Sent to the AA Club

Like an alcoholic in a self-delusional stupor, America still can’t admit it has a debt problem.
From the October 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

There is absolutely “no risk” that America will lose its aaa rating, said America’s treasury secretary on April 19. Congress should raise the debt ceiling for “as long as possible.”

Infamous last words.

On Friday, August 5, at 9 p.m., for the first time in United States history, America’s sovereign credit rating was downgraded from aaa to aa+ by Standard & Poor’s.

Consequently, the credibility of the U.S. treasury secretary, along with virtually everyone in Washington, was downgraded too.

The agency issued its report long after the market closed for the weekend because of the potentially catastrophic consequences. On cue, Asian markets plunged. In Europe, the European Central Bank came to the rescue, promising to buy billions in Spanish and Italian debt. But on Monday in America, a battered Dow Jones opened down 2 percent and never stopped falling. It was the worst day since the Lehman bust in 2008.

In cutting America’s rating, s&p confirmed what the Trumpet has warned about for decades: America is addicted to debt.

Politicians in Denial

The credit rating agency said the deficit reduction plan signed by the president did not go far enough to stabilize the country’s debt situation. s&p also put America on negative watch—meaning that it may downgrade the country even further unless something significant changes.

Yet in comparison, American politicians sound inebriated. Only in America could a plan that raises the national debt from $14.5 trillion to $23 trillion by 2021 be declared a “win for the economy and budget discipline.” Only in Washington is adding another $8 trillion to the debt characterized as “spending cuts.”

Republicans and Democrats alike don’t really believe America has a problem. Both sides are in denial.

Republican Sen. John McCain called members of the Tea Party “terrorists” for not wanting to raise the debt ceiling. Later he called them small-minded “hobbits,” with the implication that they needed to go back to Middle Earth.

Democrat John Kerry said, “I believe this is without question the Tea Party downgrade … because a minority of people in the House of Representatives countered even the will of many Republicans ….” Democrat Howard Dean confirmed: “I think this is [the] Tea Party’s problem …. I think they’re totally unreasonable and doctrinaire and not founded in reality. I think they’ve been smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it.”

But all the rhetoric and name-calling just goes to show how ridiculously ignorant most politicians are and how ignorant they think voters are. s&p didn’t downgrade America because of threats to not raise the debt ceiling, but because politicians plan on raising it too much.

Here is the problem; it really is simple to understand: America collects over $2.1 trillion in taxes—but it spends $3.7 trillion!

And here is the proof politicians have no real plans to end America’s addiction. The details of the new budget compromise show they are not even making a credible effort to wean the nation off debt. For 2012, the new plan calls to cut a total of—wait for it—$21 billion. They are planning to go further into debt by $1.6 trillion next year!

In 2013, politicians will trim $42 billion—but America will go another $1.5 trillion into debt that year. The rest of the so-called trillion-dollar cuts will happen years further in the future—if politicians don’t change their minds.

The scary part is that these massive budget deficits happen if things go according to plan—meaning, if the economy somehow gets back to 4 percent growth! Will someone tell the budget geniuses that the economy is growing at around 1 percent, and probably closer to not at all? Even before the recession, the long-term growth average of the U.S. was around 3 percent.

Don’t worry about sobering up to economic reality—the budget balances better that way.

Admitting It Is the First Step

Following the downgrade, the president said: “We’ve always been and always will be a aaa country.”

There will be no real desire to fix our problems until Washington admits—in both words and action—that it has a problem. Unfortunately, it will take a real market-imposed crisis to make that happen. And by then it will be too late.

America’s forced withdrawal is getting closer. On August 2, it was announced that U.S. federal debt had reached 100 percent of gdp for the first time since the World War ii era.

When s&p downgraded America, the U.S. joined the aa club. But what the country really needs is an intervention from the Arrears Anonymous club—though, to tell the truth, America is actually even beyond that. Its economic organs are failing, it can’t think straight, and its historic response to problems is to look for ever-stronger stimulants to temporarily make the pain go away.

In fact, despite the downgrade, most Americans still don’t really think there is a problem. We are so intoxicated with debt, we don’t even know we are drunk on it.

Defeat Depression—Master Your Mind

Defeat Depression—Master Your Mind


In order to conquer toxic emotional states, you need to understand your thoughts—and then govern them.
From the November 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Twisted and distorted thinking is the major cause of suffering for people flattened by depression. Those who have experienced a major depressive episode feel locked onto a painfully negative mental and emotional tilt-o-whirl—a cruel carnival ride stuck on go!

Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, endured a lifelong battle with the scourge called depression. He observed its effects in himself, studied it in others—and learned how to master it. He also wrote about it in order to help others conquer this powerful personal enemy.

Mr. Lincoln recognized that depression’s strong grip on a person was generated by self-destructive, negative thinking. In Lincoln’s Melancholy, Joshua Shenk tells us, “Lincoln clearly knew the peculiar thought habits that are characteristic of depression. In 1842, called upon to comfort a friend [Joshua Speed] in the midst of a severe depression, Lincoln wrote [in a personal letter] of ‘that intensity of thought, which will some times wear the sweetest idea thread-bare and turn it to the bitterness of death.’”

In his book Darkness Visible, Pulitzer prize-winning American author William Styron described his own bout with depression as “a veritable howling tempest in the brain.” Shenk tells us that Styron experienced that destructive mental storm “punctuated by a thunder of self-critical, fearful, despairing thoughts—one clap following another in an endless night.”

Mental health experts recognize that depression sufferers often resort to suicide “to achieve a peace of mindlessness.” Most seriously depressed people struggle to find the words to describe their mental torture. It is just as difficult for the non-depressed to relate to descriptions of it.

However, David Burns, m.d., gives a good description of the typical train of thought of a depressed patient: “[W]hen you are feeling depressed, your thoughts are dominated by a pervasive negativity. You perceive not only yourself but the entire world in dark, gloomy terms. What is even worse—you’ll come to believe things really are as bad as you imagine them to be.

“If you are substantially depressed, you will even begin to believe that things always have been and always will be negative. As you look into your past, you remember all the bad things that happened to you. As you try to imagine your future, you see only emptiness or unending problems and anguish. This bleak vision creates a sense of hopelessness. This feeling is absolutely illogical, but it seems so real that you have convinced yourself that your inadequacy will go on forever” (Feeling Good).

Solomon, the wisest man of his day, said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). How well do you control your thinking? All human beings can become better masters of their thinking process.

In order to conquer anxiety, depression, fear and worry, you must come to know how the human brain, empowered by the human spirit, works. You must learn how to properly operate your mind. In addition, you must come to face the truth about your human nature.

Paradox in Human Thinking

You have been lied to. You have been told that you are an immortal soul and that your nature is innately good. Here is the truth: You are magnificently fashioned dust with an incredible non-physical—spiritual—component placed inside you. However, it is not an immortal soul. Your body is your soul. That soul is mortal—it is going to die.

Yet, don’t be dismayed. The fact that you can think, reason, make decisions, invent things, and create beautiful art, inspiring literature and stirring music—all products of a God-type mind—should tell you that you are different and created significantly above all other fleshly life. You have been created for a stunning purpose! Your soul, made from clay, has been created with a human spirit that gives you the power of intellect and an awesome potential not made available to the animal kingdom. In fact, your incredible human potential is far greater than the potential of angels!

Herbert W. Armstrong, the great theologian of the 20th century, understood special knowledge about the human mind. He saw an incredible paradox in human thinking. In a small but powerful booklet, What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind, he wrote: “Why cannot the greatest minds solve world problems? Scientists have said, ‘Given sufficient knowledge, and we shall solve all human problems and cure all our evils.’ However, as the world’s fund of knowledge rapidly increases, so too do humanity’s evils. Why?” You need this booklet—not just to read, but to study and apply diligently. We will send you a free copy upon request.

Are you able to see this paradox about the human mind? Think about what gifted human minds have invented technologically in the last decade: cell phones with mini-computers inside them; power-packed, micro-thin laptop computers; and scads of other work-saving gadgets for the home and office. We even have cars that park themselves! Yet at the same time, our world is drowning in depression and other tragic human problems like child abuse, divorce and family breakdown, genocide, life-snuffing epidemic illnesses, murder and suicide, theft, racial hatred, terrorism—and war.

“Is something wrong with the human mind? Is something missing?” Herbert Armstrong asked. These are vital questions that must be answered for all humanity—especially for the depressed and downtrodden.

“There most certainly is a missing dimension in human knowledge. … The most perfect mechanism ever designed and made is the marvelous mind and body that is man. And it is only natural that our Maker sent along His instruction manual—revealing for our good what we are, why we are, where we are going, and what is the way.” That instruction book is the Holy Bible. This book, maligned by scholars and the intellectual elite, reveals man’s incredible human potential and “how to operate this human mechanism of mind and body to live happily in peace and to achieve that awesome potential.”

Think about it. The human brain has been dissected, studied and theorized about, yet not one educator, minister, philosopher, scholar or scientist can even begin to explain why man’s brain output is so vastly different from that of animal brain, which for all practical purposes is of the same quality as a man’s. What educator, minister or scientist has ever explained why humans have the mental ability to send men into outer space and return them back to Earth, yet have little capacity to solve our impossibly difficult human problems? There is only one: Herbert W. Armstrong.

Here is great news. The paradox of the human mind has been solved! There is a right way to think—the means to provide for human material needs and to solve our human problems.

Not an Emotional Disorder

Because so many depressed patients complain about their dark and negative feelings, most psychiatrists have worked to alleviate those feelings. The trend to get in touch with your feelings comes from that kind of psychiatric reasoning. This approach has also given rise to the feel-good and anti-depressant drug industry. Sophisticated advertising specialists have helped make anti-depressant drugs big business.

Yet a different school of psychiatrists, known as cognitive therapists, do not believe depression is caused by mood. They believe the cause of depression is thinking disorder.

“Depression is not an emotional disorder at all!” David Burns states. “Every bad feeling you have is the result of your distorted negative thinking. Illogical, pessimistic attitudes play the central role in the development and continuation of all your symptoms” (op. cit.). To recover from depression, people must learn that every depressed feeling has its corresponding distorted or illogical thought. That negative thought came before and created the depressed feeling. If you are depressed, you must isolate, examine and replace all your illogical thinking with thought that is based on true facts.

Yes, it requires hard work. Yet, unless a depressed person changes the way he thinks, his suffering will continue and may lead to suicide. Even those psychiatrists who advocate the use of antidepressant drugs know that drugs work only for a short time; a change in thinking is required to sustain lasting relief.

Abraham Lincoln fought depression by getting control of his emotions. How? He mastered his thinking. Those close to Mr. Lincoln spoke and wrote about his “blue spells”—times when he would sit alone in a private place appearing to be in a trance. Discussing those down times, Shenk suggests that “while in one sense an indication of melancholy, [they] may also have represented a response to it. Paradoxically, such obvious suffering may actually have been the visible side of Lincoln’s effort to contain his dark feelings and thoughts—to wrestle privately with his moods until they passed or lightened.”

Shenk tells us that “Lincoln also worked assiduously to develop his mind, carrying with him around the circuit, in the early 1850s, the first six books of Euclid’s Elements, which move from definitions to postulates to axioms to proofs. In Lincoln’s time, this text represented the apex of logical rigor.” Lincoln studied the logic of geometry to know how to restructure his own illogical thinking. He was a man ahead of his time!

David Burns’s book Feeling Good is a self-help manual teaching people how to restructure their disastrous negative thinking. This book has successfully helped many people. However, Dr. Burns does not reveal the vital mystery of how the human mind was created to work at its peak potential.

The human mind is a powerful tool. Its power can be harnessed to do incredible good, yet it is also capable of creating appalling evil.

On a purely physical level, you can learn to govern your thinking. However, there is even more amazing knowledge to be gained about the human mind that can bring you lasting freedom from negative thinking.

Human Mind—Not All There

The Bible reveals that man is wholly physical. This sacred book states clearly—with authority—that God made man out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). When a man dies, his flesh—all that he was—decays back into dust. At the time God sentenced Adam and Eve for their sin of disobedience, God said, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19, English Standard Version). It was Satan the devil who told Eve she was an immortal soul (verse 4). Satan has used men to promote this lie, and many have believed it since our very beginning.

Yet, man is not an animal! God created within man a spiritual component that gives men, women and children the power of intellect—a mind that can think, reason and make decisions; a mind that can create, design and invent things using materials taken out of the earth.

“So let us understand! Man is flesh and blood—composed wholly of matter—and that living matter is a living soul,” Mr. Armstrong wrote (op. cit.). We are made of physical matter like animals. Yet, we are amazingly different from animals. Science keeps looking for the missing link between man and apes. Do you realize that they are looking in the wrong direction? Instead of looking down to a lower form of life, science should be looking up. To put it very simply, man was made after the God kind—the highest form of life!

“I have explained that human brain is almost identical to animal brain. But man was made in the form and shape of God [Genesis 1:26-27], to have a special relationship with God—to have the potential of being born into the Family of God. And God is spirit (John 4:24). To make it possible to bridge the gap—or to make the transition of mankind, composed wholly of matter, into spirit beings in God’s Kingdom, then to be composed wholly of spirit, and at the same time to give man a mind like God’s—God put a spirit in each human” (ibid).

This is majestic understanding. The spirit put inside man is not an immortal soul; it is spirit essence—like air and water are essence on Earth. To distinguish this spirit from God’s Holy Spirit, Mr. Armstrong called it the human spirit. Since this spirit is non-physical, it can never be discovered by science. Its existence must be revealed by its Creator. In Job 32:8, we read, “[T]here is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” This is an awesome truth, understood by only a very few!

How does the human spirit work with human brain? The human spirit cannot see; the human brain sees through the eyes. The human spirit cannot hear; the brain hears through the ears. The human spirit cannot think; the brain thinks—yet it is powered to think by the human spirit. Animals, not made to have a special relationship with God, do not have this spirit essence and cannot think and reason like a man except in a very simple way (article, page 28). This human spirit enables man to acquire knowledge and understanding of the material world around him. It is truly awesome what mankind has been able to do with matter taken from the earth. No animal is capable of accomplishing such material progress.

Yet, the human mind is not complete. Even with the human spirit in place, man’s mind is “not all there.” God has provided a way to complete and make all human minds fully sound.

Let Us Reason Together

The Apostle Paul explained how the human spirit works with the human brain. He stated, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Think on this wisdom. Men have come to understand and apply the laws of chemistry and physics. As a result, they have built skyscrapers, constructed bridges and manufactured automobiles out of the earth’s materials. Animals have no such capacity. Men can do all these things because of their intellect made possible by the human spirit. Yet, there is knowledge man can never gain through his five senses—spiritual knowledge!

Mr. Armstrong made it plain for us: “Yet this human mind is limited to knowledge of the physical. It cannot know—comprehend—the spiritual things of God. Why? Because even the human mind only can know, naturally, what knowledge comes to it through the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling” (ibid). Why is this so?

“[E]ven so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). To understand spiritual knowledge—the product of God’s mind—man must also have God’s Holy Spirit mixed with his human spirit!

This is reality. Men and women who do not have God’s Holy Spirit are not complete mentally.

Hence the paradox! The great minds of this time can do miraculous things with matter—yet they cannot solve their human problems. Why? Because human problems are spiritual in nature!

God offered Adam and Eve free access to His Holy Spirit, yet they refused God’s offer. How did God make His offer to them? Recognize that God explains deep spiritual matters in parables or symbols to hide His knowledge from the smug, worldly wise scoffers (Matthew 11:25; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Adam and Eve were offered God’s Spirit symbolized by the tree of life (Genesis 2:9). The two trees of Genesis 2 have been made fun of and ridiculed. Yet their simple imagery carries serious meaning for all mankind. Discussing Adam’s fatal rejection of God’s offer, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The spirit of man was in him—but not the Spirit of God. God offered him freely the fruit of the tree of life—which symbolized God’s Holy Spirit” (ibid).

What was the result of Adam’s rejection of that tree? Our suffering world full of nearly unsolvable evils!

Realize that God wants to share His mind and knowledge with every human being. God tells everyone willing to listen, “Come now, and let us reason together …” (Isaiah 1:18). Are you willing to let God instruct you, counsel you and direct your life? Adam and Eve were not, and most men and women today are not. The tragic result is that the number and severity of our personal problems—including depression—are mounting and are ready to destroy us. We desperately need God and His mind to give us solutions to our catastrophic personal problems.

What does all this knowledge have to do with depression? Absolutely everything!

Develop Right Character

As David Burns tells us, depression—that dark and personally debilitating mood—is brought on by self-destructive negative thoughts that trigger negative emotions. In reality, depression can be best described as emotional immaturity gone haywire! An emotionally immature person cannot control his or her moods.

Mr. Armstrong explained, “More and more I am impressed that one of the most important truths we humans overlook is that human beings are not equipped with instinct, like dumb animals, to guide us into the proper course …. God endowed man, in His own image, with mind. Man must first learn and acquire knowledge. He is endowed, also, with capacity to reason from that knowledge—to think, to plan, to arrive at conclusions, to make decisions. God intended man’s mind to direct his actions. But man must learn to do this, and he can never achieve God’s purpose in placing him on this Earth until he does” (Good News, March 1985). You must get this vital teaching. The number one human need is right education! Each of us must learn how to think rightly. If we don’t think correctly, our lives are sure to be filled with continuous disaster!

“The development of right character is the purpose of human life. And character is ability to come to right knowledge and wisdom and then to direct the mind and body into this right course. But we poor humans act as though we believed man to be merely the highest of the dumb brutes—as if man were equipped with instinct, and the purpose of life were merely to enjoy such feelings, sensations, emotions and moods as impulse attracts us to, without thinking or mental direction!” (ibid). Our world is full of people and nations that are acting like dumb animals.

So how should we define emotional maturity? It is “the technical art of putting into practice the Ten Commandments …. One author defines emotional maturity as development from the state of taking to the state of giving. Taking is the way of Satan. Giving is the way of God, and the principle of His law. Love is giving” (ibid).

Do you get it? Living by the Ten Commandments is essential education this world needs. These 10 simple laws define right thinking.

You must admit this next fact: Modern Christianity does not provide such education! In fact, most ministers and other Christian leaders teach that God’s law has been done away. People are not taught to practice the only way of life that produces true happiness—the way outlined by the Ten Commandments.

Securing Sound Mindedness

To truly solve our mental and emotional problems, which are all spiritual in nature, we must have the spiritual knowledge that can only come from God through His Holy Spirit. Yet the Bible states emphatically that God will only give the Holy Spirit to those willing to obey Him (Acts 5:32). Realize also that the Holy Spirit, actively living in a human mind, is sound mindedness (2 Timothy 1:7). A sound-minded person is in control of his thinking, emotions and moods.

Here are some tough questions you must ask yourself. Is God’s Holy Spirit residing in me? How do I know for sure that I am obeying God? The answer to both of those questions is found in the practice of the Ten Commandments. If you are not actively keeping all of God’s Ten Commandments, you can be certain that the Holy Spirit is not actively leading, instructing and helping you. If you are depressed—meaning you have lost control of your thinking, emotions and moods—then look at your life. Where are you disobeying God? Study His Ten Commandments to find the answer.

When it comes to obeying God, here is one vital issue you must face. If God’s Holy Spirit is not in you, then the Bible says you are operating with the natural mind only. This puts you at a severe disadvantage. Why? This natural or carnal mind is antagonistic to God’s way of living (Romans 8:7). The carnal mind refuses to yield to and obey God in all things. The natural human mind is heavily influenced by Satan the devil (Ephesians 2:2-3). Satan’s top goal is to control your mind.

Satan’s broadcasts—the nearly irresistible bombardment of evil thoughts, emotions, moods and impulses on human minds—influence our minds and actually become what is known as human nature. The truth is that human nature is Satan’s own nature, which embraces a sinful way of life. This way of life is graphically discussed in Galatians 5:19-21 (read these verses in the esv or Revised Standard Version). The Apostle Paul shows us that the natural mind is capable of pursuing a life filled with shocking sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy and drunkenness. You must understand that from these sins and negative emotions grow anxiety, depression, fear and worry, and even poor health (Proverbs 17:22).

Do emotions such as anger, envy, jealousy and rivalry dominate your mind? There is a different and better way to live.

Repentance Means Growth

Paul also tells us the advantages of the spiritual mind: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace [including peace of mind], patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, esv). Which way do you want to live for the rest of your life? Most people struggling with depression can’t see a way out—yet there is a way out.

God actually created man out of clay so we can change our thinking and life direction. The Bible calls this kind of change in thinking repentance. Simply put, repentance is turning to the opposite direction one is presently going. To turn from a life of sin means to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth produces the joy and happiness that all men, women and children desire.

God offers you a sure and lasting way to control your emotions, thinking and life—with eternal rewards. Realize that it is God’s purpose for you to have the ability to think as positively, powerfully and creatively as He does (Matthew 5:48).

The point is, you can change! Of all things, get control of your emotions by changing your thinking. Doing so will open up for you a better, brighter and more positive outlook that will arm you to face any and all challenges ahead.

Let God Fight Your Battles!

Let God Fight Your Battles!


From the Good News, March 1985
From the November 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

The world you live in today is a very troubled world. You not only have your own personal problems, but you also suffer from the deliberate opposition and antagonism of the world around you.

It is time you considered how to conquer these troubles—how to be free from them—how to let God fight your battles instead!

One Lesson Not Yet Learned

First, understand this: If the world today is not happy—if world conditions are in a chaotic state, if lives are empty and purposeless, if minds are filled with fears and worries, bodies wracked with sickness and disease—there is a reason!

Conditions are exactly what we make them!

Mortal humans, groping in the darkness of confusion, have made conditions what they are. Humanity is reaping what it has sown! Only the direct and all-powerful supernatural intervention of Almighty God can deliver this world from all its troubles.

What the world doesn’t know is that God will not cause its present ways of wrong living to bring any human utopia. Rather, God Almightywill soon have to step in andRULEover the world—bringing it into theWAYS of His just laws, which alone can produce this happy tomorrow!

We, too, as God’s people, have lessons to learn. Even though stubborn and rebellious mankind brings upon the world even darker days in the immediate future, remember—it’s darkest just before dawn. Take hope in the sure knowledge that the new world of God’s making and ruling—is very near today!

But in the meantime, what about you and your own private life and problems?

Let us consider some of your own private, personal troubles. I know that you have them! And I want to tell you something—I want to tell you good news. You are carrying a lot of worries and fears and troubles that you don’t need to carry!

Life is simply filled with private, personal battles. We have to battle fears and worries. Sometimes it seems we have to battle people who appear to be enemies—often it’s a husband, a wife or a mother-in-law—and whether you realize it or not, you also have to battle YOURSELF!

It is like having to fight a host of enemies—all these troubles, these circumstances, these adverse conditions, these temptations! But there is a way you may free yourself from these troubles that confront you. There is a way out! You can be free from fighting all of these enemies except just one—your own self—and you can receive a lot of help and knowledge and power in doing that!

Here’s where that help can be found!

Jesus Christ Is the Deliverer

The Eternal Creator-Ruler of the universe—the God who gives you the very air you breathe—sent His own begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into this world more than 1,900 years ago to bring you the way of deliverance from all your trials, your worries, your problems.

Why, then, do some of you not listen to the way He taught us? And why do so many people think of Him as a dead Christ hanging on a cross? God Almighty raised Himfrom the dead!

Jesus Christ is our living Savior and High Priest, just as the Creator is a livingRULERof all the universe!

Do you realize that Jesus Christ, the living, resurrected Christ, to whom is givenALL POWER,has aPRESENTmission to perform? Do you realize that His present mission is to fight your battles for you—to deliver you—to free you from all your fears, your troublesand even the circumstances that beset you?

Thousands of you would come to me for help in your troubles if I had time to see and talk to you—you’d come with husband-and-wife troubles, funeral troubles—every kind of trouble. Yes, you’d come to me because I’m human—one you can see—whose voice you hear.

But because I’m only human, I have not the ability, the strength nor the time to render such a personal ministry to so many in different parts of the world.

Now think this over carefully, and answer this! Why do you fight your own battles, when He—the living Savior—is living in all power to fight them for you?

He’s real. He’s divine. Why do some of you go on worrying, when He is right there in all the power of the divineCreator to free you from all your worries?

Why? There is one of two reasons, Either you have not fully known of this great, all-encompassing divine source of power that you can call on at will—you have not realized what all-conqueringhelp you can have—or else you have, through lack of faith or neglect, failed to call on that supernatural help in your times of need!

CAN I open your eyes to see that God is a God of love—that God in all His supreme power wills above all things for you to prosper and be in health and to find the way to the happy, full, abundant life? That Jesus Christ is a living Savior, to whom you can go at all times—a Savior to save you from your present everyday fears and worries, adverse circumstances, troubles, sicknesses and trials, as well as to save you from eternal death at the end?

Notice what Scripture commands: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

God Is Interested in Your Life Now

God’s salvation is not something you collect only after you die. It is a practical, commonsense, useful salvation that starts in your everyday life right here and now!

What needless pains some have been suffering. What needless fears and worries you may have been carrying around. What wonderful times—what happiness you may have cheated yourself out of, just because you have not realized and taken advantage of the very present and all-powerful help of your LIVING Savior!

Actually what is happening is that you may have found yourself faced with foes far more powerful than you. These foes may come in forms of troubles, of unforeseen circumstances, of worries, of sicknesses or even of other persons. These foes need not make your life unhappy.

Old Testament Illustration

Did you ever really think through the full meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the incidents in the lives of God’s people of Old Testament times were written into the Bible for OURlearning and help?

I want now to turn to the experience of a man who lived in that time. This man found that he could rely on the Almighty God. This man was faced with a far more terrifying trouble than has ever beset you. He found the happy solution. His experience will show you what you can do, this very day!

Once you understand, you will have to learn to take Godat His wordto call upon God in prayer—you will have to ask God for what you need—and you may have to learn how to pray.

God Almighty will actually intervene in your life and help you and fight your battles for you. Remember, God is no respecter of persons. He will not do more for one than another. He will do as much for you as for any person who ever lived. He will do as much for you—if you obey Him and rely on Him—as for any ancient king of Israel or Judah!

You may have a problem that completely overwhelms you. You may be at your wit’s end—you may not know where to turn or what to do! It may be a family problem, a personal problem, a financial problem, a problem of sickness or disease.

But let me tell you now as Jesus Christ’s apostle of a man who came upon a situation probably far more terrifying than yours—one that would throw fright and terror into the stoutest heart.

The solution this man used will solve your problems—put an end to your troubles. The same God who heard and delivered him will hear and deliver you—if you will obey Him and trust Him.

The fact that this man was an ancient king makes no difference. God is no respecter of persons—He will do as much for you. God is the same today and tomorrow as He was yesterday.

This man was King Hezekiah of the ancient kingdom of Judah. He was an ordinary human mortal, the same as you today.

God Intervenes for a Man

The vast armies of Assyria were marching westward and southward to invade Judah. The Jews were greatly outnumbered. They had no army or power to stand up against such a powerful foe.

They were helpless. They faced certain defeat—just as you may feel helpless in the face of your troubles today.

If some of you try to solve your problem or overcome your bad habits or resist sin in nothing more than your OWN power and strength, you, too, will find yourself outnumbered, overpowered and doomed to defeat!

You must learn, as this ancient king did, that God stands ready and willing to fight your battles for you.

Read his experience in 2 Chronicles 32, from the Moffatt translation: “It was after this, after all this loyal service, that Sancherib king of Assyria invaded Judah, besieging the fortified towns and meaning to seize them. When Hezekiah saw that Sancherib had come determined to attack Jerusalem, he and his nobles and his chiefs agreed to stop the water of the fountains outside the town. …

“Then, appointing officers over the citizens, he gathered them in the open space at the gate of the city, and encouraged them. ‘Be firm,’ he said, ‘be brave, be not daunted nor dismayed for the king of Assyria or for all his host; we have with us One greater than all he has; he has a mortal force, but we have with us the Eternal our God, to help us and to fight our battles’” (verses 1-3, 6-8).

Continuing: “His officers said even worse things against God the Eternal and his servant Hezekiah. (Sancherib also wrote letters, insulting the Eternal the God of Israel and attacking him thus: ‘As the gods of the nations elsewhere in the world have failed to save their folk from me, so shall Hezekiah’s God fail to save his folk.’) The officers shouted aloud in Hebrew to the citizens of Jerusalem on the walls, to terrify them and scare them, that they might capture the city. They talked about the God of Jerusalem as one of the gods of the nations on earth, mere handmade idols!” (verses 16-19).

Now notice what the king of Judah did: “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz PRAYED over this and cried to heaven” (verse 20).

They prayed for help. They did not know exactly how God would intervene. But they knew God would act! Here’s what happened: “[T]hen the Eternal sent an angel who swept off all the gallant fighters, the leaders, and captains, in the camp of the king of Assyria, till he had to go home in disgrace. He [later] went into the temple of his god, and there his own offspring murdered him with their swords. So the Eternal rescued Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from Sancherib the king of Assyria as well as from all other foes, protecting themon every side” (verses 21-22).

That experience was written into the very Word of God for your learning and to show you the way today! Perhaps you are faced with a foe more powerful than you. It may be some temptation. It may be some circumstance or condition or trouble. Some serious worry.

Then let me ask you, what areYOUrelying on to withstand the siege of this trouble—to deliver you from it?

Rely on God and His Power

What do some of you do when some fear, worry, trouble comes up against you? Do you not first fear and worry, and then either try to run from this trouble or else try to meet it in your own power and strength—with your own thinking and planning and doing?

Do you ever search your own heart and life to see if it is yourfault? In almost every in-law or marital trouble, for example, both are at fault.

Did you never realize that the very Creator who caused you to be born—who gives you the life you have—who called you into His truth—is able and anxious to fight all these battles for you just as He did Hezekiah’s—if you will only turn to Him and ask Him for wisdom and guidance, rely on Him and trust Him with the result?

Two Examples

I know of a lady who, when in her middle 20s, had a problem that was most serious in her life. Three times this girl had been disappointed in love. She had at last been tempted to marry a man she had no right to marry. She brought her problem to me, as God’s representative. I found she was looking only at physical appearances.

She reasoned that, so far as she could see, if she obeyed God and refused to marry this man, she might never be married.

I counseled her to obey God—to stop looking at the material circumstances and using human reason to disobey God. I counseled her to do, first of all, what God instructs in the Bible, and then to trust Him for the outcome.

But that girl did not rely on God—she relied on her human reason. She obeyed impulse and temptation and married the man. He left her to commit adultery with another woman on their very wedding night. Her life became miserable, terribly unhappy.

Then at another time, another similar case was brought to me. This young woman rejected the temptation—she obeyed God and relied on the Eternal to work out circumstances—she trustedHim with the result. Her faith was tried and tested. God did not answer at once—but in due time, just the right man came into her life, they fell in love, they were married and God has blessed their marriage with supreme happiness.

The Experience of King Jehoshaphat

Now I want to bring you one more case history—a remarkable experience that will show you the way out of all your difficulties and troubles.

If you will let God have His way in your life, then you will have begun to learn how to let Him fight your battles, solve your problems and deliver you from so many troubles you are suffering.

Now, notice the experience written for our learning and help today: “It was after this that the Moabites and Ammonites, with some of the Meunim, made war on Jehoshaphat. Word came to Jehoshaphat that a huge host was moving against him from Edom, over the Dead Sea, and that they were already at Hazazon-tamar (or Engedi). Jehoshaphat was afraid” (2 Chronicles 20:1-3; Moffatt).

Is fear your usual reaction, too? But observe what the king of Judah did.

“He resolved to have recourse to the Eternal, and proclaimed a fast all over Judah. So Judah assembled to seek help from the Eternal; people came from every town in Judah to worship the Eternal” (verses 3-4).

Jehoshaphat did exactly what God wants you to do today when faced with any temptation or trouble—he took it to God in prayer and fasting!

And as he continued to ask God for help, he said: “O Eternal, the God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven, and ruler of all realms on earth? Such power and might is thine that no one can resist thee. O our God, didst not thou evict the natives of this land before thy people Israel, giving the land to the offspring of Abraham thy friend, for all time? And they settled in it, they have built a sanctuary in it to thine honour, thinking that if evil befell them, the sword in judgment, or pestilence, or famine, they would stand in front of this temple and before thee (for in this temple is thy presence) and cry to thee in their distress, till thou didst hear and save them.

“Now here are the Ammonites and Moabites and folk from mount Seir, whom thou didst not allow Israel to invade, when Israel came out of the land of Egypt—no, Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them!” (verses 6-10).

There was no reason for these neighbors to be enemies. Sometimes your own neighbors become your enemies, too, don’t they?

But notice what the king said to God: “Look how they reward us, coming to eject us from thy very own country which thou hast given us to be ours. O our God, wilt thou not deal with them? We are helpless against this mighty host that is attacking us; we know not what to do, but we look to thee” (verses 11-12).

God Answers Prayer

Now I want you to notice! Jehoshaphat cried out for God to come to their aid. Here is God’s answer: “Jehaziel … was inspired by the spirit of the Eternal in the midst of the gathering to cry, ‘Listen, all ye men of Judah, ye citizens of Jerusalem, and you, O king Jehoshaphat; the Eternal’s message to you is this:Fear not, falter not before this vast army; it is for God, not for you, to fight them. March down against them to-morrow; they coming up by the ascent of Haziz, and you will come upon them at the end of the ravine in front of the desert of Jeruel. You will not need to do any fighting; take your position, stand still, and watch the victory of the Eternal, who is on your side, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not, falter not. Move out against them tomorrow, for the Eternal is on your side”‘” (verses 14-17).

And notice that Jehoshaphat obeyed after God instructed him. Verses 20-23 declare: “Next morning they rose and moved into the open country round Tekoa. As they advanced, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen, men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! Take hold of the Eternal your God and you will keep hold of life; hold by his prophets, and you will prosper.’

“After this counsel to the nation, he appointed the Eternal’s singers to praise him in sacred vestments, marching in front of the army and chanting, Give thanks to the Eternal, for his kindness never fails.

“As they began to sing and praise him, the Eternal set men in ambush against the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the folk from mount Seir, who had attacked Judah, and they were routed. The Ammonites and the Moabites turned on the natives of mount Seir, determined to wipe them out.”

They turned against one another! That is how God answered Jehoshaphat. “[A]nd then, after destroying the natives of Seir, they all helped to kill one another. So when the men of Judah reached their post of attack looking over the open country, they saw the host were so many corpses stretched upon the ground; not a man had escaped” (verses 23-24).

Jehoshaphat did not merely leave this trouble with God and then do nothing about it himself. First, he prayed and asked for wisdom, guidance and help. Then he did what God said. He had to do His part but the battle was God’s, and Jehoshaphat did not try to fight God’s battle. He merely did his own part. But he believed God, and relied on God.

The point I want you to remember is that your battles are not really yours, but God’s. If you look to Him, He makes them His battles, and He fights them for you. How futile for you to try to fight God’s battles for Him.

God says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

In the New Testament we read, “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8; Authorized Version). Yes, but the faith that saves us is a living faith that is practical—it works—it really relies on God! So put it to practice!

God does not promise us an easy time during this life in this world. But He does promise to fight our battles for us to deliver us from every trouble and affliction.

Will you let Him do it, and learn how happy your life may become? God help you to understand!

Breaking Down the Wall

Breaking Down the Wall


Recent events have not just weakened Israel—they have empowered its enemy.
From the November 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

One could see it coming—but it was still breathtaking to watch.

Thousands of angry demonstrators descended on Israel’s embassy in Cairo on the evening of September 9, terrifying the 80 some people inside. Sometime after midnight, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, his family and most of the embassy personnel were forced to evacuate to Cairo’s airport, where they were whisked away by Israeli military jets.

Six Israeli intelligence officers remained, charged with the unenviable task of protecting the embassy. Fearing for their lives, they barricaded themselves in the embassy strong room. The mob outside had demolished the 8-foot concrete wall surrounding the compound and were walking around embassy facilities, tossing papers out windows and burning the Israeli flag. Locked inside the strong room, the officers listened as the hammers beat down the doors that separated them from certain death. When the mob began beating the last door, three of the officers stood and aimed their weapons toward the door.

Meanwhile, the commanding officer was on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He asked for backup, and that his prime minister would deliver news of his capture or death to his parents in person rather than over the phone.

Thankfully, the officers were rescued.

Reading about these events, one is struck by the broader parallel: Israel’s embassy crisis is a microcosm of the dilemma now facing the entire Jewish nation.

First Egypt …

By now even the most ardent peaceniks are realizing that the now-forming post-Mubarak Egypt will not be a pro-Israel state.

When Israel’s embassy was besieged, it wasn’t just anti-Israel protesters who were hostile. It took the president of the U.S. calling and threatening retaliation before Egypt’s military rulers would dispatch commandos to rescue the trapped Israelis. Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces could easily have prevented the demonstrators from breaching the embassy. It chose not to. The demonstration got out of hand, Stratfor reported, because there “was an order from the top to allow the situation to become a near crisis before intervening to stop it” (September 13).

This was a manufactured crisis, one that could very easily have turned out much differently.

This is an epic shift from what has been the status quo in the region for over three decades. Since 1979, when Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, that peace agreement has underpinned Middle East stability and prevented a massive military confrontation between Jews and Arabs. “It is the foundation both of Israel’s security doctrine and the Jewish state’s transformation from an economic basket case into a First World economic power. It has made possible every hopeful move toward Arab-Israeli peace for the past generation,” wrote Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff. “And it—the Egypt-Israel peace treaty—is hanging on by a thread” (The Jerusalem Report, September 26; emphasis added throughout).

What does the crumpling of that treaty mean for Israel?

Following the embassy invasion, Ethan Bronner, the New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, wrote that the “growing hostility from Egypt could require a radical rethinking of Israel’s defense doctrine which, for the past three decades, counted on peace on its southern border” (September 10). The uptick of violence against Israel in the Sinai and the now routine outbursts of public hatred for Israel in Egypt have “military strategists … examining how to beef up protection of the south, including by the building of an anti-infiltration wall in the Sinai,” Bronner said.

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick endorsed similar measures. Israel “must prepare for the possibility of war,” she warned. “It must increase the size of the idf by adding a division to the Southern Command. It must train for desert warfare. It must expand the Navy” (September 12).

To be sure, fortifying the military wall that protects Israel from attack is a rational step to take in light of recent events. But the reality is, such measures would essentially be the same as the 8-foot concrete barrier erected to protect Israel’s embassy in Cairo: that is, a wall that creates a false sense of security and that will collapse under the weight of overwhelming force.

This may seem like a hopeless and pessimistic point to make, but it is the truth. Israel needs more than military muscle—it needs an act of God.

… Then Turkey

Next to Egypt, the moderate government in Turkey has been Israel’s most important regional ally for decades, and a pillar of Israel’s national security. In recent years, however, particularly under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has undergone a quiet revolution, one that has involved Ankara increasingly sabotaging its relationship with the Jewish state in an effort to bolster its reputation among Muslim states (article, page 22).

Lately, especially since the “Arab Spring” dawned on the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey has become ever more combative with Israel. In the first two weeks of September, Ankara suspended military ties with Israel, kicked out Israel’s ambassador and began persecuting Israelis who were visiting Turkey. In what was an interesting coincidence, Turkey’s prime minister visited Egypt two days after the sacking of Israel’s embassy. During his visit, Erdoğan concentrated on strengthening Turkey’s relationship with Egypt’s new government, framing his comments with belligerent statements about the Jewish state.

The loss of Turkey as a more moderate Arab state and Ankara’s growing animosity toward Israel is deeply concerning for the Jews. As Caroline Glick wrote, “[W]e need to recognize that what we are experiencing now is the beginning, not the end, of Turkey’s slide into the enemy camp. Erdoğan is openly taking steps to transform Turkey into an Islamic state along the lines of Iran. And the further he goes down his chosen path, the more harshly and aggressively he will lash out at Israel” (ibid, September 5).

Israel’s situation is painfully grim. As a European envoy in Jerusalem put it the week after the storming of the embassy in Cairo, “Within a week Israel has found itself two friends down and about to face a so-called diplomatic tsunami with the Palestinians.”

In fact, the situation is markedly worse than that: Israel hasn’t simply lost Egypt and Turkey as regional allies—it has gained both as enemies.

Gaining Enemies

Cairo and Ankara are not severing relations with Israel and repositioning themselves as moderate, neutral states. They are not simply resigning from Israel’s team, choosing instead to sit as passive spectators on the sidelines. Rather, as they discard their alliances with Israel, both are willfully,vigorously throwing their support behind Israel’s number one enemy.

The peril is less that Israel’s position is being weakened, and more that Iran and its radical Islamic proxies are being dramatically strengthened!

In a televised address following the emergency rescue of Israel’s ambassador, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the Middle East is “now undergoing a political earthquake of historic proportions.” There are so many events of extreme significance in this world it’s easy to overlook how extraordinary, how historic and how dangerous for Israel the changes in Egypt and Turkey are.

The fate of nations, even entire regions, turns on moments like this.

Mr. Netanyahu sees that right now vast tracts of the Middle East, territorially, politically and strategically, belong to Iran and radical Islam. Soon, this Iran-led radical Islamic mob will descend on Israel with overwhelming numbers and force. Like its embassy in Cairo before the raid, the Jewish state has a defensive wall—a top-notch military, crack intelligence and state-of-the-art anti-missile defense systems. That wall might hold for a while longer. But with each passing month, its ability to protect and defend will diminish, one missile, one terrorist attack at a time.Like its embassy in Cairo, Israel is outnumbered, a tiny speck in a region seething with hatred for the Jewish state. Like the embassy, Israel’s national security depends largely on others, be they regional allies or the United States. And much like embassy officials experienced firsthand on September 9, the willingness of Israel’s traditional allies to defend Jewish sovereignty is rapidly shrinking. In some instances, these allies are even creating crises, like Egypt’s military rulers did at the embassy.

Soon, perhaps in a few months or maybe next year or the year after, the weight of the Islamic mob will cause the wall to crumble and collapse. What will happen then?

Bible prophecy tells us that just as a full-scale incursion and takeover of Israel by radical Islam is occurring, Israel will make a phone call. Not to the White House, or to the United Nations. Rather, prophecy reveals that Israel’s leaders, barricaded behind a crumbling wall, will turn to Europe. At the last minute, a German-led European army will swoop in to rescue the Jewish state and obliterate the forces of radical Islam. However, prophecy is clear that this invading army will prove to be a counterfeit peacemaker, and will turn against the Jews in a shockingly cruel double cross.

Maybe that sounds fanciful. But think for a moment—to many, so did our forecasts nearly 20 years ago that Egypt would fall to radical Islam and align with Iran; that Turkey would eventually turn on Israel; and that Iran would emerge as the king of Islamic terrorism. Today, each one of these Bible-based forecasts is reality.

It’s true that the loss of Egypt and Turkey as regional allies is a disaster for Israel. But the real catastrophe is that the actions of Cairo and Ankara have not simply weakened Israel, they have empowered Israel’s enemy!

The stage is set for Israel to be besieged. It is practically friendless in the world and former allies are now enemies—the situation is ripe for Israel to turn to Europe for help!

Although we can see it coming, this too will be breathtaking to watch.

You Can Conquer Discouragement!

You Can Conquer Discouragement!


God gives us the means.
From the November 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

It’s often said that life is filled with peaks and valleys. The Prophet Elijah found himself on the highest of spiritual peaks in 1 Kings 18, when he, with God’s backing, took out the entire priesthood of Baal with one miraculous blow. After calling fire down from heaven, Elijah had the false prophets destroyed, crushing the pagan religious system of Ahab and Jezebel.

Immediately afterward, Elijah sprinted 15 to 20 miles across the valley of Jezreel (1 Kings 18:45-46). Here again, with miraculous help from God, he actually outran Ahab’s chariot.

As exhilarating as this must have been, Elijah must have been physically exhausted. And after battling the entire priesthood of Baal, he was surely drained mentally and emotionally as well.

When Ahab returned home, he told his wife Jezebel all that had transpired. Seething with rage, she sentenced Elijah to be executed within 24 hours (1 Kings 19:1-2).

Notice how this great prophet responded: “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (verses 3-4).

Elijah became so despondent that he wanted to die! It’s almost hard to believe the mighty prophet of 1 Kings 17 and 18 is the same as the man in chapter 19, wallowing in weariness and self-pity.

What happened? He had been worn down, yes. But the big problem was that he got his mind off the work and onto Jezebel’s license to kill. As soon as Elijah lost his spiritual focus, everything went downhill—and fast!

What a lesson for us! We might win a number of battles, but until we win the war, we must keep fighting every day. We must keep our focus on the soon-coming Kingdom of God.

Jesus said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). The way of a Christian is not the “easy way”—the popular, broad road. That road, Jesus said, actually leads to destruction. The road we tread is oftentimes narrow, rutty, bumpy and difficult. Few have been willing to travel it—but it leads to success, usefulness, happiness and eternal life.

God mercifully, lovingly prodded Elijah to realign his spiritual focus. He sent an angel to supernaturally provide him physical sustenance (1 Kings 19:5-8). After the meal, Elijah started a 40-day fast, during which God directed him back to Mount Horeb, where Israel’s history began.

He came to a cave, and God spoke to him there, saying, What is the cause of your trouble? What is bothering you? (verse 9). God let Elijah express himself and explain what he was discouraged about. God listened to Elijah, just like He listens to us.

Elijah was still wrestling with his woe is me attitude (verse 10). Jezebel had undoubtedly killed off the remaining prophets of God, which must have added to his worries. God had just used Elijah to wipe out Jezebel’s pagan religion as well—but Elijah had practically forgotten. He got his mind on himself and lapsed into faithlessness. How easy it is, even after obtaining our greatest victories, for us to focus on the negative.

And so God proceeded to help Elijah get his mind back on God’s power and might (verse 11). God reveals Himself in a variety of ways. He’ll use His awesome power when necessary, but He generally comes with a “still small voice” (verse 12).

Even when there are no obvious, visible miracles, God is still God! That’s what God wanted Elijah to realize. You must get your relationship with Me back to the way it should be, God told him. Get your mind off the trial and back onto Me!

When you face discouragement, don’t let your mind dwell on the Jezebel obstacle in front of you. Get your mind on God and His work.

When Elijah slipped into the worst discouragement of his life, God strengthened him with food, drink and rest. He let Elijah express why he was discouraged. Though Elijah’s thinking was off, God listened and empathized. Elijah also did his part: He started a fast. Even as he vented, he had to have known that his attitude was negative and selfish. He turned to God for help.

And after all this interaction with God, what did God instruct him to do? Get back to work. From here, Elijah went on to ordain Elisha, whom God would use to finish the work Elijah began (verses 15-17).

The key to overcoming discouragement is to get our minds off ourselves and onto the power and might of God. Turn to God in humility, with prayer and fasting. Then get back to work. Concentrate on serving God and doing God’s work.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again ….” It’s easy to think that only the unjust or unrighteous trip up and become despondent and negative. Here God says the just man falls seven times!

But he also gets up—he doesn’t give in to Satan. He keeps battling! He never gives up!

The ability to overcome negativity and discouragement is something God wants us to master. Life is full of trouble. That’s because this life is a training ground! God is preparing us for eternal life in His ever expanding royal Family!

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time,” Paul wrote, “arenot worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

The Battle for Syria

An Arab Spring may be taking root, but don’t be fooled. What’s growing here is different than what you might think.
From the October 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

When the United States government and al Qaeda agree on something, you know that can’t be a good thing.

In this case, they both want Syrian President Bashir Assad to step down. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, while calling Assad a “leader of criminal gangs” and a “traitor” to his people, has applauded the pro-democracy activists’ efforts to teach their president a “lesson.” Meanwhile, America is openly rooting for a “democratic transformation.” Both America and al Qaeda, ironically, are pushing for people power.

Yet for all the talk, neither group has much influence in Syria. That country’s future will be determined by powers more influential than either of them.

Since Syria sits near the heart of the world’s most important but increasingly volatile oil-exporting region, the resolution of this conflict will affect regional stability and even the world economy. Plus, Syria’s Arab Spring could easily morph into Israel’s dark winter if the Jewish state ends up with an even more radical regime as a “peace partner.”

The pressure for regime change in Syria is coming from both inside and outside—but not necessarily from where you might expect.

Popular Uprising

From within, the pressure for change comes from its 75 percent Sunni majority, who are upset with the ruling Alawite minority of President Assad. This is not unexpected. Sunnis are both economically disadvantaged and politically unrepresented despite being the vast majority. The recent protests are the product of years of repression and in some cases outright persecution.

Now the protests are intensifying—as is Assad’s bloody crackdown. On July 30, for example—perhaps the bloodiest day to that point—reports indicated that 120 people were killed as troops besieged Hama, a city of 800,000. The following day, an intense gun battle was also reportedly raging in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, and soldiers backed by tanks took control of the town of Houla in the central province of Homs.

The protests are no longer just contained to the far south, and it is harder for Assad to blame the uprisings on agitators from Jordan and Israel. In fact, there are signs that tension is spilling over into Assad’s power centers. On August 30, one of the first protests in the economically important city of Allepo took place. Although the demonstration was largely peaceful, hundreds of people took to the streets. The business-class residents of Damascus and Allepo have remained loyal to Assad thus far, but if proposed international sanctions kick in, there is sure to be more tension, even in Assad’s strongholds.

The United Nations reports that more than 2,200 people have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March. As the protests have grown in strength, greater numbers of military defections are occurring. There is a growing sense that Assad may be losing control of events.

The internal turmoil has opened up Syria to exploitation by outside powers. This is not unknown by Assad, but there may be little he can do about it. If he wants to stay in power, he needs friends—and that comes with a price.

Two Blocs Forming

With the United States winding down its presence in the Middle East and evacuating its troops, the region is fragmenting into competing power blocs. Syria is caught right in the center of the power struggle.

These power blocs can be categorized as those aligned with Iran and those reacting against Iran’s growing strength.

Currently, Syria is in the Iranian camp (along with Iraq and, increasingly, Egypt). Syria is Iran’s most important ally, and Iran will do all it can to keep it in its sphere of influence.

Now that Syria is experiencing internal turmoil, Iran is trying to exploit this vulnerability to strengthen this alliance and thus its foothold near Lebanon and Israel’s northern border. When the protests initially broke out, Iran sent Bashir Assad both Hezbollah fighters and crack Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members to help stomp them out. By Stratfor’s reckoning, this sent a dual message that Iran could not only help Assad but also hurt him if he chose to realign himself with other Sunni states in an effort to gain their assistance in pacifying the protesters. Iranian meddling has thus far proved effective—but in the end, meddling of any kind also tends to produce a backlash.

Iran is currently using America’s withdrawal from the region and the general unrest as a once-in-a-lifetime-type opportunity to destabilize its Sunni Arab rivals and assert its regional hegemony. Iran’s virtual takeover of Iraq is one example, as is the battle for Bahrain and the world’s largest oil fields in Saudi Arabia.

Attempting to oppose Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East is a Saudi-led coalition of nations.

“Saudi Arabia has an ambition and so does Iran,” noted Bassel Salloukh, assistant professor of politics at the Lebanese American University, in 2009. “Syria stands in the middle.”

Saudi Arabia has been working on shifting Syrian loyalties for years. It too looks on the current crisis as a game-changing opportunity.

Saudi Arabia’s current plan of action hinges on its greatest strength: oil exports. Earlier this year it lent Syria $73 million to construct a new power plant to alleviate growing electricity shortages. The message from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council members (which now include Jordan) is that they are more than willing to help Assad overcome his financial difficulties, as long as his regime takes the necessary and visible actions to distance itself from Iran.

But perhaps the greatest pressure for change in Syria is coming via its neighbor Turkey.

Another Formidable Power

Like Saudi Arabia, it is in Turkey’s strategic interest to build a coalition of states to act as a counterbalance to Iran.

This fits well with the views of Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recip Erdoğan, who seems to envision Turkey as the leader of the Arabs. In power since 2002, he has been accused of seeking to establish a new Ottoman empire.

With a fast-growing economy, a rising population and the largest military in Europe, Turkey has become a formidable power. With its nato ties, it also has access to many tier-one economic and military powers not available to some of its Middle Eastern rivals. “For the first time since the end of World War i, Ankara is beginning to revisit its historical role as a regional powerhouse,” wrote Stratfor last year.

America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with rejection by the European Union due to its Muslim religion, have compelled Turkey to step out on its own. Although its first small steps saw it begin to subordinate its defense agreement with Israel and make overtures to Iran, events in Syria are now setting up a clash with the Persians.

Turkey has been working closely with Syria to help manage the fallout from the protests there. Syria is relying on Turkey to prevent nato intervention, while Turkey wants to make sure the violence does not spread from Syria’s Kurdish population into its own. Toward this end, Erdoğan is publicly insisting on enough reforms to satisfy the protesters, but not so many as to cause Assad to lose power.

However, behind the scenes, there is evidence that Turkey is pushing for much more dramatic changes. According to the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick, Turkey has been actively interfering in the revolt against Assad. Meanwhile, Turkish humanitarian relief agencies are hosting Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey. For now, Syria needs Turkish support, so Ottoman influence in Syria will probably grow. But according to Stratfor analysts, Erdoğan’s party wants Syria’s Islamist organizations to gain political space—with the goal of becoming their eventual sponsor. “Erdoğan’s clear aim is to replace Iran as Syria’s overlord in a post-Assad Syria,” says Glick.

So Who Will Win in Syria?

In March, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Sultan told his Turkish counterpart that the Saudi royals “want to see Turkey as a strategic partner of Saudi Arabia.”

Will the Turks join Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Cooperation Council (gcc) in opposing Iran? By working together, they would certainly form a much more formidable front.

The longer and more violent the Syrian protests get, the more an Arab coalition including Syria and joined with Turkey looks probable.

In fact, this is exactly what the Bible predicts will happen. For more than 15 years, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that biblical prophecy foretells that the Middle East will fracture into two rival alliances. In his 1996 booklet The King of the South, Mr. Flurry indicated that despite contrary outward appearances, Syria would eventually split from its Iranian allies.

Fifteen years later, that prophecy looks like it is about to be fulfilled.

What happens in Syria will almost certainly affect Lebanon too, since in many ways, Lebanon is controlled by Syria. As is brought out in Mr. Flurry’s booklet, Lebanon is prophesied to eventually abandon its relationship with Iran too.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the other gcc member states are seeking to draw more allies together in order to protect themselves from Iran. Next, watch for them to begin reaching out to Germany and the Europeans for protection—that too is prophesied in your Bible.

Syria’s Arab Spring is not over yet. America is shrinking in influence. Iran is becoming the undisputed king of the region, and new allies are banding together for protection. Prophecy is being fulfilled, and despite the troubles ahead, it is all leading to the best news ever: the return of Jesus Christ.