Volume XXXIII Issue I January 2014
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
Persecution And Peril In A Defiant World!
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."1 Peter 4:12-14
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."Romans 8:35-39
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."Matthew 5:10-12
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will examine emerging trends which indicate that the condition of the world we live in today is deteriorating at a quickening pace. As we enter this new year of 2014, we are often told we live in a world of innovation and progress. Yet, mankind's unprecedented access to information, education, and technology in this modern age has not tempered the barbaric nature of the human race. In fact, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are facing mounting persecution each and every day, particularly in the Middle East region of the world, Africa, and the Asian countries of China and North Korea.
The persecution of Christian people around the globe has intensified greatly in recent years, which prompted members of the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom to hold a three-hour discussion regarding the crisis in early December 2013. Member of Parliament Sammy Wilson was quoted as saying, "Within the last month, hundreds of people, from Nigeria to Eritrea to Kazakhstan to China, have been arrested and put in prison simply because of their faith, and when they go into prison, they are denied due process." Wilson further went on to say, "This is not only happening in Muslim countries. From Morocco to Pakistan, Christians in Muslim countries are under threat, but it happens elsewhere too." (1) Member of Parliament Jim Shannon also voiced his concern regarding the crisis, declaring that it is "the biggest story in the world that has never been told." Shannon claims that an estimated 200 million Christians are facing persecution today, and a total of 500 million are at risk because they live in dangerous areas. (2) Throughout the discussion, it was revealed that two million Christians have been killed in the African nation of Sudan over the last thirty years, and that the Christian population in the nation of Iraq has declined from 1.5 million people to between 200,000 and 600,000 individuals. As a consequence of this global crisis, approximately one Christian is killed every eleven minutes of each and every day. (3)
Abuse inflicted on Christian people has been especially harsh in the nation of Syria even as a civil war rages between rebel groups and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Sadly, many of these recent attacks have involved children. "The radical organizations are now attacking [Christian] children to get their parents to leave the country. In the last few days, five Christian schools have been attacked where children have been killed," declared Syrian parliament member Maria Saada in December 2013. (4) To date an estimated 45,000 Christians have fled the nation of Syria due to the intensifying persecution. (5) Although both sides of the conflict in Syria are guilty of numerous atrocities, it is important to note that many attacks on Christian people are carried out by the so-called rebel forces, which have benefited from the support of the Obama Administration. In fact, the Syrian rebels were given an aid package by the American government in August 2013 which totaled 195 million dollars. (6) In December 2013, the State Department of the United States suspended nonlethal aid to Syrian rebels due to the acts of hardline Islamic extremists in the region. However, statements by Administration officials indicate that this suspension of aid will only be temporary. (7)
Violent acts are also frequently committed against the Christian people living in the nation of Pakistan. Such was the case in September 2013 when two suicide bombers launched an attack, which resulted in the death of eighty-one people who had gathered outside a church in the city of Peshawar. The bombing was carried out by a group known as Jundullah. "All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country," declared Ahmad Marwat, a spokesman for the group. (8)
Meanwhile, nearly three hundred Christians have been arrested in the African nation of Eritrea this year. Those who are arrested are often imprisoned in dungeons located underground, shipping containers, or military detention facilities. "They face exposure, hard labor, and insufficient food, water and hygiene. They are regularly denied medical treatment for malaria and pneumonia contracted while in prison or diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or cancer that they may have arrived with," stated a representative of an organization known as Open Doors USA, which monitors the worldwide persecution of Christians. (9) It is estimated that between two thousand and three thousand Eritrean people flee their home country each month in spite of a "shoot to kill policy" for those caught fleeing. (10)
The Christian people of the Central African Republic have also faced a desperate struggle in recent days. According to a report published by the Associated Press, thousands of Christians sought refuge at the airport, which was being guarded by French soldiers, after a group of armed Muslims killed at least 280 people in early December 2013. One of the Christians who sought refuge was quoted as saying, "They're slaughtering us like chickens." (11)
Perhaps the most brutal persecution of Christians occurs within the nation of North Korea. According to a report published in November 2013, eighty people were publicly executed by the North Korean government, including some whose only crime was possession of a Bible. The executions were observed by a group of about 10,000 spectators who were forced to watch. (12) The North Korean government under the leadership of the communist dictator Kim Jong-un routinely imprisons, tortures, and executes Christians. One prison currently in operation is known to house six thousand Christians. (13) None of these facts seem to trouble former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman, however. Rodman has traveled to North Korea on at least two occasions and has spent a significant amount of time with Kim Jong-un, who reportedly loves the game of basketball. Speaking of a recent trip to the communist nation, Rodman was quoted as saying, "I can't control what they do with their government; I can't control what they say or how they do things here. I'm just trying to come here as a sports figure and try to hope I can open the door for a lot of people in the country." (14) Earlier in the year, Rodman spoke fondly of his friend Kim Jong-un stating, "I love him. He's awesome." (15)
To those who have studied the Holy Scriptures, it is no surprise that persecution of the Christian people is widespread today. In fact, God's people have been consistently persecuted since the time our Lord and Saviour walked the earth nearly two thousand years ago. There is, however, a great blessing in obedience to Christ even if it means suffering in this present world. We are assured of this fact in Matthew 5:10-12 which reads, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
For those of us living in the United States and other relatively peaceful areas of the world, we have been fortunate to be able to express our beliefs and worship our God without fear of reprisal for the most part. However, there is a growing spirit of hostility against the Christian people in the United States, and it is not far-fetched to think that we may someday suffer similar persecutions as do our fellow believers in various other countries around the world. Despite the trials we may endure in the future, it is of the utmost importance that we always remain faithful to God even in the face of adversity. For as Jesus told us in Matthew 10:22, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
The Homosexual Movement Continues Its Strong Momentum!
At this present time in the United States, we are witnessing the transformation of our country as those who advocate the homosexual lifestyle continue to gain momentum. On December 19, 2013, the state of New Mexico became the seventeenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. The decision was made by Justice Edward Chavez of the New Mexico Supreme Court who ruled that since the state has no marriage statutes specifically banning same-sex unions, it is unconstitutional to deny such parties the right to marry. In announcing his decision, Justice Chavez wrote the following: "Barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18, of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the state of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law." (16)
Meanwhile, in the state of Utah, same-sex marriage has been banned since 2004 when voters in the state passed a law making such unions illegal. However, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the law and declared that same-sex marriage is now legal in the state of Utah. "The state's current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional," Judge Shelby wrote in his decision. (17)
According to mainstream news media outlets, the judge's decision set off a frenzy in the state as hundreds of same-sex couples rushed to be married. Among those who were married includes openly gay Senator Jim Dabakis who was quoted as saying, "I proposed to my partner of 27 years in June, but I said, 'We're not going to get married until we can get married in Utah.'" Upon hearing of the judge's decision, Senator Dabakis and his partner rushed to the county clerk's office in Salt Lake City, Utah. "We ran down here. It's a madhouse down here. There's hundreds of people, wedding certificates are being issued, there's marriages taking place all over the hallways. Everybody's embracing. It's just a warm, wonderful moment in the state of Utah," Dabakis declared. (18) A spokesman for the gay advocacy group known as GLAAD also lauded the decision. "We are seeing state leaders and more and more citizens recognize that loving and committed couples should not be legally kept apart. We look forward to seeing that momentum continue in 2014," declared Wilson Cruz of GLAAD. (19) In addition to the states of New Mexico and Utah, same-sex marriage is also legal in the District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. (20)
As homosexuality becomes increasingly mainstream in the United States, many corporations have expressed their support for this Biblically-contrary lifestyle. One such company is none other than Apple, the maker of high-end computers and gadgets such as the iPad and iPhone. In December 2013 it came to light that Apple approved a program or "app" for usage on its iPhones which allows gay men to interact with each other and find dating partners. The program, which is known as Distinc.tt, is described as follows: "Distinc.tt takes gay apps to the next level by showing you more than just guys with phones. Use it to find places to go, meet people at those places, coordinate with friends while you're out, you name it. It's about doing, not chatting." Although it is not surprising that such a program exists, it is rather disturbing to know that such a program is supposedly safe for children ages twelve and up. (21)
In the meantime, the homosexual movement has continued to make inroads within the realm of mainstream religion. As a consequence, it is no longer unusual to hear of ministers offering their support for the gay lifestyle. Such was the case with Frank Schaefer, a minister with the United Methodist denomination. Schaefer, who has been under fire since he officiated at his son's same-sex marriage in 2007, was finally defrocked by the denomination's officials on December 19, 2013. (22) However, numerous Methodist ministers have expressed their support for Schaefer, and in October 2013 it was announced that more than thirty such ministers were planning to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies in defiance of their organization's rules. (23)
In another development, Pope Francis has been named "Person of the Year," not only by Time Magazine, (24) but also by a magazine published by proponents of homosexuality known as The Advocate. Although Pope Francis claims to be opposed to same-sex marriage, he has taken a much softer stance on homosexuality than his predecessors. The cover of the magazine features a picture of the pope alongside his now famous quote, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?" (25) The authors of The Advocate explained their decision to feature the pope in the following statement: "Pope Francis is a leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world. There are three times as many Catholics in the world than there are citizens in the United States. Like it or not, what he says makes a difference. Sure, we all know Catholics who fudge on the religion's rules about morality. There's a lot of disagreement, about the role of women, about contraception, and more. But none of that should lead us to underestimate any pope's capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people, and not only in the U.S. but globally…" (26)
It is increasingly common to hear the average man or woman say that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Yet, as Christians we know that God's Word strictly forbids this contrary lifestyle. Ultimately, it does not matter what man might think or say, but what God tells us. However, it is apparent that a cultural shift has occurred within the United States, and the homosexual lifestyle has now become a mainstream segment of American culture.
Profane Religion In The Last Days!
As we draw closer to the return of our Saviour, we continue to see the emergence of strange religion in these last days. Although the United States has traditionally been known as a Christian nation, recent reports suggest that the number of Americans expressing faith in God is on the decline. In fact, a Harris Poll released in December 2013 found that only 74 percent of respondents state that they believe in the existence of God, which is a decline from 82 percent in recent years. Other questions in the poll reveal much more regarding the spirituality, or lack thereof, of the American people. The results from the poll indicate that 72 percent of respondents believe in miracles, 68 percent believe in heaven, 68 percent believe that Jesus is the Son of God, 65 percent believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, 64 percent believe that the soul lives on in eternity, 58 percent believe in the devil and hell, and only 57 percent believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. (27)
Even as faith in God continues to decline in these last days, there is a large segment of the human population that yearns for a religious experience. To help fill this perceived void, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans have founded an atheist church in the United Kingdom, and since that time they have exported their brand of godless religion to the United States. Atheist churches have been founded in Los Angeles, California; San Diego, California; Nashville, Tennessee; New York, New York; and various other cities around the country. (28) In an effort to explain his motivation for starting an atheist church, Sanderson Jones was quoted as following: "If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people - and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?" (29) These unusual church services are reportedly attended by hundreds of individuals, and the home church in the United Kingdom, which is known as the Sunday Assembly, has increased its membership rolls by 3,000 percent since its founding in early 2013. (30) Church co-founder Pippa Evans expressed delight at the church's growth and is highly anticipating the organization's Christmas service, scheduled for December 2013. "For me it was always about finding this amazing sense of community that the church is so good at finding, but without the God bit, which so many people find a sticking point. So we thought, how can we recreate all the amazing things that church does and that is what we are trying to do with the Sunday Assembly. We're sure many people will feel the same this Christmas and we're prepared for another influx of non-believers." (31)
Meanwhile, a group of Satanists from the state of New York are now seeking to place a satanic monument next to a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Bible located on the grounds of the Capitol in the state of Oklahoma. The Satanists argue that it is only fair since the government should not be able to favor one religion over another. "We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards. Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines," declared Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the group of Satan worshippers. (32) Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, also agreed that the Satanists should be allowed to place their monument. "We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are. But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint," Henderson said. (33)
Even as it has become commonplace for men and women to express their disdain for God's Ten Commandments in this modern age, former president of Poland Lech Walesa has suggested that a new secular Ten Commandments be written. "We need to agree on common values for all religions as soon as possible, a kind of secular Ten Commandments, on which we will build the world of tomorrow," Walesa stated. (34)
When we consider the declining faith of Western civilization and the rise of profane religion around the world, it is no wonder that Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Will Global Warming Destroy The Planet?
In recent years the scientific community, politicians, activists, and organizations such as the United Nations have warned us that the earth is slowly being destroyed by what they call global warming. We have been told that the planet earth's temperature continues to rise due to the over-usage of fossil fuels, and as a consequence, the very existence of the human raise hangs in the balance. While the detrimental effects of pollution in this world are undeniable, recent reports suggest that so-called global warming may not be the monstrous cause for concern that it is often made out to be.
One of the most prominent proponents of the global warming theory is none other than former American Vice-president Al Gore. It was Mr. Gore who claimed in 2009 that the polar ice caps were melting at an alarming rate and would likely disappear completely within five to seven years. Yet, when he made this prediction five years ago on December 7, 2008, there were 7.3 million miles of Arctic ice. Oddly enough, today there is still 7.3 million miles of Arctic ice. (35) Despite the fact that his bold predictions have not come to fruition, Mr. Gore continues to preach his global warming message, and in August 2013 he derided those who would dare question him on the matter. In an interview with the Washington Post, Gore declared the following: "The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it's mentioned. It's like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace." (36)
Despite all of the global warming rhetoric that is so common today, it recently came to light that scientists in the nation of Sweden determined that the earth's temperature was actually warmer in the days of the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages than it is right now. (37) Furthermore, a report published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that there has not actually been any global warming for the last fifteen years. (38) Yet, this same report predicts that global warming will continue to negatively impact the planet as widespread climate change disrupts the world's food and water supplies while inflicting devastating damage around the globe through intensifying natural and weather-related disasters. They also predict global warming and climate change will cause wars and strife throughout the world. (39)
Even if what is commonly propounded by the scientific community regarding global warming was true, we can be certain it is a problem that would never be solved. In fact, if you read the 24th chapter of Matthew, it speaks of famine, pestilence, wars, rumors of wars, and other calamities that will befall the people of the earth during the end times. It could very well be that the scientific community would rather attribute these perils to manmade global warming than admit that the Bible is correct.
In closing, I know there is much more that could be said about these perilous times in which we live, and Lord willing, we will be covering many more current events in the forthcoming issues of this newsletter. As always, I encourage each and every one of you to fully put your faith and trust in God. For as it says in Psalm 31:24, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." God truly is our only hope. If you have not yet completely given your heart to Him, I urge you to do so now.
Please accept my sincere thanks to all who generously support this ministry. We at Last Trumpet Ministries look forward to serving you again in 2014. Please be mindful that we are here to lift you up in prayer for whatever your needs may be. If you have any prayer requests, please do not hesitate to send them our way. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.