just like with sports, learning to appreciate the right kind of music brings wonderful benefits. On the other hand, the wrong kind can be very destructive. Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “God equipped humans with the sense of hearing. How much inspiring, uplifting, pleasurable enjoyment we receive from beautiful music! But of course, this sense, too, may be used for good, or for evil. … Satan is the author of perverted, discordant, degenerated modern music—of a wail, a dirge, a moan, a squawk or a rhythmic erotic fast beat.”

During our summer youth camps, we expose our campers to plenty of godly entertainment and music. There is choir, hymn singing, group songs and chants on the way to activities, dorm songs and an entertainment night.

As parents, take it upon yourselves to help your children appreciate wholesome, uplifting music. At our camps, we play a variety of musical genres. But all of it is carefully selected and approved by our ministers. We try to stay within the guidelines Mr. Armstrong set forth in the quote above.

So pay attention to what your children are listening to. Expose them to godly music. If you can afford it, have them take music or dance lessons. Encourage them to join the band at school. This kind of exposure and education will go a long way toward helping them discern between right and wrong music as they grow older.

Instill Discipline and Hard Work Ethic

Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “Young people today are given nothing to live for! No hope! No future! They are more prosperous than ever before. They are bored! They are rebellious. The spirit of revolt is in the air! They resent all authority!”

Indeed, one of the latest studies about Generation Y found that they hate to be criticized. Forget about actual punishment. Most of them recoil at the thought of receiving constructive criticism!

What an embarrassment.

If children are misbehaving, or failing to work hard enough on their homework or lessons—if they’re disrespectful or rebellious toward authority—parents must correct them in love.

Don’t listen to the leading voices of the self-esteem movement—those who reject God’s instruction and ignore the overwhelming evidence proving we’ve failed our children! They may scream about all forms of punishment being immoral and harmful, but look at our broken society. Look at the facts! According to the Wall Street Journal, one recent study “found that those adolescents who were spanked as young children actually ended up having a sunnier outlook and were better students than those who were never spanked.”

That’s right—just do what God says to do, in faith and with love—and you and your children will reap the blessed benefits. Administer loving correction when your children veer off course. That’s what God’s Word teaches. In fact, God’s Word itself is corrective (2 Timothy 3:16).

If only more people would use it the way God intended it to be used.

Salute Your Future!

Young people interested in applying for AC sometimes ask me about what they might do to prepare for the experience, should they be accepted. Here is one way I answer that question: Armstrong College is an academic institution where students learn to study and acquire knowledge. That knowledge acquisition is based on the sure Word of God. In order to develop the whole man, the outside-the-classroom activities at AC are primarily concentrated in three additional directions: athletics, music and work!

So the more proficient they are in these areas—diligent study, physical activity, uplifting music and hard work—the better prepared they will be for life at Armstrong College.

Parents—we are preparing our children for something far more significant than a college career. We’re preparing them for life—for their careers; for their marriages and families; for their calling in the Kingdom of God.

Join me, won’t you, in saluting our future!