Don’t Read This Article!

Don’t Read This Article!

Dave & Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Thinkstock

From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

How well do you know yourself? Not just your desires or interests—how well do you understand how and why you think your particular thoughts? What makes you do what you do?

Be honest. Are there ever times when you have thoughts you don’t like, or don’t understand—or, even worse, emotions you can’t explain? Do you ever feel disappointed because you keep doing things you’ve “promised” yourself you’d overcome? In your relationships, do you find yourself dealing with the same problems, making the same mistakes, time and time again?

Surely you can answer yes to at least some of these questions. Why? Because they are common to the human experience.

Even the Apostle Paul, a successful evangelist and one of the most prolific biblical writers, was well acquainted with these frustrations. He wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15, Revised Standard Version).

Why is this the case? Sometimes it seems as if our own minds are a big puzzle.

Take another example. The headline above is plain: don’t read this article. Yet here you are, reading it. With each word you take in, you further violate the instruction.

What makes that which is forbidden so compelling to us? Think about it. Why do books, movies or art exhibits that arouse scandal attract bigger audiences? Why does reverse psychology work on us—where we do something only because it is the opposite of what is expected?

Why do we naturally resist when we are told what to do? Why is it so hard to admit when we are wrong?

Can you explain these conundrums? Again—how well do you really know yourself, the inner workings of your mind?

Most people simply live with the problem; they don’t think much about it. Life is complicated enough without trying to unriddle yourself, they think. Others, desperate for a solution, believe every promise of every self-help book, television psychiatrist or psychic, and build their lives around humanly devised plans and programs.

The Bible states the problem in terminology that is shockingly explicit—so much so that most people would reject it, even though they are living proof of its truth. “The heart [that is, the seat of intellect—the human mind] is deceitful above all things, and desperatelywicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Do you disagree? Does that seem too harsh? It takes penetrating personal honesty to recognize the rightness in Jeremiah’s statement. 1 Kings 8:38 talks about the importance of every person knowing “the plague of his own heart.” Does that ring true in your life? Do you recognize that “plague” in your mind? If you don’t admit it, you can never change it.

The fact is, most of the problems in this world are caused by people who are woefully ignorant about themselves! They may be doing the best they know how—they may sincerely desire to do better—but they are stuck. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

Why is the human mind so malignant? The Creator God designed it. Did He fashion into it all those deceptive intricacies? Did He make it “desperately wicked”? Most people have never even contemplated that issue.

Perhaps even more important: What can be done about it? Recognizing the problem is one thing—overcoming it is another. Are we destined to remain plagued by a self-deceitful and wicked heart?

You need the answers to these pressing questions.

We would like to offer you free copies of two booklets. The first, Human Nature—What Is It?, will explain to you why the human mind is the way it is. The second, Repentance Toward God, will show you the first steps necessary to begin to change. It will give you the universally overlooked key to self-mastery and lasting success. Don’t delay—contact us today!

Well-Toned: A Whole New Meaning

From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Could a song supply the equivalent of a vitamin? Could a symphony provide an immunity boost?

In fact, more and more studies are revealing the positive effects of music on the brain and even on physical health.

Not that this is revolutionary news. For ages, men have exploited the physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual health properties of music. Many trace this knowledge back to Pythagoras, the musical Greek mathematician who supposedly could tame animals through his lyre playing. But this knowledge actually traces back to even earlier. Why else would the men in the court of King Saul tell Israel’s first king to soothe his deep dementia by summoning a cunning harpist?

The human mind and body are extremely receptive to the harmony of numbers that is music. These sounds provide significant health benefits—much like clean air from the atmosphere and nutritious food from the ground. They have been proven to speed the body’s natural healing process and to strengthen the cognitive and emotional components of the mind.

msnbc.com contributor Bill Briggs explained, “Sound waves travel through the air into the ears and buzz the eardrums and bones in the middle ears. To decode the vibration, your brain transforms that mechanical energy into electrical energy, sending the signal to its cerebral cortex—a hub for thought, perception and memory. Within that control tower, the auditory cortex forwards the message on to brain centers that direct emotion, arousal, anxiety, pleasure and creativity. And there’s another stop upstairs: that electrical cue hits the hypothalamus which controls heart rate and respiration, plus your stomach and skin nerves, explaining why a melody may give you butterflies or goose bumps. Of course, all this communication happens far faster than a single drum beat” (msnbc Health, June 1, 2009).

Just as God created nutritious food, fresh air and clean water to enhance our health, He also made music with physically edifying properties.

A Cellular Dance

In 1998, a Nobel Prize-winning discovery showed how cells in our bodies create nitric oxide in waves, releasing the gas into the body tissue around them in a process called puffing. This “puffing” can boost cell vitality and vascular flow, aid in resisting stress, strengthen the immune system, diminish depression, improve digestion and impart higher levels of energy, stamina and mental clarity. Dr. John Beaulieu found that when humans listen simply to tuning forks—not to mention certain other types of music—their cells automatically puff.

More recently, Dr. Michael Miller of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center found a similar effect of this release of nitric oxide on the heart. He said that listening to music that we consider “joyful” can cause “endothelial tissue (a layer of cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels) to expand, thereby increasing blood flow to the heart and other vital organs” (medifasthealth.org, Aug. 31, 2009).

The American Heart Association published a study in 2009 stating that musical phrases 10 seconds or longer can cause the heart to synchronize its “inherent cardiovascular rhythm” to the beat of the music (americanheart.mediaroom.com, June 22, 2009).

Luciano Bernardi, head researcher in the study, said, “It is not only the emotion that creates the cardiovascular changes, but this study suggests that also the opposite might be possible, that cardiovascular changes may be the substrate for emotions, likely in a bi-directional way.”

The physical effects of music on the mental and emotional state is astounding.

Back to Center

Dr. Oliver Sacks, musician and neurologist, writes about the effects of music on schizophrenic patients: “Psychiatrists speak of schizophrenic people as having ‘negative’ symptoms (difficulties making contact with others, lack of motivation, and, above all, flat affect) as well as ‘positive’ ones (hallucinations, delusions). While medication can damp down the positive symptoms, it rarely has an effect on the negative ones, which are often more disabling—and it is here … that music therapy can be particularly useful and may help open up isolated, asocial people in a humane and uncoercive way” (Musicophilia, emphasis mine throughout).

Unlike medication, which can only take patients in one direction, music has the power to bring the patient back to center. Quoting music therapist Gretta Schulthorp, Sacks writes: “There are disturbed people who become calm, and silent people who give voice, frozen people who beat time.”

Sacks also discusses music’s profound effects on Parkinson patients and amnesiacs. He sums up one of his chapters: “As music seems to resist or survive the distortion of dreams or parkinsonism, or the losses of amnesia or Alzheimer’s, so it may resist the distortions of psychosis and be able to penetrate the deepest states of melancholia or madness, sometimes when nothing else can.”

This was the case with King Saul. In the first biblical record of music therapy, 1 Samuel 16:23 reads: “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”

At the end of his book, Dr. Sacks states that “to those who are lost in dementia,” music is not some trivial luxury of life, but “a necessity, and can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.”

With reporting by Ivory Vendig and Marcel Van Someren

How Arizona’s Immigration Bill Sparks Racial Hate

It’s not how some people think!
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Fed up with Washington’s feckless attempts to secure America’s southern border, Arizona lawmakers took matters into their own hands. In April, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law an immigration bill that requires policemen, during law-enforcement action like traffic stops, to act on “reasonable suspicion” in order to verify a person’s immigration status.

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer explained. “But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Democrats and civil rights leaders were quick to denounce the bill, saying it would lead to widespread racial profiling.

Arizonans, meanwhile, are justifiably frustrated—and scared. Their state has been flooded with illegal aliens. In just the last three years alone, nearly 1 million aliens have been caught trying to sneak into Arizona. That amounts to about 900 per day.

Those who aren’t caught roam throughout Arizona—and the rest of America.

Why Arizonans Support the Bill

In Arizona, the estimated number of illegal immigrants is just under a half million. Embedded among them, of course, are who knows how many violent criminals, drug traffickers and human smugglers. There must be thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—judging by the massive quantities of illegal drugs seized by federal agents. Every day, on average, law enforcement officials confiscate 1.5 tons of marijuana alone.

And in the high-stakes game of drug trafficking, it’s no wonder illegal immigrants are becoming more aggressive and reckless in their behavior. Earlier this year, for example, Arizonans were outraged when a prominent rancher was murdered while patrolling his property 20 miles north of the Mexican border. Footprints at the crime scene revealed that the assailants fled to Mexico after the senseless attack.

Arizona’s capital city, Phoenix, also has the dubious distinction of being the kidnapping capital of North America. “The city has averaged about a kidnapping a day in recent years,” reported the Associated Press, “some resulting in torture and death. Victims’ legs have been burned with irons, their arms have been tied to the ceiling, their fingers broken with bricks” (April 27).

Small wonder that 70 percent of Arizonans support the new immigration bill. Law enforcement agencies have also voiced their support for the legislation.

But not the race baiters. They see the law’s passage as yet another opportunity to fan the flames of racial hatred and division.

A Sign of Maturity?

The mayor of Phoenix called the measure “racist and unjust.” Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said the bill effectively “sanctions” racial profiling.

Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the bill as “unfortunate,” saying it had “the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He also said it might be “unconstitutional” and that it could trigger some kind of federal lawsuit to stop the legislation from going forward. And yet, during a congressional hearing on May 13, when asked by Rep. Ted Poe if he had even read the legislation, the nation’s top law enforcement official responded, “I have not had a chance to. I’ve glanced at it.”

“It’s 10 pages,” Poe snapped back. “I’ll give you my copy of it, if you would like.” Poe said the government ought to be enforcing the immigration laws that are passed in order to secure the border—not challenging them.

The day after the attorney general admitted he hadn’t read the law, Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state, told reporters he had been quite candid with Chinese officials—of all people—about America’s human rights violations. “Part of a mature relationship is that you have an open discussion where you not only raise the other guy’s problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it,” Posner said at the conclusion of a two-day human rights summit between the U.S. and China on May 14.

A reporter then asked if the new Arizona law came up during the human rights summit, and if so, who brought it up?

Posner responded: “We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination” (emphasis mine throughout).

America’s leaders brought up the Arizona law early and often to the Chinese—the same people who lock down their own borders with oppressive force and murder their own citizens for opposing Beijing’s Communist rule.

At the same press conference with Michael Posner, America’s ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, said, “We’re talking about issues that are uncomfortable, quite frankly, but it is a sign of maturity that we can talk about specific cases.”

Groveling at the feet of dictators, confessing our supposed sins to the world, like the “troubling trend” in Arizona—this is now seen as a sign of maturity.

In fact, it is a shocking and shameful sign of immaturity—and it is prophesied in Isaiah 3:4.

Lighting the Fuse on a Race Bomb

Even President Obama hastily joined in on the chorus of criticism against the Arizona law. Within hours of Governor Brewer signing the bill, Obama scolded Arizona lawmakers for their “misguided” work. He said it threatens to undermine the “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

Should the law be enforced, President Obama envisioned life for Hispanic Americans to be something like this: “Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed—that’s something that could potentially happen.”

Besides being factually incorrect on the specifics of the legislation, the president’s racially charged reaction failed to address another, more serious concern for Americans: being murdered or kidnapped by illegal drug-runners. The president’s gut-reaction comment, Kris Kobach wrote at the Washington Times, was true to form. “Just as with the Cambridge, Mass., arrest fiasco last year, he rushed to the microphone without knowing the facts in order to stir up and capitalize on accusations of racial profiling” (April 28).

That’s what much of the backlash against the Arizona law amounts to: stirring up racial discord. And as it happens, it comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants—an increasing number of them hardened criminals with sophisticated weaponry—are flowing across America’s porous borders every year. More than half of the illegal immigrants and drugs coming into America, by the way, travel through the Arizona-Mexico border.

Sixty-three percent of Americans nationally favor the Arizona law. But rather than do something about the mounting danger, America’s leadership is instead lighting the fuse of a much more explosive time bomb.

It’s an explosive mixture that will soon blow up in our faces.

When President Obama campaigned for office, he eloquently vowed not to use the race card and promised to bring the races together as president. Instead, the nation is becoming more divided by the day.

Two years ago, when then-Senator Obama was being lavished with praise for his efforts to heal the many race-relation breaches in America, my father warned that in the long run, it would only inflame more racism. “Poisonous race relations have everything to do with Bible prophecy,” he wrote on June 12, 2008. “This dangerous buildup within our society is a racist bomb that most of us will see explode in our faces!”

Regarding then-Senator Obama, my father wrote, “Many people believe that Mr. Obama is going to greatly improve race relations. But our racial problems are going to rapidly get much worse!”

Then, he added, “The race card is going to be played often for political gain!” So often, in fact, that even in the midst of a national emergency that has some Americans living in fear of being kidnapped, tortured or murdered by illegal aliens—and after Arizona passes a law that effectively makes it illegal to do something that has always been illegal—playing the race card and fanning the flames of hatred is what our leaders are concerned about most.

To learn more about the coming race wars in America, request our free booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.

Is Smoking Sin?

Does the Holy Bible forbid it? Does it even mention it? Don’t be too sure you know!
From the July 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

What is God’s view of smoking? People addicted to cigarettes are quick to point out that the Bible says nothing about smoking. This is simply not true.

The Bible is a book of law. The laws, when obeyed, produce great happiness. Biblical laws regulate health, farming, diet, child rearing and marriage. If people would follow these laws, they would live an abundant life. Yet mankind consistently chooses to violate these laws!

It is true that nowhere in the Bible does God say, “Thou shalt not smoke.” But in the Sixth Commandment, He emphatically states, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, Jewish Publication Society translation). The question we need to answer is, does smoking harm people?

Slow Suicide

The clinical facts have been fully tabulated on smoking. There is no doubt that there exists a direct relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer does kill people. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop warned, “Cigarette smoking is clearly identified as the chief preventable cause of death in our society and the most important public health issue of our time.” A pamphlet issued by the surgeon general’s office stated that smoking “causes more illness and death than all other drugs.” One of the most current U.S. surgeon general’s warnings on a pack of cigarettes states: “Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide.” Read that warning again! To inhale cigarette smoke is to inhale carbon monoxide! Nobody in a sane state of mind would purposely inhale carbon monoxide.

To put it simply, smoking is suicide.

If you smoke or use any other form of tobacco, you are doing so contrary to the serious warnings against such habits. When you smoke, you are wrecking your health. Another of the surgeon general’s warnings on a pack of cigarettes states: “Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.”

If you smoke, then you are deliberately subjecting your body to serious physical harm. Here is a list of some of the chemicals found in unfiltered cigarette smoke besides carbon monoxide: hydroquinone, methacrolein, methyl alcohol, methylamine, nickel compounds, pyridine, dimethylamine, endrin, ethylamine, furfural, cadmium, methyl nitrite, ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, ddt, and nicotine. Spilling these chemicals into a water supply system could carry heavy fines for any business. If you are a smoker, you are seriously polluting your own body, and you will pay a heavy personal penalty.

Besides lung cancer, you could also be subjecting your body to other life-threatening diseases such as bladder cancer, emphysema, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a stroke. From God’s point of view, is there really any difference between pointing a gun to your head and pulling the trigger or lighting a cigarette? No! Pulling the trigger on a gun usually brings death instantly. But smoking also brings death—slow, agonizing death. Both are suicide! Both violate the Sixth Commandment. If you smoke, the most important thing you can do for your health is to quit the poisonous habit immediately.

It’s Not All About You

Some argue, As long as my smoking doesn’t harm anyone else, it is okay to continue the habit. But scientists have also proven that the secondary smoke produced by smokers is just as lethal for the non-smoker living in a smoker’s environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, second-hand smoke contains twice as much tar and nicotine, three times as much of a certain kind of benozopyrene (a carcinogen), five times as much carbon monoxide (which robs the blood of life-giving oxygen), and 46 times as much ammonia (a potent eye and respiratory-tract irritant) as the smoke that smokers inhale directly from their cigarettes!

Many countries and many U.S. states have banned smoking in public places for this reason. Smokers not only ruin their own health but the health of others as well. Harming others is another definite violation of the Sixth Commandment.

Just What Do You Mean … Sin?

Smoking is also a physical sin! You need to understand why.

There are many examples in the Bible where Christ showed people that their health problems were caused by sin. In one instance, people brought to Jesus a man lying on a bed. Christ healed him by forgiving his sin. “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). What sins were forgiven? The sins that caused the man to have palsy—physical sin.

This example contains very important knowledge concerning healing. God has set in motion many physical laws—laws that regulate the functions of our bodies: our health. If we break these laws, we sin and get sick. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).

This is a difficult truth for most people to accept: Healing is the forgiveness of physical sin. Matthew 9 continues: “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house” (verses 3-7).

If healing is the forgiveness of physical sin, then we must be sure to repent of our physical sins. Christ told the man healed by the pool at Bethesda, “[S]in no more …” (John 5:14).

If we do harmful things to our bodies like eating improper foods, or even too much of the right kinds of foods (gluttony), we sin against our bodies, and a penalty is exacted. The penalty is sickness! In some cases, the penalty is only temporary—but in other cases, it can mean permanent injury or death.

Smoking and other uses of tobacco have been proven to be of definite harm to the body. Smoking will cause permanent damage to your lungs, which God designed and created to give you life-giving oxygen. Jesus Christ was beaten with many stripes so we could be healed of sickness (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). How can we as Christians justify smoking and then expect Christ to heal us of the illnesses related to smoking? Smoking shows great disrespect for Christ’s sacrifice. If Jesus Christ was willing to be beaten with many stripes so we can be healed, then we should do everything possible to remain in good health! To do otherwise is sin!

What to Do With Your Body

Let’s go one step further. Why did God create our bodies? Paul gives us the answer: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy [Spirit] which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God created our bodies to house His Holy Spirit. God created us physical human beings so that we can grow in His own character (Matthew 5:48). Is there any justification to defile God’s temple with a destructive habit like smoking? Does the use of tobacco glorify God? Does smoking please God, honor God or serve God’s purpose?

Paul also instructed the Corinthians, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). We should work hard to maintain good health so that God’s Spirit can work effectively in us.

Smoking also harms the smoker because it reinforces weak character traits. In other words, smoking is also a spiritual sin. In the Tenth Commandment, God commands, “Thou shalt not covet …” (Exodus 20:17). The question we need to answer here is, is smoking lust?

Regarding the use of tobacco, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography: “I had learned that God’s law is His way of life. It is a basic philosophy of life. The whole law is summed up in the one word love. I knew that love is the opposite of lust. Lust is self-desire—pleasing the self only. Love means loving others. Its direction is not inward toward self alone, but outgoing, toward others. I knew the Bible teaches that ‘lust of the flesh’ is the way of sin.

“So now I began to apply the principle of God’s law.

“I asked myself, ‘Why do I smoke?’ To please others—to help others—to serve or minister to or express love toward others—or only to satisfy and gratify a desire of the flesh within my own self?

“The answer was instantaneously obvious. I had to be honest with it. My only reason for smoking was lust of the flesh, and lust of the flesh is, according to the Bible, sin!”

Smoking breaks the Tenth Commandment. As Mr. Armstrong wrote, a smoker can hardly claim that he smokes to please others. People smoke to satisfy the self. Smoking is a desire, a thirst for self-gratification. It is lust! Jesus Christ taught that we must uphold the spirit of the law (Matthew 5:27-28). In other words, we must be concerned just as much with what goes on in our minds as with our actions.

Spiritually speaking, our attitudes are all-important. What is the attitude of one who desires the effects of tobacco? It is one of coveting or inordinately desiring that which is damaging. The wrong desire of the mind—lusting after tobacco—is a spiritual sin—a sin against righteous character. Smoking is one of the ways of this world. Christians are to come out of this world (Revelation 18:4; Romans 12:2).

Yes, You Can Stop

Many people say they cannot stop smoking. That is not true! Yes, you can stop smoking!

How? You must start by recognizing that smoking is a sin that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God. Paul said, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). Smoking is covetousness and, as Paul states here, idolatry!

Sin no longer has power over the truly converted person (Romans 6:14). God promises to cleanse us of sin if we are willing to confess our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In other words, God has obligated Himself to cleanse us of the sin of smoking if we repent, acknowledge our sin, and call upon Him for the extra help we need. God will help you if you humbly pray to Him for help (Psalm 103:11-14; Isaiah 55:7-9).

Stop all smoking completely. Smoking is an addiction. Trying to quit gradually only feeds the addiction. You should quit suddenly and totally! It is not easy, but it is the most successful way. Commit yourself to quitting. Throw away all cigarettes, snuff or pipe tobacco. Get rid of all those things that focus your attention on smoking, such as favorite lighters, cigarette cases or pipes. Then never buy another ounce of tobacco!

The actual physical discomfort of nicotine withdrawal usually subsides within three to five days of your last cigarette (this differs with each person). The psychological withdrawal usually takes much longer. You may experience tension, hunger and symptoms of restlessness. These discomforts will subside. Usually the habit of smoking can be broken in 21 to 30 days.

Avoid compromising situations. Paul said, “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). You must apply this same principle to smoking. Avoid situations where you previously “lit up.” Don’t let other smokers, friends, relatives or stressful situations cause you to cave in to your old habit. Remember, just one puff will make you a habitual smoker again!

Spend time with non-smokers and people who will support your efforts to remain free of cigarettes. Another way to get your mind off your smoking habit is to replace it with some other activity. Studies have shown that it is much easier to break a bad habit and stay free of returning to it if we have something to replace it with. Try getting involved in some type of exercise program like walking, cycling or swimming, depending upon your age, athletic ability and health. Getting a physical check-up is a good idea before beginning any new exercise program. This is an excellent replacement habit.

Finally, don’t become discouraged or fear failure. And if you slip up and smoke—don’t give up! You can get rid of this life-threatening habit. When you do, you will not only live a better life physically, but also spiritually!

Your Family’s Most Important Textbook

Your Family’s Most Important Textbook

©iStock.com

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”

©iStock.com/janniswerner

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.