Volume XXXIV Issue IV April 2015
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Phone: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
Turmoil And Trouble In A Rapidly Changing World!
“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”John 8:10-11
“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”I John 5:18-20
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”I John 4:4
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will carefully study recent events which indicate that the people of this present world are facing troubles, which only seem to be multiplying on every side in these perilous days. The world as we know it continues to change rapidly even before our eyes to the point where it has become nearly unrecognizable to those who have lived long enough to remember how things used to be. In particular, the United States of America has seen a monumental erosion of liberty since the turn of the century, and recent developments indicate that this trend will continue.
In 2010, a new law was passed in the United States. This law, which is officially titled “The Affordable Care Act” and has come to be known as “Obamacare,” mandates that every American citizen purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty from the Internal Revenue Service for each year they are not insured. This socialistic system, which officially went into effect in 2014, is considered one of Barack Obama’s hallmark achievements, which he claims will allow every American to obtain affordable insurance. However, recent reports suggest that this insurance is not nearly as affordable as Obama and his subordinates claim. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has warned that health insurance premiums could rise by more than 8 percent each year through 2018. (1) Additionally, nearly 8 million lower-income Americans could lose federal subsidies which help them pay for their required health insurance. The Supreme Court of the United States is now considering a case which asserts that such subsidies are illegal in states which have not set up their own health insurance exchanges wherein their residents may buy insurance. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case in June 2015. (2) We are now beginning to see what this law, which was forced upon the American people about five years ago, really looks like. Oddly enough, it seems that many of the democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 did not even know what they were passing. It was former United States House of Representatives Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi who famously said at the time, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of controversy.” (3)
And so it is that circumstances have led us to this point in history where the people of the United States are now forced to buy health insurance whether they want it or not, and the government even mandates what type of light bulbs we may have. Such developments might lead people to wonder what the government is going to do next. Amazingly, the government agency known as the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has funded the development of a wireless device that they are hoping will be used to track how much time hotel guests in the United States spend in the shower. According to the text of a grant given to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, this project is being undertaken with the hopes that such a device will encourage hotel guests to limit to their water usage and shorten their shower times. “Hotels consume a significant amount of water in the U.S. and around the world. Most hotels do not monitor individual guest water usage and as a result, millions of gallons of potable water are wasted every year by hotel guests. The proposed work aims to develop a novel low cost wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel guest room showers. This device will be designed to fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system,” the grant states. (4) I cannot help but wonder how long it will be before the EPA wants to put these wireless devices in our homes, too. It is bad enough that our privacy in the United States has already been so encroached upon, but now Big Brother wants to monitor how long we shower!
In recent weeks, we have seen odd statements from prominent politicians, including Barack Obama. Speaking at a gathering for a civic group in Cleveland, Ohio, Obama told those in attendance that he believes voting in elections should be mandatory. “I don’t think I’ve ever said this publicly, but I’m going to go ahead and say it now. In Australia and some other countries, there’s mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted – that would counteract money more than anything,” Obama declared. He further went on to say, “If everybody voted then it would completely change the political map in this country.” (5) This certainly would be a peculiar law for a country that often refers to itself as “the land of the free.”
Meanwhile, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who will likely be a presidential candidate in the 2016 election in the United States, made the claim in March 2015 that the American people are not having enough fun and has proposed a rather strange solution for this perceived problem. “As I have gotten older, I have decided we really need camps for adults. And we need adult camps that you all run. Really. None of the serious stuff. None of the life challenging stuff… more fun. I think we have a huge fun deficit in America. And we need to figure out how to fill that fun deficit, certainly for our kids but also for the rest of us,” Clinton said. (6) What remains unclear is what the former first lady means by fun. In any case, I would rather not find myself in one of Hillary Clinton’s camps for adults.
In some cases, oppressive rules and regulations are also enforced by state and municipal governments. Such is the case in the city of Lake Worth, Florida, where the city’s government has been cracking down on unauthorized churches. According to a report published in March 2015, city officials sent a code enforcement officer cloaked in a hoodie to investigate a Southern Baptist congregation which has been holding meetings at a coffee house. The officer then submitted a report to city officials which states: “I walked back to the coffee bar and was able to visualize, in my opinion, what appeared to be a ministry in progress.” The report also complained that the officer saw “people holding what appeared to be Bibles or religious books as one had a cross on it.” (7) City officials have justified their actions and have said that the establishment in question only has a license to function as a coffee house, and does not have the required license to provide religious services. “We have to treat everybody the same. We couldn’t give preferential treatment to churches versus other businesses,” said community sustainability director William Waters. (8) The details of this story sound more like something that would happen in the communist nation of China where its atheist government routinely cracks down on unlicensed churches. Sadly, this happened in the United States of America.
It is certainly troubling to see the freedom once enjoyed in this country slowly taken away. I believe such oppression will continue to intensify and worsen as we draw ever closer to the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Yet, despite the trouble we see in this world, we can still have that remarkable freedom that comes by knowing the truth. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In like manner, John 8:32 tells us, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To know the truth is to know Jesus Christ. In so doing we find a freedom that no man or government can ever take away from us. If you desire to have this freedom and have not yet fully dedicated your life to God, I urge you to do so now.
Pope Francis Grows In Popularity!
As has become typical since his ascent to the papacy, Pope Francis has continued to garner positive headlines in the news media. In fact, recent reports indicate the current pope’s popularity is soaring and not just among the Catholic people. A poll conducted by Pew Research in March 2015 found that 90 percent of Catholics in the United States view Pope Francis in a favorable light. While this fact is not particularly surprising, it is a bit startling that 70 percent of all Americans, including non-Catholics, who responded to the study also approve of Pope Francis. This includes 68 percent of respondents who claim to have no religious affiliation. (9) This surge in popularity, particularly among the unreligious, was surprising to Pew researcher Jessica Martinez. “That was somewhat surprising because two years ago, right after Pope Francis was elected, only 4 in 10 had a favorable view,” Martinez said. (10)
The fact that Pope Francis is so appealing to so many people should actually be a red flag. In fact, it was Jesus himself who declared in Luke 6:26, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” The popularity of Pope Francis seems to be steeped in his message of inclusion and acceptance of anyone and everyone regardless of their beliefs. He has made overtures to atheists, he has prayed and met with Islamic leaders, and he has emphasized a social “gospel” which teaches unity at all costs. In a homily preached on February 15, 2015, Pope Francis told his audience, “For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family.” (11) While such a message sounds pleasant to the ear, we must remember that not everyone is a part of God’s family. The most crucial and vital part of Jesus’ message is the preaching of repentance, for without repentance we have no salvation. Yes, Jesus is compassionate, longsuffering, and merciful; yet, he had simple instructions for the woman who had been accused of adultery in John, chapter 8: “Go, and sin no more.” It is interesting to note that Pope Francis dined with homosexuals in a prison in Naples, Italy, on March 21, 2015. (12) This event will likely draw comparisons to the fact that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners as recorded in the Scriptures. However, we know that Jesus did so while calling such men and women to repentance. I have my doubts that Pope Francis told anyone to repent at his gathering.
Amid his popularity, it is now being claimed that Pope Francis can perform miracles. This assumption is based on the fact that the dried blood of patron saint Januarius half liquefied when the pope touched and kissed the container it is stored in. Speaking at the event, which occurred on March 21, 2015, in Naples, Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe told the audience, “The blood has half liquefied, which shows that Saint Januarius loves our pope and Naples.” (13)
Oddly enough, the popular Pope Francis has predicted that his papacy will not be long-lived. “I have a feeling that my pontificate will be brief – four or five years; I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation,” the pope stated in March 2015. He further went on to say, “The Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more.” (14) In another recent statement, Pope Francis claims that he has accepted the possibility that he might be assassinated. “Life is in God’s hands. I have said to the Lord, ‘You take care of me. But if it is your will that I die or something happens to me, I ask you only one favor: that it doesn’t hurt. Because I am a real wimp when it comes to physical pain,’” he said. (15) Given the extreme popularity of Pope Francis, it seems like a very real possibility that if he was actually assassinated, it could lead to war, even perhaps, a world war if he were killed by operatives associated with Islamist organizations. Only God knows what the future will hold, but it is of the utmost importance that we continue to watch and pray!
Nations Rising Against Nations!
In Matthew 24:7, our Saviour warns us that in the days leading up to his return, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” In our day, we are seeing that very situation unfold before our eyes as turmoil and tumult engulfs a large portion of our world. One of the more widely-known threats facing the world today is an organization which calls itself the Islamic State and is sometimes known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL. This violent group, which adheres to the most extreme teachings of radical Islam, emerged in the wake of a power vacuum caused by the defeat of the late Saddam Hussein in Iraq and instability in Syria, brought about by a protracted civil war. It is widely believed by many people in Iraq that this group was actually created by the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, according to a report published last year by the New York Times. (16)
Since its rise to prominence, ISIS has wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria with reports that they have slaughtered multitudes of Christians and others who do not adhere to the beliefs of the Islamic State. Amazingly enough, the violent group has proven to be very effective at rallying supporters to their cause and have even recruited a significant number of children. According to reports, at least 400 children in Syria have joined the ranks of the Islamic State since the start of 2015. This particular branch of the Islamic State is known as Ashbal al-Khilafah, which when translated to English means “Cubs of the Caliphate.” (17) The recruitment of children is said to be one of the group’s central strategies. “They’re central to the ISIS media strategy of trying to garner outrage and shock the world. It’s all part of ISIS’s attempt to show themselves as a functioning state with a proper education system,” stated Charlie Winter, a researcher at the think tank known as Quilliam. Mr. Winter also went on to discuss the manner in which these children are groomed and brainwashed. “I think to speak of children joining ISIS is not a good way to put it. Even if they have the perception of choice, it’s not choice. If you’re a minor and being indoctrinated from a very young age, you don’t have the power to make a serious choice,” Winter stated. (18) The Islamic State has also shown an ability to reach far beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria. In fact, reports have surfaced which indicate numerous American citizens have sought to join ISIS, including children as young as 15 years old. “There are individuals out there who are inspired by the message of terrorist groups and they encourage family members, including their children, to follow that path,” said Michael Steinbech, head of the counterterrorist division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. (19) Steinbech also noted that ISIS has been successful at recruiting women. “The recruitment of women by ISIS is much more than we’ve ever seen by a terrorist organization. We have seen everything from a female fighter – dedicated groups of women fighters – and those who have come over to support foreign fighters by marrying them,” Steinbech stated. (20)
In September 2014 the United States military began conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. (21) Since that time, a growing number of Americans have indicated that they would favor sending in American forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria. According to a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, 62 percent of respondents indicated that they believe ground troops should be deployed to fight ISIS. (22) If such a deployment were to become a reality, American troops could find themselves in the rather awkward position of fighting alongside the Iranians. According to the New York Times, a commander in the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, known as Qassem Suleimani, has been photographed and videotaped near the embroiled city of Tikrit in Iraq. (23) In response, Iraqi Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obeidi lauded the Iranians for their support and stated that their role in the fight has been “very positive.” Minister al-Obeidi was also quoted as saying, “The situation is acceptable to us. We are in a state of war.” (24)
In the meantime, American President Barack Obama has been fervently working to establish a deal with the Iranian government in regards to their nuclear program. In a prerecorded video address, released to the Iranian people on March 19, 2015, Obama said the following: “As I have said many times before, I believe that our countries should be able to resolve this issue peacefully, with diplomacy. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon. Together with the international community, the United States has said that Iran should have access to peaceful nuclear energy, consistent with Iran’s international obligations. So there’s a way for Iran – if it is willing to take meaningful, verifiable steps – to assure the world that its nuclear program is, in fact, for peaceful purposes only.” (25) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has signaled that he is open to a deal and believes that the negotiations have made progress. “At this round of talks, shared views emerged on some points where there have been differences of opinion, which can be the basis for a final agreement. However, some differences remain. I believe achieving a deal is possible. There is nothing that can’t be resolved. The other party to the talks also has to make a final decision,” Rouhani said in a statement issued in mid-March 2015. (26) Iran’s so-called Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, however, was not quite as conciliatory in his tone. Speaking to a crowd in Tehran, Iran, Khamenei agreed with those in the audience when they began to shout “Death to America.” In his response, he told the crowd, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure. They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy. What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system. The politics of America is to create insecurity.” (27) Here let it be noted that Ali Shirazi, a representative of Ayatollah Khamenei, told the audience at an Iranian ceremony on February 26, 2015, “We shall not rest until we raise the flag of Islam over the White House.” (28)
Even as Obama works tirelessly to establish a deal with Iran, relations between the Obama Administration and Israel have soured dramatically in recent weeks. A large amount of this animosity has been fueled by the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave a speech before the United States Congress on March 3, 2015, without the approval of Barack Obama. The intention of the speech was to dissuade the United States and its allies from reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran. “Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East, and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity,” Netanyahu said in his speech. (29)
Netanyahu further enraged Obama in March 2015 when he told Israeli voters just prior to the election on March 17, 2015, that he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s Likud party would then go on to win reelection; however, Obama was not pleased. In fact, Obama waited two days to call Netanyahu after the election, and when he finally did, he informed Netanyahu that he would be reassessing some aspects of their relationship. “The President told the Prime Minister that we will need to re-assess our options following the Prime Minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two state solution,” said an official at the White House. (30) Following the election, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed his belief that a two state solution is necessary. “It is incumbent on the new Israeli government, once formed, to create the conditions for a negotiated final peace agreement, with the active engagement of the international community, that will end the Israeli occupation and realize the creation of a viable Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside Israel,” Secretary-General Ki-moon declared. (31)
Elsewhere around the world, an uprising in the nation of Yemen has forced Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee from rebel fighters closing in on his position. Reports indicate that President Hadi fled the city Aden by boat on March 25, 2015. The rebel group, which is commonly known as the Houthis, have overthrown much of the country, which could result in intervention from neighboring Saudi Arabia. There is a strong possibility that an all-out civil war could soon take hold in Yemen, if it has not already happened. (32)
It is truly amazing that despite the existence of organizations such as the United Nations which claim to promote peace, the world in this present day is filled with turmoil and hostility. Yet, we know Jesus told us far in advance that our world would find itself in this predicament, where nations are rising against nations, kingdoms are rising against kingdoms, and wars and rumors of wars persist each and every day.
A Drought In California That Won’t Go Away!
The American state of California has a problem that has become a matter of great concern in recent days. The state is now entering its fourth consecutive year of drought with no relief on the horizon. As of this writing, 93 percent of California is experiencing a severe drought, while 40 percent of the state is still suffering from exceptional drought, which is the worst level of drought possible. (33) As a result of this drought, the state must now contend with water shortages, and according to a scientist at NASA, their reservoirs could run dry soon. “We have a year of surface water. After that, we’ll rely more heavily on underground water,” said Jay Famiglietti of NASA. (34) Although the situation is dire, the people of California are being told not to panic. “We are way worse off this year than last year, but we’re not going to run out of water in 2016,” Famiglietti said in another statement. (35) Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources also tried to reassure residents of the state. “We have been in multiyear droughts and extended dry periods a number of times in the past, and we will be in the future. In periods like this there will be shortages, of course, but the state as a whole is not going to run dry in a year or two years,” Thomas said. (36) Yet, the drought in California has prompted state officials to enact new restrictions on water usage. These new restrictions include limitations on how often residents may water their lawns, while banning the washing down of driveways and the usage of fountains without recirculating pumps. Additionally, restaurants are no longer allowed to serve water to customers unless they specifically ask for it. (37)
As it stands, some farmers have chosen not to plant crops in 2015, and instead are selling any water they have to the state. “In the long term, if we don’t make it available we’re afraid they’ll just take it,” said one rice farmer regarding his water supply. (38) Paul J. Wenger, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, offered this rather grim assessment: “This is going to affect everyone in the state. I can’t think of any part of the state where people aren’t going to be suffering from diminished water supplies.” According to reports, 400,000 acres of land were left unplanted in 2014. Mr. Wenger expects that number to increase by a large amount in 2015. “This year we could see easily 50 percent more. We are probably going to be looking at well over a million acres,” Wenger said. (39)
Of course, this drought has implications for the rest of the United States as well. A vast amount of food is grown in the state of California, and because of the drought, we may soon find that certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts are not as bountiful as they once were. Yet, I believe that God will continue to provide for all our needs, whether we see times of famine or times of plenty.
In closing, I know we are facing many challenges in this modern age. At times, what we read or hear about on the news can seem overwhelming and cause us to wonder what we should do. My solution has always been and always will be to trust God. For as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” In like manner, we are told by the Apostle John in I John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Please remember that we are always here to pray for you and your needs, whether they be great or small. We have noticed an increase in prayer requests over the last few months, and we are glad that so many of you have allowed us the honor of praying for you. We know that God hears us when we cry out to Him, and we have seen many answered prayers over the years. Thank you all for your support of this ministry. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.