EU Think Tank Touts Grand Imperial Vision

EU Think Tank Touts Grand Imperial Vision

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A European think tank promotes the idea of an empire extending from Europe across Central Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

We produce the following extract from German-Foreign-Policy.com without edit (July 26; translation ours):

A European think tank with connections to Germany is asking for the construction of an EU-controlled “Grand Area” from the Polar Sea over Central Asia and Middle East to North Africa. The “Group on Grand Strategy” (GoGS) wants to create this “Großraum” (“Grand Area”) on which, according to their opinion, the European Federal State should be built. This would provide a power base to serve European raw material interests and protect against encroachment by powers external to Europe.The concept, which in many ways conforms directly to German interests, also perceives the “Grand Area” with a network of military bases which would be solely “European,” devoid of any specific national control.The advisory board of GoGS belongs to an affiliate of the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the most influential German think tanks; the political scientific sector is working on the topic “Europe’s Future” for the Foundation.

Note that the Bertelsmann Foundation was the most significant producer of propaganda for Hitler’s Nazi war machine.

To legitimize its postwar revival it deliberately lied in an attempt to cover up its insidious wartime connection with the Nazi regime and the support its ceo at the time gave to the vicious Nazi SS and to Jewish slave labor.

The Bertelsmann trail weaves its way through from its Nazi past to the postwar German elites who were quickly returned to influential positions within postwar Germany under Chancellor Adenauer. The fact of its current involvement, be it directly or indirectly, supporting the old Nazi idea of an empire extending from the Arctic to North Africa via Central Asia and the Middle East—the old German imperial vision—is deeply concerning indeed. Yet it is so consistent with the goals that its World War ii predecessors promoted as to leave no doubt that they have a common source—the old Teutonic dream of a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!

You need to read our publication He Was Right, which details just how highly accurate were Herbert Armstrong’s prophecies of the rise in our day of the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. The GoGS imperial vision is but the latest evidence that certain European elites are intent on bringing such an empire to pass!

How Not to Be Deceived

Christ’s greatest warning to this world is found in Matthew 24. What makes it the greatest? It addresses the world’s greatest deception!
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

“The whole world” is deceived. God inspired the Apostle John to write this in Revelation 12:9. That is a stunning statement. How is it possible that so many people could be deceived?

“The whole world” would have to include the various competing versions of professing Christianity, or else you can’t believe your Bible.

In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ talked about the “many” being deceived (verses 4-5), not the few. Yet He also said in that chapter that it is possible for you to understand the Bible so deeply that it is impossible to deceive you! You can become “the very elect,” and the very elect cannot be deceived (verse 24).

Yes, we can rise above deception! As incredible as it sounds, you and I can be part of Jesus Christ’s inner circle, His “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—the select, precious few who cannot be deceived.

Before a Sign of the End, a Warning

Matthew 24 is called the Olivet prophecy. The stage is set in verse 3: “And as [Jesus] sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

That is quite a subject: the sign of the end of the world, the end of this age, and the return of Jesus Christ!

Human beings will listen to almost any preacher proclaiming his version of end-time events, almost any wild-eyed fanatic, almost any Hollywood movie depicting the end of the world. But almost nobody will listen to Jesus Christ! What does Christ say is the sign of the end of this age and the lead-up to His return and the beginning of a new age?

Look carefully at how Christ answered the disciples’ question. He didn’t come right out and answer it immediately! Why not?

Because He had to warn them: If they didn’t beware of a powerful deception, they wouldn’t evenseethe sign! He emphasized that this fog of deception was so thick, so monstrous that if they didn’t cut through it, they simply wouldn’t see what Christ was talking about. They wouldn’t recognize when the end was upon them!

And this critical warning was recorded and preserved for us—right now!

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceiveyou” (verse 4). You, He said—you disciples. When Christ says you, He is not talking to the world in general, He is talking to His own followers.

And what is the specific deception that Christ’s followers need to heed? “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (verse 5).

Here is the single greatest warning in the Bible! The whole New Testament revolves around this pivotal chapter of Scripture, and Christ’s imperative warning here is this: Beware of people whodeceiveyou about me!

Christ was warning His disciples—and warning you and me—that people would try to deceive us about Him and His message. He went on to talk about how the “many”—not the few—would be deceived about war, pestilence, famine and other unconscionable cataclysms. But the confusion about all those catastrophes exists primarily because people are deceived about religion—even Christianity!

Jesus Christ Himself founded His Church (see Matthew 16:18). Most people know very little about the Church He founded. The history of that Church is a fascinating and deeply important subject to study.

Did you realize that soon after Christ completed His ministry on Earth, a controversy arose about the gospel? Church history shows that people violently disagreed over whether the Church would proclaim the very same gospel message Christ Himself proclaimed—or whether it would proclaim a message about Jesus.

The message about Jesus won out. The message He preached was largely silenced.

About 20 years after the Church was founded, the Apostle Paul—inspired by Christ—wrote his epistle to the Galatians, and he said, Imarvel that you’ve already turned to another gospel! (see Galatians 1:6-7).

Paul went on to pronounce a double curse on any man, or even angel, who preached any gospel other than the one he had given them from Christ! (verses 8-9). God canonized that in the Bible, so He inspired it. These are the words of God: Anyone who preaches another gospel will receive a double curse! That is a serious warning that any minister should take to heart!

Are you sure you know what the true gospel is?

God’s Love, Waxed Cold

In His Olivet prophecy, Christ continued, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). Again, He is talking to His own disciples and telling them what will happen to them prior to His return!

This is an end-time prophecy. Christ is talking about a time just before His Second Coming, and He says the lives of many of His own people will be in danger. Why? There are several scriptures where God promises to protect His people. But these people turned away from God and lost that protection.

Verse 12 makes that abundantly clear: “And because iniquity [or lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The word love is translated from the Greek word agape, which specifically means the very love of God. That agape love can only reside within someone who is begotten by God’s Holy Spirit (e.g. Romans 5:5). God gave this love to these people, and manythe majority—allowed it to wax cold. They lost God’s love because of their lawlessness. The love of God is that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). These people—who were not deceived, who had God’s love—committed lawlessness. As a result, they are now deceived—right at the time when Christ is about to return!

One Generation!

Matthew 24:14 adds another crucial aspect to Christ’s prophecy: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Here is the sign! Christ has given His impassioned warning, and now He gives the monumental sign of the end of the world and His Second Coming!

Have you seen this sign? Have you seen the gospel preached around the world?

This is an astounding scripture that most people who study the Bible don’t understand. They don’t realize the truth: It has already been done!

It’s important to note that the end described here is not the same end discussed in verse 3. Verse 3 refers to the end of the age. Bible study aids will show you that this “end” is referring to the end of preaching the gospel to the world as a commission. Christ did not say that He would return as soon as the work of preaching the gospel message was completed.

Notice, however, Christ’s statement in verse 34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” “All these things” refers to everything Jesus is describing in this pivotal prophecy. But what did He mean by “this generation”?

This generation—the last generation before Christ’s Second Coming—is going to witness all these events in Matthew 24! A generation is roughly 30 years. So we need to know: When did that generation start?

Does Christ want us to know? Of course He does. We have to know when that generation began, or else we can’t understand the rest of the prophecies He is teaching us in Matthew 24!

So, when did that generation begin?

I believe strongly that this “last generation” began when the commission to preach this gospel around the world was stopped. When that work stopped, all the prophecies of Matthew 24 really began to be fulfilled.

Read the rest of the chapter, and you see that Christ prophesied that unparalleled suffering would occur at the close of this age, right before He returned. The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. Two world wars killed 60 million people. Yet Matthew 24 says the time ahead will be far worse. Verses 21 and 22 say this will be an unparalleled time of tribulation that “no flesh” will survive if God doesn’t intervene. This has never been possible the way it is today. But now we have proliferating weapons of mass destruction that can do exactly that: extinguish all human life!

I think it is obvious that “this generation”—the last generation before Christ returns—began when the gospel commission ended. But if you don’t know what the gospel is, then you don’t know when that happened!

People can dispute what I’m saying if they want, but if it is true, it’s true. Christ said there would be one generation—a very short period of time—when all these prophecies in Matthew 24 would be fulfilled. You must prove when that generation is!

Don’t Believe It!

Notice verse 14 again: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” That is the sign. This gospel would be preached around the world, and then that work would endthen all the prophecies of Matthew 24 would begin to be fulfilled, in a single generation.

Think deeply about this. How could the gospel being preached around the world be a sign of the end?

The gospel was preached around the world in the first century a.d. by the church that Christ founded. But this prophecy shows that it would not be preached around the world again until the very last century.Otherwise it couldn’t be a sign of Christ’s return! If the true gospel had been preached around the world in the 15th century—or the 16th or 17th century—then that would have been the end. But at that time, the Church was asleep! The people of God didn’t do their job the way they should have. You can read where Christ prophesied of this at the conclusion of Matthew 24 and in the first 10 verses of Matthew 25.

Most Christians would disagree with this, but Jesus Christ said there would be the sign, and that we must understand it. The reason people don’t agree with this is that they don’t understand what the gospel is! They believe a false gospel.

And Jesus said that would be the case! One of the signs He gave was that manyChristianswould be deceived.

Counterfeit gospels have been around from the beginning. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 about people turning to another Christ and another gospel. He warned that they would have another spirit; that there would be false apostles talking about Christ, but not delivering Christ’s message. He said they would come as angels of light, just like Satan the devil does—and that most people would believe them.

In Matthew 24:23, Jesus warned, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not”! He specifically warned against people simply talking about Him. He told His followers not to listen to such men. His primary concern was whether or not people understood and believed Hismessage!

Do you see this situation extant today?

Listen to Christ! Listen to His message! Don’t listen to a man who only talks about the personality of Christ! Don’t listen to a man who says all you must do is believe in His name. Instead, listen to Christ Himself in Matthew 24. Read the Bible and believe not just the name, but the message.

When people don’t heed Christ’s words here, they get deceived! Instead of listening to Christ—they listen to men talk about Christ. Then they get deceived.

At the end of the age, just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the worst possible deception is taking place. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (verse 24). These are not just wild-eyed preachers on the fringe of society. These are powerful, persuasive men who deceive almost everyone. And if it was possible, they would even deceive the very elect! But it is impossible to deceive the very elect.

Whom Shall God Teach?

The Prophet Isaiah also warned about religious leaders who are off course. God warned about priests and prophets who “erred through wine, and through strong drink … they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7). The “strong drink” they are drunk on is spiritual. This prophecy is about lacking spiritual vision and judgment.

Verse 9 in this chapter is one of the most important verses in the entire Bible. Open your Bible and read it for yourself. This is how to be undeceived:

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.”

The only people God can teach knowledge or doctrine to are those who have been weaned—weaned from the mother. In biblical terms, a woman is a symbol of the Church. We cannot be like nursing children. We must be weaned from following men, weaned from looking to men. We must grow up and learn to look to Jesus Christ.

How do we do that? Verse 10 explains: For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”

The Bible is Jesus Christ in print. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to go over here and find some understanding, then put it together with what you find over there. You need to use the New Testament and the Old Testament, picking up a line here and a line over there, going back and forth and studying in great depth.

That is the way to follow Christ. It is not easy. Jesus Christ actually designed His Word to be difficult to understand. He coded the Bible! We have to closely follow what Christ says or we’re going to be deceived.

Believe it or not, Jesus Christ doesn’t want people in this world to understand until they are ready to obey.

This prophecy goes on to say that if you heed what Christ says, He will give you blessings. “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,” verse 12 says—but it concludes: “yet they would not hear.” So many people simply will not listen to what Christ says.

Get to Know Your Bible

Do you want to be educated in the Bible? If you aren’t receiving your education from God’s Word, then you are going to be following men—which is a curse (Jeremiah 17:5). You are going to be deceived.

We have to be weaned from following men. That’s why we get into so much trouble: We follow men who are deceived, and often led by the evil god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Don’t follow men. Don’t even follow me! Beware those who would deceive even by talking about Christ!

Instead, just follow Christ.

Christ wants you to not be deceived. And you can know the truth if you will study God’s Word in depth and believe what He says!

To help you learn what Christ reveals in your Bible, we have published a comprehensive Bible correspondence course. It will help you put the scriptures together so you can prove the truth for yourself.

Each lesson in this course takes an enigmatic subject that few people understand and helps you put together all the scriptures on that subject. As you study the course alongside your Bible, you will be amazed at how plain the truth becomes! You will find the clear, plain, simple truths of your Bible to be even more fascinating than you imagine.

This study course will really excite you and challenge you, because it will show you how the Bible is for you today. It will help you see how the Bible explains the meaning of world events and God’s purpose for your life.

I guarantee that if you study the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, you will know what Christ teaches. This marvelous course truly brings the Bible alive!

You will find these lessons make plain the real meaning behind today’s world news. They reveal the answers to “unanswerable” social, family and personal problems facing billions today. The world around you will begin to make sense!

They also explain the very purpose of human life—and what is more important than understanding why you are here? The purpose for your life—which comes straight from Scripture—is so fantastic that it will astound you, and refresh you!

This course is given absolutely free of charge or solicitation. Our supporters want to give it to you. It won’t cost you anything, except your own effort in study.

We have gone to extreme measures to make the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course an effective, wonderful teaching tool so you can understand and fall in love with your Bible. The Bible is such a wonderful tool. It shows you how to live a happy life and how to be a success in every way. And it teaches you how to avoid deception—and to experience the joy and excitement of knowing God.

Lies a Girl Shouldn’t Learn

Lies a Girl Shouldn’t Learn

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The world is aggressively sexualizing your daughter. Fight back.
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Why is Victoria’s Secret marketing thong panties and bras to 7-to-12-year-olds?

Why is nearly a third of major retailers’ clothing sexy—for example, drawing attention to a sexualized body part—for little girls’ sizes 6 to 14?

Why are companies manufacturing onesies for infants emblazoned with sexually obscene messages?

Because people are buying them. These grotesque products make money, and these companies don’t care one bit about what happens to our girls after the sale.

Some parents—a lot of parents—think sexy children’s clothes are fun, or even liberating for their daughters. What about you?

Is This Women’s Liberation?

Mainstream Western culture has been so blatantly sexualized for so long that adults, young adults and teens are saturated with it. For “new markets,” perverted minds and perverted companies have nowhere to go but down, aggressively targeting younger and younger children.

The beat of the pop song echoing in your daughter’s earbuds; the trendy music video, marketed right for her demographic; the entire magazine rack she passes every week at the store; the billboards on the way home; almost everything she sees on television; just about every last female actress, singer or celebrity; and now the very garments that are supposed to adorn her—all hit her over the head with the same abominable lie: A female’s worth is her sex appeal.

And tragically, this is what a growing majority of girls are coming to believe: that the only worthy woman is a sexy woman. That a woman is “powerful” when she is aggressively sexual.

Our malls, our streets and our secondary schools are becoming a parade of tight-fitting T-shirts with messages like, “Who needs brains when you have these?” and “Future porn star.”

This is supposed to be liberation for women? It is precisely the opposite.

The blatant sexualization of children is increasingly conventional. Walmart sells dozens of cosmetic products for girls as young as 6. Vogue magazine covers feature small girls made up and posed like grown women; inside you’ll see pictures of 6-year-olds wearing thongs and padded push-up bras. On television, the most popular shows aimed at 12-to-17-year-olds sexualize underage girls more often than adult women. And in the highest-grossing movies, teen girls are more likely than older women to wear provocative clothing, and they are just as likely to appear partially nude.

The more that girls consume these messages, the more they absorb their warped sexual stereotypes. At younger and younger ages, they “place appearance and physical attractiveness at the center of women’s value,” says the American Psychological Association’s study on “Sexualization of Girls” (emphasis added).

Is that what you want your daughter thinking?

Is This Happening to Your Daughter?

Who’s to protect these girls from predatory merchants aiming to profit from turning them into sex objects? Where are the parents?

Well, we are now three generations deep into Western society’s sexual revolution. We’re way beyond the problem of teenagers sneaking out of bedroom windows and getting into trouble. Today, those kids are parents—or even grandparents—and they are actually pushing their children to be more sexual!

Far too often, they are the ones actually buying those tight T-shirts, those short shorts and those skimpy tops.

That American Psychological Association (apa) report cited several other studies that each came to the same conclusion: Parents are now conveying to their daughters that their most important goal should be to look physically attractive.

Have you ever seen the show Toddlers & Tiaras? It shines a spotlight on the world of child beauty pageants. And who is at the center of it, besides a bunch of bossy, bratty, spoiled divas just out of diapers? Parents. More specifically, moms. Moms who have bought the sexualized stereotypes wholesale, and are now dressing up their little daughters in adult-style clothes, hair, make-up, fake tans, fake teeth, fake nails—and having them strut around with sassy walks, do suggestive hip-hop dance moves, strike flirtatious poses and make pouty kissy faces.

Why? To give their daughters higher self-esteem and more confidence, they say. Far likelier is that these girls will end up perpetually dissatisfied with their own bodies—and have insufferable egos to boot.

Our Daughters Are Suffering

The notion that looks are everything and that promiscuity is the path to happiness is poison. And that injection is most potent when your daughter is young, while her self-image is based so heavily on her perceptions of how others view her.

Making matters worse, the beauty standard our daughters are measuring themselves by is itself a demonstrable lie. The “normal” woman portrayed in the media is the wafer-thin, ultra-tall supermodel with big breasts. Not only do very few women fit that description, but those who do don’t actually look like what your daughter sees on screen. She is seeing a representation of a woman after make-up artists have caked on the cosmetics, photographers have applied filtered lenses and complex lights to even out skin tones, and graphic designers have used photo-editing software to remove wrinkles and stretch-marks, smooth dimply thighs, erase hints of flab, and create an image that has never actually existed in reality. This measure of “perfection” that our girls absorb in movies and magazine covers is fictitious and unattainable.

So, guess what? Real-life girls lack confidence in and comfort with their own bodies. Studies show they are feeling anxiety and even self-disgust on a broad scale. The number of girls 18 and younger who have gone under the knife for breast enlargements has risen nearly 500 percent over the past decade. Teenage girls are subjecting their still-growing bodies to medical procedures to get fuller lips, better noses, larger breasts, flatter stomachs, smaller thighs and so on—and their parents are encouraging this, even paying for it.

Unhealthy sexualized thinking causes eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression (along with negative moods and depressive symptoms)—which happen to be three of the most common mental health problems found in girls and women. Social scientists have been tracking these effects for some time in women who are college age and older. But they’re finding that the same problems are starting to emerge in teenage girls and younger. Even girls as young as 12 and 13 are ashamed of their bodies. The British Journal of Developmental Psychology revealed that half of British girls between ages 3 and 6 say they worry about being fat!

Your daughter deserves far, far better.

Parents Stand Up!

In the words of the apa, our girls are learning to “think of and treat their own bodies as objects of others’ desires … and to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance.” This is a tragedy that your daughter should never have to fall victim to.

If you don’t want your daughter to believe those lies and fall prey to those predatory influences, then shield her, and educate her—and love her for who she is.

Here are four steps you can take to fight against this trend.

1. Know your daughter.

Take pains to get involved in her life. Know what she’s thinking. Understand how she’s feeling. She is worth it.

2. Be her teacher.

Teach her that society’s portrayal of “sexy” is wrong and damaging. Teach your daughter that she was not created to be an object for others to look at and evaluate. Teach her the truth about appearance: Yes, she should take care of her body, practice good hygiene, keep fit and capable of working hard—but she needs to avoid the trap of obsessing over her looks. She should know that the most attractive enhancements to her appearance are a sincere, genuine, ready smile, a warm demeanor and an outgoing personality.

3. Be her wardrobe manager.

Be actively involved in her wardrobe choices. She should dress nicely and modestly, showing respect for others and for herself. Tell her what is acceptable and what is not. Keep the standard high. It can be difficult to find appropriate clothing, but it must be done. Retain veto powers over her choices. Fight if you have to—do not back down.

4. Love her

Most importantly, give her the unconditional love that helps her to be positive, outgoing, confident and happy—a truly beautiful person inside and out.

A Dramatic Break From Iran

From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Hamas was once firmly in the Iranian/Syrian camp. Not anymore.

As Syrian President Bashar Assad began his brutal crackdown on his own people last year, Hamas suddenly found itself on the same side as bad guys. It had always painted itself as the friend of the weak, against the strong oppressor. Now, it was quickly losing credibility across the Middle East.

At first Hamas kept quiet, not wanting to offend its patron, Iran, on the one hand, and fearing the loss of popular support on the other. It resisted pressure from Iran to organize demonstrators to support Assad, and Iran began withdrawing its support.

But the dramatic break came in February. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh publicly rejected both Assad and Iran while on a visit to Egypt. “I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform,” he told thousands of supporters in the al-Azhar Mosque.

“We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs,” chanted the crowd. “No Hezbollah and no Iran.”

At the same time, Hamas moved its central politburo in exile from Syria to Qatar. Since then, Hamas has been courting alternative donors. At the end of June, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal met with both Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Hamas has also been rebuilding its relationship with Jordan. Meshal returned to Jordan in January this year for the first time since being kicked out in 1999. He met Jordanian King Abdullah ii both in the January visit and in June.

Hamas seems to be steadily moving away from Iran and into a relationship with the Gulf states, Turkey and Jordan—exactly as the Bible prophesied.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah is also finding itself under pressure. Faced with the same dilemma as Hamas—torn between public opinion and Iranian backers—Hezbollah, so far, has stuck with Iran. The group was set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, so its ties with Iran are stronger. It is a Shiite movement, unlike the Sunni Hamas.

As Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told thousands of Shiite supporters in south Beirut in July: “Our missiles are Syrian.” Syria supported Hezbollah when it was still in the cradle. And Nasrallah vows to return the favor, even as the Assad regime crumbles.

But Hezbollah’s stance is hurting the group. As the Assad regime falls, Hezbollah, and perhaps the entire Shiite population of Lebanon, is likely to take a major hit. “Hezbollah’s vast arsenal is already in the crosshairs of an increasingly emboldened Sunni opposition,” Daniel Nisman wrote in the Times of Israel, referring to a growing anti-Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, especially within the past year.

In another piece, also in the Times of Israel, published July 26, Mitch Ginsburg spelled out a probable scenario for a post-Alawite-led Syria. He predicted it would lead to a rise in power for the Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and that it could push the country toward another civil war.

Lebanon will eventually join the Arab camp that opposes Iran. That’s not what we see on the map today, but it is coming! The civil war in Syria is making this happen. It has pushed Hamas away from Iran. That same pressure will eventually pry Hezbollah and Lebanon away from Iran too, or it will break Hezbollah entirely.

The Boy Who Became King

The Boy Who Became King

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Why it’s important for children to use their time wisely.
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

A recent study revealed that almost 5 million Americans play video games at least 40 hours a week—the equivalent of a full-time job. Imagine what talents these Americans could develop, what great things they could accomplish, if they devoted those 200 million hours to worthwhile pursuits!

Children have a golden opportunity to develop their talents because they have more time to do so—time that is much more difficult to come by during adulthood.

In ancient Israel, God was looking for one such youth—one who was productive and diligent with his time—who could one day replace Saul as king of Israel. At the end of His search, God sent the Prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse. There, he was to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to become king (1 Samuel 16).

Jesse presented his seven sons, one after the other. To Samuel, they all seemed suited for the honor. But as each son passed by, God told Samuel that this son was not the one chosen. God told Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (verse 7). God does not see man as man sees man. He doesn’t look for the next attractive Hollywood-style star. He looks at who we are.

After God had rejected seven of Jesse’s sons, Samuel pressed the father to see if there were any other children in the family (verse 11). There was one more. He was in the fields, tending to the sheep.

In verse 12, the youngest of eight brothers is finally introduced—David. He was a pleasant-looking, average-size young man. One thing that really set him apart was how he used his time. Over weeks and months and years spent in the fields of Judea, working and even sleeping outdoors, David had grown physically strong. He protected the flock, wrestling and killing a lion and a bear. Even as a simple shepherd, David demonstrated the traits of a courageous warrior—taking on ferocious animals if he had to. But he had also developed his mind; he had become an outstanding musician and poet, and he had a balanced and well-rounded personality.

And yet, considering how his father overlooked him when Samuel arrived, David certainly wasn’t considered the star of the family. God actually chose the boy the rest of the family had voted “least likely to succeed”!

He was impressed with this young man’s heart.

Even though David was converted to God’s way of life as a teenager, and even though it was he whom Samuel anointed that night, he wouldn’t become king for another 17 years. Samuel actually sent him right back out into the field (verse 13). That says a lot about the amount of time involved in conversion. David didn’t just luckily stumble into his kingship as a teenager. He needed experience, he needed to grow, he needed to overcome sin and to build faith—he needed time.

David’s rise as a young man coincided with the decline of Saul, who had lost God’s Holy Spirit and was suffering from demonic influence. Saul, deeply discouraged, alternated between suicidal depression and fiery rage. His advisers became gravely concerned about his well-being. Finally, Saul agreed to let them find someone who could comfort him. They looked for someone who had developed an ability to play soothing music.

Notice verse 18: “Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.”

David may not have been widely known at the time, but this royal servant obviously knew him and was aware of the unique skill set he had developed. During his life, David probably wrote hundreds of poems, psalms and songs. This servant recognized him as an accomplished musician and “prudent in matters”—a skillful communicator.

Saul arranged to have David come play for him. Verse 21 says, “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.” Thus began a beautiful relationship that ended up revealing so much about David’s character. David was the rightful heir to the throne, yet he displayed not even a hint of jealousy or competition toward Saul. In fact, he became one of Saul’s most trusted advisers! As long as Saul remained king of Israel, David humbly submitted to him.

God was preparing David to become king—over time—by placing him exactly where he could learn how the royal court and the government of the kingdom functioned.

These verses reveal how young David spent his time. For all his accomplishments that are recorded, he devoted many hours, days, years of his youth to developing his talents, which are not recorded. He had to learn from childhood how to develop character to the point where he could be a courageous and faithful shepherd, then a loyal adviser, then much, much more. This young boy did not waste his youth. He was active, productive, diligent. He learned how to labor outdoors, how to focus on music and poetry, how to follow God’s law, how to love people, and how to become a man after God’s own heart.

Because of how this young man spent his time, God was able to take David—whom few thought would amount to anything—and turn him into a king!

The Global Consequences of America’s Drought

The Global Consequences of America’s Drought

Terry Shuck

Major drought was largely responsible for the downfall of ancient Rome. Is drought about to bring down another once-impressive civilization?
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

A historic, unrelenting drought is slowly, painfully, tightening its grip on the United States. Many people are feeling the effects—but too few realize how desperate the situation really is. But have you contemplated what this epic event means, not just for America, but for the world?

To people in wealthier nations, drought simply means hot weather, parched lawns and plants, and perhaps a higher-than-normal electric bill. A lack of rain is an annoyance. It’s like an itch, uncomfortable and irritating, but easily mitigated. Few consider drought to be catastrophic, even fatal.

But severe, prolonged drought, the kind that seems to be confronting America, is catastrophic—as catastrophic as financial and political meltdown, or mass social unrest and violence, or even large-scale war that kills tens of thousands. In fact, under the right conditions, a lack of rain can actually cause all these things.

Why the Ignorance?

The Roman Empire dominated human affairs from the first through the fifth centuries. At the time, there was no greater, more politically, militarily or technically advanced civilization on Earth. Rome’s territory included all land adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, including North Africa, a large cut of the Middle East, all of Europe, and half of the British Isles.

But this all changed in the fourth and fifth centuries. Why? In part, because a severe, prolonged drought wreaked havoc on the city of Rome, thrusting the economy and politics of the capital into instability and chaos, and eventually causing the mighty empire to crumble!

The Romans weren’t nearly as ignorant as we are today about the impact of drought. There was a time when people understood that drought meant extreme hardship, suffering and, if it persisted, death. People understood that without rain, crops, fruit trees and pastures died, lakes and watering holes dried up, livestock starved. In the past, when a drought set in, farmers and their families, and even entire towns and cities, recognized early that they had two options: relocate or starve.

Although we’re in the 21st century, this reality has not changed. Except that unlike yesteryear, people today are ignorant to the fact that extreme drought kills.

Our ignorance stems largely from the fact that very few of us actually grow our own food. These days, cultivating food means strolling through the local, air-conditioned Walmart munching on free food samples while filling an oversize cart with all sorts of bright, colorful, plastic containers. Our food, in its journey from garden to gut, passes through an extensive network of tractors, conveyer belts, factories, blenders, chemical additives, trucks and stores. It’s prepared, processed and packaged, tied, dyed and fried, and in some cases, even buffed and waxed.

For many, this detachment has severed the connection between food production and nature.

But alas! Even in 2012, our food, at least the kind worth eating, still comes from the ground—and it still needs rain.

It’s true that the effects of drought have been mitigated by the use of wells and sophisticated irrigation systems, by globalizing the responsibility of food production, and by the creation of genetically modified, drought-tolerant seeds. But if the drought is extreme, or persists, such measures fall short. It’s like shooting a bear with too small of a gun: We can slow it down, create time and perhaps temporarily alleviate our fears. But in the end, the inevitable effects of drought will devour us.

And devouring us it is.

Epic Proportions

The present drought is America’s worst in more than half a century. Some are comparing conditions to the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s. It’s been described as a full-scale catastrophe, a “natural disaster of epic proportions.” By the end of June, more than 50 percent of the U.S. was experiencing moderate to extreme drought. The beginning of July brought no relief, and the plight has only intensified. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this summer, 80 percent of the U.S. has been abnormally dry.

By mid-July, with summer only half over, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (usda) had already declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states natural-disaster areas due to drought conditions.

The impact is dramatic and far-reaching. Across America, farmers are slaughtering livestock because there’s not enough pasture, and feed is far too expensive. This may mean lower beef prices in the short term. In the long term, it means most of us will be eating more artificially fed, hormone-filled chicken. On July 20, the usda reported that America’s cattle inventory was the smallest since the agency began a July count in 1973. In other words, America has as many cows today as it did nearly 40 years ago. Meanwhile, its population has shot up by nearly 100 million people.

The same goes for the price of food and the many household items that contain corn, soybeans and wheat. It’s shocking how many items today—from soda to baby food, peanut butter to powdered sugar, talcum to toothpaste—contain corn in some form. It’s the same with wheat and soybeans. In July, according to the United States Drought Monitor, almost 90 percent of America’s corn and soybean crops had been damaged or destroyed as a result of the drought. The result? The price of corn jumped 50 percent in a month, while soybeans hit record prices too. The price of wheat, another critical staple, increased 50 percent in five weeks.

It’s not hard to see how this will drive up food prices, which would most likely further undermine the economy. In fact, one economist believes the drought will knock 0.5 percent off the U.S. gross domestic product this year.

But think beyond the rising cost of food. What happens if the drought continues to worsen, or even continues into next year, or even the year after?

Anxieties about increasing food prices will be replaced by anxieties about actual shortages of corn, soybeans and wheat!

Consider too that America is responsible for growing half of the world’s corn, and is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans and wheat. Reuters reported in July that “the soaring prices in the United States—the world’s largest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat—has rattled food markets worldwide on fears that food inflation will be imported, food aid or supplies for hungry nations from China to Egypt will not be available, and food riots could occur as in the past.”

The price of corn, wheat and soybeans has already surpassed levels reached during the drought of 2007/08, when rocketing food prices sparked riots in more than 30 countries.

Can you begin to grasp the magnitude of this crisis? In this globalized, interconnected world, persistent, widespread drought in a critical region—such as America’s breadbasket—doesn’t just mean agricultural disaster. It can mean financial and economic malaise, political and social chaos, even large-scale violence and wars.

Can other countries pick up the slack? Perhaps some. But it hasn’t stopped raining in much of Russia’s wheat-growing region in recent weeks. The same goes for Brazil. Australia produces an enormous volume of wheat, but it too is experiencing abnormal weather.

Meanwhile, the global appetite for food grows.

Major floods and droughts, reduced yields and increased demand all converging at the same moment—it would be the perfect storm!

What’s the Solution?

History shows many examples of drought and its side effects wiping out economies, sparking unrest, upending governments, setting off wars—and killing untold numbers of people.

This may sound fanciful. But to think such history cannot be repeated is shortsighted. While science has revolutionized agricultural production, it hasn’t come close to enabling mankind to produce food without water. And until it does, we’ll all be at the mercy of extreme, sustained drought!

So, what is the solution? How can you escape the drought?

Should we follow the example of Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, who told President Obama in July that he gets down on his knees every day and prays for rain?That would be an admirable start. Of course, it would be pointless if you didn’t sincerely believe in God. Therefore, the process begins with a person acquiring the humility and intellectual objectivity to prove the existence of God and that the Bible is the truth of God. Then, with your belief in God firm and your faith in the Bible secure, one would only have to study God’s Word to see how to avoid drought and other natural disasters.

Where would you begin such a study? A good place to start might be Leviticus 26, a chapter that explicitly instructs us how to receive the blessing of regular rain, followed by abundant crops and overflowing pantries.

Notice God’s instruction here: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full …” (verses 3-5).

God lays it out so simply: Obey me, and I’ll make sure you never suffer drought, or any other natural disaster!

Now notice what He says will happen as a result of disobedience to His law. Same chapter: “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant … I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits” (verses 15-20).

Again, God is explicit: Break my laws, and I will send drought so bad it will seem like the sky is one giant sheet of iron!

Leviticus 26, in addition to a host of other scriptures, reveals the ultimate solution to drought and other natural disasters: Repent, and obey God’s law!

Of course, that’s not about to happen—at least, not before these curses grow far more severe. Today’s society is so far removed from God that many will find that statement—let alone the thought of personal obedience to law—laughable. But this instruction applies on an individual level too. God promises those who submit to Him, who actively seek to obey His laws, in letter and spirit, that He will give them peace and security—including physical protection and sustenance.

It’s easy to tell you to repent, to love God’s law and start obeying it. But in order for you to do that, you must first be educated in God’s view of repentance. You see, repentance is the most difficult task a human being can pursue. Most people do not understand that it is infinitely more than simply being sorry, or experiencing shame or regret. Godly repentance is a spiritual and moral transformation, a psychological overhaul. It requires humility, selflessness, and an open, objective mind.

Most importantly, it requires a power that is beyond our capacity to produce.

Only God can empower you to achieve the repentance, and the level of obedience, that He seeks (Romans 2:4). The question is, are you prepared to ask God to give you this power, to meet the criteria He requires in order for Him to give it to you, and to then wholeheartedly commit yourself to this challenging, yet most exhilarating and exciting, life-altering experience?

If you are, then request now our free booklet Repentance Toward God.