Volume XXX Issue IX September 2011
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
A Corrupt Earth Filled With Violence!
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."Psalm 14:1-3
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."Hebrews 11:6
"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth."Genesis 6:11-13
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will once again examine the current events of our day and the mounting evidence that we are indeed living in the end times. For many people, the thought that we could be living in the last days fills them with a sense of dread and woe. Yet, as Christians we know the trials and tribulations now occurring must come about to fulfill the prophecy of God's Holy Word. Living in this world has become increasingly uncomfortable for God's people. However, we can rejoice in the knowledge that our Lord and Saviour will return very soon.
The signs of the times abound all around us. Yet there are many professing Christians who openly admit that they do not want the Lord to return. Instead, they have grown attached to this world and seek to push our God's glorious appearing past their lifetimes by stating, "Perhaps He will come in a hundred years." The return of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a fearful event that we should dread. Rather, it is the event that every child of God should be longing to see. For as it says in Hebrews 13:14, "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
Weak Christianity And Growing Unbelief!
I believe that Christians become spiritually weak when they fail to obey the command of Jesus to watch and pray and "look up" for our soon coming redemption. Sadly, many churches these days do not consider the end times to be a point of emphasis despite the fact that the Bible does emphasize our Lord's return, and it is the focal point of much of the New Testament. Instead, a growing number of churches and ministries are seeking to make their organizations more appealing to the mainstream. One such example is a ministry known as Campus Crusade for Christ, which is planning to change the name of its group in early 2012. The new name for the organization will simply be "Cru" since the name of Christ is considered off-putting to some. Steve Sellers, the vice president for the ministry stated, "We felt like our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission." Mr. Sellers went on to say, "It has nothing to do with political correctness. It has everything to do with how we can be effective at what God has called us to do." (1)
To further weaken mainstream Christendom, new versions of the Bible are released regularly, several versions per year in some cases. David Lyle Jeffrey, a former provost of Baylor University, lamented the flood of new versions, stating, "I think we are drifting more and more to a diverse Babel of translations. When we have so much diversity, we lose our common voice. It is in effect moving away from a common membership in the body of Christ into disparate, confusing misrepresentations of the rich wisdom of the Scripture, which ought to unify us." (2) Leland Ryken, an English professor at Wheaton College, shared a similar sentiment. "When there is a wide divergence among Bible translations, readers have no way of knowing what the original text really says. It's like being given four different scores for the same football game or three contradictory directions for getting to a town in the middle of the state," Mr. Ryken said. (3) Of the various versions of the Bible recently released, three in particular have caused a great deal of controversy. These versions are the 2011 revision of the NIV, which has been reworked to use gender-neutral language (4); the New American Bible, which has changed the passage in Isaiah 7:14 to say "the young woman" instead of "virgin" (5); and the Common English Bible, which has changed Jesus' title "the son of man" to "the human one." (6)
Unfortunately, the barrage of Bible versions have left many who identify themselves as Christians confused and frustrated. In I Corinthians 14:33, the Apostle Paul wrote, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." When Christians are confused, they become spiritually frail. This is painfully evident in a 2010 Pew Research Poll, which found that only 50 percent of Christian respondents could correctly list the four Gospels, and only 63 percent knew that Genesis is the first book in the Bible. Ironically, the survey found that non-believing atheist and agnostic respondents were more readily able to correctly answer questions regarding Christianity. (7)
Although the United States of America is usually regarded as a primarily Christian nation, the segment of the population identifying themselves as secularist or atheist has doubled over the last twenty years and now accounts for 15 percent of the American people. According to an article by the German publication Der Spiegel, churches in America are losing up to one million members per year. In other countries, the percentages are even worse with 40 percent of the population in France and 27 percent of the population in Germany claiming that they do not believe in God. (8) As I consider the circumstances of religion in the Western world today, I cannot help but think of II Thessalonians 2:3 in which Paul warns us, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first..." I believe we are living in the time period of that great falling away.
I want to encourage all of my fellow believers to stay strong in the faith. The Scriptures are now being fulfilled at a startling pace, and the signs Jesus told us to watch for are growing more apparent each day. If you feel confused or frustrated and unsure of what you believe, I urge you to call out to God. If you earnestly study the Bible and remain steadfast in prayer, you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Saviour. Despite what the skeptics of this world might say, I have seen God work, and I know that He is our helper in the time of trouble, our great physician in the time of sickness, our provider in the time of need, and our Comforter in the time of sorrow. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by fully surrendering your heart to the Lord.
America's New Debt Deal!
It was Obama's former White House Chief of Staff and the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, who once stated, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." (9) Perhaps Mr. Emanuel's philosophy is shared by the members of the United States' Congress who led America to the brink of defaulting on its debt before passing yet another debt ceiling increase. The crisis had all the markings of a carefully choreographed soap opera, which with the help of constant mainstream news coverage left many Americans fearful of what might happen if a new deal was not reached. It was no surprise to me that our Congress, which has exhibited a flair for the dramatic in the past, waited until the very last minute to push a deal through.
After the long battle between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, our lawmakers emerged with a debt deal which they claim will immediately implement approximately 900 million dollars in spending cuts. Additionally, a new committee has been formed to find and implement at least 1.2 trillion dollars in spending cuts by the start of the 2013 fiscal year. (10) While the cuts in budget spending seem significant, an article published by Forbes explains why the new deal has not solved America's debt crisis. "The Congressional Budget Office currently projects that $9.5 trillion in new debt will have to be issued over the next 10 years. Even if all of the reductions proposed in the deal were to come to pass, which is highly unlikely, that would still leave $7.1 trillion in new debt accumulation by 2021. Our problems have not been solved by a long shot," states the article. (11)
The new committee, which has been formed to find and implement budget cuts, consists of six Democrats and six Republicans. On the Democratic side, this so-called Super Congress consists of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Representative Xavier Becerra of California. On the Republican side, the Super Congress members are Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, and Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas. (12) This group of twelve men and women, who along with the president form a council of thirteen, have a level of unprecedented power never before seen in the United States of America since any legislation they introduce cannot be filibustered or amended by other members of Congress. In essence, they have been tasked with determining the fate of the United States. If legislation by the Super Congress should fail to pass, the new deal calls for sweeping automatic cuts to defense, social security, health care, and other programs. It is an interesting strategy to be sure, for if this so-called Super Congress should fail to pass the required spending reductions, the cuts would kick in automatically, and both sides could say, "We didn't do it."
Although the debt ceiling has been raised and we have been told that catastrophe has been averted, the American people are extremely unhappy with the performance of their government. The approval rating of the United States Congress is now at a historically low 14 percent. (13) Additionally, a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports found that 46 percent of respondents believe the majority of our Congress is corrupt. (14) As of August 17, 2011, the approval rating of Barack Obama has declined to a paltry 39 percent. (15)
On August 5, 2011, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered the credit rating of the American government. The previous credit rating, which had been AAA, was lowered to AA+ with a negative outlook. In their official report, S&P explained their rationale for the downgrade, stating, "We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade." (16) It is pertinent to note that such a credit downgrade had never occurred in the United States before. This very well could be just the beginning as more downgrades in the future remain a very real and plausible possibility.
Will There Be Another Recession?
In the wake of the S&P credit downgrade and the volatile stock market swings, many economists are wondering if we could be heading for another recession. "Going back into recession now would be scary, because we don't have the resources or the will to respond, and our initial starting point is such a point of weakness. It won't feel like a new recession. It would likely feel like a depression," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. (17) Dan Duffie, a professor of finance at Stanford, also expressed concern. "So far it's not as bad as 2008, but it could get much worse because the sovereign debt concerns are much more global than the subprime mortgage risk of 2008," Duffie said. (18) Nicholas Perna, economic adviser to Webster Financial Corp., commented in a recent interview, "We're lucky if we escape recession this year. The odds of recession have risen significantly." (19) Interestingly enough, a study by Rasmussen Reports indicate that a majority of Americans believe the 2008 recession never ended in the first place. (20)
While the United States may not technically be in a recession at this time, the outlook for the economy is gloomy at best. A recent report published by the non-profit news group ProPublica provided some sobering data. The annual rate of growth for the gross domestic product, or GDP, in the United States was only 1.3 percent between April and June and 0.4 percent between January and March of 2011. Nearly nine million jobs have been lost since 2008 with only 1.8 million jobs recovered. The "official" unemployment rate has been hovering around 9 percent for the last 28 months. (Please remember that the official unemployment rate is always much lower than the actual unemployment rate due to the methods the government uses to tabulate the unemployed.) The report also indicates that 210,000 jobs would need to be created each month to return to a normal rate of unemployment in eleven years. (21) Unfortunately, during most months of 2011, job growth did not even reach 210,000. The number of jobs created month by month in the year 2011 are as follows: January - 36,000 jobs; (22) February - 192,000 jobs; (23) March - 216,000 jobs; (24) April - 244,000 jobs; (25) May - 54,000 jobs; (26) June - 18,000 jobs; (27) July - 117,000 jobs. (28)
To make matters worse, immediately after Barack Obama signed the new debt ceiling into law on August 1, 2011, the United States' Treasury added more than 200 billion dollars worth of commitments to the country's gross debt. In doing so, the United States is now in a similar predicament as other nations, such as Japan, Greece, Jamaica, Lebanon, Italy, Ireland, and Iceland, are where the level of debt exceeds the gross domestic product. (29) The bleak conditions that the American people are now facing because of the excessive amount of debt and poor economic conditions prompted billionaire Howard Marks to say, "In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there's no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don't expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump." (30)
The United States may never return to the level of prosperity it once enjoyed. Even if the economy does improve to some extent, it will be a very long and bumpy ride. In these days of uncertainty, I am thankful that we can trust in our God to provide for our needs despite what the present circumstances of this world may be. Many of us are not wealthy and never will be, but I firmly believe that God will always give us enough. Whether the Lord chooses to give us little or much, we can be in a state of peace and contentment. For as the Apostle Paul wrote in chapter 6 of his first epistle to Timothy, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
A Land Filled With Violence!
Another sign of the tumultuous times we live in is the riotous spirit that has engulfed much of the planet. Since December 2010 there have been protests, demonstrations, and riots in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara. (31) Despite the passing of several months, the unrest has continued and even intensified in some areas; particularly in Syria. Large protests have also been occurring in Israel since mid July 2011 with hundreds of thousands of angry people gathering in the streets to protest the high cost of living. (32)
Poor economic conditions and backlash from government austerity programs has also led to demonstrations and riots in Spain, Portugal, and Greece. (33) In Great Britain, areas of London and other cities descended into a state of chaos during the early days of August 2011 as buildings, vehicles, and garbage dumps were set ablaze by rioters who were enraged over police brutality. News reports indicate that at least 186 police officers were injured, 4 people were killed (34), and approximately 3,100 people have been arrested as of August 15, 2011. (35)
The social distemper in the United States, which I wrote about in last month's issue of the Last Trumpet, has not abated. In fact, the situation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has grown so severe that Mayor Michael Nutter has imposed a curfew banning all children ages 13 to 18 from the streets after 9 P.M. The new curfew is an attempt to quell mobs of young people who have been carrying out violent muggings. "Parents who neglect their children, who don't know where they are or who they are with - you're going to find yourselves spending quality time with your kids in jail together," Mayor Nutter stated. (36)
Sadly, the violence which has been common in Chicago and various other cities around the United States has even spread to my home state of Wisconsin. On the night of August 4, 2011, a mob of young people attacked attendees of the Wisconsin State Fair as they prepared to leave the event. According to news reports, the mob was roaming the streets in the vicinity of the fair and punching, hitting, kicking, and otherwise assaulting their victims. According to one witness, "It was like a scene you needed the national guard to control." (37) Another witness recounted his terrifying experience as follows, "I saw them grab this white kid who was probably 14 or 15 years old. They just flung him into the road. They just jumped on him and started beating him. They were kicking him. He was on the ground. A girl picked up a construction sign and pushed it over on top of him. They were just running by and kicking him in the face." (38)
In Genesis, chapter 6, God declared to Noah that he would send a flood to destroy the world because the earth was corrupt and "filled with violence." In these last days, we once again have a world filled with violence, and God will only allow this behavior to continue for so long. In Luke 17:26 Jesus warned us, "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." The tumult we are now seeing all over the world is yet another confirmation of Scripture and further evidence that our Saviour is coming soon.
Has The Mark Of The Beast Arrived?
Most Christians are familiar with Revelation, chapter 13, and the prophecy that a new system would be established in the last days that would force the people of the world to take a mark in their right hand or forehead if they wish to buy or sell. There have been many advances in technology throughout the years, such as the barcode system and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. As technology progressed, Christians often wondered how much longer it would be before the new Beast system would be implemented. In August 2011 new technology was announced that could very well be the vehicle used to bring forth the mark of the beast.
An article by Science News published on August 11, 2011, tells of a new malleable technology that bends with ease and could bridge the gap between man and machine. It is a sticky film containing a very thin and flexible array of electronic and computer components, which can be applied to the human body. The technology was developed with health monitoring in mind; however, the other potential uses of the technology go far beyond that. John Rogers, one of the coauthors of the study of this new technology stated, "I think creative folks out there will think of things we haven't even contemplated." (39) The article in Science News claims, "The adhesive electronics pick up signals from people's heartbeats when stuck on the chest, skeletal muscle activity when stuck on the leg, and brain waves when stuck on the forehead." (40) Michael McAlpine, a nanoengineer at Princeton University was gushing over the technology. "This is a huge breakthrough. This goes beyond Dick Tracy calling someone with a cell phone on the wrist. It's having the wrist itself house the device so it's always with you." (41) According to researchers cited in Science Journal, "The materials and mechanics ideas presented here enable intimate, mechanically 'invisible' tight and reliable attachment of high-performance electronic functionality with the surface of the skin in ways that bypass limitations of previous approaches." (42) With the help of this technology, people will soon be able to receive a "mark," which will literally make them part human and part computer.
Meanwhile, the push toward a new cashless monetary system is steadily moving forward. In April 2011, it was reported that the University of Maine would begin testing a new program for students to pay for their meals in the dining areas. "Instead of swiping your MaineCard, the program is going to identify you by the palm of your hand. It takes a snapshot of the veins and creates a black pattern that it then converts into an encrypted algorithm," said Benny Veenhof, director of technology management at the University of Maine. (43) Regarding the system, director of operations for Black Bear Dining, Kathy Kittridge said, "The majority of the people I talked to saw how quick it was and thought it was kind of cool. If you forget your MaineCard, you will always have your hand." (44)
A May 2011 article announced that McDonald's was in the process of installing 7,000 new self-serve touch screen kiosks in Europe. Steve Easterbrook, president of McDonald's Europe hailed the new technology as a method to increase efficiency and build a database of information regarding its customers' ordering habits. The new kiosks do not accept cash. (45)
PayPal, the money transfer company widely used to conduct person-to-person electronic money transactions over the Internet, is now claiming that cash is becoming obsolete. "Consumers are increasingly giving up traditional payment methods such as cash and checks and turning to a more modern - and anytime, anywhere - form of payment. We believe that by 2015 digital currency will be accepted everywhere in the U.S. - from your local corner store to Walmart. We will no longer need to carry a wallet," said PayPal president, Scott Thompson. (46)
In closing, I know there is much more I could write about in this newsletter if space would permit it. There is still a severe drought in much of the southern United States. Millions of people are starving to death in the African nation of Somalia. The uprising in Syria has led to the death of thousands of people and the potential for a war with the Western world as leaders from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and Germany call for the defiant Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to step down from power. The earth continues to quake and shake throughout the world, including significant quakes in the disaster-weary nation of Japan. These are truly days unlike any other time in history. I am so thankful that we can rely on God to get us through these difficult times. There is certainly much to endure in these times of distress, but as Jesus told us in the book of Matthew, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Thank you to all who support this ministry. This is a challenging job, but I thank God for the opportunity to do it. It is my hope and my prayer that this newsletter has been a blessing to you, our readers. If you have any prayer requests, please do not hesitate to send them our way. Each request will be given individual attention as we carry your petitions before the throne of the Almighty. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.Samuel David Meyer