Volume XXXII Issue VII July 2013
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
The Troubling Characteristics Of Today's Modern Society!
"Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint."Isaiah 1:4-5
"Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."Matthew 10:26-28
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will thoughtfully consider recent current events which reveal the troubling characteristics of today's modern society. In recent years, people around the world, and the United States in particular, have grown increasingly unhappy. The disillusioned masses have become weary of poor economic conditions, high unemployment, widespread poverty, and a seemingly unending stream of scandals affecting prominent figures within the government. As a consequence a large segment of the American population has grown despondent as they trudge through their day-to-day lives. In fact, a recent survey published by Gallup found that 70 percent of respondents have "checked out" or are "actively disengaged" from their jobs. (1) As people struggle to find meaning in their lives, they often turn to antidepressants and medication. Here let it be noted that the usage of antidepressants in the United States rose a staggering 400 percent between 1988 and 2011, (2) and eleven percent of all Americans aged 12 years or older are taking such medications. (3) Additionally, it is estimated that 28 percent of all Americans have a drinking problem and often rely on alcohol to drown their sorrows. (4)
Sadly, the harsh realities of today's world often prompt men and women to take their own lives. According to a recent article published by the New York Times, suicides in the United States increased by a shocking 30 percent between the years of 1999 and 2010. (5) Suicide is especially common amongst American adults belonging to the Baby Boom generation, and experts worry that it will be prevalent in future generations as well. "The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn't panned out that way. All these conditions the boomers are facing, future cohorts are going to be facing many of these conditions as well," stated Julie Phillips, an associate sociology professor at Rutgers University. (6) Suicide has also become increasingly common within the United States military. Between the months of January and November 2012, over three hundred soldiers ended their lives, which is a number that far exceeds combat deaths within the same time frame. (7)
As part of this ministry, I spend a great deal of time reading the news from around the world. The topics which I cover in this newsletter only represent a small portion of the stories that come across my desk each day. It is evident to those who study the news that this world seems to be a dark and hopeless place for a multitude of people. Yet, I firmly believe that we can lead happy and fulfilled lives if we put our hope and trust in God. For as it says in Psalm 34:17-18, "The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Whatever trials you may be facing today, God is never far away. He is ready and willing to comfort you in your time of distress. I encourage every reader of this newsletter to fully yield your heart to God.
An Epidemic Of Bankruptcy!
Since the year of 2008 when the United States entered into an economic downturn, sometimes known as the "Great Recession," the American way of life has undergone noticeable and drastic changes. One of the consequences of the recession has been the bankruptcy of entire communities around the country. The trend has been especially problematic in the state of California where the cities of Stockton and San Bernardino are officially bankrupt. (8) According to a report by USA Today published in May 2013, there's a high likelihood that we may see more bankruptcies in the near future. The article lists ten communities suffering from "serious financial stress," which include the cities of Atwater, Azusa, Compton, Fresno, Hercules, Mammoth Lakes, Monrovia, Oakland, San Jose, and Vernon. (9) As if these findings were not bad enough, the state government of California is also facing severe economic hardship. In fact, a report issued by State Auditor Elaine Howle in March 2013 found that the net worth of the state of California is negative 127.2 billion dollars. (10)
Other communities around the country, such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Central Falls, Rhode Island, have either declared bankruptcy or attempted to do so in recent years. (11) There are numerous indicators that the city of Detroit, Michigan, could be the next municipality to declare bankruptcy. In fact, Kevyn Orr, an emergency manager for the city of Detroit, announced in June 2013 that the city government will not be able to make payments on debts amounting to approximately 2.5 billion dollars. (12) Speaking at a meeting with creditors, Mr. Orr offered the city's debt holders less than 10 cents per each dollar for what they are owed. (13) City officials also announced plans to sell municipal assets, such as parking facilities and city parks. (14)
Those who visit Detroit today would likely never guess that the city was once one of the most prosperous communities in the United States. In modern day Detroit, the understaffed police department only solves about 10 percent of its cases. Many of the ambulances used to service the community are so old that have over 250,000 miles on them. Since there is not adequate funding for city services, 40 percent of all street lights are no longer functioning, and 210 of 317 city parks have been closed. Amazingly, there are 78,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit. (15)
As a consequence of the overwhelming debt in the city of Detroit, the size of the active duty police force has been decimated by budget cuts. In an act of desperation, city officials have recruited groups of local citizens who are now tasked with patrolling the city. Regarding the new program, a community security manager was quoted as saying, "Police can't be on every corner. You should be able to walk your dog, push kids in a stroller or use the parks. We don't want a handful of knuckleheads to take away our quality of life." (16)
Other cities in the United States, such as Oakland, California, and Atlanta, Georgia, are also unable to provide adequate police protection for its citizens. In response, the affluent members of such communities have turned to private security firms as a method to deter crime in their neighborhoods. "With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need. That's why they're calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent," said Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of a company in Oakland, California, known as First Alarm. (17) Steve Amitay, the executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, also weighed in on the new trend. "It's happening everywhere. Municipal governments and cities are really getting strapped in terms of their resources, and when a police department cuts 100 officers obviously they are going to respond to less crime," Amitay declared. (18) Meanwhile, some inhabitants of Milwaukie, Oregon, have decided to take matters into their own hands. "We're starting a new group. We don't feel neighborhood watch is sufficient, and we don't feel the Clackamas County Sheriff's office is sufficient," stated a local resident of the community. This new alliance has reportedly posted fliers in local neighborhoods which declare, "This is a Glock block. We don't call 911." (19)
The dire conditions of the numerous cash-strapped communities around the United States should serve as a warning of what could someday happen to the entire nation if the federal government does not manage to get its debt problem under control. Yet, as I write this newsletter, the national debt is closing in on 17 trillion dollars, (20) and an ever-increasing segment of the American population is receiving benefits from government programs. In fact, as of this writing, 72,600,000 American people are receiving Medicaid (21), 47,727,052 individuals are receiving food stamps (22), and a record-breaking 10,978,040 people are receiving federal disability benefits. (23) Meanwhile, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, which is commonly known as Social Security, is facing unfunded liabilities over the next seventy-five years amounting to 9.6 trillion dollars. A recent report from the Social Security board of trustees included the following statement, "Projected long-range costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable with currently scheduled financing and will require legislative action to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers." (24)
An Epidemic Of Moral Bankruptcy!
Even as the widespread bankruptcy in the United States has become a serious problem in recent years, a far more severe problem is the moral bankruptcy which now permeates the land. In fact, morality has been turned upside down in recent years, insomuch that what was once considered evil is now considered good, and what was once regarded as good is now regarded as evil. This new way of thinking reaches all the way to the highest office in the land and is especially prominent with the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.
I can think of nothing more reprehensible than the slaughter of innocent and defenseless babies. Yet, Barack Obama highly favors the killing of unborn infants and has praised Planned Parenthood, a group well-known for facilitating abortions, on numerous occasions. So great is Obama's fondness for Planned Parenthood that he attended a national conference held by the group on April 26, 2013. Speaking at the event, Obama declared the following: "I want to thank all of you for the remarkable work that you're doing day in, day out in providing quality health care to women all across America. You are somebody that women - young women, old women, women in between - count on for so many important services. And we are truly grateful to you." After praising Planned Parenthood and attacking the group's critics, he ended his speech by asking God to bless the organization which murders about 335,000 babies each year. "Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you," Obama declared in conclusion of his speech. (25)
The killing of a helpless baby requires a cruel nature and a cold heart. This fact was recently demonstrated by an abortion doctor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who made the claim that an abortion procedure, which involves injecting a baby with poison, is no big deal. When asked by an investigator if a 27-week old baby would feel pain when given the shot, the abortion doctor claimed that the injection is "like any shot, you know, like a flu shot, or a vaccine, really." (26) The shocking mentality of those who support abortion was also demonstrated in an opinion piece published by the New York Times and written by a woman by the name of Judy Nicastro. According to the story, the woman opted to have one of her twins aborted after it was discovered he would have a birth defect. Despite his condition, the boy had a 69 percent chance of survival. In her article, Nicastro wrote the following: "I felt my son's budding life end as a doctor inserted a needle through my belly into his tiny heart. As horrible as that moment was - it will live with me forever - I am grateful. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me." (27)
Sadly, a disturbing new trend has emerged in which mothers of unwanted newborn babies are now callously discarding their children in the trash or flushing them down the toilet. In fact, there have ten such instances of this gruesome practice between May and June 2013 with five of the occurrences happening in the United States. (28) This practice is actually recommended by one abortion clinic in the Bronx, New York. A counselor at Dr. Emily's Women's Health Center reportedly told an undercover investigator, "If it comes out, then it comes out. Flush it if anything, you know, put it in a bag or something or somewhere and bring it to us." (29)
In another sign of the times in which we live, Barack Obama has continued a trend he started in recent years and has once again decreed that the month of June, this time for the year 2013, to be "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." In his official presidential proclamation, Obama declared that the homosexual movement cannot be stopped. "We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped," Obama wrote in his proclamation. (30)
The homosexual lifestyle is now more mainstream than ever before. In fact, the Boy Scouts of America, a group which was well known for being opposed to homosexuality, recently lifted a longstanding ban which had prohibited gay boys from joining the organization. (31) This development is especially troubling in light of the fact that a large segment of teenagers in the United States are now engaging in homosexual behavior. According to a study published in 2010, it was discovered that nearly one out of every ten teenagers in New York City have engaged in same-sex relations. (32)
In a move that appears to be a concerted effort to expose young children to so-called "alternative lifestyles," a television network, known as The Hub, announced in May 2013 that it is producing a new animated television show featuring a transgender boy named Guy who uses a magic ring to transform into a superhero girl who fights crime. The television program, which is known as "SheZow," is aimed at children between the ages of two to eleven. (33)
Invasive New Technology On The Horizon!
It seems that in this modern age, the men and women responsible for the development of new technology are also seeking new methods by which to pry into our lives. It has recently come to light that a new cable box is now being developed, which includes built-in cameras and microphones which are used to spy on consumers as they watch television. This advanced new technology is designed to monitor when the user is sleeping, eating, exercising, or reading, amongst other undisclosed activities. In response to the revelation that such technology is being developed, Representative Michael Capuano, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has introduced a new bill known as the "We Are Watching You Act." If passed, the bill would forbid television service providers from using the technology without the express consent of the customer. "This may sound preposterous, but it's neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It's an incredible invasion of privacy," Capuano stated. (34)
Another potential invasion of privacy could soon be unleashed by Microsoft. The upcoming video game system known as the Xbox One will be equipped with an a camera system known as Kinect. The system is so advanced that it can see in the dark, monitor users' movements, and discern voice commands with the built-in microphone. Peter Schaar, the federal data protection commissioner in Germany, has expressed concern over Microsoft's invasive new technology. "The fact that Microsoft is now spying on my living room is just a twisted nightmare," Schaar said. (35)
Meanwhile, the technology company known as Motorola is developing a digital tattoo, which will be used by consumers to authenticate passwords. Speaking of this new system, the project chief, Regina Dugan, was quoted as saying, "Essentially your entire body becomes an authentication token." (36) Ben Schlatka, the co-founder of a company called mc10, which is assisting Motorola with the project, elaborated on the new technology's capabilities. "Imagine a kid's fake tattoo that can sense how our bodies work: data from the heart, the brain, muscles, body temperatures - even hydration levels. When a sensing technology conforms to the consumer and not the other way around, it can capture more insights for longer periods of time without discomfort or distractions," Schlatka stated. (37)
In February 2013 it was announced that all dogs in Great Britain are to receive a microchip implant by the year 2016. The new requirement is designed to curtail the large amount of lost or abandoned dogs within the country. "It is ludicrous that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because owner can't be tracked down. I am determined to put an end to this and ease the pressure on charities and councils to find new homes for these dogs," declared Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary in Britain. (38) I cannot help but wonder how much longer it will be until they next declare that children must receive a microchip. After all, lost children would be much easier to return to their parents if they had a traceable chip in their right hands or foreheads. We are truly living in perilous times.
New Evidence Of Government Intrusions Of Privacy!
For the skeptical man, it has always seemed likely that the United States government has been monitoring the communications of people on Internet websites such as Facebook and Google. In recent weeks such suspicions were confirmed, and it has come to light that the National Security Agency, or NSA, has been operating a secret surveillance program called Prism for years. The program allows NSA operatives to scrutinize Internet search histories, email contents, file transfers, and even live chats. (39) According to leaked government documents, the spying apparatus is run with the cooperation and assistance of several technology firms in the United States. The companies include Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. (40)
It was later revealed that the documents which proved the existence of Prism were leaked to the news media by a former employee of the CIA by the name of Edward Snowden. In his explanation for why he chose to leak the documents, Snowden was quoted as saying, "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under… I can't in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom, and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building." (41) Barack Obama fiercely defended the surveillance program. "It's important to recognize that you can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society. And what I can say is that in evaluating these programs, they make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity," Obama stated. (42) Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was also quick to downplay the government programs which allow for unfettered access to Internet and phone communications. "I think people have gotten the idea that there's an Orwellian state out there that somehow we're operating in. That's far from the case," Napolitano said. She further went on to say, "We're constantly struggling. It's not easy - because technology has increased so much - these balances between security and privacy and other values." (43)
The revelation that the government is spying on the people at home and abroad has angered many people. Citizens of the United States and other countries are angry that they are being subjected to such invasive surveillance, and government officials are angry that they have been found out. Yet, it was Jesus Himself who once told us in Matthew 10:26, "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known."
Strange Happenings Around The World!
In the June 2013 issue of the Last Trumpet, I wrote of the massive die-off of honeybees, which has been threatening the future of the world's food supply. Even as this problem continues to worsen, another species of bee has also suffered a significant loss. It was reported in June 2013 that approximately 25,000 bumblebees were found dead in a parking lot at a Target store in Wilsonville, Oregon. The cause of the die-off is suspected to be an insecticide known as Safari. (44)
Researchers recently discovered a previously unknown crack in the earth's crust. They believe that this crack could someday cause North America and Europe to be drawn closer together and have warned that the Atlantic Ocean could disappear in about 220 million years. (45) In light of this new information, I cannot help but think of Isaiah 24:19, which reads, "The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly." This is yet another reminder that this earth is breaking down and will not last forever.
In recent years scientists have demonstrated a bold propensity to play God. This trend has continued, and it was reported in June 2013 that scientists are about one year away from being able to grow human organs in animals. The procedure uses what they call a "chimeric embryo," which will be implanted in an animal's womb. The procedure is said to allow scientists the ability to grow perfect human organs, such as hearts and kidneys. (46)
In closing, I know these are strange and perilous times in which we live. Yet, I am thankful that we serve a merciful God who blesses us even as we live in a world so blighted by sin and wickedness. As we journey through this life, we may face struggles, but we can all be strengthened by God's mighty hand. In Isaiah 40:28-31 we read, "Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Thank you for your generous support of this ministry. We at Last Trumpet Ministries will strive to faithfully serve you to the best of our ability, and even more as we see the day approaching of our Saviour's return. If you have any prayer requests, we welcome you to send them our way. We always give each request hands-on individual attention. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.